Dan Adiletta, a new teacher at Explore College Preparatory Middle School in East Oakland, writes about his first weeks on the job. -Katy
It’s 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and I’m trying to take a stand. There is a growing number of sticky notes crowding my desk that I have been ignoring. They make up the list of things that should have been done already.
During the first marking period I was in a constant state of panic. But I’ve limped through the finish line and learned a lot:
All directions need to be painfully explicit and accompanied by rubrics and examples. Students shouldn’t be allowed to hand in work past a week from when it’s due. The faculty kitchen is off limits to students (whoever took my sandwich, I will find you!).
There are hundreds of other key lessons, but the biggest one of all is that experience is the only way to become great.
This second marking period is going to be better. There are still some holes I’m worried about. We haven’t had Internet access so far. I’ve been told it will be online on Monday, but I’ve heard that before. I don’t have another seventh/eighth grade social studies teacher in the building to check in with. I’m missing a CD from the seventh grade teacher’s edition so I don’t have easy access to handouts. I’m jealous of other teachers with the new TCI materials (great lesson plans handed to them on a platter). I don’t have easy access to a printer at school. I need to find creative ways to increase the rigor of my lessons, and there are still only 24 hours in a day.
My complaints aside, there are some amazing people and tools at Explore College Prep. My principal, Michael Scott, is in fact the leader I tagged him as. My coworkers are supportive and modeling the all-too-needed resilience. My new wife, Laura, has agreed to postpone our honeymoon and help grade papers instead. And of course, my students are a fascinating bunch that can be sweet, hardworking pupils. I invite everyone to see my students work in our experimental YouTube page. The caliber of presentations, both mine and the students, will improve dramatically as the year progresses.
If anyone knows of materials, especially music or video, that I can interject into my lessons, please let me know! The most frustrating part about the excessive workload is how it cuts down on my time to cultivate enriching media.