EdCamp Tidbits

I attended the EdCamp Chicago “unconference” this past weekend.  It was my first time going to an EdCamp, and I am so glad I went.  The last session I participated in was for instructional coaches, and I wanted to share two quick and easy tidbits for coaches.

First, we discussed the importance of coaches being visible in their schools.  One of the participants noted that even when coaches are out of the office and working in classrooms, they are technically still not visible.  Very often, the only person who sees the coach during those times is the classroom teacher.  I’ve always posted my weekly schedule outside my office door:


Click image to enlarge.

However, one of the coaches at EdCamp suggested hanging a white board on the office door with a message stating your whereabouts.   This is one way to increase your “visibility” as a coach:


The second tidbit straight from EdCamp (and this is really exciting!) is that we created a new Twitter hashtag for coaches to use.  It is#IlEdCoach.  Add this hashtag to your TweetDeck to stay up to date on coaching conversations!



Will Coach for Food



Is it just me… or does signing people up for new coaching cycles sometimes feel like begging?

A Quick Note

I just finished my first round of coaching cycles.  (I will post about those in more detail soon.)  I took 10 minutes tonight to write a quick thank you note to each of the three teachers I worked with this round.  I began each note with “Thank you for inviting me into your classroom for a coaching cycle,” and then I personalized each note.  I wrote to Erin about her thoughtful nature and her smart decision-making.  I wrote to Rachael about her easy-going demeanor and genuine relationships with the kids.  I wrote to Kristin about her willingness to take a risk and try new things in her teaching.  I wrote kind words to each of them as a professional courtesy and to increase the likelihood of them entering into a coaching relationship again in the future.  But mostly, I wrote kind words to each of them because I meant them.


Setting Norms

Once each month, we hold a literacy coach meeting to bring together the four literacy coaches in our district.  We are each building-based, so this is often our only time to collaborate, talk, and vent.  This year, we decided to formalize our meetings by developing norms.  We developed these norms at our first meeting of the year.

1.  Honor the agenda and time limits.

This norm was developed because we have a tendency to get stuck on a topic.  Our meetings last for about an hour and a half, and in the past we often ran out of time.  We build the agenda together prior to the meeting using Google Docs, so now we are adding time limits to each topic.    Here is our most recent agenda, with time limits:

Sample Agenda

2.  Keep a positive tone.  Discuss ideas and topics, not people.

This norm was developed because, at times, our meetings turned into venting and complaining sessions.  Also, we sometimes tended to use over-generalizations such as, “The teachers won’t want to do that” or “The third-grade teachers aren’t…”.  This norm reminds us to hold the teachers in a positive light and to look for the bigger coaching ideas behind our interactions with specific people.

3.  Use a protocol when applicable.

This norm was developed mainly to help focus our discussions.  Two protocols we might use are Peeling the Onion (when we have a problem or issue to discuss) and Save the Last Word for Me (when we have a professional reading to discuss).

4.  Make sure everybody’s voice is heard.

I added this norm to the list because…well,  let’s just say I’m not shy.  I have a tendency to be the first one to speak up, and I also assume the role of leader (when I am an equal).  This norm will help ensure that all of our voices are heard.  We discussed how we could meet this norm by directly  asking any silent participants, “What do you think,?”.

5.  Set aside time to reflect at the end of each meeting.

This norm was added because there were times we all left a meeting feeling beaten down under the minutia of decision-making.  We discussed and agreed and disagreed and discussed and revised and agreed and questioned… and then asked, “Wait, what did we decide?”  This norm helps us to reflect back on the meeting and restate what we accomplished during our time together.

Here is the poster we will refer to at each meeting:



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