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Middle Schools Conference

Shifting ‘from teacher to learner’
New York Teacher
Middle Schools Conference
Erica Berger

 Undrea Polite, a paraprofessional at PS 369 in Brooklyn, celebrates winning the raffle drawing at the “Let the Sunshine In” workshop.

Middle Schools Conference
Erica Berger

 Middle Schools Vice President Richard Mantell welcomes the conference attendees.

The UFT’s Middle Schools Conference was back on April 9 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, with workshops on social and emotional wellness, culturally responsive STEAM classrooms, integrated co-teaching and other topics.

More than 100 educators attended the conference at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. New York City Councilman Eric Dinowitz of the Bronx, a former teacher and UFT chapter leader, was the keynote speaker.

Richard Mantell, the UFT vice president for middle schools, said it was great to be back. “It was just nice to be around people in that setting again,” he said.

Taniqua Scott, a teacher at IS 145 in Queens, attended the Social and Emotional Wellness Practices for Educators session and put some of what she learned into practice the following week. She opened all her restorative-justice classes with “Crazy Eights,” an activity in which participants wiggle each arm and leg in succession for counts of eight, then four, then two, then one. The counting speed increases for rounds two and three. The exercise got students to connect, breathe, move and focus, four of the five mindfulness concepts covered in the workshop.

“There was a lot of laughter and happiness that I witnessed from my students,” she said.

Scott said she found the conference both meaningful and valuable. “You learn, transition from teacher to learner, and then have the opportunity to get things to bring back to the class,” she said.

Richard Gartner, a math teacher at PS 20 in the Bronx, was impressed with the session on building strong partnerships in integrated co-teaching settings. Gartner has been the general education teacher in ICT classrooms for 17 years. “It was very concrete,” he said. “It definitely laid out a way to progress, to become more collaborative using ICT teaching structures.”

Hector Romero, a paraprofessional at IS 220 in Brooklyn, said he picked up great ideas for spreading kindness, showing appreciation and building community in the “Let the Sunshine In” session. One idea he’s hoping to try out is having a monthly birthday party for students.

“It’s a good gesture to keep the spirits up for the kids and the staff,” he said, “and to do nice things for them, kind things.”

2022 Middle Schools Conference

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Two women are laughing with their hands raised

Taniqua Scott (left), a restorative justice teacher at IS 145 in Queens, takes part in the “Social and Emotional Wellness Practices for Educators” workshop.

Erica Berger
Image
A man stands at a podium on a stage

Richard Mantell, UFT vice president for middle schools, welcomes educators to the UFT’s Middle Schools Conference in Shanker Hall.

Erica Berger
Image
A woman sits at a table reading a book

Ginette Malbranche, a substitute teacher in Queens, peruses the Middle Schools Conference program at the start of the event.

Erica Berger
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A woman stands by a table and looks at materials presented

Margaret Ward, a paraprofessional at PS 146 in Brooklyn, looks over materials in the workshop about “Navigating Our World: Creating Google Earth Social Studies Projects."

Erica Berger
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A woman wearing a red mask sits at a table and takes notes

Denny Santos, a paraprofessional at PS 298 in the Bronx, participates in the workshop titled “The Culturally Responsive STEAM Classroom: Rediscovering Joyful Learning.”

Erica Berger
Image
Two women presenting laugh together

Christine Hanley of the UFT Teacher Center on Staten Island (left) and Safiya Francis of the UFT Teacher Center in Manhattan lead a workshop called “The Culturally Responsive STEAM Classroom: Rediscovering Joyful Learning."

Erica Berger
Image
A woman smiles while filling plaster Easter eggs with treats

Viola Scott, a teacher and the UFT chapter leader at MS 266 in Brooklyn, fills plastic Easter eggs with treats in the “Let the Sunshine In” workshop.

Erica Berger
Image
A woman celebrates after winning a raffle prize

Undrea Polite, a paraprofessional at P396K in Brooklyn, holds up a jar of chocolate truffles she received as the raffle winner in the “Let the Sunshine In” workshop.

Erica Berger
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Image
Two women are laughing with their hands raised

Taniqua Scott (left), a restorative justice teacher at IS 145 in Queens, takes part in the “Social and Emotional Wellness Practices for Educators” workshop.

Erica Berger
Image
A man stands at a podium on a stage

Richard Mantell, UFT vice president for middle schools, welcomes educators to the UFT’s Middle Schools Conference in Shanker Hall.

Erica Berger
Image
A woman sits at a table reading a book

Ginette Malbranche, a substitute teacher in Queens, peruses the Middle Schools Conference program at the start of the event.

Erica Berger
Image
A woman stands by a table and looks at materials presented

Margaret Ward, a paraprofessional at PS 146 in Brooklyn, looks over materials in the workshop about “Navigating Our World: Creating Google Earth Social Studies Projects."

Erica Berger
Image
A woman wearing a red mask sits at a table and takes notes

Denny Santos, a paraprofessional at PS 298 in the Bronx, participates in the workshop titled “The Culturally Responsive STEAM Classroom: Rediscovering Joyful Learning.”

Erica Berger
Image
Two women presenting laugh together

Christine Hanley of the UFT Teacher Center on Staten Island (left) and Safiya Francis of the UFT Teacher Center in Manhattan lead a workshop called “The Culturally Responsive STEAM Classroom: Rediscovering Joyful Learning."

Erica Berger
Image
A woman smiles while filling plaster Easter eggs with treats

Viola Scott, a teacher and the UFT chapter leader at MS 266 in Brooklyn, fills plastic Easter eggs with treats in the “Let the Sunshine In” workshop.

Erica Berger
Image
A woman celebrates after winning a raffle prize

Undrea Polite, a paraprofessional at P396K in Brooklyn, holds up a jar of chocolate truffles she received as the raffle winner in the “Let the Sunshine In” workshop.

Erica Berger