What is an instructional coach?
Quality teacher professional development is essential to the outcome of student achievement. In their careers, teachers must be challenged with new ideas in order to foster a classroom culture of student engagement. The instructional coach is an embedded professional development practitioner who helps teachers attain these lofty educational outcomes (Blackman, 2010).
Instructional coaches share the responsibility of teacher leadership with administrators in the district. Typically, however, coaches are not teacher supervisors and serve a non-evaluative function (Hanover Research, 2015). Coaches employ their pedagogical expertise and the relationships built with teachers to influence change.
CTE and Instructional Coaching
Career and technical education teachers face unique challenges in the secondary educational setting, where many arrive from industry following a change in careeer. Though they may be experts in their subject matter, they often have minimal training in pedagogy (Foster, Hornberger, & Watkins, 2017). New CTE teachers benefit from mentorship and coaching.
New CTE teachers must learn how to instruct in both classroom and lab environments. Training in classroom safety protocols is a priority. They must learn how to implement classroom management and best practices for engaging students. New CTE teachers also will benefit from understanding, more generally, the field of education. They need to be informed about work expectations, academic achievement, special populations and school policy.
In a large school district, as CTE administrators are busy with the day-to-day business of running the department, important communications with teachers can be lost. Instructional coaches provide mentorship to teachers and they also listen to the teachers’ aspirations and concerns. As a result, through listening, the CTE instructional coach can counsel the teacher on their goals.
Monica Amyett is a CTE instructional coach with Fort Worth Independent School District. Email her.
ACTE members can read the full article, “Instructional Coaching & Its Role in Career Development for CTE Teachers,” in the May issue of Techniques. Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.