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Hired!

By dadiletta
Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 10:38 am in middle schools, small schools.

Here I am, living in Oakland, placed at Explore Middle School and wading through a frankly inhumane volume of employment paperwork. A lot has changed since my last post.

Right after I took the unbelievable drive from Cleveland to Oakland, interviews began to pop up. I was getting calls regularly from Oakland City Teacher Corps with new developments. But the arrangements puttered and stalled. The only one that made it through the flaky summer scheduling was at Explore. I was told that the principal was excellent, and it was indeed an energetic and enthusastic interview. Though humble, that school has all the potential to be an example in the small-school movement: a clear-eyed, active leader; a tight staff; and a willingness to try new ideas.

For those that may want a tip, I found the two most desired attributes in my limited interviewing to be accountability and engagement. The trick is to offer up some examples on how to you’d try for those in a measurable way for every activity, lesson, unit, and year. Oh, and if you’re asked what you’d do if all your students failed a test, watch out! It’s a trick question. You can answer it with a well reasoned plan only after you explain the ways you’d try to prevent that from happening in the first place.

Newly hired, I’m in a rush to prepare lessons and find new sources to supplement the 7th and 8th grade social studies curriculum. This I work on during a month of forms and professional development. The whole business is stirring up a million questions and ideas I want to run by the administration. The turnaround through e-mail there is unfortunately but understandably delayed.

Something I’m particularly keen to get feedback on is Turning Point, a fantastic student response system. It’s an ideal tool for so many reasons. I’m hoping I can find some financial support on the fly. But I’ll probably end up footing the bill and hoping I can find reimbursement somewhere else.

It’s all very exciting; I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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  • Steven Weinberg

    Hi Dan, Congratulations on your new position. As an experienced teacher (just retired after 40 years in OUSD, most of them teaching 8th grade History), let me give a you a little advice: The best way you can prepare for the year ahead is to make sure you take some time to relax and rest before what is sure to be a very busy and stressful school year. I have worked with many new teachers over the years who have spent a great deal of time preparing for their first assignment, only to have their class schedule changed significantly early in the school year based on budget or enrollment changes. Most schools do not have their procedures and policies well set before the week before school, so many of the questions you seek answers to may not receive final answers until then. We have a new superintendent in Oakland, and he almost certainly will have new directives and iniatives he will expect schools to carry out, and the details of these programs won’t be given to principals until their training dates in late August.
    It is hard to do much productive planning until you know your students. Try to plan out two to three weeks of material, and read a good book about classroom discipline and procedures, but otherwise relax.
    I would not recommend that you purchase Turning Point with any expectation of getting reimbursed. This is a particularly bleak year for school finance. If you go to the OUSD.k12.ca.us webpage, and click on the teacher tab, you will find a link to DonorsChoice.org, where you can describe what you like to have for your classroom, and someone may decide to fund your request. If money does become available for your site for supplies, it will probably be in late October or early November, so you could make your request then. OUSD will not reimburse for items over $250 or bought more than 2 months before the receipt is submitted for reimbursement, so you will need to have your school order the product if Donors Choice does not work. Since your program is computer related, it may qualify for funds from the MicroSoft Settlement, which someone at your school should know about. You could ask.
    Good luck.

  • Sara

    I am glad you got a job, however you have taken one from someone who got a credential the traditional way. It seems that Oakland should be hiring the already credentialed teachers who don’t have to scramble to find lesson plans and sources and then, if there is a need, hire TFA, Oakland Teacher Corps, Project Pipeline etc.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ sharon

    To Steven Weinberg: I met you once at a presentation you did for Bret Harte teachers about AYP, etc. Congratulations on your retirement! You are one of the OUSD treasures, by the word of mouth of many teachers and administrators who knew you.

    I advise readers to seriously consider the content of the information and opinions you continue to share here.

    Katy: You could create a great story by tapping into the collective bodies of knowledge of people like Steve. They are a huge resource of OUSD wisdom.

  • Dan Adiletta

    Sara,

    I have received my teacher credential in a traditional way and I have taken from no one. I have spent three years searching for a teaching job in a high-needs school. I’ve paid my dues and won’t be made to feel guilty for doing whatever I can to close the achievement gap.

    Cheers,
    Dan Adiletta

  • Steven Weinberg

    Thank you, Sharon. Your kind post made my day.

  • jJim Mordecai

    Sharon:

    I know of Steve Weinberg only from the quality of his postings on this blog and, before that, only when he would speak at School Board meetings.

    He was always thoughtful in both venues. But, his outstanding skill was in defining the practical implications of board policies.

    Thank you Sharon for posting your comment in praise of Mr. Weinberg.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Sara

    Sorry, I thought that Oakland City Teacher Corps was one of those learn as you get-a-credential outfits.

  • Allyson Bogie

    Congratulations Dan! Getting a job and knowing that you are wanted by a school is a really great feeling. I remember when I felt it a few years ago. Explore will be lucky to have you.

  • ProStudent

    Dan,

    I’m curious . . . what employment forms would you have omitted?

  • Cranky Teacher

    Sara, you don’t know what you are talking about. Positions go unfilled every year in OUSD. There is not a glut of teachers, with or without credentials, wanting to teach here.

    Now, if you want to teach history or English and you want to be at Tech or Skyline, then yes, it can be a bit competitive (but not really, cause even there turnover is persistent/. Where TFA et al are really just being thrown into the fray are the places where turnover is a flood: middle school, science, special ed., the roughest neighborhoods, etc.

    Again, I wasn’t TFA and I got my credential the “traditional” way, but I get so tired of seeing folks target the symptom not the problem.

    Here’s what teachers want, as discovered by an extensive poll of California teachers by the state:

    – More support from administration
    – Less paperwork and non-teaching distractions
    – Clear and consistent discipline policies
    – Stability
    – Better pay (low on the list, however, suprisingly)

    If OUSD could supply these, veterans will stay and the best recruits will come. Otherwise, get used to TFA, etc., and be happy to have them.

  • Dan Adiletta

    ProStudent,

    I’m not familiar enough with the various departments and how the share information to suggest a reduction on the number of forms. However, letting us use a computer and creating an editable PDF file that remembered our basic information (all very simple tasks) would be one way to streamline the paperwork. A better graphic organizer of what forms were required and why would also help make sure that no paperwork was missed.

    Thanks for asking. Cheers,
    Dan Adiletta ~