The processes of building lessons, establishing classroom practices, and developing other instructional plans are significant responsibilities for any educator. There are many variables to account for in the creation stages, and every classroom differs from the next. Teachers don’t have to work alone during this process, however. Instructional coaches and other leaders in their school or district are responsible for collaborating with educators to assist them in establishing and maintaining an effective classroom infrastructure for all students. These professionals first learn the basics of helping educators in an instructional coach/teacher leader program before supporting teachers in practice.
These instructional coaches lead teachers’ professional development, particularly in structuring curriculum and strategizing lessons. To make choices that best serve their schools, they must evaluate the effectiveness of materials and pedagogy. Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) help make those assessments.
The Power of Evidence-Based Practice
Local teacher leaders help implement, monitor, and hone EBPs over time. They are not static methodologies. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives instructional coaches and other educators who work in professional development a great deal of autonomy over what practices to prioritize at the local level. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) explains the rationale for this local focus and even offers guidance on how to exercise it. By targeting the unique needs of local areas, instructional coaches can help teachers create course structures that are conducive to the individuals’ various learning needs.
The evidence used in EBPs helps inform the choices made by instructional coaches. They constantly research and learn about the most up-to-date, innovative information on effective contemporary practices. These instructors rely on bodies of evidence that are changing all the time, comparing new information with old to hone best practices.
Differentiated instruction has inspired a major shift in teaching practices during the last decade-plus. As Edutopia notes, that means tailoring lessons to suit all learners’ needs and finding ways to help them access information and retain knowledge. To do that, educators must try many new approaches to guide their students through course materials and concepts. EBPs provide teachers with strategies and practices that have been proven effective over time.
In many ways, differentiated instruction allows for the ongoing adoption of effective EBPs due to its approach to diverse learners and flexible learning environment. That also means accommodating the learning needs of a wide spectrum of students, and using practices that have been tested and proven effective is critical. Instructional coaches assist teachers throughout the entire differentiation process, from creation to evaluation and refinement.
When preparing differentiated classroom practices, the practical guide from Edutopia identifies several key areas of planning strategy for effectiveness, including content, processes, learner access, and environment, among others.
Planning involves the creation of classroom content, lesson processes, and teaching products — all of which are fundamental components of an instructional coach’s skill set.
What Is Gained With an Advanced Degree?
In a graduate program like the online Master of Science (M.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Instructional Coach/Teacher Leader PreK-12 from Emporia State University, students will learn many crucial skills and gain exposure to leading-edge research for best practices. The program emphasizes modern strategies to promote student engagement and learning, deepening students’ understanding of how to effectively reach multicultural and differentiated-learning populations.
The program will prepare instructional coaches to help advance their colleagues’ professional skills and knowledge, enabling them to grow their own understanding of how to create an enriched learning environment. Learn more about what an M.S. in C&I has to offer educators.