Summer Reading List: 6 Books to Get You Movin’ and Groovin’

Hey there! Long time no see.

Sorry I haven’t dropped by with a post in a bit. Busy end of school year filling in for a teacher, lots of work on this year’s planner, and just some down time needed. But, I’ve got a few weeks of summer under my belt and I’m ready to get back to movin’ and groovin’!

Let’s kick things off with a summer reading list shall we?

 

One of my favorite things to do over the summer to keep my saw sharp, is to grab a good book and learn something new.

Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High Impact Instruction

So I’ve been coaching for six years now, and I still haven’t tried out video coaching. I know! Have you?? I’m aware of how much there is to learn from watching yourself on video from all the work I did with my Coaching Workshop, but I haven’t given it a good go in working with teachers. And I think it’ll just be great!

I’ve got “Focus on Teaching” out on the patio with me and I’ve just started digging in. There’s a lot to learn, but who better to guide me than Jim Knight?!

Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff

I heard Dave Burgess talk about his book “Teach Like a Pirate” on a Podcast and was immediately hooked by his energy and enthusiasm for teaching. So I grabbed the book, and had a lot of fun reading it. Then I heard about the “Lead Like a Pirate” book coming out in following Beth Houf and knew I wanted to check it out.

I just walked down to the library yesterday with Sombra dog to pick it up, and I’m excited to learn from Beth and Shelly’s approachable writing style. You know how some leadership books are just so dang serious?? This one is totally the opposite of that which I appreciate.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

I forget where I heard about this one from, but it’s been on my “to read” list for awhile. Just got it a few days ago from Amazon, and I’m so glad I ordered it. It’s all about one of the most important things we do as coaches…asking good questions!! And according to this book, saying less and asking more is what it’s all about. The chapters are broken down by the 7 types of questions to focus on: the Kickstart Question, the AWE Question, the Focus Question, the Foundation Question, the Lazy Question, the Strategic Question, and the Learning Question. Can’t wait!

Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches

You know the lesson Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover? This book proves this lesson true. Upon first glance, you might perceive this book to be an oldie and not so much of a goodie. But not so!! This book is so good! Tons of real, actionable advice and tips. I started reading it just before school got out, and can’t wait to keep going this summer. I think this is one of those books I’ll read page-by-page, cover-to-cover. That’s when you know you’ve got a worthy book on your hands.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I’m a big Cal Newport fan. He’s a teacher (professor actually), loves to talk about productivity (yes!), and he has a super popular blog/biz on the side (I’m working on it!). Anyhow, Cal writes some really good books. His first, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” is one of my all time favorites, and his second, “Deep Work” lays the smack down on the how and why of treating your time with some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I listened to “Deep Work” on audio and loved it so much I bought the book so I could dig back in a little deeper. Building in more time for Deep Work in our schedules is a must if we want to create and contribute great ideas and work to share with others.

Big Little Lies

Because, we can’t forget about the fun stuff!! And this book is so fun. I’ve been staying up late into the night, with this page turner. It’s a murder mystery, but it’s also funny. My sister totally disagrees, but whatever, we can have different opinions. And in MY opinion this is a great summer read to check out! After I finish, I’ll probably binge-watch the first season on Netflix.

So whoop, there it is! Hope you enjoyed this little book list, and have a thought for a book you might grab, and start reading. If there’s one you think should definitely be added to the list, share in the comments below!

Talk to you soon! – promise :)

 

 

Psst – For more reading inspiration, check out these posts. And don’t forget about the Resources Page!

6 Books on My Summer Reading List. And How I Chose Them.

5 New Books to Add to Your Reading List

My Top 5 Resources for Instructional Coaches. Plus a Few More Good Ones.

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

PD Pad Pick-Me-Up

Have you ever had one of those years at school that’s just been a bit…tough? This has been one of those years for us.

We’ve been working through some changes and challenges in leadership, that have left us all without a solid foundation to stand strong on, and just not our peppy selves.

As a coach, when you notice a dip in staff culture and morale, what can you do?

When I asked myself this question, I thought…well…hmm…what is something I’m pretty good at, I enjoy doing, and I know will help add some pep to our teacher’s step?? Think, think…I got it!

Creating beautiful spaces.

Working and learning in an inspiring space is something that makes us all feel good.

And where do we learn each week? The PD Pad!

So the designer in me stepped in and said, “Let’s do this.”

These past few weeks, using spare chunks of time, I’ve been chipping away at project: “PD Pad Pick-Me-Up”.

Alright, let’s take a tour, shall we? Come on in!

I made a Welcome Sign to greet teachers as they come in. I printed “Welcome” using a fun font on a turquoise background, cut out the letters, and matted them on different size sheets of black construction paper.

As you come in the room, to your right, you’ll see the three categories of our Work Plan Goals posted. Below those, are the Learning Targets guiding our work in PD. Some foliage always helps to liven up a space, so I got the plant in the corner at Hobby Lobby (not real, but still leafy :) and wrapped it in string lights. The star hanging above it is from Ikea. Lighting is one of those design pieces that can help take a room from drab to fab.

“Explore, Question, Create” are the three words that make up our school’s vision. So I knew I wanted these posted front and center. I asked a kindergartner to help me write the letters for the words, then backed them on a painted construction paper background that our art teacher had the first graders help her with.

OK, let’s take a look at the far side of the room. I love this corner of the space! Photos of students, and our character habits posted on the wall help anchor the room in the importance of the work we do everyday.

Oh, and you’ll see each table has a plastic basket to hold sticky notes, highlighters, and pens. I didn’t like the original colors the baskets came in, so I spray painted them a fun turquoise and gold to go with the color scheme of the room.

Here’s a closer look at the student photos. I wanted them to stand off the wall a bit, so I had canvas prints made at Walgreens.

On the wall, I added a smidge of color with gold strips of washi-tape. This also helped me cover up some ugly holes in the wall :)

Here’s our Habits wall. I made some DIY frames, then used white chalkboard marker on a black tag-board background to hand letter our staff norms connected to each of our Habits.

Above each of the three windows in the room, I strung the words “We Are Crew.” As an EL Education School, this phrase is really important to the work we do. To highlight it a bit more, I strung some bistro light strands right above.

As a teacher, I would always hang photos of students in the room to help illustrate that this was our space. And as a coach, I like to do the same thing. Black and white photos of each of the teachers, matted on a black background, with gold washi-tape, felt just right.

On the other side of the room is our snack station. It’s hard to add some pep to your step in an after school PD without snacks and caffeine :)

I designed this typography poster for a bit of motivation as teachers grab their snacks.

And there you have it! Hopefully this post gave you some ideas for how you might work to create beautiful spaces in your own building(s).

For more ideas and inspiration, here are two past PD Pads you can check out:

Creating a Professional Development Space

PD Pad Set-Up

And lastly, if you’re going through challenges of your own at school, don’t worry. They happen to all of us. Just remember, teachers need you as their coach to stay strong and positive. You got this!

Talk to you soon,