This week, some guidance and support for new OUSD teachers

New Oakland fourth-grade teachers take a break from lesson planning under the guidance of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School teacher Dana Graham during this week’s New Hire Induction Institute. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Dunlap/Oakland Unified School District)

Each year, on the first day of school, more than 100 teachers are experiencing their first day in an Oakland classroom. The first days of school are notoriously daunting for new hires — I vividly remember the tension on Andy Kwok’s face on Day 1 of his three-year teaching career at McClymonds High in 2007.

To  smooth out those first few days in the classroom and introduce new teachers to some of their colleagues (new and veteran), OUSD’s Talent Development Office held its second New Hire Induction Institute this week. About 100 new teachers came, on average, on each day of training, said Margaret Dunlap, who coordinated the event at Madison Middle School. Substitute teachers were invited this year as well; about 20-25 came each day.

About 25 mentor teachers from various grade levels and subject areas worked with the newbies on lesson planning and classroom rules and procedures. This time, the institute had more of a focus on special education training — for special ed and general education teachers alike.

I spoke with Cassie Powell, an alumna of UC Berkeley’s teacher education and master’s program who’s about to start teaching kindergarten at Peralta Elementary School. Powell said the advice she’d received was practical and made her feel ready for the first few weeks of school.

Teachers (new, veteran and substitute): How did it go for you? What did you learn this week, and what are your thoughts as you head into the school year?

Program for new Oakland teachers

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nontcair

    Pedagogy fortified. Government approved.

    Poster people for Head Royce.

  • Turanga_teach

    I served as a teacher leader for this Institute, and found it was a very helpful and invigorating experience. Teachers got access to a lot of information, tools, and resources which I think can be of immediate use, and it was inspiring to see the enthusiasm everyone was bringing to their chosen profession.

    The challenge now is for us, as a district, to sustain our support–to do what we need to do to keep folks around long enough to really hone their crafts and build a future in Oakland.

  • makeitgoaway

    Ha Ha – new teachers need a lot more than a 1 day session to get ready. New teachers essentially know “nothing” and are either quick learners or burn out trying. The real support should come from the site with veteran teachers mentoring the newbies, (and maybe even a caring principal) as these new teachers are often assigned the most problematical kids or classes. I in no way want to denigrate the efforts of the teachers at the seminar, but what they need is daily, weekly and monthly support and check-in for an effective mentoring job. Teaching is a hard job, as they will quickly learn. Lesson plans rarely survive the first encounter with the students….

  • Nontcair

    OUSD’s Talent Development Office held its second New Hire Induction Institute this week

    OUSD identifies one Lisa Spielman as TDO’s Director, Leadership, Curriculum, & Instruction. SJMN values her total compensation package at $142K.

    The same sources respectively identify Kafi Payne as TDO’s Manager and her compensation at $128K.

    Then beleaguered taxpayers are left wondering “Where does all the money go?”

    On topic. On target.

  • Patricia Jensen

    I’m so glad there was some initial support for teachers new to OUSD. Hopefully, the teachers had enough quality time to develop practical classroom management procedures to use the first weeks of school. Without an orderly learning environment, it is difficult to implement even the best lesson plans. In my experience, most students respond well when they see that their teachers are serious about teaching, have created a positive classroom environment with clear expectations/routines, and can really engage them in learning. It nips a lot of problems in the bud if students experience learning success at the very beginning of the school year. And yes, the significant challenge is to provide ongoing support and mentoring for new teachers throughout the year, especially the first few months.

  • A coding error

    compare those salaries even with most veteran teacher or most veteran principal. A joke.
    When is the BOE asking the questions?

  • Katy Murphy

    Just to clarify, I believe those numbers are salaries plus benefits — the entire cost of the compensation package — not salaries alone.

  • Barbara Kass

    Sorry to be off topic, but how can we hope to retain Special Education teachers when they received transfer letters en masse on Saturday August 18 notifying that they were being transferred from their schools to different placements. This is only 4 days before we report to duty, and totally disrupts continuity of programs at so many schools. Affected teachers are in most cases heartbroken, as they know it will affect students and community as well as themselves.

    Back on topic (somewhat): I attended the weeklong btsa induction institute this summer and am excited about being able to give support to a new(er) teacher this year. When I began, this was not available for teachers, and I know it would have made a huge difference in my own teaching practice. I am looking forward to mentoring my participating teacher for two full years.

  • Nontcair

    Vernon E. Hal, Deputy Superintendent, $259K
    Brigitte Marshal, Assoc Superintendent, $183K

    *** African American Male Achievement ***
    Christopher P. Chatmon, Executive Director, No further info

    *** Conscious Classroom Management Workshop ***
    Rick Smith, “Consultant”

    What does any of this have to do with teaching Johnny how to read?

    Once again we see the bureaucracy working for its own interests — in this case, a three day, “let’s all get together to introduce ourselves and gossip” coffee klatch — instead of the interests of the *taxpayers* it was purportedly instituted to serve.

    Once again we see top level bureaucrats justifying their own existence (while making themselves and their friends rich) by conjuring up these sorts of ridiculous initiatives, and building up their own small empires used to produce ridiculous events such as this one.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Christopher P. Chatmon, is an Executive On-Loan from Urban Strategies Council. According to 10-13-1- MOU his contract can be extended with consent of both parties through June 30, 2013. His executive salary is at no District expense and is suppose to be funded by The East Bay Community Foundation.

    Tomorrow night’s Board meeting Consent Report has $350,000 contract for an Executive on Loan with Urban Strategies Council only this contract is funded by OUSD. Maybe there are two executive on-loan programs? Maybe not.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    Purpose: .. to [help new hires] learn about OUSD support structures and vision. [emphasis added]

    This bull session was obviously given a “thumb’s up!” by board member Gary Yee, who made a special guest appearance in order to shmooze and give a 30m lecture on the “History of OUSD”.

    Obviously Yee hasn’t learned anything from history. Indeed, he’s one of the leading, clueless players in OUSD’s latest farcical repitition of it.

    Hey, District 4 voters! Recall.

    A “vision”. Really.

  • Nontcair

    Is Rick Smith any relation to Tony?

    Rick’s website advertises one workshop linked under Brain Compatible Teaching.

    Rick’s main qualification for that show seems to be that he spent two years in Ghana. I see nothing on his website to indicate Rick (or his sidekick) has any sort of serious training as a psychologist.

    Is really says a lot about OUSD’s bureaucracy that it has to schedule workshops to potentially assist newcomers in navigating its labyrinth of floor plans, directories, and policy manuals. I’m reminded of Gecko’s famous speech in Oliver Stone’s Wall $t:

    “Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents.”

  • Nontcair

    From Rick’s website: Conscious Classroom Management .. [gives] K-12 teachers practical solutions for successfully managing their classrooms.

    How is it that supposedly “credentialed” teachers find it necessary (are required?) to sit in on a workshop like this?

    How hard can it be to teach Johnny to read?
    How many years should that take?

    Is there ever a teacher training point where one can say “enough is enough”?

    Why is it that despite all the of pedagogies, all of the Masters degrees, all of the continuing education, all of the experts, all of the expense, OUSD still generates really poor results?

    Do private reading tutors — who I assume must get paid for generating good *results* in short amounts of time — ever sign up for these sorts of workshops?