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UFT survey illuminates new teachers’ views

New York Teacher

A majority of new teachers in New York City public schools are satisfied with their teaching experience and plan to continue in their careers, a UFT survey reveals. A significant minority, however, has had a tough time and may leave the profession.

In May 2016, the UFT invited teachers with one to three years of teaching experience to complete a survey about their working life, professional training needs and interest in union activities.

Fifty-two percent of the 1,714 respondents reported being satisfied or extremely satisfied with their teaching experience. The results varied somewhat by borough; in the Bronx, 32 percent of new teachers reported dissatisfaction, double the percentages found in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

When asked about their future career plans, nearly three-quarters of the responding new teachers said they plan to continue teaching in New York City.

New teachers also reported turning to a variety of sources for support. More than 90 percent of new teachers said they could have candid, honest discussions with colleagues in their schools about concerns in their work lives. The survey showed that new teachers who had more sources of support were more satisfied with their teaching experience.

New teachers expressed interest in the UFT’s professional learning programs. Eighty-four percent of the responding teachers said they would like to learn more about the UFT’s professional development. Almost 75 percent of the respondents said they had some need or a high need for professional development in differentiated instruction and teaching English language learners. Two-thirds of the responding teachers sought support in data-driven instruction, literacy skills, paperwork, time management and working with students with special needs.

Pension benefits, contractual rights and tenure were the primary areas about which new teachers sought more information. About 80 percent of the respondents said they needed to know more about those topics.

Nearly all the responding teachers — 93 percent — know how to contact their chapter leaders, and more than 80 percent expressed interest in learning more about their pension benefits. But less than 20 percent of the respondents said they attend UFT social events or borough meetings.

Many new teachers expressed interest in education policy, but few were interested in politics or labor policy — suggesting perhaps a lack of understanding about the connections between these issues and education.

“It’s clear that our new members welcome support in a variety of areas, and we’ll be working throughout the year to give them that support,” said Karen Alford, the UFT’s director of initiatives for new members.