Part I: Tap into Technology
One of the biggest (among many) challenges for me in this new role has been creating an organization system. When in the classroom, I knew what I needed, where it needed to be, and how to set it up, but as a coach, I’m often on the go and I don’t yet really know what I might need. So, needless to say, it’s been quite a process trying to get organized.
If you’re new here, you may not know that this is my first year as a full-time instructional coach. While I learned a lot as a part-timer last year, this year is the real deal and I’ve found I’ve had to get organized really quickly in order to survive.
As the new year approached, I read, watched, and listened to everything I could from the instructional coaching online world. From that and my personal experiences, I’ve been able to put together a system that is working pretty well for me, so I thought I’d share it with you.
To avoid a ridiculously long post, I’ve divided it into two parts: Part I will deal with using technology to get organized and Part II will be all the other systems I’ve put in place.
Tap into Technology to get Organized
Last year when I was a part-time instructional coach and teacher, I learned a lot about organization, and this year I’ve been able to better discover what works for me in this full-time role. I have found a few different tools to be exceptionally helpful.
I was going to write about each of these, but I realized I could better explain how I use some of them with a screencast video. So below you will find some written explanations and some video explanations (ugh, please excuse my nasal voice and the tinny background typing sounds).
Nothing new here, but I’m still surprised by the number of people who have not harnessed the power of Google Chrome. It was my lifesaver as a teacher, especially when I had to float between rooms, and it’s just as handy now. When I log into my computer and open a Chrome window, four tabs automatically open: Gmail, Calendar, Trello, and a specific Google Doc. This small step saves me a little time in the morning. I don’t need to think about what I need, and I can get to work immediately.
Quite honestly, I’m not sure how people function without an electronic calendar (although I know tons of people who do). The first thing I do when I get situated in the morning is check my calendar to see what meetings I have. I have my calendar color-coded (and the coding lines up with my other tools: Gmail, a Google Form where I log my work, etc.).
As a coach, I’m rarely sitting still in one place for long, so when I’m on the move, I need to be able to access my calendar easily. When a teacher stops me in the hall to ask for help, I need to be able to tell them when I can help and my memory is not strong enough to rely on!
I use Trello for my to-do list and resource gathering. It is a nifty little site/app that will be more meaningful if you see it. 🙂
Gmail is kind of a cop-out tool to list here because we have to use it, right? (sorry if you use Outlook. We don’t as of about six years ago, so I’m out of touch with that one!). Let me tell you a few helpful features that I love about Gmail.
- Separating Unread and Everything Else- I love to have my unread emails separate from the rest. That way I can see exactly what’s going on. I usually mark emails as unread if I need to get to them that day.
- The Snooze feature- Sometimes I have emails I need to address but just not yet. That’s where snooze comes in. I click it and hold the email (out of my inbox) until a chosen date. It’s easy and convenient.
- Archive- Don’t use the delete button! Use the archive feature! This way EVERYTHING is saved forever, but you don’t have to look at it. You can always search for any missing emails.
- Labels- I call them folders but Gmail calls them labels (whatever). Each year I make a new label called the school year, so this year it’s 18/19. Under that label, I have a lot of sub-labels. For example, I have some called technology, admin, testing, IC (which has a bunch of sub-sub labels: district-wide, school-wide, PD, teacher convos, etc). Additionally, I color code my labels to match up with my Calendar. So instructional coaching appointments AND emails are color coded bright orange. You get the idea. Below you can see a screenshot of my labels. As soon as I read an email, if it isn’t a “to-do” item, it goes directly in a folder.
You know how annoying it is to schedule meetings via email? Back and forth, back and forth. Ugh. Well, Assisstant.to makes that problem go away!
I’ll stop there for now…
Okay, I think I’ve shared enough for today. I don’t want to overwhelm you! I have a few other features I will definitely share in the future, but for now this should help you get started with your organization system.
I would absolutely love to hear what you do to stay organized. What tools, tips, and tricks have you discovered on your coaching journey that help you stay sane?
What I’m Reading
If you’re looking for some great book recommendations, check out the list on my “books” page. I only recommend books I truly think are worth it! 🙂