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Online community to assist chapter leaders

New York Teacher
UFT President Michael Mulgrew standing at podium with screen behind him
Erica Berger

UFT President Michael Mulgrew discusses the chapter leader community at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 15.

Chapter leaders across the city now have access to a new online community that gives them a place to share ideas with other chapter leaders in their district, find answers to their questions and collect data the union can use to improve education and working conditions.

The UFT created a focus group of chapter leaders who met regularly with technology experts to help design the community, which launched the week of Feb. 3 with a gradual rollout to all chapter leaders.

“This is a great tool that will help our chapter leaders connect in a very simple but meaningful way,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “It will help supply information to the union that can be used to make sure every school is doing what it is supposed to be doing, whether that is following the contract or providing teachers with the curriculum and instructional tools they need.”

But, Mulgrew added, “This is only the beginning. The focus group of chapter leaders will continue to meet and develop ways to improve the site if necessary in order to make it more effective.”

Plans are in the works to enable chapter leaders to create an archive of their own materials, such as chapter newsletters or school-based options. This archive would allow the chapter leader who follows to build on the knowledge and expertise of the current chapter leader.

Chapter leaders will now have a discussion forum in the community to consult and share best practices with fellow chapter leaders in their district.

“The new chapter leader community will offer us a place where chapter leaders can support each other, share ideas and ask questions 24/7,” said Jeff Matte, the chapter leader at PS 12 in Queens and a member of the focus group. “It gives chapter leaders a new digital space to organize and solve problems together. The more chapter leaders engage with it, the stronger and more reliable the information will be.”

Representatives from the union will be visiting schools to introduce chapter leaders to the community by asking them to  complete a curriculum survey that was also composed with the input of chapter leaders.

“The survey will be quick and simple,” Mulgrew said. “But it will allow us to have all the information in one place as the union works with the Department of Education and the principals’ union to make sure that every school has curriculum aligned with the state’s Next Generation Learning Standards.”

The goal of the survey, Mulgrew said, is to verify that every school has curriculum aligned with the new state standards and that teachers receive professional development throughout the school year designed to help members teach to those standards.

“If we can do that, we will have significantly changed the operating model of our schools with respect to curriculum,” Mulgrew said.

Besides the curriculum survey, chapter leaders can also use the community to access chapter leader forms and consult a knowledge base that has detailed answers to many member questions.

Nicole Puglia, the chapter leader at PS 55 on Staten Island and a member of the focus group, said the community should help chapter leaders in their efforts to serve the members.

“Presently, I have a lot of information stored in binders, but this community will be a better resource,” Puglia said. “I will be able to get answers to my questions quickly, and I will have access to other chapter leaders in my district.”

This story was originally published on January 27, 2020.

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