Coaching has expanded significantly over the past decade. Outside of sports, coaches usually specialize in niches -- for example in life, career or executive coaching. A science coach isn't a regular teacher but can engage in teaching activities. These coaches work with teachers throughout the school year to design programs, initiatives or activities for students, with the overall aim of improving instruction quality. States often have their own associations of science coaches. For example, the Texas Math and Science Coaches Association was founded in 1981.
Duties of a Science Coach
A science coach strives to improve instruction and accelerate student learning. Moreover, a science coach must engage educators in purposeful ways by coordinating the instructor body, creating collaboration among teachers or with organizations and coaching or consulting teachers. In working with teachers, students and school officials, a science coach must be reflective, communicative and innovative to find the right strategies realistically suited to the specific needs of teachers and students. A science coach must also be familiar with a state's science standards to ensure that the curriculum's up to date.
Evaluation of the Situation
The most important step a science coach has to take is to identify instructors' needs for support. The best way to start is to first develop an overview of student deficits, from lack of understanding of course material to lack of interest in the class. Parallel staff development should be a central aspect in the coaching process, which is why coaches should evaluate instructors' abilities as well. According to the South Carolina Coalition for Mathematics and Science, coaches should consider aspects like leadership, data exploration and research when identifying areas for improvement.
Knowing what can or must be improved doesn't automatically reveal the right strategy. A science coach should also consider improvements that seem unnecessary. Coach Mike of the Boston Museum of Science is a good example. Researchers took a closer look at his techniques and found that he developed several forms of support to enhance the experiences of museum visitors. Encouragement and humor were two central tactics. Preliminary analyses of interactions logs suggested that these and other tactics led to more engagement of visitors with the exhibitions.
The Value of Coaching
More researchers are studying coaching for its impact and validity. The results point to one common denominator: coaching is an effective and efficient tool in the area of human development. Study results published in the Journal of Staff Development suggest that if schools commit to a long-term coaching initiative, teacher and student learning can benefit tremendously. Five strategies to create time for coaching during the day were employed: buying time, using common time, freeing time, embedding time and using existing time more effectively.
- South Carolina Department of Education: The Secret Life of Science Coaches.
- Artificial Intelligence in Education: Intelligent Tutoring Goes to the Museum in the Big City: A Pedagogical Agent for Informal Science Education.
- Journal of Staff Development: Five Elements Combine in a Formula for Coaching: South Carolina Initiative Carves out Time for Science and Math Coaches in Schools.
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