Amy Rudd, instructional coach at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, shares the benefits that coaching newsletters bring for building relationships and where she finds her inspiration to create them.
🍿 Only have a few minutes? Watch Amy talk about the major takeaways from her article, then come back later to read the full thing!
s the sun rises on Saturday morning, I wake and subtly open my phone to begin reading my favorite educational newsletter—one that pops into my inbox in the wee hours of the morning. This is a Saturday morning ritual of mine, since it makes me feel energized by the information I read. Why? Because I enjoy keeping up on the latest literacy coaching trends. While reading the newsletter one day, I thought to myself, "should I be sharing this with the teachers I'm coaching?"
Fast forward ten years and while I still follow the same ritual, I now share my own personal newsletter with the teachers I'm coaching! Not only do I enjoy the idea of connecting with teachers to keep them informed but I'm fortunate enough to work with rock star teachers who like to be "in-the-know," making my efforts more rewarding. As a coach, I often wonder how I can best communicate with my coachees to keep them abreast of need to know and want to know tips, tricks, and trends.
Below I'll share the process I've utilized in the past and hopefully inspire you to consider sharing newsletters with your coachees as well!
Creating a newsletter
In thinking about impact and benefit, I wondered about the best way to share what I needed teachers to know in the most efficient way possible. This is especially important when coaching in multiple buildings. Here are some steps for getting started!
Lead with inspiration
First and foremost, I like to share an inspiring quote or profound idea for teachers to consider. This is gleaned from a wide reading of instructional coaching resources, like Choice Literacy's "Big Fresh", the Instructional Coaching Group on Facebook, Ms. Houser, and The Launch Pad. These sources provide inspirational topics for all coaches to explore, helping coaches become more well-rounded as a resource provider.
Share books and teaching topics
Second, I consider the latest picture books which teach topics in a special way. We're all aware of the power of story as a way of knowing, which is why I share books and trends as another way for teachers to reach a student through story telling. To name a few helpful resources for those interested in this topic, I enjoy following Colby Sharp, John Schu, and Margie Myers-Culver on Twitter for the latest from the land of books.
Add district news
Next, I consider news from our district learning specialists. These leaders are content area experts and share district-wide updates that I tap into for blurbs in each of the respective content areas: ELA, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. These updates may include completion reminders, and tips or trends from around the district that are valuable to all teachers.
Extend a coaching hand
Finally, I end by extending an opportunity to work together that's connected in some way to the resources I share with teachers. For example, I'll share surveys with teachers in this area as a way to specifically address needs they may have. Ultimately, this leads to building relationships with them so that we pioneer on in our work together as teacher and coach.
Choose a distribution method
To get started, consider whether to share the newsletter with printouts or by email. If you choose to go with a hard copy, be sure to plan for extra time to deliver after you finish writing the newsletter.
A benefit of developing a newsletter electronically is the wide range of options available on the internet. Plus, being able to link to other content significantly increases the value of the newsletter with further exploration or deep-dives. As a friendly heads up, be sure to double and triple check the links before sharing with your audience!
Design and build a template
In the past, I have chosen to build a template which allows me to share the information electronically with teachers. I used a tool called Smore when I first began—here's an example. Prior to distribution, determine whether or not to include the date and consider whether to add an issue or the volume number. Also, be sure to add your contact information so that teachers at your building(s) know the best way to contact you.
Most recently, I chose to use a Google Docs template as the mode of sharing with teachers. Since becoming a GSuite district, the use of Google Docs as a mode of communication has been an easy tool to design and distribute. Here's an example of my Coach's Corner Newsletter.
Affirm with audience
Once you've created a template, decide on the articles to share with others. As you move forward, consider audience, resources, and dates as well as frequency of publication. What's important to remember is that you know your audience best. If you see patterns or trends as a coach, then try to address them specifically to reach a broader audience through articles or inspiration in the newsletter that will resonate with a current need. Always remember to try and find balance when sending out the newsletters so teachers aren't overwhelmed and end up clicking it into the trash. I personally found success with sending the newsletters out about once a month.
After sending the newsletter out, I took temperature checks or would hear comments from teachers regarding something they read or noticed. I knew in my heart that the feedback inspired me to continue on with the process. I hope you choose to begin this process as well. Best wishes for a successful journey and I hope you see the benefits of sending out a newsletter!
Watch Amy's video overview
About our Guest Blogger
Amy Rudd currently works as an instructional coach at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. She really loves children's literature and always tries to connect new learning and great books while working with children and teachers. Be sure to check out her personal blog and The Learning and Lead Cafe where she also contributes.
Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyJoRudd!