Hi everyone, we are ending week six of this unexpected school closure so I just wanted to continue to reach out during this very difficult and unusual time to share with you some updates and relevant information:
Executive Order - PAUSE NY continues
As part of a recently issued Executive Order to continue PAUSE NY until May 15th, the Governor also extended school closures until that time. As with previous Executive Orders, school districts must continue to implement plans for alternative instructional options, distribution and availability of meals and childcare.
Our contract does officially expire on June 30th as you may be aware. In the current circumstance we are not able to have Negotiations go exactly in the same direction that it was before the closure. In order to make sure that our contract does not expire we have have had one digital negotiations meeting and discussion with the district since we have been closed. The landscape is VERY different at this time so we are working to represent you in a way that will allow us to be protected and that will allow the school community to function appropriately moving forward. We will continue to update you on this.
April 29th District Parade
As you may have heard from an administrator there is a tentative plan in the works for a car parade in the Farmingdale community. The idea came from FFT members and has now taken on district backing. I know many of us will want to join for the drive through neighborhoods in our vehicles to greet our students and their families, and show them the FFT supports and loves them.
Using Digital Instruction
We have been using a variety of activities for remote learning and doing our absolute best. I have heard from different buildings through the administration and also PTAs that we are working hard and making contact with students through various methods and it is appreciated. I do know there are still many of you concerned about utilizing synchronous live teaching. I believe the longer we may be forced to stay closed the more we will be encouraged to try it as a way of connecting with students. I have heard my name attached to many explanations about this. Let me be clear, outside of some specific areas our wish is that synchronous live instruction remains optional and flexible moving forward. I do understand that having live checkins is useful for many students K-12 but I would like for live instruction not to be mandated or scheduled by a directive. Many pre-recorded or other options exist for instruction. 90% of the locals in our county are utilizing live streaming (video or audio) in some capacity. Half of them are mandated. Another concern was liability. You are protected in the delivery of that instruction by the district if something goes awry in a live .It is also the districts' responsibility to have gotten parental permission for students' to go live. All of these concerns are valid will continue to be brought to the attention of our supervisors. If flexibility is lost we may have to approach the district differently in regards to implementation. In terms of training, PDs have been and will be made available for us to try to slowly get familiar with the recommended district platforms. Although I don't believe live video interaction can EVER replace what we do in the classroom it is something that many feel gives kids an additional level of connection not just with us, but with their classmates. This is crisis intervention teaching and not business as usual. How and when any directive may be issued, or the amount of flexibility that will be allowed will be shared with you by supervisors. There are still many things to take into consideration before utilizing any synchronous method of instruction so I still encourage you to make sure that you work with your colleagues in grade levels, PLCs, or departments and stay together to avoid any issues of comparison. This is not the time or should your energy be focused on negativity amongst one another. Not every teacher or student's personal home situation is the same so If you have any extraordinary concerns please share them with your reps, any officer, or even with an administrator in regards to how this will be achievable for you. Here are a few other things to keep in mind for your safety and sanity.
- Keep learning simple, positive, and fun.
- LESS IS MORE- Assignments may take longer to complete at home because of many different factors. Assign a reasonable workload and encourage both you and your students to balance online and offline activities and connect with others.
- Review teacher & student privacy concerns and district policies-4526 on internet safety and instructional use (see link below) if using synchronous/real-time teaching tools such as chat rooms and video conferencing. Define clear objectives for lessons and set clear expectations for student behavior and "classroom" etiquette during synchronous sessions. Prepare students for the sessions ahead of time and practice the technology before ever going 'live' with students. Be sure sessions are accessible by the intended participants only. Know how to remove anyone who is inappropriate.
- Please protect student information and data by only using the products, tools and platforms that our district has approved. Ex. Google Classroom, Google Meet, Screencastify, Flipgrid etc. If you are unsure if it is district approved and meets privacy law recommendations included in FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy) please check with your administrators.
FFT Doing Good through the crisis
- The FFT donated $500 to NYSUT Disaster Relief to assist with NYSUT frontline healthcare workers. See below to make your own donation.
- Members have created their own fundraisers to help hospitals. Others have made many personal donations tp families of our students, some to the LI food banks to help families who are food insecure as well as various other charities. If there is something we can help you do, please let us know.
Please take care of yourself.
YOU ARE DOING THE WORK & WE THANK YOU
FFT Election Update
As you know we were scheduled to have FFT elections this Spring for the 2020-2021 school year. In March the Board Of Trustees had to take a digital vote to postpone elections until a time when we are able to return to work and properly execute elections according to the constitution and bylaws.