By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

“Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships” so says Michael Dell.  This is an interesting quote and makes me again think about technology coaches and their role supporting teaching and learning.

What is a “technology” coach and how does that differ from an instructional coach? Are there really just “technology” coaches who do not work with their teaching colleagues about implementing effective instructional practices?

While I don’t intend to step on anyone’s toes, here’s what I think… if someone is skilled in the business of technology, e.g., how to use the technology, then I think that person is a technician, someone skilled in knowing how a piece of technology is used. If someone talks about instruction and how a technology tool can help accomplish the goals of that instruction, that person is an instructional coach, not a technician. After all, a technician is “a person employed to look after technical equipment.” Many offices hire technicians to maintain computers in their offices. Would you call that technician a coach?

One of the ways to change the mindset of our teaching colleagues is to call coaches, “instructional coaches” and not specify anyone as a “technology” coach even though helping someone understand how to use a computer may be one of the coach’s responsibilities. As a coach, I may help you decide which technology tool may be appropriate to achieve the instructional goals but the conversation needs to be around what instructional goals have been identified. The instructional goals drive the conversation, not the tools that might be appropriate to use. The coaching part is recognized as the coach and teacher collaborate and plan in the “before” conversation, decide on the data to collect in the “during” visit, and engage in non-evaluative dialogue in the feedback or “after” session. The coaching does not come from helping a colleague “plug” in a computer but rather engaging in conversations that lead to changes in practice. Everyone should be called an instructional coach when the role is to engage in confidential, non-evaluative conversations with staff members helping them implement effective instructional practices.

What do you think about coaches being called instructional coaches rather than technology coaches?


  1. I've evolved from "technology coach" to "instructional technology coach" to "instructional coach". No matter the title, the focus has always been about effective to differentiated instruction as well as student achievement and engagement. In the year 2016, the term 'tech' is a bit vestigial. It's no longer a separate appendage. It's a key function in the educational system.

  2. I agree... no separate appendage. How do we help others understand that instructional coaching is the scaffold to improved learning? What do your colleagues say about this topic?