Description: This past year, BYU hosted an Instructional Coaching Academy to advance the instructional coaching techniques in the surrounding Utah school districts.
- Start: July 1, 2015
- End: September 30, 2016
- Sponsor: Utah System of Higher Education (U.S. Department of Education)
- Principal Investigator: Barry Graff
- Website: http://education.byu.edu/cites/initiatives/instructional_coaching_academy.html
For over 30 years ago, BYU has collaborated with 5 of Utah’s surrounding school districts (Alpine, Jordan, Nebo, Provo, and Wasatch) to form the BYU-Public School Partnership. This Partnership is supported by the BYU’s Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling, or CITES. The purpose of these programs is to better prepare teachers to enter the public schools and improve those who are currently in their teaching careers. One of the goals incorporated into the Partnership is the continued practice of instructional coaching.
Despite what it sounds like, instructional coaching is not just adequate training on a sports field. Rather, an instructional coach is someone who supports and improves the teaching practices of educators through evidence-based teaching methods, such as the use of video, classroom data, and other assessments in teacher improvement. Their sole responsibility is for the professional development of teachers. This past school year, BYU hosted its largest Instructional Coaching Academy over 8 different sessions held in Provo and Salt Lake. CITES staff and instructional coaches from all 5 school districts gathered to improve professional development practices in the surrounding schools. CITES Assistant Director, Barry Graff, is the project director of this grant.
The academy focused on four main content topics: classroom management, content knowledge, instruction, and assessment, labeled as the “Big Four” and taken from the book Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction. Architect and author of Instructional Coaching is Dr. Jim Knight, who was one of the paramount speakers among the presenters of the academy this past year. Dr. Knight is the director of the Kansas Instructional Coaching Project, on which BYU’s academy was based. Other speakers throughout the academy included instructional coaches from each of the districts and BYU faculty members.
Instructional coaches from each of the partnering districts have the responsibility to mentor and collaborate with new and veteran teachers. A large part of the education field is collaboration between teachers and other educational and administrative staff members. New teachers can especially benefit from qualified instructional coaches as they transition into the workforce.
After smaller versions of this academy were piloted over the last couple of years, the five partnering school districts gave positive feedback about the pilot program, which encouraged the development of a larger program this year. The evaluation of this year’s program will focus on responses from teachers and administrators in each of the school districts. Although no current models exist to correlate the impact of instructional coaching directly to student achievement, the ultimate goal of this academy is to improve the education of the upcoming generation.