Organization is Key
1. Invest in a Planner
Buy a planner that you are going to want to use. Invest in a sturdy planner and one that you want to look at because this is going to be at your side all the time! Always take it with you so that you can see your month laid out in front of you without having to squint at a tiny screen on your phone. I prefer the weekly/monthly planner combos without lines (right picture) so that I can write left to right as well as top to bottom if needed.
I also use an old fashioned binder clip to quickly reference the current month and week.
2. Carry a Reliable Bag
I suggest a backpack so that you can easily carry items like your laptop, binder, pencil case, and folders, while still being hands-free. I even pack a small purse and then place that inside my sturdy backpack. The more pockets, zippers, and spaces for organization within the backpack, the better.
3. Use a Pencil Case
Yes, a pencil case is a thing in the professional world. Invest in a pencil case and stock it with highlighters, pens, sharpies, post-it notes, stand alone erasers, and a few high quality mechanical pencils. We all know that flexibility is a trait that is required of all teachers. Coaching is no different. Last minute changes/additions/and deletions would be a gobbled up mess if I were writing in my planner with a pen. Don't get me wrong, I still love a good Flair pen, but I mostly reserve those for making to-do lists and writing on post-it notes.
4. Brand Yourself
Spend some time thinking about a simple logo to place on everything you create and everything you are involved throughout the year. This will help everyone in the district start to immediately identify your work. My district is known as FPS and since I'm a district math coach, the #FPSMathSquad just made sense. This will also be our social media tag. I created this graphic by myself using Keynote. Once I made it just the way I wanted, I downloaded the file as a .jpeg file to easily incorporate into all my creations and flyers. I also plan on making stickers out of this logo to hand out to our Math Leadership Team at the beginning of each school year.
To help people identify your face, send out a virtual or physical post card (or both) at the beginning of the year introducing yourself and essentially selling yourself and what services you will provide to teachers. Including a phone number and other contact information on this card will also come in handy later.
If you're feeling extra adventurous, turn these post cards into a one-sided magnet for teachers to keep on their white board for a constant reminder all year long.
5. Build a Strong PLN (Professional Learning Network)
If you're not on Twitter yet, join today! It's an incredibly robust resource for educators, and there is an extremely strong presence of math educators in particular on each day of the week. I return day after day to Twitter for inspiration, to join in on weekly chats, to bounce ideas off of others, and to recharge. It's also a great place to join virtual book clubs, to learn about conferences and webinars, and to connect with other coaches in your state and the country.
Chats to follow:
Not into Twitter? Try out the many groups that are popping up on Facebook for educators in all subject areas. Try a search within Facebook of "coach", "math", "reading", or a grade level to pull up some options.
What are your must-haves as a coach?