5 Routines that Help me Keep it Together

Hello! Long time no blog. How are things?

Things with me are good! I just wrapped up a small group coaching cycle, am full swing into unpacking curriculum modules with our K-2 team, and have also been Work Planning with our leadership team for next year. Oh, and on the side, we’ve been hard at work getting next year’s Time & ToDo Planner going…exciting!

So yes, things have been good, but they sure have been busy.

And I have to say these last few days and weeks, I’ve been feeling especially overwhelmed.

More like I’m frantically thrashing through my days, rather than calmly and confidently flowing through them.

Do you ever have those days or weeks?

During those times when I’m feeling especially overwhelmed with lots of meetings, planning to do, and other commitments, I have to take a pause and get back to the basics. What are the basics for me?

Routines.

Yep. Routines, Routines, Routines.

Daily routines provide structure for our days and everything we do.

There are five key, daily routines that really help me to feel more in control of my days and on track.

Morning Routine

Oh my cherished, morning routine. I wake up particularly early. When it’s dark, it’s quiet, and it’s blissful.

This is my time to organize my thoughts and tasks for the day. To have some time for solitude and reflection. To “reset the room” from the night before, and launch myself forward into a successful day.

There are a few key morning habits, sequenced into a routine, that help make a great start to my day.

Start Up Routine

Once at school, I give myself 20 minutes to get set-up for the day.

Rather than diving straight into the thick of things, my start-up routine helps me make a smooth and organized transition from at home Kristin to Coaching Kristin :)

Shutdown Routine

In these past few weeks, I’ve found myself not making time for my shutdown routine. Not good!

When I don’t take time to get “clear and current” at the end of the day, and organize for the next, I find myself taking more work home with me and creating more stress for myself the following day as I try to catch up.

20-30 organized minutes at the end of the day serves me well in setting up for the next.

Afternoon Routine

When I get home after a long day, it’s super tempting to just sling my bag on the dining room table and throw myself down on the couch.

But nope. I’ve still got things to do.

The afternoons are when I take care of several of my “home management” tasks. Having a tidy home really helps keep me calm and happy :)

Evening Routine

And so the day is done. After dinner, I have just a few more key tasks to complete that makeup my evening routine.

One of the most important being, shine the sink! When I give the kitchen and the sink a good shine before I go to bed, it makes the tomorrow’s early morning something to look forward to.

What a routine packed day, huh?!

How about you? Do you have any key routines that help you keep it together?

Or maybe you’d like to work on putting a few key routines into place. If so, I’d probably start with the afternoon/evening routines. Those two make a really good foundation to build from.

And if you’re interested in reading more about building positive habits and routines into your day, these are a few books I’d recommend checking out.

Thanks as always for reading! Looking forward to checking in again soon :)

Creating a Coaching Invitation

Wouldn’t it be super awesome if you had teachers constantly knocking on your door throughout the year, excitedly asking to work with you in a coaching cycle?

“Hey Kristin! I’d love to get started in a student centered coaching cycle with you connected to the 3rd grade informative writing standard. This is an area I’d really love for my students to make growth in next quarter. I can get started on creating a pre-assessment for us to work from if that works for you??”

OR

“Kristin! What do you think about co-teaching together next quarter? I’m working to get a handle on this new curriculum and I’d love you as a thought partner in helping plan through some of the lessons. It’d be extra cool if you could micro-model a portion of the close read aloud and then we could conference with a few students together and learn from each other’s formative assessment data!!”

Ahhh, dreamy.

I’d love to say this is my reality throughout the year, but it’s not.

And that’s ok.

Teachers get busy, and stressed, and overwhelmed, and sometimes getting excited about working in a coaching cycle is the last thing on their minds.

So, what to do? Well you don’t just sit around and wait for the excited knocks to come, feeling defeated when they don’t.

You stay positive, get out there, and continue to nurture the culture of coaching you’ve worked hard to create.

One way I worked to put this move into practice earlier this week, was by sending out an invite. Yep, a coaching invite.

There were a few things I worked to keep in mind in creating this. Let me walk you through my invitation creation process.

 

 

Push yourself to work your creative muscles a bit, and think outside the standard text in an email message. Sure, it gets the job done, but you’re working to get teachers excited about coaching remember? So could you try:

  • Make a short animated video as an invite.
  • Create an colorful brochure using Canva, export it as a PDF, and embed it in your email.
  • Design a color print-out with some fun graphics, maybe throw in some candy, and drop it off in teachers boxes.
  • Build an illustrated newsletter using Smore.

The sky’s the limit!

 

 

You like being given some choices with your learning, and so do teachers. They may be up for working with you, just not right now.

When creating your invite, pull out your Time & ToDo Planner. Consider what chunks of time you have for the remainder of this year to work with teachers, and which periods of time work best, given breaks and testing schedules. Based on this, provide options for teachers around the time period when they might work with you.

 

 

Do teachers in your building even have a solid understanding of what coaching with you will look like? The time commitment included? How it will benefit them?

Hmmm…

Even if you have worked with teachers before, you may have changed some things, or maybe it’s just been awhile. Not to mention the new teachers who may be in your building this year.

Either way, this could be a good opportunity for you to revisit what a coaching cycle actually is. The overview is brief!

Think about how to distill the work you do down down to 3-5 major bullet points, and share this in your invite.

 

 

Teachers will naturally have wonders, worries, or concerns about working in a coaching cycle that may be preventing them from signing up. Take a minute to think through what these might be. Great. Now consider how you might tactfully address 2-3 of these, very briefly, in your invite.

Here are a few that came up for me:

  • I have a lot going on, is this going to feel like something extra added to my plate?
  • Can you tell me a bit more about what “coaching in the classroom” will look like?
  • I’d love to work in a coaching cycle with my team. Is this a possibility?

 

 

Consider how you’d like to structure your coaching cycles throughout the year. How many rounds will you do? How many teachers can you work with in each round?

Also consider teacher needs. Send your invitation out well before you’d like your next cycle to start. Give them some time to process your invite, and respond.

I decided to send my invite out two weeks before fall break, as I’d like to start my next round right when we get back.

Oh, and don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to actually create the invite. It took me a good few hours to draft, edit, and finalize mine.

 

 

OK, so here’s a look at what your invite might look/sound like when it’s all put together.

 

 

You sent it! Great job!

But…you’re not done there. Just because you sent the initial invite doesn’t mean every teacher will be banging down your door with a “YES!” RSVP. You will likely have to follow-up with teachers.

 

 

Plan to follow-up personally with the teacher who you would like to work with but hasn’t responded yet. I like to think of my coaching invite as a conversation starter. So, no pressure here, just follow-up with them to chat about what might be on their minds for coaching.

I hope this post gave you some ideas for how you might think about how you work to invite teachers into coaching cycles with you.

Let me know if you have questions in the comments, otherwise get those fun and fresh invites going!

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!