Workplaces That Support High-Performing Teaching and Learning: Insights from Generation Y Teachers

A joint production of the American Federation of
Teachers (AFT) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR), this report
compiles data from eleven previous surveys, seven focus groups, and three case
studies to gauge how Generation Y teachers—those born between 1977 and
1989—view their profession. Overall, it paints Gen Y teachers as optimistic and
progressive, concluding that they crave more feedback on their effectiveness,
more peer sharing and learning, recognition and rewards for strong performance,
meaningful evaluation systems, and technology in the classrooms. Interestingly
for an AFT publication, it paints these young teachers as more reform-minded
than they probably are. For example, the study cites the Retaining Teacher
Talent survey and reports that near 61 percent of Gen Y teachers think stellar
colleagues should be rewarded. But it fails to showcase another finding from
the same survey: Sixty-seven percent of Gen Yers would themselves prefer a
school with a guaranteed annual raise of 3 percent and no opportunity for merit
pay, as opposed to a school with opportunities for merit pay but no set tenure
and salary structure. At the end of the day, Gen Y teachers may well be
slightly more reformy than their older colleagues, but it would be folly to
think that reformers looking to tear down tenure and implement
performance-based pay will find droves of allies in the younger generation of
classroom practitioners.

Jane D. Coggshall, Ellen Behrstock-Sherratt, and
Karen Drill, “Workplaces
That Support High-Performing Teaching and Learning: Insights from Generation Y
” (Washington, D.C.: American Federation of Teachers; Naperville,
IL: American Institutes for Research, April 2011).

Janie Scull
Janie Scull is a Research Analyst and Production Manager at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute