Archive | Organization RSS feed for this section

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!

cover2

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.

pics

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.

calendar-image

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!

Planning for Guided Reading

I’ve been teaching literacy in a 4th grade class this first quarter and having a blast! For an hour and a half each morning, I hop over to Susie’s room while she supports another teacher in math. After fall break, I’ll be going back to full day coaching, but I’m so glad I was able to dip my toes back into the teaching waters. It helped me reconnect to the work I’m coaching teachers on and rebuild my street cred.

Anyhow, part of that 90 minutes involved supporting a few groups of kids with differentiated literacy instruction using the structure of guided reading. Because you may be thinking about adjusting or freshening up your guided reading system {or supporting coachees with this} for the second quarter, I thought I’d share a few tips and resources for how I plan for guided reading.

guided-reading-visual2

1. Organize Your Data

You’ll be grouping students primarily by their reading level and you’ll want a way to track their growth throughout the year and adjust your instruction accordingly. Beth Newingham is one of my hero teachers who I’ve been following and learning from for a long time. This is a tool she offers teachers on her website that I’ve always used and love.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.49.02 AM

Click Here to Download

2. Form Your Groups and Schedule

I’ve found I’m most successful and efficient with my instructional time when I have up to five reading groups, although six is doable. Above that though is really pushing it. I like to use a planning template such as the one below to help me plan when and how often I’ll meet with each group.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.11.58 PM

Click Here to Download

3. Create a Planning Template {or use mine!}

Planning templates are a bit like good checklists in that they help you attend to all the important components of a lesson without having to drain any mental energy remembering what they are. Which in turn improves your planning efficiency! This is the one I most commonly use, although here is a link to another one made specifically for working with Transitional readers if you’d like to check it out too.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.33.49 PM

Click Here to Download

4.  Grab a Binder

Now that you have your progress tracking sheet, weekly schedule sheet, and planning template it’s time to pop it all into a handy binder. With a nice cover of course, which I’ve included as a free download for you here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 1.15.35 PM

Dividers with pockets work well for keeping everything organized. You can label your dividers by group or by student.

IMG_2048

5. Select Your Books

I like to have all of my guided reading texts for the week selected the week before and placed in a bin so they’re ready to go.

book-bin

{image via Scholastic}

And finally…

Let’s get to teaching!

 

 

Getting Started with Instructional Coaching

cover-blue

I’m always super excited to hear from readers who are just getting started with their journey into instructional coaching. I send some email cheers (You rock! Go get em! You’re going to be awesome!) and good vibes, really wishing them all the best in their transition. It’s definitely an exciting time. But it can also be a little nerve-racking and overwhelming. Lots of us move from our classrooms, straight into coaching positions with little formal “training” or guidance to prepare us for our new roles. When I first moved into coaching, I can remember feeling very driven to be successful as a coach, but also wondering, “Where do I even start?!!”… “What can I do to ensure that I am successful?” Such are the feelings of one reader who recently wrote me:

Good afternoon,
I will be beginning my first year as an instructional coach at our alternative school. I have 16 years teaching experience in SPED. I am beginning to look around for instructional materials for myself, as the school year is nearing the beginning. I came across your blog near the top of my search and was wondering what you would suggest as the top things I should concentrate on, outside of establishing relationships with my fellow teachers. The great thing is that I have been in the same district for 16 years and many of my students have eventually attended our alternative school so I know quite a few of the teachers. Thank you for any guidance you can give me.
Tammy

So, let’s chat.

Here are a few beginning of the year pieces for you to consider, based on what I’ve learned these past few years.

Clarify Your Role

Instructional coaching can look very different district to district, or school to school. You may have been hired with a broad overview of what you’ll be doing, or maybe none at all. Either way, I think it would definitely be worth your time to write out a clear job description for yourself, really clarifying your roles and responsibilities. One idea is to get online and search “Instructional Coaching Jobs.” This will give you a list of different coaching job descriptions which may help you get some traction.

I wrote up a summary of my role this past week to be shared with staff, since we have several new teachers this year. Here it is in case you need another resource:

As our Instructional Guide, my role involves serving as a facilitator and coach, working and communicating on an ongoing basis with our school designer, the leadership team, and of course teachers! On any given day you might find me doing any of the following:

  • Collaborating with teams to develop long term and short term instructional plans and quality assessments
  • Observing teachers and providing feedback based on our school work plan and individual teacher goals
  • Modeling lessons
  • Digging for or reading through resources current with best practice research
  • Facilitating groups visiting from other schools
  • Planning and facilitating professional development meetings
  • Or even designing and decorating the school hallways

This year I’m super excited to add another role to my work, which will be teaching literacy in (another teacher’s) room. I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned from visiting so many great classrooms, and continuing to improve my own craft as a teacher.

Share Your Role with Teachers

Some teachers have had great experiences with a coach, others not so much. While others have never been coached at all. If coaching is new to your school, it will be important for you to plan a beginning of the year PD to communicate your role, the purpose of instructional coaching at your school, and how coaching can act as a support structure for the important work teachers do every day. Here’s the agenda we used as an example:

tips-for-new-coaches2

Then, you can send a coaching interest survey to teachers asking if they’d be up for participating in a coaching cycle. It may be helpful to provide some areas of focus for them to consider in case they’re unfamiliar with how coaching can be a support structure.

coaching-survey2

Set Goals for Yourself

Continuing to learn and sharpening your saw will make you better at everything you do. So as we kick off the year, ask yourself what one or two areas you can really commit to working on and improving in your practice as an instructional coach. Here are some areas for goal setting to consider:

  • strategic questioning
  • listening
  • facilitating small or large groups
  • planning purposeful and action oriented meetings
  • goal setting for coaching cycles
  • use of student evidence as data in coaching cycles
  • labeling high leverage instruction and assessment practices

Set-Up a Coaching System

Figure out how you’ll collect and file your observation notes. Also how you’ll share and record notes during debriefs. On your computer? Paper? Will you email teachers the notes? You’ll likely be working with several teachers and taking lots of notes, so staying organized and prepared is important.

I use my planner, file folders (on my computer and by my desk), and Google Docs to help me with all of the above.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 5.20.53 AM

Visit Classrooms

Plan to visit classrooms the first few weeks back for about 20 minutes x classroom. You can let teachers know you’re coming, or just pop-in. But don’t cling to your clipboard! The last thing you want is to build a reputation of being “the clipboard coach.” You know the coach who sits in the back the whole time, clinging to their clipboard with a serious look on their face, furiously scribbling notes. Help teachers see you as a teaching partner right from the start. So sit down with kids if they’re in a whole group lesson, work alongside them if they’re working independently, smile and show kids and the teacher that you’re a learner too.

Build Relationships

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. Building relationships with teachers is really critical to your success. There will be no successful coaching cycles happening if teachers don’t trust you and have no interest in working with you. If you’ve already established trusting relationships with teachers, that’s awesome. But don’t let this area be something you lose focus of. Building and maintaining relationships should always be one of your primary objectives, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

Instructional coaching can be challenging.

But it’s also so great in so many ways. You’ll be pushed outside of your comfort zone, but you’re going to learn so much. Everyday you’ll have the opportunity to positively impact a teacher by what you say, do, and model. And that’s pretty cool.

I believe in you, and you’re going to be great.

Keep me in the loop, and let me know how things are going. I’d love to hear.

31 Top Planning Tips

cover-image-updated
I recently asked the MsHouser community of coaches, teachers, and administrators to share their Top Planning Tips for staying on top of things as we head into a new school year. And you guys really came through with some priceless wisdom and tips! Go ahead and take a look for yourself.

When you’re done, I would love to hear a top planning tip for the new school year from you, in the comments!

1. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place! Organization is the key and a huge time waster for me is hunting and gathering.”
Mandy F. 

2. “Only touch papers once. Put them in their place when you get them instead of creating a big pile to file later.”
Julie M.

3. Prioritize to stay organized! Identifying what is most important helps to reduce spending too much time on unimportant tasks that can interfere with those that can yield the most results.”
Melissa T.

4. “Stay focused! Things always pop in your head while planning. Keep a sheet of paper near you for quick notes to reference to later and then get back to the task at hand.”
Naomi D.

5. “Always plan with the end in mind…and realize that the end will always change.”
Lynn N.

6. “Keep track of the teachers you are working with in multiple ways…one way I do this is to have a list of my teachers and I have a code I use to track our work! This is a quick at a glance view that helps me to see the big picture!”
Dana K.

7. “This is going to be my first year as a coach, but I already know MY top tip will be to set realistic expectations of myself! I won’t have all the answers in August but I can’t wait to learn!”
Meredith W.

8. “I keep my action list on a small whiteboard above my desk. This way I see it every time I have down time and my admin can add to it as well as me.”
Kate F.

9. “I am a big believer in writing it down or taking care of it NOW! Simple choices to act on information can keep us from overlooking something important.”
Mandy B.

10. “Do a daily priority list in the first 10 minutes of your working day.”
Trina H.

11. “I email all the teachers my coaching schedule for the week. I make a color coded table differentiating grade level, content, district level work, etc. Always be where you say you will be and do what you say you will do.”
Lisa S.

12. “Stay organized so it doesn’t back up on you and cause you to get overwhelmed!”
Mandi S.

13. “Set up and actually USE a planner!”
Teresa C.

14. Bring your calendar with you to every meeting and schedule the next meeting with that person/group before you leave that room.”
Stephanie C.

15. “Use the color coding feature on Google Calendar to get a quick sense of the shape of your week!”
Alyssa S.

16. “Revise your todo list every afternoon and clear off your work spaces before you leave work.”
Tanja F.

17. “I love the idea of David Allen’s about getting it all down, listing ‘projects’ and then the ‘next’ actions. I found this eases a lot of stress and the way forward becomes clear.”
Belinda B.

18. “My top tip? To pencil in an hour on Fridays or Monday morning to plan the week ahead.”
Judy D.

19. “Have everything planned and ready for the next day. The plan may change but at least you have an idea of how your day will go.”
Kimberly M.

20. “Start as you intend to finish. I tend to have an explosion of ideas during the summer, but deciding on a few goals for the year keeps me focused. Setting up a planner now, will help to organize before the craziness of the new year begins.”
Rebecca R.

21. “Take time each day to reflect. It is a critical part of the learning process that is often the first thing to go in a busy day!”
Rachel L.

22. “Keep everything in one spot!”
Angie K.

23. “I  keep a log of my hours on different projects and iniatives–just a general time, such as 30 min, 45 min, 1 hour–on a weekly calendar sheet.  I note the teacher or coachee and building so I can look at the week to see how I spent my time.”
Bethanne S.

24. “Schedule chucks of uninterrupted time everyday and anticipate possible problems that may prevent you from completing a task.”
Elisha T.

25. “I ALWAYS carry a good journal!”
Ali G.

26. “Priortize the important things that you need to get done. Then the rest is “Lagniappe” as we say in Louisiana… a bonus!”
Dawn P.

27. “Sort your teaching content in binders so that you can readily access it year after year.”
Andrea C.

28. “I scan my handwritten notes every 2 weeks so I don’t have to carry them around in my discbound notebook.
Chandra M.

29. “Have a snack ready! I can think more clearly when I snack on something!
Olga C.

30. “Use Evernote to organize and share planning notes with teachers during a coaching cycle.”
Leanne W.

31. “Never Give Up!”
Tracy B.

So good, right?!

Thank you again to all of you who took a bit of time out of your day to share a planning tip. I’m a big believer in sharing ideas and resources, so I sure do appreciate it. If you haven’t yet shared a tip that might be helpful to others, it’s not too late! Share it in the comments below. It doesn’t have to be a tip either…maybe it’s just a question you want to throw out there. And even if you’re new!…don’t be scared. We have a lot to learn from you too.

Have a great weekend and talk soon!

My First Week Back and the Giveaway Round-Up

First-Week-Back

Wow oh wow. You guys are seriously amazing. Really though! I received over 200 (!) entries in response to the giveaway for The Simplified Coaching Planner. So many of you offered super smart and insightful Top Planning Tips that couldn’t have come through at a better time for me.

Last week was my first full week back at school, and man was it a busy one. No kids until this week, but we had a full week of PD with teachers, so I felt like a classroom teacher: greeting, planning for, and working with her students their first week back. Phew. Anyhow, I found myself with a bit of free time on Wednesday night, so I plopped down on the coach, opened my laptop, and started reading through all of the submitted planning tips. As I read, I found myself thinking, “That’s right!” or “I should do that!” and “Why am I not doing that?” then finally, “Kristin, you’ve got to get it together girl.” This last thought came from the fact that this past week wouldn’t exactly go down in the record books as being one of my most organized. To give myself some credit, it wasn’t that bad, but I did some pretty scatterbrained things like forgetting to put on my mascara one morning and then forgetting my laptop the next morning. I know. The forgetting my computer morning wasn’t great.

But luckily I had you guys and your Top Planning Tips to help me get back on track! Here’s a synthesis of my reminders/take-aways:

Schedule & Plan

  • Make a weekly ritual with yourself to plan for the week ahead. Then set aside some time at the end of the day to check in on your plan, do a brain dump, then plan for the next day. This is a tip a lot of us know to do, but how many of us consistently do it? Maybe if I had been a bit better about this last week, I wouldn’t have had the “I forgot my computer” morning.
  • Put it on your calendar…immediately. Don’t think you’ll remember to do it later.
  • Color coding can be helpful for your calendar and in lots of other ways!
  • Share your schedule with your coachees.

Organize and Prioritize

This was a big one.

  • Get some organizational systems together sooner than later, then work your systems. Organization and efficient systems prevent the dreaded overwhelm, large paper piles, and other back-up.
  • Keep everything together in one convenient place.
  • You’ve got to prioritize. You’ll have a lot going on at school and at home when the year gets started. Determine what’s most important and reduce the time you spend on what’s not.

Focus

I had a hard time with this one this week.

  • Be realistic with yourself and what you can get checked off of your to-do list each day.
  • Write it down. Avoid multi-tasking.
  • Carry your planner or a journal or a piece of paper with you everywhere.

Accept Imperfection

This was probably my most important lesson this week. As much as we might really, really want to be…we’re not superheroes. We’re not always going to be perfect and that’s okay. Sometimes, no matter how much planning we do, things don’t go according to plan. Actually, this happens a lot. Flexibility, reflection, and revision are always key ingredients to successful days and weeks.

So now…

I’m ready for a fresh start this week. And I’ll bet that if we all practice these planning principles throughout the year, we’ve got a pretty darn good shot at a great year.

But wait!

There’s more. You know how I said earlier this was just a synthesis of all the great Top Planning Tips I received? It just wouldn’t be fair of me to keep them all to myself. Which is why I’ll be sharing them with you later this week in another post…hang tight!

READ: 31 Top Planning Tips Post

I hope you all have a great start to the school year and I’m really excited to continue learning and growing with you here on the blog.

If you have a Top Planning Tip that you weren’t able to submit in the giveaway and are dying to share, please share in the comments below.

Thanks for all your support and have a great week!

ms-houser

 

 

If you’re not currently signed up to receive email updates, make sure to get signed up here!

Like what you've read?
Sign up for updates. It's FREE!

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

cover

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.

practice

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

note-pic-2

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.

Instructional-Coaching-Planner_Project-Planner

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.

Instructional-Coaching-Planner_To-Read

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.

Instructional-Coaching-Planner_Coaching-Log

Instructional-Coaching-Planner_Observation

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.

Instructional-Coaching-Planner_Schedule

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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 2.47.14 PM

How to Wrap-Up a Coaching Cycle

This week I’ll be wrapping up my last round of coaching cycles for the year. Our coaching cycles typically begin with goal setting, then enter into learning, observation and data collection, and finally reflection.

Group-Coaching-visual2

For this final step in the coaching cycle, I turn to the “reflection” section of my Coaching Reflection Tool. This supports me in reflecting on the work done and resulting progress made.

I’ll grab my coaching notebook at this point and flip back through past observation notes, debrief notes, and any assessment data collected. The questions shown in the results section above help guide my reflection as I look back over our work. I’ll write out some thoughts in response to these questions, first in my notebook {paper helps me think} before typing my notes into our Goal Setting Tool.

computerNext, I’ll schedule a final coaching session with the teacher to review our work, assessment data, and reflect on our progress along with any next steps. I’ll add our collective thoughts and insights to our Goal Setting Tool.

Lastly, I’ll email the Goal Setting Tool to the teacher as a record of our work done along with a big “Thank You!” for their willingness to dive into coaching with me.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.55.53 PMYou may have noticed from my example email above that I also send along a coaching synthesis/feedback letter. This is an amazing idea I got from a coaching friend of mine in a neighboring district. Thanks Lexi! You can go into more detail, but here is an example of what one might look like:

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 1.13.29 PM

As with student learning, closure in adult learning is important.

Reflection solidifies learning and helps clarify important next steps and new questions.

I hope this post has provided a handy, dandy visual guide for how to wrap-up your own coaching cycles as this year comes to a close.

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

5 Tips for an Organized and Productive Desk

I did a little coaching office spring cleaning this past week and one of the areas I really focused on was my desk. It was all out of sorts. Not enough room, too much stuff on it, not the right stuff on it…I just didn’t like it. So I hadn’t really worked at it for a couple of months or so…I just used another table in my room. Bor-ing. It was time to reclaim my desk space, but in doing so I wanted to make sure I set it up in a way that would make me want to keep coming back for more. Here are a few tips showing what I made sure to consider:

Organized-Desk_final3

The thing about an organized and attractive work space, is that it really does make you happier and as a result more productive.

I’m totally diggin’ the new desk space I’ve set-up for myself. I decluttered, switched out my smaller desk for a bit of a bigger one, added an inbox, and some pretty pens displayed in a mason jar. And yes of course, I tidy up at the end of the day with my all natural parsley spray.

pics-image

Are you feeling inspired to do a little desk restyling of your own? Hopefully so! Even if it’s just one adjustment or two, I bet you’ll find it worth your time.

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

How to Create a Coaching Schedule {and handle your busy-ness}

You are pretty dang busy during any given day or week.

Planning sessions, observations, debriefs, resource gathering, PD, … and the list goes on. I hear ya. There’s nothing wrong with being busy though. As long as it’s not the disorganized, no plan in sight, “Ahh, I can’t do this!” kind of busy that leaves you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed at the end of the day. That’s no good.

We want the organized, productive, “Yeah, I’m awesome!” kind of busy that leaves you feeling happy and accomplished.

 Coaching-Schedule-People

 

Which one would you rather be?… I know! Me too! Well the first step to that “I’m awesome” kind of feeling is creating a solid schedule. A weekly plan that gives you a birds eye view of the maze below.

Okay, so let’s talk through making this happen. Start by setting aside a regular time each week to look ahead at the following week. In addition to reviewing your coaching meetings and other time stamped commitments, ask yourself these three questions:

 

thinking

What Do I Need to Get Done?

To answer this question, take into account any planning or review you need to do for your coaching work. Also, make sure you’re clear on your job description. Lot’s of times these can vary depending on your school(s). If you don’t have one that’s thorough and clear, you’ll probably want to make one for yourself. Take a look at this link and this link for coaching job descriptions to get your wheels going. Here are the main buckets my work typically falls into:

color-coded-support

How Long Should It Take to Get Done?

Giving a time estimate to each of your different tasks will help you figure out how much you can realistically get done during the day and throughout the week. This is important. If you just start packing things into your schedule with no time estimates attached, you’ll likely find at the end of the day that you didn’t get as much done as you had planned. Then overwhelm sets in and you’ll start looking like the crazy “No Schedule or Plan” chic above.

When am I Going to Get It Done?

To answer this question, map it all out and create your birds eye view of the maze below…your schedule! Remember to plan for lunch {eating is important} and leave a few open blocks of time to give yourself some space to tie up any loose ends.

It might look like this if you use an online calendar:

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.27.30 AM

 

Or like this if you want to use a Word Template:

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.30.08 AM

Click Here for a Blank Template

Or, best yet, just grab the Time & ToDo Planner!

Now that you’ve planned your work, work your plan!

I’d love to hear from you…

What’s the one action you can take this week in creating a solid coaching schedule and handling your busy-ness? Tell me what that action is, then get on it!

Thanks as always for reading,

ms-houser

 Untitled-6

 

 

7 Ways to Have a Productive Spring Break {and a printable!}

Ahhhh, spring break. Don’t you just love it? Warmer weather, a break from school, and some fun free time to play around with.

I’ve just headed into spring break, and I’m feeling pretty psyched about my next week off.  While I do love a day or two of just lounging around without giving a second thought to what I’m going to do next, after that the planner in me starts itching to make a list and do some planning.

No need to plan things out hour by hour as I typically do during school, but just some thoughts on a few key to-dos that will help in both relaxing and getting ready for the next week.

Below are a few to-do ideas I have for the week. Take a peek and see if there are any you might also plan to do.

Weekly-Planner_4

Oh, and of course I created a free printable in case you’re anything like me and enjoy doing a bit of planning in order to make the most of your leisure time.

Weekly-Planner-Printable

Click Here to Download

If you’re off this week or next, happy happy spring break to you! I’d love to hear what you decided to include on your spring break planner in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser