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A Day in the Life, Instructional Leadership

A Day in the Life of an IC

Have you ever wondered what ICs do every day? Are you interested in being an IC someday? Here’s a breakdown of a “Day in the Life” by our very own, Sarah Murphy!

6:00 a.m.-6:45 a.m.:  Wake-Up

Your head pops off the pillow and a smile leaps onto your face-you are up and ready to spend your day helping fabulous teachers across the city of Houston close the achievement gap and prepare students for college.  You race out of bed, ready to tackle the day!


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6:45 a.m.-7:20 a.m.: Drive to Campus One

Once you have had a tasty breakfast and gathered your materials for the day, settle into your vehicle, maybe snag some caffeine in the form of delicious coffee (note: ICs love coffeeJ) to give you some pep in your step, begin the drive to your first campus of the day.

7:20 a.m-7:30 a.m.: Prep Materials

Campuses which are supported by Teaching Excellence start their days at a variety times, and it is a great idea to arrive early in order to get set for the day: fire up your computer, look at your calendar for the day to see where you will be spending your time, and respond to any emails which may still be in your inbox.


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7:30 a.m.-8:15 a.m.: Check-In with Dean

You head to the office of the Campus Dean of Instruction and pull up your notes for your weekly check-in.  The two of you touch base on support needed for the teachers in your cohort and determine collaborative action steps during this meeting time.  You capture the notes and email them to the dean, making clear what each of you will do to support each teacher.

8:20-8:45 a.m.: Observation One

  Time for your first observation of the day!  You walk from the dean’s office to the building across the street, enter the MS classroom, and open your computer.  You spend 20 minutes observing the classroom, taking notes which capture what is happening in the class.  You note strengths of the classroom as well as areas of improvement needed.  After observing for 20 minutes, you use a leave a quick ‘GLOW and GROW’ for the teacher.  Highlight one thing which is going well in the classroom and let the teacher know WHY they should keep doing this.  Highlight one area which can be QUICKLY improved before the next class begins.  Save large topics of conversation for the full debrief meeting that you will have with the teacher later.

8:50-9:15: Observation Two

Repeat the steps above, this time observing in another classroom with another teacher.


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9:20-10:05:  Debrief One

As the bell rings to signal the end of the first class period of the day, you move speedily to the meeting room you have reserved for your first debrief of the day.  You greet the teacher you observed yesterday and begin your debrief.  You spend a good amount of time letting the teacher know what went well.  You use any campus resources like a rubric or system for providing instructional feedback to support your assertions.  You then point out areas for growth.  As you help the teacher see the areas where improvement is needed, you let them know why this matters and how you will support them in making this change.  For the remainder of the meeting time, once areas of strength and growth are made clear, you and the teacher begin to work on making the changes for improvement IMMEDIATELY.  Teacher time is valuable, and we must maximize all free periods which they have.

10:10-11:05: Lesson Planning Meeting

  You high five the teacher you just met with and thank them for their diligent efforts and collect your materials in order to move to the classroom of another teacher whom you support.  You meet with this teacher in order to look through the lessons they have created for the week before they email them to their planning partner.  You ask the teacher to share their thoughts on strengths of these lessons as well as areas which may need improvements.  The teacher shares their thoughts, and you share what you see in regards to this.  You share thoughts on alignment and/or additional focus areas which are of need to this particular teacher.  Once materials are finalized, you ask the teacher to practice a certain part of the lesson with an emphasis on pausing in order to provide student wait time.  Setting teachers up for success in creating and executing lessons is a critical part of our job.

11:10-12:00:  Check-In with Your Coach

You move from the teacher classroom to the room delegated as the ‘Teaching Excellence Work Spot’ and close the door.  You take out your cell phone and call your coach for your weekly check-in.  During this time, you speak with your coach about teachers in need of additional support or ask for feedback on strategies you have tried which may not have landed as well as you wanted them to.  Your coach provides you with suggestions and offers tips as to how to maximize your interactions with your teachers.  Your coach also works to insure that you are meeting the goals you have set for yourself and growing as a professional and a leader.

12:00-12:30: Drive to Campus Two

  You pack up your materials and head to your trusty, gas efficient vehicle in order to head to your other campus.  You drive to this location, listening to an educational podcast in order to enrich your practice and stay current with developments in the field.


12:30-1:00: Tasty Lunch

Upon arriving to your second campus, you head to the staff lounge and take out your nutritious, well-balanced lunch which you packed the night before.  Maintaining a solid campus presence allows instructional coaches to build a rapport and be seen as members of the community.  Feast upon your tasty lunch while building relationships with all of the staff members on campus, both those you support and those you do not.

1:05-2:05:  PLS Prep

You head to the Teaching Excellence workroom at this campus and take out the notes for the Saturday session that you are presenting in a week.  You make notes of things which need to be changed, create PPTs and handouts which would enhance the session, and upload them to the server.

2:05-2:50: Debrief Two

You smile as one of your teachers comes to the workroom for your debrief.  You greet the teacher you observed yesterday and begin your debrief.  You spend a good amount of time letting the teacher know what went well.  You use any campus resources like a rubric or system for providing instructional feedback to support your assertions.  You then point out areas for growth.  As you help the teacher see the areas where improvement is needed, you let them know why this matters and how you will support them in making this change.  For the remainder of the meeting time, once areas of strength and growth are made clear, you and the teacher begin to work on making the changes for improvement IMMEDIATELY.  Teacher time is valuable, and we must maximize all free periods which they have.


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2:55-3:15: Observation Three

You observe, take notes, and leave a Glow/Grow for a teacher.

3:20-3:40: Observation Four

You observe, take notes, and leave a Glow/Grow for a teacher.

3:45-4:05:  Observation Five

You observe, take notes, and leave a Glow/Grow for another teacher.

4:06-5:15:  Feedback Prep and Work Time

You head to the ‘Teaching Excellence Work Room’ and begin to write the feedback for the teachers you observed today.  You plan the conversation that you will have with them and enter their areas of strength and areas in need of improvement into a tracker created for each teacher.

5:16:  End of the Day

You pack up your things and check your email once more before you close it up and smile as you see an email from one of the teachers you support: ‘Thank you so much for the feedback today, Instructional Coach! Having you in my classroom is critical to my success, and I am so appreciative of all that you do!  I am beyond thankful that you applied to be an IC, and I cannot wait for our debrief tomorrow!’  You close your computer and head to your car-today was A day in the life of an instructional coach.  They vary greatly from day to day, and today was a day rich with opportunities to enhance classrooms around the city of Houston.  It was a great day!


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Do you have more questions about what it’s like being an IC? Reach out to us at teaching.excellence@yesprep.org or @TeachXcellence on Twitter!

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