Part-time Coaches, Sposato Graduate School of Education
CSGSE Spring Practicum Instructional Coach
Job Description - Spring 2020
Through my experiences as a coach for Sposato, I learned more about my own teaching practice and how to develop new teachers than I thought possible. The professional development and training that I received through Sposato was so impactful that it changed the trajectory of my career from being a teacher to an instructional leader, something I had never considered before. I am hugely grateful to Sposato for both the impact that the program had on my own career as an educator, but now also the impact that the program has had on my teachers and students at MCD.
~Jen Mullen, former HGSE graduate student in Teaching and Learning and Assistant Principal at Match Community Day, 2016 - present
Spring Practicum Instructional Coach Job Description
CSGSE spring instructional coaches observe 1 pre-service teacher twice a week from February to early June as part of the resident’s spring teaching practicum. After each observation, the coach plans and executes a coaching session to help move the resident’s teaching skills forward. Coaching is based on CSGSE’s practice and feedback model. All partner schools are in the Boston area.
● Two days/week from February through early June.
○ Same two days (example: Monday and Wednesday) each week.
○ Residents are on different schedules, so the 2 days can vary from coach to coach.
○ Exact start and end dates are flexible.
● Each day’s time commitment is 2-3 hours.
● Additional weekly time (1 hour max) may be needed for reading Sposato emails and for conferencing with Sposato staff about your resident teacher’s progress.
Coaches receive extensive training on how to coach new teachers. Training includes:
● Completing our online coaching course independently in January.
● Attending a full-day new coach training on early February.
● Ongoing observation and feedback on coaching from Sposato staff.
Characteristics we’re looking for:
● Generally, more than 2 years of teaching experience.
● Interest in new teacher development.
● Ability to be very specific in feedback or to grow in this area.
● Willingness to model and practice teaching with your resident.
● Coaches are compensated on the SGSE coaching scale (starting at $35/hr for new coaches) and paid at an hourly rate.
Here’s what former coaches have said:
Coaching with Sposato was incredible opportunity to apply my knowledge of content and leadership skills, while continuing to build my capacity as an instructional expert. Through the use of their comprehensive coaching model, I was able to have a considerable impact on the lives of a few teachers and nearly 100 students.
~Rina Beyda, former HGSE graduate student, Primary Curriculum Coordinator with Uplift Education in Dallas
Coaching for Sposato allowed me to stay connected to schools and classrooms while at HGSE. It also forced me to really break down and hone my own teaching craft in order to best support my residents. In addition to considering the most effective and ineffective elements of my practice, I got a ton of practice modeling and effectively communicating this, which will be immensely helpful in my next role as a school administrator.
~Emily Jacobson, former HGSE graduate student, Dean of Curriculum & Instruction at Excel Academy Charter School Chelsea
I love having the opportunity to coach new teachers! They are so energetic, passionate, and eager to learn. There were so many people that helped me on my journey to become confident in my teaching; I am fortunate to be able to give back in the same way. I think being a coach makes me a better teacher. Coaching requires me to look at some of my own teaching practices objectively to be able to explain them to a new teacher. Through reviewing unit plans and lessons plans, I reflect on my own teaching and grow as a result. Therefore, it never felt too difficult balancing coaching and teaching work. Additionally, after spending the day working with kids, it is nice to freshen up on my skills working with adults.
~Emily Christman, Kindergarten teacher at Brooke Roslindale Charter School
I've been working in school reform for 20 years and while some things have changed a lot over that time, one thing that remains true is that there is nothing as powerful and inspiring as a good team. To be most impactful, I try to put myself near smart, hard-working people who are not afraid to look at their own work critically. I look for folks who have chosen this work as a way address societal injustice and who believe that we must find a way. Without exception, coaching with Sposato has landed me on those kinds of teams. The school leadership, the Sposato faculty, the other coaches and the teachers we serve have all fit this description and this is what brings me back.
~Kate Murray, Science Department Chair, Boston Preparatory Charter School
Coaching with Sposato helped me to develop my skills not only as an instructional leader, but also helped me to refine and analyze my own teaching practice. In helping my fellow to develop his teaching practice, I, too, became a better, more reflective teacher for my students.
Coaching allowed me to look at teaching and learning from a different perspective, and gave me great insight into what teacher development can look like when made a priority. Watching my fellow’s skills grow with each passing week gave me faith that, if we invest in our teachers and their growth, our schools improve.
Balancing the demands of coaching and teaching took commitment, but it was something that I was devoted to because I saw the effects of my coaching in both my fellow and also my students. With careful planning (hooray for planners and Google Calendar!) and a dedication to my resident’s development, I was able to successfully balance the work of full-time teaching with the work of coaching.
~Emily Whitcomb, 2nd grade teacher, UP Academy Holland
Coaching provided me with a fresh lens on my own teaching practice, as well as the opportunity to mentor a less experienced teacher. As I thought carefully about what instructional moves to prioritize for my mentee, I also thought more critically about whether I was truly embodying these skills myself. At times, her "big takeaway" of the week also became my own renewed focus, which I think made me a more thoughtful teacher as well. I found serving as a Sposato coach to be a mutually beneficial way of improving my own teaching, while also guiding a new teacher.
As you'd imagine, it can be challenging to balance your own teaching responsibilities with coaching. I found that scheduling coaching sessions a bit after school was the best way to manage this. After school coaching allowed me to focus on my students and all of the urgent priorities that come up during the school day, and then also gave me time to sit back and plan coaching sessions after the students were dismissed. It was also helpful, having observations the day prior to coaching/ practice. This gave me 24 hours to think about and plan the next key takeaway. Once I knew what the takeaway would be, planning the practice session was very straightforward.
~Natalya Betzig, 8th grade ELA teacher, UP Academy Boston
Who we are
The Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education is an alternative teacher certification and training program in Boston that operates under the umbrella organization Match Education. It is named after career educator Charles Sposato, a teacher in Framingham for 30 years and the founding principal of Match High School.
The pre-service teachers in our program spend one year training with us here in Boston, and then go off to teach in schools across the country. In their first year of teaching, they have the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree through our program.
The CSGSE is part of Match Education, an organization that also includes three Boston charter schools and a knowledge-sharing project called Match Export.
Our Mission and Values
The mission of the CSGSE is to prepare unusually effective novice teachers for schools serving low-income populations.
As research has shown, first year teachers are often ineffective in the classroom, which results in lost student learning. We believe that all students deserve teachers who are effective from day 1 -- particularly students from backgrounds that have traditionally been educationally under-served.
We work toward this mission by embodying our 3 organizational values:
Strive for excellence.
We have high expectations of our teacher-residents because their work is so important to kids. We are explicit about what excellence looks like in various aspects of teaching and we recognize residents when they meet that bar. When residents are struggling, we provide extra coaching and support to help them.
Invest in relationships.
We believe that great teaching is built on relationships - between teacher and student, teacher and parents, teacher and community, and all members of the school community together. We explicitly teach our residents how to build relationships in various contexts, give them feedback on how they’re doing, and push them to invest the time and energy needed to build strong relationships.
Strengthen the team.
Schools are teams, and we want our residents to be strong teammates. We work with each resident to understand her strengths and areas of growth as a member of a team and we coach them throughout the year on these skills.
What we do differently
There are two main qualities that make our program unique:
First, we believe that teachers learn to be effective by practicing various aspects of teaching and receive feedback frequently. In our coursework, we ask residents to actively engage with and try out the many aspects of teaching, from difficult conversations with students to writing rigorous questions to delivering clear directions about academic work. Our fall, spring, and summer practicum experiences are designed to give residents opportunities to try teaching at a developmentally appropriate level and then help them improve through feedback. We believe teaching skills can be learned and improved -- they are not innate characteristics of “natural teachers.”
Second, we believe being direct in our feedback. In lots of teacher coaching situations we’ve seen, the coach kind of has to do a feedback dance. Lots of positive stuff has to be layered on before even a whiff of criticism can get in there. And then coach is forced to utter phrases like, “You might try…” and “I wonder if you could…” and “What do you think of…” We have banished this feedback dance from our program.
Novice teachers simply don’t know enough at the beginning to give themselves feedback or to decide for themselves what feedback to implement. If a beginner musician or athlete is making simple mistakes in their practice, their coach tells them what’s wrong, and shows them how to fix it. We think it should be the same with teaching – at least in the beginning. This kind of specific, direct, and actionable feedback allows trainees to change small things quickly and see success.
Residents spend two years in our program.
In Year 1, they are teacher residents. They work Monday-Friday at their schools as tutors and teaching assistants. In addition, they spend at least one hour each day with a ‘host teacher’ at their school, getting to know the kids in the classroom. On Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, they participate in graduate school-style classes and professional development that Sposato staff plans and runs.
Here’s what Year 1 looks like:
Fall (October - December):
● During the week, Sposato residents observe in their host teachers’ classrooms. Occasionally, they will run small-group teaching sessions, pull students out for tutoring, or run short segments of class.
● In the evening, residents learn the basics of classroom management, student and parent relationship-building, and instructional methods from Sposato PD sessions.
Spring (January – June):
● During the week, residents start teaching part of their host-teachers’ classes. They might run a Do Now and feedback at the beginning, working their way towards more teaching.
● Twice a week, residents get coaching and feedback on their teaching – either from their host teacher or from an outside coach (more on this later also!).
● In the evening, residents continue to learn instructional methods and more advanced teaching techniques.
During Year 1, residents apply for teaching jobs for the following fall. Many end up in Boston, but they can apply anywhere in the country. Currently we have residents teaching in California, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Chicago, and more.
After they complete Year 1 and go off to their teaching jobs, the residents can participate in Year 2 of our program, through which they can earn a Master’s degree. They take ‘classes’ online, which mostly consists of writing and executing action plans to improve their first year classrooms. Each resident is coached on these action plans over the phone by a Sposato coach.
The Match Foundation, Inc., The Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education, Inc., and Match Charter Public School prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability, religion, veteran status, and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under state or federal law in any aspect of the access to, admission, or treatment of students in its programs and activities, or in employment and application for employment..