Professional with dark shoulder-length hair points to a computer screen with graphs on it. A second screen shows a calendar.

Rethinking Master Schedules: Build a School Day That Prioritizes People

Both learners and teachers need more time — not to do more of the same, but to use all time in new, different, and better ways. The key to liberating learning lies in unlocking time.

1994 Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning

The Unlocking Time site includes just about everything you could want/need when considering adopting a new master schedule for your school and/or district.

This can be exciting, inspiring, and overwhelming.

We recommend starting with these resources:

  • ERS School Scheduling Tools
    • Three Steps to a Strategic Schedule
      • Step 1: Reflect on Current School Schedule 
      • Step 2: Explore Scheduling Strategies 
      • Step 3: Design a Strategic Schedule 

Time Strategies

These are some strategies that can work within different master schedule models. These are NOT master schedules.

Not all of these strategies may work for your school/district, but some may as-is or with a little rethinking. Maybe you’re already implementing some of these strategies. Maybe you’ve tried one/some in the past but moved away from it/them (if they really didn’t work for your school community, then skip them, but if there’s a chance they could work now, they might be worth considering again).

All of the strategies are available here, but we’ve organized them by grade level for you for quicker access (middle school, MS, is included as secondary). Yes, there is only one elementary-only strategy, but all the “all grades” strategies apply for elementary as well. Because secondary scheduling is more complex, it comes with more challenges, but also more options to strategize how you divide up the day, week, and year.

Click the links below for details and resources for each strategy.




Related Articles

Case Study: Merced Union High School District

Through its work with Inflexion, MUHSD is seeing strong results in student outcomes and in closing the opportunity gap for underserved students. California School Dashboard data show College/Career Indicator scores for African American, Hispanic, English Learners, students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are 16 to 29 points higher than the state average.

Passion. Pride. Promise. Two Leaders Help Pave the Way for Their Students & Communities

Tucked away in the hills of rural western Oregon, the Vernonia and Gaston school districts defy many of the stereotypes most of us hold when we think of rural schools. Their communities face both common and unique challenges. Vernonia Elementary Principal, Michelle Eagleson, and Gaston Superintendent, Summer Catino, share how their small schools and communities achieve greatness.

Conduct Empathy Interviews: Elevating Student Voices, So You Can Understand and Support Them

Empathy Interviews provide an opportunity to really understand a student, or group of students, by diving deeper than the surface-level question, “How are you?” and receiving the typical response, “I’m fine.” These interviews inform intentional classroom and school-level action by elevating student voices and garnering a better understanding of student needs (SEL and well-being), and experiences (engagement). This resource provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an empathy interview.