Now accepting 2018-19 Teacher Retention Grant applications!

Oakland teachers: what would make you want to stay in your school another 3, 5, or 10 years?

We’re kicking off the 2018-19 Teacher Retention Grant Program — a unique program that was designed by Oakland teachers for Oakland teachers. These grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. To date, Educate78 has awarded over $300,000 to district-run and charter-run schools through the grant program.

Want to learn more? Check out this page for information on key dates, how to receive grant proposal support, eligibility, sample ideas, advice and answers to frequently asked questions.

Want to hear straight from Oakland teachers who have received grants? Check out blog entries from current grant recipients at Madison Park Academy, Greenleaf Elementary, Life Academy and Lazear Charter Academy. The grantees share how they identified the need at their school site, what they’re using the funding for, and what’s been working.

Teacher Retention Grants: Lazear Charter Academy

Educate78 is continuing to focus on – and provide funding for – teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. Our Teacher Retention grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention, and we want you to hear straight from them: How did they identify the need at their school site? How are they using the funding, and what are some of the successes so far?

Other entries in this series:

In this blog, we hear from Luis Torres, a 5th and 6th grade math teacher at Lazear Charter Academy. Lazear received funding to support a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum to increase both teacher retention at a high-needs school and students’ academic success by reducing their emotional stress.

What is the focus issue your site is seeking to address with the support of a Teacher Retention Grant?

We believe investing in a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum will accelerate students’ academic success by reducing their emotional stress. The benefits will lead to a better school culture, academic success, and student engagement, which will lead to a higher retention of staffing.

How did you identify this as a need at your site?

The vast majority of students at Lazear Charter Academy face high levels of stress outside of school that includes violence, dislocation, poverty, and crime, and are unable to process and cope with the negative long-term effect of stress on their well-being and success.

In the past three years, we’ve had over 90 percent of our homeroom teachers specifically identify intervention and support with Tier II/III students as a direct causation for the decision to leave the school or for their low level of satisfaction at our school site. Evidence was collected through exit interviews, the School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI) report, post-Lazear surveys, and Gallup Q12 surveys.

How are you using the retention grant money?

We identified a researched backed program, TOOLBOX, as a means of developing our students personal and resiliency skills and also help teachers meet the needs of our Tier II/III students, an area focus for our school and cause of teacher burnout.

What are some of the key successes or areas of progress so far?

We have seen a decrease in referrals this year in grades that are implementing TOOLBOX.

Why advice do you have for other schools looking to increase teacher engagement and retention?

Each Oakland school is unique and has it’s own challenges. I would recommend schools digging deep into their data and identifying issues that you have control and can change at your site.

Every child goes through some form of stress and trauma. Coping with trauma and stress is a necessity in order to maintain a healthy learning environment. Without SEL tools and resources, we are disregarding our students’ basic needs and further creating a toxic environment that is hard to maintain for both students and teachers.

 

Teacher Retention Grants: Life Academy

Educate78 is continuing to focus on – and provide funding for – teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. Our Teacher Retention grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention, and we want you to hear straight from them: How did they identify the need at their school site? How are they using the funding, and what are some of the successes so far?

Other entries in this series:

In this blog, we hear from Life Academy’s Christi Grossman, the Humanities Department Chair, and Rowan Driscoll, the Health and Bioscience Academy Director and Science Department Co-Chair. Life Academy received funding to build teacher capacity that drives forward student learning. Life Academy partnered with Mills Teacher Scholars to facilitate collaborative inquiry sessions with the Humanities and Science departments, building teachers’ individual and collective practice and driving student learning. Life Academy increased teacher retention to over 80% in 2017-18.

What is the focus issue your site is seeking to address with the support of a Teacher Retention Grant?

We are working to improve teacher efficacy with high-quality PD focused on a self-directed inquiry question. Our theory of action is that if teachers feel successful as educators, they will continue in the profession — while getting better in the process!

How did you identify this as a need at your site?

Our partner is Mills Teacher Scholars. We became involved with them three years ago when the Humanities Department began examining our practice as it impacts English Language Learners. The positive feedback from Humanities teachers led us to expand the work to the Science Department (2016-2017) and full staff this year.

How are you using the retention grant money?

Facilitation from Mills Teacher Scholars uses 100% of the Teacher Retention grant. MTS facilitators lead our PD once a month as teachers move through the inquiry cycle. They also provide monthly 1:1 support to teachers and work with Department chairs to make sure the trajectory is working to meet our goals.

What are some of the key successes or areas of progress so far?

Use of data to talk about student learning has been a huge win! By broadly defining data to include formative assessments, student writing, interviews, and surveys, teachers are getting a student-focused look at what is happening in their classrooms.

Why advice do you have for other schools looking to increase teacher engagement and retention?

One size fits none. While best practices in teacher retention can help school leaders ask good questions, the answers are going to be individual to your teachers.

Teacher Retention Grants: Greenleaf Elementary

Educate78 is continuing to focus on – and provide funding for – teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. Our Teacher Retention grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention, and we want you to hear straight from them: How did they identify the need at their school site? How are they using the funding, and what are some of the successes so far?

Other entries in this series:

In this blog, we hear from Romy Trigg-Smith, the Greenleaf Elementary principal. Greenleaf received a grant to increase teacher sustainability while implementing an ambitious dual language school redesign. Greenleaf partnered with The Teaching Well to provide 1:1 coaching and whole staff PD sessions around research-based strategies to support teacher wellness and sustainability and dramatically increased teacher retention into this school year.

What is the focus issue your site is seeking to address with the support of a Teacher Retention Grant?

The focus issue our site is seeking to address is both individual and systemic supports for Educator Well-Being. As a school, we believe if we create an environment that promotes the well-being and agency of our staff at all levels, they will be more effective with students and willing to be foundational partners for the work we plan to do for years to come.

How did you identify this as a need at your site?

Since 2014, Greenleaf had an average annual retention rate of 66%. As the former assistant principal, I noticed how each year, as we lost roughly ⅓ of our staff, our team would spend too much of our time rebuilding relationships and trust rather than refining effective pedagogy for students and events for families. I knew that in order for us to transform and be the best community school possible, we must find a systemic ways to retain our talent and build a educator environment that allowed the work to develop over years rather than restart each August.

How are you using the retention grant money?

We are using the retention grant money to partner with The Teaching Well, a local non-profit organization committed to supporting the well being of educators and schools. Through the support of the ED78 grant, we are able to provide our staff a three fold support structure for their well-being.

  1. Whole site PD on Stress Resilience, Healthy Communication and Managing Transferred Trauma,
  2. 1-1 Mentoring for 60% of our teachers during the work day to turn these new skills into actionable habits
  3. Research reports where teachers were able to share gaps in support and as a leader I could course correct in simple ways to ensure that their voices were heard.

What are some of the key successes or areas of progress so far?

In our first year of the ED78 grant we increased our retention to 85%. Because of this, we were able to start the year with trust and go quickly into building off last year’s results. This year, as a leader I have seen an increase in collaboration, depth of ideas and our community’s ability to flow together.

Why advice do you have for other schools looking to increase teacher engagement and retention?

Outside Partnership with The Teaching Well has made a difference in our ability to support our teachers. Through this partnership, I am able to fully support my staff and keep my focus on accountability and student success. My teachers find it incredibly valuable to have a “third party” invested in their personal and professional growth while that outside resource is removed enough from the day to day community to allow for freedom of expression and comfort in addressing high needs.

Why is this work important?

This work is important because our students in East Oakland deserve a consistent, quality education and stable, reliable relationships. By prioritizing adult well-being, we ensure that we value and care for the individuals who create and develop these stable, reliable relationships. In order to be our best for kids, we need to be our best selves and that requires devoted time for and prioritization of self-care. When teachers stay connected to why they are in the work AND to their well-being, they are more reliable with kids and colleagues.

Teacher Retention Grants: Madison Park Academy

Educate78 is continuing to focus on – and provide funding for – teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. Our Teacher Retention grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention, and we want you to hear straight from them: How did they identify the need at their school site? How are they using the funding, and what are some of the successes so far?

Other entries in this series:

In this blog, we hear from Annie Hatch, a Pathway Coach at Madison Park Academy. MPA received funding to provide teachers with materials and supply budgets to cover “the little things” – markers, paper, binder clips, as well as books, equipment for science experiments, and journals – in order to design quality daily lessons for students, while valuing teachers as professionals by providing needed classroom supplies and materials.

What is the focus issue your site is seeking to address with the support of a Keep Our Teachers grants?

Our focus is teacher retention. We lost about half our teachers last year and understand how traumatic that is to a school community. We want to keep our teachers and our teachers identified that a huge need for them is having the basic supplies and materials they need to do the job.

How did you identify this as a need at your site?

I had suggested maybe applying for the Educate78 grant as a way to partner with Mills Teacher Scholars. The teachers I met with pushed back and said, our needs are more basic — we need books, supplies, equipment, and we’re tired of fighting for everything or paying for it out of our own pockets.

The MPA team.

How are you using the retention grant money?

Teachers are allowed to spend their $500 in any way that supports them and increases student learning, teacher efficacy, satisfaction, and retention. They are using this money in a wide variety of ways — on manipulative, a vocab website, tools for digestive system modeling, posters, subscriptions to a coding website, glue and paper and pens, the list goes on.

What are some of the key successes or areas of progress so far?

Teachers feel respected as professionals and empowered to spend this money in a way that makes the most sense for them and their students.

Why advice do you have for other schools looking to increase teacher engagement and retention?

Ask teachers what they want and what they need! They will usually have some very good answers for you.

Why is this work important?

Because we need teachers to stay teaching in Oakland!

Announcing 2017-18 Teacher Retention Grantees

Oakland faces a challenging teacher shortage that we must address to improve educational outcomes for children across the 78 square miles of this city. One of the best ways to address the shortage is by increasing teacher retention—if we keep more of our great teachers in Oakland classrooms, we will dramatically reduce the number of hires we need to make each year. Keeping teachers provides stability for our students and saves thousands of dollars in replacement costs[1].

We are continuing to focus on – and provide funding for– teacher retention strategies because we know great teachers are essential to student success. As a city, we must get better at supporting and retaining our best teachers. We must help every school be a professional environment where great teachers choose to stay. Our Teacher Advisory Group, citywide teacher survey, and retention grants put Oakland teachers in the driver’s seat to identify gaps and implement solutions, because  research shows that engaging educators at the school level can increase teacher retention[2] and even lead to ideas for broader system-wide fixes.

We are thrilled today to announce the 2017-18 Educate78 Oakland Teacher Retention Grant winners! Last year, we launched our Oakland Teacher Retention Grant Program, awarding $125,000 to 12 teacher-led teams across the City. These grants empower teachers to change the conditions at their school that are preventing teachers like themselves from staying. Oakland teachers know best what is needed in their schools to improve teacher success and retention. We did a video report out on their experiences. We also worked with our Teacher Advisory Group to delve into what worked and what we could build on for the second year.

Here is what we learned from 2016-17 retention grants:

  • Identify root causes, and do what is doable: Teacher retention is affected by many factors – some of which are systemic and community-wide. Grant teams identified root causes that they could change at their individual school, and ideas that could be tested in one year.
  • Prioritize it: Launching something new requires many team members to take on new work. Successful grant teams made teacher retention a top priority for the year, and saw this work as critical to achieving their school-wide goals – not just “nice to have.”
  • Measure early and often:  Successful grant teams planned how they would measure success over the year, including surveys, interviews, observations. With this feedback, they made course corrections during the year, even before year-end retention data was available.

For 2017-18, we have increased our total funding for Teacher Retention Grants to $150,000! We are thrilled to award grants to five second-year grant teams, eight first-year grant teams, and five individual teachers. Check out the complete map of all 18 recipients here or click on the inset. We noticed some themes in this year’s applications, which highlight our teachers’ needs:

  • More requests for basic needs: Likely driven by OUSD’s spring budget cuts, we received many retention grant proposals for basic materials and resources. We know from our Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey that “basic needs” are foundational to teacher engagement and retention.
  • Continued requests for more student supports around social and emotional learning: Similar to our first round of grant awards, many teams sought to provide more training for teachers, staffing for student’s socio-emotional needs (e.g., counselor, behavioral specialist), or both.
  • Commitment to teacher professional learning: Many schools want more high quality professional development, time for collaboration, and access to outside expertise.
  • Worry about burnout: Schools that have ambitious goals for student growth know also need teaching to be sustainable over time. Some retention grants will establish new practices or provide tools for teams and their school culture.

The teacher shortage will continue to be a major challenge for Oakland’s public schools. There are myriad and complex reasons for this. As a city, we must think bigger, bolder, and more creatively about what it takes to get and keep great teachers in our classrooms. We’re putting resources in educators’ hands to implement solutions that schools’ need now, while we collectively work on system-wide changes. We look forward to working with our new cohort of retention grantees and sharing their work as the year progresses.

[1] Learning Policy Institute: Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It, August 2017. Accessed from: https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/teacher-turnover-report.

[2] TNTP, Greenhouse Schools, 2012. Accessed here: https://tntp.org/publications/view/greenhouse-schools-how-schools-can-build-cultures-where-teachers-thrive