Search results: coaching tools

Instructional Coaching Tools

Last week I shared the instructional coaching data tracker I use to help organize and reflect on my work in coaching cycles throughout the year.  In the post I mentioned that I use a variety of other coaching tools to document and organize work with individual teachers.  Here are a two of my most important.

Coaching Kick-Off Meeting

At the start of instructional coaching cycles, two of the most important things we can do as coaches is to establish a respectful and trusting rapport with our coachee and also show that we honor them as an adult learner. You can work to implement these two practices in part by setting up a Kick Off coaching meeting.  The first purpose of this time is to get to know your coachee as a teacher and learner.  The second purpose is to work together to identify a goal for your coaching cycle. In having this kick off coaching conversation, you are establishing yourself as a “thinking partner” who is there to learn along with them. Additionally, you are setting routines and norms for your work together and clarifying logistics, which I have found helps in preventing potential misunderstandings down the road. Creating an agenda for this meeting helps to ensure that your time is purposeful and action-oriented.

Instructional Coaching Tools

Download your FREE Coaching Kick-Off Printable Here

Coaching Work Plan Tool

This is a great tool to help you craft a plan for your coaching goals, how you plan to arrive at these goals, and the results of your work.  After the Kick-Off meeting, I set-up a Goal Setting meeting with teachers and use this tool to guide our conversation.  I’ll revisit it throughout the coaching cycle to ensure that our work is staying on track.  In the final coaching wrap-up meeting I have with teachers, we review and document the results of our work using this tool.

Instructional Coaching Tools

Instructional Coaching Tools

Instructional Coaching Observation and Debrief Tool

This instructional coaching observation form is my go-to tool for all of my coaching observations and debrief conversations.  I record our coaching cycle goal at the top to ensure alignment between learning targets and look-fors in the lesson.  The listed debrief questions always serve as anchors for post observation conversations.  As far as instructional next steps, one thing I have learned is fewer is better!  Ensure that the teacher you are working with has identified and committed to 1-2 instructional next steps they feel will support student progress, but also feel manageable.

Instructional Coaching Tools

Instructional Coaching Tools

Download your FREE Coaching Kick-Off Printable Here

And for the complete
Simplified Coaching Planning Kit …

Simplified-Coaching-Planning-Kit-cover-image

Talk to you soon!

 

 

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A Peek Inside a Coaching Kick Off Meeting. And the Tools I Used to Do It

A few weeks back, I was asked to record a video of myself conducting a coaching Kick-Off Meeting.

First thought…eh. I was complimented by the ask, but I get a little squeamish about being recorded on video. Not just because I feel like my voice sounds weird and I’ll usually catch myself saying or doing something that I want to go back and erase, but also because showing your work to others can be scary.

There’s this feeling that you have to be perfect and if it’s not you’ll be judged. Whenever that fearful feeling comes up for me though, I’ll acknowledge it, but then kick it to the curb quick.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and showing your work to others whether it’s modeling a lesson, interviewing for that coaching position, blogging about your work, or sharing a video of your coaching, is one of the best ways to grow and get better.

So I responded “Yes! I can help” and off I went to grab the video camera and tripod.

Thanks a million to my coachee Tyler for his willingness to take part in this video. He’s a super star teacher, always looking to learn, and an all around real cool guy.

So as an initial coaching meeting goes, this was the very first time I met with Tyler to kick off our coaching cycle. The primary purpose of this meeting is to identify a focus for your coaching work together, familiarize your coachee with the logistics of the cycle and give them the opportunity to ask questions. It’s also your chance to hash out any potential concerns, challenges or anxious feelings the teacher may have about going into coaching.

The kick-off meeting is a key piece in setting up a successful coaching cycle.

You’ll see this video is made up of two different meetings, as we had a few next steps to follow up on before we were able to narrow down a focus. I also did quite a bit of editing as I didn’t want to make you sit through a 45 minute video. Although that’s about the average time for an initial coaching meeting.

So here it goes:

And for the tools I used:

We got into defining our goal a bit, so this tool was partially used, but we completed it further at a later session.

I also brought along a few resources I thought would be helpful for us in narrowing down a focus, such as a list of the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten and the 2nd Quarter report card.

Beyond that, the conversation could go in any direction, and you’ll just have to use your coaching prowess to support the teacher in landing on a meaningful and high leverage focus area and goal. There will be some on the spot thinking to do to get there, but don’t worry, you can totally do that.

If you have any questions or thoughts, definitely let me know in the comments below.

Cheers to kicking off successful coaching cycles!

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!

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!

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!

FREE Coaching Kick-Off Printable

coaching-kick-off-meeting

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And for 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!

4 Ways to Organize Your Coaching Life Using Google Drive

On my way into school this morning, I grabbed myself a Pumpkin Latte with almond milk to celebrate my favorite season of the year, Fall(!!), officially being here. The leaves are starting to turn and the temps have dropped just enough for me to be able to break out my new, navy J-Crew puffy vest. (just wore it today btw and it looks super cute!)

On the school front, my first round of coaching cycles are wrapping up and fall break is next week.

Around this time of year, every year usually, I get a bad case of the organizing/cleaning/purging bug. Old notes, computer files, my planner, the windows and carpets at home…watch out. I’m coming to get you.

One of those disorganized, I’m coming to get you items on my radar this year was my Google Drive.

cover-image

I love my paper planner, my erasable Frixion pens, and my washi tape file folders, but I also have a few go to digital tools I love and use often. One of them being Google Drive.

I love me some Google Drive.

It’s my favorite tool and secret weapon for bridging the world of paper and tech in an organized and efficient way.

As I was sorting, purging, and organizing my Drive earlier this week, I thought it might be helpful to share four ways you can get more organized using this online tool.

1. Create Folders and Subfolders

First, get your folders set-up. How you structure your folders will be the backbone of your whole system.

No folders = random documents everywhere = BAH!!

Here’s a peek into how I structure mine.

Organizing-Google-Drive-FoldersIn case you’re wondering, what goes in my planning kit and what goes online…I like to keep my coaching log online so it can be easily shared with my coachee (more about sharing in a bit…). I also keep an online observation and debrief tool for each coachee ready to go in their folder, as I sometimes prefer to record notes on my computer, based on the complexity and length of the lesson I observe. For grade levels, I upload major planning documents I may need for shared planning and a log of agendas.

2. Color Code

I color code my calendar, my planner, and pretty much everything else in my life, so of course I’m going to color code my Drive!

Color coding is a great way to visually organize your folders and sub-folders. Just right-click your folder of choice and select the option “Change Color.” You can select one of 24 different options.

Organizing-Google-Drive-Colors

3. Take Advantage of Google Sheets, Forms and Sites…Oh My!

There’s a whole wide world of cool tools beyond the standard Google Doc, just waiting for you to take advantage of.

To start, I use Google Sheets as my go-to tool for collecting and organizing data from teachers. For example, I currently have a spreadsheet set-up to help me gather student info from teachers so I can quickly add student names and info to our district assessment system. When a student needs to be added, teachers fill out their info using the shareable link, and I can then get it sent into the district…super quick and easy!

Organizing-Google-Drive-Spreadsheets

And Google Forms are a super cool way to collect feedback after PD sessions. I just create an Exit Ticket Form which teachers fill out immediately after PD, then I can organize and view all the responses using a Google Sheet to determine what teachers appreciated, their commitments to next steps, and what we can do to improve. Boom!

Organizing-Google-Drive-Forms1

Oh, and if you’re feeling like you’re really up for having some fun, you can work on creating a whole SITE for your school! How cool would that be?!?

Google-Site1

4. Share!!

This one got a double exclamation mark because it’s one of my favorite features of Google Drive, and what really got me hooked in the first place. I love sharing! It supports collaboration, communication, and efficiency for coaches, teachers, principals, husbands and wives…everyone!

Here are a few ways I take advantage of the share feature on Google Drive:

  • coaching logs shared with coachees
  • goal setting forms shared with coachees
    • NOTE** If you use any of the planning forms in the Simplified Coaching Planning Kit, you can easily upload them to Google Drive
  • observation and debrief notes
  • planning agendas
  • planning meeting notes
  • curriculum planning forms
  • spreadsheets to collect info

And lot’s more!

When sharing, you can either enter the names of people you want to share the doc with, or send folks a “shareable link.”

Organizing-Google-Drive-Sharing

And that’s that! Hopefully you picked up a few good tips that will help you get your digital life a bit more organized.

Sometimes it’s just the small step of choosing one thing/place to sort, purge, and organize that can help you feel way better and more in control.

Thanks for reading, and if you happen to have fall break coming up, enjoy!

ms-houser

 

 

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2015-2016 Simplified Coaching Planning Kit – It’s Here!

I couldn’t be more excited that The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit for the 2015-2016 school year is now available in my coaching shop!

Simplified Coaching Planning Kit

This is the second edition of the planning kit and I’m super excited about some of the changes and additions I’ve made this year. It has many of the same great planning tools as last year’s version, however, has evolved with a new design and new planning tools.

PD-Planner1

new-tools

This year’s version has five new cover options for you to choose from.

covers-included2

One of the big changes I made this year was color coding the entire planning kit! I thought I’d give you a bit of a brain break on how to set-up your planning kit, by organizing it for you.

Using the table of contents as a guide, you can divide your planning kit into six different sections: Planning, Observations, Debriefs, Meetings, Projects, Reference. You could also color code your dividers to match the planning pages if you wanted to get really fancy.

table-of-contents1

The planning kit is editable again this year, so you can fill in your planning tools directly on your computer then pop them into your planner, or just print and write!

PD-Goals8

list-it

The planning kit has everything you need to organize and centralize all of your important coaching materials.

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And with all of the different tools that I personally use to plan and implement coaching cycles, you’ll be totally on top of it!

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This year’s planning kit does not include a calendar, as I’ve designed an even better option…The Time & ToDo Planner! This Kickstarter project recently reached it’s funding goal within 12 short days and the project is officially a GO! It’s not too late to pre-order this planner either. If you prefer to have your calendar within your planning kit, there is digital version available for you to print on your own {includes June and July for you to get a head start on planning this summer}.

I intentionally designed the Time & ToDo Planner to compliment The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit, in both functionality and style. The weekly planner is lightweight and ultra-portable, which will allow you to easily carry it with you wherever you go. At times you may need your weekly planner and your planning kit, or just your planner…now you have stylish options, without the bulk.

love

I’m confident The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit will help you achieve your goals as an instructional coach.

And with the planning kit available earlier this year, you’ll have plenty of time this summer to get set-up and ready to rock it next year!

Keep me updated!

ms-houser

 

 

 

PURCHASE HERE

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Planner FAQs:

  • I print on standard letter size, 8.5 x 11″ paper {98 bright, 32 lb}
  • I use the discbound notebook system.  A three hole binder would also work well though!
  • The Levenger punch works for the discbound system. This one is a bit less expensive than the one offered though Levenger.
  • This is the label maker I use.
  • I love the Pilot G2 pens.

3 Keys to Finding the Time for Quality Coaching

I was doing some reading earlier this week from one of my favorite new books, Leverage Leadership, and got all excited when I flipped the page and landed on Chapter 8: Finding the Time. Why was I excited? Because I really like reading about time management strategies for educators, and good info on this topic is hard to come by.

As we reflect on the past school year and look towards the next, it’s helpful to consider what worked and what may need to be improved for next year in the area of scheduling, time management, and “making it all work.”

3 Keys to Finding Time for Quality Coaching

So what did the chapter have to say? Here is an overview of the three key tools discussed in the book {along with some tid-bits of my own}, to finding the time for quality leadership and coaching.

Lock in your schedule

The idea here is that your weekly schedule should be intentionally built to reflect the work that best supports building excellent schools. I would say that of the six “levers” discussed in the book, the three that most apply to coaches include: Professional Development, Observation and Feedback, and Instructional Planning. Here are the steps for getting them in place.

Step 1: Lock in Your Group Meetings

The first set of events to schedule are regular group meetings: PD, leadership team meetings, grade level team meetings, data meetings, and so on. Which meetings will you be facilitating? What communication needs to be sent to staff and how much time might you need to prepare? Be careful about too many meetings…planning to attend all grade level meetings every week might not be the best use of your time. Identify your priorities, and keep the focus there.

Step 2: Lock in Your Observations and Debriefs

Now it’s time to lock in your observations and debriefs with teachers for the week…arguably the highest leverage driver of your work. For each coachee, I like to schedule two observations per week, and two debriefs. The time you have scheduled for a visit doesn’t have to be concrete, and will likely depend on your coaching goal. For example, if I’m working with a teacher on guided reading I may only need to be in their room for 30 minutes, whereas if I’m working with another teacher on reader’s workshop, I’ll likely be in there for a full hour.

Something else to keep in mind is how closely you schedule your debriefs to your observations. I always leave some space between the two so I have time to plan and prepare my notes.

Step 3: Build in Time for Planning

The final piece is to build in blocks of time when you’ll work on instructional planning. For coaches, this could include preparing yourself for an upcoming coaching cycle with a goal you need to do some reading and research on. You might also consider building in time to throughly prepare for the debriefs you have scheduled, planning for next week’s PD, or working with a teacher to problem solve why a certain student isn’t making growth. There isn’t really a set amount of time to dedicate to this piece each week. It really just depends on what you have already built into your schedule after completing the first two steps.

Here’s an example of what your weekly schedule might look like with all three levers in place:

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Defend your time

Alright, now that you’ve got a clear calendar for the week and some mental white space, let’s defend it! You’re already ahead of the game by having mapped out your time, but here are a few quick tips for sticking to your game plan.

  • Get On The No Train: Here’s the thing…whatever you say yes to, means you’re saying no to something else. Yes, coaches need to be flexible and you can’t always say no, but it’s important to be mindful of the trade you may be making.
  • Plan Blocks for Communication: Email is seriously distracting. It breaks your flow and takes you away from often more important work. Since the majority of communication takes place via email in a school though, you can’t really just ignore it. But you can be more strategic about it. How about blocking out one chunk of time each day to process all of your emails, then just take a peek a few more times during the day to monitor for anything urgent, but hold off on responding. I know, that takes big-time discipline and I’m not even there yet. But we can work towards it!

Manage your tasks

You’re in the home stretch! You’ve locked in your weekly schedule and defended your time. The last piece is to get all of those tasks in order: your daily tasks and your monthly tasks.

To keep track of it all, coaches need a way to map their actions and build a plan beyond the daily and weekly level. Leverage Leadership discusses a tool they’ve seen leaders use called the monthly map. It’s a nifty little tool that helps you keep your eyes on what matters most.

Here’s an example of what your map might look like for the first month back at school, using the monthly map offered in The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit.

monthly-map4
Design Coordinates with the Time & ToDo Planner

Exceptional coaches thrive not by working more hours, but by making their hours count.

So how will you make yours count?

See you next week,

ms-houser

Meeting Tips and Tools

Phew! I feel like I blinked and it was suddenly September. It has been one busy start to the school year. If I gave you a copy of my calendar for this past month and asked you to look for trends, I’d bet you would quickly find one word popping up all over the place…meeting. PD planning meetings, coaching meetings, team meetings…meetings, meetings, meetings. No doubt about it, the beginning of the year is prime meeting time. But as coaches, the reality is that beginning of the school year or not, meetings are just a part of what we do. So if that’s the deal, then let’s make sure we do those meetings well. To start, I’ll share three of my top tips for effectively facilitating a meeting then a few tools to support you as a facilitator or meeting participant.

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Clarify Norms

NORMS

Setting or clarifying norms for collaborative work is an important first step in supporting teams who will work together for a period of time. If you’re supporting grade level team meetings or just starting off a new coaching cycle, this would be a great place to start. When setting norms a few things to think about include logistics, timeliness, equal participation, and the decision making process. Create your meeting norms together and come back to them frequently.

Create an Agenda

AgendaAgenda, agenda, agenda! This is your lesson plan for the meeting. Just like you wouldn’t want a teacher to head into a lesson without a plan, you don’t want to head into a meeting without an agenda. Include clear outcomes, any materials needed, topics of discussion, and times attached to topics. Post the agenda for others to see and review it at the start of the meeting so everyone knows where they’re headed. Provide the opportunity for meeting members to ask questions or add in topics they would like to be addressed. Even if I’m only meeting with one other teacher, I always have an agenda.

Identify Next Steps

Next-Steps

Never let the meeting come to a close before identifying next steps. Who will be responsible for what and by when? You can email these next steps and meeting notes to team members to support accountability.

Meeting-Tools-Sign

Here is a note taking template created in Word so you can type directly into it if your prefer taking notes on your computer:

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Click Here to Download

If you prefer taking notes by hand, here is a PDF printable you can print in color or black and white and pop into your notebook:

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Click Here to Download

Here is a Word doc template you can use to create your agenda:

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Click Here to Download 

Lastly, a little candy and/or coffee never hurts the spirit of any meeting! Wink, wink.

candy

I hope you find these tips and tools helpful. Thanks to blog reader Anna for sharing her thoughts on putting together a meeting note-taking sheet. If you ever have thoughts on coaching resources/tools that would be helpful for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’ll try to work it into a future post.

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser