Instructional Coach FAQs

1. What is a VISTA Coach?

VISTA coaches form a trusting, reflective, professional partnership with one or more elementary, middle, and/or high school science teachers in order to increase their ability to conduct inquiry and problem-based learning in relevant, real science contexts. Coaches assist with lesson planning, classroom management, instructional strategies, analysis of student work, curriculum development, and assessment through regular classroom visits, co-planning, and co-teaching. Coaches also assist VISTA with data collection through coaching reports, videotaping, and survey completion.

2. Who is eligible?

Current coaches include elementary and secondary science teachers who are recently retired, on leave, or work part-time. Applicants must have:

  • Experience in elementary and/or secondary science education
  • Knowledge of standards-based curricula
  • Flexibility to do extended classroom visits
  • Ability to participate in required training throughout the year to acquire knowledge and skills to be an effective coach
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Proficiency with email, word processing, and today's classroom technologies
  • Exemplary classroom practice and leadership capacity
  • Credibility among teachers and administrators
  • Demonstrated commitment to personal professional growth and learning

3. Can I work full-time and coach with VISTA?

Coaching requires the ability to be in the classroom with your teacher during the school day. Therefore, it would be difficult to work full-time and coach with VISTA. If this is your situation, please contact us to discuss the possibility.

4. What is the time commitment related to VISTA coaching?

For the elementary program, coaches provide 3 days of in-classroom support per teacher on the team and attend 7 days of training/meetings. For the secondary program, coaches provide 12 days of in-classroom support per teacher in the first year and 3 days in the second year as well as attend 5 days of training/meetings each year. Please note, a “day” constitutes 7.5 hours, which may actually be completed over multiple calendar days. In most elementary schools, for example, science is only taught for 45 minutes a day, so it may take more visits to provide “3 days” of support, factoring in co-planning time. Similarly, for the secondary program, the coach and teacher may mutually decide to do 24 half-day visits during the first year instead of 12 full-day visits.

5. I have served as a mentor. Is VISTA coaching similar?

VISTA coaching could be similar to your mentoring experience. The main difference tends to be that VISTA coaches work with their teacher(s) in the classroom while instruction is taking place in order to provide focused, "just in time" support.

6. Am I compensated for travel to and from training and school visits?

Yes, coaches will be compensated per state regulations for travel.

7. I would like to keep my Virginia Professional Teaching License current. Can my time with VISTA count towards my recertification?

Per state regulations, only school divisions can approve renewal activities. However, you will receive a certificate verifying the number of hours of coaching completed with VISTA, which may count towards recertification under Option 6. Please consult your school division's licensure specialist for a final decision regarding your specific situation.

8. How do I apply?

Apply online at http://vista.gmu.edu/myvista. References are required from colleagues who can attest to your science education knowledge and leadership (e.g., science coordinators, department chairs, science leads, principals).