Professional development: One teacher’s perspective

By Rob Callaghan

In the 2010-2011 school year, the UFT offered a professional development series entitled “Teaching for Social Justice: Charter School Perspectives.” The sessions brought together charter school educators and expert scholars for a series of workshops planned by teachers, for teachers.

Jennifer Antolino, chapter leader at Amber Charter School, who attended every session, spoke about her experiences. “I think the PD sessions were such a success because they were developed with a lot of teacher input. The sessions were filled with short-term projects I could bring into the classroom right away but also long-term strategies to help develop a positive school culture. I would recommend them to all of my fellow charter school teachers.”

The series brought together a wide variety of panelists, including Bob Moses, founder of the Algebra Project and a veteran of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee of the 1960s; AFT President Randi Weingarten, a former UFT president; famed educator Deborah Meier; and Mona Davids of the New York Charter Parents Association.  There were four sessions over the course of the spring semester on a variety of topics:

  • Keeping Authentic Education Alive in the Age of Standardized Tests
  • Action Research: Inquiry into Teaching and Learning
  • Bridging the Achievement Gap
  • Trust and Community: The Foundation of a Good School

The sessions provided an occasion for teachers to interact with their peers and the guest speakers. “It was great to get the chance to network with my fellow charter school teachers and share our experiences, and the opportunity to speak with some of the amazing panelists that were there,” said Antolino. “During one session I got the chance to speak with Randi Weingarten. Also, it was great to hear Deborah Meier speak — she’s an icon.”

Antolino noted that continuing education is essential for teachers. “As teachers, we do this from the heart and every year presents new challenges, so it is important for us to continue to grow in our profession. We want our students to be life-long learners and attending these sessions helps us to lead by example.”

Click here to register for the upcoming UFT Fall Charter Conference: Progressive Visions for Charter and Union Partnerships. The conference will be held at United Federation of Teachers Shanker Hall, located at 52 Broadway, 2nd Floor, on Friday, October 14, 6-8 p.m. and Saturday, October 15, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.