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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

The Role of Instructional Coaches

In recent months, I've worked with our elementary instructional coaches to analyze their work and responsibilities. Were they effective? Could they measure the impact of their work? Were they moving the needle with support for teachers?

After much reflection, we all concluded that there were opportunities to rethink the role of instructional coaches, or "teachers on assignment." So what will now look differently and how does the research support our next steps?

All educators need mentoring. Yes, I said "all" because not even I do it right every day. I have mentors too! And as a marathon coach, I know that my role is to assist, inspire and motivate those with whom I run. Likewise, our instructional coaches can play that same role with other teachers.

Coaching isn't designed for teachers who need a lot of support, although there are those out there for whom coaching can improve practice. Coaching is also about mentoring - about helping teachers think differently about classroom management, hone their craft with a new adoption, rethink their favorite lesson from the perspective of deeper engagement or with a new technology that can strengthen instructional connections.

Coaches are great change agents. They are often on the cutting edge of the next instructional practice to permeate a district or focus on implementation of a new curricular adoption. Coaches need to have the time to expand their skills, connect the instructional vision with current practice, and truly work to ensure that initiatives are successfully implemented.

Coaches are often superstars a professional development. When I think of the coaches I've observed this year, those I've seen are pro's at professional development. To infuse their work into school sites, grade level teams, and PLC's, their ability to drive change and have teachers (and instructional aides) work in a manner to strengthen connections with students - win!

And what I've also seen is that our coaches are also our next assistant principals...who become our principals....who become our coordinators and directors. They need to be encouraged to take risks and hone their craft, and focusing some of their work in the area of professional development achieves the win/win!

Coaches have the ability to significantly impact a system. May we all be blessed with strong ones like I've worked with this year in Dublin Unified. The potential for the 2017/2018 school year is limitless - here's to a great new year with more intentionality of the role of instructional coaches.

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