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. 


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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.


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.



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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.



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

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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.



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.


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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,




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9 Responses to “Updated Coaching Notebook”

  1. Joy McDonald February 26, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Great ideas! I plan to use the coaching conversation planner and may try doing an electronic notebook like you used in this post. I am an instructional technology coach in Richmond, VA and I find your tips very useful!

  2. Kristin Houser February 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Thanks Joy! Hope coaching is going well for you this year :)

  3. Michele Meyer March 3, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Thank you ! As the year progresses I find myself updating my system as well. Your ideas are a big help :)

  4. Kristin Houser March 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Thanks so much for commenting Michele!

  5. Kristin April 15, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    I love your organization. What size notebook did you use for this coaching notebook?

    • Kristin Houser April 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Thanks Kristin! I use the standard letter size discbound. The junior sized ones are just a bit too small for me.

  6. Sarah November 29, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    Thank you. I just found your website and am brand new to coaching and have been given no training or direction. I couldn’t agree more with taking notes on paper during a conversation as the laptop or iPad can be very obtrusive (just my opinion). Your suggestions are very helpful

    • Kristin Houser December 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Sarah and welcome to the MsHouser community! Hope your first year is going well :)

  7. Ashley October 7, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

    Kristin, this is my 3rd year as an Instructional Coach (11 years before I was an elementary classroom teacher). I have a new principal this year and feel like I don’t have as much direction as I did previously in this role. I am anxious to dive into your tools and I LOVE the idea of a Coaching Notebook. Currently, I do my observation/feedback cycles on a google form. I like that for quickness, as I almost dictate what teachers are instructing so I can refer back, but not sure it’s the best for me. Any suggestions would be SO helpful! I also seem to be struggling with the idea of “Should I go back to the classroom?” “Am I making an impact in this role as Instructional Coach?”

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