Around the UFT

Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference

Learning from each other

Miller Photography

Tinker passes out commemorative black armbands after addressing the gathering.

Miller Photography Fellow Goldstein HS social studies teacher Levi Anthony (left) gives Giambalvo his award.

“Teachers teaching teachers” — that’s how Mike Schirtzer, a social studies teacher at Leon M. Goldstein HS for the Sciences in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, described the 58th annual Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference on April 21. “It was engaging and gave you pedagogical techniques and resources you could actually use,” he said. Schirtzer was among the 150 educators who participated in workshops, an exhibit fair and an awards breakfast at the conference, organized by the UFT’s Association of Teachers of Social Studies, at union headquarters in Manhattan. John Giambalvo, a social studies teacher at the HS for Information Technology in Long Island City, Queens, received the Bernard A. Cohen Award for outstanding social studies teaching and leadership. “The conference allows you to connect with other social studies teachers throughout the city and once you form those professional relationships, all the rest — the teaching techniques and strategies — come from that,” said Giambalvo. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was awarded the Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian Award. Free speech activist and union organizer Mary Beth Tinker received the Rosa Parks Social Justice Award. In 1965, Tinker and some of her high school classmates were punished when they wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. But ultimately the Iowa teens prevailed when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their free speech rights in 1969. “It’s about the importance of students having a voice and standing up for their rights and the rights of others,” said Schirtzer. “I always told her story to my class, and now I can tell them I met her.” Participants had a choice of nine morning workshops on topics including student activism and citizenship education; historical thinking in the classroom; and teaching the American Revolution through the map of New York State. The conference’s afternoon session focused on the requirements of the new Regents exam in global history. A special workshop on how to get a job in New York City public schools was offered to aspiring teachers. “They’re the union members of the future,” said Bob Dytell, the UFT committee chair. 

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