Professional Growth

We are crazy about excellence: outlining it, coaching toward it, and planning for it.  Check out our Essentials Rubric - it's sort of like a treasure map for teachers and leaders.

Reflection and feedback are the keys to professional growth. We have multiple avenues for both throughout the year, including surveys through our Teacher Career Pathway and coaching structures.

We are fortunate to have many great teachers in our schools, and the Distinguished Teachers we are recognizing today are at the forefront of teaching excellence at Achievement First. These teachers exude a palpable love of their content, and they build student passion and excitement. They challenge and support our scholars and push for deeper thinking and high-quality discussion. They love and nurture their scholars, bringing joy and caring to their classrooms. We are recognizing their strong performance over two years across lesson observations, student achievement measures, and surveys of families, students, peers and leaders.  With this newest cohort, Distinguished Teachers now represent about 10% of our teaching staff; this is a highly selective bar to reach and a proud career milestone.

We created Teacher Career Pathway five years ago to acknowledge incredible teachers and their impact on our scholars – and to reward them with meaningful compensation and network recognition without having to leave the classroom. Our Master Teachers are role model, gap-closing teachers. Their student outcomes are positive or exemplary year after year. They ensure that students have the grit and tenacity to find success after they leave AF.  They are a model for classroom practice with academic rigor, a culture of joy, and cultivation of habits of success in scholars. They have relentlessly high expectations and push students to be leaders. They prioritize families as partners. Through their leadership, they make the teams they work on and the individuals they work with better. Most of all, they are reflective and constantly learning. While we say they are “masters of their craft,” they would tell us, with humility and the ultimate growth mindset, that they have much more to learn and accomplish in their careers.

Congratulations to our first cohort of six Achievement First Master Teachers. Thank you for inspiring us to be better every day!

Coaching at AF

We believe developing teachers is the most important work of our principals and deans. Since effective teachers are the strongest drivers of student achievement, our ability to meet our mission depends on our success in developing our teachers. 

To that end, we have invested heavily in schools with large leadership teams to ensure we have enough talented coaches who can provide high-quality, individualized support to teachers.  In most of our schools, there are two academic deans, a special services coordinator, two deans of students, and a principal.  Our approach to coaching at AF is designed with this team of leaders as its foundation, along with the belief that developing teachers is the most important work we can do. 

We see the following instructional leadership practices as the core responsibilities of AF Coaches:

  1. Observation, Feedback and Practice
  2. Promoting and Supporting Intellectual Engagement
  3. Instructional Planning Feedback and Support
  4. Analyzing Student Work and Data
  5. Targeted, Quick Walkthroughs

It's important to ground our coaching work in the outcome goals of the school and the day-to-day achievement of our scholars. All AF teachers have ambitious student achievement outcome goals to work toward for our scholars. At the beginning of the year, coaches and teachers set these goals, which connect to their school's AF Report Card goals.  Our coaching approach provides individualized support to help teachers achieve their student outcome goals and develop students with strong character.

See how each of the core responsibilities play out each week here.


Teacher Career Pathways Peer & Leader Survey Questions

How respectful is this teacher of other teachers and school staff?

How respectful is this teacher of scholars and their families?

Other teachers and staff members turn to this teacher for help and problem-solving.

How often does this teacher actively work to make our school a more positive and joyful place to work?

Does this teacher work to raise the overall level of student achievement in the grade/school not just the achievement of the scholars in their class/subject?

How often does this teacher volunteer and take on school/team projects and activities (e.g. field trips parent nights etc.)?

Does this teacher follow through on his/her commitments and responsibilities and do quality work on time?

I like having this teacher in our meetings because he/she contributes actively without dominating the discussion, really listens to the views expressed by me and others and provides great comments.

If there is an important issue or concern this teacher doesn't ignore it but rather raises the issue in a positive productive and problem-solving way.

This teacher reinforces school or team expectations and decisions (holds students to the common academic standards and champions behavior expectations established by the grade/school).

This teacher is on time for the school day, classes, duties, meetings and for picking up students.

How open is this teacher to receiving feedback?

How helpful is the feedback this teacher has given to you?

This teacher is a positive role model for other teachers.

How frequently is this teacher perceived as a leader in the school (even if he/she doesn't have a formal leadership role?)

 To Consider When Responding

  • Responses to the peer survey are anonymous, but teachers will know the pool of responders. Even though a teacher’s comments may not be attributed back to him or her, we expect that the feedback provided on the peer survey would not be new or surprising, because it should also be delivered in team meetings, coaching meetings or other in-person forums.

  • As survey responders, you should offer both positive and constructive feedback that will help your team members develop. We want our teachers to maintain high expectations of one another; the goal of the peer survey data is to push colleagues to grow and improve.

  • Rest assured that although an individual teacher’s input will represent an important voice in the holistic evaluation of his or her peers, it will not be the determining factor in a colleagues’ stage assignment or compensation.

How questions were created

The questions on the peer and school leader survey are identical. Similar to the student and family surveys, the peer and leader questions have been developed and refined over the past several years, based on feedback and suggestions from teachers and leaders. We have also adapted questions from our charter school and district cousins.