Sunday, September 27, 2020

Week of September 29th

UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 10
September 29th, 2020


Principal's Message

Late Friday, the DOE and UFT came to an agreement that essentially sanctioned our existing program.  I received the agreement on Saturday morning, and our Superintendent and Executive Superintendent are pulling us together into a meeting this week to review and better understand the guidance.  Once I have a clear understanding of what the agreement signifies, I will be sure to share fully. 

The roller coaster keeps on rolling, but to the extent possible, I'm hoping to insulate you, and our students and families from too many thrills and chills.   As we make sense of this new agreement, we will continue to move forward as we have done since getting on this crazy ride, we will continue to do what we have been doing within the safety of our bubble - best serve our families and students!


To Do This Week

Program Updates. This week (presumably) secondary schools are slated to open on Thursday, October 1st.  For UAI, classroom staff will remain working remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In-Person staff slated to work in school on Wednesdays and Thursdays will report to school on Thursday.   

As predicted, students have continued to select Remote Learning as their learning preference.  This will continue this week and as the weather changes and students experience the reality of what in-school learning will be like.  As of today, 68% of UAI students are Remote Learning for MP1.  Here's what our current numbers look like by grade:
  • 6th Grade:  16 In-Person out of 68 Students --->> 76% of students are Remote Learning
  • 7th Grade:  12 In-Person out of 44 Students --->> 73% of students are Remote Learning
  • 8th Grade:  25 In-Person out of 65 Students --->> 62% of students are Remote Learning
  • 9th Grade:  45 In-Person out of 104 Students -->> 67% of students are Remote Learning
  • 10th Grade: 23 In-Person out of 88 Students --->> 73% of students are Remote Learning
  • 11th Grade: 17 In-Person out of 64 Students --->> 73% of students are Remote Learning
  • 12th Grade: 20 In-Person out of 61 Students --->> 67% of students are Remote Learning
I am continuing to work on the program this weekend to ensure that advisories and groups are balanced.  I'm aiming to share the updates with you tomorrow!  If you have any questions, please put them in Annie's Parking Lot.


Friday Small Groups. So, all new ideas inevitably need to tweaking! Our attendance was way lower on Friday than on any other days last week. That was most definitely a function of our own internal communication bumps, plus students being confused about what this new genre of learning actually is.

Last spring, one of the major calls for the program was to create support and intervention mechanisms for our students who need it. So, Friday Small Groups and Grade Based Intervention Groups (more on those below) were born!

For these first two Fridays (25SEP and 02OCT), Advisors are using Small Groups to get to know their students and families and help students successfully connect to online learning. On October 9th, we are holding an in-day Curriculum Lunch for parents and families (more on that below).


On Friday, 16OCT20, Regular Friday Small Groups will begin. Friday Small Groups are dedicated times where teachers can pull students for small group intervention (or enrichment) and live feedback sessions to better support student learning. The groups are intended to be tools you leverage to intervene and prevent student failure. Students who do not require this intervention should be assigned asynchronous work for the day.

Teacher Driven. Each teacher individually determines who is assigned to their Friday Small Groups and is responsible for making sure the students are there (so, reason for attendance is explained, zoom links shared, parent contact, etc.).

Grade Team Coordinated. Grade teams should coordinate with each other so that you're not all pulling the kids at the same time. Grade teams should decide (1) Who is seeing which teacher, (2) when they are seeing that teacher (what period), and (3) for how many weeks they'll be working with that teacher. Regular Times will be given to grade teams during Thursday staff meetings to coordinate Friday Groups.


In order for Small Groups to work, we need the support of Advisors. Each advisor should be working with their advisories each week to make sure they understand their plans for Fridays (whether they are in small groups or working asynchronously). In addition, Advisors need to remind students that zoom classes like Theater and PE are required zooms. It is NOT the case that students have the "day off" on Fridays.

On Fridays, Attendance needs to be tracked by:

Live Zoom Classes. As with any other day, if you have a live zoom class (Advisory, PE, Theater), please take attendance.

Small Group Zooms. All teachers should put a "P" for students who show for their Small Group, an "A" for those that were assigned but didn't show. Small Group teachers need to also contact home and email advisors if students do not show. 

Advisors.   All advisors have a check-in period for advisory (or a live zoom) on Fridays.  Advisors should connect with all of their advisees on Fridays (phone call, text, quick zoom check in).  The goal of the (1) check in is to make sure they know their assignments for Friday Small Groups (or asynchronous work if no groups); (2) simply check in to see how their week went; and (3) record these check ins as "P" for attendance purposes on Fridays.


Whew!!  That was a LOT of information about Friday Small Groups.  Well, with anything new, that is expected to be the case for a while.  Please read and re-read as many times as necessary, and then if you have any questions/concerns/ideas, please put them in Annie's Parking Lot. 


Grade-Based Intervention Groups. In addition to Friday Small Groups, several teachers on staff have periods assigned to work with individual students requiring extra help and support. Teachers should communicate with the teacher leading these groups and refer students on an as-needed basis. In addition, teachers with these periods should populate these groups with students in their grade bands who have IEPs and/or are ENL learners. In these intervention groups, the teachers will do one-on-one and small group support to provide the feedback and help needed for students to successfully complete assigned work from their classroom teachers. Here are the teachers who currently have grade-based intervention group. If more groups are needed, we may have the capacity to add more. For now, we'll being with these:

6th & 7th Grade: Alison, Marsha

8th & 9th Grade:  Cassandra, Marsha

10th & 11th Grade:  Rebecca C, Joey

12th Grade:  Joey 

In addition, Tiffany, Christina, and Nadine are working with students with IEPs who have SETTS and Rebecca F, Laura, and Suzannah each have groups to work with our ENL students.  

Please reach out to these teachers with questions you have about individual students with whom they are working and/or to refer students for extra intervention.  As with all things now on the blog, please, if you have any questions, please put them in Annie's Parking Lot.



Anti-Racist Committee Work. The Summer Restructuring Committee met to discuss next steps and set plans for the remainder of the year incorporating the feedback that some of you shared in last week's survey (thank you for that!).  Moving forward, the SRC will now be known as the SCHOOL restructuring committee, and we will begin recruiting and selecting members for the committee.  If you are interested in being a member of the committee, please 

Per Session Activities

To Apply for any of the following per session opportunities, please COMPLETE THIS FORM and email the appropriate point person listed in this posting.  

Anti-Racist Committee Work. The Summer Restructuring Committee met to discuss next steps and set plans for the remainder of the year incorporating the feedback that some of you shared in last week's survey (thank you for that!).  Moving forward, the SRC will now be known as the SCHOOL restructuring committee, and we will begin recruiting and selecting members for the committee.  This committee will work in conjunction with the Equity Team to evaluate systems and policies at UAI and take the steps necessary to ensure that they are equitable.  Please COMPLETE THIS FORM by 13OCT20 if you are interested in joining!

Circles Committee.  Posting Closed.  Selections made by Marsha.  Deadline to Apply was Friday 25SEP20. Thank you to all who applied!
        APPLIED: Kristina, Jennifer, Laura, Nakita, and Juelle
    SELECTED: Jennifer, Nakita, and Juelle

Student Recruitment Committee.  Posting Closed.  Selections made by Jen.  Deadline to Apply was Friday 25SEP20. Thank you to all who applied!
       APPLIED: Jelissa, Christina, Rebecca F, Phillan and Kelly
    SELECTED: Jelissa, Christina, Rebecca F, Phillan and Kelly
Equity Team. Posting Closed. Selections will be announced by Summer Restructuring Committee. Deadline to apply was 20SEP20.  Selections still TBD


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Week of September 21st

 UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 9
September 21st, 2020


Principal's Message

Tomorrow will be the first day of classes for the 2020-2021 school year.  We will begin this year just as we ended last year, fully remote.  However, when we stepped into this new remote instruction world in March, it was sudden, unknown, and as a result, incredibly petrifying.

Since then, both as a community at UAI and a member of the United States as a whole, we have experienced wave upon wave of social and political change.  Together we experienced a national racial reckoning which ripped open our own interrogation of inequity built into UAI systems and policies. Simultaneously, we are surfing the hills and valleys of the DOE's whiplash guidance to school opening and protecting the health and safety of ourselves, our students, and our families.

Through all of it, we have hung together and today, we find ourselves as prepped as possible to welcome our students and their families back to the new school year.  We are not in a perfect positions - that's just an impossibility.  We are in the best possible place we can be.  You have all worked relentlessly to prepare your students and your classes for tomorrow's launch.  For tomorrow, honor yourself and your work.  Inevitably you will encounter issues either tomorrow or in the days to come.  A tech glitch here or a lost student there - expect these things to happen.  Ready yourself for the bumps, and when you do, be confident that you WILL navigate them all and do exactly what our students need you to do!  You have been asked to deliver the impossible, and as a result, you produced and will continue to do pretty darn great work!

I thank you, Annie & Jen thank you, and most of all, our families and your students will truly appreciate you.

Good Luck to you all this week!  You are gonna make some amazing lemonade out of this mountain of lemons, and I cannot wait to see  you do it!


To Do This Week

Schedules and Messaging. You were cc'ed on the message students received and the Student Facing Schedule 21SEP-30SEP20. You also still have access to the UAI Schedule 21SEP20 which has the staff programs and student lists with student names. Changes to advisories are still happening. To the extent possible, I am trying to keep the groups the same, but those will have to shift in some cases as well. From here on out, when I make changes to the lists or schedules, I'll send a message out to those teachers impacted. At this point, the rate of change has decreased to a level that I can keep up with. Students are still opting into remote, so the changes are still happening, unfortunately, so please adapt as needed. Help us communicate to families by explaining that changes are a result of students opting into remote and maintaining advisory/group sizes. If they have specific issues, please DO NOT tell them to email me directly. I can't keep up with that volume. Instead, please gather their requests/questions and enter them into Annie's Parking Lot.


Professional Expectations for Remote Working 21-SEP thru 30SEP20. As discussed in our Friday meeting, please uphold the professional work expectations while working remotely this week and next (and any time you are working remotely).
  • Ensure Working Tech. Please make sure your internet and device are adequate for effectively delivering instruction with your students. If you do not have reliable internet or reliable technology, then you will need to work at school. If you are working under accommodations and you cannot create an effective work environment at home, please reach out to me, Annie, or Jen as soon as possible. If we cannot find a way to resolve a way for you to effectively deliver your responsibilities from home, we will have to explore other leave options.

  • Your Camera MUST be on. Whenever you are conducting live zooms with students, your cameras are required to be on. When you are in meetings with co-teachers or in staff meetings, camera use can be negotiated by members of that meeting, but whenever you are working with students (in small groups, in live zooms, or one-on-ones) you need to have your cameras on so that they can see you. Building relationships with a screen is challenging. Just as you find challenges with working with students with their screens off, they are exponentially more challenged when your screen is off. It will take time to build the trust and relationships with your students so that they feel comfortable with you & their peers. When you develop those trusting relationships, your students will turn their cameras on. The first step to doing that will be make sure your camera is on with them at all times.
  • Safeguard your Zooms. Please remember to use your zoom safety protocols (e.g. Waiting Room, Controlled Chat, Whiteboard Annotation turned off, etc) to make sure that you have guarded as much as possible from any zoom bombers.
  • Build In Your Break Times. You have 55 minutes to hold your zooms. Please start your zooms on time (at the start of the period). However, you can definitely build in break time between zooms. So, for example, if your zoom is scheduled for 1st period (8:30-9:25), you should start your zoom at 8:30 and then have the option to end as early as 9:10 (40 minute zoom) but no later than 9:20 (50 minute zoom).
  • Be on Time to All Meetings. We will have regularly scheduled Co-Planning and Staff meetings this week. Please plan to be on time for the start of those meetings. All of these meetings begin promptly at 2:50PM.

Prioritize Connections. In Person teaching has countless opportunities to build relationships with your students. An informal hello, a little look or even a high five (remember those days!) are all the tiny things that build up into more formal interactions like a one-on-one or extended conversation. This year, we don't have that with the majority of our students. So, we need to find ways to create them. Work together to brainstorm and think of strategies to do these small acts of connections (e.g. private chats to students, dropping into a breakout room chat and connecting with individuals & their ideas, individualized notes on student work, phone calls home, etc). You need to make explicit space in your planning and lesson execution for building relationships with your students this year. You no longer have the informal, unplanned space to leverage. It will feel a little planned and stilted, but the more you try, the more you will succeed, and ultimately, the stronger your relationships will be. Find ways to connect with your students BOTH academically and personally every day. For example, this week, you may want to have shorter full class zooms (e.g. 30 minute full class), and save the last 10-20 minutes of the live zooms for small groups to just get to know and connect with & simple get to know your students. Show genuine curiosity about who they are and what dreams they have, and that little bit of time will lay incredibly strong foundations for the rest of the year.


Being Anti-Racist is A Daily Effort. Many, many thanks to Marsha & Annie for their work in launching our work around rebuilding UAI into an Anti-Racist organization. Please do reach out to Marsha to join the planning team in planning future circles. Also, a number of folks mentioned being out of the loop on the work that folks did this summer - so please do refer to the Summer Restructuring Committee goals and Outcomes.

In launching this school year, please remember that working to control unconscious biases and work towards becoming an Anti-Racist organization is not binary (a yes or no). It is a continuum, as Marsha shared with us on Friday. Each of us as individuals can being the work individually. The strategies of perspective taking and individuation are two that all of us need to slow down and adopt in our work with our students and each other.

Prioritizing relationships allows us to get to know the individuals (both child and adult) with whom we work. Pausing to consider multiple perspectives on a position will be key to supporting your development of teaching and learning environments that dismantle systemic racism and move UAI along the continuum towards becoming an anti-racist institution. In June, we participated in Modules 1 (The Stories we Tell), and Module 2 (Mirrors and Windows) which discussed these strategies. CLICK HERE to revisit those modules.

My Mistakes. It is without a doubt that there are mistakes some place in the programming. The amount of variables, whiplash redos, and non-stop changes, has made it impossible for me to catch everything. All I ask is that when you see something, please ask! I ask that you use Annie's Parking Lot because I will definitely lose track of anything you email to me. There's just too much volume - not just from UAI staff, but from the DOE, UAI students, families and partners (not to mention all the annoying ads from vendors that totally annoy me). So, please, expect that I will make mistake, AND know that when you tell me about them, I will fix them! Thank you!




Per Session Activities

To Apply for any of the following per session opportunities, please COMPLETE THIS FORM and email the appropriate point person listed in this posting.  

Circles Committee.  Marsha & Annie have done an amazing job launching our staff circles this year.  This is a big lift and we are looking to involve more staff to support the planning as we move forward in the year.  We are looking for 2 teachers to work collaboratively 1 hour per week to plan our monthly circles.  Please complete the per session interest form and email Marsha with your interest.  

Student Recruitment CommitteeEven before school starts, we are planning ahead to next year! This year in particular is going to be challenging. So, we are looking to recruit 4 teachers for our student recruitment committee. We will certainly need to shift our historical practices, and as a member of the team, you would be part of developing a new physically distant strategy for getting our school's name out there and to recruit new students for the Fall 2021 semester. This committee runs all year long and hours will vary with a minimum of 4 hours per month. Please complete per session interest form by 28SEP20 and email Jen. Jen will be making final selections for the committee.

School Culture and Student Activities Committee. Posting Closed.  Selections will be announced by Jen.  Deadline to Apply was Friday 20SEP20. Thank you to all who applied!
        APPLIED: Elana, Jelissa, Kelly, Nadine, Phillan, Rebecca C, Rebecca F & Rachel
    SELECTED: Elana, Kelly, Phillan, Rebecca F & Rachel


Equity Team. Posting Closed. Selections will be announced by Summer Restructuring Committee. Deadline to apply was 20SEP20.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Week of September 14th

 UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 8
September 14th, 2020


Principal's Message

Tomorrow will be the first time many of you have stepped foot into UAI since we shut our doors in March.  In an ideal situation, we would have all the answers to your many, many legitimate concerns and questions.  But this is anything but an ideal situation.

However, we do have some answers, and you are all in the midst of creating solutions to those questions yourselves.  Both the UFT and principals worked hard to petition the DOE for more time to prepare for a safe and successful re-opening of our schools.  For some schools, time is still not enough.  For us, we are in a privileged and fortunate position relative to many of our DOE colleagues and friends.   We may not be 100%, but we are at like 97% prepared for the year.  Over the upcoming week, we will continue to push toward 100!

I hear concerns about bathrooms.  The bathroom in the locker room (502) is on a separate ventilation system than the other bathrooms in the core.  Therefore, if you do not feel comfortable using the bathrooms until the exhaust can be repaired, then please use that one in 502.  Carlos and the team are working around the clock to repair the bathrooms.  He was working on it on Friday.  I will have updates tomorrow (Monday), but I fully expect that the bathrooms to be fully ventilated and functioning very soon.

The MERV 13 filters are an additional layer of protection as I described in the staff meeting on Friday.  Those filters are still on back-order, but as protection, you will be provided with KN95 masks and Face Shields to use.  Also, on Monday, I'm expecting an update from Carlos on the status of these.

Regardless, even if everything were 100% in place, there would no doubt be a lot of anxiety and concern.  Before my own official report date on 31AUG, I had been in the building several times since March, but STILL there was a rock and pit in my stomach - and I'm not an anxious person!!  In general the unknown is scary, but this year, it is horrifying.

I'm sure that was anything but calming.

However, the truth is that platitudes and cheerleading are not what you need.  You need transparency, truth, and reality.  You deserve that.

In place of cheerleading, I will give you my faith.  I believe in your tenacity, strength, and ingenuity.  I have seen each of you persevere and deliver on a daily basis for our students - year after year.  I have no doubt that you will fight even harder this year to do so again.  I can't take away your fear or anxiety, but I can believe in you, support you, and if needed be there to remind you (not tell you) but remind you that you can do this! AND together, we will make this one year to remember and the best experience possible for our girls and their families.


To Do This Week

Get Tested.
Frequent testing is key to mitigating COVID transmission. All DOE Employees MUST be tested prior to entering DOE buildings. COVID Testing is available throughout the city and it is free. You can also choose one of the DOE Prioritized locations for expedited testing and results. All staff must also complete this HEALTH SCREENING each day you are scheduled to be in the building prior to entering school. If you have a positive result, please contact me immediately. When we all get tested, we work to protect one another. As of today, 14SEP20 at 8AM, I have received no reports of any positive COVID cases at the Adams Street Campus.


2nd Week of Prep for School Opening. This week, all in-person staff are required to report to school from 8:30. Damon reached out with staff concerns. I completely hear your concerns, and am doing what I can to make accommodations. However, there are limitations. Where possible, in-person staff will be able to work from home to complete assigned tasks. Please continue to check out the UAI Staff PD & School Opening Calendar. However, given that tasks like supply distribution or classroom/workspace set up are only in-person tasks, all staff without accommodations will be on site Mon-Thu next week. As a reminder, for all staff, if you are assigned to work remotely, you are expected to be at home working. If you have appointments, you must request and take personal time for those appointments. All non-emergency requests (e.g. personal time or anything EXCEPT calling our sick) should go through your direct supervisor.

Advisory Connections. As a reminder, the time you are given for advisory outreach is given to have successful connections (not just sending emails and making calls - but actually successful communications and information exchange). We not only need you to reach out, but we need our families to respond back. In order to do this, you should using a variety of methods - email, text, phone calls (all numbers and emails of BOTH students and families). There are still a number of kids for whom we do not have information. By Friday 18SEP20, we need concrete data (not that you emailed or called - but rather - actual answers and data in the columns). We're tracking student information - not your activities. So, we need to know the students information - not the teacher actions. Without accurate information from our students and families, we cannot hope to have a smooth opening. We need your help to get that information! Please use your independent work time throughout this week to follow up with your advisees and enter in the appropriate information. If for some reason, your advisees are not listed, please enter their names and their information. Thank you!! Your efforts help us all and is greatly, greatly appreciated! CLICK HERE to access the Advisory Information Sheet.




Per Session Activities

To Apply for any of the following per session opportunities, please COMPLETE THIS FORM and email the appropriate point person listed in this posting.  

Circles Committee.  Marsha & Annie have done an amazing job launching our staff circles this year.  This is a big lift and we are looking to involve more staff to support the planning as we move forward in the year.  We are looking for 2 teachers to work collaboratively 1 hour per week to plan our monthly circles.  Please complete the per session interest form and email Marsha with your interest.  

Student Recruitment CommitteeEven before school starts, we are planning ahead to next year! This year in particular is going to be challenging. So, we are looking to recruit 4 teachers for our student recruitment committee. We will certainly need to shift our historical practices, and as a member of the team, you would be part of developing a new physically distant strategy for getting our school's name out there and to recruit new students for the Fall 2021 semester. This committee runs all year long and hours will vary with a minimum of 4 hours per month. Please complete this per session interest form by 28SEP20 and email Jen. Jen will be making final selections for the committee.

School Culture and Student Activities Committee. We are recruiting staff to join our new Student Activities Committee. We are looking for 4-5 staff members to join Jen, parents, and students in planning and executing all senior activities for 8th and 12th grade, assemblies for all grades, parent events, and other student activities as determined by the committee throughout the year. Please note, this is a new committee and will replace senior activities coordinator and assembly coordinator positions. Members on this committee will report directly to Jen. Jen will select the committee members to equitably represent grades, skills and interests. Please complete this Per Session Interest Form and send an email to Jen in order to apply for this committee. Hours will range depending on activities and needs. Deadline to Apply is Friday 20SEP20.

Equity TeamRebecca C has introduced the idea of the equity team and will re-introduce it on Tuesday to staff. Equity team members will have at least 3 hours per month of per session to meet. If you are interested in joining the team, you must complete the Per Session Interest Form.  NOTE:  completing the form does not mean you are on the team.  Team members will be selected by a specific process that Rebecca will review on Tuesday.  Deadline to apply is 20SEP20.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Week of September 8th, 2020

UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 7
September 8th, 2020


Principal's Message

It's been years since I've been on an actual roller coaster.  My last ride was on the Cyclone.  But I can still remember the pit in my stomach and the flutter of anxiety in my chest as I moved one step closer to the front of the line.  I remember stepping into the questionable security of the metal car with all the horror stories I've heard of the Cyclone's history flooding through my memory.  As I triple checked all the "safety" equipment...I asked myself "What the fudge am I doing?"

These last 6 months have been a roller coaster of stress, non-stop work, and wide-ranging emotions and anxiety.  I wish I could say there were as many thrills as chills, but this isn't entertainment, and I'm not paying to be on this ride.

Despite this, today, I feel a sense of calm and intense focus.  Yes, I could be on that part of the ride that is flat and designed to calm you before the next ridiculous hill or spiral.  But if I've learned anything since March, it's that you need to be present and savor the good moments when they happen.  

Today, I feel good about our school launch, because we have all come together to do what we can to be ready.  Here's a recap:

Professional Development.  Last week, our team came together to offer and participate in a range of PDs aimed at getting everyone ready to welcome and engage our students back to school next week.  Many thanks to Jen for leading the summer PD subcommittee and many thanks to the entire committee (Phillan, Damon, Annie) and all the staff who helped plan each PD

      • Circles & Relationship Building:  Lauren, Natalie, Suzannah, & Jen
      • Technology Support:  Brodie, Tom, & Rachel
      • Supporting Student Engagement:  Alison & Nina
      • Supporting ENL & SPED students:  Laura, Rebecca, and Nadine

COVID Readiness.  Last week the DOE finally gave us the time and space we needed to ensure that our building is safe and we have the appropriate equipment and protocols in place to maximally mitigate COVID transmission.  We are rapidly moving through our campus checklist and are ready to welcome staff and students back to the building.

Connections, Learning, and Phasing In.  With our added time, we have been able to use the extra time to make time to reconnect as a community, provide more support and training so that teachers are ready to plan for remote learning, and we have three days to phase in students and staff so that we can stress test our safety protocols before launching the first day of school.  

In a normal school year, each year is a little bit of a ride.  This year will definitely amplify that.  However, I've seen what we can do when we come together as a community to work towards our common goals.   So, I am taking some time to pause and relish this moment of calm and peace.  I am taking the time to examine and appreciate how I arrived here.  

I know you must all be feeling a little bit of that roller coast anticipation as we prep for the new year.  I encourage you to remember that you do have the power and the help of your colleagues to do the work needed to create your own moments of calm and peace.  When you do, make sure to take a beat and remind yourself how you got there.  When you do, you'll have the safety and security you need to weather the hills, loops and thrills that are yet to come!

 

Happy Birthday This Week

Jennifer (Guidance Counselor) Thursday 10SEP20
Junior (Building Custodian) Friday 11SEP20


To Do This Week

Get Tested.
Frequent testing is key to mitigating COVID transmission. All DOE Employees MUST be tested prior to entering DOE buildings. COVID Testing is available throughout the city and it is free. You can also choose one of the DOE Prioritized locations for expedited testing and results. All staff must also complete this HEALTH SCREENING each day you are scheduled to be in the building prior to entering school. If you have a positive result, please contact me immediately. When we all get tested, we work to protect one another.



Remote Prep. Next week, all meetings, professional development and co-planning time will be virtual and all staff will be working from home. If you would like to come in to do classroom set-up, please let Annie know. Please continue to check out the UAI Staff PD & School Opening Calendar for more detail.


In-Person Work Begins. All In-Person staff are required to begin reporting on Monday, 14SEP20. Remote Only staff remain working from home. That week will have a mix of In-Person and Remote Only PD that will continue the training and provide the time needed to be ready for the first day of school on Monday, 21SEP20.


Planning Materials Due. Over the next two weeks, you will have training and time to prepare for school opening and to connect with your advisees. By next Friday, three main tasks are due:

Pacing Guide with Linked Lessons. All members of your planning team need to have editing access to a shared pacing guide with linked lessons. Please make sure you share EDITING rights with your planning team. Upload your pacing guide to THIS FOLDER withe the naming convention "COURSE NAME_TEACHERs" If needed, you can use this Pacing Guide Template  

Course Syllabus with Zoom Links. Please use this Template to create your Course Syllabus. You'll see clarifications on the Attendance and Grading Policies that will be in place school wide this year. We'll be reviewing all school policies during Friday's staff meeting. Please make sure to also include the Zoom Links for each class on the syllabus. 

Staff Bio and Headshot.  Please submit your headshot and updated bio so that we can post this up in our website so families and students can see.  This year, with so many students and families remote, we need to go the extra mile to connect and let our students and staff know who we are.  Please submit your headshot and bio in THIS FOLDER


School Calendar. The DOE finally released the school calendar and the UAI calendar (see below) is finally out. Please see below!




Per Session Activities

School Culture and Student Activities Committee. We are recruiting staff to join our new Student Activities Committee. We are looking for 4-5 staff members to join Jen, parents, and students in planning and executing all senior activities for 8th and 12th grade, assemblies for all grades, parent events, and other student activities as determined by the committee throughout the year. Please note, this is a new committee and will replace senior activities coordinator and assembly coordinator positions. Members on this committee will report directly to Jen. Jen will select the committee members to equitably represent grades, skills and interests. Please complete this Per Session Interest Form and send an email to Jen in order to apply for this committee. Hours will range depending on activities and needs. Deadline to Apply is Friday 20SEP20.

Equity TeamRebecca C has introduced the idea of the equity team and will re-introduce it on Tuesday to staff. Equity team members will have at least 3 hours per month of per session to meet. If you are interested in joining the team, you must complete the Per Session Interest Form.  NOTE:  completing the form does not mean you are on the team.  Team members will be selected by a specific process that Rebecca will review on Tuesday.  Deadline to apply is 20SEP20.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Week of August 31st

    

 

 UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 6
August 31st, 2020


Principal's Message

Next week, staff and students return to school (presumably).  There are so many unknown answers and an endless array of questions coming from each and every one of us.

Many of you are now dealing with the very difficult decision that if our Mayor and Chancellor continue with the calendar and school opening plans as is, you may be the first NYC teachers to strike in over 50 years.  The opacity of what actually happens to you if you violate the Taylor law does not make the decision any easier.

However you decide, please know that Annie & I will always have your back and always support you.  It is remarkable to me that the mayor continues to parade individual school leaders as exemplars of the "can do it" attitude that he consistently champions as the bedrock of all New Yorkers.  At the same time, he continues to ignore the requests from the unions, school leaders, teachers, and central staff to slow down and give more time to safely opening our doors to 1.1 millions students, 175,000 teachers in over 1500 school buildings.   Striking is never an easy option.  But when confronted with such a deep refusal to listen (or even acknowledge) the concerns of so many of those in your charge, sometimes job-action is precisely what is needed.  

The media and mayor will likely rail against you.  He is quite the spinner, and the media has never really been that great of a friend to teachers in general.  However, as your school leaders, we DO know you. We honor you, we support your decision, and we know that however you decide, you are doing so with the love and commitment that each of you have to the success, health and safety of our students, their families, and yourselves.   


Announcements


Schedule Release & Program Look Up. The Program Look Up tool is not as intuitive as I would have hoped (You win some, you lose some). I cannot upload schedules into STARS and Skedula yet because every day more and more kids are continuing to opt out of Blended and into Remote Only. As a result, to keep advisories balanced, it is a constant game of whack-a-mole. My plan it run the programs on Friday, and run with the numbers that we have. Until then we have to use the Program Look Up tool and Student Program Tab with student. If students reach out to you, will you please help them to try to understand how to use it? The biggest problem happens, I think when multiple people are using the doc at once. The way out of that is to just wait a minute, THEN enter the ID number. Being patient is a learned skill (I'm still working on that one!), so our students will definitely need some support there.

Town Halls. Students and Parents have been invited to a series of Town Halls.  Just as with staff, we are asking that they complete THIS FORM to submit their questions.


Instructional Planning. You will learn more about this in PD this week, but here's some quick notes to answer a frequent  question. "How many lessons should I plan for in this new program of blended learning?"

  • Every course at UAI will have a mix of Live (Synchronous) and Independent (Asynchronous) learning. ACADEMIC COURSES: For all academic courses (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Language), students should receive two synchronous (aka live zooms) lessons per week and two asynchronous lessons (e.g. recorded flipped lesson (like the video I did for ordering NYSTL stuff), other videos, and independent work activities). Each day you are in-person, you have a "RL (remote learning) prep" to complete this. I understand that this may run counter to what you are hearing in the media and from the union, but then again, so does our entire program. It can't be easy navigating all these mixed messages, so keep the questions coming!! In addtion, teachers should rely on student class data and coordinate with grade teams to form targeted small groups and meet with students during office hours and small group Fridays to provide feedback, and additional intervention or enrichment support as needed. ALL OTHER COURSES: For all other courses Theater: Two Live zooms per week (plus office hours - no small groups) PE & Health: 1 live zoom & 1 async lesson per week (+ office hours, no small grp) SMALL GROUP TUTORING: If you have small group tutoring on your program, you are doing reading/writing intervention for that grade. Work with grade teams and individual students to pull kids into small group work as needed.


PD Kicks Off Today. As a reminder, next week kicks off a series of PD and planning time to prepare for the upcoming school year. Please CLICK HERE to register by (Training rate per session will be paid to all registered participants!)



Sunday, August 23, 2020

Week of August 24th

 UAI Staff Summer News

Volume VIII
Issue 5
August 24th, 2020


Principal's Message

Today, we are 10 work days from the first day teachers are to report to school and 12 work day from the first day of instruction (maybe).   I have to say "maybe" because we are still awaiting an official calendar for the school year.  However, we do know that soon, school will begin, and our students and families will be looking to each of us to provide structure, consistency and inspiration in the months to come.

Before diving into this weeks barrage of announcements and updates, I want to share a story.  These last few months have been exceptionally trying for all of us.  For me, when I pause to look ahead to the year that is to come, that stress and anxiety that has grown in me since March, flares up into something nearly uncontrollable.  Sprinkle on some hefty splashes of agita from from the mayor's and chancellor's offices, and my own state of mind is stretched thin, and I am pushed to my own brink.

But then a couple of weeks ago, a teacher asked me for some time to plan with her.  She was thinking about her first unit, and was looking for some ideas about how to proceed.  We sat and chatted for quite awhile and before I knew it, I was smiling and excited to be thinking about all the cool and different things that could get kids excited about learning at home.  During that conversation, I allowed myself to think alongside this teacher and move my thinking from the chaos of my current work to the joy of figuring out how to make learning fun and meaningful for our students.  The conversation was fun, refreshing, and inspiring, and I found myself for the first time all summer, truly excited to begin school again.

In the months to come, the world, the media, the impending election...so many factors will be beating away at us relentlessly as we all survive this pandemic and current socio-policital state of our country.  What I learned as I planned with Sarah is that we, as pedagogues, have a precious resource - we can always tap into the joy of working with our students and their families.  

I want to say thank you to Sarah R for reminding me about why I actually chose to do this job each and everyday.  I love working with kids, I love working with people who love working with kids, I love thinking about cool and better ways to challenge and push kids to realizing their greatest potential, and I love working with their teachers & leaders to do the same!  Thank you Sarah, for reaching out to me for help, because in so doing, you helped me more than you can know!

I also want to charge you all to reach out to your planning partners, and create an agreement to hold each other up and push each other to remember to find or create the joy in your jobs. That happiness is always there - we just need to lift it up!  However it works for your team, make sure you prioritize naming the things that make you feel joy in your jobs.  If you are struggling to find those words, that's normal, but that is exactly the sign that says you need to reach out to your colleagues or your school leaders.  We cannot do this alone, particularly this year.  We need each other (like I needed Sarah to remember the joy and she needed me to think through some planning).  

When we reach out to connect with each other, doing the level of work that inspires us, that is when we will be able channel the joy and fulfillment that will carry us through this crazy year.

So let's do this UAI, and let's know the socks off COVID School year 2020-2021!!!

(Hat Tip to Phillan for giving me the words to express what I was feeling.  In her end-of-the-year conference, we spoke a lot about finding the joy in her work.  That convo hung with me all summer, and it wasn't until I worked again with Sarah that I was able to connect the idea to reality).

Announcements

Happy Summer Birthdays!!!
Doris (26AUG)

COVID Updates. I have been constantly working with Carlos, our Custodial Engineer, and our District Director of Facilities to make sure our building is safe for reopening. In addition, Annie has been working hard to implement DOE guidance to implement protocols and procedures to maximize our ability to mitigate COVID transmission for in-person staff and students.

As a reminder, we are instituting layers of strategies to mitigate COVID transmission and protect students and staff from infection. For example, we are mandating that all in-person people where masks AND remain socially distant AND work in well-ventilated spaces AND have access to hand sanitizer/gloves/washing AND screen for symptoms. Our goal is to maintain all strategies all the time. At times, however, some strategies might have isolated points of failure (e.g. this student's mask breaks or those people are too close on the stairwells). It will not be perfect, but the temporary fail of one strategy does not erase the others. There is redundancy built into our systems for this precise reasons. That said, we will relentlessly work to maximization implementation of all of our COVID strategies.

That said, here's our current status on preparations for securing a safe & healthy school opening:
  • PPE and Health & Safety Protocols.  ThNYCDOE Back to School Pledge promises to secure the health and safety of our staff and students.  As your leader, I will not open the building if we do not have sufficient PPE and protocols in place to ensure the health and safety for all of our in-person staff and students.  Currently, I am working with Carlos and the principal's COVID Supplies hotline to make sure we are ready.  There is definite forward movement, and we are aiming to be able to open on September 10th.  Please review our UAI Health and Safety Checklist to see our status on the checklist of items we will need to meet in order to open.  

  • Preparing for In-Person Work.  This week the DOE is piloting prioritized COVID testing for select DOE personnel (principals and APs).  They will be opening this Prioritized Testing Plan promises 24-48 hour turnaround of results, and it will be integral in maximizing our ability to mitigate COVID transmission.  As a reminder, here is the citywide COVID-19 DOE School Health Policy


Classroom Setup. Last week, I asked for volunteers to come in and set up our classrooms for social distancing (see a Model Classroom).  Many thanks to Jen, Elena, Phil, Kelly (and Dashiel) for helping to set up our classrooms for the upcoming school year. They were so efficient that I had to call our other volunteers Rachel, Damon, and Nina to say we were going to finish before they arrived! Thank you everyone for volunteering!!

This year, you will not be able to move any furniture in your rooms. Each chair is 6' apart from all other chairs, and there is space set aside for teachers and paraprofessionals. Teachers will not have work space in classrooms when they are not teaching. All teachers will be assigned a work space and desk in an unused classroom or windowed and ventilated office space. In addition, this year, interior classrooms (and classrooms without windows) have been closed for use. All extra desks and furniture have been removed from instructional classrooms and all excess furniture is being stored in rooms without windows (so like 304, 302, 402, 404, locker room, B53, and B57. About four - six teachers will be assigned (and socially distanced) to unused classrooms, and we will try to make sure that planning teams are rooming together as much as possible.


Student Movement & Main Office Access. We are implementing new directional movement policies in halls and stairways and the main office will be closed to public access for the year (so no students are to be sent down to the main office for any reason). The particulars of those policies are still being finalized, but in general, students should remain in their rooms for all periods (except if they need to use the bathroom). If a student must be removed, an adult will come to get them.


Building Access. Beginning August 31st, staff & students will be able to access the building to collect personal belongings only. Unfortunately, we will not be able to grant full staff access until we receive further guidance, but students and staff may come to collect personal items from classrooms or lockers. Please use THIS FORM to register for an appointment time. No access will be granted without first registering.


Student Programming Look-Up. Starting later today, students and families will be able to use this Student Program Look-Up Tool to find out what their in-person days will be and what program they will be following. For seniors, their specific courses selections are still being chosen. Seniors should use this Senior Course Selection Form to submit their preferences.


PD Next Week. As a reminder, next week kicks off a series of PD and planning time to prepare for the upcoming school year. Please CLICK HERE to register by Friday, August 28th (Training rate per session will be paid to all registered participants!)