Shopping for a new "home" district

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

Moderators: Johncn, Damon Hargraves, Betty Walters, Toni McFadden

Shopping for a new "home" district

Postby micropedes1 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:34 pm

We (wife and I) have never taught in Alaska, but are considering the possibility. We actually prefer to teach in a rural district. This looks to be a decent venue for reaching as many HR as possible with a single note. Then follow-up with interested districts. I understand that hiring husband/wife teachers can be difficult as sometimes the "right" openings just do not exist. But most districts will be looking to fill openings for the upcoming school year within the next few weeks, so starting early is imperative. Both highly qualified. She: elementary and special ed. Me: secondary math and science.

By the way, I already have 10 summers of experience in the Alaskan bush. And I fly my own plane (fewer headaches with supplies)
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Re: Shopping for a new "home" district

Postby Johncn » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:05 am

Hello,

I don't see a specific question in your post, but it sounds like the two of you have complementary skills and certifications, and having your own plane certainly helps. You also seem to have a good basic game plan for your job search. Happy hunting!

Regards,

John
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Re: Shopping for a new "home" district

Postby micropedes1 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:57 pm

Thank you, John. I have traveled more of the state of Alaska than some of the natives, most of it in the bush. So, I am quite familiar with needs (and most of the restrictions) in rural districts.

I would, however, appreciate more information on Alaskan curriculum standards just so that I can be well-prepared when I settle-in with my students. For example, some of the districts that I have contacted utilize internet- based instruction. While this is necessary considering the widespread nature of most districts, it can lead to gaps in what the students master. Is there a standards-based competency test adopted for secondary students?

Also, I have seen that the village elders work closely with most rural districts to impart important cultural heritages to the upcoming generation. Although my outdoor skills are considered adequate, I worry that I may lack the necessary skills to do things the way that the elders teach. Scholastic instruction does not always mesh with practical application.
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Re: Shopping for a new "home" district

Postby Johncn » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:13 am

Hello,

It certainly sounds like you have had some experience in the Bush, but don't presume to know too much when interviewing. There are many different regions and cultures in rural Alaska. Districts and villages may look somewhat alike on the surface, but there are definite differences that you will discover when actually living in those places. Alaska is a very large, surprisingly diverse state.

Although there are some districts and villages where village elders work closely with the school district to teach traditional knowledge and cultural aspects, including hunting, trapping, harvesting of natural resources and so on, I don't think this is something that most teachers are expected or able to do. Most districts put more emphasis on teacher skills and experiences that will focus on academic instruction for their students. Outdoor skills might be of interest in some specific schools or locations, but they are going to be looking at you primarily as a teacher candidate in the traditional sense. Having diverse interests and skills that you can leverage to engage students, or make connections with traditional knowledge is always a bonus, though.

There used to be a competency-based "Exit Exam" for secondary students, but it was repealed a couple of years ago.

The Alaska Department of Education has standards that are essentially a slightly customized offshoot of the Common Core standards in the core areas. There are standards in other areas, as well, but the recent standards emphasis - with a new commissioner and new statewide testing program being constructed for this spring by a new vendor - is not yet clear to me. I'd visit the state's Alaska Standards site for more info as things develop. Each district will have it's own curriculum, as there is no statewide curriculum adoption or textbook list.

Alaska Standards - Alaska Department of Education
https://education.alaska.gov/akstandards/

You also may want to visit the ATP page we update fairly often about some of the recent changes here:

Alaska Teacher Placement - Teaching in Alaska
http://alaskateacher.org/teaching_in_alaska.php

Hope this helps.

Regards,

John
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