What is Instructional Coaching?

What is Instructional Coaching?  What’s the first thing that comes to mind?  Someone who teaches? Someone who coaches while teaching?  YES!!  But who?  And how?  An instructional coach is more than a helping hand.  An instructional coach gives advice, offers assistance, works with teachers as well as students, and is committed no matter the crazy hours or time it takes.  An instructional coach is in it for the LONG HAUL!

Instructional Coaches are hired to increase student engagement, improve student achievement, and build teacher power within schools.  A coach can be ANYONE!  A district leader, content specialist, or even a classroom teacher can coach.  An instructional coach has credibility, is experienced, is highly accomplished, and is supportive.  

What is Instructional Coaching?

Giving advice through the experience the coach has is at the top of the totem pole of an instructional coach.  A coach has been an educator, and a good one at that, and knows that it takes extra time, work, and heart to achieve student engagement in order for the results to produce student achievement.

A coach offers assistance, in any way possible, to reach both student engagement and achievement.  Sometimes, the assistance comes in the form of ideas.  Other times it comes in the form of modeling or even some team teaching!  A coach does whatever it takes to assist the teacher in order to get results that will make each child successful.

With that being said, an instructional coach sometimes works with a variety of environments.  The coach can work with individual teachers, small groups of teachers, and even alongside teachers, teaching the students.  Coaches often times meet with teachers or small groups before or after school, put extra hours in doing research on the best strategies to increase student achievement and engagement.  

Instructional coaches are committed to building power among teachers.  They are supportive in every way, which means an instructional coach has strong people skills.  Being an instructional coach is by no means an easy task.  Some even think that if they are burnt out on teaching, but don’t want to retire, an instructional coach is the way to go.  This is NOT the case.  Building relationships with the individuals a coach works with is often a great challenge.  

A few ways an instructional coach can gain credibility among cooperating staff are to show compassion, put in the extra hours, and let them know that YOU GET IT!  Teaching is HARD, it is constantly demanding, physically and emotionally, and as a coach, it’s not any different.  For a teacher, letting someone in to offer assistance is sometimes intimidating.  Show the staff that you understand the struggles they are facing.  Don’t run into the classroom and take it over.  Watch, offer suggestions, do a little modeling, team teach, but don’t take over.  Work WITH the teachers, not against them.  Meet when it’s convenient for THEM, not you as a coach. Teaching is demanding and often teachers are overwhelmed with meeting after meeting.  By allowing the teacher to choose the time, let’s them know that you understand their busy schedule.

Finally, be passionate about coaching. Be passionate just like you would as a teacher in the classroom.  The smile on your face and the energy that you bring into a room says mounds about yourself as a coach.  Be the sunshine in the rain.  Be the difference someone needs to increase student engagement, achievement, and build empowerment among teachers!

Are you a new or experienced coach? Tell me your definition of “What is Instructional coaching?” 


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