Every year the month of May is reserved for Teacher Appreciation. And, to close it out strong, we hosted an Educate78 Supply Closet at the Oakland Public Education Fund’s outstanding Teacher Appreciation Party. The Educate78 Supply Closet was set up to give away classroom supplies to hundreds of Oakland public school teachers. In this small way, we hope to reduce the need for teachers to pay for basic classroom materials out of their own pocket.
It was a great night! Like many in public education, for us at Educate78 appreciating teachers is a year-round affair
Our Annual Citywide Teacher Survey is another way we strive to support teachers. This survey informs citywide and site-level discussions about teacher retention and how to keep the excellent talent here in Oakland.
Spring 2017 marked the second year that our Teacher Advisory Group used the Gallup employee engagement survey to evaluate Oakland public school teacher satisfaction.
The 2017 survey shows a slight increase in teacher satisfaction over last year. And, our teachers remain more engaged than teachers nationally. Our citywide sample score of 3.87 (on a scale of 1-5) places Oakland teachers in the 36th percentile of all organizations in Gallup’s database, an increase of 2 percentile points from last year. Oakland teachers surveyed are “more engaged” than teachers surveyed nationwide by Gallup (38% in Oakland vs 30% nationally).
In terms of specific needs, Oakland teachers ranked opportunities for growth and development the highest and access to basic needs the lowest. This is consistent with results from last year.
In other words, Oakland teachers find their work fulfilling. But, they feel stymied by basic needs not being met. These basic needs include: classroom supplies, curriculum materials, and heating in their classrooms. These results are worrisome – and the survey was taken before the OUSD instituted its spending reduction measures. We worry what next year’s results will say, especially as the #OUSDBudget woes show every sign of worsening. Kudos to the school leaders across the city who are doing their best with limited resources to create healthy and nurturing working conditions for their teachers
We had additional questions about how long our teachers anticipated staying in Oakland. So, we went beyond the standard Gallup questions to learn more. 76% of respondents are planning to teach in Oakland in the ’17-’18 school year. This is good news for this coming year! But, only 56% are planning to teach in Oakland three years from now.
It is critical to ensure that the 56% stay committed to teaching in Oakland and to create the conditions that will sway the 33% that stated they were unsure to stay.
One way Educate78 is directly working to create these conditions is through Oakland teacher retention grants. In the ’16-’17 school year, we supported twelve pilot teacher retention projects. Want to see what Oakland teachers have been working on? Check out this video for highlights. Keep an eye out- we will announce the ’17-’18 grant winners soon!
One of the great resources for Oakland teachers is a community of organizations that work to support our public school teachers:
- The Oakland Education Association is the bargaining unit for OUSD teachers in contract negotiations.
- The Oakland Public Education Fund offers multiple funding opportunities and teacher celebrations.
- GO Public Schools ran a great Donor’s Choose matching program last year and continues to accelerate teacher leadership through its Teacher Policy Fellowship.
- The Black Teacher Project offers affinity-based professional development and peer support spaces including their June Black Teacher Leadership and Sustainability Institute and 2017-18 Fellows Program.
- New Leaders offers year-long instructional fellowships for teacher leaders and rising school leaders to deepen their leadership skills.
- Mills Teacher Scholars supports inquiry-based learning communities for educators to improve practice and enhance student learning.
- Light Awards also offers some great professional development opportunities that Oakland teams have secured before.
- The Oakland Maker Fellows is a 6-day professional development series and this is its third year. Interested teachers can learn more by reaching out directly to Parker Thomas.
- Agency by Design (AbD) Cohort is a professional learning community engaging in ongoing inquiry around the project’s current research questions.
Next year, school budgets will continue to be tight, and OEA and OUSD will continue contract negotiations. Through it all, we know that recruiting and retaining the best teachers is one of the most important things we can do for our children. We hope that individuals and organizations across the city will join us in making every day and every month about teacher appreciation!
What will you do to appreciate our teachers and ensure they have what they need to stay teaching in Oakland?
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