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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.

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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.

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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!

What Coaches and Teachers Can Learn from Peyton Manning

You might not know this, but the Broncos and Peyton Manning have a BIG game coming up this weekend.

Yep. It’s us vs. the Packers, two 6 and 0 teams going head-to-head, Peyton vs. Aaron Rodgers. And guess what…the Packers are going dowwwwn!!!

I know what you’re thinking – okay Kristin, settle down now. We get that you like the Broncos and Peyton Manning. But what the heck does that have to do with coaching and teaching anyway??

Well, a whole gosh darn lot actually. Peyton’s work on and off the field provides some great insight into leadership traits that reach beyond the football field and into schools and classrooms and the work we do everyday.

What-Coaches-and-Teachers-Can-Learn-from-Peyton-Manning

In fact, Peyton’s spoken about these traits before, referring to them as ‘Game Changers.’ So let’s take a look at what they are and how we can use them to inspire our own work.

1. Learn to Thrive on Being Uncomfortable

Isn’t is great when everything is going just swimmingly?

Well, yeah.

But then what happens when it doesn’t?

Your principal wants to observe you, you just found out you have to facilitate a giant PD, or you were asked to work with that tricky teacher in the building…and all of a sudden, you become very, very uncomfortable.

It happens to Peyton all the time. An interception, a sack, an arena full of screaming football fans. But do you see him fall apart and hide behind the Gatorade table? Nope.

Because he knows that when he’s uncomfortable, he’s getting better.

So let’s take a lesson from Peyton.

Instead of running from those uncomfortable situations, let’s run towards them. Bring it on!

2. Devote Yourself to Intense Preparation

This is a big one for Peyton. Even though this is his 18th season in the NFL, he still works his
be-hind off like it’s his first year. Peyton reviews tape intensely, works out like a madman, and works to figure out all the variables so that on game day he is as ready as possible for whatever the opposing team may bring into the stadium.

And that’s how it should be for us too, especially since we have such a high stakes game to play everyday.

Make sure your lessons are tight, copies are made, and all materials are accounted for.

Make time to plan for your coaching convos – think through the focus questions you want to ask, anticipate what your coachee might say in response and how you’ll direct the conversation from there. Identify a small, actionable next step that will really make a difference

3. Be Prepared to Adjust

The reality is, that no matter how well planned you are, things won’t always go just as you had envisioned. And you’ll need to adjust.

The ability to adjust, is the ability to be responsive to whatever you may have observed or anything that has changed in the moment you’re in.

This is a skill, and it’s a good one to practice. Trust your instincts, your professional judgment, and make smart “in the moment” decisions to move your team (students/teachers) and yourself forward.

And this applies to bigger picture stuff too. There may be a change in leadership or a new curriculum to roll-out. Things are always changing, especially in education, but that’s ok.

We’re prepared to adjust.

4. Invest in a Coach

Since Peyton’s been playing so long, you’d think he wouldn’t need or want a coach anymore right? Nope.

As Peyton said in his Leadercast talk, “As soon as someone stops wanting to be coached, taught or mentored they are in trouble. The landscape of the sports field changes, just as the landscape of your business.  Coaching keeps you on the top of your game.”

Say it Peyton!

And coaches, don’t forget – we need coaches too. Do your best to seek this out. Ask for feedback, learn from others, and keep working to get better.

5. Become a Master Observer

As coaches, we have the unique opportunity to visit several classrooms each week. To see different teachers deliver different lessons, and then watch how kids engage in the work.

As teachers, we have the special opportunity to be a part of a classroom full of unique learners, sorting through all kinds of different work and learning.

And there is so much to learn from each of these moments.

You just have to pay attention.

When you become a master observer in this way, as Peyton is, constantly seeking to figure things out, you’re able to gather so much super valuable “data” that will help you be a better leader for your team.

6. Build Relationships and Instill Trust

“Trust does not come from the position occupied by the leader. It is earned by example and over time.”

Oooo. That’s a tweet-able. Tweet tweet.

Building relationships and instilling trust is the foundation of all the work you do in classrooms and with teachers. Without it, you don’t have much.

So, what do you think – are you one of the Game Changers in your school?

Let me know which of these traits really hits home with you in the comments below.

For me…I’m not sure I’m Peyton Manning status yet, but I’m going to keep working at it.

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And you better know I’ll be rocking my Peyton Manning jersey at school today, and also screaming loudly for a Broncos victory this weekend.

Go Broncos!!

ms-houser

 

 

P.S. If you thought this post was fun to read, and others might enjoy reading it as well, I would really appreciate it if you shared it with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks!

P.P.S If you don’t like Peyton Manning or the Broncos…say what??!! But ok, fine. We can still be friends. Maybe just not this weekend :)

A Fun Initiative for Staff and Students

I’m back from fall break this week and headed into 2nd quarter. We usually go somewhere on a mountain adventure, but this year we opted for a stay-cation and it was just great. Long walks with the puppy Sombra, sunny patio sessions, and a little shopping time. Ahh….

One of the cool things about our calendar, is we have a PWL day (Professional Work and Learning) after every break. So instead of diving straight back in, we have a day to come together as a staff and do some work.

When we get together on these days, or on Wednesday PDs, we usually always kick things off with an initiative.

Initiatives are a terrific structure for building community and relational trust, while also warming everyone up for some learning.

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I thought I’d share the initiative our fourth grade team put together for this week, so you can use it too!

An initiative is a bit different from an “activity” in that there’s always a clear learning target or purpose for what you’ll be doing. It’s also followed by a debrief at the end, giving everyone the opportunity to make connections between the initiative and the bigger picture of the work you’ll be doing moving forward. (I’ve provided some example debrief questions at the end.)

So start your planning by identifying a target and post it on a chart to refer to during the opening/framing, as well as the debrief. The target can be flexible for this initiative, but here was ours:

anchor-chart1

Since teachers/students will be rotating through three different “stations” for this initiative, you’ll want to have everyone number off and get themselves into groups. We have a pretty large staff so we had two of each station set-up, so the groups weren’t too big. Each group had 5 minutes at each station.

To set-up each station, post the station number next to the station task card. There are a few materials to prepare in advance, which you can check out using the task cards (printable and ready-to-go!) below.

STATION-1A

STATION 1 TASK CARD DOWNLOAD

Station-2-Task-Card

STATION 2 TASK CARD DOWNLOAD

station-3

STATION 3 TASK CARD DOWNLOAD 

Okay! Once everyone has rotated through each station, circle everyone up for a debrief.

DEBRIEF1

Here are a few debrief questions you can throw out to the group:

  • What felt challenging?
  • How did you persevere or work through these challenges?
  • What connections can you make between this initiative and the work we’ll be doing today/this week/this quarter?

Now with this initiative complete, teachers will be ready to dig into any work planned with a refreshed mindset and a little extra oomph of energy.

I hope you’re able to use this at your next staff or classroom meeting!

If you have other great ideas for community building initiatives, please take a sec to share it in the comments below.

To fun times with initiatives,

ms-houser

 

 

P.S. If you liked this fun initiative post and want to help me spread the word by using the links below (or just shout it out on Twitter!), I would totally appreciate it!

P.P.S. Here are a few more fun initiatives!

4 Ways to Organize Your Coaching Life Using Google Drive

On my way into school this morning, I grabbed myself a Pumpkin Latte with almond milk to celebrate my favorite season of the year, Fall(!!), officially being here. The leaves are starting to turn and the temps have dropped just enough for me to be able to break out my new, navy J-Crew puffy vest. (just wore it today btw and it looks super cute!)

On the school front, my first round of coaching cycles are wrapping up and fall break is next week.

Around this time of year, every year usually, I get a bad case of the organizing/cleaning/purging bug. Old notes, computer files, my planner, the windows and carpets at home…watch out. I’m coming to get you.

One of those disorganized, I’m coming to get you items on my radar this year was my Google Drive.

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I love my paper planner, my erasable Frixion pens, and my washi tape file folders, but I also have a few go to digital tools I love and use often. One of them being Google Drive.

I love me some Google Drive.

It’s my favorite tool and secret weapon for bridging the world of paper and tech in an organized and efficient way.

As I was sorting, purging, and organizing my Drive earlier this week, I thought it might be helpful to share four ways you can get more organized using this online tool.

1. Create Folders and Subfolders

First, get your folders set-up. How you structure your folders will be the backbone of your whole system.

No folders = random documents everywhere = BAH!!

Here’s a peek into how I structure mine.

Organizing-Google-Drive-FoldersIn case you’re wondering, what goes in my planning kit and what goes online…I like to keep my coaching log online so it can be easily shared with my coachee (more about sharing in a bit…). I also keep an online observation and debrief tool for each coachee ready to go in their folder, as I sometimes prefer to record notes on my computer, based on the complexity and length of the lesson I observe. For grade levels, I upload major planning documents I may need for shared planning and a log of agendas.

2. Color Code

I color code my calendar, my planner, and pretty much everything else in my life, so of course I’m going to color code my Drive!

Color coding is a great way to visually organize your folders and sub-folders. Just right-click your folder of choice and select the option “Change Color.” You can select one of 24 different options.

Organizing-Google-Drive-Colors

3. Take Advantage of Google Sheets, Forms and Sites…Oh My!

There’s a whole wide world of cool tools beyond the standard Google Doc, just waiting for you to take advantage of.

To start, I use Google Sheets as my go-to tool for collecting and organizing data from teachers. For example, I currently have a spreadsheet set-up to help me gather student info from teachers so I can quickly add student names and info to our district assessment system. When a student needs to be added, teachers fill out their info using the shareable link, and I can then get it sent into the district…super quick and easy!

Organizing-Google-Drive-Spreadsheets

And Google Forms are a super cool way to collect feedback after PD sessions. I just create an Exit Ticket Form which teachers fill out immediately after PD, then I can organize and view all the responses using a Google Sheet to determine what teachers appreciated, their commitments to next steps, and what we can do to improve. Boom!

Organizing-Google-Drive-Forms1

Oh, and if you’re feeling like you’re really up for having some fun, you can work on creating a whole SITE for your school! How cool would that be?!?

Google-Site1

4. Share!!

This one got a double exclamation mark because it’s one of my favorite features of Google Drive, and what really got me hooked in the first place. I love sharing! It supports collaboration, communication, and efficiency for coaches, teachers, principals, husbands and wives…everyone!

Here are a few ways I take advantage of the share feature on Google Drive:

  • coaching logs shared with coachees
  • goal setting forms shared with coachees
    • NOTE** If you use any of the planning forms in the Simplified Coaching Planning Kit, you can easily upload them to Google Drive
  • observation and debrief notes
  • planning agendas
  • planning meeting notes
  • curriculum planning forms
  • spreadsheets to collect info

And lot’s more!

When sharing, you can either enter the names of people you want to share the doc with, or send folks a “shareable link.”

Organizing-Google-Drive-Sharing

And that’s that! Hopefully you picked up a few good tips that will help you get your digital life a bit more organized.

Sometimes it’s just the small step of choosing one thing/place to sort, purge, and organize that can help you feel way better and more in control.

Thanks for reading, and if you happen to have fall break coming up, enjoy!

ms-houser

 

 

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

A Goal Setting Tool Made Just for You

Do you know what you want to get better at this year?

Like specifically?

Have you taken the time to honestly reflect and evaluate your practice as a coach? What you’re feeling really good about, and any areas where you could probably work to be better?

GoalSettingforCoaching_Cover2

I know what you’re thinking: “But I have too many other things to do Kristin! I don’t have time to goal set. C’mon now!”

Or wait, maybe you do really want to set some goals for yourself this year, but you’re thinking: “I don’t even know where to start! How do you write your goals anyway?”

I know what you’re thinking because I can relate. Goal setting is hard. So sometimes we postpone it or just avoid it altogether. Honestly, if I hadn’t had my beginning of year goal setting meeting a few weeks ago with my supervisor, I may not have taken the time to slow down and give it any attention either.

But once I did, I was glad I did. I’m a big time goal setter in all other areas of my life, and I invest in the process fully, because I know how powerful it can be.

When you have a clear aim, a vision, for where you’re headed, your good friend Mo (otherwise known as Mr. Motivation) falls in step right beside you, and you start to worker smarter and harder.

GoalSettingforCoaching_Assess2

Are you with me?! Ready to set some goals?!

Sweet. Now back to the creating the “clear aim and vision” part. Well you know me…I’m always here to help!

That’s why I’ve put together this free workbook made specifically for you and your go-get-em, goal setting self.

GoalSettingforCoaching_Evaluate

Get the FREE Goal Setting Workbook

Don’t worry, it’s not the looooong and super detailed rubric I needed to complete last week as part of my goal setting meeting. There is a rubric though, just a friendlier one! And a few other handy forms to help you assess and evaluate where you’re at, plan where you want to go, then act and track! (did you see how I was inspired by the Teaching Learning Cycle there?)

The workbook is designed to help you smile and have some fun with this whole goal setting thing.

GoalSettingforCoaching_track

Ooo, and no goal setting jam session would be complete without some good beats in the background. So I put together a playlist of some of my favorite songs for you. Woot woot!

It’s 27 minutes long – the perfect amount of time for a goal setting session. Use the first song to look through the workbook, the second and third song to work through the rubric, then crank up the last few songs and write some goals!

And while we’re on the subject of goal setting, I wanted to take this opportunity to share one of my big goals for this year with you. Drumroll…

To provide tons of great resources, content, and value for YOU! My fellow educator and friend from afar.

So I’ve put together an easy to fill out survey, because your input is super important to me. You can finish in 3 minutes, and your feedback will help me create content and resources even more interesting, relevant, and supportive for you and your work.

To get your free Goal Setting Workbook, all you need to do is complete the 3 minute Reader Survey. Then I’ll send it over in an email!

Print the workbook this weekend then grab some fun pens, turn on your goal-setting tunes, and get to work on crafting a vision and plan for where you want to head this year.

I’d love to hear what your goals are in the comments below. Go for it – share one goal and one next step.

Thanks for investing in yourself and the MsHouser community!

Get the FREE Goal Setting Workbook

Talk to you soon,

ms-houser

Growth Mindset – What Does this Mean for Coaches?

I’ve been thinking a lot about growth mindset lately and what this means for us coaches.

A few years back we read the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck with our staff and did some really great learning around it’s central message: it’s not just our abilities or talent that brings us success – but whether we approach our goals and work with a fixed or growth mindset. If you haven’t read the book, here are a few of my favorite excerpts to help give you some more background:

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road.

At the time of reading the book, I was totally pumped up and inspired to work on my own growth mindset, but I haven’t honestly thought about it for a long time. Then last week I happened to hear a really terrific podcast with Carol Dweck as the guest, and I got to thinking about it all over again.

After listening to the podcast that morning and heading into school, I found myself much more aware of different fixed vs. growth mindset thoughts that came up in my head that day. And when the fixed thoughts came up, I was bugged with myself, because “Hey! I’m a coach! I should be radiating a growth mindset!!”

But the truth is, I’m not always growth mindset perfect. I get down on myself and can be hard on myself. I can sometimes be harsh in my judgment of teachers qualities and abilities.

Now do I need to be perfect? Maybe not. But I can certainly be more aware, and take steps to get better.

So what’s a helpful first step in this growth mindset building process? How about changing your thoughts and words. Check out the infographic below for ideas on what this might sound like.

Mindset-Infographic1

And how about some specific ideas for how to foster a growth mindset at your school and in your coaching?

  • Read the book “Mindset” as a staff and facilitate discussion circles.
  • Embrace the idea and word “YET
  • Develop and use growth mindset statements with staff consistently as part of school culture.
  • Make the connection between “process” and “achievement” in your feedback.
  • Incorporate growth mindset activities for PD icebreakers.
  • Emphasize learning as a process.
  • Create a growth mindset language wall in the PD room – help teachers recognize when they are having a fixed or growth mindset
  • Highlight mistakes as an opportunity for learning.
  • Work with teachers to develop a bank of language for feedback that can foster a growth mindset in students.
  • Read “How Children Succeed” with staff, and watch the Angela Duckworth Tedx video.

YOUR TURN

In the comments below, I’d love to hear:

  • What are YOUR hidden fixed mindset thoughts? How can you adjust this to a growth mindset?
  • What’s one thing you can do to foster a growth mindset at your school?

Thanks for spending some time with me. Happy Friday and I”ll talk to you soon!

ms-houser

The First Few Weeks of School – What Do I Do?!

Remember when you were a classroom teacher and you’d get all pumped up to head back to school because you had a clear plan, you knew exactly what you needed to do, and you were so ready to get after it?

Now fast forward to your current back to school mental status as a coach. Do you feel the same?

I’ll bet you’re still pumped up, but I’d also be willing to bet that “clear plan” piece has escaped you somewhat. And maybe you’re feeling a little nervous, unsure, or anxious as a result — What do I do? It’s too early to start coaching, right? If I do something, will it be the right something? Bahh!!

This beginning of year uncertainty is a feeling lots of coaches have struggled with. But don’t worry. Here’s what you do…

Think like a teacher.

Yep, turn that classroom teacher brain back on. Now ask the question again – It’s the beginning of the year, what do you do?

FirstFewWeeksofCoaching-Teacher

Alright, you got it! Now translate those same action items to your work as a coach.

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Great job! Now let’s break this down.

set-up

One of the first things all teachers have on their minds at the beginning of the year, is getting their classroom all set-up. Although we don’t have a classroom as coaches, there’s likely a space, big or small, one or more than one, that we can work on getting set-up.

For me, I started with updating my office set-up this year. There were some spaces that weren’t working for me and I also just needed to freshen it up a bit. And this week I’m working on setting up our new PD pad. We downsized a bit this year, which meant a classroom was freed up. Woo Hoo! I’m excited to make it a creative space that teachers will look forward to learning in. I’ll be sure to share some pics when I’ve got it done.

Here are a few other ideas of spaces you can set-up for yourself or teachers at the start of the year:

  • your desk
  • your Planning Kit
  • your coaching bag (if you travel as a coach)
  • a staff welcome or photo wall
  • a literacy/book room
  • a teacher meeting/planning/PD space

I’m sure you may be able to think of a few more spaces that you can work on setting up. Push yourself to think outside of the box!

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Teachers at our school were busy, busy last week and early this week attending PD, meeting with their teams, and gathering resources to support them with planning out their instruction. And if you think about it, we do a lot of the same type of work as coaches at the start of the year.

We meet with our Principal or leadership team to discuss goals and coaching objectives for the first few months. We may meet with coaching colleagues to brainstorm and hash out our thoughts. And we gather resources, read and learn about whatever we need to in order to be prepped and ready for meeting with teachers. Check your first few weeks calendar – are any of these on it?

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One of the tasks teachers were anxious to get accomplished this week was laying out their schedule. As a teacher I can definitely remember working hard to get my schedule put together. And after I got it done, printed it out and posted it my room, things just felt so much…better.

Coaches build schedules too. But not right away. Although this is something you’ll likely start to draft out and bring to life after you meet with your principal and plan for coaching {hopefully within the first few weeks}. Then once your schedule’s solid and it’s officially part of your calendar, you’ll also feel so much…better.

get-to-know

One of the most important things teachers can do in the first few weeks of school, is get to know their kids. Like really get to know them. Not just their reading level, or who their teacher was last year, but things like what they enjoy doing in their free time. Do they have pets? Do they like art? Where do they live? Do they have brothers or sisters? This is the kind of stuff you can learn about kids that will help you make the kind of connection with them that’s really going to count.

And the same is true for coaches working with teachers. Get to know the teachers you’re going to work with, like really get to know them. What did they do this summer? Ask them about their family. What are they super interested in outside of school? Do they like coffee? – maybe you can grab them a Starbucks!

There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year, to make a strong, positive, and lasting impression with teachers you’ll be working with.

teach

What’s the most important thing teachers can do the first few weeks? – TEACH! What’s the most important thing coaches can do the first few weeks? – COACH! Although you won’t be stepping into any formal coaching cycles just yet, you’ll for sure have lots of opportunities to do lots of coaching. Let’s think through a few:

  • classroom set-up
  • how to organize a library
  • how to give beginning of year assessments
  • how to manage beginning of year anxiety and stress
  • how to support new students who may not speak English
  • where to find math or literacy resources for planning
  • planning out the first day
  • classroom community building ideas

And lots more. You’ll be doing all sorts of really valuable coaching these first few weeks. You just may not see it at first as “coaching.” But it is. Lend an ear, offer a shoulder to lean on, be a springboard for ideas. COACH.

You’re in this position for a reason. You have experience and wisdom to share. Someone recognized a special talent, ability, and potential in you to help teachers and their students reach great heights. And so you were hired do this job. And you’re going to do it amazingly well. Believe in yourself and don’t stress.

Do the best you can with what you know, and you’re going to rock these first few weeks.

Then keep getting better from there.

Keep me updated. I’ve been getting lots of emails, and I love reading and responding to every single one.

Thanks for spending some time with me, and I’ll talk to you next week. Go get em!

ms-houser

Back to School Checklist. And a Little Catching Up.

After I published last week’s post, I realized I hadn’t even stopped to say “Hi!” or catch up a bit after not chatting with you all summer. Sorry! So how has your summer been?? Mine was an amazing whirlwind of goals accomplished, new goals set, and oh, a wedding! Luke and I were married on July 18th, and it was picture perfect. All our friends and family were there, and the sun came out after a ton of rain, right before the ceremony. We don’t have our photos back yet, but here are a few pics captured by our friends.

wedding

In addition to all of the craziness and fun that goes into a wedding, I was also hard at work towards other goals. The first one was wrapping up my first product launch for the Time & ToDo Planner. This has been A LOT of work {packing up 200 planners just a few days before our wedding!}. My sister thought I was totally crazy, but it was work that I was and am so happy to be doing. Stepping into the world of ecommerce was a big and at times challenging first step for me. I had some setbacks, but I learned a ton in the process, am grateful for how far I’ve come, and super excited for some revisions and additions I have planned moving forward!

Headed to school with planners to ship!

Headed to school with planners to ship!

I also decided it was time to update the style of MsHouser.com. We kept the foundation of the design, but updated the color layout and revised the organization a bit. I was excited to get this goal accomplished this summer, and I’m hopeful you like the updates!

Alright, enough about me. How about you?! I wish I could shuttle you over here to catch me up on your summer over a refreshing glass of iced coffee, but alas, I cannot. So the next best option is to shoot me an email or share in the comments below!

Now. Moving onto the checklist. As I was putting my Simplified Coaching Planning Kit together last night, my mind was racing a hundred miles an hour about everything I needed to do and wanted to do next week when I officially head back to school. And with all the racing thoughts, I kept worrying that I would forget something. You know that feeling, right?

So to make sure I have all of my ducks in a row, I put together a handy back to school checklist. And I wanted to share it with you in case you also have a case of the back to school racing thoughts going on.

I designed the checklist to coordinate with your planning kit, so you can just pop it into your planning section!

I also left some blank spaces, in case I forgot anything or there is any work specific to your role you’d like to add to your list.

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Download Here

Oh, and here’s a blank one in case you’d like to start fresh.

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Download Here

Alright, now your homework is to print out this checklist, pop it into your planner, and get after it!

For those of you heading back to school next week, I hope you have a terrific start to the year.

ms-houser

 

ps – am I missing any big back to school to-dos? Let me know in the comments below!

Why You Should Start a Blog – And How to Do It

Alright. I know our summer days are coming to a close and you’re likely getting in as much maxin’ and relaxin’ as you can before school starts up in a few short weeks {agh!}. But I’ve been wanting to tell you something for kind of a long while now, and I figured I should probably tell you now while you still have a little downtime.

You should start a blog.

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Yes you! And Austin Kleon, the author of one of my favorite books Show Your Work!, just happens to agree:

“Eventually, I figured out how to install a blog, and that changed everything. A blog is the ideal machine for turning flow into stock: One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work. My blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront, and my salon. Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships—they all exist because I have my own little piece of turf on the Internet.” –Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!

The cool thing about blogging is that it can lead anywhere.

I started my blog 5 years ago and it’s an action I took that I continuously thank myself for. If you put in the work, you’ll get more than you can imagine out of it.

My blog has helped me accomplish so much. To name a few…I’ve become a way better writer, I’ve networked with other coaches I never would have known had it not been for the blog, I’ve created a visual resume of my work, and I’ve created a strong foundation for amazing adventures I hadn’t even planned for like starting my Etsy shop and launching my first online business with the Time & ToDoPlanner.

Your blog will become your online home. A place to share your work and inspire others, connect with people all over the world, and just put something out there that is uniquely you. It will be all yours and you can take it in whatever direction you choose.

Are you with me?!

I sure hope so, because we seriously need some more coaches out there showing off their work.

Alright, let’s get to the “how-to” part. Don’t worry, it’s really easy and your future self will say thank you. Just follow the three steps below and you’ll be up and running with your very own blog in no time.

1. REGISTER A DOMAIN NAME

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This just means choose a name for your website. Take some time to think about this one, but don’t obsess about it and let it hold you up from taking action. It can be as simple as your name, or relate to where you want your blog to go. Brainstorm and write down as many ideas as you can. When you think you’ve got a few names to run with, head over to DreamHost and see if your name is available by entering it in the box that looks like this:

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You’ll also need to host your domain name. Hosting is like renting space on the web to display your blog. DreamHost has great rates and gives you your domain name for free if you decide to host with them.

2. INSTALL WORDPRESS

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WordPress is a blogging software and the one I’ve always used, know how to use, and really like. There are others such as Blogger and SquareSpace, but WordPress is definitely the platform most commonly used. DreamHost will walk you through all the steps to get it installed and set-up.

Step two, done. Now you officially have a blog and all you really need to do at this point is add good content that people want to read. Then, when you’re ready, you can move on to Step 3…

3. SPICE IT UP!

When I first started my blog, it was super simple and that was cool, because you don’t need anything fancy to get started. But as I went along, I started to make small tweaks and changes to spice up the look a bit. And lots of small changes have added up to the site it has evolved into today.

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WordPress has lots of ready-to-go themes to get you started. I use WooThemes, and they have a ton of easily customizable templates to choose from. Elegant Themes also has some cool templates.

And that’s it!

Now just keep at it.

Maybe you set a goal for yourself to write one post per week. Then maybe you’ll start getting some comments, and more and more visitors each week, and then from there…who knows the places you’ll go!

If questions come up, let me know!…I’m happy to help.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer, but maybe also take some time to start a blog too. Wink, wink.

Talk to you soon,

ms-houser

2015-2016 Simplified Coaching Planning Kit – It’s Here!

I couldn’t be more excited that The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit for the 2015-2016 school year is now available in my coaching shop!

Simplified Coaching Planning Kit

This is the second edition of the planning kit and I’m super excited about some of the changes and additions I’ve made this year. It has many of the same great planning tools as last year’s version, however, has evolved with a new design and new planning tools.

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This year’s version has five new cover options for you to choose from.

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One of the big changes I made this year was color coding the entire planning kit! I thought I’d give you a bit of a brain break on how to set-up your planning kit, by organizing it for you.

Using the table of contents as a guide, you can divide your planning kit into six different sections: Planning, Observations, Debriefs, Meetings, Projects, Reference. You could also color code your dividers to match the planning pages if you wanted to get really fancy.

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The planning kit is editable again this year, so you can fill in your planning tools directly on your computer then pop them into your planner, or just print and write!

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The planning kit has everything you need to organize and centralize all of your important coaching materials.

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And with all of the different tools that I personally use to plan and implement coaching cycles, you’ll be totally on top of it!

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This year’s planning kit does not include a calendar, as I’ve designed an even better option…The Time & ToDo Planner! This Kickstarter project recently reached it’s funding goal within 12 short days and the project is officially a GO! It’s not too late to pre-order this planner either. If you prefer to have your calendar within your planning kit, there is digital version available for you to print on your own {includes June and July for you to get a head start on planning this summer}.

I intentionally designed the Time & ToDo Planner to compliment The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit, in both functionality and style. The weekly planner is lightweight and ultra-portable, which will allow you to easily carry it with you wherever you go. At times you may need your weekly planner and your planning kit, or just your planner…now you have stylish options, without the bulk.

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I’m confident The Simplified Coaching Planning Kit will help you achieve your goals as an instructional coach.

And with the planning kit available earlier this year, you’ll have plenty of time this summer to get set-up and ready to rock it next year!

Keep me updated!

ms-houser

 

 

 

PURCHASE HERE

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Planner FAQs:

  • I print on standard letter size, 8.5 x 11″ paper {98 bright, 32 lb}
  • I use the discbound notebook system.  A three hole binder would also work well though!
  • The Levenger punch works for the discbound system. This one is a bit less expensive than the one offered though Levenger.
  • This is the label maker I use.
  • I love the Pilot G2 pens.