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What issues matter to new teachers?

June 24, 2008 pm30 2:51 pm

Lot’s of them. Here’s a few big ones that we (teachers and the United Federation of Teachers, our union) can seize:

(this post continues a series of posts on Teaching Fellows in NYC. Here is the link to the previous one, and the one before that.)

Schools. Where to work. We should tell them the opposite – where not to work. How about posting a list of schools that destroy, burn out, and throw away new teachers every year? (Responsibility: Central, website, New York Teacher newspaper)

  • Make a list of schools not to apply to.
  • Continue providing help/info on certification and pay.
  • Combat bad treatment of Fellows by the NYCTF.
  • Give new teachers lessons.
  • Stand up to administrators who treat fellows badly; start with scheduling issues.
  • Send a positive message, from all of us, that Fellows are part of our chapters and our union, and that we want to keep more of them teaching for longer.

Certification/Pay. We already do a lot of work. New teachers call for help all the time. (Responsibility: borough offices; central)

(continues below the fold)

Teaching Fellows. The NYCTF treats its Fellows lousy. (poor information. Scheduling. Threatening to drop them. Weird mentoring stuff.) We should step up and intervene immediately, even where we can’t win. The NYCTF is private, but it functions as an autonomous arm of the DoE. We should be there, letting the new Fellows know that there are two sides, and that they are on ours. This sort of information, to the extent possible, should be communicated through the chapters, so that our ‘common side’ has a face. (Responsibility: Central, borough offices (newsletters), chapters)

Lessons. Lesson writing as a new teacher sucks. I am, both the activity (for many of us it takes forever), and the product (I write better lessons in 5-10 minutes today than I did in 2 hours 10 years ago. I’m guessing that’s true for most of us). So, and this should go for all teachers, give them lessons. When they want to write their own, fine. But let them decide when they are ready. For now, just hand them over. Give them a book to copy from. The administrators should, right? But in how many schools do they? (Responsibility: Chapter, members, The New York Teacher newspaper)

Scheduling. Teaching Fellows are often abusively scheduled. Four in a rows. Preference sheets ignored. Over-scheduled. No lunch, or assigned work during lunch. Mandatory per session on weekends or after school or in the summer. Fellows (and any new teacher) may be unaware of the abuse, or, untenured, may choose to remain quiet. The chapter needs to watch for this, and the chapter leader needs to address the abuse, even if the new teachers/fellows are afraid. Read the schedule, search out the problems, address them. Stand up for those too new, weak, or scared to stand up for themselves. (Responsibility: Chapter Leader, chapter)

Inclusion. No, not inclusion classes. Include the new teachers in the chapter. Make them feel welcome.

Message. These may be my words, but they are correct, and we should all adopt at least the spirit:

  1. While we’re teachers we should stick together – you’re a teacher – you’re one of us.
  2. The union protects us. In this building, the union is us.
  3. We, all of us, need to do what we can, even if it’s only showing up, to make the union better.
  4. We need experienced teachers, among other things, to help new teachers. We hope you stay and become an experienced teacher.

(Responsibility: all of us)

Follow up: what schools should be on the Don’t Go There list?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2008 pm30 5:13 pm 5:13 pm

    Let me echo your views on lessons. Were we really concerned about education, institutionally, we would have banks of “can’t-fail” lesson plans available, for teachers, for substitutes, for experimentation, for parents to use with their kids, for review, etc., etc.

    What is teaching, after all?

    My experience is that, with lesson plans that work in bang-up style, kids come to class on time, discipline problems go away, assessment is easier, and kids perform better.

    What was it we were trying to do, again?

    P.S. — I was looking for your blog address this morning and checked my blogroll — you weren’t on it. Horrible oversight My apologies. You’re on it now. And, what do you think about the test scores in NY?

  2. June 25, 2008 am30 8:54 am 8:54 am

    The NY tests? Are they reliable? (in the technical sense, ie, can results from one year be fairly compared to those from another). I’d need some convincing.

    Glad to see I made your blogroll.

    I mean it about lessons for new teachers. Why write then? When they are ready…

  3. former teaching fellow permalink
    December 29, 2008 am31 4:25 am 4:25 am

    I totally agree with your post. I was a NYC Teaching Fellow and sadly resigned after 7 seven months due to scheduling abuse. I have a family and also attended night classes at City College. It was taking a toll on me and I quickly became burned out. Now I am pursuing my Bilingual Education Master’s Degree on my own and would like to go back to teaching once I complete the Master’s. It is really heartbreaking to feel forced to leave something that you enjoy doing due to lack of support. New teachers need a whole lot of support. I would have appreciated the support if it was given to me and would have been teaching today.

  4. December 29, 2008 pm31 12:08 pm 12:08 pm

    Good luck second time around!


  1. Do Not Apply « JD2718
  2. jd2718 on Teaching Fellows « JD2718
  3. Ouch! Looking at a NYC Teaching Fellow’s check « JD2718
  4. Reaching Fellows (reprint) « JD2718
  5. Posts from last summer about new teachers « JD2718

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