Tag Archives: New Year

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?


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


Great job! Now let’s break this down.


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!


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?


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.


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.


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!


New Year New Gear

It’s that time of year for spicing up your teacher gear!  I couldn’t be more excited for the start of a new year. It’s the perfect time to reflect, set goals, and celebrate a fresh start!


Over the break I did some New Years Resoluting, and I’ve got some pretty good new goals worked up for myself this year. Maybe you do too? Well, one tip I’ve found to be especially helpful in goal setting and maintaining, is to make it a treat! And who says the treat part has to come at the end? I’m all for treating at the beginning, as I really think a little something special tied to new goals or habits you want to build into your lifestyle, can really help with getting and keeping the ball rolling. So here’s a peek into a few of my treats.


one / two / three / four / five / six

I’ve always loved a good workout in the morning. Whether it’s running, cycling, yoga, or lifting weights, starting your day off with some movement and a good sweat is a great way to prep yourself for a successful and happy school day. But somehow last year, I let my mornings get away from me and my workouts became less and less. And then like none at all. Well not this year! I’m getting married in July {yeah!}, so I’m bound and determined, committed to building this habit back into my schedule. Because I prefer working out in the morning and school starts pretty early for us (7:20), I needed a plan for being super efficient with my AM time. And this plan includes gear. Enter the most organized toiletry bag ever. I found it at the Container Store, and it helps me get in and out of the shower at the gym in 20 minutes. No time to dig around for shampoo or make-up on a teacher’s schedule! So far I’ve been to the gym three mornings this week. Sweet!

Something else you need if you’re going to be working it out at the gym and then later at school, is plenty of properly chilled water ready to guzzle down. I’m a water-bottle-aholic, and maybe I didn’t need this one, but I really love it. It holds plenty of water for a full day, and keeps it super chilled all the way until the end of the day and into the next, if you need it to. There’s different tops available if you don’t like the wide mouth variety, and plenty of colors to choose from.

OK. So, I thought long and hard about this one. And then I decided to just pull the trigger already. Stitchfix is going to be my new personal shopper to help me out with stylizing and professionalizing my wardrobe for 2015, and I’m psyched about it! I have too many random t-shirts, boring colors, and outdated pieces in my closet. What you wear can send a message, especially when you’re in a leadership role, and I’d like to spiff my message up a bit. Stitchfix is a site I’d heard about from several friends, and after getting my first “fix” this past week, I’m totally hooked. They do the shopping for you, and send you five different pieces to try out. Keep what you like, send back what you don’t! Love.

When I was teaching, something I always dreamed about was a big window in my classroom that would let in lots of bright sunshine and refresh my room with a nice breeze. So when I moved into my coaching office, you wouldn’t believe how excited I was to see…a window! I walked over to my window, thankful that my dream had come true, and then discovered…that my window didn’t open. Sad. Yes, I had some sunshine, but no fresh air. Well I decided to spruce up my office space a bit this month, and part of that sprucing up will be to add a little breeze to the room. Even if it’s not fresh. This little fan is super quiet, and helps circulate the air, which is real nice, especially in the afternoons. I’ve heard a fan in your office supports your health and may even make you more productive. We’ll see!

I love coffee. The way it smells, the way it tastes, the way it gives me a little pick-up when I need it. Given that pumping up my fitness and health is going to be a goal of mine this year, I thought maybe I’d give up coffee. Think, think…nah! Although, I am going to switch up my afternoon coffee routine a bit to include my new favorite drink, a dirty chai. Just mix up a little coffee or nespresso with some chai tea in your new Vessel sippy-cup, and boom! You’ve got yourself a stylin’ afternoon drink.

The start of a New Year is a great time to freshen up your planner and planning system. I think about what’s working well, what isn’t, and from there what improvements I may be able to make. For me, I’m pretty good with day-day and week-week planning, but when it comes to long-term, big picture planning, I’ve just never taken the time to do it well. And that big picture piece is so important for making your weeks and days come together with greater purpose and intention, so this was an improvement I wanted to make. Because I’m a very visual planner, I created a Year Planner for myself and a new monthly calendar template. First I mapped out everything I wanted to accomplish on my Year Planner, then I’ll use my monthly calendar to outline when I’ll get everything done.


You can grab a free copy of the Year Planner here! For the monthly calendar, you can check out my shop here.

So how about you? What are you thinking about for 2015? Whatever it is, I know we’ll make this year awesome.

I hope your holiday was great and your New Year is off to an amazing start!