Why they came, and what they hope for

After the opening speeches, after Superintendent Tony Smith said he wants to “create a place where it feels good to be a teacher,” deputy superintendent Maria Santos asked delegates to discuss their hopes and aspirations for the teacher convention.

One teacher, an Oakland native, stood up. “I feel a little bit of hope,” she said. “I just hope to leave with a lot more.”

Others said they were hoping that…

– the energy in the room lifts

– this will make me want to stay here (in OUSD)

– the passion that brought the teachers here “catches fire” at all schools

– the discussions go beyond “surface conversations”

– the convention will inspire teachers to collaborate more

– the dream of equity will become a reality

– we have a better idea of what we can do as a district to help beginning teachers become effective, feel effective, and stay

I’m sitting next to Bart Alexander, from Garfield Elementary. “It’s nice to see the union president and the administration talk about the same things. At the same time, there’s a gigantic elephant in the room, because I know these two teachers (to his left) got pink slips.”

But, he said, he’s encouraged by the direction the district seems to be going with respect to teacher practice. He sees it at his school. “I feel like we’re going back to real teaching, which is nice,” he said. “We were told what to do for so long.”

Now, everyone at my table is eating dinner and talking about their students.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.