Archive | Time Management RSS feed for this section

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

How Sharp is Your Saw?

sharp-saw2

What are you doing to support your own growth and professional learning? This was a question our principal recently asked us at a staff meeting. Later that week as I reflected on my Teacher Professional Learning Plan (do you guys have these?), I noted “dedicate more time to sharpen my saw” as a next step.

So what does sharpen the saw mean? Well, it’s a saying that refers to staying fresh, or renewing in all four areas of your life — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The saw I’m referring to in this post and the one I’m going to focus on sharpening is my mental saw; learning, reading, writing…continuously improving your skills and knowledge. As an educator, you’ve got to stay on top of your game. Period. So here’s my saw sharpening game plan:

Put It On Your Schedule…(and stick to it)

If you don’t block off time on your calendar or schedule, it’s not going to happen. I like to schedule my saw sharpening time first thing in the morning. Right now I’m planning for at least 30 minutes a day (including weekends), which would come to three and a half hours a week. I know we’re stretched for time, but that’s totally doable and you’ll be 3.5 hours smarter each week!

Be honest with yourself and schedule your saw sharpening at a time when you really will be able to honor that commitment. A time when you know you’ll be able to focus and won’t have to battle distractions. Setting a timer during your study time can also help hold you accountable.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 12.53.53 PM

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress allows you to see the results of your efforts and seeing results makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Accomplishment feels good, which gives you the motivation to keep it going the next week. I like to track my progress in my notebook, marking off 15 minutes minute intervals in boxes. It looks something like this:

tracking

I also added an “Evidence” section to my coaching notebook so I can track the impact of my saw sharpening on my work with teachers and students.

Create a Stimulus Queue

Creating a stimulus queue is an awesome idea I picked up from reading The Accidental Creative. It’s a place to record resources and ideas to follow up on during your saw sharpening time. What learning is really going to help you move forward in solving a problem or doing better work? When you come across an idea or resource, write it down. My stimulus queue is also in my notebook and I use it to help me plan my time.

stimulus

Alright friends, sooooo…how sharp is your saw? Sharp enough to slice through your work like a hot knife through butter? Or could it stand a little sharpening?

If you have any stimulus queue ideas or resources to contribute, please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

Updated Coaching Notebook

If you remember, I originally had my planner set-up to also hold my coaching notes. While the system was working out okay, for a lot of reasons, I wasn’t really diggin’ it. So I took some time to rework it. 

cover_2

Customized Covers Available at my Etsy Shop

The first thing I needed was more space, since I can be working with up to eight coachees at a time. I also have learned that I prefer to use both my computer and paper when taking notes in an observation, as it allows for more flexibility. So my system needed a good amount of note taking paper, but I didn’t want coaching notes for different teachers all muddled together for me to later sort through. I also don’t totally like having separate notebooks or legal pads for different teachers. After assessing these needs and a few more, my decision was to use an Arc Notebook set-up for coaching notes only. I still have my planner, but it now lives in it’s own notebook.

To avoid the muddling through notes problem, I created a different tab for each teacher.

tabs

I inserted a coaching log behind each teacher tab, which I put on the left side of the notebook. I prefer this set-up, as it allows me to easily access notes from a debrief to add to the coaching log without doing too much page flipping. Also, when I go into a debrief, next steps from our last conversation are up front and center for me to see.

coaching-log

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.07.04 AM

Click Here to Download Coaching Log

I print out my typed up notes before going into a debrief and then handwrite additional notes from there. I used to type notes during a debrief, but wondered if it would help my coaching conversations feel more personal if I did away with the computer screen barrier. So far I think I made a good decision.

sidebyside

notes-side-by-side

Oh, and I put together this planning tool to help me think through my coaching conversations. It’s essentially a lesson plan for coaches.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 12.21.51 PM

Based on thinking from the EL Network

Click Here to Download

I keep a copy of this handy in the reference section of my notebook.

convo-plan

tabs2

This Coaching Sentence Stems reference sheet (by Elena Aguilar) has been another good addition to this section. You can use it when planning for or even during coaching conversations.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.48.10 AM

Note taking systems for coaches are obviously very personal. What works for me might not work for you. When developing/tweaking your own, I think the most important components to consider include:

  • ease of use
  • flexibility
  • keeps you organized
  • tracks progress
  • you like using it!

Check off those pieces and you’re good to go!

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser