Do you know what one of my favorite coaching tools are? Easy buttons. As a fellow coach, I know there are things you find yourself saying over and over again or things you demonstrate over and over again and wish there was a better way. There is! Easy buttons. Easy buttons are handouts, recordings or videos of the things you say, do and demonstrate over and over again to streamline your work and create a collection of on-demand resources for your teachers.

Let’s start with a question: Who is in charge of a coaching cycle? That’s a trick question, right?! Right. A coaching cycle is a cycle of intense collaboration around a shared goal of professional growth or classroom life. It is collegial, non-evaluative and co-constructed every step of the way. Together with teachers, we create a shared vision for our work, engage in co-learning and/or co-teaching and end with collaborative conversations.


There’s one part of the coaching cycle that doesn’t feel nearly as collaborative. In fact, it often removes the coach and the teacher from the equation completely and delivers pre-determined content instead: the observation rubric or checklist. Think about it. We work so hard to connect and collaborate within a coaching cycle, but then often evaluate our shared efforts using an arbitrary document that doesn’t account for our unique coaching contexts. But how does an outside company, curriculum or organization understand our particular coaching partnerships, materials and resources we have, the length of our cycle and more. It doesn’t.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little unexpected token of appreciation to lift our spirits and brighten our day. I recently found a note from my daughter tucked into a notebook in my work bag. Ever the artist, she drew me a beautiful picture and added a brief note on the back. She knew that I might need a pick me up as I headed into the day. She was right. And it worked. And recently, to my wonderful surprise, a fellow coach I work with online sent me small tokens of appreciation through good old-fashioned snail mail that completely changed the course of my day and drove home the power that such a personal note of appreciation and thanks can hold.

It isn’t too often that I find something that stops me in my tracks, leaves me speechless and forces me to slow down. But what I am about to share with you did just that. It was just what I needed to hear at the very moment I needed to hear it and I am forever grateful to Corinne for sharing it with my Coaching Through COVID community. It not only inspired my personal and professional life, but it prompted me to create an entirely new section of my coaching sketchnote book (which is why my notebook is actually a binder so I can do so easily!).

Every single one of us is on a journey in education. And our journeys are often filled with twists and turns, roadblocks and construction zones. And since we are teaching and coaching in the midst of a global pandemic right now, our journeys can feel far out of our control. It can be easy to become frustrated. It can be easy to become overwhelmed. And it can be easy to live with despair given the limitations we are facing and the sheer amount of things that are beyond our control. And it can be even easier to stay in that space than to try and crawl out of it.

Instructional coaches are the lead learners in a school. As leaders, we must remain lifelong learners and share that learning with others. When we share and connect with others around our learning in very public ways, we invite connections with others based on our learning habits, interests and inquiries.

I find it's especially important to cultivate our own reading and writing lives and then offer them like a beacon of light for other teachers and students to gain inspiration from, so here are a few ideas to consider trying with teachers to help them make their reading and writing lives visible, too:

I have a pretty early and pretty strict morning routine: exercise, coffee, breakfast, reading and writing. All before I even take a shower to launch the day. How do you start your day? Do you head straight for the kitchen to enjoy that first cup of coffee? Do you grab your phone and start scrolling through your feed? Perhaps you hit ‘snooze’ and settle in for just a few more minutes? The way we start our day sets the tone for what is to come, our personal one and our professional one. And if you’ve ever taken a peek into my Coaching Sketchnote Book, you know that I have an entire section dedicated to opening moves for professional learning sessions. Those first greetings, slides, conversations and activities matter. A lot.

I’ve had so much fun browsing through your 6-word coaching visions for the September Coaching Challenge, so I thought I’d share a bit more about how I use the 6-word story in my coaching, lifted directly from the pages of my Coaching Sketchnote Book.

Have you heard of the 6-word story? Or the 6-word memoir? Or the 6-word vision? I love things in bite-sized packages: tiny notebooks, miniature dark chocolate nuggets and little bits of information to consider, question and reflect on. After all, good things come in small packages, right?

© The Coaching Sketchnote Book with Dr. Stephanie Affinito · THEME BY WATDESIGNEXPRESS