Getting Started with Blended Instructional Coaching

In a recent meeting with updates on distance learning, I saw a visual during the presentation that made me go, “Ah-ha!” That makes sense!

Essentially, the visual inspired me to make the connection between blended learning and blended instructional coaching. Just as students can engage in meaningful learning in a variety of environments, so can teachers. It makes our work as coaches a little trickier, but doable.

Whether you are currently coaching remote, hybrid, or in-person I would say that moving forward, all of our work will be blended in some capacity. And so I created this graphic to help me better understand how we can approach supporting the professional learning of teachers in a blended environment.

If you’d like to learn more about how I’ve been applying this blended coaching framework in my role, please consider joining me in the Getting Started with Instructional Coaching Pocket PD.

I’ve also created a fun planning kit to go along with the learning!

In this Pocket PD I’ll walk you through how I have been applying this blended coaching framework to my own work this year.

And lastly, there will be an optional follow-up Q&A on Zoom offered. Let’s chat and figure this out together!

Looking forward to it!

How I Use Block Scheduling to Structure My Days

Hello, and welcome back! How’s distance coaching/teaching been going for you?

I feel like I’m finally starting to get my groove with all of the distance learning things (now that school is almost over, geez!). And just like you, I’ve been adjusting to new technology, new schedules, new expectations, and establishing a “new normal” work-life balance.

Today I thought I’d walk you through what my schedule is currently looking like and how I’m managing my time, so my days don’t turn into one big blursday (ha!). Let’s get started!

Distance Learning

So the main strategy I’ve used to help give structure to my days and weeks is…block scheduling or time blocking. Time Blocking! It’s pretty amazing when you put it to good use. Jordan Page at Fun Cheap or Free has a great blog post I recently revisited that got me energized to use the time blocking strategy during these distance learning days.

Let me start by giving you an overview of how I’ve set up my distance learning blocks/schedule.

I created this schedule given the guidelines provided by our school, but I was also able to “bundle” my instructional time to all be in the morning which works better for me.

Since I’m nearing the end of the school year, I’ve also done some planning ahead for what I want my summer time blocks to look like. You’ll see they look very similar to what my current blocks look like! I just switched out the “teach” block with work I’ll be doing for myself…working on my blog, as well as keeping up with the FIVE classes I have signed up to take this summer!

Summer Block Schedule

OK. Now that you have the overview in mind, I’ll give you a closer look at what’s happening in each of my blocks.

And as we take this walk through be thinking about how you might structure your own time blocks!

I’m a morning person, so my morning block is a big chunk of my day…and my favorite! I’ve structured this time so I’m able to work on my priority projects and also get myself set-up and energized for a great teach from home day.

Next up, is my “Teach” block. As I mentioned, I was able to bundle all of my student instructional time to be during this block which has really worked well. My instructional time includes daily crew meetings with students, one-on-one instructional support time, as well as small group instruction.

I’ve been working from the kitchen table which has been just fine. I set up all of my supplies…laptop, Time & ToDo Planner, weekly work-box, water bottle and I’m ready to go!

After teaching and before planning meetings I make time for a tea break with my favorite work from home buddy…Sombra! (Luke is holding up a treat for him to pose for the pic, so he’s looking very serious :)

For my morning meetings:

  • Every day I meet with the third grade team for planning and check-in’s.
  • And on Tuesdays, I meet with IDT. This is our instructional design team. We’re currently getting started on work planning for next year.

Oh, and as far as coaching goes, my primary focus during this time has been on teaching. Lynsey (math coach/teaching partner) and I have been able to collaborate to share and present ideas with teachers for how to structure their small group instruction. Otherwise, coaching has really taken a back seat. Depending on what next year looks like, distance/virtual coaching is something I’m really going to need to wrap my brain around!

Instructional Coaching

After a morning of teaching and a few meetings, it’s time for my “Plan & Meet” block. First, I’ll stop and have some lunch. One positive about working from home is that Luke and I have been able to have lunch together every day. He has always worked from home, though my being here to make him something to eat has been a treat!

After lunch I’ll work on any planning related tasks, and I’ll take another look through any emails that have come in.

In the later part of the afternoon, I often have various meetings. A few this past week have included:

  • Interviews
  • Planning for coaching next year with our principal
  • Planning for the new interventionist roles for next year
  • Meeting with our new interventionists (I will start next year as a mentor for this team)
  • Leadership Team
Instructional Coaching Distance Learning

Next up, is my “Personal” block! First, I’ll head out and take Sombra for his afternoon walk so we can both get some fresh air. I’ve been working hard during the day so I may also make a cup of tea and catch up on a book I’ve been reading.

Distance Learning Instructional Coaching

And then lastly, it’s time for my “Evening” block. I’ll make some dinner, clean up the kitchen, and pat myself on the back for a job well done today. After all that is done, Luke, Sombra and I will snuggle up and either watch a show together OR I might just jump straight into bed with my book! (Yes, I do go to bed quite early :).

Instructional Coaching Dinner

A few additional tips for time blocking your days:

  • Color code your planner/calendar -> I like to draw colored lines in my Time & ToDo Planner to help me stay visually on track throughout the day (ps – 2020-21 planners are coming soon!)
  • I also LOVE to use checklists for routine or recurring tasks during each of my blocks. For school I have been using Google Keep. And for home, I keep a laminated checklist in my planner.
Time Blocking Distance Learning

Phew, we made it! That was fun, huh? I know I love a good day in the life post.

I hope I have given you some ideas for how you might integrate time blocking into your own time management system. Whether this week, this summer, or even next year, give it a try!

As always, thanks for taking the time to hang out with me today and I will talk to you soon!

Happy New Year! Let’s Catch Up.

How are YOU?? Good start to the new year? I hope so.

My school year has been…a change, but great! I went back to the classroom 1/2 day this past August, teaching literacy in the afternoon. Crazy, I know!

It was actually a change I requested and after eight years of coaching full day, felt like a change I was needing.

I share a classroom with our math coach. In this second half of the year, the plan is to open up our room more as a “demonstration” classroom so other teachers can learn from our modeling. (though I still have plenty to learn myself, eek!)

While you’re here let me show you around our classroom…

Being back in the classroom has been exciting, busy-busy-busy, and overall I feel reengaged in the work.

There is just so much that goes into managing a well run, well behaved classroom where kids enjoy coming every day and are making academic gains. Phew.

I’ve really had to rely on my time management system to help me keep up.

OK, now that we’ve caught up, let’s talk about plans for the New Year!

First, I’ve been working on an updated guide/planning kit for new and veteran coaches alike. It revolves around a six step system I created to help us coaches do our best work.

I feel like I’m continually weaving in and out of all six steps (ha!), though this next quarter I’m planning to zoom in on Step 4 in my own work. Here is a sneak peek…

I’ve also signed up for a Reflective Reading Course online.

The course allows you to select which books you want to read for your own professional development, and you’ll receive one salary advancement credit for each book you read.

My goal is to read 1-2 professional books a month, not only because there’s so much I’m excited to learn(!!), but I’m also working on building up my salary advancement credits this year.

If you’re interested in joining, here’s what I’m reading this month:

Now that my blogging brain has turned back on, I also have so much I’m wanting to share with you in this coming year!

If there is a particular topic you are interested in or question you’d like to have addressed on the blog, feel free to leave it in the comments or send me an email :)

Lastly, as we head into this New Year, there’s a fun song I’ve been listening to, to get me pumped up. Here is one of the lines from the song I really like…

Thanks as always for reading, and let’s get this new year started!