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2012 UFT Spring Education Conference

Workshops reflect shifts in education priorities

Miller Photography

Author-educator Charlotte Danielson, who created the Danielson Framework for Teaching, says that the misuse of her work “scares me to death.”

Gary Schoichet

UFT Teacher Center facilitator Evelyn Edwards (standing) answers questions about the TES education website for Dolores Nattey (seated, left) of PS 127 in Queens and Catherine Scott of the Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy.

From promoting compassion to reinventing the school model, from exploring new technology to implementing dynamic teaching practices, the workshops at the 2012 UFT Spring Education Conference reflected the changing landscape of education.

“We’re moving away from the concept of closing the door to your classroom and teaching as an island unto yourself,” said Mitch Godkin of Russell Sage JHS in Queens.

For teachers, by teachers

Godkin had just come from the workshop TES: Free Web-based Teaching Resources, where he got to test-drive a website based in the United Kingdom that is soon to debut its U.S. version, thanks to the American Federation of Teachers. It contains adaptable learning materials, lesson plans, worksheets, discussion starters and group activities that can be downloaded.

“It’s free — and we teachers love to hear that,” said Marsha Wallace of the Salk School of Science in Manhattan.

Even before its U.S. launch, the site has some 1.6 million members throughout 197 countries with more than one billion children benefiting, making it the world’s largest online educational community.

“This is a good step on the road to making education a global venture,” added Godkin.

The Danielson Framework

There was standing room only at the Danielson Framework for Teaching workshop led by author-educator Charlotte Danielson.

“I’ve discovered I’ve become a noun,” Danielson said to much laughter before opening a discussion on the four domains of the framework and the conditions needed for it to flourish. She also addressed the misuse of her work for teacher evaluation systems, “which scares me to death,” she said.

“Ms. Danielson used her own classroom experiences and built her framework on real-world situations for a culture for learning instead of a ‘gotcha’ for teacher evaluations,” said Delores Stroman of MS 53 in Queens.

Brenda Preisner of MS 145 in the Bronx appreciated that Danielson “was down to earth and knows what she’s talking about because she’s in the trenches.” Preisner has Danielson’s book and said that the workshop put the theory in perspective.

workshops-reflect-shifts-in-education-priorities-3Gary SchoichetCincinnati school officials (from left) Shalon Price, Leslie Christian, Amy Woods, Marilyn Crumpton and P.G. Sittenfeld lead a discussion about ways in which communities can engage stakeholders and strengthen schools.

Cincinnati’s community schools

The Cincinnati Community Schools Model featured in another workshop was described by Pierre Beaumont, a member of the PTA and School Leadership Team at Brooklyn’s PS 270, as “the village we always say it takes to raise a child.”

Participants learned how a high-need, urban Appalachian school district — with parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials on board — seamlessly integrated health services, tutoring and counseling for children and their families, resulting in schools that belong to everybody and a graduation rate that rose by 30 percentage points.

A panel discussion among five school officials who traveled from Cincinnati to conduct the workshop explored ways in which communities can engage stakeholders and strengthen the schools.

iPads in the classroom

The iPad in New York City Public Schools workshop focused on the basic operation of the iPad and how to deliver and create content for the classroom and how to use it to collaborate with other teachers and with students.

Their own iPads in tow, participants were also able to get help troubleshooting from the staff of the “Genius Bar,” which was available throughout the conference.

workshops-reflect-shifts-in-education-priorities-4Gary SchoichetSusan Wagner HS Chapter Leader George Anthony (left) and former teacher Lindy Crescitelli lead the bullying workshop.

Countering bullying

Troubleshooting of another kind was the focus of Stand Up and Lead: Bullying Solutions, presented by conflict resolution specialists George Anthony, the chapter leader at Susan Wagner HS on Staten Island, and Lindy Crescitelli.

Participants learned effective anti-bullying strategies and addressed the role that educators must play in taking the lead on critical matters such as cyberbullying, diversity issues, suicide prevention, dating violence and breaking the bully-victim cycle.

“We’re seeing results,” said participant Bonnie DeMichele, who has been implementing some of the methods as a UFT Teacher Center staffer at PS 65 in the Bronx.

“We make it plain that some behavior isn’t negotiable, and administrators and teachers are all on the same page.”

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