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Role of the Instructional Coach

The coach serves as part of the LEA’s leadership team, providing job-embedded and ongoing professional development for teachers, staff, and administration. They provide support to the principal in data analysis and professional development decision-making. They provide professional development and guidance for teachers to improve their content knowledge and instructional strategies. Overall, the job of the coach is to build the capacity of the school and its teachers to meet the learning needs of all students. The coach's goals are to ensure that school staff acquires the understanding and skills to 1) enhance instructional practices at the classroom level and 2) raise the level of student achievement.

The effective coach spends the majority of the time working in classrooms with teachers (e.g. modeling, observing, co-teaching). The coach plays a very strong role in the analysis and utilization of student achievement data to impact instructional decision-making. They should not, however, be responsible for the administration of assessments, collection of assessment data, or management of data systems. The focus of the coach's work is to help teachers learn to use data for instructional planning that will have a positive impact on student achievement. In that role, the coach helps the teacher learn how to administer and interpret various assessment tools. The coach may facilitate teacher study groups in which they analyze student work and lesson plans and plan for the enhancement of instructional strategies. The coach’s analysis of student work and teaching and learning data will inform what occurs during coaching sessions with individual teachers and in the teacher study groups.

The roles and responsibilities of the coach include:

  • participating in all required coach professional development. The coach is charged with acquiring the knowledge, skills, technology skills, and instructional strategies necessary to effectively impact the instructional practices of the teachers that are coached. They must remain knowledgeable about current and past research in the specific content area and other pedagogies relevant to the coaching role.
  • identifying school teaching and learning needs, barriers and weaknesses by analyzing student data, and organizing and implementing problem-solving actions with teachers.
  • facilitating school-based high-quality professional development, working with teachers (in teams or individually) to refine their knowledge and skills. Professional development could include, but not be limited to, in-class coaching, observing, modeling of instructional strategies, guiding teachers in looking at student work, developing lesson plans with teachers based on student needs, supporting data analysis, supporting the integration of technology, co-planning with teachers, etc.
  • monitoring instructional effectiveness and student progress using tools and strategies gained through professional development.
  • building and maintaining confidential relationships with teachers. The conversations and interactions that the coach has with teachers must always remain confidential so that a high level of trust is created and maintained between the teacher and the coach. Exceptions to this include imminent physical or psychological danger to the students. The coach reports directly to and is held accountable by the school principal or other appropriately certified supervisory personnel.