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

Jane Coggshall and Ellen Sherratt

Generation Y public school teachers—those born between 1977 and 1995—have been serving students for nearly a decade now, represent an increasingly large proportion of the teaching workforce. Members of this incoming and up-and-coming generation of teachers are entering the workforce during a time of significant uncertainty and transition.

In the last decade, a series of widely cited research studies convinced policy leaders and the public of the profound importance of teachers to the advancement of student learning, and simultaneously of the wide differences among teachers’ ability to evoke such advancement. This has led to sweeping and often hasty policy changes meant to increase accountability for teachers—including more rigorous teacher evaluation based on student outcomes, performance-based compensation, and stricter tenure eligibility rules.

The American Federation of Teachers partnered with the Ford Foundation and AIR to conduct a study of the workplace needs of this new generation of teachers. Researchers identified five key insights that together point to the need for transforming schools into high-performing workplaces that

  • ensure teachers receive regular feedback on their effectiveness;
  • support peer learning and shared practice;
  • recognize (and reward) high performance;
  • have fair, rigorous, and meaningful evaluation systems; and
  • leverage technology intelligently to enhance performance.

Such workplaces will support Gen Y teachers, indeed all teachers, to advance teaching and learning, and actively prepare them to competently lead the profession.