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5 ways instructional coaches can leverage AI

AI seems scary at first, but teachers and instructional coaches who leverage AI responsibly will find it an enormous time-saver

9 min read


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Artificial intelligence may change the world
more than the iPhone, the internet, or even electricity.
It’s bound to change education. (It already has.)
— Matt Miller, author of “AI for Educators”
Donna Spangler measuring coaching impact

Picture this: An instructional coach walks into a bar to order a drink. The AI-powered robot bartender says, “Why the long face? Is it time for another faculty meeting?’ And the coach replies, ‘No, I’m just pondering the marvels of artificial intelligence in education — the ‘what,’ the ‘why’ and the ‘how’! Care to join me for a byte-sized exploration of this techno-tale?” 

In a world where instructional coaching and AI collide, grab your virtual reality goggles and fasten your seatbelts. It’s time to uncover the secrets behind using machines to make instructional coaching and teaching a bit less … robotic. Let’s get started!

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is machine learning, which means the training of computers to think and respond like humans through patterns and algorithms. These machines can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as problem-solving, learning, reasoning, understanding natural language and adapting to new situations. 

The use of AI is not a coming-soon scenario. AI is already widespread in everyday digital experiences. You may use AI every day and not even notice. Some examples include:

  • Search engines like Google use AI algorithms to gather user behavior, location and context to deliver personalized search results. 
  • AI-driven auto-complete and predictive text assist users by suggesting potential words and phrases based on their previous inputs and language patterns, improving typing speed and accuracy. 
  • Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are AI-powered or voice-controlled chatbots that respond to users’ questions and perform tasks using natural language processing.
  • AI-recommendation systems like YouTube and Netflix analyze users’ viewing or browsing history and preferences to suggest movie recommendations and content.

What is AI in education?

AI in education involves applying AI technology and algorithms to enhance education’s learning, teaching and administrative processes. AI can answer questions, analyze data, create presentations, personalize learning experiences, provide intelligent tutoring and feedback, automate tasks and support educators to improve student outcomes. Teachers and instructional coaches can leverage AI in many ways.

However, if you are an AI novice, you should think more about the implications for AI right now. Prepare to have your mind blown. Watch this “ChatGPT for the Classroom — in 6 Minutes” by Matt Miller. In it, you will see ChatGPT do all of the following in less than six minutes:

  • Write a five-paragraph essay about the Peloponnesian War.
  • Rewrite at various skill levels. 
  • Summarize for bullet points on PowerPoint slides. 
  • Create discussion questions. 
  • Make an analogy for middle schoolers. 
  • Write 10 jokes about it. 
  • Write a stand-up comedy sketch about it. 
  • Write a summary of two weeks of instruction. 
  • Divide those two weeks into days in a table format. 
  • Create an IEP goal for an eighth-grader (with a rationale). 
  • Compose an email to parents to watch a movie about it. 
  • Reply to a parent who has concerns. 
  • Justify the lesson with Common Core State Standards. 
  • Write three haikus about it.

What prompts educator reluctance to AI in their work?

  1. Some instructional coaches and teachers may need to familiarize themselves with AI and its benefits.
  2. People could be concerned that AI might change jobs, resulting in a lack of autonomy or personalized coaching. Teachers and coaches could also question the accuracy and reliability of AI responses, preferring human judgment and experience instead.
  3. Many educators may have concerns about the privacy and security of personal information when using AI tools.

There is much for schools, instructional coaches and teachers to consider regarding AI. The 71-page ”Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning” report by the US Office of Educational Technology addresses the current need for schools to share knowledge and develop policies around AI.

Why should instructional coaches use AI tools — and how?

AI is not a fad that is going away. Instead, AI is here to stay. We can expect even more widespread adoption and integration as AI technology advances in education and the everyday world. 

AI has the potential to address some significant challenges in education and innovate teaching and learning practices like never before. Still, we must consider using AI responsibly to maintain academic ethics and integrity. 

Since AI is here to stay, let’s look at some AI tools and five ways instructional coaches might leverage AI in their work.

1. Enhanced efficiency. AI can automate time-consuming tasks, allowing coaches and teachers to focus on more meaningful interactions and impactful teaching strategies.

Tool: ChatGPT.

Explanation: ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI that uses natural language conversations and provides responses based on the context of the conversation.

How instructional coaches might use it: By interacting with the model, they can use ChatGPT to explore educational concepts, brainstorm ideas, gather resources, begin planning professional learning or seek advice on specific coaching strategies.

Advantage: ChatGPT offers instructional coaches an additional resource for obtaining insights and support on various coaching-related topics, and it can be available whenever they need assistance.

Learn more: ”Chat GPT as an Instructional Coaching Tool With Stephanie Affinito” video.

2. Personalization. AI can personalize professional development and coaching for individual teachers based on their unique needs, strengths and weaknesses. This targeted approach can lead to more effective growth and improvement, as coaches can address specific areas of concern. 

Tool: Loom.

Explanation: Loom is an AI-enhanced video messaging platform where users can record and share video messages.

How instructional coaches might use it: They can provide personalized feedback to teachers, deliver coaching tips via video or create tutorials on specific coaching strategies.

Advantage: Loom facilitates efficient and engaging video communication between coaches and teachers, making coaching interactions more dynamic and expressive. Instead of an email, coaches can send teachers a video message or a piece of learning.

Learn more: ”How to Create Engaging Training Videos” video.

3. Teacher support. By understanding AI and its potential applications in education, instructional coaches can provide teachers with more informed and tailored support. They can guide how AI tools can be integrated into teaching practices, empowering teachers to improve their instruction and student engagement.

Tools: 30 AI Tools for the Classroom

Explanation: Innovator and former teacher Matt Miller shares many teacher resources on his website, including resources around AI.

How instructional coaches might use it: They can become familiar with AI tools and share them with teachers who rarely have time to track down new tools.

Advantage: Lack of time is always a factor in education. By utilizing some quality AI tools, teachers can recoup some time with instructional coaches curating resources.

Learn more: ”AI for Educators” book.

4. Student learning support. Leveraging AI to enhance instructional practices can lead to better student outcomes, as teachers can effectively employ evidence-based strategies and address individual student needs.

Tool: Quino.

Explanation: An AI-assisted study tool (like a digital tutor) where students upload any document, text, book or research paper, and they can interact with it by posing/answering questions, generating summaries, creating flashcards, creating bullet points, etc. 

How instructional coaches might use it: Teachers often prepare many materials for students to practice when they don’t understand something. Sometimes, it is a matter of truly not understanding; sometimes, the students don’t interact with the material enough to reach an understanding. This AI study tool takes information and creates activities for students to use in practice, saving the teacher time.

Advantage: This one-minute video shows how students can use it as a digital tutor, which is accessible to everyone.

Learn more: ”How Quino AI Is Changing the Game for Students Worldwide” video.

5. Efficient resource discovery. AI can help instructional coaches and teachers discover relevant and high-quality educational materials, saving time and effort in resource selection. By being well-versed in AI tools, coaches can introduce teachers to valuable resources that align with their curriculum and instructional goals. 

List of many tools: AI Educator Tools.

Explanation: Dan Fitzpatrick, the AI Educator Team and the AI tool GoogleBard have crowdsourced a vast list of AI tools for educators.

How instructional coaches might use it: This is an excellent repository to find AI tools that work with the content and instructional needs of the teachers and students you serve.

Advantage: It is a“one-stop shop for instructional coaches looking to identify more AI resources for themselves and their staff.

Learn more: Besides the vast AI list above in this section, you can subscribe to a digital Sunday newsletter and receive actionable AI tips to reduce your workload and transform student learning.

By adopting AI as a supportive tool, instructional coaches can enhance their professional practice and empower teachers to design engaging and effective learning environments for their students.

Our jobs as educators are to prepare students for their future lives and careers. They will need to know how to leverage AI for their benefit and to avoid the pitfalls. The only way that will happen is if educators teach them how to use it productively, ethically and responsibly and instructional coaches can help with that task. 

The AI Revolution for educators is here!


Donna Spangler, a 35-year education veteran, is the former K-12 instructional coach department chair for Derry Township School District in Hershey, Pa., from which she recently retired. Spanger served as past co-president of the board for the Learning Forward PA, ran a school induction and mentoring program for six years and has co-authored a book. She also is an instructional designer for Edjacent and a virtual coach for Sibme.


Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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