Oakland Teachers: How to Support Us in Our Work

In our post last week, we shared teachers’ ideas to address foundational needs at their sites: curriculum aligned to more challenging standards, time to plan rigorous instructional cycles, and better professional work space. We’re excited to see the effect of addressing these important basic needs at La Escuelita, Madison Park Academy, and Coliseum College Prep Academy.
This week we are honored to announce another four Oakland schools whose teachers are putting promising retention strategies into practice, focused on the next level of the Gallup Engagement Hierarchy: management support for teachers in their roles. Two schools are piloting hybrid roles for master teachers to support teachers, and two schools are working on their school culture. We think both of these approaches can increase retention of experienced and new teachers alike.
Master teachers mentoring and coaching new teachers at North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS): Juliana Germak and Lorin King, master teachers at NOCCS, are piloting hybrid roles that provide them with 20% release time to coach and mentor developing teachers. This strategy keeps the best teachers in the classroom, invests in their career development, and provides beginning teachers with more support (while freeing up school leaders’ time).
Designing a new hybrid role at Learning Without Limits: Sonya Mehta, lead teacher at Learning Without Limits, is studying hybrid approaches from across the country and prototyping a hybrid role that can work for other seasoned teachers across Education For Change and increase student learning schoolwide.
Developing a mindfulness practice at International Community School (ICS): Liz Woodward, Nicol Lacava, Rachel Quinn and colleagues are partnering with Mindful Schools to develop individual mindfulness practice to support teacher well-being, and then supporting students in the classroom to develop a mindfulness practice.
Building a sustainable adult work culture at Greenleaf: Kelly McBride, Victoria Diaz, Michael Lee and colleagues are partnering with The Teaching Well to build awareness, skills, and strategies to create a sustainable work culture that supports teachers’ long-term effectiveness and sustainability and directly addresses burnout.
As Oakland teachers ourselves, we’re excited about these innovative proposals. Every day, we watch our colleagues extend themselves to go “above and beyond” to meet their students’ needs. Every year, we see colleagues leave Oakland schools or leave teaching altogether, because they didn’t feel successful or supported in their roles. We know there are no easy answers nor “silver bullet” solutions, but we are proud to be a part of an effort that enables Oakland teachers to make their ideas a reality. We are eager to learn alongside our colleagues and find more ways to support Oakland teachers’ satisfaction and retention.   Stay tuned next week when we announce three more teams of Oakland teachers implementing retention strategies that tackle teamwork and career growth!
Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Oakland Teachers Know How Keep Teachers in Oakland!

What are the best ideas for keeping and supporting great teachers in Oakland? Ask our teachers!

Through our Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey, our Teacher Advisory Group learned a lot about the needs of Oakland teachers. Like many people across our city, we want to do something to address those needs so that teachers – our colleagues! – will continue teaching in Oakland.

Of course, a promising way to address these needs was to go straight to the experts – the teachers. We know that educators like us have important insight into what teachers need to feel satisfied and supported on the job. That’s why we created the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program, which puts resources directly into the hands of teachers so they can implement their ideas for how to increase teacher satisfaction and retention at their schools.

We are proud to be part of an effort that listens to local teachers and invests in their ideas.

Throughout this month, we will announce the 12 Oakland teacher teams who won grants to design and implement innovative retention strategies at their sites during the 2016-17 school year. And over the course of this year, we’ll share more about their work and what they are learning. We hope this will encourage more people and organizations across the city to join us in finding ways to keep teachers teaching in Oakland.

A key finding from our survey was that we need to do a better job meeting our teachers’ basic needs, e.g., the materials and tools they need to do their jobs well.

This year, there are three retention grant teams who are working to address teachers’ basic needs in different ways at their sites.

Math curriculum at La Escuelita: Claudia Hung-Haas, Kerri Frederick, Rhonda James and colleagues are piloting personalized math professional development and curriculum to support their students’ personalized math learning. With the more rigorous Common Core State Standards in place, these teachers identified a need for supplementary curriculum and professional development to help all students access grade level standards, especially students still working to develop abstract mathematical thinking.
Better professional work space at Madison Park Primary Academy: Precious James is leading the staff in using a design thinking process to create flexible collaboration spaces that support teachers’ deep professional work. The goal: to have educators working in spaces as functional and inspiring as Google engineers!
Time to create new units at Coliseum College Prep Academy: Rachel Korschun and Kelly Leathers and colleagues are working to plan release days for teachers new to CCPA. The grant program aims to give teachers time to develop rigorous, standards-aligned units and student assessments aligned to the school-wide definition of rigor.
As Oakland teachers ourselves, we know from personal experience that it can be difficult for teachers to get resources we need. We also know that our colleagues extend themselves and their own resources to go “above and beyond” to meet their students’ needs. We are proud of how committed Oakland teachers are to their students. And we hope that by placing these important resources directly into the hands of teachers like us, these Oakland teachers will make their ideas a reality, and will have an important impact on retention at their schools.   Stay tuned next week to learn about another 3 teacher teams addressing teacher development, teamwork, and career growth.
Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray

Lodestar

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

P.S.: We’re eager to dig deeper with teachers across the city this year to understand which “basic needs” are not being met. The three grants above point to some of those needs – curriculum and professional work space. Are they also lacking classroom supplies? Held back by broken copy machines? In need of classroom books? We’re eager to identify the biggest needs and work with community groups and individuals who can help meet them!

Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group Invites Oakland Teachers to Apply for Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Oakland Teachers: Apply for the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Support Teacher Satisfaction & Retention in Your School Sites

Today we, the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, are fired up to mark Teacher Appreciation Day by announcing a first-of-its-kind grant program for Oakland teachers, designed by Oakland teachers. This program will provide up to $100,000 in funding to Oakland public school educators in district and charter schools to design and pilot strategies to improve teacher satisfaction and retention in their schools during the 2016-17 school year.

We want to share a little bit about who we are, why we developed this grant program, and what we’re hoping to catalyze by putting resources directly into the hands of local teachers and empowering them to develop innovative approaches to job satisfaction and teacher retention in their schools.

We talked with Sara Solar, facilitator of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, about our experience designing the grant program.

Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Sara Solar, Educate78: 

What is the Teacher Advisory Group?

Sharon Gray, Frick: We are 20 Oakland public school teachers from district and charter schools across the city. For the past several months we’ve come together as part of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, to develop initiatives to support greater teacher retention across our city.

Sara Solar: 

What led you to decide to create a grant program for Oakland educators?

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Think College Now: We wanted to put resources directly into teachers’ hands because we believe teachers best understand their needs. They have a better understanding of what will have a meaningful impact on their job satisfaction and what will influence their decision to continue teaching in Oakland.

Nina Portugal, Life Academy: Providing teachers with resources to make decisions about what will best serve them is professionalizing. Most grants available to teachers are focused on student outcomes. We wanted to create a grant program that would bring the focus explicitly to teacher outcomes as well, especially given the high turnover rates in Oakland. Our students’ learning depends on great teachers every year and right now we lose too many of them.

Antoinette Strain, Greenleaf: Oakland educators are hard-working, dedicated professionals who use their brain power and hearts to serve students and families as best they can, despite multiple challenges. They are relentless when it comes to ensuring that their students have access to the opportunities they deserve. We believe that Oakland teachers, given their strengths in creativity and problem-solving, are the best people to tackle issues surrounding teacher retention and sustainability. The grant program is one way to affirm the value of Oakland teachers and empower them to give the same thought and care they give to their students to themselves and their colleagues.

Sara Solar: 

What was your experience as an Oakland teacher designing the grant program for other Oakland teachers?

Emma Coufal, Think College Now: The most challenging part was wanting to create a grant proposal process that supports teacher-led pilots and is feasible for busy teachers to complete! We want the process to be meaningful for teachers, to really advance their core work, not just be another thing on their to-do list. We worked hard to create a grant proposal that supports good planning but isn’t overly burdensome for teachers.

Sharon Gray: We also really wanted to allow teachers to be creative in identifying needs and designing pilots that meet the needs at their school sites. It needs to fit in with what else is going on at the school, it needs to meet the specific teachers’ needs at the site, and it needs to push innovation a step forward at that school site, which may be different from the school down the street.

Sara Solar: 

What advice do you have for other Oakland teachers deciding whether or not to apply for a grant?

Nina Portugal: Get with colleagues and really discuss what you truly need to feel supported and professionalized in your school sites. We’re great at analyzing our students’ data and identifying strategies to support their learning based on where they are. This is our chance as teachers to do the same thing for us. What has retention looked like at your school? What are the needs identified in the data? Interview colleagues and ask: what is driving those trends? Start by seeing if there are other teachers at your site also fired up to focus on teacher satisfaction and retention.

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield: We’re using the design thinking process to support teachers in creating grant proposals. You don’t have to know what design thinking is to get started — just come with an open mind and a commitment to improving teacher satisfaction and retention! I absolutely love design thinking because it gets you thinking deeply about what the need is and how you can address that need creatively.

Sharon Gray: Grant applications can be overwhelming, especially for busy teachers. If you’re interested in participating at all, take a look at the grant overview details and fill out the interest form. We’ll get in touch right away to answer any questions and share how you can get support through this process.

Sara Solar: 

What support is available to Oakland educators who want to apply for a grant?

Emma Coufal: Grant design teams can participate in two optional but strongly recommended workshop sessions: Designing a Retention Program Using Design Thinking Workshop in May and a Writing a Strong Grant Proposal Workshop in June.

We’re so excited to launch this grant program and to support Oakland teachers to create solutions that improve their satisfaction and retention in schools across the city!

Complete information on the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray

Frick Middle School

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Antoinette Strain

Antoinette Strain

Greenleaf

We are members of the Oakland Teacher Advisory Group convened by Educate78. For a full list of members representing public schools across Oakland, visit the Teacher Advisory Group page. We are designing teacher-led initiatives across the city to improve teacher satisfaction and retention.