Clarifying Your Coaching Role (And Adjusting to Change)

I haven’t told you yet, but this year we got a new principal.

Oh, and we also got a new Assistant Principal, a new School Designer, another math coach, and added another teacher to our Leadership Team.

So needless to say, the start of this year has been one of change and adjustment for me, and the school as a whole.

But it’s cool, because as Peyton Manning says, you always have to be prepared to adjust.

One of the pieces we had to work through, was the clarification of coaching roles and responsibilities. With all of the new folks on board, Deb (my math coaching buddy) and I felt this was an important to-do in supporting our work for the year.

The question, “how do I clarify my role and share with teachers?” is one I get often, so I hope this post will be helpful.

Coaching Roles and Responsibilities

Whether you’re a first year coach, a coach going through a period of transition, or even if you’re a fairly seasoned and stable educator, I believe this is important thinking for all of us.

Here are the steps we took to clarify our coaching roles and responsibilities, and get everyone on the same page in moving forward.

1. Set a Date and Create an Agenda

The first thing we did was request a day and time for the whole leadership team to come together.

An hour of time was requested and the outcome was defined as: To develop shared understandings of the roles and responsibilities of Instructional Coaches.

We felt that actually coming together to present what we do to our new principal and the other members of the leadership team was critical. Emailing a summary of our work for review didn’t feel sufficient, and we wanted to ensure that all questions were addressed.

2. Define and Clarify

Once we had a date on the calendar, Deb and I came together to define and clarify our work. We pulled up a Google Doc and began to get our thoughts down on what we do on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis to support the school. Here is some of what we recorded:

And the list went on!

It was super helpful to talk with Deb during this step. Through our conversation we were able to expand and build on our thinking, reminding each other that, “Hey! We also do this!” or “Eh, we should probably clarify that a bit more.”

If you don’t have a colleague to brainstorm with, try using this list above to get some ideas going.

Download Your Free Coaching Roles and Responsibilities Brainstorm Sheet

3. Present and Get on the Same Page

The next step was to come together, present, and get on the same page.

In this discussion we were also able to clarify our beliefs that coaching is a partnership approach, non-evaluative, and the confidentiality of coaching conversations is to be respected.

Because we had prepared well, remained open, and clarified key points, the meeting was a success!

We recorded next steps on chart paper and were ready to move on to sharing with the staff.

4. Share with Staff

If you’re able to hold a staff meeting to share your clarified role as an Instructional Coach and how your work connects to the school’s overall support structure, my vote would be to start here.

I realize though, that in many cases an in-person staff meeting isn’t an option, and so email is your next best bet.

For us, we had a staff meeting a few years back, and since then have largely built a strong ‘culture of coaching’. So we didn’t see the need for this again.

To be transparent however, we did want to share the outcomes of our meeting with new and returning teachers alike. We delivered this via a simple and concise email.

From there, I have further worked to clarify coaching cycles with teachers on a one-one basis during our kick-off meetings.

OK, let’s pause here for a quick reflection. Where are your thoughts in connection to the following questions:

  • Can I easily explain the work I do as an Instructional Coach to others?
  • Do I feel clear on the work I am doing on a daily basis?
  • Am I on the same page as my principal and leadership team as to my coaching role and responsibilities?
  • Do teachers clearly understand how my work connects to the school’s overall support structure?
  • Do teachers understand how I am able to support them as a coach?

Hmmm. If you’re not feeling super confident in answering YES! to any of these questions, consider if there may be some further work to do on clarifying your Instructional Coaching role.

If you have any thoughts or questions that I may be able to help with, please share in the comments below. You can also always reach out to me through email. I’m here!

To clear skies and smooth sailing ahead,

 

 

PS: If you’re interested in learning more about Coaching Cycles, make sure to sign up for my Coaching Cycle Workshop! It’s taken me longer to put together than I had anticipated given some revisions and additions I’ve made, but I’m really excited about how it’s turning out and I’m getting close to being done. Shooting for end of October.

I’ll be offering a special Early Bird Price for those who sign up early for the Workshop, so don’t miss out!

DIY Creative School Welcome Wall

The kids have arrived! And it’s been fun, fun to see how excited everyone is to be back at school. The school is looking pretty good, and teachers are getting back into the routine and flow of our school days. But last week was a different story! Everyone was hustling to get classrooms set-up, first week plans figured out, and the school overall ready to greet kids for the first day.

One of the hustle projects I worked on was DIY-ing a Creative School Welcome Wall. It’s a project I’ve done for the past few years, and each year I think about how to do it a little differently. This year I was inspired to create a cool watercolor theme, and was super psyched about the result.

A school welcome wall is a terrific way to add some positivity and beauty to a school environment.

In case you’re thinking you might like to work on a School Welcome Wall yourself, here are the steps I took to create ours.

1. Choose a Space 

You can go big or small with the space you choose, but I’m always about bigger can be better when it comes to designing showcase boards/walls such as a Welcome Space. With this particular wall, I’m introducing our staff so I wanted to get as creative and artistic as I could in doing so. And for that, I needed a bigger space.

At first glance it was just a plain white wall, that I could have stuck a few photos to and called it good. But that just wouldn’t be my style.

So I fancied it up with some cool cabinet knobs that I found at Hobby Lobby. I asked our custodian to help me drill them in, then I had the perfect photo hanging accessory. A little black string tied from knob to knob, and voila! I’ve just created the perfect space to work with.

2. Take Some Photos

Next step – photos. I grabbed my camera, chose a consistent neutral background, and snapped away during a staff meeting break. That way, I had all 35+ staff members in the same location, and didn’t have to spend a ton of time tracking everyone down.

3. Gather Your Materials

Ooo, this was the fun part. I started by designing the watercolor “theme” I was going to go with, which included a Welcome sign, name frames, and small squares to serve as a backing for each teacher’s “fun fact.” (note – I printed all these materials on thick white paper both for better color and sturdiness)

And guess what?! I put together all the materials I created for the Welcome Wall in a downloadable kit just for you. Woo Hoo!

Sign up for blog updates and get the Free Watercolor Welcome Board Printables

4. Start Assembling

With the watercolor theme in mind, I chose black and kraft-colored card stock for the backing, and some fun washi tape for matting the photos.

I also asked teachers to write a “fun fact” about themselves on a post it note. These will be put on top of the watercolor squares.

5. Put It Up!

After each photo collage was assembled, I hung them up using more washi tape, and organized them by grade level/administration/specialist team. Teachers have been super busy with the first week of school, so I don’t have all the ‘fun facts’ up yet, but we’ll get there.

Once I had each photo hung, I stood back, admired my work, and gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. It’s been fun to hear from teachers how excited they were to see the new staff Welcome Wall :)

And just for kicks, the glorious before and after of this fun and rewarding DIY project:

I hope you had some fun reading this post and thinking about what Welcome Space you may be able to create at your school for this year. If you do decide to DIY a Creative School Welcome Wall, send me a pic! I’d love to see it.

Happy School DIY-ing!

8 Ways to Get Pumped for the School Year

I woke up on Monday morning this week and thought:

Oh man. This is it. My last week of Summer 2016.

Sad day.

Here’s the thing: A little case of the Summer’s Over Blues is totally normal and allowed. So I let myself get a little blue-sy, thought about all of my fun summer memories, but then I knew it was time to move on and get those blues turned around. STAT.

So this week I swung myself into Let’s Get Pumped for School Mode. And I’m feeling goooood!

If you’ve been feeling a little Summer’s Over Blue-sy too, or you’re just looking to add a bit more swagger in your step as you head into the new year, I’ve got you covered.

Here are a few of my favorite ‘Get Pumped for the School Year’ tips and resources.

BTW – Make sure you get to the last tip. I’ve got a special little treat for you :)

1. Back to School Shopping

Back in my elementary school days, there was pretty much nothing that used to get me more excited than Back to School shopping. Seriously! The smell of a new back pack, new crayons and My Little Pony Folders, and of course a brand new pair of shoes. One year my mom bought me a pair of Reebok Pumps (remember those?!) and made me wait until the very first day of school to wear them. I was SO excited for the first day and my new Reebok Pumps, I couldn’t even stand it!!!

And to this day, I still go Back to School Shopping with my mom, pick out a new outfit, and set it aside for the first day of school. It’s so fun! Here are a few cute things I grabbed for this year:

2. Get Organized

You know me…I looooove getting organized. And for good reason. Organization makes you feel happy, confident, and calm in the midst of what can be our chaotic days as educators.

This week I went through my Master List, got my August Monthly Plans in place, and broke out my new Time & ToDo Planner (TTP) for the year. I also got my Coaching Kit put together, Google Docs organized, and my bag all cleaned out. Feels great to be all set up and ready to jump back into the routine of my school days!

3. Decorate

I love decorating just about as much as I love organizing. And there’s pretty much no better time to decorate than the beginning of the school year. Just think of the possibilities!…your PD Pad, coaching office, or TTP. A well decorated space, big or small, helps you feel inspired and motivated to take on your day.

More details coming up this month on my updated coaching space, but it will definitely include lots of pics of the Sommie Dog and cool prints. (in the meantime, check out Michelle’s space)

And since I think you’re awesome and want you to have an inspiring space too, I made this print just for you!

When you download it you’ll find a 16×20″ file which you can print off at Walgreens, frame and put in your office. Sweet! I also made you a smaller letter size version of the poster, which you can laminate and put on the inside of your TTP or Coaching Kit so it’ll keep you going throughout the day :)

Sign up for blog updates and get the Free BE BOLD Poster

4. Set Some Goals

Last year I made this Goal Setting Tool to help you think about what you want to get better at as a coach. If you’ve already downloaded your copy (and if not, make sure to grab it!) and filled it out, take some time to revisit the goals you set for yourself and assess how you did. Is there an area where you’d like to put more of a focus on this year? Write that goal down and post it somewhere you’ll see it frequently.

Push yourself, learn along the way, and keep getting better.

5. Plan for Great PD

Planning PD can either be a dreaded, can’t someone else do it experience, OR something you’re pumped about and looking forward to. Something I’ve found to make PD planning and facilitation more exciting, is to make it fun! And by that I mean think about how you can shake things up this year from the standard talk, read, take notes model.

I went in this week and met with my coaching teammies to plan our beginning of year PD and it was fun! I’m definitely pumped for what we have planned for our new teachers next week.

And don’t you worry. I’ll for sure be sharing some fun ways to plan for great PD in these next few months :)

6. Coach a Coach

What do I mean by this? Teaching others about what you do is one of the best and maybe most important ways to get excited about your work. Just look at this blog! Staying connected with you and sharing about what I’m doing and learning as a coach totally gets me more excited about what I do.

And this will be an extra special year, since I get to work with Melissa as she begins to make her move into the world of coaching. She’ll likely be shadowing me for the beginning of the year to learn some coaching fundamentals, before she begins to get into a few classrooms on her own. I’m psyched!

So for you, is there anyone in your building who is interested in coaching or just taking on more of a leadership role? Could you initiate a connection with them somehow, or invite them to tag along with you for a coaching convo? Think creatively about how you might be able to inspire, mentor, or lead others.

7. Work It Out

Gretchen over at the awesome Always a Lesson Podcast, asked me in our chat last week what advice I have for teachers to stay ignited and passionate about their work. And the advice I have is pretty simple, but not always easy to do: Take Care of Yourself.

With all the demands of our days, and everyone else we’re taking care of in classrooms and schools, it’s so important to look out for yourself too.

And one of the best ways to do that is to Work It Out. In the morning, at lunch, after school, whenever. It doesn’t really matter when you do it, just do your best to make moving your body each day a non-negotiable in your schedule.

After a good cycle class in the morning, I feel like superwoman – pumped up and ready to attack the day!

And speaking of getting your body moving…

8. Dance Par-tay!

OK! How ya feeling? Hopefully you’ve got a big smile on your face and the first word that comes to mind is P-U-M-P-E-D, PUMPED!

Now listen up, because this part is important. Don’t forget the “STAY Pumped” part of this whole thing. When those tricky days come up (which they will), don’t forget about these tips. Maybe bookmark this post, and come on back here and we’ll dance it up together to get you back on the right track.

Here’s to a great year!

 

 

PS: Here are a few other posts you might like to check out as you get going with the year:

The First Weeks of School What Do I Do?

My First Week Back

PPS: If you’re feeling pumped up, please take a sec to share this post with others or leave a comment below. I sure would appreciate it!