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A Heart for Coaching

Friends and colleagues often ask if I miss working in the classroom. My first answer is always “Yes. I will always miss the classroom because my heart is there.” Most...

Coaching Minute: Collaborating with Principals

Literacy coach Jen Court explains how she collaborates with principals.

Using Supplies to Inspire

I waited anxiously at the kidney-shaped table for my mentor’s arrival. Thoughts about the upcoming school year—different grade level, new staff—had me all worked up. As she entered the room,...

A Little Bit of Clarity

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.                                                                                                  Maya Angelou I was seated at an appointment desk to be fitted...

Creating Coaching Visions

I have always been a should have kind of person. You know, the kind of person who overthinks everything and spends far too much time thinking about what I should...

Brain Dumps for Clarity in Coaching

I stepped into the room and was immediately reluctant to interrupt the controlled chaos before me. Diane was buzzing about the room. She cleaned up student work at one table,...

Unleveling Classroom Libraries

Over the last two school years, we’ve followed the buzz around the dangers of a leveled classroom library. We’ve read articles and tweets, listened to podcasts, and talked to our...

Best Intentions with No Assumptions

I arrived at the high school to pick up my son from maker club. As I was walking toward the front doors, a woman standing in the parking lot asked...

An All-School Writing Project: Six-Word Memoirs

I’ve long heard inspiring stories about schools who adopted a “One Book, One School” experience, exposing all students to a text and then using it to launch conversations and connections....

Celebrations Across the Year

“Any quick wins?” I inquired as we began to get our bimonthly meeting of literacy coaches underway. Quick wins as described in Read, Write, Lead:  Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Success...

Finding Time for Classroom Walk-Throughs

As school leaders, we know our time is precious. It can be hard to prioritize our days with all the duties we are expected to complete. At the top of...

Encouraging Teachers to Write

“You use your own notebook a lot during conferences,” Mrs. Bean said to me. I looked up from writing conference notes and considered her statement. “Yes, that’s true.” “So I...

Meeting with Building Leaders

“I want to meet again every month,” Maggie said. “Just like last year.” Maggie is the principal of one of our five elementary schools, and last year, we committed to...

The 15-Minute Meeting

In The 30-Day Productivity Plan, Damon Zahariades makes the assertion that meetings last as long as they are scheduled for. If we want to increase our productivity, he believes, we...

A Literacy Foundation

    I lead a school in a building with a lot of history. Veteran teachers currently working in the building can recall their first day of kindergarten in the...

Classroom Visit Protocols

I have a friend whose mother-in-law has a tendency to just drop in for a visit . . . and stay. All afternoon. Nana never calls to announce that she...

Outreach by Reaching Out

Standing on the curb on a late-October Monday morning as the bitter-cold Chicago wind sank its claws into the always unsuspecting midwestern suburbia, I was not ready to battle these...

Literacy Audit (Part 4): Building a Strong Team

I’m always inspired by the thinking of Milton Olson, adapted by Angeles Arrien, which highlights the teamwork qualities of geese. Geese fly in formation, rotate leadership, communicate well, and always...

Rethinking Morning Announcements

“Are you going to share one of your stupid quotes again?” This came from a frequent flyer sitting in the lobby area as I was leaving my office. I had...

Literacy Audit (Part 2): Taking Your School’s Pulse

When I go to the doctor for my annual wellness check, the intake nurse starts by taking my pulse. It is the simplest of procedures—there is no medical equipment needed,...

You’re New to Coaching. Now What?

I’ll never forget my first year as a coach. My position was in a district new to me where I would be teaching kindergarten for half of the day and...