What Teachers Want: Largest Ever Survey Finds Out

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A public school in Brooklyn. A public school in Brooklyn. (calculat0r/flickr)

The largest-ever survey of American teachers was released yesterday by the Gates Foundation and the Scholastic publishing company. Forty thousand teachers answered questions on how to fix schools and what they need to do a better job. We find out what the biggest needs of teachers are, according to the survey.

Cate Dossetti teaches English in a High School in Fresno, Ca. She was one of the teachers selected to give the study a final read to the survey before it was released; Jane Hannaway is director of the Education Policy Center at the Urban Institute; and Andrew Parsons teaches kindergarten in a charter school in Brooklyn.



Cate Dossetti, Jane Hannaway and Andrew Parsons

Produced by:

Marine Olivesi

Comments [20]

Kevin Koy from Northfield, IL

Professors Drake, Kintner and Smith at Grinnell College in Iowa - back in my time there was no queer theory or politically-correct history taught there as now. I was glad I majored in history.

Jul. 12 2014 12:37 AM
Tom Mulgrew from NH

Patricia Delaney, 8th grade English, St Luke's, Whitestone, NY. Mrs Delaney made up for a miserable 7th grade English class experience with a teacher in way over her head. Taught us practical use of English, how to read stories for standardized tests, good writing techniques. Made a tremendous positive difference in my education.

Mar. 04 2010 03:31 PM
G. Taylor W. from Westchester, NY

Several teachers have made a great impression on my life, but the one who comes to mind is Sister Monica, who was my 11th grade English teacher at my Bronx high school in the late 1970s. I was a good English student - a good writer, lover of reading and always had good grades in the subject. But when I asked Sr. Monica to sign a recommendation form allowing me to enroll in AP English, she refused, telling me, "You won't be able to pass that test." I was astonished. No one had ever said that to me, even though as a young African-American woman, I knew such things had been said to my parents and older relatives. Sr. Monica's lack of confidence in me simply solidified my resolve. I found another teacher to write a recommendation for me to enter the AP class. I not only did well, I soared, eventually passing the exam to gain college credit. If I was a good English student before, Sr. Monica's lack of support made me an even better student. So for that, I thank her. These days, I write and edit for a living, something that I KNEW I was able to do, once I countered Sr. Monica's doubt.

Mar. 04 2010 01:10 PM
The Hubbard's from Oklahoma

Mine is Mrs. Carol Blauvelt because she taught me to write without fear. I still write because of her some 30 years later. My husband's is Mr. Jesse Mason a vocational instructor. We have contacted them both recently to say Thanks!!! Both were at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas Virginia and still are currently employed by Prince William County School System in Virginia. They continue to guide current teachers. I believe that is a key to success for current teachers. They need someone who has been in the classroom for years to guide them.

Mar. 04 2010 11:09 AM
Scott Meador from Tulsa, OK area

Mr. Hobbs was my favorite teacher all throughout High School and is still a mentor to this day 15 years later. He is a technology education teacher. Not only did he teach classes about cutting edge technology, he also taught us about life. Mr. Hobbs would bring in speakers that may or not be relevant to his class but I still use those lessons in my day to day life. I saw him last week and I realized that I love him for what he did/is doing for me. Thank you Mr. Hobbs. He teaches in Checotah, Oklahoma.

Mar. 04 2010 10:12 AM
Michael from Dearborn Michigan

For two years I worked at a high school in Detroit as a day-trade (at will) media instructor. And as such I was able to witness much of the education and administrative processes employed on the school level as an outsider looking in. I witnessed incredible excessive spending, large amounts of waste, ambivalent and arrogant teachers, and a strong lack of managerial supervision at what was billed as a prominent “school of choice”. I also saw great passionate and exuberant teachers struggle with not having text books, teaching aids, access to equipment and support from their superiors. And most of the students in that school were there by choice and were excited to have a golden opportunity to learn industry and professional skills. But what annoyed me the most as a freelancer and business owner was how poorly managed the school was: no checks and balances, little oversight, wasteful spending, and staff working independently rather than collectively. I would often tell my associates that if the school were a business then they would be out of business.

My suggestion for school reform is not to start at the bottom with bad teachers and work up the chain but rather to start at the top by removing inferior supervisors and administrators (including principals) who are lackadaisical in their roles. Remove superintendents and curriculum leaders who teach 20th century methods and replace them with people who are dedicated and devoted to education. Give the teachers the tools and classrooms – and pay – that they deserve and you’ll witness incredible school reform that will rival our counterparts in other top-performing countries. Lastly, restructuring of the classroom to replace book learning with experiential learning following Bloom’s Taxonomy will greatly improve test scores and comprehension abilities of our students.

Mar. 04 2010 09:52 AM
Benjamin Levy, R.N. from Miami

I'll never forget one of my nursing school professors; Connie Miller, R.N. She could be hard edge and no nonsense but sweet and caring at the same time. She taught me what it meant to be a nurse; the patient ALWAYS comes first. She showed me what it was to truly channel my passion for caring into the actual practice of nursing.

Mar. 04 2010 09:32 AM
Max from brooklyn ny

I hate the idea that teacher success will be judged by standardized tests. I am an art teacher. I promote visual thinking, spacial reasoning, comparative thought....I teach students to wonder, ponder and propose new ideas. There is no standardized test to show my positive changes. There is no test that shows my kids making connections between metals and chemistry, photography and physics or paint and math, but believe me, my teaching reaches kids that could otherwise fall through the cracks.

Mar. 04 2010 09:16 AM
Mary Lou from Nyack, NY

a great teacher pushes students to think, read and write critically. a great teacher is less interested in self esteem and more interested in fostering resilience.

Mar. 04 2010 09:16 AM
Max from brooklyn ny

I hate the idea that teacher success will be judged by standardized tests. I am an art teacher. I promote visual thinking, spacial reasoning, comparative thought....I teach students to wonder, ponder and propose new ideas. There is no standardized test to show my positive changes. There is no test that shows my kids making connections between metals and chemistry, photography and physics or paint and math, but believe me, my teaching reaches kids that could otherwise fall through the cracks.

Mar. 04 2010 09:15 AM
Louise Crawford from Brooklyn

My favorite teacher was Mr. Robert Giard, my 7th grade teacher at the New Lincoln School. He was a delightful, decent and creative person. Memorably, he read "Nine Stories" by JD Salinger aloud to our class. In addition to English and social studies, we wrote poetry, made stop action animation, and went camping. He later became a photographer of some renown, taking pictures of gay authors. He died a few years ago.

Mar. 04 2010 08:09 AM
Steven Martin Cohen from Manhattan

My best teacher was Mr. Hoffman, a technical electronics teacher at Lawrence High School on Long Island. While considered a vocational training program, I went on to study mechanical engineering at The Cooper Union, and I still knew more electronics entering than most electrical engineers did upon graduation, including but not limited to how to build a radio from scratch. That high school program was scraped, thus bringing America still closer to our new world position as an intellectual third world country. Great Job.

Mar. 04 2010 07:32 AM

Ms. Jo Ellen Sheffield at Columbus High School in the Bronx. She gave us homework that included listening to NPR shows, attending shows in the East Village and watching Sunday Morning News Shows. At first I saw the assignments as a joke but toward the end of the semester I realized that she trying to show us a world beyond the poor neighborhood we saw ever day. Listening to shows on your station, for example, made me more aware of food, culture, politics, travel, and even my sexual orientation. She was amazing in the classroom but here greatest gift, to me, is helping me look beyond the South Bronx.

This is a great topic and really made me think of NPR's impact on my life in addition to her. I will be making my pledge to my local station in her name.

Mar. 04 2010 07:31 AM
Patrice Showers Corneli from Salt Lake City

So many! During the 60, Mrs. Bobert at Prairie Hill Grade School in rural northern Illinois was terrific. Fred Peterson (English) and Mr. Alpers (US History) at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois made me happy to be a thinker. John Lutz (biology) kept me rapt during his lectures. Finally, Thad Suits, my wonderful art professor at Beloit College remains an inspiration, a mentor.

Mar. 04 2010 07:31 AM
Jeannie from New York City

I have taught various types of middle and high school students from all sorts of backgrounds for 17 years. The most important component of successful education is supportive parents. If parents provide a calm, supportive , structured environment where the expectation is that students will complete all homework and work hard at their studies, then students are much more likely to be successful. A disorderly undisciplined or exploitive home will produce undisciplined failing students. We need compulsory parenting classes.

Mar. 04 2010 07:28 AM
Alvena Ferreira from Western KY

Mrs. Beardsley was my favorite teacher. When she broke her hip, she taught from a wheelchair, then she taught from a walker, then from crutches--what a woman!...When our class was being rowdy, she teared up and her chin quivered as she dressed us down. We all loved her, and she loved us, and it showed all the way around. To top all of that off, she worked like a Trojan to teach us math, and explained it in every possible way.

Mar. 04 2010 07:19 AM
janet griffith from nyc

ms poultney was my favorite teacher.
I was teaching for years. She showed me how to be a better teacher. She brought in many new ideas that I use today. She was a hard worker. She left the school system but she is missed by me and the students.

Mar. 04 2010 07:15 AM
mary-ellen skenyon

In the 70s, I went to a small, Catholic liberal arts college in No. Andover, MA, called Merrimack Collge. I had not been an outstanding high school student. In fact, I had not been given any reason, ever, to think very much of myself. I was also shy. I cannot tell you how may professors in this school actively reached out to me. In my freshman year, my English advisor suggested I think about law school, because I wanted to double major in English and history. I was stunned. Other professors pulled me out of myself and into discussion panels & projects. One, Dr. Murphy, on his own, got me an assistnat teaching position in a University, which I turned down to go to law school. But the standout was Dr. Mary Grow, who taught political science courses. I'd have taken a course on the alphabet if she taught it, she was brilliant. She taught alot about developing countries. She was TOUGH. You had to THINK. But she was fair, and was always available to us. And i loved taking her essay tests--you could really sink your teeth into them. I didn't have much money and in my senior year, mentioned I was applying to three law schools as I had saved enough to have three application fees. I will never forget how mad she looked. "That's ridiculous that you can't apply to more places because of that," she said. "If you need money for an application fee, see me." I never took her up on it, of course, but the offer was tremendous. To this day, we correspond, and I still have a hard time keeping up with her, intellectually. Thank you, Mary.

Mar. 04 2010 06:51 AM
Gary H Phillips from Cumberland, RI

The teacher that made the most impact on me was an industrial arts teacher in junior high school. I am still in touch with him; I'm 50 and he's 94! Many of the foundation methods that man taught me I am using today in my pipe organ restoration business. He was from the old quality school of thinking and his guidence pushed me gently but strongly in that direction.

Mar. 04 2010 06:34 AM
Evelyn C. from WA state

My THREE favorite teachers were those I had in junior high English in the Bronx. All males. I had huge crushes on all three, but they also taught me a love of various aspects of reading and especially of creating written communication. And I'll tell ya what -- none of them would've ever asked us to write about such a mundanely stated topic as "Who was your favorite teacher and why?"!! Juuuuuust kidding... ;^D

Mar. 03 2010 10:50 PM

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