A Day In The Life: Instructional Specialist


After spending countless hours pouring through websites, reading books, and scouring the interweb for information, I still had no idea what Instructional Designers (ID)  do on a day to day basis.  This led me to my formerly favorite site Reddit.com, in the ID “subreddit” to find out what actually goes on in the daily life of a freelancer and corporate designer.

As I consider breaking into this new world, I realized that most businesses have no idea what I do as an Instructional Specialist.  It is easy to see a term in education, and just assume that I am a “teacher” and then draw conclusions as to what I do each day.  When in fact, Instructional Specialist’s days tend to vary vastly from the typical teacher.  So this inspired me to write this blog about my day.

It begins around 4am, when my body naturally wakes me up.  I sip coffee, read, look at articles, or take the general downtime in stride!  The house is nice and quite, so I enjoy taking the time I need to myself before getting ready and out the door by 6:15am.

My ride to work is perhaps my favorite part of the day, all because of one word: audible.com.  I love audio books, and I have at least 50 in my library, most of them fantasy and a minimum of 25 hours per book.  The escape into an unseen world is more stimulating than the stop and go of the bay area.

I arrive at work around 6:45am, grab a cup of coffee from the employee machine, chat with a few colleagues and make small talk, then go into my little corner room to work.  This is where the real fun begins!

Morning Preparation

Instructional Specialists need to be knowledgeable about everything, but masters of nothing.  I’ve learned how to answer emails, collect data, analyze data, communicate with team, plan my meetings, complete work on my Individual Education Plans (IEPs) which span between 20-40 pages per student, and follow up with tasks from the previous day, all within an hour.  Once 8am hits, the kids show up and it is show time.

I follow a select group of kiddos into their various periods, collecting data, prompting as necessary, and identifying gaps in understanding.  Prior to moving on to the next period, I take a few minutes to communicate my findings with the Subject Matter Expert (SME, teacher in this case) and make sure we are working towards the same objectives.  Once I’ve completed this process between all 5 classes that I support, that information is used to create content for my students before it is placed into an online platform.

If I’m lucky, I can sneak away and develop a tool using my new programs, but this only lasts for 30-minutes, on a good day, so I’ve gotten good at quickly creating content and shipping it out to my SMEs for review.

Lastly, my students join my room for intervention and support from the day, and we cover at least 2 topics, typically science/math and English/history.  It feels like we never have enough time in the day, but I am blessed with good, hard-working kids this year, and we accomplish a lot in a short period of time.

Before I head home, or off to tutor on most days, I have 15-minutes to plan my calendar for the next day, follow up on an email, review a project, and send any updates for the following day.  Education makes you a master of time, and I’ve learned how to be very organized and efficient at my trade.  I look forward to bringing those skills into my new adventure.  See the contact page if you have any questions or feel like reaching out!

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