Cupcakes and Coffee with the Coach

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Who can resist a sugary treat or a hot cup of joe? ☕ Julie Nelson, Student Learning Coach in Illinois, offers a sweet and energizing way to strengthen your relationships with teachers.


ou end every email with an enthusiastic call to action: Let's put our heads together! Let me know if you need support—anything, anything! And despite this, you hear crickets. Even though teachers really do want to meet and talk, the open-endedness of these kinds of invitations can be unintentionally overwhelming.

Instead, try hosting a cupcakes and coffee with the coach event. It can provide an opportunity for quick coaching conversations that may result in new friendships, new ideas, a positive impact on students, and a boost in teacher efficacy.

My experience

This fall, when a few weeks were in the rear-view mirror, I extended an invitation to partner with me over cupcakes. The ask was simple: spend 10-15 minutes with me and enjoy a cupcake and coffee. Talk about your class, your teaching, your wishes, your family. Plus, you don't have to come with an idea. Then, once it was scheduled, the rest was cake!

My event took place over a few days, sometimes in classrooms and sometimes in my office. I found hosting these chats in my office space was fantastic, as it allowed teachers a chance to get away and reflect on their work in a different location.

There were laughs, hugs, a few tears, and lots of hope. Each meeting was personal: some wanted differentiation resources, model lessons, observations of students, unit planning, or simply to get to know me better. The outcomes of each chat might have been different, but all strengthened our relationship and made us a stronger team.

Tips for getting started

If you'd like to try this idea, remember that timing is everything. Pick a date that isn't close to parent night, progress reports, or other big events. Then focus on the fun!

Create a sign-up that is visible to all; I used a Google Doc. Advertise with a cute sign-up and irresistible invitations. Teachers are more likely to sign up if they see others are doing it, and that helps create a buzz about your event.

Order cupcakes with school colors and confetti sprinkles. Send personal reminders the day before and ask for coffee/tea orders. Then get your Keurig ready to brew a special treat, so you can really enjoy your time together.

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Pro tip: Cupcakes freeze well, so there's no worry about having to go to the bakery each day. Consider arranging your goodies on a cart for easy travel around the building!

After the event, send handwritten thank-you notes for spending time with you and highlight something special about each teacher and their work. Follow up with each teacher and if needed, schedule one or more meetings to provide the support they requested. Consider offering cupcakes and coffee with the coach each semester as one more way to connect.

Final note

If you want to keep your coaching fresh, enroll new teachers, provide support, get a pulse on grade levels, and build coaching relationships, consider making your coaching invitations a bit sweeter and more focused. Give it a try! I'd love to hear about your experiences—share them below.

About our Guest Blogger

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Julie Nelson is a Student Learning Coach who leads with her heart to positively impact student learning at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights School District 25. Over the years, she has served as a 4th and 5th grade classroom teacher, K-5 gifted specialist, advanced math teacher, advanced learning facilitator, and student learning coach. Julie holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Master of Arts in Educational Leadership.

Outside of work, Julie enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, and new Havanese puppy. In her free time, you can find Julie hiking, cooking, and appreciating the arts—especially music.

If Student learning Coaching is something you’d like to learn more about, be sure to connect with Julie on Twitter @julienelsonedu or via email!

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