As school districts feel the pressure tied to a growing emphasis on student achievement data, more and more are turning to instructional coaches and coordinators to support facility and facilitate progress.
If you're passionate about teaching and learning and want to put your strong analytical, communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills to work mentoring and empowering other educators, this could be the right path for you.
As an instructional coach, you could:
- Monitor and analyze teacher performance and student test scores to present suggestions on how to improve both to school boards and administrators.
- Review curricula to ensure what is being taught in classrooms meets state standards.
- Develop recommendations for curriculum, teaching method, and textbook improvements.
- Manage the textbook adoption process.
- Supervise development of instructional guidelines, policies, regulations, and official notices.
- Work with teachers one on one to develop useful and effective teaching techniques.
- Plan and execute teacher-training seminars.
- Manage the preparation of office budget requests and monitor expenditures.
A career in instructional coaching provides the perfect way for you to positively influence hundreds of children by helping teachers figure out how to reach them. At the same time, you're helping teachers find more career satisfaction and personal fulfillment as they uplevel their skill sets and proficiencies.
Elena Aguilar, an experienced K-12 educator, author, transformational-leadership coach, and consultant notes:
"An effective coach can coach a first grade teacher in reading, and an eighth grade algebra teacher, and a high school foreign language teacher who teaches only in that foreign language. In other words, an effective instructional coach doesn't provide knowledge of the content or curriculum but guides the teacher through a reflective process around decision-making."
How to become an instructional coach
In addition to two online Master of Education programs, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers a 100-percent-online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Coaching. This program is ideal for educational professionals who already hold a master’s degree and want to effectively support adult learners. It's also designed for those with undergraduate degrees hoping to test the waters of a graduate program before making a full commitment.
You can begin your program in spring, summer, or fall, and it's possible to complete your coursework in as few as 10 months. The Instructional Coach Graduate Certificate leads to a Louisiana Department of Education add-on endorsement as an instructional coach, and coursework could apply toward an M. Ed. instructional specialist concentration.
Career opportunities for instructional coaches
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinators (another term for coaches) held about 163,200 jobs in 2016.
Employment of instructional coordinators is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, reports the BLS. This demand is primarily due to the accountability placed on states and school districts for test scores and graduation rates, “putting more of an emphasis on student achievement data. Schools may increasingly turn to instructional coordinators to develop better curricula and improve teachers’ effectiveness."
The BLS notes that instructional coordinators with a solid teaching background and leadership experience should enjoy the best job prospects.