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Charter School Classroom Observation Case Study: Supporting Continuous Improvement with Organization-Wide Video-Based Coaching

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A performance-driven charter school network uses TORSH Talent to support the professional growth of all their staff members by creating shared goals, providing ongoing feedback, and encouraging self-reflection.

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Zeta Charter Schools: Continuing a Legacy of High-Quality Education With the Support of TORSH Talent

Zeta Charter Schools (ZCS) is a network of tuition-free PreK–5 public charter schools serving a diverse population of students in the Bronx district of New York City. 

The network was founded on an approach that combines rigorous academics, mind-body-soul cultivation, innovation, and high-quality family service. ZCS have historically demonstrated high-performing academic achievement in part due to their whole-child approach that prepares students for both content mastery and engages them in active participation and leadership roles –– better preparing them for their futures. 

Managing Director of Academics, Jessica Sie, knows that to continue ZCS’s legacy of bringing high-quality education to the communities they serve they need to support the growth of their staff, including accelerating and streamlining a professional development program for new teachers and expanding the leadership capacity of instructional leaders.

In their work to achieve these goals, leaders in the network discovered TORSH Talent, an online coaching and professional learning management system. “We have a population of teachers, some who are very experienced [and] others who are very new, and we really appreciate that [TORSH Talent] is a tool that meets individual teachers right where they are,” Sie said.

TORSH Talent Offers Teachers a Chance to Own Their Growth

At Zeta Charter Schools, leaders like Sie “think of teaching as a performance sport. You’re coming to work every day, you’ve prepared content, and you’re working with your classroom. We wanted to have the ability to see that teaching in action and to give feedback because a leader cannot be in every classroom all the time.” 

TORSH Talent solves that dilemma with its built-in video sharing, feedback, and collaboration tools. “Something so special and unique about TORSH Talent is that it provides us with a window into our teachers’ classrooms.” 

Teachers can log into TORSH Talent and upload short videos of a lesson anytime they want. This allows for increased opportunities for coaches, leaders, and even peers to provide targeted, time-stamped feedback that supports real-time growth.

“That is one reason [we chose] TORSH Talent,” Sie shared. “The platform’s flexibility [allows us to] be on the same page, upload content, and give feedback. We’re able to have purposeful assignments where our teachers will upload a specific area of content that they’re focused on, so even though a leader might not be able to observe a particular reading or science lesson five days in a row, a teacher could upload 10 minutes of that science lesson five days in a row.

Teachers find it helpful that all coaching activity, logs, and notes are housed in TORSH Talent. According to Sie, “What teachers really appreciate the most is the way TORSH Talent keeps track so it’s really easy for them to go back to say October 8, see the feedback they received, and then apply it

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Developing a High-Performing Team Using TORSH Talent

But teachers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the ongoing, frequent feedback and support that TORSH Talent facilitates. ZCS has begun using the platform as their performance management system across all roles — “from operations, to psychologists, special education, and teachers; everyone in the building is using TORSH Talent as the tool to receive feedback.”

The ZCS team has uploaded all of their performance rubrics into TORSH Talent. That process has been powerful, according to Sie. 

“The rubrics that we have implemented for roles are very different for an operations team member, a secondary teacher, or a psychologist, and our leaders now have all of those rubrics in one place. With the click of a button, I can give feedback [using a rubric] to the psychologist in my building, an operations team member, and a teacher. It gives us a shared vocabulary and experience that focuses on the development of all of our teachers and staff across the building. We believe that it leads to thoughtful, consistent evaluation. We want our team members to understand what it looks like to be successful, and the rubrics we’ve developed support that and give insight into your exact role.”

Thanks to the rubrics, which include specific action steps, all ZCS staff know what they’re striving to achieve from day one of the school year. This engages the school community in conversations about how they’ll meet their goals and how they’re progressing. While coaching is continuous throughout the year, midway through and at the end of the school year meetings are held with each staff member in which they’re able to self-reflect on their areas of strength and the areas they want to keep growing. A direct manager then goes through the role-specific rubric in TORSH Talent and provides their feedback.   

Sie appreciates the clarity and transparency the TORSH Talent platform provides. “Before meetings, teachers and staff can see if they are meeting and exceeding expectations [on their individual rubric]. Then, anyone in the building at any time can look and see where [they are] performing now.”  

As ZCS looks ahead to the future, including expanding all the way up to grade 12, Sie is confident that TORSH Talent will help them build the capacity and instructional excellence that will be required.  

One of the most beneficial ways for staff the opportunities to learn their strengths and growth areas, feel supported in their classrooms, and enhance student experiences is by allowing our coaches to provide insights through classroom observation.

“[TORSH Talent] gives staff the opportunity to learn and to understand their individual strengths that they can share with others and their individual growth areas so that they can really grow and thrive. ”  

Ready to See How TORSH Talent Can Help Your Team Improve Practice?

Reach out to our team to learn more about how TORSH Talent can support your organization’s continuous improvement efforts with our robust, flexible, FERPA compliant functionality that supports anywhere, anytime coaching, training, and collaboration to develop the skills, knowledge, and capacity of teachers, leaders, and staff.

Want to read more about how other organizations are using TORSH Talent?

Read about how The Center: Early Childhood Professional Learning used TORSH Talent to switch to a virtual teacher coaching model, overcoming the barriers of time and distance associated with their state-wide Preschool for All coaching project, and becoming more equitable in the process.

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