Finding a school that is the “right fit” is just as much of a concern for teachers as it is for parents. Schools vary in philosophy, culture, and instructional model, as well as the level of support provided to staff. Whether you’re a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, here are five things to look for when exploring open roles.
School Culture and Mission
First and foremost, the mission and vision of the school should align with your personal beliefs and teaching aspirations. At Vista College Prep, our goal is to prepare our scholars for achievement in high school and graduation from college through academic rigor and leadership development. From classrooms that are named after colleges and universities and hallways adorned with college pennants to yearly field trips to university campuses, our dedication to preparing students for post-secondary success is reflected in every aspect of our culture.
Curriculum represents one of the most critical tools educators have to impact student outcomes, particularly when it comes to closing skill gaps and pushing all scholars to meet and exceed grade-level standards. When first enrolling at VCP, many of our students are two or three grade levels behind in core comprehension areas like reading and math. In an effort to meet the needs of each of our students, we equip teachers with a fully built-out rigorous college preparatory curriculum, including a vision of excellence, all lesson plans, student work materials, and assessments. We spend a large part of each day on targeted small group instruction and emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills in all content areas to accelerate learning and ensure each student is performing at or above grade level.
Academic results help provide prospective teachers a clearer picture of a school team's strengths, the goals they establish for students, and their efficacy in achieving them. The results speak for themselves at VCP. For three years in a row, our students had the highest scores in both literacy and math among schools in Phoenix with over 90 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch.
Professional Development Opportunities
Regardless of career stage, professional development is a continual process, which is why teachers should seek out schools that offer valuable learning and growth opportunities aligned to their career goals. With over two and a half hours of professional development and coaching offered each week, VCP is dedicated to helping educators improve and expand their skill set and engage and continuously increase their effectiveness. Teachers work in grade-level and school-wide teams to improve their practice in areas like lesson execution and data analysis while strengthening their ties to one another through our supportive school culture.
Community and Support Structure
Happy teachers make for happy students. At VCP, we understand that teacher satisfaction begins with a positive, supportive, respectful community, which is why we recruit like-minded teachers who are all dedicated to providing an exceptional education experience for our scholars. Since we opened our doors six years ago, VCP has seen an 87 percent average year-over-year staff retention rate. Our joyful, urgent, intentional culture underscores all that we do to make our schools a proof point for what is possible for all students in Arizona.
If you are interested in a fulfilling career as an educator at a school where collective hunger for continuous improvement for the sake of our scholars' success drives all that we do, then Vista College Prep may be a strong fit for you. Apply today to join our growing team!