Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Posts tagged ‘timetable’

A timetable metaphor

Last week I started trying to put together the timetable for the new school year. This is the third time I’ve done the timetable for my school, not counting changes that happen through the year. I’ve worked out a few systems for myself now, and as I’ve got to know teachers, students (especially 121s) and what does and doesn’t work, things have got a bit easier, but it’s still an all-consuming task. I have no idea how those who do timetables at schools with continuous enrolment manage it!

What my head feels like right now! (Image from Pixabay)

It’s like you’re trying to do a jigsaw, with people adding random extra pieces all the time, and occasionally taking them away.

There is a deadline, but you know that the picture will still have to change for at least a couple of weeks after the deadline has passed – it’s never truly finished.

The end result has to be a picture that is as pleasing as possible to various different groups of people: students, staff (approximately a third of whom you’ve only had a couple of hours of conversation with during interviews and have never met in person), admin staff, businesses etc. You’ve never seen this picture and have no idea what it’s supposed to look like.

Said people are also looking over your shoulder, offering advice, asking questions, and sometimes telling you that the picture just doesn’t look right that way or that they’re not happy with that particular part of the image.

You go home, sleep on it (or not, as the case may be!), and occasionally wake up in the middle of the night thinking ‘Duh! How could I possibly have forgotten that?’ or ‘Oh yeah – that would be a much better picture.’

You’ve been on the other side of the process as a teacher, and you have a pretty good idea of what is manageable in terms of a timetable. You try as hard as you can to make things as easy as possible for your teachers, a lot of whom have never taught before, while at the same time matching up students and groups to those who you believe will be most likely to teach them successfully. You also try to balance timetables, so that they seem ‘fair’ when the inevitable comparing begins. You also know it could be a lot worse for them.

Three or four weeks later, after many hours of work and countless to-ing and fro-ing, you hand out the timetables to everyone. And then the complaints roll in.

But at the same time, there is a sense of satisfaction. This giant, ever-changing logic puzzle has coalesced into something that looks like it just might work. Now you just have to wait and see…

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One month in…

(Originally posted on my googlesites blog, 26 September 2010)

After a month back at IH Brno my timetable has finally settled down, just in time for a public holiday on Tuesday 28th September! I have a range of classes covering:

  • three general English classes (one Intermediate and two Advanced)
  • a teen class
  • a YL class
  • a one-to-one with a near-native 9-year-old
  • an FCE Intensive class (5 x 3 hours per week)
  • a CAE standard class (2 x 90 minutes per week)
  • a one-to-one with a proficient ex-translator and Legal English specialist
  • two other one-to-one adults
  • an ESP financial English class
  • two other company classes (one studying Business English and one General)

So, a little bit of everything really!

And as if all that weren’t enough, I will also be studying for my Certificate in Advanced Methodology (CAM) starting on the 1st October. I will use this space for my course journal, as well as for my aforementioned thoughts on technology in the classroom, which so far has run to creating a space on Edmodo for all of my groups. The FCE Intensive group have really embraced it, replying to questions and posing their own, as well as submitting homework through the site, and generally taking the ‘community’ out of the classroom, and practising their writing skills at the same time! There’s an example of some of their exchanges below. Hopefully this can be repeated with at least some of my other groups!

An example of Edmodo use by my FCE Intensive group
I’ve also done a technology survey with almost all of my groups to find out what they already aware of. In the next month I hope to put the information I’ve gained to use and start encouraging students to make the most of the technology they have at their fingertips.

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