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5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Coaching Life

You know those giant teacher bags that are overflowing with papers, notebooks, and who knows what else? The ones that weigh a million pounds and make a serious dent in your shoulder?

I used to have one. Actually, I had three. Luke used to affectionately (I think) call me “the bag lady.”

Then one year I made it my mission to be gone with the giant teacher bags. So I went all Spring Cleaning Style up on itpurged, sorted, and consolidated – until I finally emerged and found my way to one sassy leather bag that now holds all my coaching stuff, minus the shoulder dent.

Because I have less stuff in my bag, I have less stuff on my mind. And less stuff equals less stress, which feels gooood.

How about you? Do you have a giant teacher bag?

If not, then where is all your stuff hiding?…Because I know it’s somewhere.

In this post, I’ll share the five most common places where it all tends to accumulate and some ideas for how to get all Spring Cleaning Style up on it. Let’s get started.

 

Organizing for Instructional Coaches

1. Your Teacher Bag

 

Organized Instructional Coaching Bag

I can just hear you shouting at me all the reasons why you need all the stuff in your giant teacher bag. While there may be certain days when you really do need to pack a ton of stuff with you, I’m going to present the argument that for the large majority of days during the school year, there really are only a few essential items you should be packing along in your bag:

  1. Laptop/iPad
  2. Planner/Calendar/Notebook
  3. One file folder (for catching loose papers)
  4. Phone
  5. Wallet
  6. One pen and one highlighter (a few more only if you have space)
  7. Computer charger (only one charger allowed!)
  8. Essential Beauty Stuff: one chapstick/lipstick, small hand lotion, gum/breath freshener

That’s it! If you have more than this, it’s time to purge, sort, and consolidate. For some more ideas on how to organize your bag, check out this post.

2. Your Paper Files

Does your filing cabinet look like…

Back in the day I used to have a giant four drawer filing cabinet in which I stored every lesson, extra photocopy, and holiday craft project I had. When it got to the point where I had to pull and yank just to get the drawer open, I knew it was time to…you got it! – purge, sort, and consolidate. I worked my way down to a two drawer filing cabinet, then when I transitioned to coaching, I was able to say see-ya to even more paper stuff, and I now have one nice and tidy filing box. It sits quietly in the corner of my coaching office, and is reserved for only my most needed and used paper items.

3. Your Car

Yes, your car! Seriously. If you get into your car in the morning only to be greeted by crumpled up papers, empty cups, a pile of school books and who knows what else, the likelihood of a pleasant, stress free ride to school goes way down.

Instead, let’s do this. Take your car in for a good carwash this weekend, and clean out all the stuff inside.

Then on Monday morning, open up your back car door and put your one teaching bag inside. Then grab your water or coffee and place it in the gunk free cup holder. Fire up a good podcast or an audiobook for some learning on the way to school, smile, and you’re off to a great day!

4. Your Digital Files

OK. Now depending on how deep your black hole of randomly named computer files, downloads, and photos is, this could take a while. But don’t get discouraged. The most important step is to start.

This will be my big Spring cleaning project for the year. I’ve let things go a bit too long, and it’s time to shape em’ back up.

For some strategies on how to tackle your digital files, check out this post.

5. Your Desk

Organized Desk

If you’re not careful, your desk can get really bad. Eeek! Check out this post for some ideas on how to keep yours nice, neat, and organized.

Alright, now it’s time for me to give you a gentle nudge (or maybe push) to choose one area to go all Spring Cleaning Style on.

Decluttering and doing a bit of organizing in your coaching life, will go a long way towards saving you time and energy in the long run. Which will be well worth it.

Love organizing and want more? Or maybe you don’t love it so much, but know you might need to learn more? Here are a few books to check out. I’m listening to the second one on Audible right now, and it’s awesome.

Happy Organizing, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Stories from the Field: Interview with Amanda Meachem

Today I’m excited to share my interview with Amanda Meachem. Amanda is in her first year of Instructional Coaching, after 20 years in the classroom!

InterviewAmandaMeachem

Here are some specific takeaways from our conversation:

  • Amanda’s biggest challenge as a new coach, and how she works to overcome it
  • How Amanda collaborates with her coaching colleagues
  • How Amanda supports her professional growth and learning
  • Amanda’s tools and tips for staying organized
  • What Amanda’s coaching schedule looks like
  • What Amanda’s learning about building relationships

Resources mentioned in the interview and shared by Amanda (thanks Amanda!):

And if you have any follow-up questions for Amanda or would like to connect with her further, here’s where you can find her:

Twitter:  @pickmathcoach
Pinterest:
(Teaching & Learning) https://www.pinterest.com/csalt5/teaching-learning/
(Leadership) https://www.pinterest.com/csalt5/leadership/

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.

And a special thanks to Amanda for joining me this week.

If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Stories from the Field Interview (all educators welcome!) please shoot me an email.

Until next time!

ms-houser

How to Tackle Your Time and Skyrocket Your Productivity: 3 Step System

You know that old Rolling Stones song that goes like this…(imagine me singing) “tiiiiiiime is on my side, yes it is!” If not, it’s a good one. You should listen to it.

Although the song says it should be true, it sure doesn’t always feel like time is on my side.

Sometimes I just wish I had a personal assistant (one at school and one at home), a private chef, and one of those Google self-driving cars. Or maybe I just need a magic wand to help me get it all done.

Ya know what I’m talkin’ about?

Well, since I’ve got some big goals on my list this year, and magic time giving wands don’t really exist, I knew I needed to get some systems and structures in place to help me really make the most of my time this year.

So I sat down, grabbed my notebook, and started working out a plan for myself.

The plan is pretty simple really, just 3 steps – List It, Map It, Block It.

Taking this bit of time to really think things through and get everything laid out on paper, has really helped me see my weeks and days more clearly, and therefore helped me be more productive with my time. And better productivity means more time with my Sommie dog!

Time Management System

Alright, enough chit-chat. Let’s start tackling some time!

STEP 1 – LIST IT

First things first. We’ve got to List It all out. And don’t be shy here.

On a daily and weekly basis, what are all of your need to-dos, want to-dos, or even forgot to-dos? Just list it all out on this handy printable. Everything from getting ready for school, to coaching prep, to food prep, to PD prep.

STEP 2 – MAP IT

OK I know, we’re not stress free yet. Because now you may be staring at this giant, scribbled out list and thinking “Ahh! I seriously have too much to-do!” Don’t freak out, we’ll sort through it. And remember. This should not be a giant task-list. There should also be want to-dos for yourself, and your priorities and goals. Like going for a run before school, reading that professional learning book that’s been on your shelf for months, or going out for a coffee with friends.

OK? OK.

Now look at your list again. Is there anything on there you may be able to cross off? Delegate to someone else? Yes, there are a few. Find em.

Next, look at the items that are left, and highlight those that you really want to make sure you have time for on your schedule.

Got it? OK. Now categorize these most important to-do’s by day, priority, or project. For example, you may frequently have a lot of copies to make, or errands to run, or a big PD coming up. Separate each of these into a different category.

This is your Map It step, and will help you carve a clear time tackling path.

STEP 3 – BLOCK IT

Great job! Let’s keep going. We’re just about there.

Now that you’ve mapped out your to-dos, it’s time to block it! Time blocking is a proven time management strategy that will help guide your decisions and how you manage each day. This is where you officially claim your time and align your actions with your goals and priorities.

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So take a look at the to-do categories you just mapped out, and find the ideal time slots in your week where it would make the most sense to plug them in.

Use this as your “Ideal Week” template. Keep it somewhere as a reference tool. It will help you plan out each week a bit more quickly, and guide you in what to say yes or no to when deciding what to take on.

Weekly Schedule Time Management

And for long range time blocking and goal mapping, you can use this ready to go calendar!

Time Management

I know I said there were only three steps, buuuuttt…there’s actually one more…

STEP 4 – WORK IT!

Now that you’ve put this awesome plan into place, you’ve got to take action!

Do everything you can to follow-through and maintain the commitments you’ve just made to yourself, and your goals and priorities. Work hard to defend it, and remember this isn’t a perfect process, so revise and adjust as needed.

For the ultimate planning tool that follows this exact system, check out the Time & ToDo Planner!

And for a few free printables to get you started….

Sign up for blog updates. And get the FREE Printables!

If you’d like to add the Daily Schedule and Portrait Calendar to your tool-box, you can find them in my shop.

YOUR HOMEWORK

First find 20-30 minutes of time this week, and block it off on your calendar for “time tackling.” Then…

  • List It
  • Map It
  • Block It

And BOOM! You’ll be well on your way to better productivity and less stress.

Let me know how it goes, or what questions come up, in the comments below.

ms-houser

 

 

PS – If you have friends who may need some time tackling tips and tools too, I would greatly appreciate if you shared this post using the buttons below. Thanks!!

Stories from the Field: Interview with Natalie Chustz

One of the requests that came through loud and clear on the MsHouser Annual Reader Survey, was to hear more “stories from the field.” Or an opportunity to learn from the experiences of real coaches doing the real work of coaching, day in and day out.

I’m right there with you, and I want to learn more too!

So I was so, super excited to kick off this new “Interview with a Coach” addition to the MsHouser blog, with an interview with Natalie Chustz.

Interview-with-a-Coach-Natalie

Natalie is a second year instructional coach in a private school setting. Natalie is so easy going, friendly, and a total learner and we had such a fun time chatting. She really spent time to prepare for this interview, in an effort that the info she shared could “help a coach out there somewhere” – Natalie’s words :)

Here are some specific take-aways from our conversation:

  • How Natalie transitioned into instructional coaching
  • How Natalie works with her Director (during a time of transition)
  • Why it’s always important to continue to see yourself as a teacher
  • The importance of building relationships early on and how Natalie does it
  • How Natalie uses social media to connect with other coaches

Have any thoughts in response to this coaching convo? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you have any follow-up questions for Natalie or would like to connect with her further, here’s where you can find her:

Twitter: @nms8400
Email: nchustz@aesgators.org

Thanks so much for being a part of this conversation!

Talk to you next week,

ms-houser

PS – If you have a quick sec, I’d really appreciate if you used the buttons below to share this post! Thanks a million.

10 Great Gift Giving (and Getting) Ideas for Educators

Happy Holidays! It’s a SNOW DAY(!!) here in Denver, which has really got me in the holiday spirit. I’ve got my eggnog latte in hand, feet kicked up, and a fire blazin’. Ahhh.

As I was checking through my holiday gift list, I got to thinking about the Gift Guide I put together a few years ago and thought, “Hey! I should do another one of those!”

So here it is, 10 gift giving (or getting) ideas for educators…

2016-Gift-Guide-for-Educators

1. Time & ToDo Planner 2016

I’m planning on putting my planner together next week, and am psyched! We weren’t able to print a bound version of the planner for the calendar year, but are excited to have a digital version available AND the colorful academic planner!

We’ll print it for you on thick, smooth paper with a full color-bleed, and ready to bind on your own. No hassling with printing or forking over a bunch of money at a print shop!

If you already have a planner, or won’t be in the market for one until the next school year, we’re looking forward to releasing a bound version of the Time & ToDo Planner with some featured upgrades to the existing design.
Get the Time & ToDo Planner!

2. Tea Infuser Mug

I’m normally all about coffee, coffee, coffee, but am changing it up this year with an option for the tea lovers. I’ve just been venturing into the world of Yerba Mate, and this little guy has been a handy way to brew a yummy mug at school.

3. Frixion Erasable Pens

Oh man. When I first discovered these pens, I had no idea how I had ever gone so long with out them. I mean, you can write in pen, AND erase! So cool. They’re the only pens I can use with my planner, since I’m frequently switching things around in my weekly schedule. You’ve got to try them!

4. Gold Pen/Pencil Pouch

I carry my pencil pouch with me everywhere. It holds all my erasable pens, some wash tape, and whiteout. This would be a great, inexpensive gift for a teacher friend.

5. NeuYear Wall Calendar

I just ordered this calendar, and it’s sweeeeet! I plan to use it to map out my big goals and plans for the year. It’s large and in charge, so I’ve posted on the wall in my home office so it’s always staring me down, and reminding me of where I should be headed. No excuses!

6. Swell Water Bottle

I always have to throw a water bottle in the mix, and this one is my new fave. It comes in a great size and shape to easily fit in your bag, and the color and style options they offer are super cool.

7. Arc Notebook

How about a new Arc Notebook for your Coaching Kit and/or planner? Levenger has come out with some nice new options, and I’ve always loved this quilted one from Staples.

8. Adult Coloring Book

When Luke ordered one of these a month or so ago, I kind of thought, “Huh? You ordered a coloring book??” But then I checked it out further and they’re actually really neat. They’re supposed to be especially helpful for stress, so the next time you’re having a stressful day at school, maybe just whip out your coloring book at lunch to help you bring it down a notch or two.

9. Instacart

There may not be a better gift you can give a friend, or yourself, than the gift of time. That sounds kind of cheesy, but really it’s true! Instacart has saved me a good two hours each weekend on grocery shopping, and I love it! It’s becoming available in a growing number of areas, but if they’re not where you’re at yet, maybe you can think of another way you can do some outsourcing in 2016 and save yourself some time.

10. Audible Subscription

Give the gift of learning! I’ve read/listened to so many great books on Audible, and mostly while on my commute or walking Sombra! Listening to books is a terrific way to sharpen your saw and maximize your time.

Hope this post gave you a few good ideas.

As we wrap up this week and head into a few weeks off from school, I’m wishing you warm snuggles by the fire, golden champagne, and all the joy and happiness this season brings.

Thanks so much for sharing some of your valuable time with me this year, and I’m looking forward to a great new year!

ms-houser

 

6 Tips for Effective Meeting Facilitation

Pop quiz time. Ready?

What is the number one, most valuable resource for coaches and teachers?

a. Coffee
b. Time
c. Post It Notes
d. Technology

And the answer is (I’ll bet you guessed it)…b!! TIME! (although maybe this could have been tied with a)

As you know, we really need every single minute of it to get done everything we need to get done in our busy days.

So there’s nothing worse than when our time is wasted.

And you know what one of the biggest culprits can be? Meaningless Meetings.

Sure, meetings (planning meetings, PD meetings, business related meetings) are an essential part of working in a school. But if run poorly, they can be a huge waste of time.

But good news! As coaches there’s something we can do about this.

We facilitate lots of meetings, so let’s make sure the ones we’re responsible for leading are meaning-FULL, not meaningless.

5-Tips-for-Facilitating-Planning

I thought it might be helpful if I walked you through a case study of what it can look like to put this plan into action.

OK. So earlier this week I facilitated a curriculum planning meeting with our fourth grade team. Here’s how I went about making sure I had all my ducks in a row and the meeting was a meaningful use of this team’s time.

1. Identify Outcomes and Create an Agenda

To help me identify an outcome for our time together that felt supportive to the team, I sent out an email the week prior to meeting with them. After I received their response, I was able to create a purposeful agenda aligned to their needs.

agenda-visual1

2. Provide Helpful Resources

I always try to think about what resources (books, videos, examples, planning templates, etc.) would support teachers in the work they’re setting out to accomplish. In this particular case, I thought it would be helpful to give them a planning template they could use to help them with the logistics that go into planning a Celebration of Learning.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

3. Use Google Docs

In curriculum planning meetings, there’s frequently a good amount of collaborative work and thinking going on. Google Docs/Drive makes it super easy for me to capture this work and share it with the team afterwards.

How to Facilitate a Successful Planning Meeting

4. Listen First, Talk Second

I have lots of thoughts and ideas I’m excited to share with teachers in planning meetings. But I zip it up, and listen first. Then I can guide the discussion as needed with follow-up questions or suggestions.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

5. Track Time and Keep it Tight

As the facilitator, it’s my role to track time and keep the team’s work on track. Since we only have 45 minutes for these planning meetings, this is super important. Including the estimated amount of time for each part of the agenda helps with this.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

6. Identify Next Steps and Follow-Up

Don’t forget to leave 5 minutes at the end of your time to review what was covered and identify next steps. AND set a time/day for when you’ll follow-up.

steps

And BOOM! You’ve got yourself a meaning-FULL meeting.

If you have an upcoming meeting to facilitate, hopefully you can use these tips as a roadmap to get you started and check your work.

Have a question, or maybe a tip I didn’t include? Share it in the comments below.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll talk to you soon!

ms-houser

 

 

P.S.  If you liked this post and found it helpful, I’d GREATLY appreciate if you helped me spread the word using the share buttons below. Thanks!

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.

OriginalPlannerImages

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.

typing

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!

Shop Planners

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Offer-Image

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close up blank week view

 

Take a flip through!

Shop Planners

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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.

Shop Planners

Thank you!

31 Top Planning Tips

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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 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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Get your FREE customized binder cover here!

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.

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.

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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:

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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.

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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