What is an Instructional Coach?

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!  I have been thinking a great deal about this upcoming year and how I can best support you in the classroom.  I think it is important to first describe my role as Hart High’s instructional coach.

What is an Instructional Coach?  

  • Instructional coaches collaborate with teachers to help them use proven practices.

What does an Instructional Coach do?

An instructional coach…

  • …has an open classroom and invites anyone to come and observe
  • …is available to model lessons and teaching strategies in classrooms
  • …works one-on-one with teachers or helps small groups collaborate effectively
  • …facilitates lesson studies
  • …helps teachers brainstorm ideas and strategies
  • …observes and provides feedback on lessons
  • …is knowledgable about District Anchor Standards
  • …carries out our guiding principle: Expertly teaching ALL 21st century learners to think and communicate collaboratively and creatively
  • …and (this one is my own addition and my favorite!) shares our teaching lives and best practices on the Hart Literacy blog!

What an Instructional Coach is NOT…

…an administrator.  Many think I have taken on this role because I wish to be an administrator one day.  Nope!  I am not part of administration now and I have no plans to ever become an administrator in the future.  What I love about being the IC is that I am still able to be in the classroom and teach my own classes for part of the day.  I am able to focus on improving instruction because I am constantly examining and reflecting on my own teaching practices on a daily basis.  Also, I do not report to administrators about teachers.  I am not in a role to evaluate any teachers (nor do I have a desire to do so!). Instead, I work with teachers on improving student achievement and will always honor the work we do together.  In my past experience, I learn as much from you as you do from me!

What to Expect

  • I plan on visiting classrooms often this year.  You will probably see me popping in and out periods 5, 6, and 7.  However, please also email me if you have a specific lesson you would like me to see so I schedule you in!
  • I can drop by before and after school, at lunch, or during your prep any time you want to brainstorm ideas or lessons.  I can help with approaches, explaining standards, considering technologies, etc.  Just stop me when you see me, email me, or text me (ask for my number…this is the fastest way to reach me when I am walking around campus).
  • I will be facilitating lesson studies that focus on our Anchor Standards.  When a lesson study idea comes up, talk to other teachers with whom you would like to work and contact me.  I can also help you form a team.  Remember, this team can be course/grade alike or it can be cross-curricular.  We had some great cross-curricular lesson studies that focused on specific skills and anchor standards.

My Schedule 

Period 2         ELD 4

Period 3, 4     AP Language and Composition

Period 5          Prep (although I can also often work with teachers during this time)

Periods 6-7   IC:  Time to work with teachers

Conversation is central to the professional learning work we will do together.  Below are six principles that guide our work:

  • Equality:  As an Instructional Coach and a teacher, I am not in a role of superior or evaluator.  We are equal partners.
  • Choice:  Participant choice is implicit in every conversation about content and strategies and in our process.
  • Dialogue: ICs collaborate with teachers in conversations that allow us to think and to learn together.
  • Voice:  Teachers and ICs know they are free to express their opinions about the teaching techniques they are learning and using.
  • Reflection:  Professional learning involves numerous opportunities for participants to consider the practical implications of the new ideas that teachers and ICs explore.
  • Reciprocity:  ICs value the participants’ perspectives and abilities to invent useful new applications of the content that they are exploring.

Why site-based Instructional Coaches?  

Check out the incredible impact of coaching based on the Joyce and Showers study:




Finally, I will be leading two PAR workshops this year with TOSA Eunice Hong.  The first will be Wednesday September 14 and the title of the workshop is “A Closer Look at Closer Reading.”  This is the second year we have given this workshop.  Last year we had teachers from all disciplines attend which made for a rich shared learning experience.

Click here for a full list of workshops available to you!

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business;

we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” 

-Gwendolyn Brooks

Sarah Avanessian

**Some material adapted from “A Primer on Instructional Coaches” by Jim Knight



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