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.

Announcements

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


Announcements

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






     

    Monday, May 25, 2020

    Week of May 26th

    UAI Staff News

    Volume VII
    Issue 38
    May 26th,  2020


    Announcements

    Happy Birthday!!!
    Ms. Marni (Monday, 25MAY20) and Ms. Giselle (Tuesday, 26MAY20)!!



    Evidence of Mastery. 
    As pedagogues, we are constantly looking at student behaviors, questions, and work products to evaluate in pursuit of knowing whether or not students have mastered what was taught.  In academics, we look for their ability to use new content and skills adeptly and accurately.  When looking at social emotional learning and behaviors that support academic success, we are often not so clear about assessing mastery.

    Too frequently, we conflate academic behaviors (or social emotional learning skills) and academic competency  In the rush to move to a digital learning environment, no time or planning went into the technical social emotional competency of our students.  In fact, we didn't even understand that that was even a thing back in March!  Now, as we have experienced countless screens turned off, students self-muting, or students failing to sign up for Google Classrooms or use classrooms appropriately to submit assignments or access resources, we have a much better idea of the kinds of skills our students are missing and thus the hurdles that are inhibiting their (and in some cases our own) success with Remote Learning.

    By this Friday, all AP classes, 8th grade classes, and senior classes will move completely into Asynchronous Learning for the remainder of the year.  By next Friday, the entire school will be in this structure.  This transition will give teachers the time needed to actively and creatively reach out to students who have shown you that they are struggling with Remote Learning.  They are showing you this via their inability to consistently submit work to you (or their inability to consistently submit quality work to you).  

    Connection to the home is crucial at this time.  Emails, texts, phone calls, friend calls, Discord, however - this is the time to think outside of the usual boxes to creatively connect with your students in this bucket.  The goal is to connect with the students and their families and support them in completing the work in your class that is necessary to pass.  If you do not connect with your students after trying everything you can think of, please reach out to Kiri, Annie, or Jen.  We will work with you to think of a way to help you connect with the student.

    From outreach thus far, many students report feeling unmotivated and disengaged.   Much of these feelings are directly the result of depression related feelings coming out of the stress and anxiety of living through a Global Pandemic for the last three months.  No magic wand can make these emotions go poof!  However, you do have the ability to help (not solve - just help).  Keep the goals small and achievable.  Instead of telling students, "Complete these 10 assignments" - which will only lead to more feelings of being overwhelmed - start them with, "Let's try this assignment first."  After they submit that first assignment, then continue working with the student to get her to move through the work, little by little and steadily.  

    It will take constant outreach and work in order to connect with our students now.  When we are not in person, our only method of communication is digital or phone.  This is a lot slower and a lot harder, but it's all we have for now.  We need to leverage what we have to make sure we reach our students who need us most.

    When we do that, we will get the work we need to evaluate student mastery and effectively and fairly give final grades in June.


    To-Do This Week

    <<Repost>> Post Assignments for Asynchronous Learning.  This week all AP classes will begin ending live (or synchronous) online instruction.  Remember, instruction is continuing.  We are moving to asynchronous (or non-live zoom lessons) for June.  This will give teachers the time and access to work live with those students who need extra help and support.  At the same time, those students who have demonstrated competency with online instruction can now develop their skills with asynchronous learning.
    • Students Who Are At or Above Course Learning Targets (so passing or higher).  For those students who have successfully demonstrated mastery in your course, please provide independent activities and projects for them.  The goal is to select high interest, engaging tasks that students can complete independently.  These should not be assigned to all students.  Rather, they should only be assigned to students who are meeting course learning targets or exceeding those goals.  If needed, you can identify office hours on a particular day for these students.  
    • Students who are in danger of failing (below course learning targets).  After your last live lesson (or synchronous lesson), your regular zoom times will be reserved for working with students who are in danger of not successfully completing your course by June (so, all students who are listed as having an NX as their floor grade - see the Remote Learning Tracker).  This includes doing outreach, tutoring, and anything that needs to be done to support these students.  If needed, you can identify zoom times for students working on the independent, asynchronous projects.  The main goal is to use your time as you need in order to make sure you connect with the students who need you the most.
    • When is Live Zoom Instruction Ending? Here are the dates of the last live zoom lesson
      • 29MAY20 - Last day for all 8th and 12th grade synchronous, live-zoom classes.  These are terminating grades.  So we are giving these teachers an extra week to work with students to help them meet course targets and graduate.
      • 05JUN20 - All other UAI Classes - last day for live zoom



       

      Sunday, May 17, 2020

      Week of May 18th

      UAI Staff News

      Volume VII
      Issue 37
      May 18th,  2020


      Announcements

      Happy Birthday!!!
      Mr. Damon (Monday, 18MAY20) and Mr. Jake (Wednesday, 20MAY20)!!



      Preparing for the End of the Year and Evaluating Student Learning.
          There are still so many unanswered questions about what the fall will look like next year.  However, in this time of uncertainty, there is also an opportunity to reflect and rethink our foundational assumptions.

      As we near the end of the year and the time to assign final number grades, this year it is that much more challenging now that we have been operating in a completely new model of instruction for the last three months.  The truth is that we are all new to this kind of teaching, and our students are new to this kind of learning.  It is virtually impossible for us to intentionally plan for and consistently hit high-quality instructional goals during this period of time.  As a function of our own learning curves, it is also impossible for our students to excel.

      This year (and I know it seems like ages ago, now), we have been diving into our work around equity and our own personal biases.  The one main takeaway I want all of us to remember from that work is that we all (regardless of race, class, gender identity, experience, etc) - we all enter our classrooms with biases.  We all have foundational beliefs about teaching and learning, and those beliefs our integrally tied to our own cultural and socio-economic experiences with our own personal learning experiences.

      We cannot lose sight of that truth. We all have biases.

      With that knowledge, it becomes our responsibility to interrogate our assumption and judgments.  As we enter into this final round of grading, it becomes even more essential to do so.  As you enter into final evaluations of student performance, it is completely natural and normal to have a sense (based on student work, your relationship with the student, your experience, and many other valid data points) of what you believe the student "merits" for a final grade.  My challenge to you - take a step back from grading the students, and make the space and time to seek out and investigate your assumptions and your reasons behind your judgments.  

      • You may arrive at the same evaluation.  That will be definitely true for many.  However, if you find yourself encountering reasons like that tie back to your personal experience "that worked for me" or "that's how it's always been" - take caution.   These are the first slippery stones into enacting implicit biases.
      • You may discover something uncomfortable about your assumptions - also natural, because each of you are compassionate, passionate educators who want only the best for our students.   If you find yourself shying away from the possibility, challenge yourself to look again. The same motivation that is making you feel discomfort (your passion and commitment) is the same fuel that propels you to make sure you protect our students from any elements of inequity.
      • Whatever you encounter as you take a beat to shift your perspectives and reflect, please know that it is both your job and your responsibility to make and take this time and mental space to weigh your final judgments of student performance.   In so doing,  you are making sure that you are doing everything within your power to create equity in your classrooms, and to empower students  
      If you're looking for some reading to continue to expand your thinking and reflection, here are resources specifically around equity and grading that offer additional perspectives:


      To-Do This Week

      Plan for Asynchronous Learning.  This week all AP classes will begin ending live (or synchronous) online instruction.  Remember, instruction is continuing.  We are moving to asynchronous (or non-live zoom lessons) for June.  This will give teachers the time and access to work live with those students who need extra help and support.  At the same time, those students who have demonstrated competency with online instruction can now develop their skills with asynchronous learning.
      • Students Who Are At or Above Course Learning Targets (so passing or higher).  For those students who have successfully demonstrated mastery in your course, please provide independent activities and projects for them.  The goal is to select high interest, engaging tasks that students can complete independently.  These should not be assigned to all students.  Rather, they should only be assigned to students who are meeting course learning targets or exceeding those goals.  If needed, you can identify office hours on a particular day for these students.  
        • Should this work be graded?  Teachers choose how to evaluate this work.  However, this work is enrichment and should not be punitively graded if students do not complete. This work can be work that students complete to improve targeted skills and grade point averages for HS Students.  NOTE:  ALL High School Teachers will need to communicate clearly how enrichment work can elevate their final grades and how these final grades will be components into the students' overall GPA, an key metric to college acceptance.
        • How often should students turn in work?  No more than once a week.  So, choose Wednesday or Monday for your class submission date.  Communicate with your grade team so you are all asking on the same day.  
        • What about attendance? You should continue to have students complete daily attendance questions.  For example, if you assigned them to go on a virtual museum trip, for attendance, you might ask "Which museum are you visiting?".  The question should be multiple choice, related to your assigned work, and daily.
        • What should these "asynchronous" projects look like and do you have any resources?  There is a wide array of things you can assign.  From having kids submit a short video of a 7min workout, to doing their own version of the "White House" update on the COVID-19 Pandemice (what they wish they could here) to googling how to make "hexaflexagons."  Creativity is the call, but keep it simple for you and them.  Come to Office Hours with Kiri if you need help brainstorming or building out your ideas.  In addition, here are some resources to use and take inspiration.
      • Students who are in danger of failing (below course learning targets).  After your last live lesson (or synchronous lesson), your regular zoom times will be reserved for working with students who are in danger of not successfully completing your course by June (so, all students who are listed as having an NX as their floor grade - see the Remote Learning Tracker).  This includes doing outreach, tutoring, and anything that needs to be done to support these students.  If needed, you can identify zoom times for students working on the independent, asynchronous projects.  The main goal is to use your time as you need in order to make sure you connect with the students who need you the most.
      • When is Live Zoom Instruction Ending? Here are the dates of the last live zoom lesson
        • 18MAY20 - AP Bio & AP Environmental Science
        • 19MAY20 - AP Lang
        • 21MAY20 - AP World
        • 22MAY20 - AP Spanish
        • 29MAY20 - Last day for all 8th and 12th grade synchronous, live-zoom classes.  These are terminating grades.  So we are giving these teachers an extra week to work with students to help them meet course targets and graduate.
        • 05JUN20 - All other UAI Classes - last day for live zoom


      "NX" Floor Grades for Students.  This week, admin, out-of-class support, and grade-team teacher support will be meeting with teachers of students who have a floor grade in your classes.  These meetings will be used to understand how the student is struggling in the class, what we can do as a team to construct a safety net for these strugglers and help them get to a successful end point by the end of June.  Please refer to the Final Grade Floors and Conference lists to review the list of students who are on your docket for review.  Please add any notes in the "Teacher Updates" column.  Those comments will greatly expedite our meetings this week!




         

        Saturday, May 9, 2020

        Week of May 11th, 2020

        UAI Staff News

        Volume VII
        Issue 36
        May 11th,  2020


        Announcements

        Happy Birthday!!!
        Ms. Christina (Sunday, 10MAY20) and Ms. J[elissa] (Thursday, 14MAY20)!!


        Happy Mother's Day!  Check out Jen's Awesome Mother's Day Video!!  To all of the UAI working mothers and all of your own mothers (and mother figures), HAPPY MOTHER'S Day.  For our working moms, balancing work and parenting has always been challenging, but working and parenting in the time of COVID has made everything that much...extra.  However, you have all found a way.  
        • We all have enjoyed the surprise cameos of your kids as they visited your lessons and meetings.  
        • We all stand in awe of how much you must work to balance the load of reaching our students and teaching your own at home.
        • On top of that of all that work, you are still riding the regular roller coaster of parenting (the ever-present tug of war over screen time, struggling to get them into daily safe outside activity, becoming home chefs, and so much more)
        Because each of you constantly strive to be better, I know that there are times when you must be feeling like nothing is going particularly well right now.  However, take the time today to center yourself on the unbelievable opportunity you have given your children during this time period.  Essentially everyday is bring your child to work, and their exposure to your daily struggle to improve the lives of others is inspiring them in ways you cannot imagine (and in ways that their young minds may not yet be able to express).

        For those of you who are celebrating your own mothers (or mother figures), I encourage you to find the times when she inspired you most.  Share that memory with her.  Words and stories are sometimes the best gifts we can give to those we admire and love! (Of course the flowers and gifts are always nice too!)


        To-Do This Week

        Begin Planning for Asynchronous Learning.  This week begins the ending of our live (or synchronous) online instruction.

        • Students Who Are At or Above Course Learning Targets (so passing or higher).  For those students who have successfully demonstrated mastery in your course, please provide independent activities and projects for them.  The goal is to select high interest, engaging tasks that students can complete independently.  These should not be assigned to all students.  Rather, they should only be assigned to students who are meeting course learning targets or exceeding those goals.  If needed, you can identify office hours on a particular day for these students.  
          • Should this work be graded?  You can choose how you want to evaluate this work.  This work is only for enrichment and should not be punitively graded if students do not complete. This work can be work that students complete to improve a targeted skill.  Improvement in this skill could result in a grade going from e.g. 75 to 78 or from 80 to 90, depending on the scope of the work.
          • How often should students turn in work?  No more than once a week.  So, choose Wednesday or Monday for your class submission date.  Communicate with your grade team so you are all asking on the same day.  
          • What about attendance? You should continue to have students complete daily attendance questions.  For example, if you assigned them to go on a virtual museum trip, for attendance, you might ask "Which museum are you visiting?".  The question should be multiple choice, related to your assigned work, and daily.
          • What should these "asynchronous" projects look like and do you have any resources?  There is a wide array of things you can assign.  From having kids submit a short video of a 7min workout, to doing their own version of the "White House" update on the COVID-19 Pandemice (what they wish they could here) to googling how to make "hexaflexagons."  Creativity is the call, but keep it simple for you and them.  Come to Office Hours with Kiri if you need help brainstorming or building out your ideas.  In addition, here are some resources to use and take inspiration.
        • Students who are in danger of failing (below course learning targets).  After your last lesson, your regular zoom times will be reserved for working with students who are in danger on not successfully completing your course.  This includes doing outreach, tutoring, and anything that needs to be done to support these students.  If needed, you can identify zoom times for students working on the independent, asynchronous projects.  The main goal is to use your time as flexibly as possible to make sure you connect with the students who need you the most.
        • When is Live Zoom Instruction Ending? Here are the dates of the last live zoom lesson
          • 13MAY20 - AP Lit
          • 18MAY20 - AP Bio
          • 19MAY20 - AP Lang
          • 21MAY20 - AP World
          • 22MAY20 - AP Spanish
          • 29MAY20 - Last day for all 8th and 12th grade classes.  These are terminating grades.  So we are giving these teachers an extra week to work with students to help them meet course targets and graduate.
          • 05JUN20 - All other UAI Classes


        Floor Grades for Students.  We are an annualized school.  Before the COVID outbreak, we had successfully completed 2/3 of the year.  Online instruction (MP5 & MP6), therefore represent the remaining 1/3 of the school year.  Given their performance in 5 out of 6 marking periods, it is not possible to predict minimum grades for students.  Here's how

        • 2/3 or 67% of their final grade will be based on the first 4 marking periods (average).  Remember, students worked for the majority of the year to achieve the grades they have.  We need to weigh that work accordingly.  
        • 1/3 or 33% of their final grade will be based on their performance for MP 5 & 6
          Minimum grades were calculated using their current grade for MP5.  Because we're calculating minimum grades, I assumed a failing grade (55) for MP6 to make the final calculations for min. grades.  
        • For grades <65, the minimum grade is "NX" and students are indicated as either "Conference" or PID.  
          • If they are "Conference", these students are failing 1 or fewer core classes.  Annie and Kiri will be reaching out to you over the next two weeks to find out what support you need to connect with the student and provide her the tutoring support she needs to successfully meet your course learning goals by the end of June.
          • If they are "PID" these students are failing one or more core classes and as a result, their promotion to the next grade is in doubt.  Kiri is reaching out to these families directly to discuss (or document in cases where contact has proven impossible) options (which include summer school or repeating the grade)
        • For graders 65-69
          • For MS students, the minimum grade is "N"
          • For HS students, the minimum grade is "P"
        • For grades > 70
          • For MS Students, the grade is "MT"
          • For HS students, the minimum grade is the number listed



        Looking to Spice Up your Remaining Lessons and Build out Your Online Prowess?  Check out this amazing resource put together by our colleagues and UA Gateway.  It has amazing digital teacher tools and tutorials that can help you increase student interactions and engagement!  I'm planning to play around with these this week and if you're interested in learning alongside me, join me in office hours!


        Visualizing the Future of UAI with Social Distancing and Online Learning.  The mayor has recently put together advisory panels to plan the re-opening of the city.  Urban Assembly CEO Kristin Kearns Jordan is on the Educational Advisory panel, so the Urban Assembly will definitely have a voice (and an ear) into plans.  As soon as I know anything, you can be assured I will share it.  That said, we have some valuable time right now to envision our school as we would like it to be (vs. what we are told it should be).  If we can come to a clear vision with clear asks, their is always an opportunity to ask for what we need. We may not get it, but we certainly won't get it if we do not ask!  Many thanks to those who joined for initial sharing of ideas and concerns about the fall on Friday.  I am turning my Friday office hours into weekly brainstorming and ultimately planning sessions for the future look of UAI's Instruction in the Time of COVID -19 (you see that twist on Garcia Marquez, there?).  All are welcome to join for one, some or all of the sessions!




           

          Sunday, May 3, 2020

          Week of 04MAY20

          UAI Staff News

          Volume VII
          Issue 35
          May 4th  2020


          Announcements

          May the Fourth be with you!!
          No Birthdays this Week!!





          Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  This week is teacher appreciation week!  Teachers are not just the classroom titles, but they are all individuals who help others grow, develop, and learn new ideas and skills!  This week, we are celebrating all our of classroom teachers, counselors, deans, paraprofessionals, and secretarial support.  Together, we all work to best serve our young women, and help them find their voices and power so that they are ready to change the world in which we all live! CLICK HERE to see the full collection of quotes and pictures (I dug deep into the vault for some of these).


          To-Do This Week

          Continue to Update the Tracker.  By the 9AM on Tuesday, please update the Remote Learning Tracker with "M"s for any student who did not submit their 2nd graded assessment.  Remember, we're just looking for kids who didn't turn in anything for the core classes this go around.  Also, if she did finally end up submitting for Wednesday, please remove those Ms.


          Submit Grades in PADs.  Thanks to Jennifer & Phil, we managed to keep the way you're able to submit your grades!  All grades are due by 3PM on Wednesday, May 6th.  Report cards will be generated on Thursday.  Advisors should distribute reports cards (via email or remind) to parents and students on Thursday and Friday.  Please join Kiri during office hours if you need assistance on how to separate the report cards into individual files for sharing.


          Breakout Rooms.  Are you feeling bored by your lessons?   Do you want to play around with breakout rooms in a low stress, spit-balling environment?  Join Kiri during her noon office hours any day this week (except Thursday) to join her in playing around and learning a bit more about how to effectively use breakout rooms.

            Per Session Opportunity

            Tutoring & Outreach.  We are looking for at least one teacher per grade to coordinate and follow up on outreach for the grade team cohort (the 2/3 of the grade that are already participating - somewhat actively).  This teacher would then provide additional tutoring (e.g. organizational tutoring, individual instruction on accessing online instructional systems - GC and Zoom, and other necessary skills outside of the academic lessons that are getting in the way of successfully engaging all the time).  The goal is to ensure that students are independently and consistently submitting all assignments each week. This may mean staying on the phone with students as she completes assignments, in other words - getting her to actually DO the work, rather than talking about a plan to do the work.  At least 1 hour per day for at least 1 teacher per grade.  If you are interested, please email Kiri.



             

            Sunday, April 26, 2020

            Week of April 27th

            UAI Staff News

            Volume VII
            Issue 34
            April 27th  2020


            Announcements

            Happy Birthday Ms. Danielle R & Ms. Sarah M!
            Friday, 01MAY20 is Ms. Annie's & Ms. Del's Birthdays!!


            Self-care for our Others' Care.   As you know, my husband has been sick (probably with the COVID) for a while.  Two weeks of extreme isolation has led him into quite the mental funk.

            He is feeling lonely and unmotivated, and during this period, he has been working online, but he doesn't really understand the significance of what he is doing within the scope of our current state of surviving a global pandemic and impending economic crisis.

            Then it struck me...This is exactly what our kids are saying.  This is also what I have heard from several staff!  We're all feeling some version of this anxious malaise.  UAI Staff & their families, our UAI partners and their families, and also our students and their families.

            We have an enormous responsibility to support our students and families through this crisis.  In order to do that, we need to first prioritize our own health and self-care so that we have the resources to empathize, understand, and give what is needed.

            The CDC gives some tips on how to recognize and combat the anxiety and depression that comes from being physically isolated for so long.  In addition, I found latest NPR's Podcast on loneliness particularly insightful.

            STOP.  I know there are some of you readers who skipped over this entire first paragraph.   If that was you, suspend your disbelief for a minute.  If you are still with me, great!

            To be successful in the weeks to come, it is imperative that we prioritize filling our cup first (aka putting on our oxygen mask first) so that we can ensure that we successfully bring our students to the conclusion of this schools year.   So, whatever it is that you find regenerative (exercise, healthy eating, meditation, etc), make that a priority part of your day.  That way, you'll be ready to take on the weight of the work that needs to be done!




            Perspective Taking and Assuming Positive Intent.  These are two key skills that our students learn explicitly through SEL classes. In an online learning environment, these skills are particularly needed in staff when your ability to gather information to understand what is happening is extremely limited.  Without physical interaction or with only technology-mediated interactions, our ability to accurately analyze data from non-verbal interactions is almost entirely gone.  When that happens, that leads us into making assumptions about our students, and when that happens, that's when we enter the danger zone of the unintended consequences of our unconscious biases.

            To combat that, we need to leverage up our use of these two SEL skills.  When students do something in contrast to expectations (e.g. copying, not turning in work late, learning from bed, etc.), it is essential that we first assume positive intent (or at the very least, delay assuming negative intent) and adopt their perspective (which will require some inquiry and data gathering).

            • Ask what happened before narrating to students what they failed to do.
            • Ask students to share their perspective of what was supposed to have happened (i.e. did they understand your directions and expectations).  Just because you said it, wrote it and explained, doesn't mean she sees it the same way you do!
            • Ask students what they plan to do to fix the problem.  Listen and then step up with support where you see they need it.  {hat tip to Rachel for theses tips and ideas!}
            Just like my husband, and you all, and me, our students are suffering the same anxiety and depression that this global pandemic is effecting on humans around the globe.  This is manifesting in a lack of motivation to do work, attend lessons, or engage at any level.  

            It is not a personal affront to any of us.  

            Rather, if we assume the best intention, then we can assume that they are struggling and need some help.  If we take the time to understand their perspectives more (instead of unintentionally operating on our own experiences and thus biases), we will increase our efficacy in supporting them and their families to succeed.

            At the end of the day, our goal is to find ways to help our students become successful learners.  To do this from a distance, we have to move ourselves away from blame and punishment, and move our mindsets closer to positive assumptions and understanding of others.




            No Harm Grading.  You may have heard the news stories or already fielded questions from kids about the impending decision (from the DOE) about grading.   I have become used to the fact that principals are the last to know anything during COVID, so yeah - I watched the news, too.  Here's what I do know...

            On Monday, the Chancellor is calling a meeting with all Principals.  In Friday's daily digest, it did say that decisions around grading policies will be rolled out this week.  Could that be Monday?  Sure.  Will it be?  Who knows?!

            I will say (and have said) the following:  At UAI, the grades students earn during marking periods 5 and 6 cannot be treated the same as those from MP1-4.  I am waiting for the Chancellor to release a formal statement prior to creating a formal grading policy.  That said, I do want to hear what ideas you have prior to the policy, so that when it does finally roll out, we can integrate all ideas into a policy that works for UAI.



            To-Do This Week

            Help Us with the Outreach Lists.  By the 3:30PM on Monday, please update the Remote Learning Tracker with "M"s for any student who did not submit their 2nd graded assessment.  Remember, we're just looking for kids who didn't turn in anything for the core classes this go around.  Also, if she did finally end up submitting for Wednesday, please remove those Ms.

            • FAQs:  
              • What the rush? I don't understand.  If we're allowing students to turn in when they can, then why are we being such a stickler for the due dates?
                • This is ONLY for outreach purposes.  We want to stay on top of kids frequently and early so that they can get into the habit of submitting on Mondays and Wednesdays.  If we stay on top of them early and get the messages to parents now, then we can get most of them into a set pattern, and hopefully ease up as we move on in the month.
              • I know she's turning it in late.  Should I record the M?  I already spoke to a student, and she told me she has to turn things in late.  Should I still put in an M?  
                • NO.  These tracker is ONLY for students for whom we have no idea what is going on.  If you already spoke with her, we do not need to reach out again.
              • Why are we calling everyday?  Parents are getting annoyed. If parents are getting annoyed, we have to adjust our messages.  Calling to check in is different than calling to blame (again - assuming positive intent).  There must be something going on if she can't get the assessment in on time.  We're calling to support - not calling to punish!



            Prep for Grade Team Meetings.  This week we will meet in Grade Teams to streamline the workload asks and messaging.  Please check your calendar invite for your team meeting time and agenda.  On Monday, we will be reviewing with families, the more uniform expectations and communications so that they can more effectively support their child's learning at home.


            Marking Period 5 ends Friday.  Your feedback has never been as important as it is right now.  Please make sure students are well aware of their standing (grades should be updated in Skedula by now) so that they are not surprised when they get report cards next week.  The last thing we want to do is shock families and students when we're all already dealing with so much shock and extreme emotion.  Put extra focus on clear communications this week.   Each of your students should know their grade prior to next Friday when report cards will come out.





               

              Sunday, April 19, 2020

              Week of April 20th

              UAI Staff News

              Volume VII
              Issue 33
              April 20th, 2020


              Announcements

              Happy Birthday Ms. Jen,  Ms. Rachel, Mr. Phil & Ms. Brenda!
              Sunday, 19APR20 is Ms. Jen's Birthday.
              Thursday, 23APR20 is Ms. Rachel's Birthday 
              Friday, 24APR20 is Mr. Phil's Birthday
              Saturday, 25APR20 is Ms. Brenda's Birthday
              Bring your festive well-wishing to this weeks' AM Check-ins!




              Best Practices for Remote Learning.  Annie spent last week surveying families, students, and teachers to collect the online instructional practices that work best for our community.  There are many teachers with strong elements at UAI, and their students and families have taken notice!  Two main trends across the best practices for Google Classrooms and Zoom Lessons are

              1. having strong systems for CLEAR directions and expectations 
              2. having strong models that provide students with exemplars of those expectations.
              Please take a look a the Best Practices for Remote Learning to develop some ideas for your own practice.  In addition, reach out to the folks highlighted in the document to help you up your own Online Instructional Game!



              Developing Mastery on Targeted Skills.  Thank you to all the subject teams that met to develop agreed upon learning goals for the remainder of the year.   Throughout all of the grade team meetings, the same theme arose.  We have so many things that we want to accomplish with students, but we have to remember - we WILL NOT be able do them all.  We have to force ourselves to choose the highest leverage skills that work best in an online instructional environment.  If we choose everything, we will accomplish nothing.  So, the greatest challenge teachers will face in the next few weeks is on keeping the foci small, intentional, and achievable in 18 lessons.  Each of the subject teams met to come up with their individual goals by grade, but each team actually had very similar themes across grades and subjects.  Please take a moment to review the notes of each team.  Collectively, we can all work together to row together to achieve all of our goals!

              • English: Using a variety of shorter texts and genres, students will be able to select the most effective evidence and embed that evidence within their own thinking (rather than pulling entire quotes as standalone evidence) to support their claims and analysis.
              • Social Studies:  Develop capacity to pull the most significant facts from primary documents, maps, charts, and other visual genres to use in support of explanations and claims about historical events and relationships.
              • Science: Read, summarize and analyze a variety of scientific texts (written text, charts, graphs, tables, and other visual representations) to deepen understanding of a concept and use information to explain (in writing) their conclusions about (or discoveries through) scientific experimentation. 
              • Math:  Students will be able to manipulate multiple representations (of word problems, equations, numbers (e.g. decimals/percents/fractions etc.) to fluently solve mathematical situations.


              Launching the Rest of the Year.  Many thanks to everyone who joined the 10AM meetings to review and tweak our online structures.  We are going to roll out the changes to students and families via email with this Slideshow that we will also share with them during grade meetings.  See the calendar below for the grade meetings for students and families.  Staff are welcome to join!
              Here are the highlights of tweaks and changes for the rest of the year.

              • Less Is More.  All zoom scheduled times remain the same for the rest of the year.  The shift will be that the lessons will be split over two zooms with a break in between.  In addition, each lesson will have daily formative tasks (so teachers can give feedback to students) and one graded assessment.  Thus, students are submitting assessments for grades on Wednesdays and Mondays.  (Mon/Tue will be lesson 1, with graded assessment for lesson 1 due on Wednesday at 3pm, and Thu/Fri will be lesson 2, with graded assessment for lesson 2 due on Monday at 3pm).
              • Feedback is Key.   With only two lessons per week, there is more time and opportunity for giving students feedback.  There will be students who need extra support and time with you.  Daily Tutoring Office Hours (2-3:20PM) are still available for that work and one-on-one or small group feedback.  In addition, you can give feedback in the Zooms and/or in writing.  Finally, Wednesday Zoom time is reserved for you to use as needed.  For example, you can have small group zooms, do chats with students on a document, write up student feedback, or have another lesson (because so many still struggle with the idea).  Whatever you need to do so that your students achieve and excel on the assessment that is due is find.
              • Attendance.  Continue to take daily attendance that records any interaction that students have with you each day (emails, texts, joining the live zoom, submitting formative assessment, anything).  As a note, if a student doesn't show up on the lesson days, but she does submit the graded assessment, that is evidence of her participation in the lesson and she will be marked present for the lesson days.  If her performance on the graded assessment is not acceptable, that means you need to reach out to her to stress the importance of attending/watching the lessons.  
              • Grading.  Participation is Pass/Fail (so 55/100), and if she is credited for attendance, then she is credited for participation.  Performance is solely the graded assessments (so two per week, only).  Progress is your own individual evaluation of how well students are integrated your feedback into their performance pieces.  



              To-Do This Week

              Support our Outreach.  As our outreach gets stronger, and we're able to connect and push kids into a patterns of productive learning, our outreach lists will change.  Kids will move onto and off of the list.  The single thing that we are tracking in terms of who needs support is who DID NOT submit their 2 graded assessments for the week.  These assessments are due on Wednesdays and Mondays.  So, the Outreach Lists will be updated each Tuesday morning.  In order for us to correctly identify students in need of support, we need teachers to enter an "M" in the Remote Learning Tracker for any student who failed to turn in their two graded assessments by 3:00pm on Monday.



              Outreach.  Daily outreach to our most struggling students will be essential to ensuring success for our students.  In addition to technology issues, students will be inevitably encountering issues arising from this pandemic (be them mental, physical health, economic - or some combination of some or all of these).  To be most effective in outreach, we need to work collaboratively with our social emotional supports and academic intervention.  Counselors will be working collaboratively with teachers to call homes together to figure out what students are experiencing and what strategies are going to work best to help the students stay on track for the rest of the year.  Here's the plan:

              • Counselors will be calling you to schedule conference calls with students targeted for outreach this week.  This is based on the list teachers submitted on Friday 17APR20 at noon.  Moving forward, students will be targeted if two or more teachers indicate that they are not turning in graded assessments.  So, this list will change each week on Tuesday mornings (after the 3PM Monday deadline).  
              • OOCS (Out Of Classroom Staff) and teachers will contact students daily for the week to help those students develop strong strategies and habits so they can independently submit all graded work each week.
              • There are students who are not on the outreach list because only individual teachers listed them.  Those teachers should reach out to students who are not turning in graded assessments.
              • Every Wednesday, OOCS will meet to review the caseload for the week and any outcomes that have come from Tuesday's outreach.  They will send out updates to the grade teams on Thursday regarding the impact of the outreach and support for students.