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What Does an Instructional Coach Do?

If you are an educator with the desire to become a leader for change in schools, you may want to consider becoming an instructional coach. With a keen interest in the science of teaching — the nuts and bolts that determine the desired approach for the best outcome — instructional coaches are currently leading the charge in embracing new, more successful educational models.

Teacher Mentoring

The responsibilities of an instructional coach vary from place to place, but most commonly, duties include working with teachers and other school leaders as well as “modeling lessons, curating resources to share with departments, and developing customized curriculum for individual students or special units,” according to the Educational Leadership. Your position as a mentor may be limited to specific content areas, such as math or literacy, or you may interact with teachers in all areas of instruction.

You will support individual teachers to bring their instruction in line with current research-based teaching practices. In conversation and collaboration with them, you will discuss specific challenges and suggest new classroom strategies. You may also model lessons using more effective techniques, offer hands-on help in developing curriculum for project-based learning units and student assessments, or introduce innovative ways in which to use assistive technologies to improve classroom engagement.

As an instructional coach, you will be a trusted sounding board, addressing issues faced in and outside of the classroom and offering practical and ethical solutions. And you will be filling an important need in the field of education. A survey conducted by The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching found that, “seventy-nine percent of teachers coached regularly said that their coach played a significant role in improving their classroom instruction and practice” and teachers reported that they “made significant changes in their instructional practice,” that their “students were more engaged in the classroom and enthusiastic about learning,” and that “attendance increased dramatically in their classes,” according to PIIC.

Leading Professional Development and Change

As a leader for change, an instructional coach may be expected to work at the building or district level on school improvement initiatives. These tasks may include:

  • Analyzing current school practices and determining school- or district-wide needs
  • Presenting practical solutions and curating appropriate resources in the areas of student engagement, educational models and student achievement, and instructional skills.
  • Spearheading staff development at the school or district level, including leading faculty development meetings, organizing department presentations and providing development activities.
  • Instructing the faculty to analyze and use their own student and classroom data to make informed decisions about educational progress, culture and challenges

The main goal of the instructional coach is to facilitate positive change in the school by building collegial relationships and developing strong educational practices — with the ultimate goal of student success.

An Educational Path to Instructional Coaching

We live in a world that relies on data to make wise decisions in every industry and professional environment. Having a foundation in these skills will complement your classroom experience as you find success as an instructional coach.

The online Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Teaching Technology program from Northwest Missouri State University provides coursework in the areas of professional mentoring and leading cultural and educational change. The program focuses on research-based instructional design and teacher training techniques, which you will use as you support fellow teachers and strengthen professional development programming. To direct and lead educational change, having the ability to assess systems and strategies is essential. This program is specifically designed to prepare you as both leader and change-maker.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online MS in Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Teaching Technology program.


Educational Leadership: The Many Roles of an Instructional Coach

Cult of Pedagogy: What It’s Like to Be an Instructional Coach

PIIC: Pennsylvania High School Coaching Initiative

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