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New York TeacherOctober 1, 2015

Volume LVII , Issue 2
NYT Cover "Best foot forward" - October 1, 2015

Cover Stories

Dance teacher Michael Kerr dances right along with his 8th-grade class at MS 443

Raising the barre

It’s completely still until dance teacher Michael Kerr strikes the drum and suddenly everyone is in motion. The 6th-grade girls twirl and bend while the boys tentatively reach and arch.

It’s only days into the new school year and already these beginning dancers at MS 443 in South Park Slope are comfortable with the feel of their bare feet on the wood floor and the challenge of moving their bodies with deliberation and aligning their movements with those of a partner.

The drumming stops, but a few dancers miss the cue. “It’s all right to make mistakes, but in dance the end must be the end,” Kerr explains. “Dance is not like a run-on sentence.”

In the advanced 8th-grade class a period later, the focus and concentration are palpable. “You’re not thinking about after school or your last class,” he instructs them. “Knees over toes, heads over shoulders, find your center.” The music begins and the mirrored wall of the basement studio reflects the elegant precision and grace of the 32 young dancers. Chins up, shoulders back, toes pointed, eyes straight ahead. It looks so easy, but they are working very hard.

First lump-sum payment coming this October

In accordance with the 2014 contract, UFT members who worked for the Department of Education between 2009 and 2015 (plus those who retired after June 30, 2014) will receive a lump-sum payment of 12. 5 percent, representing one-eighth of the amount they have accrued between 2009 and 2015.
Anna Charland

Three members, one opening day

Ready for anything. There are a lot of different feelings you feel the first day. You think only the children are anxious, but so are the adults! You don’t know what to expect or how the day is going to go, but you know you’ll always have one or two children who feel scared.

Latest News

Regents propose new evaluation appeals process

Following intense lobbying by the UFT, NYSUT and parents, a divided state Board of Regents on Sept. 16 delayed giving its final approval to the new teacher evaluation system. Instead, the board proposed three significant changes aimed at making the process fairer.

UFT hails mayor’s education plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sept. 16 unveiled a far-reaching plan to transform the city’s schools over the next 10 years.

First Muslim holiday observed

Chancellor Carmen Fariña, elected officials, and students on Sept. 24 celebrated the New York City public school system’s first observance of the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha at an event at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Pride, passion, promise promoted in TV ad

The UFT on Sept. 24 launched a new TV ad to kick off its yearlong campaign celebrating the passion and promise of New York City public schools.

Renowned education professor launches think tank

Citing a disconnect between education research and policy, renowned Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond has launched a new education think tank, the Learning Policy Institute, with offices in Palo Alto and Washington.

Feature Stories

Members of the Corona Youth Music Program perform during the fair.

All’s ‘fair’ in Corona

Open School Night on Sept. 17 took place both inside and outside PS 19 in Corona, Queens. Inside, parents met with teachers; outdoors in the yard, there were raffles, dance exhibitions and information booths — the school’s first-ever Community Learning School fair.

The event was the brainchild of UFT resource coordinator Savanity Davis. “I was trying to figure out how I could make a footprint at the beginning of the year and prove to the staff that it’s worth being a community learning school,” she said.

PS 19, one of the largest elementary schools in the city, is one of 25 schools in the UFT New York City Community Learning Schools Initiative, which provides academic supports and social services to students and their families.

Using a white bullhorn, Davis presented student dancers and musicians from a stage in one corner of the yard. Along the fences were booths where the Food Bank for New York City, Queens Legal Services, the city Fire Department, school safety officers, eyeglass and health providers and others answered parents’ questions.

Vicent Dellatocoma

Vincent Dellatacoma, math teacher

The first day is such a tornado of a day. It’s fun because it’s a jumpstart to the year, but you look forward to the part of the year when you’re in your rhythm again.

Alain Metellus

Alain Metellus, social worker

I spent most of the day trying to meet as many kids as possible, doing my best to make them feel comfortable and welcome. I know that feeling of coming into high school and feeling overwhelmed.

Around the UFT

Labor Day Parade

Hundreds of UFT members marched up Fifth Avenue in the Sept. 12 Labor Day Parade to show pride in their union and demonstrate the importance of unions in fighting for working people.

West Indian Day Carnival Parade

The annual West Indian Day Parade — traditionally held on Labor Day — brings about two million people to Crown Heights. More than 100 UFT members joined the festivities — riding on the UFT float or marching alongside it.

Musical depicts public school challenges

The toe-tapping musical “Teach It Right, or, Right to Teach” toured the parks and playgrounds of the city this summer, presenting its story of the challenges and struggles facing public education through the ordeals of a teacher and a middle school student.

International Peace Day celebration at PS 69, Queens

Students, teachers and parents formed a huge peace symbol in the schoolyard of PS 69 in Jackson Heights in celebration of International Peace Day on Sept. 21.

You Should Know

Your Well-being

Managing stress

Is this your first year in a new assignment? Are you a veteran teacher who has transferred to a new school? Has your administration changed? Have you switched from pupil accounting to payroll secretary?

Opinions

VPerspective

NICE initiative summer boot camps build educators’ expertise

Through the National Industry Certification for Educators, or NICE, initiative, the UFT is providing the professional learning that CTE educators need — and we are doing it ourselves.

Opinion

Encouraging signs

If Gov. Cuomo thought that his assault on educators earlier this year would be popular with the public, he miscalculated.

Opinion

All in the family

A little-noticed clause that state legislators tucked into the omnibus bill that ended the legislative session in June could make the already glaring inequities between charter and traditional public schools even worse.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Research shows

Social skills in kindergarten predict success

A kindergartner’s effectiveness in handling social and emotional experiences is a strong predictor of success in adulthood, according to a new study from the American Journal of Public Health.

Teacher to Teacher

Teen publication has value — trust me

Cultivating and celebrating trust and respect among adolescents in New York City is what student-written YCTeen magazine is all about. Teachers in New York City public high schools can get the print magazine for free.

Building Your Career

New Teachers

Creating a warm and inviting library area

There is nothing I enjoy more than creating an environment in my library area that is warm and inviting and one in which they feel right at home.
New Teachers

Taking the fear out of something new

At the beginning of the summer, I was in high spirits. I had just finished my first year of teaching and was told that I would be teaching all 7th-grade science classes for the upcoming year. Aside from the fact that I adore 7th-graders (awkwardness and all), I was also looking forward to having just one curriculum to prepare and teach.

Retired Teachers News

We must counter the naysayers

[[nid:91992; line-height: 20.8px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; styleName:large]]A White House Conference on Aging has been held every decade since 1960 to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. RTC Vice President John Soldini attended a regional conference held on July 13 in preparation for this year’s conference. I have asked him to write about that meeting in this month’s column.

— Tom Murphy, chapter leader


Last spring, I represented our Retired Teachers Chapter and the American Federation of Teachers in Boston at the White House’s Northeastern Regional Conference Meeting on Aging.

The panels’ initial discussions presented what has been accomplished and what still needs to be accomplished in order to properly meet and provide support for the nutritional, emotional and physical needs of the elderly.

Open Enrollment Period for City Health Plans

The city has announced that the health plan open enrollment period for retirees will be the month of November 2015.

Day for Labor

Members of the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter turned out in force as usual for the annual Labor Day Parade in Manhattan on Sept. 12.

More in Retired Teachers Chapter News