There is a lot of variation organizationally and nationally among the states regarding job descriptions for instructional coordinators. Typically, instructional coordinators, also known as curriculum specialists, instructional coaches, or assistant superintendents of instruction, are vital to ensuring that the educational mission of the school is being carried out efficiently.
To that end, instructional coordinators evaluate, implement, design, approve, assess, and adopt the curriculum. These activities take various forms at different schools but include evaluating textbooks, media, and tests as well as supervising instruction, helping the administration with professional development, and recommending changes. Curriculum coordinators also help teachers or instructors with guidance through evaluation tools, mentoring, and maintaining the standards expected by the organization or administration. Depending on the job, this may include coordinating testing and a review of data points regarding the success of students or teachers in fulfilling state or federal standards. In short, instructional coordinators are leaders who need the knowledge and skills required to ensure effective curriculum and instruction.
The job of an instructional coordinator is a natural move into leadership by teachers. This could be due to many factors, potential burnout, desire for career advancement, or a change in interests. Regardless, teachers who make the change are satisfied. They stay close to student learning, though without the lesson plans, parent/teacher conferences, and day to day grind that can emotionally drain many. Something to note, especially if you are a teacher looking to move into curriculum and instruction is that instructional coordinators often travel between schools working with every grade level and spend a lot of time organizing data. The job is typically year round and collaborates closely with the administration.
Character traits such as excellent interpersonal skills to work with teachers, administrators, or other stakeholders is required. Creativity and integrity are also necessary. Skills particularly relevant for the job are analytical and critical-thinking skills, writing skills, communication expertise and leadership skills.
Consider the following list of duties from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Develop and coordinate implementation of curriculum
- Plan, organize and conduct teacher training conferences or workshops
- Analyze student test data
- Assess and discuss implementation of curriculum standards with school staff
- Review and recommend textbooks and other educational materials
- Support teaching techniques and the use of different or new technologies
- Develop procedures for teachers to implement curriculum
- Train faculty and other instructional staff in new content or programs
- Mentor or coach teachers to improve their skills
- Instructional coordinators evaluate the effectiveness of curriculums and teaching techniques established by school boards, states, or federal regulations. They may observe teachers in the classroom, review student test data, and interview school staff and principals about curriculums. Based on their research, they may recommend changes in curriculums to school boards. They may also recommend that teachers use different teaching techniques.
In addition to a master’s degree and certification, (check out the Top 35 Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction) the instructional coordinator or curriculum specialist will need to fulfill professional development or continuing education to maintain licensure.
Curriculum developers may also join groups pertinent to the subject they specialize in, such as:
- International Reading Association
- Council for Exceptional Children
- National Council for Teachers of Mathematics
- National Council for the Social Studies
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Science Teachers Association
- National Association for Music Education