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Instructional Coordinators - What They Do

Instructional coordinators—also known as curriculum specialists, personnel development specialists, instructional coaches, or directors of instructional material—play a large role in improving the quality of education in the classroom. They develop curricula, select textbooks and other materials, train teachers, and assess educational programs for quality and adherence to regulations and standards. They also assist in implementing new technology in the classroom. At the primary and secondary school levels, instructional coordinators often specialize in a specific subject, such as reading, language arts, mathematics, or science.

Instructional coordinators evaluate how well a school or training program's curriculum, or plan of study, meets students' needs. Based on their research and observations of instructional practice, they recommend improvements. They research teaching methods and techniques and develop procedures to ensure that instructors are implementing the curriculum successfully and meeting program goals. To aid in their evaluation, they may meet with members of educational committees and advisory groups to explore how curriculum materials relate to occupations and meet students' needs. Coordinators also may develop questionnaires and interview school staff about the curriculum.

Some instructional coordinators review textbooks, software, and other educational materials to make recommendations. They monitor the ways in which teachers use materials in the classroom and supervise workers who catalogue, distribute, and maintain a school's educational materials and equipment.

Some instructional coordinators find ways to use technology to enhance student learning and monitor the introduction of new technology into a school's curriculum. In addition, instructional coordinators might recommend educational software, such as interactive books and exercises designed to enhance student literacy and develop math skills. Instructional coordinators may invite experts to help integrate technological materials into the curriculum.

Besides developing curriculum and instructional materials, many of these workers plan and provide onsite education for teachers and administrators. Instructional coordinators mentor new teachers and train experienced ones in the latest instructional methods. This role becomes especially important when a school district introduces new content, programs, or a different organizational structure. For example, when a State or school district introduces standards or tests that students must pass, instructional coordinators often advise teachers on the content of those standards and provide instruction on how to implement them in the classroom.

Work Environment
Many instructional coordinators work long hours. They often work year round. Some spend much of their time traveling between schools and meeting with teachers and administrators. The opportunity to shape and improve instructional curricula and work in an academic environment can be satisfying. However, some instructional coordinators find the work stressful because they are continually accountable to school administrators.

Education & Training Required
Instructional coordinators should have training in curriculum development and instruction or in the specific field for which they are responsible, such as mathematics or history. Courses in research design teach how to create and implement research studies to determine the effectiveness of a given method of instruction or curriculum and how to measure and improve student performance.

Instructional coordinators are usually required to take continuing education courses to keep their skills current. Topics may include teacher evaluation techniques, curriculum training, new teacher orientation, consulting and teacher support, and observation and analysis of teaching.

Certifications Needed (Licensure)
Instructional coordinators must be licensed to work in public schools. Some States require a teaching license, whereas others require an education administrator license.

Other Skills Required (Other qualifications)
Instructional coordinators must have a good understanding of how to teach specific groups of students and expertise in developing educational materials. As a result, many people become instructional coordinators after working for several years as teachers. Also beneficial is work experience in an education administrator position, such as a principal or assistant principal, or in another advisory role, such as a master teacher, department chair or lead teacher.

Instructional coordinators must be able to make sound decisions about curriculum options and to organize and coordinate work efficiently. They should have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Familiarity with computer technology also is important for instructional coordinators, who are increasingly involved in gathering technical information for students and teachers.

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Academic Programs of Interest

In North America the degree is awarded for courses taken that generally last two years (one year in some Canadian universities). To gain the qualification the student is required to have a previous or substantial progress towards a bachelor's degree, usually in the field that the student wishes to teach ...more