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Facilitating a Peer Classroom Visit

One of the best ways to really “get” good teaching, is to see it in action.

You can listen, learn, or read about what it’s supposed to look like all you want, but it doesn’t really click until you actually experience it — teaching that has a bang and makes a difference.

As I’ve shared in the Coaching Workshop, that’s one of the reasons why I think model lessons and classroom visits can be so impactful in building foundational understandings of teaching strategies, that you can then work with teachers on implementing themselves.

Now, when you can make this happen for a group of teachers, support it with a visual of the lesson plan beforehand, link your look-fors to specific teacher moves, follow-it up with a descriptive review protocol, and add in teacher commitments to next steps…well, then you’re really talkin’!

Peer Classroom Visit

This week I wrapped up a 4 week “deep dive” PD with our 3-5 teachers during which we learned about “Using Data to Sharpen Curriculum Implementation.”

It’s been pretty awesome, and I credit much of its success to our Peer Classroom Visit Kick-Off.

Let’s walk through the plan of action, shall we?

First things first. Start with your final outcome in mind, and plan backwards from there.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your main goal/purpose for arranging this visit?
    • Will this lead into a sequence of follow-up PD sessions?
    • Will this visit support individualized coaching goals?
    • Will this visit kick-off a grade level coaching cycle?

Next up – recruit. Here’s who you’ll need:

 

 

 

OK, sweet. Now that I had the WHO all set-up, I needed to get my materials organized.

Knowing that the purpose of this classroom visit was to “kick-off” a series of future PD sessions, I wanted to help teachers stay organized with all the materials I would be giving them over the course of the next 4 weeks. Plus I wanted to spruce things up a bit, and help it feel more like an “experience” for teachers.

So I made a folder for each teacher, which greeted them on the morning of the visit. (logistics note: our Assistant Principal got coverage for all 12 teachers on this morning, so we were all able to go in together!)

 

 

After a pre-brief with teachers (overview of the Learning Target, self-assessment on target tracker, review of materials and observation norms), we were ready to head in!

 

Since teachers had to head back to their classrooms straight after the visit, I arranged for a follow-up debrief later that week.

There’s a lot of different forms/protocols you can use to structure a classroom visit debrief, but here’s one that can be found in my Coaching Kit.

 

 

Now coming back to the original purpose of this particular classroom visit…as I mentioned earlier, the learning that took place in observing Dina’s lesson was intended to kick-off a series of 4 follow-up PD sessions. The host of the visit, Dina, supported in facilitating these sessions and helped teachers apply the different pieces we had put into place around assessment to arrive at the tightly planned lesson they observed (logistics note: Dina is a teacher who I’ve coached actively this year. She was well prepared for the visit and the instructional practice we modeled for teachers.)

I’ve actually never set-up PD in this way, but I found that teachers were really engaged in the work and learning as a result of seeing it in “action.”

 

And there ya have it! Hope this post provided some inspiration for you as you think about organizing classroom visits within your own school to support teacher learning.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

P.S. Bonus tip: Listen to fun music when you plan. Sometimes I’ll even turn some tunes on for teachers at the start of PD! This one will get you feeling “Good as He**!”

P.P.S Excited about this year’s TTP?! (Time & ToDo Planner) – get signed up here for updates. Cool new cover design, binding, and….a folder this year! You won’t want to miss it.

Keep me posted about the Time & ToDo Planner

The Flow of a Coaching Cycle

I’ve got some big, exciting news for you today…

It’s here! The Walk Through a Coaching Cycle Workshop is now live.

And I could not be more excited!

As a coach who has fully experienced the overwhelming feeling of just starting out, not really knowing how to “put it all together”, and sifting through various books and resources to hep me find a clear answer…this is the resource I’ve been wanting to bring your way for a long while now.

I’ve done the sifting for you. So let’s join-up and streamline all the info out there on coaching cycles, and come to some friendly understandings around how they really work.

 

The purpose of the MsHouser blog has always been to support YOU and the important work you do as a coach in an approachable, “I get it” kind of way.

And I’m feeling super good about sharing this Coaching Workshop as one of my most supportive resources yet.

It could be just what you need to take that next step, make that next push, and coach to your potential.

I appreciate you! And hopefully I’ll see you in the Workshop :)

How One Coach Keeps It All Together. A Story.

You kick up your feet and take a sip of your iced peach green tea, as you look out at the sunny summer afternoon and smile.

Oh how you love summer. Oh how you wish the summer days and land of no schedules would never go away. Ahhh…

You take another sip and decide you should probably take a look at the calendar and see what’s coming up.

As you look at your calendar you realize it’s already mid-July. And then you see it…the Back to School reminder.

Are you serious?! Already?! Where did the time go?!

OK, you think. Get a grip.

But I should probably start thinking about getting organized for the year.

K, so I’m going to keep using Google Calendar. I like how it reminds me about stuff.

Then I’ll write everything I need to do down in a new notebook. Writing helps me think, plan, and process. But last year things got all mixed up and lost with this system. Not good.

Bah!

Many of us coaches/teachers/administrators go through a “school’s starting soon, gotta get organized” revelation mid-summer.

Since we know that being organized is such a key piece to our success (and happiness!) throughout the year, when we’re freed up with a bit of extra time over the summer, those pushed aside thoughts of getting things together resurface and start nibbling their way to the forefront of our mind as we think of August quickly approaching.

Can I get a “Hey Yeah!” if you can relate?!

If so, what I’ve found helpful is to use a few of these summer days to get a solid planning system in place that will help you feel confident and prepared as you begin and move forward with a new school year.

And to help you get going, I thought I’d tell you a little story of how one coach keeps it all together. So go ahead and kick your feet back up, and keep sipping your iced peach green tea.

Meet Melissa. Melissa is a busy instructional coach, who really loves the work she does in schools everyday.

Melissa will be going into her second year as a coach. She supports two different schools, and has lots of responsibilities on her plate. On any given day, you might find her doing any of the following: planning or facilitating PD, gathering and reviewing resources, coaching up to 7 teachers in one of her coaching cycles, creating a school welcome board, or highlighting an important section on close reading in a book she wants to share with a teacher.

Melissa is a highly motivated, “can do” kind of gal and has worked hard to tweak and refine her planning system, to ensure she keeps all her ducks in a row.

Curious to get to know Melissa and her got-it-together system a bit better?

Cool. Let’s take a look:

1. Melissa has a weekly planning routine

One of the key routines that Melissa makes sure to schedule every week, is her Weekly Review. The Weekly Review is Melissa’s time to check-in, process, and plan. Her most preferred day for this weekly meeting with herself is Friday after school. She loves heading in to the weekend with her time and to-dos for the following week scheduled, and her head clear. So each Friday afternoon Melissa pops open the Iced Tea she packed that morning, grabs her Frixion erasable pens, computer, phone, Weekly Review checklist, and gets started.

2. Melissa figures out her time commitments for the week

Melissa has a hybrid planning system, using both digital and paper planning tools. She appreciates the strengths of each, and has learned that she really does prefer using both to keep it all together.

Melissa begins her Weekly Review by opening her computer and looking over her Google Calendar. She scans over all the hard commitments/inflexible events she has scheduled that week, including: personal or professional appointments, hard project deadlines, and any special holidays or birthdays. She transfers these into the weekly view in the planning spread of her Time & ToDo Planner. Melissa is a visual planner, and likes to see the time blocks of her week clearly laid out in front of her. She can also be easily distracted by her computer or phone when trying to reference her calendar, and appreciates the focus that paper provides.

 3. Melissa writes out her priorities for the week

Next, Melissa references the goals she’s set for herself this year, and uses these to set her focus for the week. This week she’s really trying to work on her three “P’s”

4. Melissa lists out her to-dos for the week

She looks through a few different locations to gather these up and identify what needs to go on this week’s plan. She starts by looking at last week’s plan to see if there were any “Upcoming To-Dos” she captured. She decides whether any of these will go on this week’s plan or if they will be put on her Master List, which she can come back to later.

Melissa’s Master List is a very important piece of her overall system. This is where she gets all of the tasks out of her head and recorded so she doesn’t get overwhelmed with a super long weekly list. She’s relaxed and assured that she hasn’t forgotten anything, and knows she’ll get to these tasks eventually, just not this week. Melissa prefers a digital tool for her Master List as it’s super flexible, allowing her to organize her list by category, rearrange, and add/delete.

She goes through the same process when going through emails, her physical inbox, and coaching notes for the week.

As Melissa analyzes her to-dos for next week, she decides to group them by Project. Super smart. This will help her batch her work throughout the week and be more efficient with her time.

5. Melissa figures out where to fit it all in

Here’s where Melissa balances it all. She checks her to-dos against her time and decides where her task-tackling work blocks will be for the week. She puts a box around these larger chunks of time on her schedule, so she can head into that particular day knowing exactly what she needs to do, and when. If she’s trying to do more than she realizes she has time for, she feels comfortable getting rid of some of the less important to-dos and transferring them back to her Master List.

She has fun with this part, as there’s just something special about writing on paper. It’s like there’s a part of her brain that gets fired up when she writes by hand, that doesn’t work as well when she tap-taps on her phone or keyboard. She can bullet, color-code, circle, star, bold, and doodle out her plans for the week. She’s not sure what the science behind it is, or if there even is any science about it. But she knows the magical-ness exists, so she uses it, and calls it: PAPER POWER!

6. Melissa maintains her system throughout the week

Things inevitably change throughout Melissa’s week, so she understands the importance of being flexible. A routine that has helped her stay on track is the 15 minutes of time she sets aside each morning and afternoon to check-in on her plan and revise as needed. Erasable pens are key here! When her days come to a close, she draws a line through the day to indicate it’s time to shut down and enjoy the evening.

Throughout the week Melissa captures thoughts and other to-do’s on the bottom of her weekly plan, or on her iPhone when she’s out walking her puppy and thoughts pop into her head. She’s determined not to let stuff float around in her head and bug her.

Relaxed, and feeling good, Melissa wraps up the week and begins again the following Friday when she’ll meet with herself for her next Weekly Review and begins her planning process again.

The end.

Hopefully Melissa’s story got your wheels turning about how you might put a similar planning system into place for the coming school year.

Have any follow-up questions? Want to talk details? Ask them in the comments below – click on the post title, scroll down, leave a comment/question in the box, submit! – Then I reply :)

And if you’d like to get your hands on Melissa’s weekly planning tool, make sure to check out the Time & ToDo Planner.

Enjoy these last few weeks of sweet summer, 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/

Transcript of our Chat

Download the transcript for Episode 2 (PDF)

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

Are You Giving Effective Feedback?

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a homework assignment.

As part of my district role as a coach/mentor, I was asked to assess the effectiveness of my feedback.

No prob! I thought. I’m totally going to ace this assignment!

So off I went, ready to evaluate and document the feedback I provided in coaching convos.

What did I quickly discover? That I needed to slow. my. roll.

When I really tuned in, and payed close attention to what I was saying to teachers, I wasn’t always certain I would have given my feedback an A+.

Effective feedback = specific information you’re offering a teacher in their efforts to reach an identified goal.

And as I learned through my reading of this Grant Wiggins article, there are seven key factors to keep in mind to ensure your feedback is in fact effective. Scroll on!

7-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback1

Get your free printable of the Effective Feedback Infographic

So now with this new or reinforced learning in place…pop quiz time! Ready?!

OK. Which of the following statements would you consider to be effective feedback?

  1. Nice job on that mini-lesson Sarah!
  2. Next time Tom, I think you’ll want to spend a bit more time on the debrief.
  3. Your lesson would definitely be more effective Melissa, if you used more visuals.
  4. I thought the book you used to kick-off your Ant Expedition was a little unengaging.

And the answer is…none of the above! Tricked ya.

None of these statements would really be considered effective feedback. Here’s why:

  • The first and the fourth statements just name a personal liking or disliking for something, and neither are connected to a goal.
  • The second and the third statements are offered more as advice, vs feedback.

Both advice and praise can be great tools when supporting teachers, and they both have their time and place. However, they’re very different from feedback. Because as we just learned, effective feedback is information that supports a teacher in reaching their goal. Got it?!

Alright-ty. Now, how about we take a look at a few examples of what effective feedback could sound like:

  • One of our goals during this coaching cycle has been to improve lesson pacing. Last week I noted your mini-lesson was 20 minutes long. In today’s lesson I recorded your mini-lesson started at 9:00 and ended promptly at 9:15, which was 5 minutes shorter. What would you say you thought about or did differently in your planning and instruction that supported this improved pacing?
  • I noticed that after you sent students out to work independently, 10 out of the 20 students were struggling with getting started. When I spoke to student x, y, z, they were unclear on the directions. Where do you think the confusion may have been?

Hopefully these few examples give you an idea of how feedback can sound like when it is in line with the 7 Keys outlined above. Oh, and one side note…when giving a teacher more critical/next step feedback, I try to keep it to one-two points.

For some ideas on what areas you might offer feedback on, check out this post.

If you’re still with me, great job! Now if you want to take it one step further, try taking note of the feedback you offer teachers this week. Is it really effective feedback? Or maybe it’s advice or praise. Hmmm…Give it a try! You might be surprised at what you learn.

Oh, and here’s a handy PDF of the infographic above to pop in your planner or post near your desk.

Talk to you soon!

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.

Week-spread1

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.

Looking Ahead into 2016 – What’s Coming Up

Looking-Ahead-Into-20162

Oh man, oh man. A lot has been going on behind the scenes here at MsHouser Headquarters, and I’m so super excited for the plans I’ve been crafting up for 2016. And those plans I’ve been crafting up, are really for you! More on that in just a sec, but let’s first take a quick look back at the accomplishments and celebrations of 2015:

  • The number of MsHouser readers has grown to over 3,900!!! Everyday I get friendly emails and comments from the community, which is just so great.
  • We (Luke and I, but mostly Luke) redesigned the site with a fresh, new color scheme.
  • The Time & ToDo Planner, my first physical product, was launched and successfully funded through Kickstarter. This was one of my biggest and most celebrated accomplishments of the year. And I know many of you are making full use of it, so I’m thankful I chose to invest the time and energy into this project.

Planners

  • I finally got around to updating my Resource Page this summer. This is chock full of many of the helpful resources I use in both my professional and personal life.
  • The first MsHouser Annual Reader Survey was created and shared on the blog. With an overwhelming 763 reader responses collected, I learned so much about what’s working for the MsHouser community, but also what I can do even better…and that’s the exciting part!

After spending A LOT of time sifting through all the data collected, check out what I learned:

Here’s who’s reading the blog…

Here's what you'd like to see more of this year...
Biggest challenge many of you are facing right now…

Lastly, many of you expressed with double exclamation marks…Don’t stop sharing!!

Don’t worry team! I’m going to keep this train going! And I’m going to keep it going strong.

As we look ahead into 2016, here are the highlights of what’s coming up:

INTERVIEW WITH A COACH/TEACHER SERIES

Many of you really enjoyed the post where I shared a “Day in My Life.” There were also several comments in the reader survey asking for more posts such as these. Well…I thought it would be really interesting to highlight other coaches and teachers, and their tricks and tools. What do you think?! I know, I’m excited too.

I’m looking for a few coaches and teachers to highlight in these posts. So, if you’d like to have a little chat with me and be featured on the site, please shoot me an email and let me know!

**I’ll also be opening the blog up to a few Guest Posts this year. If you are interested in providing value to the MsHouser community through your experiences as a coach or teacher, please contact me about being a guest author!

A WALK THROUGH A COACHING CYCLE SERIES – WITH VIDEOS!

When I was tallying up how many of you wanted more videos of coaching in action, there were a lot to mark down!

And sure, why not! I’ll be putting together a series of blog posts with videos, walking you through a full coaching cycle. I haven’t decided on the month I’ll release these yet, but it will likely be for the next Academic Year.

2016-2017 ACADEMIC TIME & TODO PLANNER

It’s coming(!!), and it’s going to be pretty awesome. We learned a lot after the first ever production and launch of the Time & ToDo Planner last year, and have been working hard on making this year’s planner even better.

The expected launch date is mid-April. You can sign up at timeandtodoplanner.com for additional info and updates.

A DIGITAL BOOK

Say what?! Yep, you heard me right. After five years of blogging, there is a ton of info on the site, but it’s not really organized in a way that’s super user friendly. And there are many of you who are new to coaching, and looking for a clear and well organized road-map for getting started and getting better. I think a book (with lots of visuals of course) is going to be a really helpful solution and resource for many of you.

If you have thoughts on info to be included, formatting, or anything else, here’s your chance to let me know! Please share your ideas in the comments below.

I may have a few other ideas up my sleeve, but these are the big ones I wanted to throw out there for now.

So much to look forward to, for sure!

I’m here to help make 2016 a fantastic year for you, and I hope you’re as excited as I am for these plans that will unfold throughout the year.

And remember, don’t forget to let me know:

What ideas/info would you love to see included in the Digital Book coming out this year?

Want to be a featured coach/teacher on the blog?

Thanks again and check you next week!

ms-houser

 

 

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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

 

A Guided Reading Observation Template

Hello! How was your Thanksgiving Break?! Mine was pretty good overall. I was sick for a few days, but still managed to make time for some holiday decorating AND our long awaited home office project. Luke busted out his woodshop skills and built us the coolest desk ever! It’s L-shaped, so now we both have a super organized and inspired space to work in.

new-desk

Productive blogging, product creating, and efficient planning here I come!

I know our super cool L-shaped desk isn’t the intended topic of this post, but I’m just so dang excited about it, I had to share.

Alright, moving on!

Yesterday afternoon, during my coaching convo with Olivia, I was giving myself a big pat on the back for the handy observation template I had created and was referring to. As we were chatting, I realized just how helpful it has been!

Guided-Reading1

Olivia is brand new to guided reading, so I knew I needed to really “break it down”…or translate a guided reading lesson into small, concrete steps or parts.

In a small group PD session right before the start of our coaching cycle, I was able to walk her and a few other of our new teachers through the basic structure of what a guided reading lesson looks like. I created an anchor chart that looks like this:

Planning for Guided Reading

I then used this same structure to create an observation form.

obs-tool

Download Here

I shared this with Olivia at the start of our coaching cycle, so she and I were on the same page for where we were headed and what I would be looking for. She was on board!

Then I made a few copies and popped them into my Coaching Kit.

coaching-notebook1
This observation tool has been really helpful in my classroom visits, because I have a handy reference for exactly what I’m looking for. I’m also able to refer to this together with Olivia in our debriefs, as we discuss what worked well and what we might want to tweak the next time around.

Maybe you can use the tool directly, or just adjust it a bit to better meet your needs. Either way, hope it helps you with your work!

Thanks so much for being a part of the MsHouser community, and I’ll see you next week!

ms-houser

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