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How to Introduce Yourself and Instructional Coaching to Staff

Has your principal asked you to kick-off the year by introducing yourself and sharing what instructional coaching will look like for the year? Let’s talk through how you can create an agenda to confidently respond to this request.

instructional coaching

If you’re new to a building or new in your role, introducing yourself and your instructional coaching program to staff can feel SCARY. Gah! However it’s a really important beginning of the year step, as it will provide the foundation for a successful “culture of coaching” within the school.

But have no fear, I’ve created a super helpful planning structure you can follow to create your own all staff introductory PD session. This is the same structure I used myself when introducing coaching at my school.

A clear agenda and supporting slides for your presentation will help you feel confident and in control of your opening presentation.

Agenda for New Instructional Coach Introduction

1. Plan for Logistics

Before getting into the meat of your introductory PD, it’s helpful to iron out all the logistical details ahead of time.

This could include:

  • How much time will you have?
    • In my experience, I have found that an hour time slot is about right.
  • Will your principal be supporting you with facilitation?
    • If not supporting you with facilitation, the presence of your principal at this PD will be essential. If any questions are asked, you can both answer with unified messaging.
  • Who will be asked to attend this PD?
    • It is important for ALL teachers in the building to be present for this PD to ensure everyone has a chance to ask clarifying questions, and everyone leaves with the same understanding as to how instructional coaching will be used as a professional development support structure within the building.
  • What materials will you use to anchor the work?
    • Texts? Key school documents?

2. Identify Outcomes

how to introduce yourself as a new instructional coachBefore going any further, you’ll want to identify the key outcomes or learning targets for your introductory PD.

In the sample agenda I created, I identified three guiding learning targets to anchor what I really wanted teachers to walk away with.

In the image above I created a few learning target starters to get you thinking. One or two would be good, but no more than three!

how to introduce yourself as a new instructional coach

3. Create a Support System Document

how to introduce yourself as a new instructional coach

This doesn’t need to be fancy.

Just a one-pager explaining how coaching and your work fits into the bigger picture of professional development within your school.

You might additionally explain what your coaching model will be. Will you primarily use a student-centered coaching approach? Are you working with the New Teacher Center Model? Or perhaps you are more closely aligned to Jim Knight’s coaching model.

4. Put Together Your Agenda

how to introduce yourself as a new instructional coach

OK, time to put this all together into an agenda you’ll use to structure your time and work with teachers.

If you’d like to see a complete model of the agenda I used, you can find this in the How to Introduce Yourself Planning Kit. 

After you’ve created your agenda, share with your principal so you can continue to be on the same page with the messaging on instructional coaching that you will deliver to staff.

5. Create Your Slides

how to introduce yourself as a new coach

To go along with the agenda you have just created, you will want to create a slide deck to support you in visually communicating your message and learning.

If you’d like to use the slide template I created for this, you can find it in the How to Introduce Yourself Planning Kit. 

Use your slides to help you do a bit of rehearsing ahead of your PD session, so you are feeling confident and ready to go!

how to introduce yourself as a new instructional coach

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Happy Coaching!

Simplified Coaching Planning Kit

NOTE: This listing has 3 Format Options (Printable PDF, Digital, or Both).
Please see the images and product description to decide which is the best option for you.

Option 1: PRINTABLE PDF

Details

• TABLE OF CONTENTS (6 different sections, all color coded — PLANNING, OBSERVATIONS, DEBRIEFS, MEETINGS, PROJECTS, REFERENCE)
• 5 PLANNER COVER OPTIONS (Polka Dot in navy and turquoise, Stripes in navy, turquoise, and light grey)
• COACHING CONVO PLAN
• COACHING LOG
• COACHING SCHEDULE
• DEBRIEF TOOL
• COACHING WORKPLAN (2 pgs)
• GRADE LEVEL NOTES
• IDEA TRACKER
• KICKOFF MEETING
• LIST IT
• MEETING NOTES
• MONTHLY MAP
• NOTES
• OBSERVATION TOOL
• PASSWORD KEEPER
• PD PLANNER
• PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS
• PROJECT PLANNER
• RESOURCE CHECKOUT
• SMALL GROUP OBSERVATION TOOL
• STUDY GROUP CONVO LOG
• TIME TRACKER

Option 2: DIGITAL

Details

• COACHING CYCLE SCHEDULE
• WEELY COACHING SCHEDULE
• PEER VISIT DEBRIEF
• RESOURCE CHECKOUT
• COACHING CYCLE CALENDAR
• WRAP-UP REFLECTION QUESTIONS
• COACHING DATA TRACKER
• CLASSROOM VISIT TRACKER
• COACHING WORK PLAN
• MEETING NOTES
• WEEKLY REVIEW
• COACHING CYCLE SET-UP CHECKLIST
• COACHING OBSERVATION DEBRIEF
• GRADE LEVEL MEETING NOTES
• IDEA TRACKER
• PASSWORD KEEPER
• PD PLANNER
• PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS
• PROJECT PLANNER
• TIME TRACKER
• COACHING KICK-OFF MEETING
• COACHING LOG
• CLASSROOM OBSERVATION
• BOOK STUDY CONVO LOG
• SMALL GROUP OBSERVATION TOOL

Option 3:  PRINTABLE PDF & DIGITAL

Details

All instructional coaching tools listed in both the Printable PDF and Digital are included.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Results

The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit will help you:
• Centralize all your important coaching materials into one place
• Organize your coaching work into friendly sections
• Save time and get more done
• Plan and prepare
• Feel more in control
• Gain confidence in your work as a coach

Delivery

Your Simplified Coaching Planning Kit will be available to download instantly after your purchase as a ZIP file.

For the digital, you will receive a PDF with a link to each of the forms that will allow you to copy the forms and save to your Google Drive. You will need a Google Account to access these forms.

How to use

While there are no official rules for working with your Simplified Coaching Planning Kit, here are a few tips:
• Download your planner and save to your computer where you can easily access it
• Set your printer to fit the entire page
• Use a color printer if you can!
• Print on standard, letter size paper, 8.5 x 11″ (I like 98 bright, 32 lb)
• Fill in directly on your computer (form fields only, are editable) OR
• Use your favorite writing tool
• To keep you planning kit organized, use a three ring binder or discbound notebook
• Use and decorate cool tabs to separate the 6 different sections
• If using the digital, use your Google Drive to organize

The high resolution PDF documents included in this planning kit are editable (form fields only) using Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, or Preview. (Existing text that is part of the design cannot be edited. Nor can the PDFs be converted to Word)

The digital forms in Google Drive are editable, after making a copy.

Terms of use

This planner is for personal use only. You can print as many copies as you need, whenever you’d like. Please do not redistribute or sell. As this is a digital product, once the purchase is complete, I’m not able to offer refunds.

Introduce Your Instructional Coaching Role Planning Kit: PDF AND DIGITAL

Details

Introduce Your Instructional Coaching Role Planning Kit – 4 documents: PDF & Google Drive

  • PD Planner PDF
  • PD Planner GoogleDoc
  • Example Agenda
  • Introduce Your Instructional Coaching Role Slides–> Google Slides Template, 14 slides, guidance on how to use slides

**PDF prints standard letter size, 8.5 x 11″

**Google Docs version –> a link to access the Google Doc version of the planning forms will be provided

Delivery

Once your payment has been processed, you will receive an email with a link to download the planner. If you don’t see the email, check to make sure your junk mail didn’t grab it.

Terms of Use

I’m a hard working educator. This planner is for personal use only. You can print as many copies as you need, whenever you’d like. Please do not redistribute or sell.

Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role: PDF AND DIGITAL

Details

Clarify Your Instructional Coaching Role and Responsibilities Planning Kit – 4 documents: PDF & Google Drive

  • Meet With Your Principal –> planning and prep
  • Meet With Your Principal –> create an agenda how-to
  • Brainstorm
  • Clarify Your Role –> planning form

**PDF prints standard letter size, 8.5 x 11″

**Google Docs version –> a link to access the Google Doc version of the planning forms can be found on the last page of the included PDF

Delivery

Once your payment has been processed, you will receive an email with a link to download the planner. If you don’t see the email, check to make sure your junk mail didn’t grab it.

Terms of Use

I’m a hard working educator. This planner is for personal use only. You can print as many copies as you need, whenever you’d like. Please do not redistribute or sell.

How to Time Block Your Week: A Productive Instructional Coach Habit!

Every Sunday afternoon, I figure out in advance everything that I need to do for the week ahead and create a time blocked plan to work from. Instead of trying to be generally productive or working off a random task list, I thoughtfully organize my work according to what must be done this week, divide my open hours into blocks, and assign specific work to the blocks. This kind of planning takes some time up front (usually sixty to ninety minutes for me), but it returns much greater productivity for the week that follows.

To give you a better idea of what this looks like, I’ll walk you through how I created a recent time blocked weekly plan.

Everything that you need to do in the coming week, including all of the random thoughts and ideas floating around in your head, must be written down and captured. Go through your email (print, if needed to pull out actions), coaching notes, google docs, etc. Also look back at your past week….what needs to be carried over to the coming week? Look ahead…what is coming up that you need to get started on this week? What coaching communication needs to be sent out or completed such as confirming coaching debriefs and updating coaching logs. The more thoroughly you CAPTURE all of these items, the fewer open loops you will have and in turn the less stress you will feel.

Once you’ve thoroughly captured all of your to-dos, you can then start to organize. Sort everything into like groups, and for each task add an estimate for how long you think that task (or group of tasks) will take. This will give you a realistic picture of whether or not everything will “fit” into your coming week. And remember, you’re only focusing on what MUST get done this week. Everything else will need to wait.

Cal Newport (love him!) talks about the importance of controlling your time through daily and weekly plans. I use Google Calendar for all of my time specific meetings and appointments, but for my weekly time blocked plan, I ALWAYS write it out in my Time & ToDo Planner. Pen to paper in this step REALLY helps me visualize all the different parts and pieces of my week.

Once you’ve organized all of your to-dos for the week and assigned time estimates, you can begin to block out chunks of time throughout the week to complete your tasks. Below, I’ll give a further explanation of my common time blocks.

Here’s an overview of my different time blocks for this week:

I begin my weekly plan by time blocking anything on my Google Calendar. I use a green pen and a thicker line to indicate these blocks. With these times blocked off, I can now see what open hours I have to work with for the rest of my plan.

I group all of my email and smaller administrative tasks into a daily morning block, so I can “batch task” these items. I will also block out two additional email blocks each day, so that I’m not working from my inbox all day. This isn’t easy, but I’m getting better.

For projects and deep work, I think about my coachees, grade level planning, PD, or anything else currently on my plate. Right now that includes:

  • 5 coachees
  • 5th grade
  • Friday PD
  • CMAS prep

I’ll then figure out what needs to be done for each of the project categories and I’ll block off time accordingly in my weekly plan.

Don’t forget to schedule a lunch break for yourself! My lunch isn’t always at the same time every day, and depending on meetings/coaching, I might not get a lunch break, if I don’t plan it. I like taking 30 minutes to eat some lunch and take a quick walk outside, so I’ll time block it!

The Daily Shutdown Ritual is another tip I picked up from Cal Newport. This is an important piece of his time blocking strategy, and I’ve been working on incorporating it into my own. The idea is that once your daily shutdown is “complete” you can move into the rest of your afternoon or evening free of any worries or stress about what you didn’t get done or what you need to do tomorrow. 

I also like to time block and plan personal things like exercise and dinner. Additionally, I’ve been working on reading more, so that is something reflected in this weekly plan.

With a time blocked weekly plan, you’ll head into your week feeling confident and in control. 

Yes, unexpected things will come up and you’ll need to stay flexible. But the important thing is that you have a plan, and with a plan you’ll be able to make more informed decisions as to what you’re saying yes or no to. Revisions can then be made fairly stress free.

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon!

Other Posts You May Like

FREE Time Blocking Checklist Printable

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Also, check out the complete
Simplified Coaching Planning Kit…

including 6 different sections

Simplified-Coaching-Planning-Kit-6-sections

with 5 different cover options and the following tools to help you get organized, plan and prepare to be an awesome coach:

  • COACHING CONVO PLAN
  • COACHING LOG
  • COACHING SCHEDULE
  • DEBRIEF TOOL
  • COACHING WORKPLAN
  • GRADE LEVEL NOTES
  • IDEA TRACKER
  • KICKOFF MEETING
  • LIST IT
  • MEETING NOTES
  • MONTHLY MAP
  • NOTES
  • OBSERVATION TOOL
  • PASSWORD KEEPER
  • PD PLANNER
  • PD GOALS
  • PROJECT PLANNER
  • RESOURCE CHECKOUT
  • SMALL GROUP OBS. TOOL
  • STUDY GROUP CONVO LOG
  • TIME TRACKER

Get your Coaching Planning Kit Today!

Interview Tips for Instructional Coaches: You’ve Got This!

It’s the end of the year, and I’ve got interviewing on my mind!

These past few weeks I’ve been on the interview committee for a few different positions in our building, one of which is for a new instructional coach.

Sitting in on these interviews has got me thinking a lot about how to best present yourself and showcase your knowledge, talents, and experiences while under the pressure of having questions fired at you by a scrutinizing interviewing committee of at least five. Gah! (are you sweating just thinking about it??)

Now, I’m not an interviewing expert nor am I claiming to be one (I don’t even like interviews!!), but I tend to be a strong observer as well as an overachiever and over-planner. As a result, I’ve gathered quite a bit of info on interviews and interviewing that I thought would be helpful to share.

OK, first things first.

You might be thinking, “Duh Kristin! I know!” But we’re still going to talk about it. From your head to your toes, make sure you are dressed to impress. Show up 15 minutes early so you can fix any wind blow hair. Carry one professional bag, not three bulky ones. Make sure your shoes match your outfit and aren’t badly scuffed. No chipped nail polish. I’m just saying…think about all those little details because they matter!

We want to get to know you!!

As an interview candidate, your job is to make the best case you can that you’re the right person for the job. And the candidates who really grab my attention are those who are able to provide specific examples or stories that relate to particular questions asked.

A great way to prepare for this is to think ahead of specific examples that would lend themselves to different categories of behavioral type questions you may be asked. You might also consider bringing in actual artifacts as well…a coaching plan or PD plan for example.

Preparing yourself to talk about your experiences in this way will really help you sell yourself as a candidate.

… don’t take it too easy either. I think sometimes when you hear “just be yourself” it can be a permission pass to not take the interview as seriously and you may come off a little lackadaisical.

So just remember to smile, answer the questions you’re asked honestly, and let your personality shine through in a professional and polished way.

Instructional Coach Intervieww

Then REPEAT!!

It can feel a little weird rehearsing answers to your questions out loud, so many candidates don’t practice.

Especially when you’re not as naturally confident, or you get a bad case of the nerves in interviews, not practicing can really put you at a disadvantage.

Practice in a way that aligns to the actual interview as much as possible. Write out a list of the questions you anticipate being asked, write out sample answers, practice your answers out loud in front of a mirror or with a friend. Video tape yourself and revise accordingly.

For a handy guide to support you with preparing for an instructional coach or leadership position interview, please check out the Interview Prep Planning Kit I recently created.

This planning kit includes a list of questions you’ll most likely be asked, planning templates for artifacts to bring, and much more.

Although I’m not actively interviewing, thinking through this process has really helped me reflect on my own practice and consider ways I can improve.

Thanks for reading!

My Instructional Coaching Kit Set-Up

As I was walking through Target the other day, I got all excited when I came across the “back to school” aisle. I’m pretty much like a little kid when it comes to back to school prep. I love it!

One of my back to school purchases for this year was a new discbound agenda to use for setting up my Coaching Kit.

I’ve been using an Instructional Coaching Planning Kit now for the past several years, and it’s one of the most important tools in my “stay organized” coaching system.

For the past few days, I’ve been working on getting mine set up for this year, and I thought I’d give you a little walk-through of how it’s coming along.

Let’s take a look!

As I mentioned, I highly recommend using a discbound notebook for your Coaching Kit over a clipboard, three ring binder, or really anything else. They lay flat, and fold over nicely which comes in so handy when I’m in classrooms taking notes, meeting with teachers, or need my PD agenda ready to reference.

I love discbound planners so much, I designed one for Time & ToDo Planner. These discbound planners are brand new for this year!

I made a customized cover for myself to place in the front. I chose Turquoise to compliment my Time & ToDo Planner. In the shop, I’m offering customized covers if you’d like one as well!

Customized Covers - Cover

The Coaching Kit’s table of contents has a suggested order for setting things up. However, feel free to identify and order your sections in whichever way makes the most sense to you. And remember, you can always tweak and adjust as the year goes on.

I have both “school” and “personal” tabs in my Kit, as I find that my school and personal lives overlap in many ways. For example, I like to keep my Weekly Meal Planning sheets as a section, so I can stay on track with my goals for the week.

For the tabs themselves, you can use something as simple as white Avery label dividers, or you can purchase discbound dividers. To add a bit more color, I also like to use Washi Tape for making my labels.

Here are the current sections I have:

  • Coaching
  • Meetings
  • Grade Levels
  • PD
  • Projects
  • Flylady
  • Biz
  • Meals
  • Notes
  • Reference

Behind my cover page, I have a Vertical Year at a Glance. While I do keep all of my appointments and dates in my Time & ToDo Planner (TTP), I find that it is also helpful for me to have this Year at a Glance in my Coaching Kit for those occasions that I may not have my TTP on me. I also like the friendly overview of the school year that this calendar provides.

On to the first tab of my Kit, “Coaching.” To start, I printed off a copy of my First 90 Days as a Instructional Coach printable. Even though I’ve been coaching for awhile now, I still find it nice to have this as a reference to help guide me through those first weeks/months.

I also plan to use this printable to help me establish goals for the 1st Quarter. Goal setting I feel, is a great practice for all of us to take on in both our personal and professional lives. Having clear goals helps me stay motivated and driven in my work.

Although I won’t be starting any official coaching cycles the first few weeks of school, I’ve printed off a copy of my Coaching Schedule printable so I’m ready to go when I meet with our principal to discuss teachers to work with.

The next section is reserved for Meetings. Whether for an after school staff meeting, our weekly coaches meeting, or an impromptu meeting with a teacher, I have printed off a few of my Meeting Notes forms so I’m ready to go.

In my PD section, I have a copy of the PD Year Plan from my PD Planning Kit. It helps me to have a visual of PD scheduled for the year, as well as any sessions I will be responsible for facilitating so that I can give myself plenty of time to plan and prep.

I also have my agenda printed and ready to go for our first PD with new teachers this week!

I decided to include a Projects section this year, as I often find myself taking on different kinds of projects throughout the year. I use this sheet to help me plan, set timelines, and keep track of the different tasks connected to that single project.

Next up, I have my Flylady section. I use this as part of my home management/cleaning system. There’s nothing better than coming home to a clean and orderly house at the end of a long day, and this is one of the tools I use to help me with this. I plan my zone cleaning tasks weekly, and complete them after school. If you’d like to learn more about how I use the Flylady system, leave me a note in the comments :)

As I mentioned earlier, I do keep my Weekly Meal Planning sheets in my Kit. I actually find I glance at my meal plan rather frequently, either to remind myself of what we’re having for dinner and what I need to do when I get home, or to quickly jot down an item I’ve remembered that I need to get at the store that week.

My Notes section is reserved for any free form planning or brainstorming I might do during the day.

And lastly, I have a Reference section. As of now, I have our school calendar for the year printed off, a Resource Checkout Form which I know I’ll soon need, and an Idea Tracker. I use my idea Tracker to capture all those random thoughts/ideas that come up during the day, which don’t need to be recorded as a to-do in my Time & ToDo Planner, yet I don’t want to loose sight of them either.

So there it is! Having this ready to go for school beginning this week, has helped me feel much more relaxed and confident in starting the school year. There will be a lot to do, but my Coaching Kit will work its magic as always in helping me to stay organized.

All of these printables can be found in either my Coaching Kit, or other listings in my shop. Check it out, and please let me know if you have any questions!

Talk soon, and thanks for reading!

Your First 90 Days as an Instructional Coach – Infographic & Poster

Details

Get the 36-item checklist showing all the things to do and when to do them.

  • Instant Download
  • Full color
  • Available in both letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and full poster (24″ x 36″, with and without bleeds for professional printing)

How to use

• Download your infographic and poster and save to your computer where you can easily access it
• Set your printer to fit the entire page
• Use a color printer if you can!
• Print on standard, letter size paper, 8.5 x 11″ (I like 98 bright, 32 lb)

Delivery

Once your payment has been processed, you will receive an email with a link to download the infographic.

Terms of use

I’m a hard working coach & teacher just like you. This infographic is for personal use only. You can print as many copies as you need, whenever you’d like. Please do not redistribute or sell.

How to Set Yourself up for a Successful Year: 11 Coaches Share their Top Tips

I’m so excited.

Because today I have a fun little surprise gift to share with you!

This past summer I reached out to some of my favorite coaches, and asked them the following question:

What is your #1 tip for preparing for a successful year as an instructional coach?

And here are all of their thoughtful answers, full of wisdom and experience. Enjoy! This is going to be good.

Elena Aguilar

Sought after presenter, transformational leadership coach, and consultant
ElenaAguilar.com | edutopia.org/users/elena-aguilar

Get clear on your personal and professional hopes, dreams, and goals for the year: What do you really hope to be able to say about the year next June, when you’re heading out for summer? What would be an indicator that you’d had a great year? How do you want your colleagues, coachees, and supervisors to experience you–what would you like them to say about you? And then map this goal on to what the children you serve need you to be and need you to do. Let their needs inform your dreams, hopes and goals for the year.


Michelle Te Grootenhuis

K-8 Literacy Instructional Coach
Twitter: @MrsTG | Blog: mrstg.edublogs.org

My #1 tip for preparing for a successful year as an instructional coach is to seek out or form a group of coaches, a “cohort”, OUTSIDE of your school and/or district.  Such a group will provide you with a safe environment to share joys and insecurities, a place to learn (your own PLC group of sorts) and get ideas from neighboring schools, and a chance for some quality “drive time”.

First of all, especially if you are a first-year coach, you really need a support group. You have walked away from the comfort of your classroom and chances are you really don’t fully understand your new role.  A coaching cohort will provide you with a safe place to share those insecurities, but also a place to be reassured as others share their joys as well.  If you are lucky enough to have a group with mixed levels of experience, your colleagues will be able to reassure you. Trust me, they felt the same apprehension during their first few days and weeks until they got into a groove. I was certainly blessed with wisdom from coaches that had been in the role for three years within my group.

Secondly, this coaching cohort will become your own professional learning community (PLC) of sorts. While you might not dive into data like a traditional PLC group would, you will certainly share what is working in your schools.  Sharing roles and duties as coaches, curriculum resources, and instructional methods are all part of being in the cohort.  This is a great way for new coaches to contribute to the group as EVERYONE has something positive to share from their schools/districts.

And chances are you will be TRAVELING to meet with your group. Believe it or not, that drive time is absolutely one of the biggest benefits! My first year my two fellow new coaches and I drove 45 minutes one way to attend cohort meetings set up by our local state education agency.  That time together was probably the BEST part of those meetings as we were able to use that time to talk about joys, insecurities, and then on the way home, ideas gleaned from the meetings.  My second year, I traveled just 10 minutes down the road to a local group that would meet during a “working lunch” 90-minute block of time.  That 10 minute drive time was good for me to think through what I had accomplished so far, what I needed to get done yet that day/week, and then ponder ideas gleaned from the meeting.  Drive time is like built-in reflection time, something we don’t get enough of as educators.

So, if you have access to such a group, make sure to JOIN it.  If not, do what a few local coaches did my second year, take that bull by the horn, reach out to neighboring schools or districts and form your own “Coaching Cohort”.  It will be one of the best things you can do to take care of your own professional learning and personal well-being as a new instructional coach!


Gretchen Schultek

Educator and Consultant
AlwaysaLesson.com

My number one tip for preparing for a successful school year as an instructional coach is to organize all of your resources into a binder. By having all of your important documents in one place, it makes it easy to reference when needed as well as light enough to grab on the go! A coaching binder will grow as the year progresses, but there are a few documents you can include in it from the beginning. For example, curricular standards, teacher roster, school building map with classroom locations, master schedule, etc. As you meet with teachers throughout the year, you will want to add sections for observations or meeting notes, feedback slips, debrief discussion prompts, data collection tools, rubrics, lesson plan formats, guides, visuals, etc. This binder will become your “bible” as you learn the ropes as an instructional coach. Don’t be afraid to make it yours and revamp and reorganize as often as necessary. Best of luck on a successful year as an instructional coach!


Stacie Giesecke

3rd Year Instructional Coach, Pleasant Valley High School, Bettendorf, Iowa

Online Instructor: isea.org and AEA PD Online | Advancing Educators (Classes offered for re-certification and salary advancement)

It’s so hard for me to come up with just ONE tip to start the year! As I start year 3 as an instructional coach (I’m in my 3rd year – previous experience of 20 years in Special Education), I think that it’s important to have a positive attitude and open mind. Teachers are super overwhelmed at the start of a new year. So many things to get ready and set up, they have little time to think about themselves and what they truly want to work on as a professional. I like to make sure I have read up on all the books I have stacked up (still have a lot to do in this area!!!), gather my resources from any conferences/trainings I attended over the summer (went to an amazing conference and am so excited to continue networking), and remember the little things (coffee, candy, and positive notes)!

Teachers like that we remember them, appreciate them and all they do for kids, and are truly there for them to help them develop as a professional AND help increase student achievement.

I always keep it real. I am learning with the teachers and love doing it. Hope this helps you all kick off a great school year!


David Voves

Instructional Coach, Charles City, Iowa

My #1 tip for preparing for a successful school year is being organized.  Organization is such a simple thought, but one that can consume so much time throughout the year.  The Time & To-Do Planner truly helps me accomplish my organizational goal.  Key elements of organization include planning for professional learning, collaboration and coaching cycle planning, and my individual career development plan.

Professional learning not only includes summer opportunities, but also researching and registering for professional learning throughout the upcoming year.  Finding the best possible-learning opportunities to make me a more efficient and comprehensive coach takes time and planning.  In addition, I use the summer months to invite teachers to attend these opportunities with me to spark greater collaboration throughout the year.  By pre-selecting these opportunities earlier than later, early-bird fees often apply and it helps ensure that sub requests can be granted for teachers early.  From a coaching standpoint, it also allows me to prepare for days in which I will be unavailable to support in-district teachers.

Planning and preparing for future upcoming coaching cycles also helps ensure organization.  By gathering preliminary collaboration requests for this upcoming year this past May, I have been able to have conversations with teachers about their goals for our upcoming learning.  Goals have allowed me to research associated instructional strategies and find additional curriculum and technology resources.  I’ve also been able to create a preliminary calendar for this year, which organizes cycles, and allows me to communicate my availability for additional collaboration.

Good luck!


Deborah Meister

Instructional Coach at Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland, California
DeborahMeisterCoaching.com

Take time to ask the right questions — deeper questions, when setting or revisiting goals with a client. As I completed my end-of-year reports and reflection with my coaching team in June, it became clear to me the difference in how coaching had impacted folks based, at least in part, in how intentionally I had held the goal-setting process. In “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever”, Michael Bungay Stanier talks about what he calls the focus question, which I have found particularly helpful: “What’s the REAL challenge here for you?” Whether I ask that precise question or simply work from the intent behind it, it nudges my coachee and I to pause, look beyond what comes up first, and dig deeper as we consider the focus of our work together towards meaningful outcomes. It keeps us from rushing into committing to the wrong goals, and it leads to a work plan that the teacher is more likely to be invested in co-creating, implementing, and refining. Slowing down at the beginning goes contrary to everything in my nature for the beginning of a school year, which is to want to jump right in and implement systems! But it’s so worth it for me, the teachers I support, and their students to take the time to uncover what’s really core.


Amanda Meachem

Secondary Instructional Math Coach, Pickerington Local School District, Pickerington, Ohio
Twitter: @pickmathcoach

So, my #1 tip (ok, maybe my top 3 tips) on how to prepare for a successful year as an instructional coach is to organize, prioritize, communicate!

Being organized will be a life saver when you’re in high demand.  Whether it’s on a Google Doc or in a binder, I suggest organizing each teacher’s schedule and room number, contact logs to document conversations and coaching, and materials specific to each teacher’s needs. Keeping a tidy work/office space will make it easy and is welcoming for teachers to come talk and spread out materials.

Prioritizing your work for the start of the year is essential.  Although this can change as the year unfolds, having a plan of attack and a general timeline will give structure to your role. Being aware of your building and district goals is crucial and will help focus your work. Some teachers will be excited to work with you, so make them a priority by tapping into their excitement.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! It’s easy to get caught up in emails and meetings especially when you serve a lot of teachers in multiple buildings, but get out there! Chat with teachers in the hall between class change, eat lunch in the teachers’  lounge, attend social gatherings, etc.Ask teachers where they need support so your efforts and feedback are targeted, and I recommend asking teachers what they want as well.  This can go a long way in helping you connect with a teacher…never a bad thing when building relationships! Talk with your administrators, department chairperson, and special education coordinator so the messages you communicate are consistent.  Be accessible and share your daily schedule with those depending on you.  I’d also suggest creating a “Pineapple (Welcome) Board” for teachers to invite others to observe the awesome things they’re trying; it’s a great way to get teachers talking about teaching and learning!


Kimberly Wakefield

Instructional Coach
Twitter: @kim_wakefield  | KimberlyWakefield.com

As an instructional coach for a K-5 elementary school, the number one tip I have about gearing up for a new school year is to ensure that I am building trusting relationships with our staff, and the number one way to do that is to communicate and stay organized!  In order to communicate, I must have all of my responsibilities coordinated. This consists of lots of planning (using my Time & ToDoPlanner really helps with this!) I sit down with different colored pens and iron out the calendar for the year. First looking at benchmark dates so I can mark off weeks in my calendar the few times each year when I will not be accessible to classrooms because I am responsible for facilitating our team to complete all of our benchmark assessments.  Next, I look at how long it will take me to get all of our instructional groups up and running in accordance with completion of benchmark assessments and data team meetings. Once I have the date down for when I can start coaching cycles, I mark in my planner when letters need to go out to the staff, how long I can run each cycle and organize the request survey to send to staff. Typically, I can run four, 6 to 8 week cycles per year. After I have all of that recorded and grouping in my planner, I can then sit down and draft out an email to the staff of all specifics going on for the year, which really helps with those relationships. I share when my cycles will start, when to expect our team for benchmark assessments and how I can learn along side them with our professional development focus for our school.

Once the communication piece is in place, organizing our instructional support room comes next! I house a lot of materials that teachers need and use throughout the school year, from professional books and teaching resources to assessments and supplies! In order to be ready for teacher requests, I must have everything organized and ready before school starts.  This means many hours of unboxing and labeling (which makes my heart happy!) Also, the instructional support room is utilized for many learning groups, so I need to ensure it is ready for kids’ use too!

In conclusion, in order to start the year off right, meeting with our principal to ensure we are on the same page in regards to professional development in the building is critical. This allows me to communicate the best I can to the staff in order to keep those relationships so I can ensure the best possible coaching support in our school.


Lauren Fong

Instructional Coach
thechartchicks.blogspot.com

My #1 tip to prepare for a successful year is to create an organization system that works for you. Then take the time daily, weekly, or monthly to revise your system and stay organized. Keeping track of your schedule, notes from coaching cycles, and other projects can get overwhelming if you are not organized.


Chrissy Beltran

Buzzing with Ms. B Blog

My tip for a successful year of coaching is to start with some goals for campus growth. Think about what areas your teachers would like support in, and how you can help them grow in those areas. Isolate it down to about 4-5 actionable items; things you can actually do to support your teachers. Then, write it down and post it! Throughout the year, when you feel like you’re being pulled in 8 million directions, take a look at your goals and reflect. Is your work reflecting your goals? Do you need to change them? And do you need to adjust the way you’re spending your time in order to accomplish those important items?


Kristin Houser

You know me :)

My #1 tip is this — Listen to these guys! There is a ton of gold offered in these thoughts. Let this be the blog post that you revisit more than a few times, take notes on, and really reflect on how to put any or all of these suggestions into practice this year.

If you set yourself up for success, anything is possible.

And you’re sure to make that happen by taking action on the advice shared here.

A BIG, HUGE thank you to all of the coaches who participated in this post!

Talk to you soon,