I taught math at DeWitt Clinton HS in the Bronx from 2003 to 2006 and then taught in Virginia after moving back to be closer to family. This is my first year as an assistant principal at a high school in Chesapeake, Va.
I would like to see the full results of the UFT survey [“Fellows training program falls short,” page 25]. It would be interesting to see how many Fellows are still in education.
The Fellows program gave me the opportunity to find my career and, regardless of training, I will always owe it that. All teachers stumble and fumble in their first few years. But the good ones figure it out and love it!
Scrapping the Fellows program is definitely not the answer. It would be more beneficial if the training were improved. We need to attract good people to education and help them become more effective.
Elizabeth Coker Haskins, retired
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I’m a Cohort 14 Fellow and I stuck with the program, got my master’s and am still teaching. As a matter of fact, I am going for my administrator’s license this year. There are six other teachers at my school who are former Fellows; they are all excellent teachers who are innovative instructors and teacher leaders in our building.
Perhaps this program is different now (because all of these teachers have been at my school for five-plus years), but the Fellows program is what you make of it. If you go into it expecting lollipops and rose petals, you are going to be sorely mistaken when you get to an urban high school and are faced with real classroom challenges.
If you have exceptional self-starting skills, are willing to ask a lot of questions, have a good mentor and work your butt off for the first two years, the Fellows program can be an incredible and worthwhile experience and is one I am very glad I took part in. I am not leaving education any time soon.
Christine LaRubio, Abraham Lincoln HS, Brooklyn
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I’ve worked with a lot of Teaching Fellows and Teach for America people and they are so seriously unprepared for the “real” classroom. However, in all fairness, no one can prepare you for bad administrations and virtually little to no support.
Asiya Joseph, Research and Service HS, Brooklyn
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The UFT survey that indicates Teaching Fellows received unsuitable training only included 81 Fellows. That’s a joke! If you want a serious evaluation, include a much larger sample size and provide more data about when those teachers were trained.
The training improves every year. I’m a second-year fellow and, considering the time constraints of the summer training, I feel that I was as well-prepared as possible within that time frame.
The first year is a huge learning curve and, whether you go the traditional route or not, you learn the most during that first year. Without the Fellows program, there would be a shortage in high-need teaching areas such as science, math and special ed.
Lauren Schulman, Eximius College Preparatory Academy, the Bronx
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I’ve been working in District 75 for 18 years and the teachers from the Fellows program over the last 10 years have been the ones who come in with drive and really get the ball rolling on new improvements and initiatives.
Kiwana Francis, PS 186, the Bronx