Written by Michael Chen
Published in the September 11, 2015 issue
Gunn has hired several new teachers as Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) this year. As TOSAs, staff members are assigned specific administrative tasks in addition to teaching classes, and according to Principal Dr. Denise Herrmann, the system is designed to place classroom teachers in leadership positions at the building and district level.
Among others, this year’s staff includes Jeanette Tucker as a Social and Emotional Learning Opportunities TOSA, Lynn Tabuchi as an Inclusion TOSA, Daisy Renazco as a Climate and Professional Development TOSA, Todd Summers as a Climate TOSA and Christopher Bell as the Technology Integration and Blended Learning TOSA.
Being a TOSA comes with certain extracurricular responsibilities. According to Tucker, who is focusing on researching and coordinating a comprehensive social-emotional learning program on campus, she has a multitude of duties outside of teaching. “I will be attending conferences and collaborating with multiple people at Gunn and in the local community regarding Social and Emotional practices that can be used on school campuses, high school in particular,” Tucker said.
Responsibilities can range from planning and organizing professional development for teachers to observing and coaching instruction in the classroom. “It allows for distributed leadership across the school system,” Herrmann said.
Tucker says that one of the main differences between being a TOSA and a teacher is the job structure. “A certain percentage of your time is spent on a task other than teaching,” Tucker said. “For me, I am a 40-percent TOSA working on developing Social and Emotional Learning opportunities and curriculum for students in all four grades. I am still a 60-percent Special Education teacher, which means that I teach three periods a day.”
Like Tucker, Bell spends a certain portion of his time teaching. He is a 40-percent computer science teacher, 40-percent Technology Integration TOSA and 20-percent Blended Learning TOSA. “I’m responsible for supporting teachers with technology and training teachers to use different software they need for use in their classes,” Bell said. “Another important role I have is providing a teacher’s perspective in site and district technology decisions.”
In addition to his technological duties, Bell’s position as a Blended Learning TOSA brings specific outreach duties. “Blended learning is a district initiative,” Bell said. “I am responsible for training teachers that are interested in using the blended delivery model as well as ensuring that blended learning classes on campus keep expanding.”
All of the teachers will teach the same classes as they would if they were not TOSAs.