My Instructional Coaching Kit Set-Up

As I was walking through Target the other day, I got all excited when I came across the “back to school” aisle. I’m pretty much like a little kid when it comes to back to school prep. I love it!

One of my back to school purchases for this year was a new discbound agenda to use for setting up my Coaching Kit.

I’ve been using an Instructional Coaching Planning Kit now for the past several years, and it’s one of the most important tools in my “stay organized” coaching system.

For the past few days, I’ve been working on getting mine set up for this year, and I thought I’d give you a little walk-through of how it’s coming along.

Let’s take a look!

As I mentioned, I highly recommend using a discbound notebook for your Coaching Kit over a clipboard, three ring binder, or really anything else. They lay flat, and fold over nicely which comes in so handy when I’m in classrooms taking notes, meeting with teachers, or need my PD agenda ready to reference.

I made a customized cover for myself to place in the front. I chose Turquoise to compliment the Ombre Time & ToDo Planner I’ll be using this year. In the shop, I’m offering customized covers if you’d like one as well!

The Coaching Kit’s table of contents has a suggested order for setting things up. However, feel free to identify and order your sections in whichever way makes the most sense to you. And remember, you can always tweak and adjust as the year goes on.

I have both “school” and “personal” tabs in my Kit, as I find that my school and personal lives overlap in many ways. For example, I like to keep my Weekly Meal Planning sheets as a section, so I can stay on track with my goals for the week.

For the tabs themselves, you can use something as simple as white Avery label dividers, or you can purchase discbound dividers. To add a bit more color, I also like to use Washi Tape for making my labels.

Here are the current sections I have:

  • Coaching
  • Meetings
  • Grade Levels
  • PD
  • Projects
  • Flylady
  • Biz
  • Meals
  • Notes
  • Reference

Behind my cover page, I have a Vertical Year at a Glance. While I do keep all of my appointments and dates in my Time & ToDo Planner (TTP), I find that it is also helpful for me to have this Year at a Glance in my Coaching Kit for those occasions that I may not have my TTP on me. I also like the friendly overview of the school year that this calendar provides.

On to the first tab of my Kit, “Coaching.” To start, I printed off a copy of my First 90 Days as a Instructional Coach printable. Even though I’ve been coaching for awhile now, I still find it nice to have this as a reference to help guide me through those first weeks/months.

I also plan to use this printable to help me establish goals for the 1st Quarter. Goal setting I feel, is a great practice for all of us to take on in both our personal and professional lives. Having clear goals helps me stay motivated and driven in my work.

Although I won’t be starting any official coaching cycles the first few weeks of school, I’ve printed off a copy of my Coaching Schedule printable so I’m ready to go when I meet with our principal to discuss teachers to work with.

The next section is reserved for Meetings. Whether for an after school staff meeting, our weekly coaches meeting, or an impromptu meeting with a teacher, I have printed off a few of my Meeting Notes forms so I’m ready to go.

In my PD section, I have a copy of the PD Year Plan from my PD Planning Kit. It helps me to have a visual of PD scheduled for the year, as well as any sessions I will be responsible for facilitating so that I can give myself plenty of time to plan and prep.

I also have my agenda printed and ready to go for our first PD with new teachers this week!

I decided to include a Projects section this year, as I often find myself taking on different kinds of projects throughout the year. I use this sheet to help me plan, set timelines, and keep track of the different tasks connected to that single project.

Next up, I have my Flylady section. I use this as part of my home management/cleaning system. There’s nothing better than coming home to a clean and orderly house at the end of a long day, and this is one of the tools I use to help me with this. I plan my zone cleaning tasks weekly, and complete them after school. If you’d like to learn more about how I use the Flylady system, leave me a note in the comments :)

As I mentioned earlier, I do keep my Weekly Meal Planning sheets in my Kit. I actually find I glance at my meal plan rather frequently, either to remind myself of what we’re having for dinner and what I need to do when I get home, or to quickly jot down an item I’ve remembered that I need to get at the store that week.

My Notes section is reserved for any free form planning or brainstorming I might do during the day.

And lastly, I have a Reference section. As of now, I have our school calendar for the year printed off, a Resource Checkout Form which I know I’ll soon need, and an Idea Tracker. I use my idea Tracker to capture all those random thoughts/ideas that come up during the day, which don’t need to be recorded as a to-do in my Time & ToDo Planner, yet I don’t want to loose sight of them either.

 

So there it is! Having this ready to go for school beginning this week, has helped me feel much more relaxed and confident in starting the school year. There will be a lot to do, but my Coaching Kit will work its magic as always in helping me to stay organized.

All of these printables can be found in either my Coaching Kit, or other listings in my shop. Check it out, and please let me know if you have any questions!

Talk soon, and thanks for reading!

How to use Binders for Organizing Your Coaching Notes

Say what?! Binders?! Aren’t those a totally old school way to stay organized?

Well, I guess it depends on who you ask, but for me the answer is — Uh…no! Let’s chat.

At the end of the year, one thing I like to do is reflect back on all of the systems and structures I used to help me with my work and stay organized. I’m pretty much always tweaking, revising, or trying out different ideas.

One of the new systems I tried out this year to keep all of my notes organized, was a binder system. And I loved it!

Paper helps me think, process, and solidify all my various types of notes much more deeply than my laptop.

As explained in the article, “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard,” taking notes on your laptop may result in shallower processing and less effective learning. In using pen and paper to take observation notes, coaching meeting notes, or planning notes, you’re forced to more thoroughly process the information coming in and record key takeaways you know will be valuable, versus just transcribing everything.

And for coaches, this is super important!! I would also argue that paper notes support focus, and are less distracting than having a screen in front of you all the time.

To be clear, I’m not anti-tech. I use G-Drive and Evernote as an extension of my note taking system, but largely paper is where it’s “mightily” at for me :)

OK, paper vs. tech debate aside, let’s talk binders.

I always thought binders were kind of dumb and annoying because the only ones I had ever really used were the standard plastic, flimsy ones. Then I watched a video of Alejandra (fellow neat freak!) share how she uses Better Binders to organize her home office. She got me thinking that these binders could be the ideal tool to help me keep my paper notes and plans organized.

I headed to Staples, grabbed a few, and found that they would be the perfect fit for my binder storage system.

Each binder would essentially be a different “bucket” for organizing my notes. I didn’t want too many, so I narrowed it down to four binders:

Each binder would also have different sections. So for the section tabs, I went with the Avery Ready Index Tabs. They’re super light weight, so they don’t take up a bunch of space, and I like how they provide a friendly table of contents view right up front.

OK, now that we’ve gone over the set-up of this binder system, let’s talk about how I actually use them to keep me organized!

In my Coaching Kit, I have a section titled, “Daily Materials.” At the start of each day, I’ll plan out what notes, observation forms, materials, etc. I’ll need for that day. Some of these notes/materials are often a continuation of work from the day before or earlier in the week. When this is the case, I’ll reference the appropriate binder, grab what I need, and quickly be ready to start the day.

Then at the end of the day, I’ll go through all my “Daily Materials” notes, check for any to-dos to add to my Time & ToDo Planner, then file the remaining notes back into my binders.

note taking system

This overall process ensures that my notes remain active and alive, rather than being buried in a notebook and forgotten about. I’m constantly reviewing and reflecting on past work which helps me to more accurately plan upcoming work. Furthermore, it’s hard for me to miss a “to-do” captured in my notes since this system of review just doesn’t allow it.

I’m feeling pretty good in my end of year reflection, as this will definitely be a system that I use again next year.

And speaking of next year, I’d love your feedback!

If you have a second, I would really appreciate if you shared your thoughts for how I can continue to support and motivate you in your work as a coach. As a thank you, here is a free download of the binder covers I use! They’re also editable so you can customize them with a monogram and title, to your liking :)

Share your thoughts, Get Free Binder Covers

Thanks so much, and hope your year is winding down well! If you have any questions, always feel free to ask in the comments.

Planning for Differentiated PD. Let’s Change It Up!

Blah..Blah, blah..Blah, blah.

This is usually what’s running through my head when I’ve attended a bad PD session.

And what do I mean by bad PD? I mean irrelevant, impractical, poorly managed, and (gasp!)…boring!!

There’s pretty much nothing worse.

So when you know how annoying bad PD can be, and you happen to be the one planning for the work, you REALLY want to make sure teachers are feeling engaged and excited to be there with you.

No pressure!! :)

As I’m currently working through a differentiated PD cycle myself, this is a topic I’ve been thinking about lately, so I thought I’d share some thoughts.

And because it’s always more fun to see thoughts/ideas “in action”, let’s do this with a case study!

What follows are the steps we worked through to create our Differentiated PD sessions. It’s always flexible, so take a look, and let it spark some ideas for what you might do.

1. Ask for Input, yet Know your Goals

Here’s an idea. How about asking teachers what areas they feel they need more support in, or are interested in learning about?

Sometimes we (admin/leadership) think we know what’s best for teachers. We might make assumptions on their behalf because “the data says” or “it’s their first year”, which isn’t really the best way to treat teachers as professionals and engage buy-in to learning.

Yet data is important, and PD should be data driven. But it doesn’t mean that teacher voice and choice isn’t also important.

What we did is ask teachers what areas they would be interested in learning more about, that were connected to our school’s Work Plan goals. Teachers then ranked their level of interest for the different areas provided.

2. Consider Grouping

After we collected the completed surveys, we were able to use this feedback to form the differentiated PD groups — we called them “Learning Cohorts.”

Small groups is usually a good way to go when thinking about differentiating PD. Though there are definitely some cool ways to differentiate-it-up with technology.

Anyhow, once you’ve got your groups formed, you can start thinking about how to divvy-up the facilitation roles.

3. Calling All Teacher Leaders!

This is kinda what I feel like we did, when we asked on the Inquiry Form if teachers would be interested in facilitating/co-facilitating any of the Learning Cohorts.

And the response was a little underwhelming. Not because certain teachers didn’t have the know-how or interest, but because facilitating adult learning can be outside of their comfort zone and teachers are already super busy. So this may feel like one more thing.

In response to these challenges, you may have to more actively recruit those teacher leaders on staff. Let them know that they’re the Bomb(!), they’ve got a lot to share, and you’ve got their back in planning and facilitating.

4. Stay Organized

When you have more than one PD group, several facilitators, and a range of session dates you’ve got to stay organized! Thanks a million to our school designer who took the lead on this and created two guiding documents for all of us to stay on the same page.

5. Fun with Format

Now it’s time to really dive into planning for the learning. Think about how to change up the format, and provide experiences/tools that will make your time with teachers highly relevant, supportive, and fun! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Book Study
  • Field Trips
  • Live Model Lessons
  • Videos
  • Interactive Agenda

Here’s part of an Interactive Agenda I created for one of our sessions:

6. Monitor and Adjust

Continue to ask for feedback and differentiate along the way. We have a total of 7 Learning Cohort sessions planned, so it’s important that at the end of each session we ask teachers to fill out a quick exit ticket, so we know what to add/skip/adjust for the next session.

 

7. Celebrate!

After all this awesome learning going on in differentiated groups, plan a final session to come together, share their work, and celebrate!

Hope this post gave you some good ideas to think about how you might implement or improve any differentiated PD structures at your school(s).

Thanks for reading!

And if you’d like some more support with planning and prepping PD, check out the PD Planning Kit I’ve put together for you!