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Workshops provide answers on timely topics
by Dorothy Callaci | May 20, 2010 New York Teacher issue
Teachers and other UFT-represented educators came to the 2010 UFT Spring Conference looking for new ideas and answers to questions about these contentious times for public school educators. They found what they were looking for at the workshops.
PS 95 representatives Delia DeRose, a 4th-grade inclusion teacher, and Chapter Leader James Regan went to separate workshops so they would be able to bring double the information back to their Bronx school, where Regan plans to use it all in newsletters to staff.
DeRose learned from the Coalition for Educational Justice parent leaders at the workshop titled “Educational Justice in the 21st Century: Our Kids Need College Prep, Not Just Test Prep.” It was, she found, an important tie-in to earlier remarks by the new state commissioner of education during Operation Soapbox [see story above] about the need to teach higher-order cognitive skills, something she said her school is working hard at.
Over at “Building Cultural and Linguistic Bridges for ELLs and Standard English Learners in Mainstream Classrooms,” Regan was busy leading a discussion on four reading strategies that had been explored earlier in the workshop.
Bradley Klein of PS/IS 180, Brooklyn, a drama teacher and UFT delegate awaiting tenure in November, found the “Campaign for Middle School Success” workshop at which three schools presented their initiatives for school improvement “excellent.” “My school is successful,” he said, “but it’s nice to learn from other schools.”
Back by popular demand, the workshop on “Differentiation Using Primary Resources from the Library of Congress” provided special education teacher Catina Butler of PS 299, Brooklyn, with pointers on how to help children pay attention to details not only in pictures but in reading.
Dana Haas, a new teacher at PS 11 in Queens and a career-changer, came to the conference “looking forward to new information to become a better teacher” — which workshops provide — and “to find out what’s going on in the union.”
She was encouraged by Chapter Leader Katie Kurjakovic, who pointed out that over the years what she has thought most important in education has also been most important to the union, “especially in social justice and professional concerns.”