San Francisco Bay Area

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by alielizadubois, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Nov 9, 2007

    My boyfriend and I are considering moving to the SF Bay Area... Berkeley to be exact.

    What can you tell me about the area?

    How about teaching in the area?

    I am an ESL teacher working in Brooklyn, NY in an elementary school. I am in a very good school with a strong balanced literacy program. I work with children from around the world and absolutely love the diversity represented there. Though I am in a good school, though, Im not so crazy about whats going on in NYC -- reorganization, tracking of teachers, emphasis on testing (though I know this is happening in the whole city), micromanagement, etc.

    What is it like teaching in the SF Bay area, or Berkeley?

    How is the job market in ESL??

    What are the demographics like?

    Any info about living, working, or whatever you fell like lending would be much appreciated?
     
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  3. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Nov 9, 2007

    It's been a while, but Berkeley was once one of my favorite places on earth. Lots going on all the time, it is a beautiful city, right across the bay from San Francisco, great public transportation to SF, a university town.

    It would probably be a little too liberal for me nowadays. At the time I was in that area there were some interesting schools.

    Anyone else with some more recent knowledge?
     
  4. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Nov 9, 2007

    Thanks for the great info.

    What do you mean by too liberal?? (This is sort of appealing to me!)

    Also, what do you mean by interesting schools?? Can you give me some examples of the kinds of schools you are talking about? I don't mind that its not recent info, as it will probably give me a general idea of the area.

    Thanks!
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 9, 2007

    Berkeley's a funny combination - liberal around the university, less so elsewhere. I gather it's gentrified since I spent much time there; time was it was a used-book paradise, but I think the used bookstores can't afford the rents any more. I don't recall how cheap Brooklyn is by New York state standards, but Berkeley is not cheap by California standards.

    The school district Web site is http://www.berkeley.k12.ca.us; you might also want to look up the Wikipedia entries on berkeley and on its schools, bearing in mind that they're not very likely to be unbiased.
     
  6. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Nov 10, 2007

    Thanks, Wikipedia is a good idea.

    Brooklyn is not cheap by any means. Cheaper than Manhattan, which I would assume that Berkeley might be cheaper than San Francisco, but Im not really sure...

    Just to give you an idea, I pay 1650/mo for a 2 bedroom apt. with a backyard in Brooklyn. It is a good size, but IMO, this is very expensive....

    What Im looking for in a neighborhood is liberal, diverse, and looking for an ESL teacher!!
     
  7. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Nov 10, 2007

    By liberal, I mean . . .well California has gone kind of out to the left as a whole, while my personal values have moved me farther to the right over these years. Berkeley's nickname used to be Berzerkeley.

    I remember a very interesting Montessori school in Berkeley. That was when such schools and/or new ways of teaching were just beginning to pop up. I remember several private schools in Berkeley. Check out private schools and see what you come up with.

    If you live in Berkeley, that would also open up schools for you in nearby areas if you didn't mind commutting. You could have a pretty easy commute to SF through the BART system - I would not recommend trying to commute by car to anywhere around there! Total gridlock - just not my thing at all! With BART you could commute to Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Dublin, Pleasanton. Look up BART and you will see the places it goes.

    You will definitely be in a diverse population. People from all over the world go to the university, teach there, and live in Berkeley. Definitely get a feel for the area before you move, as there are some rough neighborhoods in the Bay Area that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. No judgment, just fact.

    Do you have a church you belong to? If so, checking through that avenue might get you more information that would be helpful. Lots of times ministers have friends across the country and it really helps when you are trying to move and have a contact who knows the ins and outs of the area.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 10, 2007

    One of the reasons that clergy are likely to have contacts at Berkeley is GTU: the Graduate Theological Union is a consortium of seminaries for most of the major denominations, and a good deal of postgrad work and scholarship goes on there.

    I know we've got some posters who are actually IN the Bay Area rather than merely drawing on reminiscence and nostalgia.

    The relevant Craigslists (there might be more than one: http://www.craigslist.org/sfo/apa/, http://sfbay.craigslist.org, and Google may cough up something else) should give you a good idea of the rents.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    As to the job market, it's probably tight - it is for elementary teachers along most of the coast, and in theory most of the teachers produced domestically are able to teach English language learners. But if you're bilingual, your prospects are better - you can see which languages are in demand at http://www.ctel.nesinc.com.

    Demand for teachers is likely to be higher just south of Berkeley in the Oakland district, which I believe is under Program Improvement (read: massive failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress on test scores). There are some really rough neighborhoods in Oakland - but there are also, in the hills, some spectacularly nice ones.
     
  10. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Nov 10, 2007

    Yes, let's hear from some current Bay Areaers!
     
  11. DaveF

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    Nov 11, 2007

  12. MsMongoose

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    Nov 14, 2007

    We currently live in Berkeley. Diverse and very stimulating. The biggest problem is housing--expensive and often hard to find. A duplex near us had one unit available, two bedrooms, nice yard, not especially large, for $1550. At least 30 groups of people (couples/singles/families/roommates) wanted to rent it, so I guess it was priced too low. There are some edgy neighborhoods, if you feel OK with them, and then there are many just plain bad neighborhoods you don't want to be in, probably don't want to drive through. With UC Berkeley, there are always lots of cultural things going on, and also lots of outdoor activities. It rains a lot in the winter, but generally there are sunny days between rain storms, and it doesn't get really cold. (You need a rain coat or jacket, but not a winter coat.) Most years it does not get down to freezing. Dress tends to be casual. Many people only turn on the heat on the coldest nights. Many good, reasonably priced restaurants. People can be v. contentious about all kinds of things, and v. PC. Berkeley has its own paper, the Berkeley Daily Planet which should give you some idea of the place (can't post links, but you can get it from Google; it really does give you an idea of the place, but there are normal people too). North Oakland, Albany and parts of Emeryville are mostly like Berkeley. Suburbs out to east are more bland and homogenous; many areas to the north and south (much of Oakland and Richmond) are seriously rough and dangerous. I'd be happy to answer an specific questions I can. HTH
     
  13. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Nov 14, 2007

    Wow. Thank you all for the excellent advice. We aren't looking to move for at least another year and a half... I am finishing up my master's degree at NYU, and I currently live and work in Brooklyn. I am familiar with the idea of one neighborhood being spectacular, and the next a disaster, as living in Brooklyn is exactly that way. I currently work in a great, diverse school. Its really great, but Im not 100% happy there curriculum-wise.

    Whats happening around the SFBay area in terms of school curriculum? Is there a big focus on balanced literacy? Does anyone know how the ESL programs are running?
     
  14. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2007

    We don't use the term ESL in California now, but teaching English learners is big business. The district I did my student teaching in has students with 81 different first languages.

    The main terms used when talking about teaching English learners in English are "English language development" (ELD) and "Specially designed academic instruction in English" (SDAIE). All candidates completing their credentials under the latest requirements have a built in EL authorization for these. A lot of jobs advertised required an EL authorization. And a lot of districts are requiring all their teachers to get an EL authorization (CLAD or CTEL) to continue working. There is also another authorization that allows instruction in the student's primary language (BCLAD), but most teachers don't get it. Bilingual education died a nasty death some years ago at the hands of the voters.

    State law requires special instruction for EL students until they reach a certain level of English language proficiency. Then they are mainstreamed.

    Curriculum everywhere in California is tied to state content standards. And California is big on standardized testing.
     
  15. alielizadubois

    alielizadubois Companion

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    Nov 14, 2007

    Thanks for the info, Malcolm!

    Now, based on what you are saying seems as if it means a grim future for me in California. Is it safe to assume that there is not a position for a person like me, who is only qualified to teach ELD, rather than someone who is dually certified in, say, elementary ed and ELD... I don't plan on becoming certified to teach in the classroom... though maybe I should reconsider??
     
  16. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2007

    Yes, the problem is that California does not issue the equivalent of an ESL credential. To teach at the elementary school level, you essentially need to have a multiple-subjects credential. At the middle school and high school levels, in general, you need a single subject credential with authorizations in the subjects you teach. And for core subjects under NCLB, you need the equivalent of 32 units course work or passing scores on the appropriate exams to be considered "highly qualified."

    I would not give up right now. IIWY I could contact the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Tell them what your qualifications are, and ask them what would be necessary for you to teach in California. There may be some specialist credential I am not aware of (but I think the job opportunities might be limited if there is one). And California has options that let many out of state credentialed teachers teach while they meet the additional credential requirements of California. If that doesn't work out, the good news is that they are many good universities offering credential programs in the Bay Area as well as district internship programs that put you in the classroom right away while you finish the required coursework.
     

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