In the fall of 2016, Torace founders Aleka Calsoyas and Don O’Callaghan engaged on a project through their firm, The Calsoyas Group, to study the ways in which student teaching was working well and how it might be made more effective. To get answers we studied the existing research, consulted with experts, and went directly to those with the most relevant experience: students in licensure preparation programs, novice teachers, mentor teachers, school leaders, district administrators and preparation program coordinators.
After countless surveys, focus groups, interviews and experimental pilots, a few key points immerged:
Everyone believed that getting good matches was critical to shared goals of great learning experiences, effective recruitment of new teachers, and ultimately meeting the needs of kids
The educator mentality is to be creative and to find a way: from multiple spreadsheets, one-off surveys, to sticky notes on the wall and a constant barrage of email– the complex logistics of making placements take a lot of time and are often messy. How could team members strategically make placements when so much time was spent simply finding matches that satisfied basic licensure criteria?
People in different roles all across the system had specific knowledge that was hard to capture with those ad-hoc solutions:
Teachers know their interests, approach to mentoring, and their classroom environments
Student teachers know what they hope to experience and what they bring to the table
School leaders are well positioned to assess the readiness of their teachers to mentor and the capacity of their schools to host
District leaders working with prep program coordinators have their eyes on the pipeline into teaching, high-need areas, and what experiences will be needed to ready novice teachers for their first full-time role.
As our work took us to school systems nationwide we realized that these matching challenges were not just faced by student teacher placements, but by mentoring programs at all levels: practicum placements, novice teacher mentoring, aspiring school leader placements, etc.
In this time of innovation and technological breakthroughs, there simply had to be a better way.
We are launching Torace so that it can be that better way, a means to facilitate and support mentorship programs of many kinds. We have designed Torace as a platform that will continue to develop in order to support educators confronting a range of challenges that are poorly addressed by existing solutions. With our first mentorship placement support module, Torace puts a modern tool in the hands of school system administrators so that they can focus less on the mechanics of facilitating mentorship activities and more on strengthening those programs.
We are committed to supporting educators and education. Torace can be used for free to run an institution’s two highest priority matching events each year regardless of their scope or scale. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.