A Different Kind of Graduate School

You might have looked at our homepage and wondered, "Where's the quad?"  "Where are the people sitting in circles in the sunshine and talking about stuff?"

Many people describe your first year of teaching as the most difficult in your life.  We think that the rigor of the preparation year should match the rigor of the first-year experience.  We offer a different kind of training, one that is more closely aligned with the intensity and rigor of teaching in a high-performing school serving a low-income population.  

TRADITIONAL EDUCATION SCHOOL APPROACH SPOSATO APPROACH
Coursework focuses on a range of pedagogical areas.Program is direct and prescriptive in its teaching of specific pedagogical “moves” and habits.
Most of the time in courses is spent thinking about teaching.Coursework involves high dosages of simulated teaching practice and feedback that is facilitated by expert coaches.
Students receive several coaching sessions over the course of their student teaching.Students receive individualized feedback after every day they student teach.
Faculty is primarily composed of researchers.Faculty composed entirely of practitioners (i.e. experienced classroom teachers and school leaders).
Assessment is based primarily on performance in coursework.Assessment is based upon coursework as well as teaching performance.
Preparation is aimed at a wide variety of student populations across many types of schools.Preparation is focused on serving low-income students in high-performing college-preparatory public schools.
Most people who start the program finish with a degree and a teaching license.Only about two thirds of people who start with Sposato complete the program.
Graduate students finish their degree then get contacted by the alumni office for donations.Sposato continues to provide ongoing coaching to its students during their first year of full-time teaching.
The traditional graduate school have optional career counseling, job fairs, and students are free to apply to jobs wherever they would like.Sposato serves as a broker to support placement in our wide network of partner schools. 100% of students are placed as first-year teachers.

Philosophy

At Sposato, our work is fundamentally about social justice—trying to provide the best educational opportunities for children with limited financial resources.  We also aim to serve as a proof point, to show what's possible in rigorous teacher preparation organized around what's best for kids.

A a result, this is not a great program for folks who are just looking for a license or a degree.  There are significantly easier ways to do both.  For the fit to be right, a Sposato trainee needs to be excited about training to become "unusually effective," and to embrace the associated rigors.

Method of Training

Sposato students participate in an intensive yearlong training program.  This training is hyper-prescriptive and detailed regarding the nuances of great teaching.  Our year of training allows for extensive practice and coaching, to the point where subtle teaching moves become automatic.

We obsess about excellence.  Tom Brady once explained:

“I saw a great documentary this weekend on the airplane … it was this Japanese sushi chef that I would encourage you guys to see…He’s 85 years old and the only thing he ever wanted to do was make sushi. … It was just his life-long commitment to being really great at what he loves to do. And he’s 85 and still doing it,
You think man, it’s just simple, throwing a football or making a piece of sushi, how hard can that be?” Brady said. “When it’s something that you just love to do, you think about it, you wake up in the night and think about my mechanics. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what I can do better: my foot stride and where my arm is and what I’m doing with the front side of the body. For some people it may be crazy to think that, but for me, that’s just what I’ve always loved to do.”

Like that.

Sposato students demonstrate an uncommon dedication to “nerding out” on the fine points of great teaching.

Investing In Yourself

If you're sure or almost sure that you only want to teach for two years and then do something else, then a fast-track program like Teach for America is probably a better fit.  That is, it doesn't make sense to do a full year of training.  Sposato trainees expect to spend 3-5 years, minimally, as classroom teachers.

If you could imagine yourself genuinely falling in love with the work of teaching, and the quest to become an exceptional teacher, then Sposato is an investment in yourself.

Where You’ll Teach

Sposato places most of its teachers in Greater Boston—leveraging a network that we've built since 2008.  We also have relationships with top urban schools around the nation, so a small number of Sposato alumni get hired in Washington DC, New York, New Orleans, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. 

We place all our teachers in the nation’s best urban charter and turnaround schools, with a great team of workaholic teachers, all rowing in the same direction.  You should only work in these schools if you want to be part of a team.  These schools are remarkably choosy in teacher hiring, often taking just 4 or 5 out of several hundred applicants.  Sposato graduates jump right to the front of the line, because of our track record.  

Program structure

Aspiring teachers apply to a qualifying residency program in Boston and for admission to the Sposato Graduate School of Education.  During their first year enrolled at Sposato, they also work full-time at a Boston-area school.  

The two-year program works as follows:

In the first year, trainees are trained in Greater Boston.  Throughout the school year, they work full-time in a high-performing, high-poverty school through one of several qualifying residencies.  They serve as tutors, associate teachers, or teaching fellows.  During the fall, students participate in evening classes and Saturday drills and teaching simulations.  In the winter and spring, students will continue to engage in graduate work in the evenings and on Saturdays.  Graduate work during this phase will include structured lesson planning and practice sessions, feedback sessions with their instructional coach, and video analysis exercises. 

In the spring, we help our trainees find teaching positions in the nation's top urban charter and turnaround schools.  School leaders covet Sposato students; many folks get multiple job offers.  In July, trainees complete their final student-teaching assignment by working Monday through Friday in a summer school setting supervised by Sposato.  This first year culminates in trainees receiving a Massachusetts teaching license.  At this point, 80% of the Sposato experience—and the work towards earning a Master’s Degree in Effective Teaching—is complete.

During the second year, trainees have left their residency/fellowship.  They have full-time teaching jobs elsewhere.  However, they continue to participate in Sposato in two ways.  First, we provide ongoing support and coaching to trainees who take teaching jobs in the Boston area.  Second, trainees take a yearlong distance-learning course that is closely connected to their work as full-time teachers.  Ultimately Sposato evaluates each trainee's performance as a first year teacher to determine if they earn the Master’s in Effective Teaching.

The Sposato commitment is that alumni will participate in one more year of full-time teaching after completing their Sposato degree.  (So, two years of full-time, lead teaching after the training year.)  This is driven by our fundamental commitment to children—when a teacher leaves their job after a single year of teaching the costs to kids and their school communities are significant.