Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Master Calendar

When I began teaching, my principal handed out a weekly calendar printed from a mimeograph machine!  Yes.  Blue letters and an interesting odor!  Soon afterwards, he sent them out via email.  Every week, we got a weekly letter from him that included a calendar of events that teachers needed to know.  We teachers also wrote down calendar items in our giant red planning books.  It was pretty simple.

Not anymore.  For example, between the mid 90's and now, required assessments alone have changed the way we keep a calendar.  Our district currently requires assessments every nine weeks in reading, writing, and math.  Each one of those include a window for its administration and a due date for scanning them into Eduphoria.  That is three calendar items for each test.  We also must create and administer mid-term assessments that must be scanned into Eduphoria.  The students are also required to take a computer-based assessment in reading and math at least once per month.  Finally, add the state tests and the preceding practice tests to the calendar.

Now I know what you're thinking!  What a ridiculous amount of testing!  That is another topic.  For fourth grade teachers at my campus, there are at least 82 different testing events that go on the calendar.

This is just for assessments.  This is just one example of the huge number of calendar items that teachers juggle.

On a weekly basis, there are always numerous other events that teachers need to keep up with:

  • mandatory training deadlines
  • observations
  • team meetings
  • faculty meetings
  • committee meetings
  • special events
  • report card deadlines
  • progress report deadlines
  • data analysis deadlines
Clear the path
Because I believe that one of the principal's main duties is to clear paths for teachers, making sure that everyone on campus has an easy grasp of everything that goes on the calendar is extremely helpful to teachers.  

Google, Outlook, and every other major email service that schools use includes calendar features that allow users to set up groups and send calendar invitations or meeting requests for events.  Use these features!

Set up your groups each summer.  Give rights to the folks in the office to help you.  If 4th grade teachers need to know the dates you will be meeting with them to discuss data, send them a meeting request.  The meeting shows up on their personal calendar.  This process takes only seconds longer than adding it to the master calendar as a simple event.

Do not simply place the event on a giant, shared master calendar.  This practice requires every single person to search through the calendar weeks at a time, searching for events that are pertinent.  When events are sent by calendar invitation, teachers only need to look at their own calendar.  Teachers can select to receive reminders on their computers and on their phones!  

When you send calendar invitations, your system will automatically notify teachers about the new event via email.  This is a good thing!  Make this the only way you put things on the calendar!  Don't expect teachers to keep up with calendar items too well if they receive information verbally at faculty meetings, through regular email, from a team leader, written on a folder, and through a handout in their mailbox.  When calendar items come from multiple sources in a haphazard manner, teachers will be frustrated and stressed.

Include a calendar in your weekly email.  Sending out calendar items on a weekly basis helps teachers ensure they are keeping up with all the deadlines.  Plus, it is super easy for teachers to know they can check your Friday message at anytime to double-check calendar events.

But they are professionals!  They should keep up with their own calendars!
Teachers are professionals.  Organizing your calendar communication and systematically reminding teachers of the multitude of deadlines does not diminish their professionalism.  It increases your leadership capacity by showing that you support their efforts and do you best to make their lives easier!  Clear the teachers' path by making their calendar lives easier!

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