This document is meant to serve as an overview of the entire master schedule process with links to specific scheduling tasks. Use this document to learn the scheduling tool and to reflect on the school site's scheduling practices. Every site has different scheduling needs and very few school sites will make use of every master scheduling feature offered in Illuminate.
Throughout this document, users will find Introductions, Info, Tips, and Warnings:
Introductions provide a high-level overview of what is being accomplished in each phase. Introductions include a list of the key staff engaged in in each scheduling phase. Use the Introduction to understand how each phase works within the scheduling process.
Info highlights new features and recent changes in the system. Alerts also draw the user's attention to time-saving tools and tricks. Info helps the user get the most out of the Illuminate product.
Tips provide best practices in master scheduling. Tips prompt the user to look at their own policies and procedures with the intent of improving services to the students. Tips feature best practices learned from Illuminate users and staff. Tips guide the user to create a student-centered master schedule.
Warnings draw the user's attention to critical questions and overlooked details. The warnings within this document have come from Illuminate users and staff. Warnings will help new users benefit from the wisdom of the crowd.
Many elementary schools, summer schools, and small secondary secondary sites do not need all of Illuminate's data-informed scheduling tools. There is a Quick Master Schedules chapter to assist these smaller schools.
When can a site use the Quick Master Schedules Guide?
- Students stay with the same teacher all day.
- Students may change teachers, but they stay in the same cohort of students all day (i.e. the entire class goes to music and P.E. as group).
- Course Requests are not used to place students. Students are scheduled on-the-fly based on individual needs (Often seen in a credit recovery or a summer school setting).
- Sections are needed for gradebook/reporting purposes only; the class does not meet on a regular schedule (Often seen in an independent study or credit recovery school).
Illuminate allows users to create multiple draft schedules at the same time. The advantage is two-fold:
- Multiple drafts allow the user to play out different scheduling possibilities. Multiple drafts are useful when a school's staffing may be in flux, or if the school is exploring the idea of teams, houses, or common planning periods. This allows the school leader to create a "safe" schedule and an "experimental" schedule at the same time.
- Multiple drafts can be used to create saved backups. Users that duplicate the schedule before starting each phase have a fallback option if something does not work correctly during scheduling.
Power Users have a systematic naming convention for all their drafts. Name each draft with the phase and and the date created. If multiple users work on the schedule at the same time, make sure everyone knows and understands the naming convention. Drafts cannot be merged.
Some scheduling data is Draft Independent, and other data is Draft Specific. Experienced users know the difference:
Draft Independent data is set at the site level. It is data that is true across all scheduling drafts. Changing draft independent data will impact all drafts. Some examples of draft independent data:
- Course Requests (Students only get one set of course requests per school year)
- Teacher Course Affiliation
- Teacher Timeblock Affiliation
- Student-Student Restrictions
- Student-Teacher Restrictions
- Student affiliation with Scheduling Houses
- The first half of the Course Tally (the part that reports the count of requests)
Draft Specific data can vary between drafts. This allows the user to create different drafts and explore different schedules before publishing a live draft. Some examples of draft dependent data are:
- Course Tally (the part that bulk-creates sections)
- Course Sections
- Placement of sections on the master schedule board
- Linked Sections
- Teacher-Course Links
- Section affiliation with Scheduling Houses
- Student enrollment in Sections
- Locked Rosters
- Student-Timeblock Restrictions
A unit of study. Examples include: English 9, Math 7, Art 1, Speech and Debate, Marching Band. Many schedules will have multiple sections of the same course.
A single session of a course. A section is tied to a teacher, timeblock, and term. A schedule may have many English 9 sections, each assigned to a unique combination of teacher, timeblock and term.
Also called periods, blocks, or sessions. It is a single unit of time, as defined by the Illuminate user.
Now that you are familiar with the basics of how Master Scheduling works, take a look at The WHY of Master Scheduling - Putting all the pieces together.