Center for Educational Transformation

Instructional Coaching in Iowa: An Exploration of Practices and Perceptions

Lindsay Woodward

Lindsay Woodward

Jennifer Thoma


DISTRICT PARTNER(S): Colo-NESCO, Collins-Maxwell, Fort Dodge, Indianola, Le Mars, North Polk, Roland-Story, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sioux City, Van Meter, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock, Winterset, Woodbury Central


ABSTRACT: In an effort to raise student achievement and utilize the expertise of Iowa’s top teachers, the Iowa Legislature passed an education reform package in 2013, from which the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system was developed. As of March 2016, every school district in Iowa was approved to implement a teacher leadership system as part of TLC (Rasey & Slater, 2016). Most new teacher leaders receive professional development along with increased responsibilities and compensation. One such responsibility is serving as an instructional coach. Moving forward, it is important to understand the different ways instructional coaching, in all of its forms, has been implemented across the state to determine how districts and schools use coaching positions in their unique contexts.

This study explores the types of instructional coaching provided across Iowa, how coaching roles are supported and how teachers transition to teacher leaders, how districts define successful coaching, and how coaches support various initiatives implemented in their schools. Additionally, exploring how instructional coaches support teachers’ use of instructional technology is especially relevant, as Iowa districts continue to invest in digital devices for students. Finally, this study seeks to describe subject-specific coaching, such as literacy coaching (McKenna & Walpole, 2008; Neuman & Wright, 2010), that occurs throughout the state. This study uses mixed methods to explore coaching in districts of varying size, location in Iowa, and year of implementation of TLC funding.