Teaching in NYC
The City of New York
New York City is comprised of five unique boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens. The largest city in the United States, New York has a population that is more than double than the next largest city, Los Angeles.
Throughout its history, NYC has been a major point of entry for immigrants; therefore its residents are exceptionally diverse.
New York City is also unique in that public transportation is the overwhelmingly dominant form of travel for New Yorkers. In fact, New York is the only city in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car.
Overview: The NYC Public School System
The New York City Department of Education is the largest public school system in the United States. Our public schools educate 1.2 million students in 1,450 schools located throughout the five boroughs, and our students are the most culturally diverse in the world.
Because New York City is home to such a diverse group of public schoolchildren who face unique challenges in and outside of school, we believe that it is essential to bring in only the brightest and most highly qualified candidates to teach them.
In line with our mission, Teaching Fellows teach in the hardest to staff positions in the schools that need them the most. Most Fellows find placements in high-need schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn (almost one-third of all Fellows will teach in the Bronx).
Inside the Classroom
Teaching in NYC classrooms today does not often look like a teacher standing in front of the room lecturing students. One of the most important jobs of teachers is to engage their students in learning. Teaching Fellows work hard to motivate their students and plan how to best teach the information or “standards” each day. In some cases teachers will use a “mini-lesson,” where they will first model a strategy and then have students practice it. Other times, teachers have their students work collaboratively on a task and then share their work with classmates. At the end of each lesson or unit, teachers assess how much their students have learned and then adjust their teaching plans for the next day to meet their students’ needs.
The first year for any new teacher is challenging, and Fellows should anticipate long hours and intense effort, especially at the beginning of the year. This effort is necessary and produces wonderful rewards as Fellows work to raise student achievement.
In a city as diverse as New York, each Fellow’s teaching experience will be different, but all Fellows have the commonality that they are especially committed to overcoming the challenges they face and to helping their students succeed.
Most Fellows will teach at the middle and high school levels. The majority of subjects that Teaching Fellows teach are focused in the secondary level (grades 7-12).
Typically, elementary school classes range from 24 to 32 students. Teachers in elementary schools usually stay with one class throughout the day, instructing them in all subject areas. Some teachers are put into "cluster" positions, meaning that they teach the same subject matter to several different classes.
Middle and high school classes range from 28 to 34 students. Subject-specific teachers at the middle and high school levels generally have five classes per day.
Teachers in special education settings often have smaller class sizes so that students with special needs can receive individualized attention specific to their disabilities. These class sizes generally range from 6 to 15 students. Some special education teachers are in what is known as an inclusion setting, in which both a general education teacher and a special education teacher are present. An inclusion class size more closely resembles the standard class sizes listed above.
Some ESL and special educations teachers will have their own classroom. However, some will “pull out” students from their regular classes and work with them in a smaller group setting.
The School Day
School days are typically six-and-a-half hours long—from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM—but there is some variation among schools. Class periods in middle and high school are generally about 45 minutes long, but many schools use block scheduling of 90 minute classes, especially in reading and math, to allow students more time to explore a topic and achieve learning goals.
Teachers generally teach five or six periods a day depending on their grade level. Since most Fellows teach at the secondary level, recess is not part of the standard day. However, all teachers have a lunch period and one or two preparation periods each day. Preparation periods are commonly referred to as “preps,” which many teachers use to plan and set up for lessons, collaborate with colleagues, grade papers, meet with a school-based mentor, and have discussions with administrators or students.
In addition to the formal school day, Fellows should expect to spend time outside class preparing their lessons, grading students' work, and communicating with parents. Many teachers arrive early to prepare materials for the day’s lessons and stay after dismissal to prepare for the next day, participate in after-school activities or to work with students in small groups who are behind in their classes.
All teachers participate in professional development at their schools. Principals determine which structure is best based on their staff’s needs and school philosophy. Professional development time may be used for in-school workshops, general staff meetings, as well as for grade and/or subject level meetings. In addition, teachers may have the opportunity to attend workshops or institutes developed by external organizations that specialize in one content area or the needs of specific student populations.
NYC Department of Education website
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