Instructional Coaches Play Vital Role for Schools

Instructional Coaches Play Vital Role in Weakley County Schools
Posted on 04/18/2024
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With week one of state testing officially in the books, the importance of the role of instructional coaches in schools is more evident than ever for students, faculty, and staff in Weakley County Schools.

Instructional Coaches are often considered a school’s missing piece to a large, moving puzzle. These coaches play a vital role in supporting educators' growth and refining teaching strategies. They often design and implement interventions tailored to the needs of individual students or small groups. These interventions could include targeted instruction, differentiated learning activities, or specialized support to address specific learning challenges. They provide guidance to conceptualize strategies. They model best practices through classroom demonstrations, and even help educators enlist new resources into classrooms based on unique needs and strengths. Contributions of coaches for teachers and students can be multifaceted and far-reaching.

Honey Teague is a 19-year educator with Dresden Elementary School. Now in her 6th year as an Instructional Coach, student data shows that she’s found her perfect niche.

“It’s all about the individualized needs of every student. We dive deep into the data for each student to identify where the needs are. We analyze student work and pockets of areas where our students are really absorbing the material being covered. By providing coaching for teachers that is customized based on the strengths of the teacher, student data, the standard, and the curriculum, we backwards plan and create targeted interventions. It’s a complex process but it truly works,” Teague explained.

Instructional coaches meet monthly with the district’s Supervisors of Instruction in an instructional coach professional learning community [PLC] to discuss the district's vision, goals, and strategies for improvement. Collaborating closely, they share insights and best practices to enhance teaching and learning across the district.

Donald Ray High, Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 6-12, believes that the time spent in coach collaboration is fundamental.

“Empowered with information gleaned from district-level PLC meetings, instructional coaches then establish school-level PLC’s. They share the district's vision and goals, facilitate collaboration, share key learnings, and implement targeted strategies to support educators in delivering high-quality instruction tailored to the needs of their students. Our coaches are all about collaboration,” High affirmed.

Elementary Supervisor of Instruction Terri Stephenson agreed and said, “When the instructional coach team comes together, it’s very special. Our coaches are truly a unified team. They share ideas about what’s working in their schools, challenges, tools, resources, and strategies to most effectively support teachers and students. The creative spirit and out-of-the-box mindset on this team of experts is a big piece of our district’s success.”

A graphic square of smiling Weakley County Schools Instructional Coach team

In PLC meetings, groups of teachers work together to discuss ways to improve their teaching methods to help students learn better. The meetings provide teachers with a supportive environment to collaborate, share ideas, discuss classroom challenges, and find solutions to improve teaching practices and student growth as well as achievement.

Paige Vaughn is a 14-year educator with 9 years as an Instructional Coach at Gleason School. An important part of a coach’s role includes developing school level PLCs. According to Vaughn, collaboration amongst the team of educators is essential to success overall.

“Our district’s core values are Purpose, Connection, and Growth. Using these values as our guide, we build the framework for effective PLCs. Our values shape our approach to each school day and guide our decisions within our collaborative teams. We believe that every action within our PLCs should have a purpose, whether it's analyzing student data, refining instructional strategies, or designing interventions. Connection ties everything together. No teacher operates in isolation. We embrace a growth mindset and recognize that we are all learners on a journey of continuous improvement, and it’s our goal as coaches to help our teachers make the best of every collaborative opportunity,” Vaughn expressed.

During periods of student testing, the workload of an instructional coach grows exponentially. Many coaches serve as testing coordinators for their schools and are responsible for meticulously organizing all of the tests. They ensure testing accommodations for individualized education program services are being met for students, and secure monitors for testing groups. They act as pillars of support for faculty and staff and provide guidance and expertise for best testing practices. Coaches go through training programs alongside teachers to stay informed on test formats, content standards, and effective test preparation tactics.

Rachel Worley, Martin Elementary Instructional Coach, said that teachers never stop learning.

“Teachers are always looking to find ways to improve and be more effective at their work. As an instructional coach, I’m always proud and amazed by the hard work and commitment of our teachers to go above and beyond to be their best for students. So we try to guide teachers towards self-reflection by encouraging thoughtful questioning and leveraging tools and classroom observations. The goal is to empower educators to become the best version of themselves in their unique teaching styles,” said Worley.

The district's commitment to refining coaching practices has brought notable improvements, including utilizing resources for constructive feedback, fostering peer-to-peer coaching, and embracing flexible professional development approaches. These efforts aim to empower educators, promote collaboration, and drive positive outcomes for both educators and students within Weakley County Schools.

The Weakley County Schools Instructional Coach team is comprised of Honey Teague, Dresden Elementary; Jamie Babb, Dresden Middle; Paige Vaughn, Gleason School; Matt Butler and BethAnn Sawyers, Greenfield School; Emily Perry, Martin Primary; Rachel Worley, Martin Elementary; Beth Davidson, Sharon School; and Stacey Baker, Martin Middle. At the district level, teachers are supported by Math Coaches Megan Moore and Ed Baker, RTI Coordinator April Fishel, and Instructional Technology Coordinator Wes Morgan.

Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster believes that instructional coaches serve as catalysts for positive change, providing educators with the guidance, resources, and expertise needed to excel in their roles.

“Every school day involves our united goal of being our best for kids. Our instructional coaches play a big part in that daily mission by opening up a world of ideas for resources and exciting ways to make teachers even more effective in their classrooms. Just as all students are different and learn in their own unique way, our teachers are also unique and have their own methods of delivering quality instruction. Our coaches help teachers find new ways to integrate standards into daily instruction, provide guidance and support, structure PLCs according to their school’s needs, and encourage leadership. Coaches are the academic backbone of our district,” Foster acknowledged.

TCAP Achievement TNReady and TCAP End of Course TNReady assessments will continue for students in various grades until early May, and the diagnostic Aimsweb Screener for grades K-8 will also take place in May. View the assessment calendar at

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