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Your First 90 Days as a Coach. Let’s Break It Down.

Ready or not…Back to School we go!

I’m not sure about you, but this time of year I always have a million thoughts swirling through my head.

So I decided to put together a list. A list to help guide me (and you!) through the start of a new school year.

All too often with the hecticness that is the beginning of a new year, we can find ourselves doing more scrambling forward rather than steady, purposeful stepping forward.

Don’t get overwhelmed, just take it one steady step at a time, and you’ll find yourself solidly on the path towards accomplishment and success in your work this year as a coach.

This list is by no means all-encompassing, but provides a good foundation for all of us, new and veteran alike, to build on.

Available as a Poster and Letter-sized Printable

Hope this helps set you off on the right foot!

And here are a few additional resources to help you along the way:

Happy Back to School!

Summer Reading List: 6 Books to Get You Movin’ and Groovin’

Hey there! Long time no see.

Sorry I haven’t dropped by with a post in a bit. Busy end of school year filling in for a teacher, lots of work on this year’s planner, and just some down time needed. But, I’ve got a few weeks of summer under my belt and I’m ready to get back to movin’ and groovin’!

Let’s kick things off with a summer reading list shall we?

 

One of my favorite things to do over the summer to keep my saw sharp, is to grab a good book and learn something new.

Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High Impact Instruction

So I’ve been coaching for six years now, and I still haven’t tried out video coaching. I know! Have you?? I’m aware of how much there is to learn from watching yourself on video from all the work I did with my Coaching Workshop, but I haven’t given it a good go in working with teachers. And I think it’ll just be great!

I’ve got “Focus on Teaching” out on the patio with me and I’ve just started digging in. There’s a lot to learn, but who better to guide me than Jim Knight?!

Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff

I heard Dave Burgess talk about his book “Teach Like a Pirate” on a Podcast and was immediately hooked by his energy and enthusiasm for teaching. So I grabbed the book, and had a lot of fun reading it. Then I heard about the “Lead Like a Pirate” book coming out in following Beth Houf and knew I wanted to check it out.

I just walked down to the library yesterday with Sombra dog to pick it up, and I’m excited to learn from Beth and Shelly’s approachable writing style. You know how some leadership books are just so dang serious?? This one is totally the opposite of that which I appreciate.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

I forget where I heard about this one from, but it’s been on my “to read” list for awhile. Just got it a few days ago from Amazon, and I’m so glad I ordered it. It’s all about one of the most important things we do as coaches…asking good questions!! And according to this book, saying less and asking more is what it’s all about. The chapters are broken down by the 7 types of questions to focus on: the Kickstart Question, the AWE Question, the Focus Question, the Foundation Question, the Lazy Question, the Strategic Question, and the Learning Question. Can’t wait!

Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches

You know the lesson Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover? This book proves this lesson true. Upon first glance, you might perceive this book to be an oldie and not so much of a goodie. But not so!! This book is so good! Tons of real, actionable advice and tips. I started reading it just before school got out, and can’t wait to keep going this summer. I think this is one of those books I’ll read page-by-page, cover-to-cover. That’s when you know you’ve got a worthy book on your hands.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I’m a big Cal Newport fan. He’s a teacher (professor actually), loves to talk about productivity (yes!), and he has a super popular blog/biz on the side (I’m working on it!). Anyhow, Cal writes some really good books. His first, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” is one of my all time favorites, and his second, “Deep Work” lays the smack down on the how and why of treating your time with some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I listened to “Deep Work” on audio and loved it so much I bought the book so I could dig back in a little deeper. Building in more time for Deep Work in our schedules is a must if we want to create and contribute great ideas and work to share with others.

Big Little Lies

Because, we can’t forget about the fun stuff!! And this book is so fun. I’ve been staying up late into the night, with this page turner. It’s a murder mystery, but it’s also funny. My sister totally disagrees, but whatever, we can have different opinions. And in MY opinion this is a great summer read to check out! After I finish, I’ll probably binge-watch the first season on Netflix.

So whoop, there it is! Hope you enjoyed this little book list, and have a thought for a book you might grab, and start reading. If there’s one you think should definitely be added to the list, share in the comments below!

Talk to you soon! – promise :)

 

 

Psst – For more reading inspiration, check out these posts. And don’t forget about the Resources Page!

6 Books on My Summer Reading List. And How I Chose Them.

5 New Books to Add to Your Reading List

My Top 5 Resources for Instructional Coaches. Plus a Few More Good Ones.

Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop

Do either of these describe you?

Well, you’ve landed in the right spot!

In this 3-part video workshop, we’ll walk through a full coaching cycle together.

As a full-time instructional coach who went straight from the classroom into coaching, I totally understand those feelings of nervousness or uncertainty you feel when you’re just starting out.

And after eight years of coaching, I also get that drive to always want to get better!

That’s why I’ve created this workshop, just for you.

In the Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop, I’m looking forward to helping you:

  • Streamline all the coaching information that may have been unloaded on you, and feel less overwhelmed
  • Create a clear, step-by-step plan for how to to get started (and get better) with successful coaching cycles
  • Answer those “odds-and-ends” questions about the logistics of it all – How often do you observe during a coaching cycle? Do you always do an observation before meeting with the teacher?

And the cool thing about this, is I’m an actual coach. Just like you! I’m not perfect, but I’m excited to share what I’ve learned, and work alongside you.

At the end of our journey together, you’ll have that confidence and extra know-how you’re looking for to implement and execute effective coaching cycles.

Here’s what you’ll learn…

Part One: The Flow of a Coaching Cyclemshouser-workshop-coaching-cycle-graphic

  • The key components of a successful coaching cycle
  • How to create a clear instructional vision for you and the teacher, connected to your work
  • The importance of supporting teacher learning, and how to do it
  • Tools and visuals to help you understand and implement each of the coaching cycle components

Part Two: Coaching Cycle Case Studyme-and-matalin-pic

  • How to get organized for your coaching cycles
  • How to actually “put it all” together — step-by-step!
  • Visuals and coaching videos to support your learning

Part Three: Reflection and Documentationcoaching-cycle-worksheets-resources

  • Ideas and tools for documenting and tracking your progress
  • Considerations for what to share with your principal
  • Inspiration for moving forward

Workshop Specifics

icon-video
3 Instructional videos
(over 120 minutes) that will walk you through a full coaching cycle, from kicking-off to wrapping up.
icon-feedback
3 full-length, real-life coaching videos
to help you understand and implement each phase of a coaching cycle: Kick-Off, Feedback, Wrap-Up
icon-worksheets
Worksheets
to help you plan and put your learning into action
icon-observation
Workshop Slides
 for taking notes and improving understandings

“First of all, I want to tell you that I absolutely LOVE your documentation and your videos! What a fantastic package you’ve put together. This is only my second year as a Literacy Coach so I’m really just learning as I go along and your clear and concise way of explaining the coaching cycle is EXACTLY what I needed. I cannot thank you enough.
Nancy C.


Coaching Q&A

For Pro and Elite Workshop members there is a dedicated Coaching Question and Answer section.

Get direct, 1-on-1 answers to all your questions, as well as read from the growing list of Q&As from your fellow coaches, such as:

  • How many teachers do you typically meet with during a stretch of coaching cycles?
  • How soon do you start with coaching cycles?
  • I’ve just started at a new school, and there are no guidelines for my role. What do you suggest?
  • Teachers here have never been in coaching cycles before, how do I get started?

Workshop Plus

$49

per member


  • 1 Year
    Workshop Access
  • Downloadable
    Workshop Resources
  • Unlimited
    Video Streaming

Workshop Elite

$79

per member


Note: This workshop pricing is for single-seat membership.

Workshop FAQs

Do you offer Group Memberships?
Yes! Simply select the membership level you would like for your group. Then in the cart change the quantity to the number in your group. Discounts will be applied automatically. and I’ll work with you to get all members setup with access.

Do you offer Purchase Orders (POs)?
Yes, of course. Please email me directly with the level and number of members and I will send over a PO. Once payment has been received, I will help get all members setup with access to the workshop.

I’m looking forward to learning alongside you! Questions? Please email me at workshop@mshouser.com!

7 Ways to Build Your Coaching Confidence

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately.

And it all started with a recent trip to the grocery store.

So there I was, Saturday morning, groceries in hand waiting in the check-out line at Safeway. As I was looking around, I recognized a girl I knew through a mutual acquaintance. And not just any girl. This happened to be the girl who you look at and immediately think Confidence, with a capital C. Even on a Saturday morning in the grocery store, she walked with confidence, dressed with confidence, and even carried her vanilla latte with confidence.

First thought — Where’d she get all that dang confidence, and how could I get more of it?!

Confidence is something we all naturally want more of. It helps us feel better, do better, and achieve more.

And in our work as coaches, I’d say we especially want confidence on our side.

From one-on-one coaching convos, to leading whole staff PD, to facilitating grade level meetings–confidence comes in real handy.

So let’s talk about it. If confidence is something you struggle with, don’t worry. We all do! Even if we do a good job of hiding it, we all have insecurities that creep up now and then.

But don’t let that fear stop you from doing hard things.

Confidence can be developed and strengthened just like anything else. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to help me build my own confidence as a coach.

1. Check Your Language

If you catch yourself using or thinking any lame-o language like:

I can’t…
I hate…
I stink at…
I’m not…

STOP IT. Stop it right-this-second.

Your thoughts and words create your reality just as much as your actions.

So if you want to create a more confident reality, make sure the language you use reflects that. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Switch out those lame-o thoughts with others like:

I’m awesome at…
I can…
I AM…capable, smart, positive…

When I was in the classroom, one of the things I always used to say to my kids was: You Can Do Hard Things. And guess what? They could! And so can you.

Surround yourself with positive language. Post it on a sticky note, in your coaching office, and in your planner! Use this poster to get you started.

Download Here

 2. Use Your Strong Voice

Dana Perino is a news anchor who sure has achieved a lot in her career. And she needed a lot of confidence to do it.

In a recent interview, Dana shared that one of the best pieces of advice she could give to women in building their confidence: find and use your strong voice.

I appreciate this advice so much, I think I’ll say it again.

Find and use your strong voice.

When you have conversations with your principal, or with other teachers, pay attention to how your voice sounds. Is it weak and whiny, ending in a lot of question marks???

Share you advice, thoughts, or ideas with confidence. Use your strong voice.

Thanks Dana.

3. Develop Your Presence

On my walks with Sombra dog, I’ve been listening to the book Presence by Amy Cuddy. Amy does a great job of explaining the concept of presence, and how it contributes to us showing up more confidently in our daily lives.

One of the big things she talks about is body language. I have to constantly be reminding myself of this one.

Things like slumped shoulders, crossed arms, and your nail picking/biting habit (guilty) do NOT convey confidence.

Instead let’s try this: before your next coaching or PD meeting, strike a power pose. Essentially, stand like Super Woman. Hands on hips, shoulders back, and slap a big smile on your face. You might also envision your Coaching Cape flapping behind you :)

When you move into your coaching session, I’ll betcha feel more confident. Keep that posture straight, smile and nod as you listen, and coach away!

4. Prepare Your Booty Off

I read an interview recently with Megyn Kelly, in which she described owing much of her success to hard work and intense preparation.

Now if Megyn Kelly can’t teach us a thing or two about confidence, I’m not sure who can. She pretty much oozes confidence.

As Megyn said, when you’ve prepared well you know what you’re doing which leads to more confidence.

One of the things we’ll talk about in the upcoming Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop (planning sheet included!), is how to prepare for (and feel more confident in) facilitating effective feedback sessions.

5. Get to Know Yourself

Guess what. You’re pretty awesome. And you should know exactly what makes you awesome.

Grab a sheet of paper right now, and write down 5 things you know you’re super good at.

Things like:

I’m a dang good compliment giver.

I can organize a classroom like a boss.

I’m pretty great at building relationships with other people. Even the sticklier ones.

I am ninja good at planning a guided reading lesson.

Knowing you’re strengths and what you have to offer your school and the teachers you work with, is worth a million confidence bucks.

6. Set Small Goals and Achieve Them

Try setting a goal, just a small one, then work to achieve it.

Maybe it’s something like setting aside 30 minutes to intentionally plan for each of your feedback sessions this week. Write it down in your planner, and check off each planning session accomplished.

You’ll look at that “got-it-done” check mark and feel great about yourself.

7. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

In your journey to increased confidence, you have got to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I’ll be the first to say, I’m not always great at this. I like my comfort zone and the ease that comes with staying in it.

But! Staying comfortable was never the factor that helped me achieve more, and in turn build more confidence.

Tough situations, those ones that cause you some anxiety and butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings, are the ones that will build your confidence. Move towards them, dance with them, and know they’re doing your confidence some good.

Bonus Tip: Exercise!

This one really does work. Some of my most confident days have come after a sweaty cycle class, jammin’ out to Lady Gaga.

Building your physical capabilities, builds your mental capabilities, which equals more confidence.

Even if it’s just a good playlist, and some dancing around to get those feel-good endorphins going, take advantage of movement as one of the most empowering activities out there.

And there you have it! Seven top tips for continuing to build your confidence. Try to choose one to focus on next week, and see how it goes.

If Coaching Convos and Cycles is an area you’re looking to build more confidence in, make sure you’re signed up for the Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop!

The photo above of me working with Matalin, was taken during an actual feedback session. A video of this session will be one of the three offered as part of the “Coaching Cycle Case Study” in the workshop. With clear steps, a visual model, and a plan of action for moving forward, I am certain you’ll feel like a more Confident Coach after taking part in the workshop :)

Thanks for reading! You’re the BEST!

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 available now!

How One Coach Keeps It All Together. A Story.

You kick up your feet and take a sip of your iced peach green tea, as you look out at the sunny summer afternoon and smile.

Oh how you love summer. Oh how you wish the summer days and land of no schedules would never go away. Ahhh…

You take another sip and decide you should probably take a look at the calendar and see what’s coming up.

As you look at your calendar you realize it’s already mid-July. And then you see it…the Back to School reminder.

Are you serious?! Already?! Where did the time go?!

OK, you think. Get a grip.

But I should probably start thinking about getting organized for the year.

K, so I’m going to keep using Google Calendar. I like how it reminds me about stuff.

Then I’ll write everything I need to do down in a new notebook. Writing helps me think, plan, and process. But last year things got all mixed up and lost with this system. Not good.

Bah!

Many of us coaches/teachers/administrators go through a “school’s starting soon, gotta get organized” revelation mid-summer.

Since we know that being organized is such a key piece to our success (and happiness!) throughout the year, when we’re freed up with a bit of extra time over the summer, those pushed aside thoughts of getting things together resurface and start nibbling their way to the forefront of our mind as we think of August quickly approaching.

Can I get a “Hey Yeah!” if you can relate?!

If so, what I’ve found helpful is to use a few of these summer days to get a solid planning system in place that will help you feel confident and prepared as you begin and move forward with a new school year.

And to help you get going, I thought I’d tell you a little story of how one coach keeps it all together. So go ahead and kick your feet back up, and keep sipping your iced peach green tea.

Meet Melissa. Melissa is a busy instructional coach, who really loves the work she does in schools everyday.

Melissa will be going into her second year as a coach. She supports two different schools, and has lots of responsibilities on her plate. On any given day, you might find her doing any of the following: planning or facilitating PD, gathering and reviewing resources, coaching up to 7 teachers in one of her coaching cycles, creating a school welcome board, or highlighting an important section on close reading in a book she wants to share with a teacher.

Melissa is a highly motivated, “can do” kind of gal and has worked hard to tweak and refine her planning system, to ensure she keeps all her ducks in a row.

Curious to get to know Melissa and her got-it-together system a bit better?

Cool. Let’s take a look:

1. Melissa has a weekly planning routine

One of the key routines that Melissa makes sure to schedule every week, is her Weekly Review. The Weekly Review is Melissa’s time to check-in, process, and plan. Her most preferred day for this weekly meeting with herself is Friday after school. She loves heading in to the weekend with her time and to-dos for the following week scheduled, and her head clear. So each Friday afternoon Melissa pops open the Iced Tea she packed that morning, grabs her Frixion erasable pens, computer, phone, Weekly Review checklist, and gets started.

2. Melissa figures out her time commitments for the week

Melissa has a hybrid planning system, using both digital and paper planning tools. She appreciates the strengths of each, and has learned that she really does prefer using both to keep it all together.

Melissa begins her Weekly Review by opening her computer and looking over her Google Calendar. She scans over all the hard commitments/inflexible events she has scheduled that week, including: personal or professional appointments, hard project deadlines, and any special holidays or birthdays. She transfers these into the weekly view in the planning spread of her Time & ToDo Planner. Melissa is a visual planner, and likes to see the time blocks of her week clearly laid out in front of her. She can also be easily distracted by her computer or phone when trying to reference her calendar, and appreciates the focus that paper provides.

 3. Melissa writes out her priorities for the week

Next, Melissa references the goals she’s set for herself this year, and uses these to set her focus for the week. This week she’s really trying to work on her three “P’s”

4. Melissa lists out her to-dos for the week

She looks through a few different locations to gather these up and identify what needs to go on this week’s plan. She starts by looking at last week’s plan to see if there were any “Upcoming To-Dos” she captured. She decides whether any of these will go on this week’s plan or if they will be put on her Master List, which she can come back to later.

Melissa’s Master List is a very important piece of her overall system. This is where she gets all of the tasks out of her head and recorded so she doesn’t get overwhelmed with a super long weekly list. She’s relaxed and assured that she hasn’t forgotten anything, and knows she’ll get to these tasks eventually, just not this week. Melissa prefers a digital tool for her Master List as it’s super flexible, allowing her to organize her list by category, rearrange, and add/delete.

She goes through the same process when going through emails, her physical inbox, and coaching notes for the week.

As Melissa analyzes her to-dos for next week, she decides to group them by Project. Super smart. This will help her batch her work throughout the week and be more efficient with her time.

5. Melissa figures out where to fit it all in

Here’s where Melissa balances it all. She checks her to-dos against her time and decides where her task-tackling work blocks will be for the week. She puts a box around these larger chunks of time on her schedule, so she can head into that particular day knowing exactly what she needs to do, and when. If she’s trying to do more than she realizes she has time for, she feels comfortable getting rid of some of the less important to-dos and transferring them back to her Master List.

She has fun with this part, as there’s just something special about writing on paper. It’s like there’s a part of her brain that gets fired up when she writes by hand, that doesn’t work as well when she tap-taps on her phone or keyboard. She can bullet, color-code, circle, star, bold, and doodle out her plans for the week. She’s not sure what the science behind it is, or if there even is any science about it. But she knows the magical-ness exists, so she uses it, and calls it: PAPER POWER!

6. Melissa maintains her system throughout the week

Things inevitably change throughout Melissa’s week, so she understands the importance of being flexible. A routine that has helped her stay on track is the 15 minutes of time she sets aside each morning and afternoon to check-in on her plan and revise as needed. Erasable pens are key here! When her days come to a close, she draws a line through the day to indicate it’s time to shut down and enjoy the evening.

Throughout the week Melissa captures thoughts and other to-do’s on the bottom of her weekly plan, or on her iPhone when she’s out walking her puppy and thoughts pop into her head. She’s determined not to let stuff float around in her head and bug her.

Relaxed, and feeling good, Melissa wraps up the week and begins again the following Friday when she’ll meet with herself for her next Weekly Review and begins her planning process again.

The end.

Hopefully Melissa’s story got your wheels turning about how you might put a similar planning system into place for the coming school year.

Have any follow-up questions? Want to talk details? Ask them in the comments below – click on the post title, scroll down, leave a comment/question in the box, submit! – Then I reply :)

And if you’d like to get your hands on Melissa’s weekly planning tool, make sure to check out the Time & ToDo Planner.

Enjoy these last few weeks of sweet summer, and I’ll talk to you soon!

6 Books on My Summer Reading List. And How I Chose Them.

During the year, I always keep a running list of books I want to read. They’re an assortment of titles I hear about on podcasts, come across online or in other books I read, or are recommended from friends and colleagues. I may not have time to read them right then, but I know I’ll want to come back to these books at some point, so I write them down.

Since I usually build up a pretty long list over the school year, and don’t have time to read every one (even with the added leisure of summer days…ahhh), I have to decide which ones I’m going to invest in.

So. Here’s what I think about to help me decide which books will really be worthy of my summer time reading:

  • What did I struggle with this past year? What felt challenging?
  • What am I feeling really excited about for next year? What’s going to motivate me to keep getting better? What additional opportunities and experiences can I create for myself and teachers next year?

I’ve found that my answers to these two questions most always steer me in the right direction.

I think this is one that all of us who have ever done any kind of coaching have struggled with at one point or another: teacher motivation, buy-in, or change.

I worked with a teacher at the beginning of the year who I just couldn’t get off ‘go’. Even though we worked together through a full 6-week coaching cycle, we couldn’t get to a place where next steps were consistently implemented and a change in practice was supporting student achievement.

And it bugged me all year.

Not the teacher, but me. I bugged myself, because I knew I could have done better as a coach.

So to support myself with the skills and tools I know I’ll need to get better in this area next year, I’m going to check out the books shown below.

Tackling tricky conversations and teacher change, here I come!

 
  

One thing I’m getting myself pumped up about for next year is PD. I know. Kind of an odd area to get excited about, but it’s a big part of my role as a coach at our school. And our PD time and structure needs some shaking up!

I’ve got some good ideas for our PD Pad in mind that I’m getting excited about (think disco balls and whiteboard tables…woot woot!). And I’ve also got some ideas for how to take better advantage of technology to better differentiate and support teacher learning. I’ve fiddled with this in the past, but there’s so much more I could be doing.

Something else I started to get more into this year was Twitter and becoming a “connected educator.” Just this year, I’ve connected with so many other amazing educators on Twitter, and have been introduced to lots of great resources. Not sure how it took me so long to get on the Twitter train, but I’m on it, so let’s get connected! If you’re just getting started, here’s a really great guide that I read to get me up and going.

And back to books. Here are two I’ve picked out that I think will really align well with my “let’s get excited” goals for next year:

I really believe in the saying that “Leaders are Readers”. So let’s choose a few books to dig into this summer, shall we?

Let me know your book picks in the comments below.

By the way, have you checked out my “Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop” yet? If not, make sure to take a look!

Talk to you soon,

6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Instructional Coach

The close of this year will mark my fifth year anniversary as an Instructional Coach. Crazy.

My journey into the world of coaching wasn’t necessarily a planned one. So when I first got started, I really had no idea what I was doing. Just keeping it real.

But then guess what?

I embraced the discomfort, learned along the way, and…I started to get better! And then a little better. To the point where these days you might even think I know a bit about what I’m doing!

That’s not to say that I still don’t have a ton to learn. Because I do. For sure.

But in reflection, I thought I’d take some time today to share with you 6 of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a coach in these past five years of practice.

I was thinking I might try to keep the list to five so the post had a better ring to it (you know: 5 Lessons in 5 Years). But I really think all 6 are important :)

Here it goes:

1. Listen. And Then Listen Some More

This was probably one of my biggest first lessons. I had always considered myself a pretty good listener. Then I started coaching.

When you’re in the thick of a coaching conversation and doing your best to guide the flow of your chat and develop understandings along the way, you’ll discover one thing quickly:

You’ve got to learn to listen like whoa.

This is the only way you’re going to get better at this next piece…

2. Get Good at Asking Good Questions

Who knew asking good questions could be so hard? Geeze.

Then I started coaching.

Through coaching, I started to learn and understand more about the difference between a question and a really good question.

The ones you think about and plan for, that give teachers space to reflect and analyze their own instruction, resulting in improved understandings that will positively impact the quality of their next lesson.

Phew. This isn’t an easy task. And to make it trickier, you have to get good at asking these kinds of questions on the fly! Bah!

This is one I just have to keep working on getting good/better at.

3. Don’t Lose Your Street Cred

I’m a coach AND a teacher. Not either-or.

So I don’t want to lose my street cred.

Staying connected to the work that classroom teachers do everyday is super important for myself as an educator, as well as my work as a coach.

With more paperwork responsibilities on your plate as a coach, it’s easy to get caught at your desk and behind your computer for longer than you might like.

I make it a point to keep my teaching skills sharp and that street cred in place through modeling, co-teaching, or even jumping in to sub for a teacher!

Regular teaching keeps me engaged, passionate, and informed about the work I do.

4. Take Your Job Seriously. But Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously

I heard Beth Houf mention this as a lesson she learned, and I thought it was so true.

Yes, I’m a coach and a leader, and I definitely have important work to accomplish during my days. But that doesn’t mean I have to be so dang serious and buttoned up about it.

So I smile often. I laugh out loud and act silly. I don’t try to use really big words and act like I know everything. Cuz I don’t.

I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” and I definitely mess up.

Taking risks and working through the muck of moving towards classroom and school goals right alongside teachers is what I try to do.

5. Double Down on Knowledge

Make learning a priority. Read all of the books you can, take all the classes you can, and connect with as many other educators as you can.

Invest your time, and even money, into this knowledge. It will be one of your best investments ever.

Knowledge will get you to where you want to go as a Teacher Leader faster, you’ll be prepared for future opportunities, and most importantly all this smart-ness you’re accumulating will provide great value to the teachers and students you work with.

Double down.

Check out the Walk through a Coaching Cycle Workshop
I’ve got coming up!

6. Learn How to Be a Time Management Ninja

When you’re a teacher, your schedule is all neat and tidy. I loved this part of teaching.

I knew exactly when my planning times were everyday, when our weekly PD was scheduled, and of course I had my lesson plans for each subject all lined up and ready to go.

Then…I started coaching.

Goodbye neat and tidy. Helloooo unstructured, things always change, non-tidy schedule.

Man. I’m so routine oriented, so this was a hard one for me. I had to figure out some planning systems and structures, and quick.

It was a process of trial and error, and I continue to tweak and refine each year, but I now have a pretty good system in place that helps me bring some structure to my weeks.

It’s Here! The Time & ToDo Planner, Academic 2016-17 Calendar (updated and Awesome!)

I hope these few bits of advice will help you either reflect on your own journey with coaching, or if you’re just starting out, help you with getting started on the right foot.

Talk to you soon,