Do You Need A Master of Arts in Teaching To Be An Instructional Coach?

Instructional CoachIn an era of increasingly tough state standards for education, and the increasing prominence of the Common Core instructional design system, many who aspire to write curriculum wonder if they need a Master of Arts in Teaching to be an instructional coach, according to Education Week. The good news is that many instructional coaches actually perform this task quite capably without having pursued a master’s degree in any particular field. That’s not to say that a graduate-level degree won’t help the process, however. Those teachers who are considering advancing into a role in instructional coaching and curriculum design should be aware of the best ways to become qualified for this role. There are some must-have credentials, some optional resume enhancers, and many opportunities to be enjoyed as a result.

Possess a Teaching Certification

It’s hard to be an authority on curriculum and instructional methods without a bachelor’s degree in education and a permanent teaching license from the state. These credentials make it possible for instructional coaches to design curriculum and coach other teachers with authority, by referencing major educational studies, psychological concepts, and proven methods of achieving standards proficiency in even the most challenging classrooms. Be prepared to submit PRAXIS scores, a copy of the teaching certificate, a transcript of any courses taken, and other verification documents in order to satisfy this most common requirement.

Extensive Teaching Experience in Traditional Classrooms

Another key way to speak with authority about curriculum is simply to have taught in an actual, traditional school setting at some point in the past. Many instructional coaching positions require at least five years of instructional experience, though the most demanding jobs in this segment require as much as a decade of teaching experience before educators can switch roles and start planning for new textbooks, new state standards, and new methods of conveying time-tested concepts. Because of the teaching requirement, many instructional coaches are internal hires who have been working for the same district for many years.

A Master’s Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, Education, or Subject Areas

A master’s degree is hardly ever enforced as a requirement or condition of employment as an instructional coach. Even so, advanced studies of curriculum certainly won’t hurt a candidate’s chances of gaining employment in this crucial role. While virtually any master’s degree will elevate a candidate’s chances of employment and give them an even greater depth of knowledge from which to draw while planning curriculum, a few are more recommended than others. Those without a specific content background might be advised to consider graduate-level programs in curriculum design, instruction, or education in general. An administration degree or certification may also be useful.

For those who are more familiar with teaching specific content at the middle school and secondary levels, a different approach may be taken. A master’s degree in mathematics, for instance, pairs well with undergraduate work in education and teaching experience in the classroom. It qualifies the coach to work specifically on standards-aligned math curriculum, teaching other adult educators how to work with new standards, technologies, materials, and research regarding learning styles.

Related Resource: Master of Educational Leadership

Instructional Coaches Need Experience, Not Just a Master’s Degree

Candidates worried about their level of education should worry instead about their level of experience and their ability to teach other adults about educational standards and new approaches. Coaches do not need a Master of Arts to be an Instructional Coach, but they should bring to the table a great deal of experience, certification, experience, and flexibility.