Tag Archives: Planning

Your First 90 Days as a Coach. Let’s Break It Down.

Ready or not…Back to School we go!

I’m not sure about you, but this time of year I always have a million thoughts swirling through my head.

So I decided to put together a list. A list to help guide me (and you!) through the start of a new school year.

All too often with the hecticness that is the beginning of a new year, we can find ourselves doing more scrambling forward rather than steady, purposeful stepping forward.

Don’t get overwhelmed, just take it one steady step at a time, and you’ll find yourself solidly on the path towards accomplishment and success in your work this year as a coach.

This list is by no means all-encompassing, but provides a good foundation for all of us, new and veteran alike, to build on.

Available as a Poster and Letter-sized Printable

Hope this helps set you off on the right foot!

And here are a few additional resources to help you along the way:

Happy Back to School!

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!

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!

cover2

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.

pics

one / two / three / four / five / six

one
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!

two
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.

three
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.

four
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!

five
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.

six
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.

calendar-image

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!

My 2013-2014 Instructional Coaching Planner

Hey coaches! You didn’t think I would forget about us and our planning needs did you? No way. Although our planning style may be a bit different than classroom teachers, we need a good planning system in place just as much!

So let’s discuss. Last year, I went the all digital route. I used iCal for monthly, weekly, and daily planning. Google docs for recording and storing information gathered in observations and debriefs with teachers. And Evernote for note taking during meetings.

While there are lots of things to love about digital planning and organizing, I must admit I am a paper and pen kinda gal at heart. And this year I felt the need to show some more love to this side of myself.

So I did what I love to do and created a just-right coaching planner that has made my paper and pen heart sing with happiness!

cover-image

Along with my Discbound Notebook, here are the materials I used to put it together.

Daily_Planner_Materials

My first task was to figure out how I wanted to set-up my Calendar section. Initially I thought I would use a two-page paper calendar, similar to the one I created for the Teacher Planner and build from there. However, as I thought about all of the planning and coaching meetings I have scheduled in a typical day/month, I knew there was no way the paper only calendar would cut it. So I called on my trusty friend iCal to lend a helping hand. The plan is to print my monthly calendar each month, grab some washi tape, and adhere it to the front of the divider right behind my Calendar section. Like this:

Month

This way I’ll be able to easily refer to my monthly calendar when I’m on-the-go or doing my daily planning without having to pull up my computer or phone. If any additional meetings or events come up, I can fill them in by hand or if things get really crazy, add them to iCal and reprint.

OK, on to daily planning! This is really where the rubber meets the road so you’ve got to do it right. Because I have so much going on in a typical day, I knew I needed a daily planning sheet that would help me manage my important To-Dos and scheduled meetings.

Daily_Planner_Spread

Daily_Planner

 Visit my Shop

I plan for the next day the night before so I’m ready to dive right in.  I begin by identifying my top three priorities for the day in the “Eat that Frog” section. Then I get any other To-Dos off my mind by jotting them down in the section below that. Next I write in my agenda or schedule, balancing my time against my To-Dos.

As I work, I’ll jot down any notes or thoughts that come up in the “Thought Catcher” section. Written down, these thoughts won’t distract me from my plan, but they won’t be forgotten either. At the end of the day, I’ll review these caught thoughts along with any other To-Dos that weren’t attended to and use this information along with my monthly calendar to plan my next day.

Are you wondering what the heck “Eat that Frog” means? I picked it up from reading Brian Tracy’s book, Eat that Frog. If you’re interested in time management strategies at all, you should check it out. The idea comes from a Mark Twain quote: “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” Basically, take care of your most important and/or procrastination worthy tasks first!

One other tool I use to map out my week is my Peek at the Week sheet. I updated the one I shared in an earlier post to better match my daily planning sheets. You can download it free here!

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.58.19 AM

I adjusted the size a bit and trimmed it, so that I could stick it to the back of my calendar tab for easy reference.  I’m always checking to make sure that my priorities for the week match my daily plans!

Peek-at-the-Week

I’ve been playing around with my planning sheets a bit this summer and I’m psyched because I think they’re going to be so perfect for the school year. Woop Woop!

After I had my calendar section all figured out it was time to decide what other sections I would add to my planner. I decided to go with Coaching, Notes, Blog, and Personal.

Sections

Within my coaching section, I have tabs labeled Observation, Debrief, and Reference.

Coaching-Sections

I’ll store short term notes and reference material within these sections. For longer term storage of observation and debrief notes with coachees, I’ll use file folders and a PD Google Site which I’m going to work on creating next week. I’ll share more on this system once I have it all put together.

I decided I needed a separate Notes section for planning meetings and just to scribble out my own thoughts when I’m working on different projects. I use Levenger’s Dot Grid paper which is my favorite paper ever.

Because my school life feeds the work I do on my blog, it needed it’s own section to keep all my post ideas in order.

In my Personal section, I have my Meal Plan for the week along with a few other documents that help keep me together.

If you would like to use my Any-Day Planner to put together a coaching planner for yourself, please visit my Etsy shop. It includes a Customized Planner Cover which you can have laminated like I did or bind together with your planning pages to make a planner for the year!

If you’re someone who could do without all the daily planning action and are content with a weekly planning spread instead, then this weekly planner may better meet your needs.

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.37.43 PM

Weekly_Planning

So tell me, what’s your coaching planning system? I would LOVE to hear!

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

May Planning Calendar

Most if not all of us coaches and teachers have some type of planning system to help us stay organized and on top of scheduled obligations and to-dos. Some of us prefer an online calendar system such as iCal or Outlook, while others prefer a paper based system…or maybe you’re someone who has uses for both! However you choose to organize and plan your time, a monthly planning calendar serves as the foundation for mapping out how to make the best use of your time during the week and from day to day.

I’ve been working on putting together a coaching binder of my own and thought I would share two versions of a monthly calendar I’ve created.  The first is a one page monthly calendar and the second is a two page outlook if you prefer more space.  Hopefully you can make use of them to enhance your personal planning system!

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 11.30.59 AMClick to Download

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 8.57.01 AM

Click to Download

Thanks for reading,

ms-houser

Visual Agendas

Sharing learning targets and the agenda with staff is always a first step in our Thursday PD sessions.  I used to post the agenda in a standard list format on a piece of chart paper. As I wrote in my last post on infographics, I’m a big fan of using visuals to enhance a message.  So rather than posting PD agendas in a boring old list, I’m now creating visual agendas.  One benefit of creating visual agendas is that the experience provides me with a clear picture of where I intend to lead teachers.  Additionally, this process helps me storyboard the entire professional development session.  As I plan I am able to see possible gaps or misunderstandings prior to PD which allows me to sharpen the agenda and subsequently the teacher’s take-aways.

As a teacher attending professional development I appreciate when my interest is sparked and the learning is clear.  Visual agendas help with this.

I’ve shared a few examples below.  You can create them electronically or with good old butcher paper.  Hopefully they will inspire you to use more visuals to enhance your instruction.

Thanks for reading!

Kristin

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

 

 

The Story of Guided Reading

Guided reading is an approach to literacy instruction that teachers at our school have been working hard to understand and implement in their classrooms.  We did a ton of work and thinking with this strategy last year in PD and continue to build on and refine our understandings this year.

Below is an infographic I created to summarize the WHAT, WHY, and HOW of guided reading in a visually friendly way.  As an educator I’m all about using visuals to help make sense of tricky topics or ideas.  Infographics allow you to “tell a story” with graphics and information.  This happens to be my first one and I have to say it was super fun to make!  I hope it helps you make sense of guided reading.

Below the infographic I have included a video of a guided reading lesson, accompanying lesson plan, and guided reading planning template.

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristin

Guided Reading Infographic

This is a video we used as a model of quality guided reading instruction during a recent PD.  Thanks Becky for letting us learn from you!

Here is a link to Becky’s lesson plan if you would like to give it a go (Becky’s Lesson Plan)!  This lesson is suited for J level readers.

Click Here to Download Planning Template