My Top 10 Calendar Hacks for Instructional Coaches … That Actually Work!
Instructional Coaches, do you feel that you are constantly struggling against the sands of time each day?
If you are like most Instructional Coaches, you arrive at work each morning and find yourself in multiple classrooms before you have the opportunity to put your coat and bag in your office. If this sounds like you then CONGRATULATIONS, you are doing the right thing and are being an AMAZING COACH for your school and for your teachers.
In this post, we are going to talk a bit about one of the many struggles that Instructional Coaches have each week … Time Management.
Time Management Tips for Instructional Coaches
For many coaches, time management revolves around the use of their personal calendars. Often this is an overlooked aspect of the job for new coaches. As a teacher, your day revolves around bell schedules that are already planned out for you. The bell rings, you move. The bell rings, you teach. Rinse and repeat.
However, as an Instructional Coach, the calendar often has the ability to both become your best friend and worse nightmare each day. Manage it well and you have time on your hands to get the job done and have time for lunch. Fail to manage it at all and you might find yourself taking a ton of work with you home night after night.
How can an Instructional Coach properly manage their calendar? Let’s take a look at some of my favorite productivity hacks for Instructional Coaches Calendars and hopefully help you come up with a fantastic system for you to create your daily coaching conversations.
Productivity Hacks for Coaching Calendars
When thinking about how Coaches are setting up and using their calendars each day, it’s easy to keep your head inside the concept of “it’s just a calendar” but honestly, there are so many things that a coach can do with their calendar to speed up their day-to-day activities.
Here are some of my favorite Calendar Hacks for Coaches
- Create a Meeting Agenda and add it to the description of your calendar event.
- Set aside a few minutes each week to organize your calendar (colors, charms, etc)
- Use a Time Blocking Method to make sure you have time to get your busy work done during school hours.
- Color code tasks and meetings in your calendar based on who you are meeting.
- Set reminders in your calendar events a day before so you don’t forget to plan for the meeting.
- Use a Booking calendar so that you don’t have to spend time emailing someone of your free time.
- Reoccurring events are great to set up so that you don’t get booked in the future during a time you are already booked for (but haven’t yet made the event in your calendar)
- Both Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar have quick entry tools so you can type in things naturally such as “lunch on Friday at noon with Jeff” (try it, you will love this feature)
- Use the “All Day Event” feature to give yourself one true goal or focus for the day to make sure you get the most important thing completed before leaving school.
- Create a dedicated lunch period. Yes … that is is .. make sure you are taking time to take care of yourself each day.
Knowing how to work your calendar is just half of the game. But what calendar application should you use? For many coaches, you don’t have an option. You use the one that your school district provides.
Let’s jump in and learn some of my favorite features of each of the major Coaching Calendar applications.
It’s big, it’s bulky, it’s bloated but what can I say, Microsoft Outlook is pretty awesome no matter how you access it. No matter if you are using Microsoft Outlook online or as a standalone application, it truly is a coaches best friend.
In one application, you get your email, calendar, To-do, and contact list all bundled together and (most important) all in sync with each other.
Let’s look at two of my favorite features of Microsoft Outlook.
We all know that you can look at your calendar in day, week, or month view, but Microsoft Outlook now has a new view type called Outlook Boards. In Board View, coaches can create a digital workspace that includes their calendar, To-do’s, sticky notes, and other fun widgets and create an infinite canvas of coaching productivity. To learn more, check out this video from Mike Tholfsen.
Create Email Distribution Lists
Do you have a number of teachers or coaches that you communicate with often? It’s simple to create your own email distribution list. To learn more about how you can speed up your group emails, check out this recent video tutorial. The best part of creating your own distribution group is that when you are inviting this group to an event in Calendar, you only have to type in one email and it automatically goes to everyone in the group. No more worrying about forgetting to add someone important to your meeting.
Another one of my favorite online calendars is Google Calendar. However, I find that many Instructional Coaches don’t use Google Calendar to it’s fullest potential. There are many hidden tips & tricks that you can find if you take the time to search through your settings menu.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite features of Google Calendar.
Create Multiple Calendars & Color Code
Many coaches may be able to support their coaching program using only one calendar. However, what happens if you are running multiple schools or support multiple levels of your school district. One of my favorite pro-tips for any calendaring system is to create multiple layers in my calendar and color code them. Sure, you can create calendar events in a variety of colors, but by having a different calendar for each of your buildings, you have the opportunity to turn calendars on and off to keep your mind focused on only the events in front of you in the building you are in at that moment. Less things to worry about will make you more productive that day 😉
Bulk Upload Your School Calendar
Are you looking to get the biggest hug ever from your office workers? Show them this little trick. By using a simple Google Sheet and saving it to a .csv file, you can save yourself and your building staff several painstaking hours of work by uploading all your “A” and “B” days all at the same time along with each holiday, concert, and athletic event. By using this simple Google Calendar Google Sheets Template, you can make the best of friends in no time and look like the hero you truly are!
Upload Multiple Events To Google Calendar Using This FREE Google Sheets Template
Desktop Notifications & Chrome Extensions
I decided to include these two items in one thought because there are times when they work as the same type of support. I am one of those coaches that not only keeps my notifications turned on but I also have a variety of Chrome Extensions turned on that will alert me to when emails enter my inbox. This is a handy way of knowing that something needs attention without the stress that you might have when not constantly checking your inbox.
Leet’s be honest… the less times that you remove your hands from your keyboard the quicker you go. Right? I love keyboard shortcuts and as a Coach, I tend to throw a few into each of my lessons whenever I am working with teachers or students. (if you ever walk by my classroom and hear the kids screaming “Command-W” they are telling me that they know how to close the tab that they are currently on) Google has a number of great keyboard shortcuts on their official website. See how many you and your students can memorize.
Using a Booking Calendar for others to schedule you
When it comes to saving time each day, Instructional Coaches rarely have the time to play email tag. The easiest way to avoid this is b y creating a booking calendar so that your potential meeting participants can schedule you based on and around the events already scheduled on your calendar.
Typically, booking calendars work by first connecting with your main calendaring program (Outlook or Gmail) and then creating a number of options for your users.
Let’s take a look at three of my favorite Booking Calendar options for Instructional Coaches.
The booking calendar application that I use as an Instructional Coach is Microsoft Bookings. It’s a nice solution for anyone working inside a Microsoft 365 environment and connects directly with your Outlook calendar.
After creating your booking calendar, you set up “services” that can be both physical appointments or virtual (using Microsoft Teams)
Check out my video series that showcases how to setup Microsoft Bookings. It’s a bit outdated because of a recent update to the platform, but overall, it will walk you through the basic setup of the application.
Another popular booking calendar application that is used by Instructional Coaches is Calendly. This was one of the first booking calendar applications that I used. Calendly is a great option for Instructional Coaches because it scales to your needs. The free plan allows coaches to connect a single calendar and create a single event type. For only a few dollars a month, you can unlock unlimited features of many of the popular options of Calendly.
Book Like a Boss
A lesser known calendar booking application, but one that I am a paid user for with my TeacherCast content is Book Like a Boss. BLAB as it is sometimes referred to offers an extremely powerful booking tool for coaches as it provides both long form and shorter booking forms. Each form can be customized and also can be embedded into any HTML block on your coaching website.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview the founder and CEO of Book Like a Boss. Please check out this episode of the podcast today!
Finding a Balance between Busy and BUSY is only a few clicks away.
If you have any questions about the best way to use your calendar, I welcome you to join our Instructional Coaches Network and leave a message or comment for our Coaching Community to respond to.
No matter if you are a new Instructional Coach or a veteran who is looking to revamp the way things get done in your school, we are here to help and support you both on our Coaching Blog and each week on our Instructional Coaches podcast, “Ask the Tech Coach.”