Teachers have a lot on their plates. From planning lessons around the latest pedagogical paradigms, to performing in-depth assessments for every student, to keeping parents informed about upcoming projects and deadlines — among many other responsibilities — it’s no wonder that many school districts are turning to electronic scheduling solutions. These applications can help to manage the complex academic schedules and parent communications that teachers must facilitate. If you’re looking to streamline your teachers’ schedules, here are a few elements you should look for in a robust calendar tool.

Easy Updates

The most important thing to look for in a calendar tool is ease of use. If it’s not easy to set up classes, projects and homework assignments — or to make changes for snow days and other unforeseen events — teachers will never use it. A good calendar will be easy to use and, unlike paper-based calendars, it will allow teachers to move assignments around without wasting paper or having to erase.

The tool you choose should allow teachers to create and change schedules on their tablets or Chromebooks, whether they’re on school premises or not. And, if possible, look for an application with drag-and-drop features that most teachers will find intuitive and easy to use.

Student and Parent Viewing Options

Another important consideration is the ease with which schedules and homework assignments can be shared with students and their parents. Look for a tool that offers either a student version that parents can use, or one that allows teachers to set up access privileges for different groups of people. A group of teachers within a department may want to share calendar information that students don’t need to see, such as meeting times, and it’s likely that these teachers won’t want due date reminders popping up for other teachers’ assignments.

Additionally, parents will likely want information about assignment due dates — especially those big projects students seem to put off until the week they’re due — so they can keep track of what their kids are working on. This is a really powerful use of a simple calendar tool to help encourage parents and students to communicate about schoolwork and learning activities.

Integration With Existing Tools

A useful scheduling application will seamlessly integrate into the ecosystem teachers are currently using. In fact, it can be cumbersome and confusing to use one app to schedule, then have to transfer everything over to another tool for learning management.

One good example of this is EduSync’s TeacherCal, which integrates into Google’s classroom tools. This calendar tool works with the Google applications teachers are already using to create project folders in their Google Drives and to allow easy attachment of Google Docs, containing assignment instructions, syllabi and other important information for students.

Another great feature of TeacherCal is the ability to automatically push project updates to all the Google Calendars attached to a course. This way, students can’t say they didn’t see a revised due date because those changes populate automatically in their calendars. Students can see their assignments using the EddyCal app that’s targeted to their needs. Teachers can also decide whether each item they create is private or public so they only share items with the right stakeholders.

A well-designed and easy-to-use calendar tool will be a boon to teachers as they work with multiple students, and their parents, on their learning goals. Keep these tips in mind when deploying a calendar application for teachers in your school.

What approach have you found most successful for managing teaching and learning schedules? Leave a comment below.

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Jennifer Roland

Jennifer Roland is an experienced ed tech writer, having worked on various ISTE publications for 12 years before striking out on her own. Her work has appeared in Ed Tech: Focus on K-12, NPR-affiliate KQED’s education blog MindShift and edCetera. Jennifer’s first book, "The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology," was published by ISTE in 2009. Follow her posts about ed tech and marketing at edtechcopywriter.com. Follow her on Twitter: @jenroland

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