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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!

The Time & ToDo Planner – 5 Years In the Making!

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One Sunday night back in 2010, I picked up my notebook and started to draw. The new school year had just started, and I found myself suffering from that feeling of “too much to do and not enough time.” So I started sketching out a planning template that would allow me to organize everything that was in my head into my notebook. With everything on two facing pages, I could see my weekly schedule, priorities, and to-dos at the same time. I wanted everything together, not spread out between screens, sticky notes, or different pieces of paper.

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It was around this time that my journey into design and creation began. I wanted to learn the design skills I needed to bring my planner sketches to life.  So I signed up for a few classes on how to use Adobe Illustrator, then Photoshop, then InDesign and worked away on creating different planning tools after school and on weekends.

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In March of 2013, I decided I would share one of the weekly planners I had created on my blog thinking other teachers trying to juggle everything, may like to use it too. Turns out, lots of teachers found it helpful! Three years later The Peek at the Week post was still one of my most popular, and the weekly planner was downloaded by 1,000’s of educators.

I took this as a little sign that maybe I wasn’t the only one trying to figure out the “too much to do, not enough time” feeling. Maybe I could make an upgraded version of the Peek at the Week planner, designed especially for teachers and other busy, creative professionals to help them manage their hectic weeks.

It was here that the Time & ToDo Planner really started to come to life. For the past nine months, I’ve been designing, tweaking, and testing….little by little, week by week.

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After lots of drafts, I finally found a design to run with. A weekly layout that has helped me manage my time with my to-dos, providing a balance of flexibility with structure, and some style.

So now, 5 years later, I am super, super excited to share the culmination of this work: The Time & ToDo Planner.

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A planner designed for the busiest of busy professionals…you!

Kickstarter Video!

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Take a flip through!

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Here, let me show you!

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Map out your TIME on one side…

And your TO-DOs on the other side!

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Want one?!

In an effort to bring this project to life, I launched a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign. Now, you can order your planner at TimeAndToDoPlanner.com

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If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s super cool and super easy to show your support.  Just click on the amount you’d like to “pledge” towards the project.

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When my funding goal is reached, production will begin and planners will be shipped!

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My goal is to have your planner in your hands by early July, so you’ll be ready to plan and prepare for the new school year.

The foundation of being at the top of your game as a coach and/or teacher, is being planned, prepared, and organized. And I’m confident this planner will help get you there!

Whether it’s with a pledge or a share, your support at any level would mean so much.

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Thank you!

My 2014-2015 Instructional Coaching Planner. And a Giveaway!

As you guys know, I’m all about a good planner. Because once you find/put together one that you really jive with, she’ll become your new BFF. You’ll tell her everything, take her with you everywhere, and she’ll get you back on track when life gets crazy. So allow me to introduce you to my new BFF…The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit. I’m going with the word “simplified” because I’m hoping it will help do exactly that…help us plan, organize, record and overall simplify our work as coaches. While looking good in the process!

The Giveaway: Read more about it below! – The Giveaway is Now Closed

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I designed it to be flexible in a couple of ways. First, you can print and write, type and print (all the text fields in the planner are editable), or just type and keep the forms on your computer. Or maybe a mix of everything! I also created and included every type of coaching or planning doc I’ve had success with in the past, so you can decide what you need and organize it in a way that makes sense to you.

After considering what worked and what didn’t work in my past planner set-ups, this year I’m combining my planner and coaching notebook. Last year I had my planner separate from my coaching notebook and I found it wasn’t really working for me because I kept going back and forth between two notebooks, which got to be a little annoying.

So my first step was to pick my notebook. I continue to love the discbound system for it’s ease of use and flexibility. I really liked the lighter color of my notebook last year, but it got scuffed up and dirty quickly. So this year I chose good old black. I spiffed it up a bit with some fancy disc rings from Levenger. They’re a little overpriced and totally unnecessary…but I decided to spoil myself and get them anyway. Hehe.

Next step…decide on the sections. You don’t want too many sections because then your planner gets crowded with dividers, but you want enough to keep it tidy. I decided on five main sections:

  • Action
  • Notes/In
  • Projects
  • Lists
  • Reference

My “Action” section includes my Daily Agenda, Peek at the Week, Monthly Goals and my Action Lists. This section is kind of like my compass. It guides me in my planning…my monthly goals guide my weekly goals, which guide my daily goals and to-do’s. I keep my monthly calendar on iCal, though the Planning Kit does include a monthly calendar for the year which you could print and include in this section.

I keep two main action lists: one for home and one for school. Anything that pops in my mind that will require just a single action, goes on my action list. I refer to these lists when planning my daily to-do’s. If I’m having a super productive day and cross off all my daily to-do’s, then I can take a peek at my action list and see if there is anything else I can take care of. If only two lists feels a little muddled, you can break them down even further…email, copies, errands, etc.

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My “Notes/In” section has a few copies of my Meeting Notes form and some blank paper for planning and other notes.

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In the “Projects” section, I have a separate Project Planner sheet printed for different projects I have going on.  A project is anything that requires more than one action step or to-do. So for example, I had a project sheet for my coaching planner set-up. There is some blank space on the side to help me jot down ideas and notes, then on the right I capture all the different action steps I need to do in order to complete the project. I love planning projects this way. It’s so much more efficient than having to-do’s for different projects scrambled together. When a project is complete, I just slip it out of my planner and smile in victory.

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Up next, is my “Lists” section. The Planning Kit includes a few different lists to help you get stuff off your mind and put them in a proper holding spot. You could also keep checklists in this section which are so cool for freeing up mental space. The Checklist Manifesto is an interesting book to read on this topic.

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I obviously don’t currently have any coachees, but I set up an example section to show you what forms I plan to include. The first sheet is my Coaching Log which gives an overview of work I’ll have done with the teacher I’m coaching. Then I’ll have my Coaching Work Plan, followed by a few Coaching Observation Forms ready to go, and lastly a few printed Coaching Convo planning sheets {all of these forms are included in the Planning Kit}. In order to avoid my planner getting too full, I’ll also have a file folder for each of my coachees where I’ll archive past notes and planning sheets.

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My last section is “Reference.” I bought a few sheet protectors to store forms I’ll be referencing frequently, such as my Coaching Schedule. You could also store your school’s Lunch/Specials schedule in this section, a Coaching Sentence Stems printout, or even your weekly meal plan! After the Reference section, I have a pocket folder/inbox to capture random papers or loose notes.

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And that’s it! Keeping it all together and staying on top of your game as a coach can be challenging, so here’s to hoping this planner will act as our glue this year.

Cheers to a new school year and happy planning!

Planner FAQ’s:

  • I print on standard letter size, 8 1/2″ x 11.  98 bright & 32 lb from Staples.
  • Here is my notebook. I just removed the sheets and added my own.
  • The Levenger punch works for the discbound system. This one is a bit less expensive than the one offered at Staples.
  • Here are the dividers I used.
  • This is the label maker I use.
  • I love the Paper Mate Flair pens. These Pilot G2 pens are also great.

The Giveaway is Now Closed

Giveaway description…fill out the form below for a chance to win a free Simplified Coaching Planning Kit!  With over 180 pages {read more about what pages are included here}, the Simplified Coaching Planning Kit will ensure you’ve got all your bases covered for the upcoming school year.  The winner will be announced by August 1st.

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My 2013-2014 Instructional Coaching Planner

Hey coaches! You didn’t think I would forget about us and our planning needs did you? No way. Although our planning style may be a bit different than classroom teachers, we need a good planning system in place just as much!

So let’s discuss. Last year, I went the all digital route. I used iCal for monthly, weekly, and daily planning. Google docs for recording and storing information gathered in observations and debriefs with teachers. And Evernote for note taking during meetings.

While there are lots of things to love about digital planning and organizing, I must admit I am a paper and pen kinda gal at heart. And this year I felt the need to show some more love to this side of myself.

So I did what I love to do and created a just-right coaching planner that has made my paper and pen heart sing with happiness!

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Along with my Discbound Notebook, here are the materials I used to put it together.

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My first task was to figure out how I wanted to set-up my Calendar section. Initially I thought I would use a two-page paper calendar, similar to the one I created for the Teacher Planner and build from there. However, as I thought about all of the planning and coaching meetings I have scheduled in a typical day/month, I knew there was no way the paper only calendar would cut it. So I called on my trusty friend iCal to lend a helping hand. The plan is to print my monthly calendar each month, grab some washi tape, and adhere it to the front of the divider right behind my Calendar section. Like this:

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This way I’ll be able to easily refer to my monthly calendar when I’m on-the-go or doing my daily planning without having to pull up my computer or phone. If any additional meetings or events come up, I can fill them in by hand or if things get really crazy, add them to iCal and reprint.

OK, on to daily planning! This is really where the rubber meets the road so you’ve got to do it right. Because I have so much going on in a typical day, I knew I needed a daily planning sheet that would help me manage my important To-Dos and scheduled meetings.

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I plan for the next day the night before so I’m ready to dive right in.  I begin by identifying my top three priorities for the day in the “Eat that Frog” section. Then I get any other To-Dos off my mind by jotting them down in the section below that. Next I write in my agenda or schedule, balancing my time against my To-Dos.

As I work, I’ll jot down any notes or thoughts that come up in the “Thought Catcher” section. Written down, these thoughts won’t distract me from my plan, but they won’t be forgotten either. At the end of the day, I’ll review these caught thoughts along with any other To-Dos that weren’t attended to and use this information along with my monthly calendar to plan my next day.

Are you wondering what the heck “Eat that Frog” means? I picked it up from reading Brian Tracy’s book, Eat that Frog. If you’re interested in time management strategies at all, you should check it out. The idea comes from a Mark Twain quote: “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” Basically, take care of your most important and/or procrastination worthy tasks first!

One other tool I use to map out my week is my Peek at the Week sheet. I updated the one I shared in an earlier post to better match my daily planning sheets. You can download it free here!

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I adjusted the size a bit and trimmed it, so that I could stick it to the back of my calendar tab for easy reference.  I’m always checking to make sure that my priorities for the week match my daily plans!

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I’ve been playing around with my planning sheets a bit this summer and I’m psyched because I think they’re going to be so perfect for the school year. Woop Woop!

After I had my calendar section all figured out it was time to decide what other sections I would add to my planner. I decided to go with Coaching, Notes, Blog, and Personal.

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Within my coaching section, I have tabs labeled Observation, Debrief, and Reference.

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I’ll store short term notes and reference material within these sections. For longer term storage of observation and debrief notes with coachees, I’ll use file folders and a PD Google Site which I’m going to work on creating next week. I’ll share more on this system once I have it all put together.

I decided I needed a separate Notes section for planning meetings and just to scribble out my own thoughts when I’m working on different projects. I use Levenger’s Dot Grid paper which is my favorite paper ever.

Because my school life feeds the work I do on my blog, it needed it’s own section to keep all my post ideas in order.

In my Personal section, I have my Meal Plan for the week along with a few other documents that help keep me together.

If you would like to use my Any-Day Planner to put together a coaching planner for yourself, please visit my Etsy shop. It includes a Customized Planner Cover which you can have laminated like I did or bind together with your planning pages to make a planner for the year!

If you’re someone who could do without all the daily planning action and are content with a weekly planning spread instead, then this weekly planner may better meet your needs.

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So tell me, what’s your coaching planning system? I would LOVE to hear!

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

The Journey of a First Year Coach – Part One

I just finished reading a really good memoir called, “Born to Rise.” It’s the story of educator Deborah Kenny, and her journey as the founder of Harlem Village Academies. I finished the book feeling inspired and renewed.

Reading this book made me think about the importance of sharing stories.

And then a podcast interview I heard this week with Tom Rademacher, author of “It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest Book About Teaching,” pretty much said the same thing — You’re an educator. You have cool and interesting things to talk about. No matter where you are in your journey.

He’s right. So, I’m sharing a story.

Not my story, since I share a lot.

But the story of another coach, who’s just starting out. Today you’ll hear Part 1, and we’ll check in with Part 2 and 3 as the year goes on.

Enjoy!

Can you share a bit about your background? What got you interested in coaching?

I worked as a classroom teacher for 7 years, in first and second grade. I first started to get interested in coaching/teacher leadership when a teammate and I had the opportunity to lead a PD session together…I had a blast! At that point I started to realize that I really liked, and was interested in teaching adults.

When I was teaching, I was entrusted a lot as a lead teacher and was given opportunities to share classroom strategies with other teachers. I really enjoyed these discussions!

I also really enjoyed the coaching cycles I participated in when teaching. I really learned a lot through this work, and liked the structure of it. It felt like a partnership…coaching felt “friendly.” I felt very free to share and learn, and it was a great opportunity for me to really grow.

When I decided I needed to leave my position to be a mom, my principal invited me into a part time coaching role so I could continue to work. I was able to work alongside a new teacher and support her with classroom management. I loved it!  Though I was only able to continue that year, I knew I would want to do more when the time was right.

After a two year break, I am now working as the school’s part time math coach.

What are you really loving so far about coaching?

I love that I get to work and learn with teachers in the whole building, and not just my grade level. This is fun! But this can also feel like a challenge at times…as a teacher you work so closely with your team which feels comforting and great, and as a coach it’s different. I’m able to work with Kristin and our principal, but it still feels different and scheduling your day and time is different than when I was a teacher.

I also really like the facilitation work I’ve been able to do so far this year. Planning for PD is in many ways similar to planning lessons for the classroom. I like being a part of the school’s planning process for PD, and having a voice is great. Working with adults is different from working with kids and can be hard, but I like it!

I’m also able to participate in a weekly coaches meeting, which feels like important work. I work to keep students best interests first and foremost in mind, and provide a voice for teacher support in the building.

What has been your biggest success or celebration this year?

I’m working in my first ever coaching cycle right now, and that has felt like a success so far! Kristin went with me to our Kick-Off meeting, and I felt great afterwards. I’ve worked really hard at making sure that the feedback I offer is specific and manageable. I notice a lot of things when I’m in her room, so I really have to zoom it in and not overwhelm her! And so far the feedback I’ve shared has been well accepted.

Another success was my interview for this Teacher Leader position in the district! I was really nervous going in, but I really prepared and I showed myself well. At the end, one of the interviewers said she wished I was her coach! :)

What areas are you working on improving at this point in your coaching journey?

Facilitation for PD. Parts of the facilitation work I’ve done so far have felt successful and have felt like “me” and what I envision successful PD to look like. I’ve had good models before as a teacher and want to replicate what I’ve experienced, but I also want to be true to who I am and my style of facilitation so that it feels just right. I’m still working on figuring out what that exactly is (!), but I’m making steps forward with each time I do it. In planning for my first ever whole staff PD I felt overwhelmed, but I told myself, “You can do this!” I asked for feedback and reflected with Kristin, did a lot of planning and preparation, and my efforts payed off! I feel like I’m getting better and better. I also appreciated the opportunity to get started with practicing my facilitation skills right away! Our principal gave me a chance to get in front of the staff in a smaller role at first, and I built up from there. I’ve learned along the way that I really need a good amount of time to plan for a good PD! I’m not sure I gave myself enough time at first.

Another challenge has been rolling out a brand new curriculum. There is a lot to learn! I’m learning as much as I can as fast as I can, but it still feels overwhelming at times.

What has been most supportive to your learning so far this year?

Our leadership has been so supportive. I’m grateful. I don’t feel like I’m drowning, and things feel manageable! Kristin has been a great partner for me too. She’s someone who has gone through it and has collected a lot of wisdom along the way. She helps me with bite-sized goals, what to work on and think about. I took her Coaching Workshop, printed the resources, and used it a lot at the start of the year!

What are your goals moving forward in this next quarter?

I’d like to keep working on reaching out to other teachers, who for different reasons, I may feel are a little outside of my “comfort zone”…some teachers may have a different personality than me, may be a bit quieter, or I just don’t know them yet. I’m working really hard to get into everyone’s room, and also make connections with teachers…by just sitting and talking with them at lunch, or at PD!

I also need to work on nailing down a more predictable schedule for myself :)

If you were able to share any advice with another new/aspiring coach, what would you say?

Tackle things that you know you’ll have some success with. Classroom management is a strength of mine, so I felt good about providing coaching support in this area early on. Too much “new” would have felt overwhelming for me. I think it’s important to try to find a balance with “new” and with what feels comfortable, so you experience some success!!

And look out for those successes!…you know that excitement you feel when you see your class is starting to get something??…seeing a teacher/classroom you’re working with starting to put into place what you’ve been working on in coaching, feels just like that!…it’s great!

Leadership and having a mentor is really important. Do what you can to find someone to support you or work with.

That’s it! Thanks Kristin!

Thank YOU!! I’m excited to continue to tag along with you throughout this year, and share your “to be continued” story with the MsHouser community.

Take-Aways

  • Approach every day, every experience, every conversation with a “Beginner’s Mind” — there’s always something new to learn and be appreciative of, if you’re open to it.
  • You can do hard things — but maybe not too many hard things at once :)
  • Collaboration with school leadership is important.
  • You probably have a story too. Maybe you could share it?

Get the easy to follow, step-by-step guide of your first 90 Days as an Instructional Coach.

Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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?!?

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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.”

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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

 

 

P.S. If you liked this post, I’d GREATLY appreciate it if you’d use the buttons below to share it with your buddies!

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.

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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

A Day in the Life of Ms. Houser

I keep a running list of blog post topics and one that has been on there for awhile is a “Day in the Life” post. I secretly love learning about the rhythms and routines of other people’s everyday schedules. When I’m out walking my dog at night, I’ll even walk a bit more slowly past open windows so I can peek inside. Is that weird?

Anyhow, I got to thinking that most of the posts I’ve written on this little blog of mine, have been more professional and less personal. I haven’t really shared much about the gal behind MsHouser.com. And I know that one of my favorite parts of reading a blog is making a connection with the person writing it. So in an effort to get to know each other a bit better, I’m opening up my window curtains and inviting you to take a peek inside.

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My morning and evening routine is pretty standard, although my coaching days are always different. This day though {Wednesday of this week} reflects a pretty typical coaching day. Alrighty, let’s take a peek.

4:30am     WAKEUP

The alarm goes off and my chocolate lab pup jumps on the bed to greet/lick me good morning. I’m a super early bird, so I don’t mind the 4:30am wake-up time. It gives me a few extra minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee, write in my journal, and map out my day. Starting the day this way, helps me get focused and organized for the day ahead.

coffee

5:15am     EXERCISE

Most mornings I’ll head out for a long, brisk walk with the puppy, Sombra {spanish for shadow}. He’s pretty much the cutest thing ever, don’t you think? And he gives me a pretty good workout.

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6:45am     DRIVE IN

I hop in my car and head off to school, which is about a 25 minute commute. I’ll usually listen to a good podcast or audiobook on the way there.

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7:20am     SET-UP FOR THE DAY & BREAKFAST

I head into my coaching office, unpack my bag and get set-up for the day. I’ll have my breakfast while I check a few emails and see if there any changes I need to make to my schedule or anyone I need to get back to right away.

Setting-Up

7:45am     COACHING VISIT

I’m working fairly intensively with a kindergarten teacher right now in the mornings. So I’m in there longer than I would normally be in a classroom. We’re digging into rituals and routines. We’re both learning a ton and enjoying it! Kindergartners are pretty funny.

MEs room

10:00am     COACHING PLANNING

I always build some time into my daily schedule to review my coaching observation notes and plan for my debriefs with teachers. I think it’s important to be prepared for when you meet with teachers, just as you would be prepared for teaching a lesson. Teachers are sharing some of their limited planning time with you, in the hopes that you can help them and their students grow, so it should be worth their time!

me-working

11:00am     COACHING COACHES

This isn’t a usual event in my schedule, but it was a fun one to add in! I chatted with a group of coaches about scheduling, the tools I use, lessons learned, goal setting and some Q&A at the end. Some of my lessons learned…be prepared and always be honest with teachers! It’s ok not to have all the answers and it’s ok to honestly talk through sticky situations.

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12:00pm    LUNCH {usually}

I always make time to eat lunch, but at what time that happens…it just depends on the day. As much as I love structure and routine, different things may come up during the day and coaching requires you to be flexible. When it is time for lunch, I’ll check in on email or do some reading.

lunch

 

12:45pm     WORK ON DISPLAY

Its’s College Friday in Colorado, and I’ve been working hard all week on creating a “college dreams” wall for our kids. This is the center of the display, and it extends down the hall. Creating different displays or walls such as this throughout our building, is something I enjoy doing, and offer to help out with on occasion.

dreams-for-college

1:15pm     FACILITATE VISITORS

A few times a year, we host groups of visitors from other schools. Today I facilitated a site visit for a group of 7 teachers, with a focus on identifying instructional practices that support the engagement and achievement of students.

visitors

2:45pm     MEET WITH CHELSEA

Chelsea and I are just kicking off our coaching cycle together and are meeting today to review her updated assessment data, so we can set a goal and identify some instructional strategies for the focus group of students we’ll be working with.

me-and-chelsea

3:45pm     DRIVE HOME

Time to head home for the day. Another podcast plugged in, a snack to munch on, and I’m home!

drive-home

4:15PM     PLAY TIME!

This is one of my favorite times of the day. Sombra is crazy excited when I get home and I’m pretty dang excited to see him too. Luke, my fiancé, hears the commotion upstairs and comes up to greet us {he works from home}. Then we all head out back for some bone throwing and chasing time.

PLAY-TIME

5:00pm     PREP FOR NEXT DAY

This time includes unpacking my bags, making breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, cleaning up the house a bit, picking out tomorrow’s outfit, mail…all that kind of stuff.

6:00pm     DINNER AND FAMILY TIME

We try pretty hard to have our meals planned out for the week and enjoy spending some time together in the kitchen cooking healthy meals. Tonight is one of our favorites, chicken burrito bowls.

dinner

7:30pm     BIZ WORK

I’ve been working super hard on my side business, so I’ve been using this time to hustle.  I’m in the process of launching a new, unique weekly planner designed for educators and other busy professionals. It’s been a long time dream in the making and I can’t wait to share it with you! You’ll hear more about it next week, but until then, here’s a little sneak peek of the logo:

TimeandToDoPlanner

9:00pm     GET READY FOR SLEEP

I like taking a hot shower before I go to bed, just to wash the day off and relax. Then I’ll do a little fiction reading to help me get my mind off work stuff. Right now I’m reading The Maze Runner, and really liking it!

9:30pm     LIGHTS OUT!

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to get to know me a little better. I hope this post also gave you a better idea of what an instructional coaching day can look like. I know that’s something I’m always curious about.

Now it’s your turn!

If you’d like to send me a note or introduce yourself in the comments below, I’d love it!

Have a happy weekend and I’ll talk to you soon.

New Year New Gear

It’s that time of year for spicing up your teacher gear!  I couldn’t be more excited for the start of a new year. It’s the perfect time to reflect, set goals, and celebrate a fresh start!

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Over the break I did some New Years Resoluting, and I’ve got some pretty good new goals worked up for myself this year. Maybe you do too? Well, one tip I’ve found to be especially helpful in goal setting and maintaining, is to make it a treat! And who says the treat part has to come at the end? I’m all for treating at the beginning, as I really think a little something special tied to new goals or habits you want to build into your lifestyle, can really help with getting and keeping the ball rolling. So here’s a peek into a few of my treats.

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one / two / three / four / five / six

one
I’ve always loved a good workout in the morning. Whether it’s running, cycling, yoga, or lifting weights, starting your day off with some movement and a good sweat is a great way to prep yourself for a successful and happy school day. But somehow last year, I let my mornings get away from me and my workouts became less and less. And then like none at all. Well not this year! I’m getting married in July {yeah!}, so I’m bound and determined, committed to building this habit back into my schedule. Because I prefer working out in the morning and school starts pretty early for us (7:20), I needed a plan for being super efficient with my AM time. And this plan includes gear. Enter the most organized toiletry bag ever. I found it at the Container Store, and it helps me get in and out of the shower at the gym in 20 minutes. No time to dig around for shampoo or make-up on a teacher’s schedule! So far I’ve been to the gym three mornings this week. Sweet!

two
Something else you need if you’re going to be working it out at the gym and then later at school, is plenty of properly chilled water ready to guzzle down. I’m a water-bottle-aholic, and maybe I didn’t need this one, but I really love it. It holds plenty of water for a full day, and keeps it super chilled all the way until the end of the day and into the next, if you need it to. There’s different tops available if you don’t like the wide mouth variety, and plenty of colors to choose from.

three
OK. So, I thought long and hard about this one. And then I decided to just pull the trigger already. Stitchfix is going to be my new personal shopper to help me out with stylizing and professionalizing my wardrobe for 2015, and I’m psyched about it! I have too many random t-shirts, boring colors, and outdated pieces in my closet. What you wear can send a message, especially when you’re in a leadership role, and I’d like to spiff my message up a bit. Stitchfix is a site I’d heard about from several friends, and after getting my first “fix” this past week, I’m totally hooked. They do the shopping for you, and send you five different pieces to try out. Keep what you like, send back what you don’t! Love.

four
When I was teaching, something I always dreamed about was a big window in my classroom that would let in lots of bright sunshine and refresh my room with a nice breeze. So when I moved into my coaching office, you wouldn’t believe how excited I was to see…a window! I walked over to my window, thankful that my dream had come true, and then discovered…that my window didn’t open. Sad. Yes, I had some sunshine, but no fresh air. Well I decided to spruce up my office space a bit this month, and part of that sprucing up will be to add a little breeze to the room. Even if it’s not fresh. This little fan is super quiet, and helps circulate the air, which is real nice, especially in the afternoons. I’ve heard a fan in your office supports your health and may even make you more productive. We’ll see!

five
I love coffee. The way it smells, the way it tastes, the way it gives me a little pick-up when I need it. Given that pumping up my fitness and health is going to be a goal of mine this year, I thought maybe I’d give up coffee. Think, think…nah! Although, I am going to switch up my afternoon coffee routine a bit to include my new favorite drink, a dirty chai. Just mix up a little coffee or nespresso with some chai tea in your new Vessel sippy-cup, and boom! You’ve got yourself a stylin’ afternoon drink.

six
The start of a New Year is a great time to freshen up your planner and planning system. I think about what’s working well, what isn’t, and from there what improvements I may be able to make. For me, I’m pretty good with day-day and week-week planning, but when it comes to long-term, big picture planning, I’ve just never taken the time to do it well. And that big picture piece is so important for making your weeks and days come together with greater purpose and intention, so this was an improvement I wanted to make. Because I’m a very visual planner, I created a Year Planner for myself and a new monthly calendar template. First I mapped out everything I wanted to accomplish on my Year Planner, then I’ll use my monthly calendar to outline when I’ll get everything done.

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You can grab a free copy of the Year Planner here! For the monthly calendar, you can check out my shop here.

So how about you? What are you thinking about for 2015? Whatever it is, I know we’ll make this year awesome.

I hope your holiday was great and your New Year is off to an amazing start!