Portrait

Summer is coming to an end, and the teacher nightmares are beginning. You know, the terrifying dreams where you have nothing planned or prepared for class and you’ve forgotten everything you know about being with students?

With the endless Sturm und Drang that comes with the start of a new year, it’s a great time to remind ourselves of all the reasons we stay teaching in Oakland.

I posed the question to my teacher friends around Oakland: With all the challenges and frustrations, why do YOU stay teaching in Oakland? Here’s what they said.

I appreciate the community I teach in. I’ve built strong bonds with many families and feel loyal and committed to the community. I know that I could teach somewhere else, but I truly feel passionate about giving students stability and consistency (like so many suburban schools have) by returning to the same school.     -Candice F. (15 years teaching)

It is one of those places…where the powers invest little because they expect little. My hope is to teach people skills they can use to create their own solutions to meet their needs.     -Ron M. (16 years teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland for many reasons. I think my social conscience and my need to support the community and those in need is the main reason. I feel anger at the way society treats our children and feel I can help them navigate a really [screwed] up system.    -Stan L. (31 years teaching)

I have an opportunity to teach students one of the most important skills in life: reading.                -Devon M. (5 years teaching)

Like all Oakland teachers, I stay for the role I have the privilege to play in the lives of Oakland students – young people who are too often born into a reality they don’t deserve and who want to create a new reality of their own choosing. I stay for the privilege of working with incredibly talented, passionate, and supportive educators who inspire me to push through the challenges of this work. I stay for the excellent professional development I have received through programs like EDDA and the Teacher Leader Collaborative. I stay because Oakland kids are “hella” funny! I stay because in Oakland, there is no limit to how much I can grow and learn as a professional in this field.     -Lisa R. (5 years teaching)

The youth I serve are incredibly powerful, yet in a system that is inequitable, one that does not fully see them. I stay because I have a commitment to be an educator who uses my knowledge of the system to teach my students to know and access the tools they need, and to create a classroom that teaches the relevance of those tools while my students also experience the power of their stories and voices. The goal is that they experience their value, are self-empowered and equipped to use their voices for change.     -Maha N. (5 years teaching)

The kids are magical, and I get to create ambitious curriculum on their behalf. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding.     -Carlos C. (25 years teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland for purely selfish reasons: I love my job! Working with Oakland students is both thoroughly fulfilling AND completely fun. It is a pleasure to take kids on a thrilling learning journey to a magical place of new knowledge.     -Christi C. (13 years teaching)

I love my co-workers and students. It never occurred to me to look for a new school or district because I feel at home in my position.     -Shelley G. (1 year teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland because it it where good teachers are needed most. I never have to wonder if there’s someplace I would be helping out more. I’m from Oakland, so I’m not just “giving back”, I’m relating. Their issues are my issues.     -Marva M. (21 years teaching)

For these reasons, and so many more, we stay teaching in Oakland.

Why do YOU stay?

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