Dan Adiletta blogged for us as a first-year teacher at Explore Middle School in East Oakland. He moved across the country after Explore’s closure in June, but he’s kept in touch. Here’s what he has to say about his new position at a private school in Connecticut.
It’s not fair how good I’ve got it now. Since I’ve left Oakland for Marianapolis Prep School, I’ve been continuously shocked by the changes. My bike, classroom and apartment are all unlocked at the moment. The students are well-mannered and always do their homework. If I want a new classroom tool there is one person I ask who will order it for me. I’m encouraged to customize the curriculum. Disciplinary action, when it’s necessary, is swift and harsh. But I have my concerns.
I’m afraid of going soft. I had to develop a rather uncharacteristic edge to my personality while teaching at Explore Middle School. It allowed me to keep order and offer structure in difficult situations. That was a hard-won achievement that has only been collecting dust here. Similarly in Oakland, all my lessons had to be rigorously thought through in order to avoid a disaster. There is no such threat here.
I’m afraid that I won’t be of any help. The unbelievable conditions that my former students endured without a second thought should be headline news across the country. As it is not, it is up to us that have seen it to do what we can. I teach my students about it. I ask them for ideas. We have resources here that I am determined to use. We’ve started a club called UrbanTech to refurbish computers and send them to students in need, (we’re accepting donations as it’s awfully expensive to ship computers from Connecticut to Oakland!).
But I’m not afraid that the students in Oakland will be left unsupported. While more help is urgently needed, I’m still in awe of the resilience of my former coworkers that continue to innovate, inspire and endure. I just hope that through programs like UrbanTech, I can help too.