Sunday, August 2, 2020

Week of 03AUG20

UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 3
August 3rd, 2020

Principal's Message

School Re-Opening and Your Value.  Almost daily, the press, social media, everyone is sharing their opinions about whether or not schools should open.  It should never be the case that we are pitting health and safety against learning and development, but here we are.  

We are all struggling with the tension between protecting our own (and our family's) health & safety and providing the quality instruction that our students deserve.  Again - an impossible dilemma - but here we are.

Throughout everything, please know that you are valued.  Whether blended with in-person work or working fully remotely, I know each of you will continue to bring your best efforts and creative thinking to providing our students with the learning they deserve.  For that I thank you, and I appreciate everything you do.

As we move forward in the planning processes for school re-opening, I know it will not be possible to find a solution that will perfectly satisfy everyone, but we will create systems and policies that represent our best efforts to educate, safeguard, and promote the intellectual, social-emotional, and physical well-being of our students and their families.  

Despite the external chaos, this fact is my beacon of hope for the upcoming school year.  We are a fantastic team of smart thinkers who are committed to social justice and equity for our young women.  When we all work together to bring our best, it is always our girls who win.  This will be a year unlike any other, but with our UAI team, I see a bright beam of wonderful possibilities shining through the cloud of COVID.


Happy Summer Birthdays!!!
Matthew (19AUG); Rebecca F(21AUG); Doris (26AUG)

Advisory Model Blended Learning Mock Up.
  Thank you to everyone who joined our first town hall to review your questions around the original blended learning mock up and the advisory model. The SRC (Summer Restructuring Committee) discussed your feedback and wanted a more official mock up.  We will be holding another town hall on 04AUG at 10:30 AM Please share any feedback, questions or concerns you have in  THIS SURVEY.   

School Re-Opening and the Last Chancellor Update. 
 Chancellor Carranza shared more information around school re-opening which you can watch here.  Here are some highlights:
  • What Triggers a School Closure?  Both the CDC and the DOE are strongly encouraging cohort (or pod) programming for schools.  As a result, here are the plans for when schools will close in case of a COVID infection:
    • 1 positive case in a class - If a person (staff or student) tests positive for COVID, that class (and any other person/class(es)) that the COVID positive person had close contact with will quarantine (staff and students) for 14 days and work in Remote Learning.  The rest of the school will remain open.  
    • 2 or more positive cases in 2 or more classes - The school will close for a 14 day quarantine, and all teaching and learning will happen remotely.
  • What About Testing? The DOE s asking all school community members who are participating in In-Person learning (staff and students) to take COVID tests at least 7 days prior to the start of school (which they still say is September - tho they are not saying which day in September, yet).  Additionally, they are encouraging staff and students to get tested every three weeks, and shared that DOE staff will have priority testing status for access and results.

Summer Restructuring Committee (SRC) Work.  The summer restructuring committee continues to meet and work on UAI school systems and structures for next year.  At any time, you can review notes and agendas HERE.
  • Building out an Equity Team.  Rebecca & I attended a workshop from the DOE Department of Equity around how to Launch Equity Teams.  We discussed the our learnings with the SRC, and Rebecca C. is putting together a proposal of how to construct the team - which voices should be on the team.  The next step is for the SRC to decide the who those voices should be.  If you have ideas or suggestions that you would like to include, please email Rebecca at!
  • Grading Subcommittee. The next meeting for the grading subcommittee will be facilitated by a member of the DOE Department of Equity who will help us do some root cause analysis around student performance, teacher expectations and equity.  The team is asking for teacher feedback in the survey below.  If you are interested to learn more, I've also attached the document that links to the team's research and data around UAI student performance.
  • Professional Development Subcommittee.  The PD Committee is working with teachers to plan a sequence of PD experiences aimed at preparing teachers for the upcoming school year.  Damon shared out a survey earlier.  If you can, please do reach out to the PD committee (Jen, Damon, Phillan, or Annie) with any suggestions or feedback!
    • Damon shared a PD survey (I don't have that link- sorry!)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Week of 27JUL20

UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 2
July 27, 2020

Principal's Message

How Uncertainty Fuels Anxiety [] | ACEsConnection

Uncertainty and Anxiety.  Last week, I was supposed to be on vacation. I did manage to get some beach time in (between the meetings and mandated Principal professional development), and during those precious hours on the sand, I stumbled across this article from The Atlantic on uncertainty and anxiety.  While written in the time before COVID, many of the tenets still ring true.  

I don't have any more answers today than I did two weeks ago.  But I do know that this is the last week of July, which means that summer is halfway over.  If you have not yet fully unplugged and given yourself the break we all need, then you need to make that time a reality in August.  I do know that we are going to be facing THE most challenging year we have ever faced as a community.  We all need to have a full well, and we all need to be our strongest versions come September.  

So...if you're reading this and you're supposed to be relaxing - stop.  There's nothing in this that can't wait.  If you still can't stop, well then promise yourself and name for yourself the time you will create for you to unplug, recharge, and relax.  The work will always be there.  This time to relax will not!  So take it now!

Enjoy yourself, take in the sun, stay safe & healthy, and have fun with your family, friends, & loved ones!


Happy Summer Birthdays!!!
Matthew (19AUG); Rebecca F(21AUG); Doris (26AUG)

Blended Learning Mock Up.
   The SLT made the final decision to select the Chancellor's recommended model of Alternating Days.  Through some ingenuity and inspiration from our friends at SLJ, we may be able to keep some type of alternating weeks model for staff while having our students still come to school each week.  CLICK HERE for the Mock Up. This is still very much in draft there will be inconsistencies and lots of room for feedback!  Once you review the Mock Up, please share your feedback on this SURVEY.

Budget Overview. 
 I led the Summer Restructuring Committee through a workshop around our budget and fiscal standing for next year.  CLICK HERE for the document and explanations I shared with the committee.  CLICK HERE for the first half of the video recording (thank you Nina! - I messed up the second half when we switched over - sorry!).  Long story short - we have enough to keep everyone on staff, BUT that doesn't leave us with a whole lot of funds for much of anything else!

Summer Restructuring Committee (SRC) Work.  The Summer Restructuring Committee held its first meeting on 16JUL20.  That meeting focused on identifying the work and structures for the summer.  The Committee decided to break into three sub-committees to achieve the work:  Programming (goal is to create blended learning schedule); Professional Development (goal is to create PD plan for staff); Grading (goal is to create equitable grading policy).  You can CLICK HERE to see agenda and notes.  Our next meeting is this Thursday to review the work of the sub-committees, provide feedback and next steps.  In addition, the committee will discuss how to establish an UAI Equity Team using the training from the DOE Office of Equity's Launching Equity Teams PD that I attended with Rebecca C.   

Per Session Delay.  Apologies to all for the 01-15JUL pay period.  Those hours will be processed at the next pay period (ending 31JUL2).  We ran into some budget technical difficulties.  We could not process any per session until my budget was formally approved by our BCO budget director.  I just had my budget meeting with our budget director last week & all was approved, but we missed the closing date for submitting per session.  Now that the budget is approved, the budget lines are released for use.  So, we'll be able to process all July pay periods on 31JUL.  

Monday, July 13, 2020

Week of 13JUL

UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 1
July 13, 2020

Principal's Message

Summer Blog Posts.    Summer blog posts will be much less frequent than school year posts.  I'll also be experimenting with how to more effectively share information in the blog so that you can more readily access it.  So please, do email me your feedback!


Happy Summer Birthdays!!!
Ms. Aisha (30JUN); Ms. Cassandra (05JUL); Mr. Joey (13JUL); Ms. Joanna (16JUL); 
Natalie (20JUL); Marsha (24JUL); Matthew (19AUG); Rebecca F(21AUG); Doris (26AUG)

School Re-Opening in Fall 2020.   This summer, the Chancellor has set up regular meetings to discuss plans for school re-opening with principals.  All info points to an actual opening in September.  Until we hear otherwise, we have to move forward in planning for this to occur.  So far, we've had two of these meetings with the Chancellor.  More are forthcoming.  Here's what we know so far:
  • UAI will possibly adopt an Alternate Days Model.  There are limited models available - Alternate Days or Alternate Weeks.  We must choose one as a community.  The Chancellor's preferred model is Alternate Days, as is true for our SLT parents and students.  CLICK HERE to learn more.
  • Two Important Surveys are out on Wednesday, July 15th.  The DOE will release two surveys on 15JUL20.  For students and families, they will be able to indicate whether or not they want to be REMOTE ONLY for the start of the fall.  Staff will be able to request COVID accommodations in a survey to be released that day.  CLICK HERE to learn more.

  • Schedules may not be available until August.  With the surveys not due until August 7th, we will not be able to produce a program until after we get back that information.  There are many unknowns as of yet.  Without all the information, we cannot fully program the school.  CLICK HERE to learn more.
  • PPE and other COVID Mitigating Factors will be in place The DOE is centrally providing PPE to schools, and school facilities are currently undergoing enhancements to equip them with electrostatic disinfecting tools (the kind airplanes use to disinfect between flights), update HVACs to improve ventilation, and ship masks and sanitizer supplies to schools.  We will never reach a point where there is 0% risk of COVID transmission, but with a combination of prevention steps, the plan is to mitigate transmission as much as possible.  CLICK HERE to learn more.

Technical Training.  Our original goal was to be able to provide teachers with at least WHAT they will be teaching by July 15th.  However, without know who will be remote only (students and staff), we cannot really say for sure.  That said, course assignments are highest priority, and we're pushing to get that to staff as soon as we can.  We don't want to rush and tell you something now, only to have to shift it later when more facts are in play.  So please be patient as we try to gather all the necessary info for a final decision.
In the meantime, if you are itching to get a jump on next year, you can still use these next few weeks to deepen your skills in platforms that we know for sure we will be using:
Personal Professional Development.  There are many, many options available to staff to explore new skills and learning.  Here are two you may wish to explore

Summer Restructuring Committee Work.  The Summer Restructuring Committee will be continuing the work of the SCI and ACT committees as we prepare to open the school for the 2020-2021 school year.  This week, we will be working collectively as school leadership and school staff to co-create our goals for the summer and clearly articulate the work that needs to be done (and by whom and by when).  On the committee are Annie, Cherry, Jen, Kiri, Nadine, Nina, Rachel, Phillan, and Tiffany.  The committee will be deciding on how best to share our work, discussions and progress with the rest of the UAI community.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Week of June 22

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 42
June 22nd, 2020

Principal's Message

Last Week of the 2019-2020 School Year.    This is it.  We have arrived at the last week of this school year.  This has definitely been quite the roller coaster of the year.  

On Friday I got to have so many wonderful conversations with about 12 of you.  It gave me a glimpse into so many different perspectives of UAI's progress through this year, and in particular during COVID and our work in creating a more racially equitable environment at UAI.  

I began this year's work around implicit bias asking all of us to embrace discomfort and to boldly walk towards our biases.    At the November PD, we took a looking at What's in our Shopping Cart and Understanding Disproportionality (Nov PD AM Implicit Bias WorkNov PD PM Teacher Consultancies).  The last big PD day we had together in January we did a deep data dive looking at disproportionality at UAI (January PD:  Data Dive on our Grades).

Through one lens (or window as Pauls IB series would call it), we completely failed.  Trust with me & staff; Annie & Jen and staff; and staff to staff is broken.  Throughout this year, we have focused our work on undoing the inequity falling upon our students.  Throughout this year, I did not attend to reversing the inequities falling up on our staff.  

Today that is different.  Today, we have our ACT and SCI Committees whose work will be continued with our summer restructuring committee.  These committees are examining practices (e.g. how are coverages assigned; who gets what programming positions and why; who gets onto what committees; who gets hired; what are the budget allocations - how are those distributed and why ... and so many more).  Already we have increased transparency in sharing staff preferences, coverage assignment data, and per session applications.  In committees, we are still working to find the right spot between sharing too much or not enough.  But the goal isn't to get to an answer first.  The goal is to get the the solutions that work best, and that means trying (sometimes failing or missing the mark), but continually trying and trying again.

A couple of people I spoke to yesterday said that these last couple of weeks have been incredibly hard, draining, and demanding on their emotional state and energy.  But, the work was necessary and worth it.  Everyone I had the chance to connect with spoke of being hopeful and looking forward to next year.

I made myself stop for a minute and relish those words.  After COVID, reinventing instruction for Remote Learning, and experiencing the immensely powerful and challenging conversations around racial equity at UAI, everyone (at least the dozen I spoke to on Friday) - they all looked ahead and saw hope.

That's what makes UAI a great place.  We hold hope through thick and thin, and we use that to fuel ourselves and our work.  There is so much that is unanswered and unknown right now, and for many, that can be an unwieldy and anxiety-producing circumstance.  

To have hope in the face of all that we have already been through and all that we will face together illustrates the commitment each of you have for our school, our students, and their families.

It is that hope which will bring us together in celebrating our students and connecting with our families to end the year.

It is that hope which will propel us through the summer as we prepare and build a newer, more equitable (and more digital UAI) for launch in Fall 2021!

Thank you all for your honesty, your courage, and your persistence in taking on so many different and significant challenges this year.  I see what you do and how hard you work.  I'm working on being more socially adept at sharing with you how much you are valued.  But until I get there, know that I do hold you and cherish your work for our girls and their families at UAI!!

Happy last week everyone!


Happy Birthday!!!
Ms. Amanda (Friday, 26JUN20!!

Happy Father's Day to All our UAI Dads and all of your Fathers/Father Figures!!!

First Annual UAI Juneteenth Teach-In.  Over 50 people joined the first annual UAI teach in.  Many huge shout outs to Nina, Natalie, Suzannah, and Olivier for putting this together on top of everything else that they had to do as graduation and the end of the year approached!  Student, staff, parents, and community members joined this event to learn more about the history of Juneteenth and to understand some of the steps that can be taken to act to make Juneteenth a recognized national holiday.  It was a beautiful and informative event.  Nicely done!!

College Awareness Week.  This week for students, Jen is working with Danielle & Doris to plan a series of events to engage students in exploring and learning about different college options.  Please be on the lookout for their email so that you can promote it in your google classrooms this week.  

To-Do This Week

Implicit Bias Training Registration.  Please remember to complete the three 45-60min workshops prior to Tuesday at 12PM.  On Tuesday at noon, we will join Paul Forbes, Executive Director of Educational Equity, Anti-Bias and Diversity.  Please register in their system HERE.  As an FYI:

Module 4 will be facilitated in the DOE Zoom platform. For you to participate, you MUST sign into the DOE ZOOM account using your DOE log in and password. If you have a personal Zoom account, you will NOT be able access this session until you register/sign into the DOE Zoom account. The security reasons and the way to log-in to this account can be found HERE. You should have received an email about these security measures from Chancellor Carranza on May 7th.

If you are encountering technical issues with your email address, password and/or accessing Zoom, you will need to contact the DOE Help Desk at 718-935-5100. 

The link to the live, Module 4 session for Tuesday, June 23rd from 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM is HERE.
Meeting ID: 995_8098_2786
Password: 952899

From Paul:  At the end of my session, time permitting, there will be an opportunity for participants to share their "Where I'm From" poem that you learned about and started in Module 2. I hope a few of you are interested in sharing your poem in the live session. If so, you can go HERE to hear and see samples of "Where I'm From" poems (including my poem). You will also find a template on page 4 of the document that you can utilize. During the session, if  you are interested, you will be unmuted and allowed to share your poem.  I look forward to our session together!

Final Grade Review.    Jennifer, Phil, and I performed a series of technological dance steps to finally get the grades loaded up into STARS.  Skedula and STARs in Remote Learning is a whole new set of skills!  Many thanks to Jennifer & Phil for working so hard to get that done.  Many, many thanks to you both!  Later today, I will be posting up the grades for your review in the Remote Learning document (I need to whip together a Father's Day BBQ and Brunch first).  When it does get posted, look for the email so that you can review your grades and make any changes before we run final report cards on Wednesday.

Graduations.  All staff are expected to join in celebrating the culmination of hard work for our 8th graders and 12th graders.  All staff should join the 8th grade stepping up virtual ceremony on Wednesday at 11AM and the 12th grade virtual graduation ceremony on Thursday at 11AM.  Virtual ceremonies are not an ideal replacement for real life ones, but there are what we have for now.  Please join to help us bring celebration and meaning to each of our young women during this important rite of passage!

Attendance.  Yes, we still have to take attendance through the last day of school.  Please continue to post your daily attendance questions and please also promote our College Activities this week to engage students.

Last Day of School.  We will have our final staff meeting from 8:30-9:30 on Friday 26JUN20.  After that meeting, all advisors are expected to email out final report cards and also confirm receipt (via email, text, or phone).  If you have more than 12 advisees, please reach out to Annie.  She will coordinate out-of-classroom staff to support you.  After you have confirmed receipt of report cards, you are finished for the year!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Week of June 15th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 41
June 15th,  2020


Happy Birthday!!!
Ms. Rebecca C (15JUN20) and Mr. Alan (15JUN20)

Principal's Message

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to come and box up the graduation boxes.  Also special thanks go out to Doris - who grabbed some boxes to deliver and to Nancy, Kelly & Courtney who dropped off boxes for shipment.  I loaded up the rest of the boxes (85+) into a tiny Honda Fit, and made the rounds in Brooklyn to deliver them to our Class of 2020.  

Four days of driving was a lot (and I have one more day to go), but it gave me the opportunity to visit the kids & families at home and to check in on how they have been doing during all of this upheaval and uncertainty.  For the most part, everyone was safe & healthy (thank goodness!).  Many moms shared their stir-crazy feelings of being at home with teenagers all day (I completely get that one).  All of our students shared how much they missed school, their friends, and also their teachers.   

When we went into remote learning, the Class of 2020 lost so many memories - final senior trips, the senior BBQ, prom, and an in-person graduation.  We needed to do something, no matter how small, to make sure that we celebrated them - even if from a distance.  The first small step I took was to create a customized grad package for them.  

Before Remote Learning our senior advisors worked to create memories for our girls.  Natalie worked to customize and order the 8th grade sweatshirts, caps & gowns, plan a trip to Skyzone, and finalize the 8th grade yearbook.  Similarly, Danielle worked to customize and order t-shirts and sweatshirts, coordinate the Kumbel theater grad venue, research and find prom venue, finalized the yearbooks, order caps and gowns, decorations for each student so they could decorate their homes and backgrounds in prep for the virtual ceremony.  Before Remote Learning, they both were working to finalize end of the year trips (Dorney Park and the 12th grade trip), the seniors BBQs, and final graduations.  But then COVID happened.

So...when dealt lemons, we do what we must to create lemonade.

Many thanks to Kelly who has voluntarily stepped up to help Natalie & Danielle coordinate graduation activities during remote learning.  Many thanks to all of the staff who have volunteered to pack boxes AND who have recently stepped up to individually connect with & support our Class of 2020 grads prepare for the ceremony at home. 

Whatever our differences and problems, the one thing that consistently unifies us and brings us together as a staff, is our unwavering commitment to our students and their families.  We may not always agree on how that looks on a daily basis, but for this one example - when it comes to celebrating years of their hard work, we are united.


Committee Launches.   The first ACT (Accountability, Communication, and Transparency) committee met on Thursday.  You can find the notes of that meeting at the end of the THIS DOCUMENT.   The next committee (SCI - which I confess - I do not know what that stands for) is around questions of staffing and programming.  That committee is scheduled to meet on Monday at 3pm.  The notes will be in the same document.  Out of the committee came several key points
  • Trust.  As we engage in the work around restructuring and addressing issues of race, what came to the surface repeatedly was issues of trust.  I heard that many on staff feel that my words are fake and that I am an imposter.  I heard individuals own not speaking up when they should have.  I heard feelings of offence not based on facts, but rather on presumption of negative intent. 

    Right now, words are weak.  Only through constancy of action can trust be rebuilt.  But what makes that work flow forward more fluidly is the SEL skill of
    presuming positive intent.  We are all in a frame of reflection and self-work.  Some of us are in different places on that continuum.  Regardless of where we are, we all must believe that each of us is trying to do the work necessary to move ourselves and our school forward.  We ask our students to do this all the time.  As such, we need to expect the same presumption within ourselves and our colleagues. 

  • People Don't Feel Valued.  Many folks expressed the sense that staff need to feel more valued for their work.  This is a combination of things like bagels, yoga, or personal connections, and recognizing leadership and accomplishments.  We are still working on understanding the root causes and thus appropriate changes, but the concept did get elevated in the meeting.
  • Problems with Digital Communication.  One of the root causes that we discovered is how things are communicated.  Three examples discussed were:  Per session is announced at the end of the blog, Summer School Postings were emailed out, and PD Committee members don't have a formal communication-out method (so decisions made within the committee are just happening in the committee).  It was suggested that we post up announcements in common spaces (like the copy room).  I will happily do that when we return!!  Unfortunately, as we remain in remote learning, we have to rely on digital communication. 

    • Please read all emails all the way through.  Important announcements like summer school postings, per session opportunities, and many, many more things are going to be sent out.
    • Please read the blog all the way through (or at least scroll down to the parts that you want to see e.g. Announcements, Per Session, Calendar, etc.)

Career Exploration Week.    This week, Monday through Wednesday is Career Exploration Week. Please advertise this in your Google Classrooms!!  Many thanks to Jen for working hard to organize this special event for students.  Also thank you to Judy who provided this doc that will help you help kids find the links to access the events!

Celebrating Juneteenth. Big Shout Outs to Ms. Nina, Ms. Suzannah, Ms. Natalie, Mr. Olivier, and PTA Co-President Ms. Dorvil!!  They have been working hard to plan our first ever "Teach-In" celebrating this day's commemoration of the ending of slavery.  Please help us reach out to families and students this week to invite them to join.  The event will be at 5PM on Friday (Zoom Link soon to follow).

The 2020-21 Schedule.  As per UFT teacher contract, I need to provide next year's schedule 10 days before the last day of school.  Prior to COVID and Remote Learning THIS was the schedule.  To date, we still have not received our 20-21 school budgets, please we have received only limited guidance on how to provide socially distant learning.  We do know that next year will be some combination of blended learning.  Last Wednesday, we received these facts:
  • UAI needs to prepare for a MAXIMUM of 260 students at any given time (our enrollment is 484)
  • UAI needs to prepare for at least a 3% budget cut (which is about $120,000 - or 1.5 teaching lines)
  • UAI needs to prepare for staff to be solely at home due to underlying health conditions.
Because we have so many unknowns, the likelihood of the program shifting due to budgetary, staffing, and space issues is significantly higher than normal.  Please be conscious of this fact as you review your program.

Also - mandated counseling, para assignments, and other related service schedule has to wait until all of our students' IEPs come fully into SESIS!

To-Do This Week

NX Follow Check Ins for IEP students.  Please update your data on the "NXer List" on the Remote Learning Tracker.  If you have an IEP student who is going to receive an "NX" as a final grade for the year, there is additional documentation and discussion required.  During remote learning, we need to document the work we've done to support students remotely.  Please review individual IEPs and come to the meeting with examples and documentation of interventions you implemented to support their learning disability while on remote learning.

Final Grades & Follow Up.  This Friday 19JUN20, all final grades are due at 3PM.  Throughout each day of this week, please have verbal, in-person conversations with families and students who are missing work.  Students' families need to hear from you what their child has not yet completed and what, specifically, she need to do before grades are due.  Some families may need you to walk them through accessing your Google Classroom.  Your work time this week should be focused on connecting with families and students and giving both families and students the information and support needed to finish the year as strong as possible.

Summer School Meeting. Those teachers assigned to summer school (Alison, Jamie, Cassandra, Sarah M, Giselle, and Kelly) will have a summer school meeting on Tuesday at 8:30AM.

Per Session Opportunity

Summer Restructuring Committee.  I am creating a summer restructuring committee that will continue the work of the ACT and SCI committees throughout the summer.  I gave first preference to teachers who said they wanted to work summer (period).  Nina, Rachel, and Nadine have committed to signing on.  I'm still waiting to hear from Tiffany.  If you are interested in participating on the committee please complete this Per Session Interest form. Moving forward from today this Per Session Interest form results will be public for all staff to see.  That way folks can see who applied for what positions in addition to seeing who gets assigned to what position.  This committee will meet for a total of 28 hours over the summer (4 hours a week for 7 weeks).  Exact meeting dates are still TBD but they will happen between 29JUN and 15AUG.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Week of June 8th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 40
June 8th,  2020

The Uncomfortable Truth Poster
An Uncomfortable Truth.  This weekend I was making posters with my family to join in the protests in Groton, CT.  My 83-year-old mother came down the stairs with her poster, saying "All Lives Matter".  This opened up very long and hard conversation.  As we spoke, I shared with her what I know of American History.  

I took no joy in recounting the history or talking to my mother about her innate racism. But I did see the justice, and it did help me find my own words in the work.  My mother did not know about the 3/5ths compromise that built one of the first foundational cornerstones of racism in the US Constitution.  My mother didn't know about Supreme Court Cases of Plessy vs. Ferguson or the  Dred Scott decision, which were two more pivotal pieces in America's construction of Racism, designed for black people.  

Then Harvey jumped in...and shared with me this speech from one of the Lincoln-Douglass debates where Harvey quoted Lincoln as saying:  "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality."

To which both my mom and I chimed in unison, "Lincoln said that?!?!??" 

(Harvey then told us about the movie called The Uncomfortable Truth, which I had heard about but never saw.  It's on Amazon Prime now, if you're interested.  Loki Mulholland the documentarian, director, producer traces the construction of racism and oppression of black people in America.)

Oppression is a human tool as old as humans.  Racism in America is a fire that was lit nameley and explicitly under black lives.  From our country's most revered document to it's most prestigious laws to it's every day laws & guidelines (like the GI Bill or Redlining), Racism in America is build to oppress Black Americans, and that was the truth of this nation, and the truth to help my mom understand why it is "Black Lives Matter."

Did I make any headway?  Yes...but 83 years is a lot of experience, so it's still a process.  However, she made a new sign that said "I'm a Republican AND Black Lives Matter"

Collage of locations and people having to do with Stonewall.

Celebrating the LGBTQ Community.  A few weeks ago, the mayor announced that no large gatherings would be sanctioned, and cancelled the parades, the year of the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  Today would have been the Brooklyn Pride parade.  There is so much in the world today, and so much that must be done to really dismantle the system designed to oppress.  However, I want to make some space and time to recognize another community beaten, bloodied, and marginalized both the powerful in this country.  Annie shared with me this article about the history of the Stonewall Riots, prompting me to remember that it is necessary to celebrate the pride of our communities AND to remember the pain and how that pain was intentionally constructed to elevate one community over another.  We need both pride and knowledge to be able to enact change.


Happy Birthday!!!
Ms. Emma (again?? Tues 09JUN) and Ms. Jamie (Thurs 11JUN)


Last Week of Academic Instruction.   Your final assignments should be posted up this week and due no later than Monday.  All final academic grades will be due next Friday (19JUN20).  For the week of 15JUN20 and 22JUN20, we will be doing a series of college and career activities to engage students.  This week and for the rest of the school year, teachers need to be asking students to complete attendance questions and taking attendance in Skedula.  We still need to be taking attendance through to the end of the year.

Student Check Ins.    On Monday June 8th, Jen and the counselors will be working with grades of students to engage them in connecting them with their peers and the UAI community, and to check in on them.  Much like we did on Monday's staff check-in last week, students will have rounds to share their thoughts and feelings.  Teachers are invited to join, too!  See the times below.  Check Jen's email for the zoom information, and please do help get the word out by posting in your Google Classrooms.  In addition, I know that many of you are working with students to organize and develop action steps.  Can you please share with Jen so that she can pass on to the students?  Thank you!
  • Topic: 6th Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 7th Grade Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 8th Grade Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 9th grade Gathering to share and connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 10th Grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 11th grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 12th Grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

To-Do This Week

NX Follow Check Ins.  Your data "NXer List" on the Remote Learning Tracker is accurate for your class.   We will be having daily check ins immediately following AM check ins during the week of 08JUN20 and 15JUN20.  Any teacher who has an NX student on the NXer list will be asked to stay on after AM check in and we will be going through the list of students one at a time to review outreach attempts, results, and necessary next steps.  In particular, we will be looking for answers to the following questions:
  • What is the student missing and why hasn't she turned in the work? 
    NOTE:  If you don't know, please reach out this week to find out.  
  • Which assignments are necessary to show student academic skill level?
    NOTE: Keep assignments focused on student outcomes vs. student academic behaviors.  Summative assessments in latter May & June should be course cumulative assessments of student learning (thereby inbedding learning targets from earlier in the year, including March and April).  Therefore, having students complete course cumulative tasks AND tasks from March are repetitive evaluations of student competency.  Please have these cumulative assessments named in the Teacher Updates column on the NXer tab of the Remote Learning Tracker.
  • How many different methods and how many different times have you attempted contact?  To what success or no?  Any student on your NX list should have at least one active (phone call, text exchange, What's App exchange, etc) outreach attempt per day. If the active attempts are unsuccessful, there should be at least two passive attempts (email, text, remind, etc.) to connect with student.  Each contact should be contacted in Skedula until successful contact is made OR you have completed two passive contact attempts for each contact listed.  
    NOTE: Please update your log of contact in the NXer Tab (far right) on the Remote Learning Tracker

Graduation Team. Those teachers who signed up to be part of the team to prepare the graduation boxes (Cherry, Elena, Brodie, Kristina, Jamie, Courtney, Phillan, Marsha, and Doris), please report to school at 10AM on Monday. Please be fully masked, gloved up and ready to enter into public space. Remember, this is purely volunteer, and there is absolutely ZERO problem with changing your mind and not coming (just text me so that I know something didn't happen to you!!).

This volunteering does not come without risk. COVID is still happening. We will maintain social distancing and we will be limited to the Cafeteria, Main Office, and 1st floor rooms. Please do not plan to access your classrooms during this time. The permit I needed to file was super explicit about that.

I know that sounds very doomy and gloomy - particularly since packing the graduation boxes is going to be pretty fun, but it's my responsibility and duty to remind you of the risks we are taking during this Global Pandemic.

Summer School Staffing Update.  I am still finalizing the shifting pieces for summer school staffing.  You will hear from my by EOD on Monday with the final update.

Selection of Accountability, Communication, and Transparency Committee (ACT!).  Dude - I told you I'm bad at naming stuff!!  Anyway, I know I didn't get to hear the end and I apologize for having to run out.  I needed to meet with the principals of the UA about re-opening in the fall (more on that soon, I promise).  

I did hear that folks wanted to meet at 2:30 to select representatives from their Affinity Groups to join me on a committee designed to ensure clearer communication, transparency and accountability for school based decisions.  I just don't know if I'm supposed to host that meeting or if you're meeting on your own.  I'm happy to open the space and break you into your rooms and hand over hosting privileges to folks in the Affinity Groups.  Either way, please let me know.  The goal is to have our first ACT committee meeting this week!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Week of June 1st

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 39
June 1st,  2020

America is Broken...and has been for a long, long time.

This past weekend, our country once again erupted into riots of anger at the persistent injustice towards black and brown Americans that has lasted since the infancy of this country.  Almost 80 years after America was crawling out of the devastating aftermath of the Civil War, the bonds of racism, once overtly recognizable in the actual bonds of slavery, still persisted in equally real persistent oppression of poverty and inequity in 1965.  Then, Martin Luther King spoke to this, saying:

        ... riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. ... But in the final analysis, a riot 
        is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has
         failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.
         It has failed to hear that
the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.
        And it has failed to hear that large segments of
white society are more concerned
        about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity
        And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's
        winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position
        of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. 
                                                                          [Martin Luther King Jr., "The Other America"]

Fast forward to 80+ years after this speech, we find ourselves trying to survive 2+ months of shut-in protocols, that still left disproportionate numbers of black and brown americans on the frontlines, and thus suffering illness and death in significantly more numbers than their white counterparts.  From our screens, we see white men with actual guns protesting angrily inside governmental buildings about their "right to be released from COVID restriction" - with no violent or substantive restraint from local officials.   Also from our screens, we see image after image of whites exercising their privilege to attack, oppress and kill black americans.  When people, black, brown, and white rise up to angrily protest in public spaces (and without arms) they are met with aggressive tactics, including tear gas, batton beatings, horse stompings, and being driven over by an SUV. 

In his time, Dr. King described "The Other America".  From my own perspective, there is no "Other America."  There is just one America and from its very inception, the rights and freedoms belonging to all humans, were only designed to be protected and secured for some. Our America was built to do exactly what it has been doing for almost 250 years, maintaining the rights and liberties of white, wealthy men.

One thread that we can pick up and learn from American history is that sometimes great change requires equally great upheaval.  In colonial America, the Revolutionary War was seeded with protests and riots.  I'm not sure, but would be unsurprised if the British monarchal media described these as self-destructive or misguided.  Today, American history describes them differently.

We are in the middle of another historical moment.  This moment has come before (Civil Rights in the 60s, Rodney King Riots in the 90s) and more recently (and rapidly with Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, Gregg Cooper, and so many thousands more).  As educators, New Yorkers, and Americans, it is our job to rise up and fight this cycle.  

Last week, Annie and Jen began organizing students and staff to come together to first process the impact of these events on ourselves and our community.  After which, we will work collectively to organize a response and action as a united community of UAI.    Join us this work to first, come together as a community and then, work collaboratively to find ways to make a unified call to action in an effort to protect our young students of color who are facing a looming summer of no summer programs, no summer activities, and likely interactions with law enforcement.   As we shape and articulate our demands, we add them to the cacophonous calls of these riots, we move forward in the hopes to be heard, and when we are, we become part of the movement - pushing the nation out of the sickness of its origins and into fulfilling its commitment to ensuring liberty and justice for all.


Happy Birthday!!!
Mr. Brodie (Tuesday, 02JUN20) and Ms. Emma (Sat, 06JUN20)!!


Brooklyn Queens Day.  This Thursday 04JUN20 is Brooklyn Queens Day and we will be using that day to engage in Professional Development activities.  At 10:45PM on Friday night, I found out from the Chancellor that it IS an instructional day for students.   I....can't...even.....

Here's the plan at UAI.  On Thursday, teachers should provide students with work time on assignments.  Please provide them with appropriate instructional resources (e.g. links to videos, notes, etc.).  However, this day will be an asynchronous instructional day for all students.

For UAI staff, here's our agenda for professional development.   Final plans are in process and links will be shared out in our GC by end of Tuesday!
  • 8:30AM-9:30AM
    • 8:30-8:45AM Roll Call and State of the School Address
    • 8:45-9:15AM Looking ahead to 2020-21 and School Re-Opening
    • 9:15-9:30AM Stretch Break
  • 9:30-12:00PM 
    • 9:30-10AM - Planning for Virtual Learning, Re-Planning a Fall Unit
      • What is the purpose of the unit and why - beyond the exam....
      • What do we ask students to do and why?
    • 10AM-12PM - Planning with Partners
  • 12:00-2:00PM
    • Independent Work Time and Lunch
  • 2:00-2:50PM
    • Staff Circle and Community Building

09JUN20.  Also in the Chancellor's late night message, June 9th for Middle School teachers is still a "reorganization" day - so no live instruction.  Since we will already be in "asynchronous learning" by that time, we will continue with the plan (because again, the day is still an instructional day for students).  Teachers will use that day to continue outreach and finalize grades.

Asynchronous Learning.  Next week will be the final week of Asynchronous Academic Instruction.  All final grades are due on Friday 19JUN20.  Instruction will continue during the week of 15JUN and 22JUN.  Instruction will be focusing on providing students with activities around college and career opportunities.  We are finalizing those activities this week, and we will be asking that you post them up in your Google Classrooms to help us get the word out to students and families.

To-Do This Week

Final follow up with students who have NX as a floor grade.  By Friday, please make sure the tab "NXer List" on the Remote Learning Tracker is accurate for your class.  If someone is currently passing, then please remove them from the list.  If someone needs to be added to the list, please add them to the list (you can copy their line from the "Final Floor Grades" tab and add it to the bottom of the NXer tab).  

NXer Daily Meetings.  We will be having daily check ins immediately following AM check ins during the week of 08JUN20 and 15JUN20.  Any teacher who has an NX student on the NXer list will be asked to stay on after AM check in and we will be going through the list of students one at a time to review outreach attempts, results, and necessary next steps.  In particular, we will be looking for answers to the following questions:
  • What is the student missing and why hasn't she turned in the work? 
    NOTE:  If you don't know, please reach out this week to find out.  
  • Which assignments are necessary to show student academic skill level?
    NOTE: Keep assignments focused on student outcomes vs. student academic behaviors.  Summative assessments in latter May & June should be course cumulative assessments of student learning (thereby inbedding learning targets from earlier in the year, including March and April).  Therefore, having students complete course cumulative tasks AND tasks from March are repetitive evaluations of student competency.  Please have these cumulative assessments named in the Teacher Updates column on the NXer tab of the Remote Learning Tracker.
  • How many different methods and how many different times have you attempted contact?  To what success or no?  Any student on your NX list should have at least one active (phone call, text exchange, What's App exchange, etc) outreach attempt per day. If the active attempts are unsuccessful, there should be at least two passive attempts (email, text, remind, etc.) to connect with student.  Each contact should be contacted in Skedula until successful contact is made OR you have completed two passive contact attempts for each contact listed.  
    NOTE: Please update your log of contact in the NXer Tab (far right) on the Remote Learning Tracker