The Rhythm of School Schedules

The following blog was contributed by Greg Deja, Principal of Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, MI.

Greg Deja and Simon Jeynes will be presenting, “There’s No Time for That! How to Interrogate the Rhythm of Your School’s Schedule” at the 2019 NCEA Institute for Catholic School Leaders (ICSL 2019).

ICSL 2019 is an engaging professional development opportunity for principals, aspiring principals, presidents, pastors and board members. Save the date: July 14-17 in Indianapolis! Information about ICSL 2019 can be reviewed at Registration opens at the end of March!

Many of us can relate to the title of one principal’s presentation title in which he laments, “There’s no time for that!” But Greg Deja, Principal/CEO of Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, wants to have a conversation that interrogates that perception while looking deeply at school schedules.   

He suggests the schedule is far from just a mathematical slicing of each day. Rather, he will make the case that the schedule is a moral document infused with meaning in every moment, especially when considering research on chronobiology and child/adolescent development.  

“The schedule, I believe, provides the greatest impact to all those who live their daily reality at your school,” says Deja.  

This topic became a passion of his when he moved between two Catholic, college-prep high schools, one of which had a fairly progressive schedule while the other did not. In this transition, he could not help but notice students and staff were hurried. On a good day, the school with the traditional schedule had a hum of business and intense focus; on a typical day, it was imbued with a subdued angst. Deep collaboration was negligible. Thoughtful discussions and reflections took incredible discipline and commitment. Self-care was always compromised in the name of efficiency.  

As Deja questioned these operations and interactions, he found the school had desired to change the schedule for years—it had been decades old, after all! However, the task was too massive and it hadn’t really gotten off the ground. And for good reason—there’s much to consider.

School leadership must understand the interplay of time, space, programs, and people; they must be able to sell the ‘why’ to parents and stakeholders; they’ll need a process of gaining student input, organizing professional development with faculty, and estimating budget implications and staffing models. Then there are the logistics of room assignments, kitchen operations and transportation, too.

Deja has come full circle on all of this over a multi-year journey. In this presentation, he will express his lived experiences working within different schedules, share research and best practices of today’s best schedules, and discuss the implications involved in changing it. At the conclusion of the session, attendees will evaluate their school’s schedule and look candidly at whether it is an effective vehicle to realize your school’s mission.