Instructional leaders, both administrators and coaches, work hard to be effective. Their to-do lists are often never ending. They wear many, many hats. And sometimes they feel less than effective as the grind of paperwork and the wide variety of tasks take hold.
To manage their time, many instructional leaders develop their own tools to keep track of classroom visits, formal evaluations, teacher goal-setting, the work of PLCs, and instructional and peer coaching (besides all their other daily tasks). Documenting these in order to see progress on a daily basis often takes more time, and sometimes the development of tools can actually keep leaders away from the important work. Shuffling papers, whether physical or electronic, causes frustration.
Have you ever wondered if there was a more efficient way of knowing you are effective and impactful?
Jeremy Braden, an Iowa Administrator, has found a way.
Recently I spoke to Jeremy about his journey with TeachBoost, a web-based instructional leadership platform. As we spoke, one thing was very clear: Jeremy knows he’s working smarter, not harder. TeachBoost allows him to be efficient with his time while being a more effective instructional leader.
“Why do educators feel they have to be tech developers?” Jeremy’s wondered. Jeremy had used a wide variety of tools, including paper/pencil, post-it notes, electronic documents, and even other walkthrough platforms. Each tool had its place, but once he landed on TeachBoost he realized the others were much too time consuming and complicated. They were one-sided, cumbersome, didn’t provide the much-needed data to monitor progress and the impact of teacher practice on student performance.
TeachBoost offered Jeremy an all-in-one solution customized to fit his needs. TeachBoost incorporates a district’s chosen rubrics, forms, processes so that each implementation is unique. Jeremy uses TeachBoost for formal and informal observations, collecting evidence and offering real-time feedback directly linked to the Iowa Teaching Standards.
Jeremy found that even though the Iowa Teaching Standards were developed several years ago, they are still quite unfamiliar to teachers. Sometimes, with the best intent, teachers feel one lesson may target a string of teaching standards. With TeachBoost, Jeremy has been able to guide them to be much more targeted with their instruction, professional goal-setting, and measurements of student learning, embracing a less-is-more mindset.
Each teacher’s goals and progress is well documented in TeachBoost, and value the ongoing feedback they receive. As a principal, Jeremy watches for trends using data Insights to help facilitate growth, but TeachBoost also allows his teachers to find patterns in their own practice, facilitating deeper reflection and promoting a growth mindset.
Many Iowa schools are adding instructional coach positions to their staff rosters due to the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) grant. In TeachBoost, instructional coaches also have an area for two-way communication with teachers, along with an interface for setting goals and monitoring progress. The work of the teacher/coach is kept completely separate from the principal/teacher communication, allowing for the important confidentiality of both sets of work.
Both administrators and instructional coaches play an important role in facilitating many forms of professional learning. Teachers have individual goals—as in Iowa’s Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)—work in professional learning communities (PLCs), study together in Authentically Intellectual Work teams (AIW), etc. TeachBoost centralizes all these professional learning activities in your school or district.
For Jeremy Braden, TeachBoost saves him time, holds everyone accountable, and provides a way to track and understand his impact on instructional practices.