What is an instructional Coach?

Ten Roles for the Instructional Coach


Instructional Coaches assume a wide range of roles to support school and student success. A coach’s role can be in part defined by the needs of their school.  The following ten roles are a sampling of the many ways instructional coaches can contribute to their school’s success.


1.     Resource Provider:   Sharing instructional resources such as Web sites, instructional materials, readings, or other resources to use with students. They may also share such professional resources as articles, books, lesson or unit plans, and assessment tools.


2.     Instructional Specialist:  Help colleagues implement effective teaching strategies.  Such as ideas for differentiating instruction, planning lessons in partnership and implementing the 28 research-based classroom strategies.


3.     Curriculum Specialist:  Understanding content standards, how various components of the curriculum link together, how to use the curriculum in planning instruction and assessment.   Help teachers to agree on the standards, follow the adopted curriculum, use pacing guides, and develop shared assessments.


4.     Classroom Supporter:  Co-teaching and collaborating or observing and giving feedback.


5.     Learning Facilitator:  Facilitating professional learning opportunities among staff members.


6.     Mentor:  Mentors serve as role models; help familiarize new teachers with a new school and advise all teachers in general about instruction, curriculum, procedures and best practices.


7.     School Leader:  Serving on committees (should be a member of the School Improvement Team), sharing the vision of the school, supporting school initiatives and representing the school on community or district task forces or committees.


8.     Data Coach: Lead conversations that engage their peers in analyzing and using data to drive and strengthen instruction.

9. Catalyst for Change: Always looking for new and better ways to improve student engagement and achievement; a strong commitment to continual improvement.

 10.  Learner: Learners model continual improvement, demonstrate lifelong learning, and use what they learn to help all students achieve. Instructional coaches exhibit leadership in multiple, sometimes overlapping, ways.  Some roles are formal with designated responsibilities.  Other more informal roles emerge as coaches interact with their peers.  Regardless of the roles they assume, coaches help to shape the culture of their schools, improve student learning, and influence best practices among their peers. By Phyllis McCoy, Instructional Coach at Farmville High School. Excerpts taken from ‘Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders’ by Cindy Harrison and Joellen Killion found in the September 2007 issue of Educational Leadership published by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.The ten roles are described in more detail in Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches by J. Killion and C. Harrison, 2006, Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.