Thursday, July 28, 2016

Introducing... Ms. B! *new YouTube video!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I need an image of me running around in circles and screaming.

Because this is seriously: The. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

It's my introduction video.

I know. I already have two videos. I have a sequence issue.

But this is the video where you'll see what's what. Because Azeneth will tell you.

You have to watch it.

It's the cutest intro video ever.

Trust me.

You'll like it.

Here it is.
 
 
 
Am I right? Cutest. Ever.
Tell me she's not.  
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Planning Effective Training: Part Three of the Start-Up Guide Series

If you've been a teacher for any amount of time, you've sat through some pretty terrible PD. These are all the things I hate about professional development:

*I have to make a tent with my name on it.
*They make me talk to people I don't know.
*They assign seating and make me get up from my table which I so lovingly selected.
* I already know what it is they're presenting because it's basically the same regurgitated training I've been to for the last three years. So it's a waste of my time.
*The presenter doesn't know his/her stuff. I leave with no more understanding than I arrived with.
*It's boring. All talk, no learning.
*I don't get to read or write. It's all cute stuff and no digging deep.
*It is so broad and blanketed that I have no clue why I'm there.
*It's irrelevant to me.

As you can see, I can be cranky about PD. It's one of my biggest faults, I think. I try to have a positive attitude, but I've been disappointed so many times. I know my goal should be to "take away just one thing," which is advice I've been given. But eight hours for one thing? It better be an amazing thing if I'm investing eight hours in learning it. 

You don't want to be on the other end of the crankiness that I and so many other teachers demonstrate about PD. And, as a trainer, your primary goal needs to be to grow your teachers to support student learning and to never, ever waste a teacher's precious time. 

Professional development works well when it meets a few criteria:

*It is directly entrenched in the work teachers do every day.
*It is designed to meet a need teachers have.
*It includes follow-up and support as teachers become more confident in the implementation of the training.

One-shot professional development opportunities don’t support teachers. We’ve all been to a PD that droned on and on, providing lots of information but no real connection to what’s going on in our classrooms. Being an instructional coach on a campus is so valuable because it helps you see trends across your campus. Those trends can be great fodder for PD. When you’re considering providing a training, always ask yourself:

*Does this add value to something my teachers are working on?
*Does this build on something we believe is important?
*Will I be able to support this learning throughout the year?


Professional development often has to be divided up into meeting the needs of different groups of teachers. This might be by grade level, content area, or current depth of understanding in the topic. At first, it is sometimes necessary to align the campus by providing similar trainings across various groups of teachers. However, over time it’s ideal to differentiate trainings based on teachers’ areas of need.




Tips for successful PD

1. Start with the end in mind. Consider the goals you've set for yourself this year. What tools do your teachers need to add to their toolbox? How will you support this learning over time? Include “next steps” in your information for teachers.




2. Know your stuff. Once you’ve identified the content of your professional development, you’ll need to make sure you’re well-versed. If you’re unclear in your delivery, your teachers will be confused and frustrated. 



3. Plan for instructional methods. If there are specific instructional methods you want to share with teachers, integrate them into your training. For example, structured writing responses are a great tool to use in the classroom. As you’re learning the content, provide an opportunity for teachers to use this response tool to write about their learning. Asking teacher to utilize learning targets? Write your targets and refer to them during the lesson. Model school initiatives in your training!
 






4. Plan for movement and engagement. Teaching is tough and teachers are tired. Create opportunities for excitement and laughter in your training. However, don't do too much. Adult learning, while similar to student learning, isn't always facilitated by forcing adults to do things that kids might (and even sometimes they might not) enjoy. Sometimes mixing teachers up works well, but sometimes you'll want them to work with their grade levels or departments in order to grow the alignment and teamwork.

5. Allow for a variety of learning experiences with new content. This can include...
  • Modeling a strategy for your teachers, with the teachers acting as students
  • Reading about the strategy
  • Watching a video of the strategy in action
  • Writing about the strategy
  • Practicing the strategy in small groups
  • Planning time for integrating the strategy into future plans.
  • Maintain a positive and energetic demeanor. This can be contagious and positively effect your teachers’ learning.
  • Provide a copy for teachers to write on (if you are practicing the activity) as well as a master copy of any materials teachers would like to use in the classroom. Teachers don’t like to ruin their master copy!
Was this helpful? Would you like more tips and information about getting started as an instructional coach? Check out my all-new ebook: The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching on TPT! It includes these tips for professional development, and so much more about supporting your teachers through a variety of support systems!

And be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series:
Get Organized: July 31
Create a Coaching Support Plan: August 7

But wait - there's more! There's a giveaway! A BIG GIVEAWAY!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Start-Up Kit, an over $140 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Storage box (So pretty)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • A fruit infuser water bottle (Stay hydrated)
  • A welcome banner (It's important to be approachable)
  • Post-it notes, binder clips, and paperclips (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)





In addition to this, every week, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $35.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below: you can tweet, follow me on twitter, follow me on Pinterest, and share on Facebook. In addition to this, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Instructional Coaching Start-Up Series! Every week, on Sunday, you can read my new post and add another entry by commenting on the post (please, just one comment per new post). You can also share each new post on Facebook, every day if you want, and add to your entries!


Enter the BIG Start-Up Kit Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter the Digital Giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 
 
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The BIG Instructional Coaching Start-Up Giveaway

It's not too late to enter the BIG Instructional Coaching Start-Up Giveaway! There are so many opportunities to earn entries and to  read up on some ideas for getting you started on the right foot this year. Check out the video and the links below to enter and read all the Instructional Coaching Start-Up Posts! 

Pardon my crazy hair (rare humid day) and my shiny face (I live in the desert!).
 
 
 
Check out the post below, and check back every Sunday until August 7 to read more tips on starting the year right!
 
http://buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-start-up-guide-to-instructional.htmlhttp://buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-start-up-guide-to-instructional.html
 
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Getting Your Space Ready: Part Two of the Start-Up Guide Series for Instructional Coaching

Walking into your classroom at the end of the summer is a magical time, whether you're an instructional coach or a teacher. All of your stuff is stacked to the ceiling, on top of the built-in shelves. There are at least two mosquitos floating around the room. And the air conditioner is most definitely not working. 

And despite all of these disparaging factors, you're excited. You're excited to un-box your office supplies and see how many cute post-its you bought over the summer. You're excited to put up new fabric on the bulletin boards. You're excited to use that new scrapbook paper to make signs. All of this is true, even for instructional coaches.
Every year is a chance to start anew with a new layout! To help you organize your space, here are a few things to think about and a few spaces you'll probably want to include in your instructional coaching space! Every room is different; some coaches work out of what basically constitutes a closet. But no matter the size of your space, you'll want to ensure its usefulness by considering the following tips.

Space #1 Workspace.
This is your space to work in. In this space, you'll write out documentation from your classroom visits and work on preparing trainings and alignment documents. This is the spot where you'll want to organize your office supplies for personal use and have the documentation systems that are for your use rather than teacher use. In this space, include:
*A flat surface to work on. A desk or guided reading table works well.
*Office supplies. Post-its, white-out, highlighters, pens and pencils.
*Make sure there's an outlet for your laptop or desktop nearby.
 *Printer in proximity.
*Documentation binders on a shelf.





Space #2 Planning Tools
In this section, I keep tools for lesson planning during PLC or for me to use to prepare trainings or workshops. For each grade level, I have a basket and a binder. The basket holds copies of the materials that grade level has copies of in order to facilitate planning. The binder includes documents that help us plan, like the district curriculum guide, the standards for that grade level, and questioning ideas for each standard.

Space #3 Teacher Workspace
Obviously, this space is designed to give teachers room to work and communicate during PLC,  trainings, and meetings. The tables are large and can fit about 8-10 teachers. On each table, I have a basket with post-its, pens, and highlighters for teacher use. Hole punches, staplers, and tape dispensers are nearby. 


Space #4 Teaching Resources
Because my primary focus is reading and writing, the teaching resources we use to plan our lessons are primarily books! I have two sections of books in my room. One of them is dedicated to models for writing. These touchstone texts are organized by writing skill or strategy and are available for teachers to use. For example, if we’re planning a unit on writing good beginnings in narrative text, we can grab the “Good beginnings” basket and dig through to find some great models.

The other section of books include classroom sets or multiple copies of novels or picture books. These are organized in baskets. I have a check-out binder for the class sets, placed on a low table near the shelves.  


Space #5 Direct Instruction Space
You know how you provide direct instruction in the classroom and you have a spot to do it in? It might be an easel next to a chair on the carpet, or a document camera projected onto a screen or a whiteboard. You're going to want a direct instruction space in your instructional coaching room, too. I have space at the front of the room with my media cart handy (document camera, projector, and speakers) and an easel. There's also magnetic wall space, so I can model lessons or lead professional development there.
 
Space #6 Wall Space
Just like in the classroom, your wall space is valuable! You can use it to post anchor charts made during trainings or to create sample charts teachers might like to use in their upcoming instruction. If there's a new initiative teachers are expected to integrate, this is a great place to post it, front and center. Keeping it visible will help you remember to pull it into your planning! 
Another necessary tool is your calendar. I post a large monthly calendar, showing two months at a time. We mark school events, district or campus assessment windows or dates, and other important dates to help us plan accordingly. Keeping the calendars visible is so helpful when you're planning a crazy month like December!




Space #7 Professional Development Resources
This space is basically your professional development library. If you've inherited years' worth of PD materials (like me), you've got shelf after shelf of stuff. Organize it and label it for easy access!

The complete set of posts in the series:
Plan Some Awesome Training: July 24
Get Organized: July 31
Create a Coaching Support Plan: August 7

Was this helpful? Would you like more tips and information about getting started as an instructional coach? Check out my all-new ebook: The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching on TPT! There's a section about getting your space ready that includes these tips and more. I also included a map of my classroom space. It's over 80 pages of information to help you have a successful year of coaching!

But wait - there's more! There's a giveaway! A BIG GIVEAWAY!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Start-Up Kit, an over $140 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Storage box (So pretty)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • A fruit infuser water bottle (Stay hydrated)
  • A welcome banner (It's important to be approachable)
  • Post-it notes, binder clips, and paperclips (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)





In addition to this, every week, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $35.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below: you can tweet, follow me on twitter, follow me on Pinterest, and share on Facebook. In addition to this, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Instructional Coaching Start-Up Series, starting with the post last week! Every week, on Sunday, you can read my new post and add another entry by commenting on the post (please, just one comment per new post). You can also share each new post on Facebook, every day if you want, and add to your entries! The giveaway ends on August 10!


Enter the BIG Start-Up Kit Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter the Digital Giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Setting Goals as an Instructional Coach: Part One of the Start-Up Guide Series

Starting your year as an instructional coach can be overwhelming. For me, the beginning of the year looks something like this:


1. Present at two days of district training.
2. Attend nine days of district training.
3. Get my room set up.
4. Meet with the Leadership Team.
5. Distribute materials to teachers.
6. Plan campus professional development.
7. Deliver that campus professional development.
8. Do whatever my principal tells me to do.

 Some of these decisions are obviously out of my control. I don't get to choose what the district decides to focus on, for example, and if my principal has some new thoughts to share during Leadership, we're going to roll with it. But the most essential first step, before I do any of those steps above, is setting goals for myself for the school year.

Here are a few things I've learned about setting goals for the school year.

Connect to what's already in place.
A good goal starts with what's already happening and moves it forward a few steps. Instead of throwing something completely foreign at teachers at the beginning of the year, it can help to take stock in what your teachers already do well. 
Maybe they have some strong writing practices in place. You can grow this by working on writing in the content areas. Maybe the shared reading practices are consistent, but need some work. There you go! Work on adding engagement and strategies to shared reading! No matter how amazing the campus is, there is always something that can be done to push it forward.

Usually, the goals I create for myself are based on teacher feedback (a survey we made on SurveyMonkey) from the end of the year, conversations with teachers, and classroom visits. However, you might sometimes find that certain practices need to be completely replaced because they are actually detrimental to student learning. In that case, make sure that you are prepared to address the issues with the current practice through research.  


Consider the impact on student learning. 
A goal is only important if it will have an impact on student learning. Ideally, you want to work towards goals that will support student learning for years to come. We're playing a long game here, folks. No band-aids for us! We want sustainable growth for all of the students who attend our campus and those who are served by our teachers in the future. 

Growing the instructional practices on a campus is your number one responsibility (unless your district or campus admin tells you otherwise!). Choose some essential pieces that will make a real difference in how well students are prepared to embark on their future academic and professional careers! 

In order to ensure that the goals will reach students, you have to have some sort of plan to roll them out. Will teachers plan one lesson a week using the strategies? Will the materials be provided for teachers and discussed during PLC? Will you look for the goals during your classroom visits, or will the principal look for them during her walk-throughs? That's how a goal becomes reality for students. 



Focus!
As you consider your goals, make them specific enough so that you will know when you've achieved them. It's also important because a broad goal results in floundering! Believe me, I know. Instead of stating that you want to improve reading practices on your campus, choose a specific spot to focus on. Is it shared reading? Read aloud? Guided reading? Independent reading? Reading stations? Homework? That's a big category! Focus on the mode of instruction and the exact strategies you'd like to explore, such as rigor, engagement, etc.

As far as how many specific goals you'd like to focus on, I would say somewhere around 4-5 goals are reasonable, especially if you are differentiating goals for different grade levels. Too many goals means you'll be crazy and unable to focus your support to teachers. Teachers will be crazy, too. Learning takes time and repetition, and if you're all over the place, no one will understand the big picture or the point of what you're trying to accomplish.



When possible, team up!
Great goals include other members of support staff. Consider your colleagues. Can you work with the librarian to create some awesome reading programs in the library? Will the technology coordinator support your goals to integrate technology lessons? Can you work with the math and science coach to facilitate teacher-leader capacity through planning a teacher conference (like we're doing this fall)? You're all support team members: support each other and the teachers effectively by making it a team effort!




Try to add a human goal, too.
Teachers are people, and coaches are, too. Think about a challenge you have in working with a specific colleague or grade level. Do you have trouble relating to a certain person? Do you find yourself anxious at the thought of working with a specific grade level? There's your goal! What can you do to change this situation and become more effective in that area?


These are my goals for 2016-2017.
1. Support teachers' use of mentor texts in narrative and expository writing through planning with an aligned set of materials for each teacher. This happens during PLC. 

2.  Integrate technology seamlessly into our reading and writing planning, rather than planning technology extensions or projects.
 
3. For grades 2-5, provide training and follow-up to teachers in supporting students in quality responses to reading.

4. For grades K-2, focus training and follow-up support on refining our explicit teaching and modeling practices of reading strategies in read aloud and guided reading.  

5. Focus on building capacity in our teachers. Provide opportunities for them to share strategies, model lessons, visit other classrooms, and lead meetings and professional development.

Obviously, this isn't everything I intend to do next year. There are a hundred smaller initiatives and trainings, meetings and plans that must be done. But these are the big ideas that I will try to achieve through ongoing training and support throughout the year.

Check out the complete set of posts in the Starting the Year as an Instructional Coach Series!


And be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series:
Get Your Space Ready: July 17
Plan Some Awesome Training: July 24
Get Organized: July 31
Create a Coaching Support Plan: August 7

But wait - there's more! There's a giveaway! A BIG GIVEAWAY!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Start-Up Kit, an over $140 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Storage box (So pretty)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • A fruit infuser water bottle (Stay hydrated)
  • A welcome banner (It's important to be approachable)
  • Post-it notes, binder clips, and paperclips (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)





In addition to this, every week, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $35.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below: you can tweet, follow me on twitter, follow me on Pinterest, and share on Facebook. In addition to this, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Instructional Coaching Start-Up Series, starting with this post today! Every week, on Sunday, you can read my new post and add another entry by commenting on the post (please, just one comment per new post). You can also share each new post on Facebook, every day if you want, and add to your entries!



Enter the BIG Start-Up Kit Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter the Digital Giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
 
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Friday, July 8, 2016

The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, giveaway & a 5-part series!


Guess what?

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

And also, I am about to start my fifth year as an instructional coach. Over the last four years, I've learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes. I hope I've done more of the former. It's been an incredible time in my career, and I hope that any coaches reading this are as excited as I am to get their year started.

Starting the year right is so important. Teachers are well-rested and excited, so it's a great time to learn something new. The training and planning you do at the beginning of the year can influence the professional growth of your teachers and the direction of your school throughout the year.

Over the next five weeks, I'll be sharing a new post about starting the year right as an instructional coach. It'll be full of practical ideas and helpful tips to help you set goals, get your space ready, plan some great training, get organized, and create a coaching support plan for the school year.


The complete set of posts in the series:
Get Your Space Ready: July 17
Plan Some Awesome Training: July 24
Get Organized: July 31
Create a Coaching Support Plan: August 7

Most of these ideas can be found in my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching: How to make a real difference on your campus. You can find it at my TPT store!
But wait - there's more! There's a giveaway! A BIG GIVEAWAY!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Start-Up Kit, an over $140 value!


Included in this kit: 
  • Storage box (So pretty)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • A fruit infuser water bottle (Stay hydrated)
  • A welcome banner (It's important to be approachable)
  • Post-it notes, binder clips, and paperclips (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)



In addition to this, every week, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $35.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below: you can tweet, follow me on twitter, follow me on Pinterest, and share on Facebook. In addition to this, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Instructional Coaching Start-Up Series! Every week, on Sunday, you can read my new post and add another entry by commenting on the post (please, just one comment per new post). You can also share each new post on Facebook, every day if you want, and add to your entries!


Enter the Digital Giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter the BIG Start-Up Kit Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway