Arizona College Prep Academy serves Tuscon-area students in grades 9–12 who value academic rigor and college readiness. TeachBoost began its partnership with ACPA in July of 2014.
Charlene Mendoza, ACPA's founding principal, first envisioned TeachBoost as an evaluation tool; teacher evaluations are a requirement for all Arizona schools, and the TeachBoost platform streamlines the process, eliminates paperwork, and improves the feedback cycle. After receiving training on the platform, however, "I quickly realized that TeachBoost could be leveraged to do more than merely meet the mandate," says Ms. Mendoza. "It could also positively impact school culture and increase teachers’ capacity."
Ms. Mendoza worked with Kate Cohen, a TeachBoost engagement strategist, to devise a teacher-centric implementation strategy. Working together, Ms. Mendoza and Ms. Cohen created customized Peer Visitation forms, which allowed teachers to conduct classroom visits, record their observations, and offer feedback and suggestions to each other using an in-house, non-evaluative framework.
TeachBoost has the capacity to manage multiple frameworks, rubrics, and forms, so Ms. Mendoza is able to conduct formal evaluations and informal observations, while teachers schedule and conduct peer visitations and coaching sessions.
Now it's easy for all stakeholders at ACPA to understand instructional strengths and areas for growth, as well as celebrate and scale their successes. "Teachers regularly interact with the platform, actively participate in the observation and coaching process, and understand that they have a voice," says Ms. Mendoza.
The most powerful, and surprising, effect of this implementation, reports Ms. Mendoza, is that "teachers have gained tremendous insight into their own practice by observing their peers. That's what tipped the scales toward making it standard practice to conduct peer observations at ACPA."
Ms. Mendoza invested time and effort into building teacher engagement and support, and that investment is now paying dividends. Not only have all ACPA teachers adapted to and embraced this new, peer-centric approach to professional growth, but they are excited by it. Reports Ms. Mendoza, "By popular demand, peer visitations are now a required component of teaching at the school."