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!


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25 Responses to “The First Few Weeks of School – What Do I Do?!”

  1. Pam August 13, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks! That was just what I needed! :)

  2. Rebecca August 13, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    I love this! Especially going into my first year as a coach I have been wondering what exactly I do during the first weeks of school and this was a great explanation! Thanks so much. :-)

    • Elisha August 13, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

      Congratulations, Rebecca!!!! Welcome to the club

  3. Jackie August 13, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    I came from a kindergarten background, leaving the classroom 5 years ago and this week one of our K teachers had emegency gall blkadder surgery, so I mentally overnight had to change modes to get back into the classroom swing. YIKES! :)

  4. Laura August 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    Thank you for validating so many feelings right now, especially “believe in yourself…don’t stress…do your best with what you know.”
    Great post and wishing you a wonderful year!

  5. Elisha August 13, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Thank you so much for organizing all those jumbled thoughts in my head in five steps!!!!

    • Kristin Houser August 14, 2015 at 8:03 am #

      Hey Elisha! I’m glad I could relieve some of the jumble!! :)

  6. Amber August 13, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    I was so in need of this post 2 weeks ago because unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we started back already! And since I’m starting as a coach this year, I was so at a loss as what to do these last two weeks! Luckily, I did all these things you suggested naturally! I’m having so much fun as a coach, but let me tell you I have been SO busy! Why did I ever wonder what I should start doing?! :) thanks for a great post!

    • Kristin Houser August 14, 2015 at 8:05 am #

      Hi Amber! Thanks so much for commenting. I’m glad to hear you’ve had a productive first few weeks. Good luck with your first year coaching!

  7. Michelle TG August 13, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement, Kristin! This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear 2 weeks before school starts. Definitely sharing this!

    Have a great weekend!
    Michelle TG (@MrsTG)

    • Kristin Houser August 14, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      Thanks Michelle! And thanks for the shout-out on Twitter!! You’re the best :)

  8. Amy August 14, 2015 at 12:38 am #

    Great tips and love the transition from thinking like a teacher to thinking like a coach!

    • Kristin Houser August 14, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Hi Amy! That teacher brain piece just makes it so much more clear doesn’t it? :)

  9. Angela August 14, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    THANK YOU!! As a first year coach, I need this!! You just reaffirmed that I have been doing all of the right things!! We are finishing our 2nd week of school today and I feel so much better after reading this today!!

  10. Julia August 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    This post is absolutely wonderful. Thank you!! Even though I am not a literacy coach, I can easily use this advice in my role as an Inclusion Facilitator. Thanks again for the great, thoughtful advice.

  11. Genesis August 16, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    I’ve been following your site since earlier this Summer. This will be my first year as a language arts instructional coach. Thanks for the insight…I find it very helpful and refreshing!

  12. Tracy August 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Thank you so much! Last week was my first week in my new role as coach and I kept asking myself what I should be doing. Your post helped me realize I do know what I’m doing. Feeling a lot less stressed!

    • Kristin Houser August 24, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

      You’re welcome Tracy!! Glad to hear you had a good first week. Feeling less stressed is always a good thing :)

  13. Corrie August 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    This site is a godsend. Overwhelmed with a new position as an Enrichment Specialist and Instructional Coach. Stumbled upon your site at around 2 am during a restless night of sleep..because of the new job. Purchased the tool kit and the planner and will return to you frequently for insight. Thanks for tracking your role and sharing online.


    • Kristin Houser August 28, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

      Ha! Corrie, your comment totally had me laughing, since I am oh too familiar with the middle of the night worrying :) Thanks so much for your comment, support, and being a part of the MsHouser community. You’re going to be awesome this year!!

  14. Ashley Taylor August 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    Though this is 2 years old now, this is JUST what I needed! Thank you!

    • Kristin Houser August 2, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

      Awesome! So glad it was helpful :) Good luck this year!

  15. Mary June 30, 2018 at 2:36 pm #

    This is awesome!! Thank you for your wonderful insights for first weeks coaching. 2018-19 will be my first official year as Instructional Coach! Wish me good luck! :-)

  16. Kim Hood August 2, 2018 at 10:40 am #

    This put everything into perspective for me, thank you so much. Being assigned this job without any real perimeters from my boss has been frustrating, to say the least. My excitement of getting started and your insights has made this journey seem in my grasp. Thank you again.

  17. Aviva Stern August 25, 2020 at 11:17 am #

    Would love ideas for a first time pd intro when you don’t even know the teachers

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