A new teacher still remembers

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.

Dan AdilettaIt’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. Continue Reading


A new teacher … again

Dan Adiletta, a first-year teacher at Explore Middle School — which is closing at the end of the year — is leaving Oakland. He tells us why. -Katy

Dan Adiletta, Explore Middle School teacherGoodbye, Oakland.

I stand up to and for your students and see to their learning with all the energy I can muster. I manage to stretch paycheck to paycheck while providing many of my own class supplies. I shoulder stress and come back for more. But despite having managed to drag myself this far, I’m being put into the very category I’ve struggled to avoid: the one-year teacher.

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A new Oakland teacher, no longer new

Dan Adiletta, Explore Middle School teacherI’ve got half the class laughing at a short, overzealous bit of direct instruction. I had just broken up a fight in the hallway, then comforted a crying teenage girl (don’t let that drama steal your future!). My students struggle with sitting still for more than two minutes, but here they are composing position papers on the Divine Right of Kings. I love my job — even with the headaches that come with it.

Time has certainly passed quickly since I first started in Oakland. I was placed as a social studies teacher at Explore Middle School with the help of Oakland City Teacher Corps, (OCTC).

It’s funny: At the training program they ran for us, accountability and teacher retention were repeated ad nauseam. I was brought in from Cleveland, Ohio to help a district that desperately needed highly qualified, committed teachers. So why, then, was I hired on a temporary contract? In my ignorance and naivety, I didn’t even bother to learn the difference. Now I don’t even get one of the pink slips being handed out — I’m let go automatically. While we were in summer training, we wrote letters of encouragement to ourselves that were to be mailed out later in the year. But OCTC was dissolved. I lasted longer than my encouragement letter did. I wonder what happened to those letters. It strikes me that there’s no accountability for that.

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A new teacher, a new strength

Dan AdilettaAs I get closer to my colleagues in my school, my district and in my department, I’m finding tremendous strength. I went to my professional development on Monday beleaguered—still with a box full of papers to grade. I’m stressed about my school closing, my shaky financial situation and how to manage my troubled students while increasing the academic rigor.

I’m not the only one. In fact, I found myself in a room heavy with worn faces. In that shared burden there was camaraderie, albeit in an exhausted form.

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A new teacher, a new year

Dan AdilettaOf all the things going on at Explore College Preparatory Middle School, I’m least inclined to spend my free time writing about the big headline: We will be closing at the end of the year.

Perhaps it’s spite. All of our bruises and scars have made the staff a strong team that can hold its own with so few resources. And despite that (or rather because of that), we’re being split. But maybe it’s numbness that keeps me from writing. After all the curve balls slung at me this year, the closing hardly seems surprising. And there are more important topics.

I’ve gained ground, damnit. Continue Reading


A new teacher, hanging by a thread

Dan Adiletta is a first-year teacher at Explore College Preparatory Middle School in East Oakland.

So there I am, fighting for control of a classroom against students sloshing knee-deep in disrespect towards each other and towards me, and all the while my observing school coach is clacking dourly on her computer. I know what my lesson and my classroom management is lacking; I need to include greater academic rigor and better routines and instructions to minimize disruptive behavior.

Tomorrow will be better, I say, I’ll work my tail off to make tomorrow better.

I come home late because of a flurry of mandatory meetings and student requests. I was at school an hour and a half early to prep. My lunch break was 20 minutes. I taught five back-to-back classes that were all a grueling struggle. I sit on my couch, my shirt untucked and left eye twitching, with my head in my hands feeling miserably guilty for failing the students whose education is in peril. Continue Reading


A new teacher, against the grind

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 Continue Reading



Here I am, living in Oakland, placed at Explore Middle School and wading through a frankly inhumane volume of employment paperwork. A lot has changed since my last post.

Right after I took the unbelievable drive from Cleveland to Oakland, interviews began to pop up. I was getting calls regularly from Oakland City Teacher Corps with new developments. But the arrangements puttered and stalled. The only one that made it through the flaky summer scheduling was at Explore. I was told that the principal was excellent, and it was indeed an energetic and enthusastic interview. Though humble, that school has all the potential to be an example in the small-school movement: a clear-eyed, active leader; a tight staff; and a willingness to try new ideas. Continue Reading


A future Oakland teacher, waiting for placement

I wake up, brush my teeth, check e-mail, check my Oakland City Teacher Corps status viewer, check EdJoin, then check the OUSD page.

I have been guaranteed a job through Oakland City Teacher Corps (OCTC), but I have little idea where that job will be. The search is an anxious one. I am eager to start writing lesson plans, meeting students’ parents/guardians, memorizing the relevant standards, and working with my principal to cram as many of my beloved technical toys in my classroom as possible.

So far, I’ve had a few moments when I’ve eagerly called my fiancee into the room — invitations to apply for one post or another. Continue Reading