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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

TOSA/Fellows Program

Page address: http://ed.mnsu.edu/csup/tosa/

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[PDF] 2017-2018 Graduate Teaching Fellowship Application (789 KiB)

Teacher-on-Special-Assignment Program

Summary:

The Teacher-on-Special-Assignment (TOSA)/Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Center for School-University Partnerships at Minnesota State Mankato, is built on the foundation of improving teacher candidate performance as well as K-12 student achievement, promotes high standards of educational excellence, and nimbly responds to the needs of entry-level and career-level teachers through intensive professional development. The TOSA/Teaching Fellow program aims to meet the needs of partner districts and the University by releasing P-12 master teachers from their classroom duties for a minimum of three years to work directly between the University and the partnering school district. In place of the master teacher, a newly licensed teacher assumes full classroom teaching responsibilities in the school district as well as receiving a premier Fellowship at the University to pursue a graduate program. This program's sustained twenty-eight years of success is becoming known regionally and nationally as an exemplar in P-20 resource sharing and innovation.

Program Purpose:

 

On December 4, 2009, Minnesota State University, Mankato was awarded a $6.25 million grant as part of the Archibald Bush Foundation Educational Achievement Initiative to improve teacher training and student learning in K-12 schools. This grant, however, was awarded to Minnesota State Mankato due, in significant part, to its long-standing relationships and innovative resource-sharing model with seven Professional Development School (PDS) partnering districts. The hallmark program within the PDS is the Teacher-on-Special-Assignment (TOSA)/Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Center for School-University Partnerships at Minnesota State Mankato. With a twenty-eight year history, this program is built on the foundation of improving teacher candidate performance as well as K-12 student achievement, promotes high standards of educational excellence, and nimbly responds to the needs of entry-level and career-level teachers through intensive professional development.

The TOSA/Teaching Fellow program aims to meet the needs of partner districts and the University by releasing P-12 master teachers from their classroom duties for a minimum of three years to work directly between the University and the partnering school district. In place of the master teacher, a newly licensed teacher assumes full classroom teaching responsibilities in the school district as well as receiving a premier Fellowship at the University to pursue a graduate program.

The Model at a Glance: Resource Sharing

Traditionally the TOSAs time is split 50% to the University as a liaison and 50% to the school district to lead/assist with ongoing initiatives - expanding the leadership capacity of the organization. In this model, the resource sharing between the school district and the University is as follows:

  • University pays 65% toward the cost of the Graduate Teaching Fellowship
  • School district pays 35% toward the cost of the Graduate Teaching Fellowship
    • Fellowship Cost: Stipend ($24,500) + Graduate Credit (18 credits - approximately $7,000) = $31,500
  • Teacher-on-Special-Assignment remains on district contract for 1.0 FTE Salaries plus Benefits (maintain current lane/step on district contract)
  • Teacher-on-Special-Assignment receives a full compliment of professional development experiences from the University at no charge to the district (i.e.: Supervision, Co-Teaching, Mentor & Induction, Partnership Development, expenses paid to attend the National Association for Professional Development Schools Annual Conference, and approximately $600.00 in professional development funds to use at their discretion for resources/technology/training)
  • Fellow receives advising and support services from the Center for School-University Partnerships and Academic Departments for their graduate school experience, and are welcomed as full-fledged member, with all the rights and responsibilities of the cooperating site's teaching staff, and are included in the district's "new teacher support/mentoring" program.

The Model at a Glance: Benefits that span P-20

In addition to mentoring their replacement Graduate Teaching Fellows, TOSAs assume a half-time University role by advancing the Professional Development School model, teaching courses in the College of Education, lead seminars in best practices along with University faculty, and/or supervise teacher candidates. TOSAs work in partnership with the Office of Field and International Experience to help coordinate pre-service placements in P-12 schools. Additionally, TOSAs work with their districts to lead the development of new teacher induction programs, in partnership with the Center for Mentoring & Induction, and provide leadership for curriculum development, staff development, and/or assessment and research within their home district for the remainder of the appointment.

The Graduate Teaching Fellowship component of this program has received enthusiastic support from both schools and participating Fellows over the past 22 years. Research consistently shows that beginning teachers who have an opportunity to be part of a mentor/new teacher induction program significantly exceed their non-mentored peers by 1) attaining earlier skill and comfort level in the classroom; 2) developing more positive feelings for their profession; and 3) remaining longer in the profession. Since the inception of this program, over 200 Fellows have launched their teaching careers through this program with over 90% of those Fellows being offered continued full-contract employment with the partnering school district. Over 75% of the exiting Fellows complete their graduate programs, many which finish within two years from the completion of their Fellowship year.

Though the TOSA/Teaching Fellow program is one component of many within our Professional Development School (PDS) model, it is one that continues to receive recognition by the National Association for Professional Development Schools as an innovative program in financial and expertise resource sharing across P-20. This model of resource sharing has extended to our recent partnership with the Bush Foundation. At our annual site-visit this past January, the Foundation was keenly impressed and intrigued with the resource-sharing model that occurs between Minnesota State Mankato and our individual P-12 partner districts, and would like to consider how the model, though differentiated by district site, could become a model for other Bush Foundation partners to explore.