News stories

Dial-A-Teacher sets call mark on first day

Cara Metz

A busy Dial-A-Teacher staff begin their 33rd year guiding students through homework problems in every subject, at all levels and in eight languages.

Cara Metz

Lisa Radford (standing), a 5th-grade teacher at PS 20 in Manhattan and a member of the Dial-A-Teacher staff, and Dial-A-Teacher Coordinator Karen Butler-Brock communicate with a student online.

Dial-A-Teacher, the UFT’s homework help line, is always humming but it outdid itself on opening day this year, fielding a record-breaking 1,582 calls.

“It’s a testament to our staff that on the very first day people are reaching out to them,” Dial-A-Teacher Director Anthony Harmon said. “Parents and students know they are going to get the help they need.”

The staff of 49 licensed classroom teachers who can field questions in eight languages is anticipating an especially busy year as the Common Core Learning Standards call for more demanding classroom lessons. They’re preparing for students dealing with more open-ended questions and higher expectations in critical thinking.

The fact that Dial-A-Teacher is fully computerized helps the homework helpers meet the new challenges. They are able to communicate with students online, download their assignments and worksheets, and watch and guide them as they work out their assignments.

Dial-A-Teacher started as a pilot project in 17 elementary schools in 1980 with a staff of five and went citywide in 1986. As the children who had relied on it in elementary school reached middle school and high school, the program expanded to meet their needs.

“Now we have former students turned parents who are visiting us with their children’s homework problems,” Dial-A-Teacher Coordinator Karen Butler-Brock said.

Last year, the hotline fielded 84,643 calls.

Dial-A-Teacher also has an extensive outreach program and brings its message to PTA meetings, school fairs and classrooms. To bring a team to your school, just call 1-212-598-9205 and arrange a visit.

Make sure your students know about the homework hotline, 1-212-777-3380, which fields calls from Monday through Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m., on days when school is in session.

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