These might be the two most dreaded words in a music teacher’s vocabulary. Close contenders include:
Softball Practice. (Volleyball, Soccer, Baseball, etc…)
Creating a fall schedule can feel like you’re playing a never-ending game of Twister. Move one student into a spot that works and suddenly you discover 3 other students who also need that spot, and of course there’s now a left-over spot that apparently nobody can use. To quote my high school choir teacher…
“It’s like trying to fit 10 lbs. of flour into a 5 lb. bag.”
Ahhh… the joys of fall scheduling!
No matter what kind of a system you use — figuring out a schedule for the beginning of a new school year can be time consuming and a tad frustrating. Don’t despair! There are some things that you can do to ease the process. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years:
- Start Your Schedule After Labor Day. (Or even later if you can!) Many extracurricular schedules aren’t finalized until halfway through the month, and having to switch students around constantly makes for a very hectic September. For the past two years I’ve started lessons the day after Labor Day, and it’s worked pretty well for my studio.
- Be Flexible. If you know that the first couple of weeks of fall are going to be insane, build in a couple of “extra” spots outside of your normal schedule just for a couple of weeks. Use them if you need a last-minute option while you figure things out (swapping lesson times, etc.) Extra tip: You might want to make some crock pot or freezer meals that first week! Tracy Selle has some great tips to make mealtime a priority as a music teacher.
- Start with an Old Schedule. This is my preferred method. I like to offer my students the times that they had in the spring, and then take requests as necessary. This gives me somewhere to start, which is really helpful when you’re trying to juggle 35 students.
- Start Fresh. Some teachers like to start with a clean slate by creating an empty schedule and having students/parents sign up. Sign-Up Genius is a good option for this kind of schedule creation. This might be best for smaller studios.
- Use a Survey. For the past two years I’ve used Google Forms to get my students registered for fall lessons. If they need a new lesson time, I have them list a range of days/times that will work. I’ve also heard about a lot of teachers who use rating systems — parents rate days/times on a scale of 1-4, 1 being the most convenient and 4 being the least convenient.
Curious to see what a Google Form Fall Registration might look like? I created a simplified copy of my Fall Registration and Studio Agreement form. You can check it out by clicking the image below. Feel free to test it out!
Scheduling madness will pass and soon you’ll be well on your way to slowly going insane due to the 15 students all practicing “Carol of the Bells” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
Now doesn’t that make you feel better?
How do you get through the scheduling season in your studio? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below!
Be sure to check out Part 1 of my Gearing Up for Fall series!
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