Academic Instructional Coach Interview Questions

When you want to improve the results of your students, you firstly need to improve the quality of your teaching. Literacy education evolves quickly, and teachers–busy with their daily routines at school, find it hard to keep up with the trends.

What’s more, not every teacher is capable of critically assessing their teaching skills, when it comes to writing, reading, and most importantly comprehension. They need someone else to tell them what they could do better, and to show them how it can be done.

Instructional coaches (often also called literary coaches) are responsible for this job. They work either directly at school (bigger educational institution), or they respond for more schools in the same district or area.

In this article we will look at some questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job. Let’s start.

Why do you want to work as an instructional coach?

Try to focus on the future, not the past. Saying that you want this job because you have a Master’s in Literacy and coaching certificate would indicate a must (you have to do the job when you already spent so much time studying the subject).

Try to show us your desire to have the role. You can either talk about the meaningful purpose, how one excellent literacy coach can improve the level of education in the entire school district, or about your skills and abilities that make from you an excellent candidate (you understand the coaching principles, watch the latest trends, know how to work with different personalities, etc).

You can also say that you enjoy coaching. Showing some passion for your profession would never hurt you in an interview.

What are your favorite training methods?

You should definitely not rely on lecturing as your main training method. Oppositely, ensure the interviewers that you plan to do the coaching in the most effective way, that means 1. practice, 2. asking right questions and letting the coached person to find the answers.

Many teachers are stubborn, and they won’t necessarily recognize the authority of your position. Telling someone what they should do, and letting them to decide about the right action on their own (with the help of right questions you ask them, questions that help them to find areas of improvement), are two completely different things. The second approach can do wonders even with uncooperative teachers.

Ensure the interviewers that you understand the nuances of this job, and of effective coaching. Mock lesson is another effective training method. You ask them to mock a lesson, record it, and then the two of you together watch it, trying to find areas for improvement…

The One Major Thing to Avoid in the Instructional Coach Interview

After sitting through dozens of instructional coach interviews, there is one common thing that comes up where once the candidate leaves it is a fairly quick “no” from leadership. Most of us couldn’t articulate exactly what it was in the moment, but more of a feeling that showed up time and time again. It is a mixture of arrogance, dominating conversation, and the strong desire to leave the classroom. The confidence you have in your abilities is a positive trait, but when you start thinking of yourself as a coach you need to shift from “I’m the expert” to let’s work together to solve this problem. It can sometimes be subtle differences, but it is usually pretty obvious if that person is there to collaborate and help teachers or be over and in charge of teachers.

Let me be clear that when I transitioned from classroom teacher to instructional coach, leaving the classroom was appealing to me. I loved teaching 4th grade math, I was in my groove, but I was also longing to have a larger impact than the 4 walls of my classroom. It is OKAY to feel this way. It is also okay to be so burned out from teaching that you are googling what else to do with a teaching degree. We have all been there. But my advice would be to stay clear of those sentiments in this interview. I remember thinking after one interview, “does she want this job or is she just desperate to get out of the classroom?”

It is still best practice to follow up after your interview within a day or two to thank all involved in the interview process. If you feel like there is something you left out during your interview you can add it briefly in this follow up message as well. Finally, I want to share something my dad once said to me before an interview. It is just as much about you interviewing them as them interviewing you! It has to be a good fit for ALL involved. If something feels off for you from this first interaction, trust your gut and trust that you will find the best fit out there. You deserve that!

How to Prepare for an Instructional Coach Interview

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