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!