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In Step With DC
How Pre-Registration creates a Fall Class Schedule
Written by Joe Naftal on April 21, 2017

Ever wonder how Dance Connection creates its Fall Schedule or what the point of Pre-Registration really is?  Joe Naftal, Dance Connection’s Marketing Director, walks us through an insider’s look at how the Pre-Registration process works and the work that goes into creating the fall schedule.

In the midst of priority pre-registration week, you may be wondering how we get from pre-registration to the complete fall schedule you receive over the summer.  Our class scheduling process is very different from many of the other dance studios I’ve spoken with from across the country.  Each spring, we take class requests from everyone who pre-registers and use that to create a custom schedule for every dance season.  It’s a long and complicated process to create a custom schedule based on requests, but we’ve found it’s well worth it, creating the best schedule possible for everyone.

The process starts off with Priority Pre-Registration Week where we collect requests including class days & times.  All of that gets input into a proprietary piece of software we’ve developed to store and sort everyone’s class pre-registrations and requests.  When pre-registration closes, our system is able to produce a series of detailed reports showing us all of the different classes and requests.

Around this time, teachers for our Ballet, Tap, and Jazz classes complete detailed internal class assessments for each of their students.  The faculty then meets to level students into class groupings based on level and ability.  The point is never to move a student “up” or “down” but rather to create classes of dancers at the same level that can move forward together with opportune learning outcomes and appropriate challenge.

Once the classes are leveled and reports are generated with request summaries, the studio management team works to create the perfect fall schedule – something much easier said than done.  To make the schedule easier to look at and more tangible, we place each of the classes up on a wall and move them around like the world’s longest game of Tetris. Our team looks at the schedule from all angles, factoring in each student’s requests, level, class needs, as well as faculty & room availability, class overlap, and parking.  This is a process that takes a few weeks of round-the-clock work and very late nights (while this is going on, the same team is responsible for the studio’s day-to-day operations and summer programs).

After the schedule is moved around and seemingly complete, we go through and double check all of our work to make sure that no one was overlooked, no conflicts/requests were missed and that there are no overlaps in student/teacher schedules or within each room.  If there are any errors or mistakes, we go through and figure out how to fix them and start the error checking process all over again.

While our goal is always to create a completely perfect schedule that accommodates 100% of our student and parent requests, it is never possible to create a schedule that is perfect for everyone.  There are some requests that we simply cannot grant, no matter how hard we try, due to class demand, the schedules of the other students or teachers, or the limits of how many classes we can run at the same time.  It’s very disappointing to us when we aren’t able to meet a request from pre-registration, since it’s the goal of our mission when creating the schedule.  Luckily, due to the way we handle pre-registration and class scheduling, we are able to accommodate the vast majority of requests received.

After the class schedule is complete, we enter all of the classes into our Account/Student management system and register students into all of their classes.  After a few last minute checks to be sure that everything was inputted correctly, we distribute class confirmations to everyone via email.  Once that is done, the class schedule is complete and we are ready to begin another wonderful year of dance!

Joe Naftal

Joe Naftal is the Marketing Director for Dance Connection. When not working at Dance Connection, Joe has a career as a theatrical lighting designer, assistant designer, and production manager. His experience spans the worlds of classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, ballet, modern dance, and opera. In addition to his work at Dance Connection, Joe collaborates with Dance Studio Owners across the country, is a member of the Panel of Experts, has been featured in the business section of Dance Teacher Magazine, and was on the seminar faculty for the 2016 Dance Teacher Summit in New York City. Joe holds a BFA from UNC School of the Arts and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).