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New York TeacherApril 13, 2023

Volume LXIV, Number 5

For thousands of New York City educators, the workday doesn’t end when the school day is over. Across the city, Contract Action Teams organized grade-ins where UFT members did their work in public spaces to highlight their fight for a fair contract.

Cover Story

Making educators work

Making educators’ work visible

For thousands of New York City educators, the workday doesn’t end when the school day is over. The work teachers do to plan, prepare and deliver quality instruction to students often takes place outside the classroom and on their own time — and the Department of Education is placing more and more of its own demands on that time.

So on March 30, as part of their fight for a fair contract, educators across the city set out to make that workload visible to their school communities and to the city. During a citywide grade-in, UFT members took to the streets — and to parks, coffee shops, libraries and other public spaces — to demonstrate their expertise and their commitment to their students and to demand respect, autonomy and improved working conditions in their…

Latest News

Teachers protesting class sizes
News Stories

‘No debate’ on class sizes

UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the Delegate Assembly on March 15 that, despite Mayor Eric Adams’ comments to the contrary, the city must comply with new class-size requirements that have been funded by the state.

UFT contract update

UFT contract update

Negotiations between the UFT and the city are expected to shift into higher gear now that the members of District Council 37, the city’s largest union, have overwhelmingly ratified a new pattern-setting five-year contract with the city.

Feature Stories

Building their brains

‘Building their brains’

Last school year, Monica Heldt found herself struggling to help the 3-year-olds in her 3K class at PS 7 in East Harlem resolve conflicts among themselves. Heldt, who taught kindergarten for 20 years before moving to 3K in 2019, had exhausted her usual arsenal of tactics so she asked the advice of Danny Gomez, a social worker from the DOE’s Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) who supports PS 7.

Gomez visited her classroom, knelt down beside two students squabbling over a toy and modeled a simple, three-step strategy: Narrate what’s happening (“I see you really want that toy”), validate students’ feelings (“That’s why you’re feeling so upset”) and then pause.

Heldt watched in astonishment as one student obligingly shrugged, dropped the toy and skipped off to another activity. Soon she was using the same strategy throughout the day in…

A student works with her robotics team’s LEGO robot.

STEM for beginners

A lunchtime LEGO club conceived by two paraprofessionals grows into an award-winning career and technical education STEM program at Fairmont Neighborhood Elementary School in the Bronx.

Kids with allergies
Member Profiles

Para’s allergy alert

A student-friendly book and seminar on food allergies was created by Fatima Straughn, a paraprofessional at MS 45 in the Bronx, as a way to teach young children about the effects of food allergies. 

Member Spotlight

Sorangel Acosta
What I Do

Sorangel Acosta, dual language teacher

As a student teacher, Sorangel Acosta was “amazed and mesmerized” that it was possible to respect both languages equally in a dual-language class. She tries to bring that experience to the 3rd-graders in her English/Spanish classroom at PS 280 in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Kristin Golat-Defendis
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Kristin Golat-Defendis, MS 51, Brooklyn

Kristin Golat-Defendis, the chapter leader at MS 51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, stood up to an abusive principal. On Jan. 30, 2023, the principal was transferred out of the school.

Around the UFT

Reginald Colvin accepts his award
Awards & Honors

Paraprofessionals Festival & Awards Luncheon

At their 41st annual Paraprofessionals Festival & Awards Luncheon on March 25, members celebrated the many rights they have gained since their chapter's founding and the trailblazers who led the way while acknowledging there is much more to do.

Members laugh during a speech

School Counselors Conference

Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters was packed on March 11 for the 19th annual School Counselors Conference — the first fully in-person conference the chapter has held since school buildings closed during the pandemic — and members relished the opportunity to connect in person and share their experiences.

4 women pose for a photo and a stage is in the background

Social Workers Appreciation Day

Helping students learn to cope with anxiety experienced during and after the COVID-19 pandemic was the key takeaway from the UFT's seventh annual Social Workers Appreciation Day event on March 10, which attracted about 900 UFT members both in person at union headquarters in Manhattan and remotely.

A man sits at a table and reads a pamphlet

Gun violence discussion

Along with police officers and EMTs, teachers must deal with gun violence and its aftermath and should have the opportunity and the time to develop meaningful curriculum around the issue, education activist Amina Brown said at a UFT-sponsored community discussion on gun violence. 

 Jewish Heritage Committee Labor Seder 2023

Labor Seder

The Labor Seder celebrated by the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee and the Jewish Labor Committee Educators’ Chapter on March 30 connected the themes of liberation and redemption in the Passover story of the exodus from Egypt with the struggles of the modern-day labor movement.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Prescription drugs

All eligible in-service UFT members and their dependents have prescription drug coverage through the UFT Welfare Fund. 

Know Your Rights
Women in bed blowing nose under a yellow blanket

Cumulative Absence Reserve

Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) is the formal name for the bank of “sick days” earned by UFT-represented employees who work for the city Department of Education (DOE). All full-time, school-based UFT members may earn up to 10 CAR days for the full school year.

Your Well-being

Daily meditation

Meditation can lower your stress level, reduce anxiety and depression, increase your ability to concentrate and bring a sense of calm and purpose to your life. 

You Should Know

Grants, Awards & Freebies
A teacher with young students

Grants, Awards & Freebies

See our list of current opportunities for educators to receive funds and recognition for their hard work and dedication. 

Q&A on the Issues
Teachers celebrate

Paid parental leave

The UFT in 2018 was the first municipal union in New York City to secure paid parental leave for its members. Parents of any gender may be eligible to take paid parental leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child under the age of 6. The following FAQ provides answers to the most commonly asked questions from members.

Secure Your Future
A husband and wife sit on a couch and look at a calculator

Planning for retirement

The most common retirement date by far for UFT members is July 1 because it coincides with the end of the school year. If you’re planning a July 1 retirement, you should have already begun to prepare. Fortunately, the UFT has done much of the heavy lifting for members by developing tried-and-true steps you should take. 


President's Perspective
A group of teachers hold up signs at a park

Building our power through activism

We are at a stronger place as a union than we were a year ago. We are using the muscle of activism. We have engaged our communities in a conversation about what is important to us as a profession. We have used our superpower — the power to educate — to make our voices heard. And we will keep on pushing until we have the contract we deserve.

Anne Goldman

Leading the charge for safe staffing

UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT, writes that city hospitals are not required to have adequate staffing. The game of health is allowed to proceed knowingly shorthanded, without economic penalty and at risk to patients. Our union is leading the fight to focus on this injustice and require proper staffing.

Money (generic)

Don’t defund schools

It is a crucial year for New York City public schools as educators continue to help students recover from pandemic learning loss and isolation while welcoming some 14,000 newly arrived migrant children. But for the second year in a row, Mayor Eric Adams wants to slash education funding in the budget. 

 A Day of Action for smaller class sizes

Prep to trim classes

The state's new class-size law designated the 2022-23 school year as a planning year, but there is little evidence the city Department of Education has done any planning to implement it. In fact, the city’s recent budget proposal and co-location decisions suggest that it is willfully ignoring the law. 

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
A revolutionary teaching tool

A revolutionary teaching tool

ChatGPT, a new artificial intelligence tool launched in November 2022, has the potential to be a game-changer for both students and teachers.

Linking to Learning
A clip-art illustration of a teacher working with a student at a computer screen.

Powerful tools for special needs students

Assistive technology can be a game changer for special needs students. The following resources can supplement any assistive technology you may already use in your classroom.

Teacher to Teacher
A man smiles for the camera while students in the background work on a whiteboard

Strategies to spice up math instruction

I implemented random grouping, whiteboards and low-floor, high-ceiling questions in my 7th-grade math classroom to promote greater engagement. My classroom now is a place of student exploration, collaboration and discussion.

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom
Massiel Sori

Combining art and science

High school health teacher Massiel Sori combined art and science in a student project on the body's immune system.

New Teacher Articles
Never too soon to think

Never too soon to think about retirement income

When you retire from teaching, your pension plan guarantees a lifetime annuity of regular payments based on a formula that takes into account your years of service, your salary and your age. Here's what you need to know about this valuable benefit.

New Teacher Checklist
leaves icon small

To Do List for Spring

Here are some items to take care of right away and others that will help you prioritize and stay on track.

New Teacher Profiles
Leader of the pack

Leader of the pack

Stephen T. Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship HS's commitment to student well-being is why Sylwia Nosowicz, a first-year teacher whose first career was as a clinical mental health counselor, feels comfortable calling the school “a perfect match” for her.

Retired Teachers News

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

Be ‘guardians of civility’

Decorum, it seems, is honored lately more as an ideal than a practice. Outbursts at our December RTC membership meeting come to mind.

As a middle child, having grown up in a family that spoke to one another respectfully, I try to foster positive interactions. What in human behavior makes things sometimes fall apart?

Basic psychology tells us the subconscious mind is composed of the id, a source of raw impulses and instincts, and the superego, which operates as a moral conscience. The interplay between the two guides us toward a healthy ego, allowing us to function normally in society. Buy it or not, it’s one way of understanding that when things are out of…

Knitting generic
RTC Section Spotlight

Back in person in Brooklyn

As the pandemic subsides, the Retired Teachers Chapter’s Brooklyn section, like other sections, is welcoming retired members back for line dancing, crocheting, seed beading and other in-person classes while it continues to offer remote classes, too.

Peggy Keyes
RTC Second Act

Training her sights on cancer research

Retiree Peggy Keyes establised a model train museum to raise money for pancreatic cancer research in honor of her husband, who died of the disease.