In case you or Fel Lee were wondering what instructional coaches do.
By Greg Sampson
Instructional coaches, both reading and math, are tasked with improving the instructional quality of the reading or math teachers that work at the school. Their function is not to work directly with students, but to work with teachers to help them achieve the desired proficiency and learning gains for the school.
As such, these coaches are directed to engage in the coaching cycle: Modeling instruction for teachers in their classrooms, co-teaching, and observing teachers implement different methods of instruction. Each stage is preceded and followed by planning and debriefing sessions. Done right, it is a collaboration between two professionals with discussion about teaching and student learning.
Instructional coaches support teachers. Nothing they do or observe can be used for evaluative purposes by administrators.
Instructional coaches conduct professional development. Since secondary teachers now receive 90 minutes for planning each day, DTU has agreed with DCPS that one day a week the planning session may be designated for professional development by the school’s administration.
Reading coaches in particular oversee some of the required testing (e.g., DAR) and assist teachers in completing the testing that requires one-on-one assessment. They also interpret data and assist teachers with data analysis. At the moment, reading coaches are engaged in reviewing the Iowa E results to make sure that all students are placed in the correct reading enrichment class.
Math coaches are about to begin the i-Ready diagnostic and implement the district-provided RtI process in the classroom.
According to Dr. Vitti, it is through the coaching efforts of these persons that students, schools, and the District will improve. It is a key part of his strategic plan. With all the changes implemented this year, coaches are helping teachers adapt and understand what to do. They have the time to research and troubleshoot that a busy teacher cannot do.
DCPS has mandated that a minimum of 80% of the coach’s time should be spent in the classroom or otherwise in direct support of teachers: data analysis, gathering resources, planning, professional development.
Coaches may be assigned other duties by the principal, but the principal must remain within the 20% guideline. Coaches turn in weekly logs in detail that describe their work. These logs are reviewed by an assistant principal at the school, the principal, the district specialist, the district director, and are available to other officials up to the superintendent himself.