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Oakland teachers, shaping school reforms

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at 12:23 pm in school reform, teachers.

"Listening tour" held Feb. 15 by Oakland's Effective Teaching Task Force. Photo by Dean Coppola/Bay Area News GroupThese days, it sure seems like a radical idea: asking teachers, rather than telling them, what’s needed to improve their schools.

It’s happening in Oakland, though. You can read more about the purpose and the early work of a largely teacher-led project, the Effective Teaching Task Force, here. The story ran over the weekend.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: The task force makes a stop tomorrow (Wednesday) on its “Teachers Talking to Teachers” listening tour. This one is for high school and adult education teachers, and it takes place at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the gym of United for Success Academy (Calvin Simmons campus), 2101 35th Avenue. Another event, for pre-k through eighth-grade teachers, is scheduled on March 23, at the same time and place.

Want to represent your school at an Oakland teacher convention in Emeryville April 7-9? Delegate elections — two for each school — are scheduled to take place at faculty meetings the week of March 7-11.

Pedro Noguera and Linda Darling-Hammond are speaking at the Oakland Museum of California at 6 p.m. March 10 and 28, respectively, as part of a speaker series. For details on these and other events, and to learn more about the teaching task force, visit the task force’s web page.

What are your hopes for the task force?

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  • http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/ Anthony Cody

    I have been participating in the Effective Teacher Task Force. We started our work by agreeing to use the California Standards for the Teaching Profession as our basic model fro what an effective teacher ought to be. I am most interested in seeing how we can re-frame teacher professional growth. In the past, Oakland has tended to bring in programs and consultants as the primary means of improving instruction. But we have some fantastic teachers working in our schools, and many of them have pursued effective models of professional growth. We have more than fifty teachers who have achieved National Board certification, the most rigorous certification a teacher can get. We have teachers who have conducted Lesson Study, working with Dr. Catherine Lewis at Mills College. Others are doing teacher action research with the Mills Scholars group, or on their own. These forms of professional growth have certain core characteristics. Teachers doing these things are collaborating to look at student work, they are reflecting and thinking together about improving their instruction, they are taking risks – not simply following a script. And they all assume that the teacher is an active agent in her own growth.

    For years we have heard complaints that Oakland spends too much money on outside consultants. The best answer to this criticism is to shift our focus to the best experts we have on our students – the teachers already working in our schools. This is not to say we are where we ought to be – there is still a lot of work to be done. Teachers need support and time to engage in this work, and the processes I mentioned are some of the ways we can do this. This challenge we face is a creative and open-ended process. I hope the Teacher Effectiveness Task Force is the beginning of a new approach to teacher professional growth in Oakland.

  • livegreen

    Why is the OEA weighing in on the Gang Injunctions?

    I think it’s great that teachers can offer suggestions on the budget. I only hope OUSD will really listen to them. But the Gang Injunctions aren’t the OEA’s area of expertise and don’t affect them in any way (including getting gangs out of flatland schools where they’re present).

  • Jacob

    Same ol , same old. How many schools have these theorists led? Were they successful? Defined by what?

    Pathetic!