Does a Checklist Really Work? {Team Meetings}

Does a Checklist Really Work? {Team Meetings}

If you didn’t read my first post on the power of checklists to manage the teacher/coach/principal workload, then click this to take 10 seconds and get caught up!

I am checking out another checklist that I created – what do you think?  What am I missing?

Checklist for Team/Department Meetings


sheet and time arrived


Read agenda together


Set time for Item 1, discuss and record next steps/questions


Set time for Item 2 discuss and record next steps/questions


Set time for Item 3 discuss and record next steps/questions


Review individual notes, responsibilities and next steps


Each teacher signs off notes back to principal/coach


sheet time dismissed
6 Things to Do Every Morning to Set Intensity in Your Teaching!

6 Things to Do Every Morning to Set Intensity in Your Teaching!

One of the things that I’m finding that many schools are working on recently is building intensity of instruction.  Intense instruction can be a hard thing to define and to build.  So, I have set out to explain it and then give some little (but mighty!) ways to build intensity from the first moment of the day or class period.

I will say, that setting the intensity first thing is super important..I find it really hard to get intensity back after a couple of hour of not-so-intense teaching.  But I never give up even if I’ve gotten off to a rougher start!

First, let me define what instructional intensity is:

Instructional intensity is the number of student required interactions/responses

in a short period of time on important grade level content

Here are a few ways that we can measure instructional intensity:

Required Interaction Required Response
The teacher teaches something new and the students engaged with the new content Physical
The teacher corrects a student/s and the student engages in the corrected content Oral
The teacher orchestrates tight practice of an already-taught skill that needs more repetition



Here are 6 things you can do to start your day off with intensity (Note: they might seem minor, but they really matter!)

  1. Greet the students at the door with a timed task related to your content
  2. Pull your kids close to give them the lowdown on the first big content chunk of the day: “Today we are going to learn __________________.  Here’s what that is going to require you to have on your desk __________________.  Go set up your desks now.  You have 45 seconds.  Go!  Now that we have our materials set up, I am going to teach you what our lesson is going to require of your behavior and movement.” {Then teach the academic behaviors they’ll need to master!}
  3. Use a timer and give students much less time that you think they’ll need to transition
  4. Give directions when you have all eyes on you and never, ever compromise on this!
  5. When students don’t give you the exact behavior you have explained, ask them to do it all again and look for opportunities to give them praise
  6. Tell them what you’re going to teach them, tell them what they are learning while they’re learning it, review what you taught them at the end of the lesson

BONUS:  Think of your whole day in 10-minute chunks: “What do I need my students to have learned/to be doing in the next 10 minutes to hit my mark?”

Why Teachers Drop a Skill After Coaching

Why Teachers Drop a Skill After Coaching

A very common question that I get from coaches is this: What do I do when a teacher has been coached in a skill and yet when I get back into the classroom, they’ve dropped or stopped using the skill?

I think that sometimes coaches take this personally – after all, everyone has put a lot of time in effort in coaching and learning a new/updated skill!  But, I find that when I ask myself these three questions, I can usually get to the root of why that’s happened…and, more importantly, I can fix it with the teacher:

  1. Did I break the steps of the skill down to the –nth degree or was the skills we were working on really like five skills rolled up into one?
  2. Did the teacher understand what I wanted him to do? (And a nod of the head isn’t a confirmation…the teacher should be able to fully explain what you want him to do in his own words – make sure to weave this into your debriefing each time!)
  3. Did the teacher simply forget to keep doing it and do we need to add some sort of note on his desk or in his lesson plan book so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle any longer? (Teachers have lots to remember and can simply forget. It happens to all of us!)

The most important thing is to avoid going straight to the line of the thinking that the teacher is stopping the practice on purpose.  By digging just a bit deeper through the questions, you’ll find an even more efficient way to work with a teacher…and it doesn’t have to affect your relationship one bit!



6 Questions We Didn’t Know We Needed to Answer Before We Plan Professional Development!

6 Questions We Didn’t Know We Needed to Answer Before We Plan Professional Development!

You know how you learn something that is so important that you wish that you could go back and erase about 10,000 things from the past so that you can do them right?

Well, I feel that way about planning professional development.  My approach has always been that ‘more is more’ and that in order for a teacher to learn to do whatever it is that I am trying to teach them, they have to know EVERYTHING and EVERY NUANCE of that thing.

What I’ve come to realize (and it’s taken me, ummm…oh, just 14 years to realize it!) is that I need to give teachers the least amount of information that I can get away with so that they can quickly carry things back to the classroom and get started.

Here are the six questions I now ask myself when I am teaching anything to any educator:

  1. What will trip people up?
  2. What are the five parts of the thing I’m teaching that they absolutely have to learn?
  3. What is the order that the things in #2 above should logical be taught and learned in?
  4. What is the best way to learn each of the steps? Should we read about it?  Model it? Practice in the training room? Watch a video?
  5. What is the least amount of training that we can provide or get away with?
  6. What skills have teachers already developed that we can hook this new thing to so it doesn’t feel brand new?



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