How can we promote and encourage innovation and creativity in the classroom?
That’s the question the union sought to answer six years ago when it negotiated, as part of the 2014 DOE-UFT contract, an initiative that rewards collaboration between educators and administrators as they seek new ways of approaching teaching and learning.
The Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence initiative offers schools the ability to alter some of the most basic parameters by which they function, including how the school day is programmed, how teachers are evaluated and supported, and even how a school recruits its students.
Since the program began, 175 schools have been accepted into the PROSE initiative. A joint panel of UFT and Department of Education representatives annually reviews submissions and selects schools based on the quality of the plans and whether they were the product of collaboration at the school level.
At PS 249 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, being a PROSE school means taking professional development live, so teachers can observe colleagues implementing small group instruction in real time and then talk about how they can implement what they observed with their own students.
“Something our school strives for is consistency,” said Chapter Leader Lara Terry in a 2018 interview. “So working together toward a goal feels really good.”