Academic Coaches / TOSAs

" Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absences." - Sheryl Sandberg

MPUSD Academic Coaching

The single greatest factor in predicting student achievement is quality teaching. The impact of a quality educator can be measured for years after a student leaves that educator’s classroom. With educators playing such a vital role in learner success, it becomes vital that a campus and the district support educators as they refine and perfect their craft. To support educators, campus and district staff often provide professional learning opportunities. While the traditional model of district professional learning provides opportunities for educators to learn more about current teaching practice, research indicates that no program, no matter how well presented, will have a positive impact on teaching without ongoing followup and support (Knight, 2007). Additionally, wholesale trainings do not to provide adequate differentiation and customization to scaffold for the individual needs of educators. It, is therefore, incumbent on a district to create multi-tiered layers of support that ensures each educator is able to achieve his/her personal best. One layer of support to meet the individual needs of each educator is through a strategic coaching model, which provides ongoing support to educators as they improve their instructional practice, and to further develop the culture of a professional learning community. It is the instructional coaching model that recognizes the needs of each educator and fosters a spirit of collaboration with the ultimate goal of improved student performance. With the expansive role of coaching, the MPUSD Academic Coaching Manual is provided to educators, administrators and instructional coaches to clarify the expectations to ensure the greatest impact of their work. - (CISD)

What is an Academic Coach

An academic coach is an experienced, successful educator who embodies the role of learner and engages in a professional learning community with other site coaches. The work focuses on facilitating improved educator practice in the classroom to insure students' success. On a site, the role for an academic coach may include that of data coach, resource provider, mentor, curriculum specialist, instructional specialist, classroom supporter, learning facilitator, school leader, catalyst for change, and learner (Killion, 2009).

Knowledge and Skills Required

An Instructional Coach must:

    • Demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and the ability to establish trusting relationships built on confidentiality and respect.
    • Model and encourage collaborative and reflective practice.
    • Embed professional learning that supports department, campus, and district goals to support positive transformation.
    • Promote risk-taking in a non-threatening atmosphere that allows educators to explore opportunities related to the learning environment beyond their comfort zone.
    • Focus on results by using the analysis of data to inform practice.
    • Promote the implementation of learning and reciprocal accountability.
    • Support the development of professional learning networks across the system

An Instructional Coach is NOT:

    • Sorting and keeping inventory of textbooks and instructional materials
    • Performing clerical duties outside of the primary job performance criteria (e.g. making copies of materials and assessments for other staff)
    • Developing or preparing campus/department budgets
    • Evaluating educators or communicating information for an administrator that could be evaluative or disciplinary in nature
    • Assuming FULL responsibility for gathering and reviewing student data
    • Taking primary responsibility in leading a grade level
    • Being assigned as the official mentor to all new educators
    • Serving as chair or coordinator for ALL extracurricular activities
    • Disciplining students in an administrative capacity

The Roles of an Academic Coach

Role #1: A Learning Leader and Facilitator of Learning

Academic coaches model and facilitate learning opportunities for campus staff including:

    • Engaging in continuous learning through professional development opportunities and professional reading to build capacity
    • Practicing and reflecting about learning
    • Designing and leading job-embedded, formal and informal professional learning
    • Supporting the development and implementation of the district and campus professional learning plan
    • Fostering an expectation of participation and individual growth from collaboration within PLCs

Role #2: Instructional Specialist

Instructional coaches provide direct support to educators in their classrooms through co-planning, co-teaching, and modeling effective instructional strategies (Killion & Harrison, 2006). Instructional coaches increase the quality and effectiveness of classroom instruction as they partner with educators by:

    • Engaging in the Coaching Cycle (Preconference, Modeling/ Co-Teaching/Observing, Post Conference)
    • Co-teaching and modeling strategies and techniques that ensure rigorous core instruction for all learners
  • Co-planning instructional units with teachers using backward design and effective instructional practices
    • Observing teachers and providing feedback with a focus on students’ academic achievement
    • Conducting teacher-driven conversations to promote reflection and to identify next steps
    • Providing requested, timely and specific feedback that helps adult learners grow and improve their instructional practices

• Building capacity amongst educators to understand inquiry-based learning and instruction

    • Encouraging educators to design constructivist learning experiences, knowing these support higher order thinking and deeper understanding
    • Providing experiences for educators to consider various virtual/digital learning environments
    • Supporting educators in utilizing research based practices such as graphic organizers that provide opportunities for learners to make meaning of the work

Role #3: Content Facilitator

Academic coaches support educators’ implementation of curriculum including but not limited to:

    • Support educators connecting current curriculum to common core standards
    • Empower educators to utilize appropriate curriculum integration to maximize opportunities for the learners in the classroom
    • Communicate information regarding curriculum
    • Empower educators to utilize effective formative assessment strategies to gain evidence of mastery of learning outcomes to determine an accelerated course of study or an individual learner’s path of study
    • Support teachers in data cycle process through PLCs
    • Utilize vertical alignment while planning on campus
    • Facilitate site level professional development in line with MPUSD best practices including Learning Walks, Data support, Instructional Rounds and Adult Learning best practices