The NYC Department of Education includes nearly 1,800 schools across its five boroughs, ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 students. Each school is its own unique learning community, varying in theme, student population, and culture.
Defining a High-Need School
By teaching in a high-need school, Fellows have a chance to be a part of a community devoted to increasing equitable access to high-quality education in NYC. So what does high-need mean? According to the NYC Department of Education:
Teachers at New York City’s high-need public schools help the students most in need of great teachers overcome unique learning challenges. They often work in schools in low-income neighborhoods, such as the Bronx or southern Brooklyn, or in schools that serve large numbers of English language learners (ELLs) and special education students.
In other words, schools may be considered high-need when they confront a single obstacle (such as low graduation rates) or when they face a combination of circumstances (such as their geographic location and a high proportion of ELLs). Most Fellows will secure positions in the Bronx and in schools participating in the NYC School Renewal Program.
High-Need Neighborhoods and Schools
Historically, the Bronx has struggled to attract and retain quality, certified educators, and for this reason over one-third of Fellows commit to working in the Bronx. Every year, many districts in the Bronx face teacher shortages, and we anticipate the need for strong teachers will be even higher this year in the borough’s highest need schools. Two of the three school districts with the highest new teacher turnover in NYC are in the Bronx. High turnover means that students do not have a chance to develop long-lasting relationships with their teachers—their teachers don’t have a chance to invest in each student’s education and support their academic and developmental success in later grades. Additionally, because of high turnover, some schools are unable to fill all vacancies before the school year begins. This means principals have to rely on less-than-ideal solutions, such as increasing class sizes or hiring substitute teachers while they interview teachers to fill these vacancies. Bronx schools disproportionately serve low income students and/or students who are not reaching achievement benchmarks. The Bronx needs dedicated, effective teachers to mitigate these challenges and ensure that students receive an excellent education.
In November 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the Renewal School Program, a new strategy to turn around New York City’s most challenged schools. The Renewal School Program reflects a commitment to ensuring that all New York City public school students and all New York City schools have the supports they need to succeed. The program connects students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities as partners in creating excellent learning communities for our city. Renewal Schools provide an extra hour of extended instruction each day in addition to expanded after-school and summer learning opportunities for students. Schools in the program receive additional resources for academic intervention and professional development. The Renewal School Program fundamentally changes the direction of, and accelerates progress in, struggling schools. This pioneering approach is driving one of the largest school turnaround efforts in the world. Hear from Jose Fernandez, teacher leader at a NYC renewal school.
Finding a Position in a High-Need School
Teaching Fellows are encouraged to find positions at schools that are a great fit for them, and where they can grow in their careers. Teaching Fellows are not assigned to schools by the Fellows program; they are hired through a process of mutual consent, meaning that both the principal and Fellow agree to the hiring decision. This process allows for better, long-term matches for both schools and teachers.
Fellows are eligible to be hired at any school in the NYC Department of Education; they focus their job searches in low-income and hard-to-staff communities including - but not limited to - the Bronx, where administrators struggle to attract and retain top-quality teachers and renewal schools where many children have fallen behind and are struggling to catch up.
As one principal wrote, “Principals know that when they hire a Fellow they are hiring someone who will become an effective teacher who will take advantage of every opportunity possible to make dramatic gains with their students.”
Job Search Resources
Fellows are high achievers who take advantage of the many resources provided by the Teaching Fellows program during their job search. The New York City Teaching Fellows program connects Fellows to online job postings, school interview events, NYC Department of Education networking events, and sends Fellows' resumes to hiring principals. The program also offers interviewing workshops, resume, and demonstration lesson workshops as well as job search overview webinars and a comprehensive guide to the job search.
In New York City hiring for new teachers occurs late in the summer, and most Fellows secure teaching positions near the start of the school year in August and September. By the first day of school, 99% of our June 2016 Fellows had secured teaching positions.