Early on in my career, I worked with an assessment coordinator who I respected a great deal. She showed me the value of working closely with student data and listening to what the data was telling me in addition to what I was seeing (and feeling!) in the classroom. She would jokingly say ‘Show me the data!’ mirrored after ‘Show me the money!’ in the Jerry McGuire movie. 

I am thankful that I learned to value the information student data showed me, rather than complain at how that data was collected and what kind of data it provided. That said, I prefer data that immediately impacts instruction: the kind that provides tangible information about students’ strengths and needs that can impact my teaching tomorrow. That is why I like the thin-slicing technique: it helps us sort through the data in meaningful ways to actually impact practice.
Let’s begin with a question: Did you ever have a magnetic poetry set on your refrigerator? You know, the hundreds of little magnets that you could arrange and rearrange to create poems, list, stories and more? Honestly, I never did, but when I earned my first classroom, that was one of the first things I purchased. I love words and I love playing with words. Arranging and rearranging those magnets on my filing cabinet to create messages was one of my favorite things to do for and with students. I would leave the students notes, would create poems in relation to the stories we were reading and even ask questions in hopes that a student responded...and they usually did.

I bring my love of magnetic poetry to my work with teachers as well. How? By creating spaces for teachers to tinker with words, create a vision to their day or simply share a window into their thinking. 

I love a good ice-breaker, especially one that helps us get to know each other on a personal level. Sure, content-related opening moves are important, but personal ice-breakers build community and help us connect together in ways we might not have before. I’ve posted multiple possibilities on The Coaching Sketchnote Book, like Soft Starts, Quick Writes and Table Scatters (Join my FREE notebook site to access this!). And now, I’m adding another fun ice-breaker to our collective coaching notebook: What’s Your Equation?

I love reading. And I especially love sharing my reading with others. That’s why I love professional (and personal!) book clubs and book study groups so much: they invite me into a community of readers that always expands my thinking and furthers my learning. 

But here’s the thing: teachers are busy. Sure, we might want to take part in book clubs, but we might hesitate because of our busy schedules, wondering if we will REALLY get something out of participating that we wouldn't get reading the book alone. 

As a coach, we need to connect teachers to the right book, convince them the content is worth reading and ensure their time spent discussing the book will be worth it. In short, we need to show them the value of the book club. And we can do that with book bits. 

I really dislike the term ‘professional development’. If you look through my blog posts, you’ll see I barely say it. Instead, I say ‘professional learning’. And that difference of one word makes a big difference. As coaches, we are not here to ‘develop’ teachers, we are here to learn alongside them. We learn so we can lead the learning of others in ways that matter most to them. 

So, that means professional learning can look very different from one teacher to the next. Some might prefer live professional learning sessions. Others might prefer on-demand versions so they can learn when the time is right for them. Others learn best reading and experimenting in the classroom. And others prefer coaching cycles with intense support. 

So, what’s a coach to do? We need to provide teachers with options to fit how, why and where they learn best, models so they can do the same for their students: live professional learning, on-demand sessions, classroom coaching cycles, content coaching cycles and blog hops, coaching through email, coaching through Twitter Lists and other digital tools, like Voxer, innovative ideas like Pam Hubler’s Potty PD, and the subject of today’s coaching tool: Grab and Go. 

I am always looking for ways to introduce teachers to new books to read aloud to their students. I have given book talks, displayed titles, and even created book tastings for teachers. Teachers always appreciate the fresh, new ways in which we explore titles together, so I decided to try something new: a March Madness Book Bracket. 

Some might consider them old fashioned, but business cards are still a thing. Really. But, gone are the days of the simple white, rectangular-shaped stock paper with black ink. Uh uh. Today, business cards are a work of art, a true representation of a person, business or brand. I love collecting them and have a stack of business cards in my desk drawer. They represent the people I meet, the places I go and the incredible projects others are bringing into the world. I think they’re inspiring. 

But now, I don’t always get a chance to meet colleagues in person. In fact, some of my most treasured edu-friends are those I’ve only met virtually! But that doesn’t mean the old-fashioned business card is obsolete. Not at all. It’s just shifted a bit digitally. And I think we all need one: a digital coaching card.
© The Coaching Sketchnote Book with Dr. Stephanie Affinito · THEME BY WATDESIGNEXPRESS