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New teachers get early start

New York Teacher
Jessica Esteves, a new teacher at PS 160 in the Bronx, asks a question at a work
Jonathan Fickies

Jessica Esteves, a new teacher at PS 160 in the Bronx, asks a question at a workshop on Integrated Co-Teaching facilitated by a UFT Teacher Center educator.

The final week of summer was also the first week of their careers for more than a thousand teachers who participated in New Teacher Week from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2. For the second year, the UFT and the city Department of Education collaborated to organize the event.

New teachers had the opportunity to attend an informational fair for new hires and take part in workshops with topics ranging from best practices in classroom routines and management to supporting English language learners.

“We take pride in the fact that people in our union went into this profession because they want to help children,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the new members on Sept. 1. “You will change children’s lives. That’s the magic of teaching.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña struck a similar theme in her remarks to the new teachers. “When you come into this profession, there are so many possibilities,” she said. “I wish you the joy of the job.”

At sessions at the UFT headquarters in Manhattan and the Brooklyn UFT borough office, new teachers were able to choose from among 28 workshops, double the amount offered at last year’s New Teacher Week. Four of the sessions — on Individualized Education Programs, Integrated Co-Teaching, strategies for questioning students and formative assessment — were designed and facilitated by UFT Teacher Center educators.

The workshops afforded new teachers the opportunity to work through some puzzling issues with colleagues and with more experienced teachers. During a discussion about the importance of consistent classroom routines during an ICT workshop on Sept. 1, for instance, new teacher Jessica Esteves wondered, “How should my co-teacher and I navigate all these decisions before our students get here?”

In response, UFT Teacher Center facilitator Alex Salomon encouraged teachers to “keep the dialogue open.”

Teachers walked away from the workshops with new tools at their disposal. When facilitators in a social studies workshop distributed units of study and lesson guides to participants, one relieved teacher said she had been requesting similar materials since being hired.

“It’s nice to have some kind of guidance,” she said.

Daphne Armand, a New York City Teaching Fellow who will teach 7th-grade math at IS 238 in Hollis, Queens, said the New Teacher Week events had helped calm her nerves about her first day in the classroom.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” she said. “Now I just want to get in there and get through it as gracefully as I can.”

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