The site coordinator at a new UFT Teacher Center in the Bronx recently told the New York Teacher about the time she stepped out of the center soon after it opened and “almost teared up” when she returned to find at least 10 educators helping each other in her absence.
The spirit of collaboration is a big part of the ethos of the UFT Teacher Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this school year.
The UFT Teacher Center, which relies on state funding, was founded in 1979 by the UFT, the city Department of Education and the New York State Education Department to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers in a nurturing space that allows them to deepen content knowledge and hone their teaching skills. Today there are 116 school-based centers throughout the city.
At the school level, the UFT Teacher Center is a collaboration of teachers, chapter leaders and the principals who fund the school-based centers. Site coordinators offer in-classroom support, open their classrooms to other teachers and integrate professional development into the daily work of teachers.
But the benefits for educators extend beyond their worksites and throughout their careers. Weekend citywide conferences on literacy, the arts, using technology and myriad other topics bring together educators from across the city to learn and network with each other at union headquarters in lower Manhattan.
For teachers assigned to integrated co-teaching classrooms, the UFT Teacher Center offers classes on different instructional models that work in the ICT setting. The UFT Teacher Center offers workshops in child abuse detection and reporting to help members meet certification requirements. Paraprofessionals also have classes specifically for their concerns. And there are courses for parents to help them help their children continue to learn at home.
For four decades, the Teacher Center has helped create a shared vision of professional development and lifelong learning that helps teachers do the job they love.