What is an Instructional Coach?

Instructional Coach An instructional coach is a highly accomplished educator whose leading professional responsibility is to work with teachers and other school staff to bring evidence-based practices into K-12 classroom settings. Due to the professional development requirements created in the No Child Left Behind Act and the growing number of school improvement plans nationwide, instructional coaches are becoming more prominent to help improve teachers’ classroom practices for enhanced student learning. According to Reading Rockets, 60% of districts in America have instructional coaches to assist in struggling school communities. In order to determine if this advanced teacher leadership position is the right fit, below we have included a full job description for an instructional coach.

What Instructional Coaches Do

Many school districts are now hiring instructional coaches with the goal of increasing teacher expertise, improving student achievement, advancing school reform, and enhancing student engagement. Instructional coaches are typically responsible for facilitating professional development activities for teachers to improve pedagogical skills. Instructional coaches offer teachers guidance, support, training, and access to valuable resources for addressing issues that they face daily within their classrooms. Rather than hosting a one-shot workshop, instructional coaches provide ongoing assistance as skillful mentors. Since being a teacher can be extremely taxing emotionally, instructional coaches also work with teachers to develop coping mechanisms for emotional resilience. Instructional coaches create detailed coaching plans, provide direct feedback through observations, track teacher progress, foster collaboration, and consistently analyze teachers’ capacity to improve student learning.

Where Instructional Coaches Work

As schools across the United States adopt instructional coaching as a more effective model for professional development, instructional coaches will be in higher demand to facilitate teachers’ implementation of the Common Core Standards. The majority of instructional coaches work one-on-one or in small groups with K-12 teachers to offer support around evidence-based literacy strategies. While some instructional coaches are employed by a specific struggling school, many more work for a whole school district and will travel between schools for meeting with teachers. Despite the fact that instructional coaches are not directly involved with teaching children, many are employed for a 10-month school year with a summer break like teachers.

How to Become an Instructional Coach

Instructional coaches are experienced educators that must have the credibility needed to oversee professional development with teachers and administrators. Therefore, all instructional coaches will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in education and possess valid teaching certification. In many cases, instructional coaches return to graduate school to receive a master’s degree related to teacher leadership and earn a certificate related to coaching. Beyond the bachelor’s level, the most important qualification for becoming an instructional coach is having teaching experience. The majority of schools will require coaches have at least five years of full-time classroom teaching under their belt to ensure they have the knowledge to motivate adult learners to improve professional practices.

Related Resource: Curriculum Developer

According to Edutopia, if you are interested in becoming an instructional coach, you will need to possess knowledge of adult learning theories, be able to facilitate healthy teams, enjoy the particular challenges of working with teachers, focus on data-driven results, and have the leadership to excel despite obstacles. As an instructional coach, you will lead an incredibly rewarding career in helping teachers figure out how to improve their classroom practices and making a significant positive impact on the education of hundreds of children.