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3 Tips for New Instructional Coaches

You have been hired as a new instructional coach and boy are you excited.  Not sure where to start at the beginning of the year?  Feeling overwhelmed with that excitement?  Here are 3 tips to help you start off on the right foot in your new role.

This tip is especially true if you are in a new building in addition to being in a new role.  When coming in, work on building relationships with teachers and getting to know them both personally and professionally.

The same holds true if you are moving into this position in your current building.  You may know your colleagues, but do you know them as a teacher?  When I was a classroom teacher, I was rarely, if ever, in a colleague's classroom while they were teaching.  I don't necessarily know how they run writer's workshop or strengths as a teacher.  You need to take the time to build these relationships so that the teachers you are working with feel comfortable coming to you.

Honesty is KEY in your role as an instructional coach.  I spent most of my years in the classroom as a primary teacher.  With that being said, there are times when I have intermediate teachers ask me a question, there are times I don't know the answer off the top of my head.  I am always honest with my teachers and tell them, "I am not sure so let me find out for you."

Your teachers will appreciate your honesty and it makes you seem more approachable.

If you go into your school year without a focus, it can seem overwhelming.  Sit down with your principal before the year starts and decide on what you both feel the focus should be for the year.  Maybe your focus is guided reading or writer's workshop or guided math.  Once you choose your focus, you want your coaching, professional development, and help to being centered around that.

Now, I want to say that even if you have a focus that doesn't mean you can't coach or provide professional development on topics other than that.  Just make that your focus, your focus.

Lastly, just take a deep breath and relax.  YOU'VE GOT THIS!

Back to School with Oriental Trading

This school year I have taken a new position as instructional coach.  This means that I am no longer a classroom teacher and instead working with teachers from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Part of my role is helping teachers implement guided reading.  As a result, I am moving from one grade to another throughout my day.  This means I needed a "Guided Reading Basket" to take with me.

Thank goodness for Oriental Trading because I was able to stock it so easily.

I have pencils, markers, dry erase boards, and erasers all in my basket.  Here are some of my favorite items though:

With my primary students, I LOVE using magnetic letters.  I have two different kinds of letters from Oriental Trading:  foam letters and plastic letters.  They both work great for making words.

My students LOVE using these Read to Self Phones.  They make whisper reading during our small groups so much more fun!  I use these with both my primary and intermediate students.

When working with my intermediate students, sometimes they have a hard time keeping their place in the book.  Whenever that happens I pull out these Highlight Reading Strips to help them keep their place.

Check out Oriental Trading's Learn 365 website to find these and other great back to school finds!  Leave a comment below and let me know what you always keep handy in your guided reading basket!

*Disclaimer:  I was sent products of my choice in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions expressed are 100% my own!

Learn365 by Oriental Trading

Have you heard???  Oriental Trading has just made it easier for teachers to find teacher supplies, resources, classroom decor, and ideas!

This week Oriental Trading launched Learn365 where you make learning fun for less.  I know so many of us teachers spend our own money in our classrooms.  We need that money to go as far as it can.  That is why I get all my goodies from Oriental Trading.

When you go to Learn365, just hover your mouse over any of the categories at the top.  You will get a drop down menu that makes finding what you need a piece of cake!

I also LOVE that they have a category just for ideas.  You can choose from bulletin board ideas, classroom library ideas, crafts, and door decorations.  You can even hop on to the education blog to read some awesome ideas from some amazing teacher bloggers.

I can't wait to start getting things ready for my new room for the upcoming school year.  I have already found so many good ideas and fun items to buy on the Learn365 site.

I plan on searching for my decor by theme since I have some specific themes in mind for this year.

A classroom reveal post will coming in August!  In the meantime, head on over to Learn365 and check out all the awesomeness Oriental Trading has to offer!

*Disclaimer:  I was sent products of my choice in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions expressed are 100% my own!

Red Carpet Fun with Oriental Trading

We became teachers for the fame and fortune right?!?!?!  Well, maybe not, but that doesn't mean we can't pretend like that's the reason for a night of fun.  That's exactly what we did in French Lick a couple weeks ago.

Our team of organizers know that teachers are truly rock stars and we wanted them to be treated like the red carpet stars they are.  We couldn't do this alone!  Oriental Trading made it possible for us to create a red carpet affair we won't soon forget.

When our attendees entered the ballroom hallway, they were greeted by the paparazzi trying to get their picture. 

Attendees entered the ballroom through the gorgeous Hollywood arch.  How amazing is that?

I may have been a tad excited about this arch!

Inside our ballroom, the décor really made everyone feel like they were at a red-carpet affair.

Jenny was so excited to see her friend Oscar! ;)

It was like we were really in Hollywood!

We had a few photo booths set up so we could get some memorable pictures throughout the night.

Every attendee could take home their very own Oscar! How fun!!

This night would not have been half as magical if it weren’t for Oriental Trading.  If you are looking for fun decor for your classroom or themed party, I highly recommend checking out Oriental Trading.  They have something for every one and every theme. 

THANK YOU Oriental Trading for being such an amazing sponsor for our event!

*Disclaimer:  I was sent products of my choice in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions expressed are 100% my own!

Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat Recap

When was the last time someone rolled out the RED CARPET for you as a teacher? 

If you attended the 2017 Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat, your answer is two weeks ago!

We love to celebrate teachers and all school staff for the celebrities they are, and that is exactly the purpose of this event. This year was no different, and we want to share with you all of the fun and celebration that happened AND give you a chance to win some awesome teacher prizes!

The weekend began as it does every year for those of us on the planning team - with lots of prep! 

We had a huge increase in attendance this year, so this year that meant filling 560 of these awesome bags from Scholastic Reading Club with all kinds of goodies from our fabulous sponsors! 

We were able to take a quick break for dinner under the dome at the amazing West Baden Springs hotel before getting back to work setting everything up for the retreat! 

On Saturday morning, we were back at it early for attendee check-in. 

We also had some awesome sponsors greeting attendees and treating them to some of their products! 

Before we knew it, it was time to start the day! 

As soon as attendees entered the ballroom, they could put their raffle tickets in the items they hoped to win. We were lucky enough to have some AMAZING sponsors provide some fabulous prizes for our retreat! 

We began with a welcome message from Holly Ehle from Kindergarten Connections, our incredibly talented director of this event, who explained the history of this retreat and how her mission is to celebrate teachers for all of the work we do for kids all year. She is amazing! 

Next up was everyone's favorite principal, Mr. Gerry Brooks. He gave a fantastic keynote about setting goals for ourselves and our students and families that left everyone laughing and feeling inspired. 

Then we had fun playing the "Left, Right" game describing the history of the Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat with the Teacher Tool Swap. 

To kick off the professional development portion of the day, Hope and Wade King from the Ron Clark Academy and Elementary Shenanigans gave a phenomenal presentation on the power of student engagement. They demonstrated ways we can "set the stage to engage" our kids every day to increase their achievement and help them WANT to come to school instead of just showing up because they HAVE to. 

Every person in the room was completely engaged and inspired! Hope and Wade King are beyond amazing! 

From there, we split up to attend three rounds of mini-sessions. We had some of the best teachers and presenters in the country hosting these sessions! 

Sarah Cooper and Tiffany Copple were the mastermind planners of the professional development sessions! They did an amazing job! 

 DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten presented on writing in the classroom. 

 Tiffani Mugurussa from Time 4 Kindergarten shared tips on how to get started with selling on Teachers Pay Teachers

 Katie Mense from Little Kinder Warriors taught attendees how to use PowerPoint to create classroom resources. 

 Christina Decarbo from Miss DeCarbo lead a session on making comprehension more concrete for students. 

Haley O'Connor from Teaching With Haley shared strategies for helping students improve their self-control. 

I shared about some strategies for classroom management.

 Marissa Zimmer from First Grade Stars shared quick and easy ways to integrate STEM into teachers' daily curriculum.

Heidi Neels from Flipping For First showed attendees everything SeeSaw has to offer them.  

 Maja Austin from Kooky Kinders taught attendees about the power of Donor's Choose to fund their classroom needs.

 Brittany Banister from Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten Kids explained how ESGI Software can save teachers time when assessing.

 Chris Pombonyo from Live in the Classroom lead a huge session on effective digital tools to use in the classroom. 

Crystal Oswald from The Balanced Teacher  showed attendees how she creates engaging songs for her classes. 

We wrapped up the PD portion of the day with a quick panel session with Principal Gerry, Hope and Wade King, Dee Dee Wills, and Chris Pombonyo. This allowed attendees to ask these experts anything! 

Finally, we ended the daytime event with the PRIZES from our fabulous sponsors! Check out all of these happy teacher faces!! 

A huge THANK YOU to all of these amazing sponsors:

Did you miss out on the fun this year? No worries! You can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win some teacher swag, too!!

Come back tomorrow for a recap of the epic red carpet evening event sponsored by ESGI, GoNoodle, and Oriental Trading!

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