I have worked in school systems where the master schedule is kept under lock and key and a huge sheet (teachers found out what they were teaching by running into students who informed them, "I'm in your class!"), and I have worked in school systems where we all put in our preferences and work together to come up with the best possible schedule for students and teachers alike (everyone left for the summer knowing mostly what they were teaching).
What is your school system's system? What do you like best? How much of your summer do you spend planning for next school year?
I work in a relatively small private school and we usually find out the definite next year's schedule by the end of July. But I usually already have a "heads-up" as to what grade level I will be teaching and a tentative idea about the students that will be coming into my classroom the next year. Because we are so small, I'm on a first-name basis with every student in the school and know their personality already.
We start teacher planning meetings around the first of July and meet on a weekly basis until everything is finalized.
For the past couple of years, we have received our schedule during the last week of school. In February, we put in our preferences, and usually we get our preferences--although our principal does like to use class assignments as rewards or punishments.
One summer, I didn't find out until the middle of July what I was teaching, and that made it difficult to plan because two of the classes were ones I had never taught before. I've found over the years that if you can specialize in certain classes, that that helps. For example, I'm one of only two people in our large department who is certified to teach an AP class; so I always teach at least two sections of that AP class every year.
Our district gets the Master schedule for next year set in March, we register students for the next school year in April. Our teachers know what classes they will be teaching at that time. The classes generally will not change after that time.
I have worked in the wonderful position whereby I knew what classes I would have before the holidays - sadly now I have a rough idea but as we are a small school senior classes chop and change even into the school year, so I may be two weeks in to term before my timetable is finalised! I have English and Special Ed: the latter may change termly. I choose now to have an overall plan and a termly review - doesn't make for many holidays.
It varies, but over the past few years has been pretty steady with our new principal. About April we find out a new master schedule and have registration for the following year. There have been times in my 17 year career where I didn't know until the week before school.
In public school I usually received my schedule about 2 weeks before school - and often it contained a surprise.
In the private school I worked in, I was the ONLY English teacher - so I pretty much knew my schedule and was able to work directly with my principal about ideas and things I wanted to do and teach. I LOVED it.
I work in a fairly large high school, and our schedules were finalized in May. It is really nice to know what is coming! I teach special ed, and the scheduling is one reason I would never go back to elementary special ed. I had to pull kids from different grades at different times for different subjects, when not all classes of the same grade even had the same subject at the same time! We were supposed to pull the kids after the mini-lesson by the gen ed teacher in that particular subject, and it was *very* difficult to schedule. Then half the time there would be an assembly or a birthday party, and the teachers would have switched things around. We NEVER got our plan time, and rarely got an actual lunch break.
We generally find out with a few weeks to go in school, but changes can always take place. We had a major shake up not too long ago because of some staffing changes.
So most of the planning happens over the summer, particularly when you have new preps to work with.
In our school, the administration comes up with the master schedule, and if we get something that we don't like, then we have to bargain with other teachers and trade classes around, working it out ourselves. I always put in a request of my "ideal schedule," and most years, they have been able to accomodate me, for the most part. However, with budget cuts, we have lost teachers AND programs. We have all had to sacrifice, teaching classes we never have before, or taking on classes that we might not like. Next year, I am slated to teach 10th graders, which I haven't done for 9 years. So my summer will be spent coming up with a year's worth of curriculum for them. I don't mind; I'm grateful to have a job.
Our master schedule typically rolls out in March or April, which is pretty nice. The past couple years though, with so many changes, the administration hasn't known who would be staying or going for quite some time, so we were informed of our classes a lot later.
I would go crazy if I didn't know until June, July, or later!! I'm such an insane planner that I would be totally stressed out about that. I normally plan my entire year, and make all my copies in the summer and am ready to go. Other teachers have informed me that I am freak of nature in this regard however, so, I'm glad that it sounds like most people are more able to roll with circumstances that are more spontaneous.
I must admit, I do have a general idea of which grades I am likely to teach and so have an overall general plan in place pretty early on during the holidays, but I only begin serious planning when I know for definite what I am facing. I have unfortunately had too many instances when I have planned for groups or grades and then everything has changed and all that planning has been for naught. Benefit of experience!
My present school system has promised to have the master schedule finished by mid-June and all of us should be mailed a copy of our schedule for next year by the end of the month.
That gives me July to plan a little for new additions to curriculum and to come up with new units for old curriculum which incorporate more technology and multiple-intelligences learning styles.
I like having a month to play and then a month to begin planning before I have to get back to the grind of PD, pre-planning, and meeting the new group of students in August.