Skip to main content

What Is an Instructional Coach?

January 12, 2023

Teachers care about continuously improving their ability to educate their students and about supporting their development. Perhaps because they care so much, teachers experience a higher level of burnout than many other professions, according to a 2022 Gallup survey. An important factor contributing to teacher burnout is a lack of resources and support for professional development.

To hone skills, sharpen strategies, and gain greater success in the classroom and their profession, many teachers benefit from the services of an instructional coach. These specialized professionals are typically assigned by a principal or the school district’s administrative team. An instructional coach is what not only helps teachers become better at what they do but also serves schools, administrations, and students in the process.

For those who share a passion for teaching, along with enthusiasm for helping others achieve professional growth and development, instructional coaching can be a rewarding career path. A key step to becoming an effective instructional coach is earning an advanced education in pedagogy, classroom management, one-on-one instruction, and more.

What Does an Instructional Coach Do?

What an instruction coach does can vary, depending on the field. In many fields, working with coaches has become a popular way to seek personal and professional development. For example, many surgeons seek to improve their skills or master new methods by enlisting the expertise of a surgical coach. Life coaches, meanwhile, help individuals navigate difficult decisions or to work toward achieving personal objectives.

With a focus on educators, an instructional coach works in much the same way. These coaches have extensive knowledge about their chosen field and seek to impart that knowledge to other teachers. Crucially, the function of a coach is not just to lecture or provide classroom-style learning. Instead, the coach works as a partner, talking with an educator about how to set and achieve the right goals.

Instructional Coach Job Description

The basic mission of the instructional coach is to help teachers improve both their ability to teach and their ability to learn, empowering them to create classroom environments in which their students can thrive and succeed. In pursuit of this goal, there are several duties and responsibilities commonly assigned to the coach.

  • Working directly with teachers to assess their classroom and students
  • Identifying specific, measurable goals
  • Choosing the proper pedagogical strategies to meet those goals
  • Ensuring a teaching style that aligns with the mission and values of the school or system
  • Talking with teachers about their progress and troubleshooting any obstacles they encounter

Thinking of a coach as a partner is key. A good coach doesn’t observe a classroom and dictate how the teacher can make improvements. Instead, the coach talks with the teacher as a peer, collaborating on strategies to address problems and create a healthier learning environment. In this way, the role of the instructional coach is more collaborative than that of an instructional coordinator.

What Is the Typical Instructional Coach Salary?

According to December 2022 data from the compensation website Payscale, instructional coaches who work in the field of education can expect an annual median salary of approximately $60,000.

Many variables can affect the salary level of a coach. These include years of experience, level of education, and the geographic area and its associated cost of living.

What Is the Process to Become an Instructional Coach?

Several steps are involved in becoming an instructional coach. 

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Initially, any educator needs to hone basic skills and gain classroom management experience in the process of completing a bachelor-level degree in the field of education.

Become Licensed to Teach

To become an instructional coach, you first need to become a licensed teacher. This typically means completing the licensing examination administered by the state’s board of education. Specifics may vary from one state to the next.

Gain Experience

To speak authoritatively about classroom management and earn the respect of other teachers, it is paramount to get a few years of teaching experience before transitioning into coaching.

Advance Your Education

To become a coach, teachers must continue their education through an advanced degree program, usually by earning a Master of Education (MEd) or a Doctorate of Education (EdD).

Apply for Coaching Jobs

The final step is finding schools or school districts that are hiring coaches and applying to instructional coaching positions.

Help Teachers Reach Their Full Potential 

Teaching is a noble but challenging profession. Many educators search for solutions to improve their own professional performance and in turn, the academic performance of their students. One way to achieve these goals is to become an instructional coach who trains teachers, through one-on-one relationships, to apply problem-solving and coaching techniques that make a difference. 

To prepare for this role, discover the benefits of an advanced degree; either an online Master of Education (MEd) in Education Policy and Leadership or an online EdD in Education Policy and Leadership from American University.