An instructional coach is someone who has an education background but works primarily with adults. Instead of working with kids in classrooms, coaches work with the teachers and administrators to help them understand the best way of teaching students. Though coaches do not need a teaching license, they do need a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in education (please see: Top 15 Best and Most Affordable Graduate Educational Leadership Programs). Looking at what these coaches do and some of the difficulties they encounter on the job can help you decide whether to enter this profession after college.

What is an Instructional Coach?

A teacher will present information to students in the classroom and then assign work and create tests to see how well they understand that information. Instructional coaches care about the way in which students learn, but they focus more on how teachers present materials. They look at research and studies that offer new methods of learning and educating others. Coaches then present that information to schools and help teachers determine the best way of incorporating that information into their own classes. Instructional coaches help teachers to learn things like how to use new forms of technology in the classroom, how to present data to their students in different formats, and new methods of interacting with their students.

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Where Do They Work?

Instructional coaches generally work for either an individual school or an entire school district. When a school district hires a coach, the school board typically expects that coach to work with all teachers within that district. You’ll have the chance to travel between schools, meet with new teachers nearly every day and return to those schools to see if your work was effective. Individual schools often hire coaches on a freelance or temporary basis when funds become available. You may look for work at a company that sends coaches out to schools all across the country.

How to Become a Coach

Once you know what an instructional coach is, you may want to look at how you can become a coach. Though you do not necessarily need a teaching license, some of the most effective coaches are those who have a license and spent a few years as a teacher. You may need a Master of Education degree with a specialization in leadership or a similar subject. It’s also helpful to have some experience working with adults. Doing volunteer work at an adult literacy program or working as a tutor for adults going back to college helps you understand what it takes to work with adult students.

Difficulties of the Job

Before becoming an instructional coach, you need to take a good look at some of the difficulties of the job. Elena Aguilar, who is a leadership coach in California, points out that some of those difficulties surround the way in which adults learn. You cannot use the same teaching methods that you would use in a high school or elementary school when working with adults. Some coaches also have a hard time presenting materials to teachers and administrators in a way that is easy for those professionals to understand.

Instructional coaches work with teachers and administrators to introduce new methods of teaching and new ways of learning. They work for companies, school districts and individual schools. Knowing what an instructional coach is, what they do on the job and how you can start working as a coach helps you decide what to study in college and what steps to take after graduation.