Spring is a time of new beginnings, an opportunity to get outside, and a chance for transition and a fresh start. More than anything, it is the season of growth. This year, the metaphors for spring ring true more than ever. We’ve been locked away in our dark homes, isolated from other humans for a year now. But, like the daffodils that have been patiently waiting below the frozen ground all winter, it’s time to get out and bloom!
Many of us instructional coaches are headed back into our buildings for the first time since last March. We’ll be seeing students again, observing classrooms, meeting with teachers, and leading professional development face-to-face. All of this may sound scary and daunting. It’s been over a year. Don’t be afraid, take a growth mindset, and treat the transition as a new beginning.
My strategy for heading back into the building is to approach it as I would the start of a brand new school year. First and foremost, that means starting with a fresh coaching planner. In this post, I’ll give you some ideas for hitting the ground running.
Meet with Your Administrator and Set SMART goals
First thing’s first, just like at the beginning of a new school year, you’ll need to set up a meeting with your administrator. Make sure you are still on the same page regarding expectations for your role. A lot has changed since we went into lockdown a year ago.
As the transition back to face-to-face happens, teachers will have different needs, the school’s vision may even have been tweaked. You and you administrator have new insight. It’ll be key to talk these things out before teachers and students are back.
After this meeting, you can begin to set your professional goals for the remainder of the year. Remember, goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Our new planner has four pages dedicated to setting and tracking these professional SMART coaching goals.
Set up Your Space
You may have already had an office or classroom space before school went remote but you haven’t been there in a while! Take some time to visit your space. Think about the purpose of it.
You might include:
- Collaborative work
- Storing PD resources
- Organizing your material
- Teacher planning/workspace
- Data tracking
- Strategies focus area
- Praise for teacher work
- Inspirational quotes
- Information area
- Personal workspace
Reflect on how well your space served those purposes before. As you transition back to in person, think about how you could move things around to ensure that the space is being used optimally.
Perhaps now, you see more value in face-to-face meetings. You may want to create a cozy and inviting area to facilitate that. Maybe you need to revamp your resource corner to include all the new tech tips and guides you have gathered during online learning.
Just stand or sit there for a while and envision how you want things to look and feel, moving forward.
Review Teacher Data Before and During Transition
Take time before things get crazy to review teacher data. Start to look at which teachers will need your assistance as you transition back. Look at what they did last year and what they have done so far this year. Ask yourself questions like:
Where does each teacher need the most work? Classroom management and culture? Content planning and execution? Development of rigorous curriculum?
For now, you can start to write their names into the coaching cycle pages of your planner and determine when you will perform a baseline observation and a first meeting.
Choose a Coaching Tracking System
Being organized is key to effective instructional coaching. Decide how you will keep track of all of your meetings, coaching cycles, observations, and data. The planner is just the start! You could also use a binder or a virtual system to organize all of your coaching cycle and observation notes.
Set up the Weekly Schedule Framework
Review the building schedule and notes from your meeting with the principal. Identify your recurring time commitments and create a template for each week. Fill these into the weekly pages of your planner. Then you can begin to schedule the other pressing items around these commitments. You may even need to look ahead to think about testing this spring.
Send out Welcome/Transition Email to Teachers
Teachers will be just as nervous as you are to get back into the classroom. Make sure to welcome them back warmly. Remind them of all that you have to offer them. If there are a group of teachers that you are assigned to work with, begin to set up those preliminary meetings. Again, you can track this on the coaching cycle pages of your planner.
Make sure to invite teachers to a kick-off event like “Cupcakes with Coach.” In this preliminary meeting, you’ll give other teachers a chance to sign up to work with you. Create the agenda for the meeting and think about how you’ll use the opportunity to begin reestablishing personal connections with your teachers.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Now that you’ve got your feet on the ground, start to set your goals for this month and this week. Keep yourself in mind by setting personal goals for health and fitness, finances, and self care. Make sure to set action steps. Without deciding how we’ll act to reach our goals, we’ll never get there.
Final Thought for the Transition
Try to embrace the in-person transition as a fresh start and a new beginning. Appreciate being back in the building! And don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!
Forms from the Track My Coaching Planner
Grab this Planner to make your transition smooth!
(Just click on the picture)