School timetables are extremely important for a variety of reasons. They ensure that no teacher is scheduled for too many back-to-back classes or for two classes at the same time. Teachers are given the opportunity to modify lesson plans during preparation periods and collaborate with their colleagues. The timetable allows students to know exactly when a specific subject is scheduled. A well-constructed timetable establishes a natural rhythm and routine, which can be comforting to teachers and students.
A school timetable with mandated period lengths, such as 45 minutes per period, and specific subjects for each period helps administrators allocate sufficient resources to the most important curriculum areas, according to a 2006 article in the "Journal of Educational Administration." Curriculum should be organized so that the most important subjects are at optimal times of the day. For example, if an administrator believes that the morning is the best time to schedule English language arts courses, then reading and writing should almost always be scheduled before lunch.
The school timetable allows students to know the exact time and duration of each class period. In elementary school, a class of students usually follows the same schedule, while in secondary school, students have individualized schedules. Without a school timetable, students would have no idea how to prepare for the day, when to go to their lockers -- if they are in middle or high school -- how much transit time they have before they are late for class, and who their teachers are.
A smartly designed master school schedule reduces confusion for teachers, allows them to set their routines and creates comfort during the first two weeks of school, when classroom management is critical. Teachers and administrators can also rectify mistakes by using a the master schedule, such as one teacher being placed in two classrooms at the same time, or another teacher not receiving a preparation period during a particular day.
Routines Are Critical
The most important reason for creating a school timetable is developing a routine for all students and staff. Just as teachers must develop routines for their students to build a class structure, administrators must use the school timetable to clearly delineate exactly when and where students go to class and when teachers are scheduled to teach. If an administrator creates a poor timetable, which either requires teachers to work several consecutive periods or students to go without an elective, such as art, music or physical education for two or three consecutive days, the management effects trickle down to the teachers and an unsustainable student behavior situation results.
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