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A future Oakland teacher, waiting for placement

By dadiletta
Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 9:04 pm in teachers.

I wake up, brush my teeth, check e-mail, check my Oakland City Teacher Corps status viewer, check EdJoin, then check the OUSD page.

I have been guaranteed a job through Oakland City Teacher Corps (OCTC), but I have little idea where that job will be. The search is an anxious one. I am eager to start writing lesson plans, meeting students’ parents/guardians, memorizing the relevant standards, and working with my principal to cram as many of my beloved technical toys in my classroom as possible.

So far, I’ve had a few moments when I’ve eagerly called my fiancee into the room — invitations to apply for one post or another. I’ve been told that teachers in my content area, social studies, are often hired early in the process as to allow the administration to take its time in finding the “important teachers” (i.e. math). Just a few days ago I had a phone interview. It was awkward as I could not gauge my reception with the interviewers. I wish I could afford to move to Oakland earlier so I wouldn’t have to conduct my search from Cleveland, Ohio.

While I wait for lady luck, I’m reading the posts and the fascinating debates on The Education Report (what a community here!). The recent discussion of salary cuts and the possibility of an impasse with the union negotiations has me reeling a bit. It’s such a heavy issue. The financial restraints that have caused a community to shortchange its students is wretched. The system cries out for innovation on a fundamental level. But to be honest, I’m mostly thinking about whether or not I’ll be able to make my student loan payments.

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  • Nextset

    Is Oakland recruiting as far as OH? Will OUSD pay any of the moving and housing expenses?

  • Dan Adiletta

    Nextset,

    The Oakland City Teacher Corps (OCTC) website is what drew me in to apply. Seeing San Fransisco and Oakland during my interview certainly helped convince me to stay.

    No, neither OCTC nor OUSD offers compensation for moving expenses. There are some tax credits I can take advantage of, but that’s all. I’m not bothered by that aspect. I’ve wanted a social studies classroom of my own for years now–I’m over the moon about it.

    Thanks for your question,
    Dan

  • Nextset

    I hope you post what you can about your experiences. We can all use any positive news you can find about OUSD. I’d like to know what is being done about Social Studies & Civics in OUSD. My experiences with jury selection is that the public school products know little to nothing about the basics of government and law. And that’s just the ones that get into jury selection. The working class are typically deselected before any questions are asked.

  • Allyson Bogie

    Glad you’re coming to Oakland, as we always need committed teachers who are excited and innovative about their craft. A word of advice–while you were simply being honest with your last sentence, I wouldn’t go around advertising it any more than you already have. Saying, “But to be honest, I’m mostly thinking about whether or not I’ll be able to make my student loan payments” is not the best way to engender respect from your new colleagues. There is a plethora of jaded teachers who will say things like that…but I ask that you don’t begin your first year here, before you are even placed, with that type of comment. My students said they would like to hear the following things from a new teacher on the first day of school: “I’m here to help you,” “I will grow to love you kids,” “I want to have a new experience,” “I want to learn about a new culture.”

    I wish you the very best teaching in Oakland–our kids are really awesome and I try to walk away from anybody who tells me otherwise.

  • Dan Adiletta

    Allyson,

    Oh! I did not intend for that implication in the last line of my post. Although, that is an interesting perspective and one that I will give greater sensitivity.
    However, I meant only that the complexities of reinventing the financial distribution within the educational system nationwide as to eliminate the educational gap was a little beyond my pay grade.
    I wouldn’t presume to engender respect from my colleagues through a blog post, anyway. I do that best from the front of a classroom.

    Thanks for some wise words,
    Dan

  • Allyson Bogie

    Thanks for your response Dan. I know you didn’t mean any harm…it’s just that we need to do everything possible to keep our school environments positive. Again, have a great year next year!! I know you will do well.

  • Nextset

    Dan: I disagree with Allyson on the politically correct speech thing. Paying your student loans is a commitment above “helping” people by being a public school teacher. Apologize to no one for expressing a concern that the proposed employment must allow that commitment to be kept.

    If you start to get any flack that a proposed employment requires you to sacrifice yourself for the good of the employer and the employer’s interests – run like hell. That’s not a job it’s a cult. A healthy workplace respects the workers and the workers respect the employer with each staying within their boundries and obligations.

  • Ms. J.

    Hear hear, Nextset. Very well put.

    For goodness sake! It was clear that Dan did not mean he was only planning to teach in OUSD in order to pay his student loans! I’m glad that you are realistic as well as being idealistic, Dan.

    In terms of the placement, I am an elementary school teacher so my experience might not apply to you, but when I first came to OUSD I wasn’t told what school I’d be in until late in the summer, though I signed my contract in February. I completely agree that a teacher who’s had the summer months to prepare, get to know the situation and community, etc., can be more effective. Unfortunately such commitment is not recognized or facilitated by OUSD bureaucracy for the most part.

  • turner

    So true, Ms. J. And that is so because those in OUSD decision making capacities have neither lived or taught in OUSD. One or the other is needed to understand the complexity and uniqueness of Oakland. So, short of seeing some justifiably passionate members of the community at meetings, they cannot commit to the community, which is so sad.

    Apologies for the negativity. Dan is one of those people who join the teaching profession for noble reasons and he should be commended for that. Welcome, Dan. Congratulations and good luck.

    turner

  • Nextset

    Turner: What does this mean “One or the other is needed to understand the complexity and uniqueness of Oakland.”

    I fail to see why one has to live or teach in Oakland to understand that it is a failing community highly segregated between haves and have-nots. Like Cleveland, perhaps. With a racial spoils system in place, wrapped in political correctness so the losers in it’s society don’t get upset and stay in their place.

    One can pick this sort of thing up from the Wikipedia article and light internet research. You don’t have to “live or teach” in OUSD to at least suspect what is going on. The state takeover of OUSD is on record, the rotten math and verbal scores are on record, the demographics are on record. The turnover of the administrative staff is on record. List goes on.

    Dan, don’t get discouraged. Once you arrive here if you don’t like the place you can always move on. The weather is choice. And you will always be needed. It’s nice when you’re young to be needed – a lot. There are a lot of kids. In that population you are going to quickly run into kids who’s trajectory can be greatly affected by you. You will be very important very quickly. You can make a difference to many people.

    What I’d say to any worker about to enter a jobsite is to watch for doubletalk and use your eyes as well as your ears. If the treatment you get as a worker in this workplace is not up snuff, move on. If they lie to you in any way, fail to deliver on promises, or treat you in an unprofessionally, get out. Otherwise, enjoy your career here.

    Workers of the world unite.

  • Del

    Dan, I have good news. There are literally dozens of job openings for you at schools across the district, and no doubt there are principals salivating at hiring you. However, everyone is keeping this entirely quiet as we all wait out the “must place” teachers… those who are involuntary transfers or are for whatever reason entitled through their OEA contract to guaranteed placement… needless to say these are often not our most skilled teachers. As my first principal said to me: “I’d rather make my own problem than hire someone else’s.” So, unfortunately this is not a bureaucratic problem but a union one, but as summer wears on you can expect to field many calls–once the “must place”s have been placed!

  • aly

    hi dan and welcome!

    i am 2008 corps member with a social science placement, and i was also extremely anxious given how often we are told that soc sci is full. knowing that it could take until the last moment to get a job, i worked the openings posted through octc and ed-join calling every principal i could starting as soon as i was accepted. i was lucky enough to get a position at my school of choice before june was over.

    now, i will say that i got “lucky” because i wanted to teach in alt ed and they are starving for teachers, but i also know that octc will provide as many contacts as possible for you to interview. the phone part does seem like a disadvantage, but hang in there. being a corps member is a good start and if your personality comes through on the phone like it does in your blog, you’ll be good.

    best of luck and thanks for choosing oakland!

  • ProStudent

    Why not teach in Ohio? Why do you want to teach in Oakland?

    Social studies is not one of the hard to staff areas. I’m surprised that OCTC is recruiting for social science positions. OUSD does pay quite a bit of money for this recruitment.

  • Dan Adiletta

    ProStudent,

    If I were to teach in Ohio, the only place I’d want to work in is Cleveland (I belong in a high-need, urban environment). I’ve tried many, many times to secure a full-time post. I still have a headache from the running the gauntlet. My two-year provisional license expired after I spent a year teaching abroad and then failed to find a full-time position the following year. The red tape to reapply for a new provisional license is so lengthy and expensive, I was effectively shut out of the system. I’ve been teaching at a history museum all the while, (www.wrhs.org), and I’ve loved it. But I’m still at my best in a classroom. So I sought out a program that would expedite the placement process, and OCTC was it. I like seeing new places, too. Outside of my comfort zone is where I push myself most.

    I understand the competition for social studies posts. I’m also capable of teaching Calculus–I was first an engineering major at CWRU, and I’ve tutored SAT/ACT for years at Huntington Learning Centers. I could just have easily sought certification in that content area. But it’s not where my passion is. All I can say is that I’ll do my best to make the costs of recruiting me through OCTC well worth it.

    As for the rest of the comments about Allyson’s concerns, let me say that I don’t think there was any negativity in what she wrote. In fact, one of my first student-teaching experiences was with a teacher that sought more students in her classroom because of the bonus pay it would earn. She had over 40 students in almost every class. She had also long since given up on her pupils. She’d tell me horribly derisive things about them while they were still in earshot. She stuck around because she was milking the system. And her bloated salary kept out many new, enthusiastic teachers. All I’m saying is, I think it was just fine that Allyson offered a kind warning about a hint of such a thing.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  • Allyson Bogie

    Dan–you really gave me the benefit of the doubt, and in doing so you did interpret my words correctly. I was thinking about this post the other day and I decided to come back and see how the thread had progressed. You were right–I wasn’t implying that you should be self-sacrificing (although it will probably happen). I also assumed that you had many well-intentioned reasons, beyond just earning money, for choosing to teach in Oakland in particularly. I realized that your comment triggered a reaction in me that should have been directed at some of my colleagues instead of you. Similar to the experience you described in your most recent comment about the teacher with 40 students, I have witnessed some bad teachers who don’t seem to care much about their craft. It’s clear that you are not one of them.

    Based on how graciously you’ve responded to all of the comments I can tell you are going to be a great colleague and probably a leader at whatever school is lucky enough to get through. I’m glad that you’re coming to Oakland and again, I wish you a great school year!