You may not have heard of instructional coordinators, but if you're
in school, they're helping to determine what you learn every day.
One reason you may not have heard of this career is that instructional
coordinators are also known as curriculum specialists, staff development specialists,
directors of instructional material or other variations of those names.
While the job title varies, the main focus of this position does not.
An instructional coordinator focuses on making sure that educational programs
comply with school board and federal, state and local government regulations.
Instructional coordinators engage in a wide variety of duties at all levels
of education. Their job duties could include choosing textbooks, helping
to train teachers and setting learning standards.
Most instructional coordinators are employed by the educational services
industry, which includes elementary, secondary and technical schools, and
colleges and universities. Some also work for provincial and local departments
of education, as well for private companies that develop educational materials
Many factors are influencing job growth in this area. Deborah Hardy is
the chairperson of school counseling at a high school. She explains the demand
for this career. "As schools redevelop curriculum based on state regulations,
educators are finding the need to have instructional leaders assist them with
professional development, feedback on lessons, creative methods of instruction,
identifying new programs and practices based on school and student needs,
and developing delivery methods that benefit all students."
During the next decade and beyond, instructional coordinators will be needed
to develop new curricula to meet the changing demands of society and to train
the teaching workforce. In order to stay up to date on new developments, more
teachers will find themselves going back to the classroom.
An increasing number of schools are providing professional development
programs for teachers, says Jeanette McDonald. She's the manager of educational
development at a university.
Teaching centers often include part-time or full-time faculty members,
or professional staff members who work with instructors on curriculum initiatives,
course development efforts, tenure and promotion, and teaching feedback, just
to name a few, McDonald says.
It's increasingly important that universities and colleges retain faculty
and attract new faculty, McDonald adds. Those working in teaching centers
help support those efforts.
"Institutional accountability to students, parents, government and other
public and private stakeholders necessitates greater attention on teaching
and learning," McDonald says. "A growing literature base on teaching and learning
also legitimates a focus on quality education and innovation in the classroom."
The rise in distance learning at universities is another factor contributing
to the growth of the field, says Peggy Brown. She's the director of instructional
design for a university. Her school offers the same graduate programs and
certificates of advanced study through distance learning as they offer on
It's Brown's responsibility to make sure the design for all distance learning
and main campus courses flows together within the university's learning management
system. "I wear many hats, which include administration of our learning management
system, course development, course design, faculty development/training, instructional
resources and multimedia," Brown says. "Being in this career allows me to
be creative and have fun, while working hard."
A promising job outlook
In the U.S., opportunities are expected to be best for those who specialize
in areas that have been targeted for improvement by the No Child Left Behind
Act (NCLB) -- reading, math and science. That's according to the Bureau of
"The accountability dial has been ratcheted up a few notches since NCLB,"
says Fran Finco. He's the director of instructional services a school district
in Wisconsin. "Increasing student achievement has always been the goal of
schools. NCLB brought into the forefront the need to meet the needs of all
children. Instructional services people are needed to be the 'go to' people
in the districts to lead the improvement movement."
Hardy echoes those comments. "With the use of data warehousing systems
that track assessments and student achievement in the content area, schools
are looking for experts such as instructional leaders to work with teachers
in innovative ways to deliver classroom instruction or update their library
resources," she says.
Hardy also sees a demand for instructional leaders and staff developers.
"Instructional leaders look at the entire needs of students and curriculum,
assess what is in place and revisit alternate possibilities related to programs,"
she says. "Staff developers assist in training educators in their classroom
environments, students and delivery of programs."
Preparing for work
Those in the field say a career as an instructional coordinator can be
"It is a 'big picture' position where the needs of the entire district
are planned through this office," Finco says. "You are in on the latest research-based
instructional methods, you get to work with teacher and principal leaders
in schools, you get to help plan staff development in areas of best practice,
you get to facilitate data analysis and school improvement planning, and you
get to participate in school improvement."
The minimum educational requirement for instructional coordinators is a
bachelor's degree, and that's usually in education. Many in this career begin
their careers in teaching or similar positions. They prepare for a job as
an instructional coordinator by completing a master's degree in such areas
as curriculum and instruction or educational or instructional technology.
Finco recommends students work on their organizational, technology, public
speaking and multi-tasking skills. He suggests first earning a teaching degree
and working in the classroom. A solid path of preparation, he says, would
be to then earn an administrative degree and work as a school administrator
before landing a job as an instructional coordinator.
A well-prepared instructional coordinator will be ready to meet the various
challenges of this work, including keeping up on the latest educational initiatives
and policies. Those in these positions often work long hours, attend many
meetings and give presentations.
"Students need to have an ongoing desire to learn since there is always
something new in the field," Hardy says.
Students interested in working as an instructional coordinator also must
be able to work effectively with people, have good communication skills and
be a good observer and listener.
The American Association of School Administrators
Information on training programs and lists of colleges and universities
offering degree programs in curriculum and instruction
The International Society for Technology in Education
Society for those advocating for technology in education
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Working to improve education at every level