who we're looking for
Sposato is one of the most competitive graduate programs in the nation. Alma maters of our current graduate students include Amherst, Boston College, Boston University, Bowdoin College, University of California - Berkeley, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Wesleyan University, Williams College, and Yale University.
We are seeking graduate students who are driven to become unusually effective rookie teachers in our unique partner schools. These are schools that are organized around the belief that high quality teachers, rigorous curriculum, and robust supports enable ALL students to achieve economic freedom, sound moral development, and active civic engagement.
Specifically, in order to be a strong candidate for admission to Sposato, you must meet three key criteria:
1. You personify our core values.
- You love technique. Obsessing about the details of teaching is your way of effecting social justice. You are tantalized by questions such as:
Is it better to put a student’s name at the beginning of a question, or at the end?
What tone of voice should you be using when giving a classroom reset?
Should you start a parent phone call by directly stating the problem, or do you build up to it with good news first?
The words of Aleah, one of our alumni, ring true with you:
It all starts with classroom management techniques. Classroom management isn’t just about giving demerits. It’s about the technical skill that goes into being able to stand in the middle of the room and command respect for yourself and the class. It’s knowing exactly what you’re going to do when you read the syllabus on Day 1 and a kids struggles with a word, and the rest of the class laughs. If they laugh at that in September, you’re not going to be able to discuss Shakespeare and homosexuality in May.
- You embrace practice and feedback. Residents who deeply love and believe in the value of practice and feedback are the ones who have made the biggest strides in our program, produced the largest gains in achievement within their students, and developed the most as they embarked upon teaching.
Our entire program is structured around setting you up for practice of increasing difficulty for all areas of your teacher brain.
But this practice will be worthless if you don’t learn from it. We hire the best of the best to coach you and show you how to improve. What we need you do to do is to commit yourself to learning from them.
Getting feedback can be really hard, especially when you’re struggling. This approach is not for everyone--in fact, it is for very few people.
- You pursue excellence. You look past the bar rather than at it. You are already thinking, “How good can I be? How far can my students go?” You define for yourself what it means to be good at a job. You put in hours that nobody’s seen. You set your own standard for success--and achieve it.
2. You have what it takes to do the work.
Our coursework is rigorous, and you must have demonstrated the academic proficiency to succeed in that work.
We do not expect you to know how to teach when you apply, but successful applicants possess the foundational capabilities key to classroom effectiveness: strong communication skills, self-confidence, and a predisposition to project gravity to students. Experience in urban communities is also a significant asset.
3. Failure motivates you to become better.
Learning to teach is a non-linear process. For many Sposato students, this process is their first experience with repeated and sustained failure. Successful Sposato alumni take the long view and are able to pursue relentlessly effective teaching and maintain a positive outlook while still learning from their failures.
One of our indisputably successful alums writes:
The weeks were really long. There were some days when I really didn’t want to listen to another training. I woke up some mornings for student teaching loathing the idea of standing in front of 6th graders and talking about paraphrasing. But then I’d remind myself that each day was a chance to learn something new, something I needed to get better at. I had to remind myself that each day was an opportunity and that sometimes you just have push yourself to take full advantage of it.
If you believe you have what it takes, we look forward to seeing your application. In order to enroll in the graduate school, you must gain admission to a teaching residency.