Demographics:

Alpine School District in Utah serves over 82,000 students across 89 schools.

Biggest challenge:

Our student count in any given grade level (9-12) ranges from 450 students to almost 1,200. Therefore, you can imagine the challenges we  faced when we tried to schedule students using traditional methods.

We struggled to balance accommodating students, teachers, and registrars with an equitable process for students to get the classes they wanted and needed for graduation. As a large district, our registrars were juggling teacher schedules, student needs, graduation requirements, and time restraints. Not to mention, students were left without immediate, side-by-side access to graduations requirements and available classes. It was a paper-trail fiasco.

Solution:

We began our search for a new registration process by evaluating numerous scheduling formats ranging from future scheduling and arena scheduling to flexible modular scheduling and rotational scheduling.

We decided to adopt arena scheduling because it allowed students to have control over their own educational path—with input from parents and counselors, of course. We believed if students had more voice in their teacher, period, and semester, they would start with immediate buy-in for their classes.

Skyward, our student information system (SIS), paired very well with arena scheduling—offering our students and staff the best possible registration experience. The system is fast, reliable, and flexible (students register from anywhere they have internet access), and it lists graduation requirements during registration. We have had 700 students hit Skyward the first minute registration opens, and we have yet to crash.

How we turned around our scheduling methods

From an organization standpoint, arena scheduling in Skyward has been a life saver. It levels the playing field, because any student who chooses to go online and schedule at the appointed time has an equal chance of getting the classes and teachers they desire. Plus, the system updates in real time, helping students avoid scheduling conflicts and overlap.

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Finally, but perhaps most important, our registrars can adjust class numbers on the fly, add sections if they need, and make any other adjustments that pop up. Arena scheduling paired with Skyward truly maximized efficiency and minimized conflicts for our district.

Lessons learned:

  • Explore new options if traditional scheduling doesn’t fit your district’s needs.
  • Incorporate more student choice and accountability into your scheduling practices.
  • Leverage technology (like an SIS) to make your new scheduling process more efficient and user-friendly.
  • Don’t underestimate your staff, students, and parents. Arena scheduling can be introduced at all levels of your district. If our registrars can train elementary students to arena schedule—which they have—junior high and high school students shouldn’t have a problem.
  • Celebrate student achievements, no matter how small! Just take one short scroll through my Twitter account (@georgiaomer) and you will find me applauding students for their arena scheduling successes.

Next steps:

  • Several of our high school locations host 9th-grade students; we are beginning the process of having our incoming 9th-grade students use arena scheduling.
  • Our middle school locations are currently discussing and outlining ways to expand arena scheduling to junior high.
  • As our technology evolves, we will move with it and continue to meet as a team to determine futuristic goals.

Next week:

See how a high school English teacher turned around students’ confidence and test scores

About the Author:

Georgia Omer is a teacher on special assignments assigned to K-12 curriculum and Skyward at Alpine (UT) School District. You can follow her on Twitter at @georgiaomer.


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