Curriculum

The two year Sposato sequence includes a number of distinct phases:

  • Phase 1: Intensive Coursework
  • Phase 2: Interactive Coaching
  • Phase 3: Student Teaching
  • Phase 4: Full Time Teaching

 

Phase 1: Intensive Coursework

During this phase, Sposato students engage in a series of graduate classes taught by the Sposato Graduate School of Education faculty, many of whom are adjuncts serving as principals of top-performing elementary, middle, and high schools. This includes classes on classroom management, building relationships with students and parents, instructional methods, subject-specific methods (i.e. How to Teach Math or How to Teach English), and working with data. Classes include concrete direction on these topics. You can read an excerpt from one of our handbooks here.

We expect all students to arrive with a strong command of the subject they'll teach. 

 

Phase 2: Interactive Coaching

During the fall, residents participate in simulated classroom teaching. (Some graduate classes also continue during Phase 2.) A group of residents take turns teaching short lessons to one another, with a coach watching. As one resident teaches, the others act as students. They answer questions (sometimes correctly, sometimes not), try to pay attention (but sometimes fail), sometimes misbehave intentionally, and do other things that "real students" tend to do. The coach (and peers) then gives very specific feedback. 

This phase of Sposato culminates in a high-stakes assessment called the “Gateway,” which mirrors the classroom teaching simulations. Residents must demonstrate a basic level of competence with classroom management and instructional skills in order to move on to the next phase of the program: student teaching.

 

Phase 3: Student-Teaching

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Students who have passed the Gateway are eligible for student teaching.

Spring student teaching occurs in the late winter and spring. This takes place at our high school, middle school and elementary school, and other charter schools in the area who partner with us. Each day, residents are observed by a coach and given feedback on their student teaching.

Beginning in March, Sposato students begin to apply for jobs. Typically, they are courted heavily by leaders from the top-performing urban charter and turnaround schools. In every cohort to date, all students have happily signed contracts by June.

In June, Sposato students return to graduate classes, and focus on long-term and unit planning, particularly for July student teaching.

Finally, July involves summer school student teaching, running Monday-Friday. In this phase, residents teach larger classes of students at a school in the Boston area. As in spring student teaching, residents are observed each day of teaching and given feedback on their performance.

 

Phase 4: Full-Time Teaching

Sposato students begin teaching full-time in their second year with Sposato. A typical Boston-area starting salary in 2015 was $45,000. 

During this second year, candidates for the MET degree are in frequent contact with the Sposato Graduate School of Education faculty, as they participate in a yearlong distance-learning course. The course is designed around frequent assignments that challenge degree candidates to collect data about their teaching, and craft and implement action plans for improvement in response to those data.

Additionally, Sposato staff regularly observe and coach every teacher who takes a position in a Boston area school.


Course Offering List

SPO 100: Culture, Community and Context - 2 credits

SPO 115: Classroom Culture Building - 3 credits

SPO 120: Fall Instructional Methods - 3 credits

SPO 122: Content Learning Labs for Humanities - 3 credits

SPO 123: Elementary and STEM Methods - 3 credits

SPO 124: Spring Instructional Methods for Humanities - 3 credits

SPO 130: Sheltered English Immersion - 2 credits

SPO 150: Fall Pre-Practicum - 2 credits

SPO 152: Spring Practicum - 2 credits

SPO 154: Summer Practicum - 2 credits

SPO 200, 210, 220: The Dimensions of Teaching I, II, II - 3 credits each

 

Those 12 courses cover many key skills and knowledge domains, including these four:
 

1. Relationships with students and families

  • Build positive relationships with families to enhance student commitment and family reinforcement of classroom priorities;
  • Develop specific weekly parent communications strategies; and
  • Practice implementation of effective relationship building techniques.

2. Delivery of effective lessons

  • Analyze the elements of a well designed lesson;
  • Practice the delivery of each element of the lesson; and
  • Develop and deliver curriculum aligned to specific learning goals.

3. Classroom management

  • Master the implementation of proactive techniques to establish a focused, productive classroom environment; and
  • Master the implementation of reactive techniques to minimize class time lost to misbehavior.

4. Use of data

  • Master techniques to check for student understanding daily; and
  • Build an understanding of how effective interpretation of data must be incorporated into long-term curriculum planning.

Course Descriptions

SPO 100: Culture, Community and Context

This course addresses the many issues facing educators in high-poverty urban schools. Students learn the mission, history, culture, policies and community of the Match Charter Public School; they explore the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park; hear guest speakers including students, parents, skilled teachers and policymakers; learn about Boston's recent educational history (desegregation, Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, No Child Left Behind, Massachusetts, An Act Relevant to the Achievement Gap of 2010) and national policy efforts like Race to the Top. The course orients Sposato students to their new work environment, including basic pedagogical, behavior management and relationship-building strategies involved in 1-on-1 tutoring. This course also helps them situate this particular work within the larger context of challenges and innovations in urban education by introducing participants to literature on the achievement gap, the impact of racial identity on school achievement, charter school policy and critiques, and the advent and development of charter schools serving low income students that are based on high support and high expectations.

SPO 115: Classroom Culture Building

This course addresses proactive and reactive methods of Classroom Culture Building. Topics include explaining why classroom management is necessary for student learning and articulating clear expectations and procedures. Participants will work to develop a classroom presence that enables them to communicate effectively, engage students, and project authority. Participants will also learn to distinguish when and how to use proactive, reactive and rebuilding moves to manage their classes.

SPO 120: Fall Instructional Methods

In this course, candidates are introduced to the basic principles of lesson design. These include backwards mapping, participation and thinking ratio. Candidates investigate different methods of generating rigorous cycles of practice and feedback for students. Candidates also explore various strategies for working effectively with students with disabilities.

SPO 122: Content Learning Labs for Humanities

Course 122 aims to bolster ELA and History teaching candidates’ fundamental conceptual understandings of their subjects, and helps them to start building personal resource libraries which meet the standards set forth by CCSS.

SPO 123: Elementary and STEM Methods

The overarching purpose of this course is to provide Elementary, Math and Science teacher candidates with a firm grounding in the curriculum design methods, assessment measures and pedagogical techniques that are specific to their discipline. The course broadens candidates’ understanding of instruction beyond how to execute strategies for driving a single lesson, which was the area of focus in the Fall Instructional Methods course. The course also helps candidates to start building fundamental conceptual understandings of their subjects and helps them to start building their own personal resource libraries.

SPO 124: Spring Instructional Methods for Humanities

The overarching purpose of this course is to provide English and History teacher candidates with a firm grounding in the curricular design methods, assessment measures and pedagogical techniques that are specific to their academic discipline. The course broadens candidates’ understanding of instruction beyond how to execute strategies for driving a single lesson, which was the area of focus in the Fall Instructional Methods course. Instead, this course undertakes a thorough investigation of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in English Language Arts, and the skills that are necessary for translating those standards into classroom practice across an entire year of instruction.

SPO 130: Sheltered English Immersion

The purpose of this course is to prepare licensure candidates with the knowledge and skills to effectively shelter their content instruction, so that the growing population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in schools across the country can access curriculum, achieve academic success, and contribute their multilingual and multicultural resources as participants and future leaders in the 21st century global economy.

SPO 150: Fall Pre-Practicum

The purpose of the Pre-Practicum is to provide students with initial opportunities to observe and work with students in a variety of settings. Students will begin practicing essential instructional techniques and behavior management strategies in the context of their responsibilities as 1-on-1 tutors and classroom assistants. These techniques and strategies will be taught as part of the Classroom Management, Fall Instructional Methods, and Relationships & Development coursework, and will be practiced until mastery.

SPO 152: Spring Practicum

In the Spring Practicum, candidates plan and deliver instruction based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Candidates will practice and master a variety of essential instructional techniques and behavior management strategies appropriate to their respective content areas and grade levels. A substantial level of individualized coaching is embedded into the Spring Practicum. Candidates will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their performance and growth as practitioners with their fellow teacher candidates, under the supervision of their Coaches and with the support of the Faculty. The coaching protocol systematically cycles through all of the content covered to date in the program to support candidates as they apply these practices in their classrooms during the Spring Practicum.

SPO 154: Summer Practicum

The Summer Practicum involves the lead teaching of a course for students in a CSGSE partner school. Individualized coaching and support is a central element of the Summer Practicum. Like the Spring Practicum, the Summer Practicum provides teacher candidates with the opportunity to share, discuss, reflect on, and be coached through their experiences in the classroom. Unlike the Spring Practicum, when the focus of each coaching session is sequentially aligned with the candidates' coursework, coaching sessions in the Summer Seminar are personalized and focus on the candidates' individual development needs.

The following 3 courses are taught remotely in Year 2 of the program

SPO 200, 210, 220: The Dimensions of Teaching, I, II, III

Participants in this course participate in a yearlong action research collection of assignments designed to maximize classroom effectiveness. These teachers collect data from a variety of sources—including peers and supervisors, as well as standardized test scores. This data is analyzed and used to produce action plans which aim to bolster teaching performance. Participants discuss these plans and their effectiveness in biweekly phone meetings with CSGSE faculty. Plans focus on instructional topics, classroom culture and professionalism.