RANDOM FACT: I am, at last, done.
Today marks the first day of summer vacation. That’s August 13, for those scoring at home, and I’m still wrapping up loose ends, one of which includes bringing a burrito over to Oakland to compensate for previous failures in the burrito delivery department (don’t ask). I’ve been working all summer for the Oakland Teaching Fellows and the Oakland City Teacher Corps, running alternative route training institutes. This is good work, a broadening of the mission, and hits at the heart of how I’ve come to think of reform for high need urban ed: We cannot begin to address broader issues of inequity and failure until we put a competent, effective educator in every classroom.
Working in this capacity, at training institutes like these, becomes all encompassing. We occasionally get negative feedback from folks about the hours being long and my response is 1) Yup. Welcome to teaching high-need kids; 2) Wow. You think your hours are long?
I never started work later than 6:30. I never finished earlier than 6:00. I had scheduled email checks at 9:00 pm, which often necessitated responses, which drove further email checks, which necessitated response and work product that took us well into the night. A common morning saw me juggling teacher observation times by stopping at the training site in West Oakland, driving to the high school north of downtown, observing, then driving to the elementary school in East Oakland to observe, then popping up into the hills to observe in a special ed setting, back down to the elementary, back to the high school, and finally to the training site in West Oakland. This before the collaboration meeting at eleven, observing and critiquing framework sessions, coordinating and presenting workshops, and all the various other little things that eat your day.
The hours aside, the work is interlaced with this profound worry that the folks we’re preparing won’t be prepared enough. You watch and work with this they’renotready they’renotready scrolling across your brain like the update bar at the bottom of SportsCenter. And you push push them to get better because these are high school seniors who desperately want credits, and you’ll never have so much built in motivation with any group of students you’ll ever teach. The majority get it and appreciate, but some resist and are resentful, providing no benefit of the doubt that maybe you know a little bit about what it means to teach and teach successfully in environments like this, and you tell them: These kids don’t need any more mediocre teachers.
But I’m done. With the 6-week training and the 1-week training, and already I start to feel the little pulls from the school at the other end of 280. Little tuggings – on my time, on my brain – starting to call me back.
I want to make a users-guide for the REWARDS phonics and fluency program because my methods should be explicit.
I want to create reading strategy mastery tracking guides to complement the High Point program because if that’s what the program is designed to do, that’s what we need to monitor.
I want to make interactive power point assessments for each High Point selection. Here’s an image, here’s 1-3 questions, here’s a space for kids to type responses and email me the assignment so I can type my own response and email it back.
But my summer break is now begun, and I need a few days in the new 415 sunshine before I’m ready to go back.