In the past few days, the NYCDOE Chancellor cancelled all non-essential activities for teachers including professional development for staff (i.e. teachers) provided by vendors to DOE employees. My position is that the policy is a huge mistake coming at the worst time.
As I write, teachers are struggling with profound questions such as “How do I teach mathematics through ZOOM?”, “How can I make digital materials accessible to all my students including my English Language Learners and students with special needs?”, “How can I integrate seemingly disparate streams of information into a coherent experience for students?” or “What do I do if I don’t have a my document camera or smartboard while teaching from home?”. Owing to the Chancellor’s new policy, the struggle to answer these and many, many more questions are unnecessarily compounding the tremendous workload confronting teachers today.
Indeed, teachers today are anxiously seeking the professional development and support systems from service providers such as instructional coaches and many are telling me that they are devastated by the loss of their supports.
I would encourage the Chancellor to reconsider the removal of critical investments for the teachers in New York City Public Schools. Imagining how the largest school district in the nation can successfully transition from historical methods of teaching over 1.1 million children to entirely remote learning environments in less than two weeks without providing the most basic strategic support systems is inconceivable to me. Furthermore, I would never characterize the critical relationships between teachers and their instructional coaches and other service providers as “non-essential.”