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School Coach

School Coach

11 July, 2016

A school coach is occasionally called a school-improvement coach

  • Basically a person employed to advise a school on how to enhance its academic program, instructional effectiveness, and student performance.
  • Performs much like a consultant, the use of the term “coach” is usually intentional—i.e., it’s meant to distinguish the school coach’s role from those of other professional educational consultants.

Main Role: Committed to helping schools attain a specific goal, such as increasing educational equity (an ethical or social-justice goal) or increasing and improving the use of new learning technologies in the classroom (an instructional or programmatic goal).

Employment: They can be independent contractors, from a nonprofit organizations or universities, hired by a state agency, school district, or school or by an outside organization or foundation. In many cases, school coaches are employed as part of a state program or grant-funded school-improvement project. School coaches may work on a fee-for-services model—i.e., they provide narrowly defined services on a short-term contract that may be renewed annually or every few months. Yet it is also very common for school coaches to be contracted for a multiyear commitment as a school undertakes a comprehensive restructuring of its academic program.

In some instances, school coaches are defined as “critical friends”—a common education term that refers to fellow professionals who are understanding, supportive, and empathetic but who are not hesitant to speak candidly about problems and provide constructive criticism about what needs to change. In this way, school coaches are the same as athletic coaches: they are experienced professionals with specialized expertise who advise, train, and mentor the team and who are not hesitant about making individuals put in the practice and hard work necessary to succeed.

School coaches are often former educators and school administrators who can understand the workings and internal politics of a school from an educator’s perspective, although some have previously worked in other professions outside education, such as psychology, business, or communications.

Coaches typically have expertise in skills such as group facilitation, interpersonal dynamics, public speaking, and conflict resolution, and they often help educators communicate, collaborate, and solve problems more productively and cooperatively.

In some cases, though, a school coach will provide “coaching” on a specific issue, such as training teachers in specialized instructional techniques.

Another variation on the school-coach role is the on-staff coach—a full-time or part-time district or school employee who provides coaching services to educators in a local school system. While on-staff coaching may take many different forms, and job descriptions may vary widely, these positions are often created for educators with highly specialized expertise who are tasked with delivering professional development to teachers.

Two Common Positions:

  1. Literacy coaches: help teachers enhance the quality of reading and writing instruction in all subject areas,
  2. Learning-technology coaches: trains teachers in how to use new technological devises and products as instructional assets.

While there are no formal credentialing organizations for a school coach, many organizations around the country offer training, resources, and support networks for school-coaching professionals.