Book Review- The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

So I am a few weeks deep into my first year as a tech coach, and I really wanted to be mindful of my weaknesses going into this year. I know I’m a talker (hello blog) and my personality is one of wanting to share and help! As a coach, I’m learning how to help people help themselves and empower THEM to organize their thoughts and such, without just giving them my own answers that may or may not work in every situation. Enter “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier. (available here)


Driving back to TX one afternoon from LA I needed an audiobook to pass the time and so I searched for leadership books. This one caught my eye and at almost 4 hours, fit my drive! Thanks GOODNESS I nabbed this sucker from audible- I’m actually going to buy the print copy also just for the absolute usefulness and journaling aspect I saw that it had as well. I need to do all.the.highlighting!

I had read a few coaching books to prepare for the interview for this job, but they seemed pretty common sense and a bit pedagogical. While those books have their place, I love a good PRACTICAL book to go along with the pedagogy. This book is that practical checklist that gives you ideas, seven simple questions to ask, and walks you through situations of when and how to ask these questions. It gives you a space to imagine, write, and rethink your interactions with your coworkers. It also gives a great wealth of resources from other great leadership books- another reason I want to buy the paper copy is just to cross reference and have more inspiring books to add to my growing list of “need to read”!

I highly recommend this book to anyone in any leadership capacity at all. You can download a preview on the website, or find the author on twitter @boxofcrayons

Tell me:

         -Have you read the book? What did you think? 

         -What is your favorite “coaching” or leadership book you’ve read?


Comment below or tweet @mrslacysmith #firstyeareveryyear #coachinghabit

First year of Intentional Leadership

So, as I’ve mentioned before, this will be my 10th year in education. Along the way, I’ve gotten pretty good at using technology in my class and often I was one of a few “go-to” people on my campus for tech help. My administrators were also pushing me to get my master’s degree like many other teachers in our district in technology or leadership. They thought I’d be a wonderful teacher coach, and I needed my master’s to qualify. No offense to all the admin out there- but I had no desire to go into leadership as a principal or assistant in my future! I also couldn’t make myself pay for a degree in technology when I can teach myself those things. (A teacher coach is someone on campus who is a liaison, partner, mentor, and so much more for the teachers!) I really did start to entertain the idea of having this job one day with a few hang-ups:


I’m all science. I love it- I geek out on it- I have every nerdy science shirt, pin, and cat meme!


I did not feel like I could successfully co-teach, lead, or help an English teacher in any way other than with technology! So I happily kept my role as tech-help with the occasional presentation at campus meeting days.

courtesy of @kidworldcitizen – click to go to blog post

Fast forward to last year- my family moved to Texas, in a district where you do not need a master’s to be a teacher coach, and there is a position that exists called the “learning technology coach”. SAY WHAT?! Sign me up!! I started paying closer attention to what that job entailed and started tweeting and following more educators on twitter. (OMG the professional development and amazing community of educators on twitter- WOW!)

A job actually opened up for this coming year and I applied, despite having just moved here. A few teachers told me “don’t expect to get it, this is your first year in the district”.  Oh but idealistic, Mrs. Positive me said- “we’ll see”! Well I didn’t get it. I was pretty upset at first thinking of what I could have said wrong in the interview and thinking of all the plans I had if I got the job. (I made it all the way to the interview stage.) But something shifted in me and I was only sad for a second.

See, I had just gotten news that day that I would move from teaching mostly 8th grade to teaching only 6th grade (thank you sweet Jesus- I missed my 6th grade kiddos!) All of a sudden, I really was excited to teach my 6th graders. After my “first year” in Texas (see previous blog post here), I knew I needed to ramp up my teaching. I decided I would be a leader anyway. I would move forward with my technology plans anyway. I didn’t need the title to hold parent tech nights. I didn’t need the title to earn digital badges and become certified in all.the.apps.and.things! I made a conscious decision to be a leader on campus and spread positive change despite “just being a teacher”. I downloaded some ebooks -first one I read was Empower by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer which made me tear up at the end and re-empowered me. (See full review here) I attended #notatiste ( because I wasn’t actually at the coolest tech conference around. I even learned how to make this snazzy digital badge for my digital attendance!#notatiste17

Fast forward to today! Long story short, another learning technology coach position opened and I was called to accept the job! I was literally jumping for joy and crying happy tears around my house. (Can you tell I’m an emotional one?) I was a smidge sad about not having my 6th grade kids next year. BUT I DID say this year would be my first of intentional leadership- little did I know how true that would be.

Tell me:

– In what ways will you be an INTENTIONAL LEADER
on your campus this year?

Comment below or tweet @mrslacysmith #firstyeareveryyear


10 years in…

So this is it folks- I’ve officially hit a decade of teaching! That’s 10 summers of planning, 10 “first” weeks and days, 10 years of kiddos gone by. My first group of kids are finishing college and starting their masters degrees (I’ll be right there with ’em)! Some are joining the work force and moving across the country. Some are just beginning as first year teachers. This summer it finally hit me– I treat every year in some way as if it were my first. Of course I’ve learned a lot along the way, but in education the ways change quickly and in these days of edtech, they change as fast as you blink. But every summer I still pull out my ragged copy of “The First Days of School”, I inevitably read a hopelessly optimistic and empowering professional development book, and I dream of what I want my students to engage in and how seamless my procedures will be by October.

Then October comes and I’m begging for some Wong intervention! All kidding aside- I realized this summer how intentional I want to be with my reflective practices, and how far and hard I really wanted to push myself this year. (See the about section for more background.) What better way to do that than share with the world the failures and successes of all those trials. I LOVE to help out new teachers, and love reading ideas and experiences of others- so this will be a multipurpose experiment in reflection, connection, and celebration (when all of my great ideas work perfectly of course)! I’m sure there will be some rejection as well- as all good teachers know, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. So here’s to another year of a little bit of messy, a little bit of silly, and a whole lot of learning!