The purpose for instructional coaches is two fold. First and foremost, coaching is about increasing outcomes among students. Taking a student-centered approach to coaching is central to moving students towards success, because it occupies the space between where the students are and where they need to be. Instructional coaching is driven by the Common Core Standards and employs the use of data to help teacher make informed decision about their instruction.
An equally important goal of coaching is to advance effective instructional practices. Instructional coaches work side-by-side with teachers to put into practice the instructional practices that are deemed effective by the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for teaching. The instructional coach and teacher primarily focus on Domain 2: Classroom Environment and Domain 3: Instruction.
To increase student outcomes, teacher and coaches work to implement instructional practices in a way that meets the needs of a wide range of students rather than making assumptions about student achievement, teachers learn to monitor student learning through formative assessments and then design instruction to meet the diverse needs within the classroom. By facilitating team conversations targeted on instructional practices and expectations alongside student learning, the coaching model maintains a student-centered approach that ensures achievement.
There is a body of studies that support quality coaching as the major contributor to improvement in teachers’ instructional practices. According to Jim Knight’s work on instructional coaching, “As research has shown for years, traditional forms of professional development are not effective, usually getting no better than 10% implementation rate” (p.1). Coaching is an effective form of professional development that is individualized and job-embedded to address each teacher’s needs based on their own goals for instruction. If the goal of professional development is to make ongoing gains in one’s profession, then coaching achieves this because it isn’t meant to be transitory. Instructional coaching is ongoing and meets the needs of individual teachers in real time while increasing student performance.