How Do You Become an Instructional Coach?

Instructional CoachIf you have a passion for teaching, but would rather work with grownups, you may be the perfect fit to become an instructional coach. Instructional coaching is an emerging profession open to experienced, licensed educators in K-12 school districts nationwide. Instructional coaches are school administrators who advise teachers on appropriate curricula, technology, and other learning tools in the classroom. Instructional coaches mentor teachers either one-on-one or in workshop settings to help improve their pedagogical skills. They’ll suggest textbooks, projects, assessments, and teaching techniques to boost student learning. Demand in instructional coaching is high as employment is poised to grow 13 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Below is a step-by-step guide for anyone wishing to become an instructional coach.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Before coaching other teachers, you’ll have to become a teacher yourself. All 50 states across America require educators to hold at least a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. For those interested in the younger grades, a major in elementary education or early childhood education is encouraged. If you want to teach secondary school, you’ll likely have to pick a subject area major like English or mathematics and minor in education. Choosing a school accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is recommended.

Acquire State Teacher Certification

Along with finishing your student teaching semester, you’ll have to take a series of standardized teacher certification tests. Requirements vary by location, so check with your state’s Department of Education to learn specifics. Most states will require teaching candidates to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test. Taking the Praxis Subject Assessment test will also be required for aspiring high school teachers. You’ll need to register for the exam online and take the exam at a test location near you. Review the free Praxis test prep resources to study, according to the Education Testing Services.

Obtain Classroom Experience

After becoming certified, you must build a solid resume with several years of related classroom teaching experience. Future instructional coaches should take teaching positions at the grade level or in the subject area where they wish to mentor. Experience is the only way to learn the challenges that teachers face while instructing youth. If possible, work your way up into school administrative positions like teacher leader or assistant principal. It’s also recommended that you gain experience teaching adults. Consider working in a community college or running an adult education program.

Pursue a Master’s Degree

Finally, instructional coaches need to attend graduate school for a master’s degree. Advanced education will help you fine-tune your curriculum development skills for coaching. Most choose a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, which will require two to three years of full-time study. Majoring in Instruction Coaching, Instructional Technology, Curriculum and Instruction, or Teacher Leadership is best. An increasing number of these programs are being offered online for busy working teachers. Master’s degrees range from 30 to 42 credit hours usually.

Related Resource: Master of Education in School Counseling

According to the BLS, instructional coaches earn an average yearly salary of $64,040 in the United States. Being an instructional coach comes with many other intrinsic rewards though. You’ll have the valuable opportunity to improve teacher retention, maximize student learning, facilitate teacher collaboration, and pioneering effective curriculum changes. Taking these steps to become an instructional coach could allow you to positively touch the educational careers of hundreds to thousands of children.