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Superintendent’s Blog - February 7, 2023

QUESTION: What is the role of an “education specialist” or academic coach?

ANSWER: In our district, an academic coach is an education specialist (or teacher on special assignment), who works specifically with teachers to support our goal of continuous improvement in content and instruction. Essentially, the role of an academic coach is to support our teachers as they support our students.

Coaching should not be seen negatively in any way. Regardless of whether someone is a Chiefs or a 49ers fan, quarterbacks have a quarterback coach. Their coaches give feedback and encourage strategies that enhance and improve skills and performance. Whether in sports or elsewhere, professionals have coaches and our professional educators deserve the same.

There are many benefits to having academic coaches in our district.

  • They support teachers in analyzing student performance and then using those data to make changes in lesson plans or other instructional methods. This includes looking at our state, school, and classroom assessments and identifying students who need support in reaching grade-level performance. 
  • Academic coaches often meet with teachers to review data and to plan instruction, they can co-teach or observe a lesson with the teacher and then meet with the teacher to review the outcome of the lesson and determine the next steps to ensure student success.
  • They provide ongoing professional development at the district, school, and classroom levels. Coaches support the implementation of new Core Standards, new materials, and evidence-based instructional strategies so that teachers can integrate them into their classrooms more effectively. 
  • They develop pacing guides and other resources that help teachers prepare students for district and state assessments. Coaches also help create district and school assessments to help guide instruction. 
  • Academic coaches support teachers who are new to our district and/or new to teaching to ensure that they can effectively use our materials, online tools and resources, and learning management systems. 
  • They support the use of technology in the classroom through appropriate instructional decisions and tools.
  • Academic coaches also support principals and teachers in determining school needs, reviewing data, and working to achieve the goals of each school’s Student Success Plan.