Sunday, October 20, 2019

Week of October 21st

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 10
October 21st, 2019

Announcements

Happy Birthday to Nick! Nick Juliusburger, our 9th and 12th grade Physics Teacher will be celebrating his birthday on Wednesday.  Help him celebrate with some hallway high fives and/or notes and emails of well wishes.


A Big Thank You from the Recruitment Team!  Between fairs, school visits, and tours, the past two weeks have been busy for recruitment! We hosted our first two UAI tours last Friday and this Thursday of 8th grade girls who seemed excited and interested in joining us for high school. We visited and scheduled visits to elementary schools who have 5th grade girls that are interested in STEM. We hosted an open house and attended HS borough fairs and MS district fairs where we met with prospective families and students. And last but not least, we co-hosted a "Why UAI" event with Girls Inc for our 8th graders where they were able to visit tables representing different exciting opportunities at UAI HS.

We want to send a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to all the staff who have made this work possible- from actually attending these events themselves, to helping dispatch students to represent their clubs and organizations, to letting us use their classrooms, and especially for sparing their students who are so important to our recruitment work. Your support is so helpful for ensuring we have the right number of students to keep us strong and healthy next year! We have a few more weeks left of this "busy season," but feel free to email Lauren if you have any questions related to recruitment!


Fire Drill on Monday.  We will be testing out a new exit plan on Monday during a Fire Drill at 9:30.  This plan ONLY impacts classrooms that exit out the back stairwell.  That is all classrooms that end in 09/11/15 (so 309, 311, 315; 409/411, 415; 509, 511, 515).  Basement classrooms still exit out the basement doors, up the ramp and down to Jay.  All other classrooms (including gym) should exit down the front stairs and leave out of the front door to walk down Adams to Tillary.

  • The 09/11/15 classrooms exit down stairwell A (this is the one that goes straight down).  Take this stairwell all the way to the basement (past the first floor) through the door that will exit into the courtyard.  The alarm will ring.  That is ok - it's a fire drill.
  • DO NOT use stairwell E (the stairwell that is on the left when you head down the stairs).  These stairs do not go the exit you need to take. 
  • In the courtyard, turn left to walk up the stairs (not the ramp) to exit onto Johnson Street.
  • Turn right on Johnson Street and walk down the hill to Jay to wait in front of the Family Courthouse.
  • This is a new exit pattern.  So if you have prep 2nd period on Tuesday, we need your help to direct folks down stairwell A.  Right after 1st Period, please report to these locations to block entry to stairwell E (the back stairwell on the left) and direct passage down stairwell A (straight down the back stairs). 
    • Kelly & Giselle - 5th Floor Stairwell Landing
    • Joey & Rebeca C - 4th Floor Stairwell Landing
    • Brodie & Matthew - 3rd Floor Stairwell Landing
    • Val - 2nd Floor Stairwell Landing - Let AIL exit out of stairwell E, direct UAI down stairwell A
    • Kristina C & Sarah R - 1st Floor Stairwell Landing - note please direct them to basement exit (do not exit first floor or out the side exit).  Go down the stairs to the door to the courtyard.
    • Doris - Courtyard Exit - direct students up the stairs to Johnson Street (and away from the middle schoolers exiting up the ramp)
    • Danielle I - Stand at top of Stairs at Johnson Street and direct exit to Jay
    • Floor Sweepers Remain the Same.
      • 5th Floor & Gym - Courtney
      • 4th Floor - Annie
      • 3rd Floor - Jen
      • 2nd Floor - AIL
      • 1st Floor - Isaiah
      • Basement - Jelissa

    Kiri is Out Tuesday through Friday This Week.  My mother-in-law passed away last week, and my family needs to fly down for her funeral on Wednesday morning, and burial on Thursday afternoon.  We will be traveling on Tuesday and returning on Friday.  Annie will be in charge with Jen & Val supporting.  I will be available online and via text if you need anything.  Please still continue to call me if you are sick this week.  I will communicate and coordinate with Annie.

    To-Do This Week

    Upcoming PD.  Tomorrow will be our first in the series.  Here's the calendar for the next few sessions of PD
                • October 21st:  Aromatherapy and Stress Management for Teachers
                  • Agenda:  
                    • 3PM - Congratulations Ms. Cherry!  You will have the honor of reviewing the blog (and having a few minutes to give the special announcements you requested!)
                    • 3:15-4:10PM - Aromatherapy  & Self Care with Ms. Vanessa
      • October 28th:  Understanding Social Emotional  Learning & the DESSA
      • November 4th:  Grade Team Meetings
      • November 5th:  Implicit Bias and Instructional Practices
        • Teacher Consultancy Round II
        • Examining our Biases - Taking at look at our Data
        • Effective Student Discourse & Using Writing to Consolidate Learning
      • November 18th:  Consultancy Reflection (Nov 11th is a holiday)
      • November 25th:  Wellness & Self Care -UAI Teacher Potluck

      Class Time Dilemma.  We are still having problems with passing period and releasing students on time.  Please use class timers (or your phone) to keep yourself in lock step with the bell schedule.  When you let a class out (or in) late, you set off a chain reaction that disrupts the bell schedule for everyone.  Effective time management is part of your expected teaching practice.  In addition, being at your doorway to welcome students into your class if part of effective teaching practice and professional responsibility.  This week, we will be taking an audit of hallway practices to gauge teacher practice in these two areas.  Please put forth your best efforts to make sure you start and end classes on time AND that you are at your door welcoming students into your classrooms at the start of each period. 

      Student Support Services Update



      Per Session Opportunities

      Extra Prep?  This is not technically a Per Session Opportunity.  Rather it is a Per Diem opportunity (coverage pay).  We are looking to recruit staff for the following per diem (prep period coverage pay) for these activities:

      • Lunch Coverage during Early Voting Week.  Teachers will host up to 34 students for lunch in their classroom each day that the cafe is closed during early voting.
      • Prep Period Dean Support.  Our discipline support team needs some extra eyes and hands to more effectively manage our support practices.  Teachers will be tasked to duties including (but not limited to) hallway and bathroom monitoring, student removal from classrooms, save room coverage, and other duties.
      If you are interested in either of these activities, please email Kiri as soon as possible (if you have not already done so for the lunch coverage)


      Monday, October 14, 2019

      Week of Oct 15th

      UAI Staff News

      Volume VII
      Issue 9
      October 15th, 2019

      Announcements

      No Birthdays this week

      Examining Our Own Biases.  With the Columbus Day Holiday, we will not have PD this week.  In place, please find the time to think and reflect in your journals independently.  Through last year and this, our journey as a staff was to first understand that we all as human beings have some form of implicit bias.  Given that is the case, the question is what are our biases and how do we develop our awareness of them so that they do not unfairly inhibit the opportunities  and achievement of our students.  If you have not already done so, take the time to test yourself for hidden bias. Without explicit PD time this week, this will be an optional, but highly recommended activity.  The goal of our work around bias is not for you to be called out or shamed.  Rather, the goal is to educate, bring awareness, and then provide the tools and support necessary to control those biases from inadvertently acting negatively on our students.  If you decide to take these tests, take them alone, for yourself and honestly.  They are for you to reflect.  Use your journal to log your results and your thoughts & reactions to those results.

      November PD.  A number of you have been asking about PD for November's Election Day.  We have been working with the PD committee to refine the goals of that day, so I do apologize for the delay in communications!

      During that day, we will be digging deeper into our work around bias.  As a predominantly white and privileged staff working with predominantly brown as lesser privileged youth, there is no PD that is more important on that day than this.  Please plan to be in attendance for that day.  If we are to secure a strong and equitable education for all of our students, then we must ALL be part of the work that crafts the solution.

      To-Do This Week

      MP1 Grades.  MP1 ended last Tuesday and grades are due Monday at 3PM.  Please make sure all grades are accurate and correct in Skedula.  We will be sending messages home to families via Skedula and School Messenger to check Skedula.  This week during Family Outreach, please check to see if your students' families are registered.  If not, please reach out to help them register.
      Observations and Planning Documents.  Our original goal was to make sure that everyone has at least one observation by October 15th, and we are almost there, but will need a few extra days to complete.  All teachers should expect to have an observation (if they haven't already had one) by the end of this week.  As a reminder, please have your lesson plans printed and ready for collection when we arrive, OR have them accessible in your Pacing Guide in this folder HERE.  In addition, in this round, we are looking at unit and syllabi.  Please have your unit plans linked into your pacing guide and upload your syllabi to this folder (as per the start of year checklist).  Alternately, have your current unit and course syllabus printed and ready for collection when we arrive for observation.

      Observations and Lesson Look-Fors.  Please refer to these lesson look fors to maximize your performance evaluation.  In particular, student THINKING needs to be central to your lesson, at all points during your lesson.  We are looking to see how well you structure lessons so that students are demanded to think their way through tasks (and not simply identify information or facts).  Writing and Speaking are the two ways that you can use to get students to show their thinking.  Turn and Talks and writing prompts are easy ways to do this.

      Upcoming PD.  The PD Committee is currently working with the next round of presenters for our upcoming dilemmas that will focus on looking at implicit bias around race in our instructional and classroom practices.  In addition, we are looking to further our work around implicit bias and instruction during the November Election Day PD.  Finally, as promised, this year we want to make time for self-care and wellness throughout the year.  Next Monday will be our first in the series.  Here's the calendar for the next few sessions of PD
        • October 21st:  Aromatherapy and Stress Management for Teachers
        • October 28th:  Understanding Social Emotional  Learning & the DESSA
        • November 4th:  Grade Team Meetings
        • November 5th:  Implicit Bias and Instructional Practices
          • Teacher Consultancy Round II
          • Examining our Biases - Taking at look at our Data
          • Effective Student Discourse & Using Writing to Consolidate Learning
        • November 18th:  Consultancy Reflection (Nov 11th is a holiday)
        • November 25th:  Wellness & Self CareUAI Teacher Potluck


      Student Support Services Update



      Per Session Opportunities

      No New Postings This Week 

      Sunday, October 6, 2019

      Week of Oct 7th

      UAI Staff News

      Volume VII
      Issue 8
      October 7th, 2019

      Announcements

      This Week's Birthday Wishes! 
      Happy Birthday to Lauren! Her Birthday is Monday (07OCT).  She only works Weds-Fri so send her your well wishes via text or email (laurenm@uainstitute.org)

      Schedule Changes & Grades.  Student schedule change requests are no longer being accepted.  If a student has a schedule issue, they must speak directly to their teachers.  Then, if teachers find the issue valid and relevant, please reach out to me and we can accommodate.  We are mimicking the Add-Drop period that students will encounter when the arrive in college.  Schedule changes can of course still occur for student who need it, but this structure provides a teaching opportunity for student learn both why and how to stay on top of their out-of-classroom needs (like changing courses).  Teachers can still use the form to communicate change requests.  The form helps me keep everything in one place and allows me to more readily communicate back to you the status of those change requests.



      To-Do This Week

      Keep Time.  Please print and post the bell schedule below where you can see it while you're teaching.  In addition, if you are struggling with time management, include time allotments in your lesson plans and use a timer to help you stick to those times.  Last week's passing periods were much improved, but we still have some ways to go.  While some teachers are now at their classroom doors at passing, most are not.  Please make sure to end your classes so that you have sufficient time to be ready to welcome the next class into your room AND to send your class to their next classroom on time.
              • 1.  8:30-9:23
              • 2.  9:25-10:18
              • 3.  10:20-11:13
              • 4.  11:15-12:08
              • 5.  12:10-1:03
              • 6.  1:05-1:58
              • 7.  2:00-2:50
      Observations and Planning Documents.  Our goal is to make sure that everyone has at least one observation by October 15th.  As a reminder, please have your lesson plans printed and ready for collection when we arrive, OR have them accessible in your Pacing Guide in this folder HERE.  In addition, in this round, we are looking at unit and syllabi.  Please have your unit plans linked into your pacing guide and upload your syllabi to this folder (as per the start of year checklist).  Alternately, have your current unit and course syllabus printed and ready for collection when we arrive for observation.

      Observations and Lesson Look-Fors.  One trend that we've noticed in the observations conducted thus far are a lot of missed opportunities to maximize student thinking.   At the start of the year, it makes sense that many teachers emphasize structure and routine to communicate expectations for safe and orderly learning environments.  However,  taken too far, this plan can result in an over-control of student movements which leads to compliance-focused tasks and subsequently the inadvertantly squashing of student thinking and intellectual engagement.  When students are engaged in compliance (hallmarks of compliance activities are things like copying notes, completing graphic organizers, etc.) it takes important time away from thinking and constructing new understandings (e.g. discussing their ideas, reading texts to gain new understandings, or writing original responses to higher-order questions that involve applying what they've learned).  Make sure your lesson plans maximize student thinking time and keep compliance activity to a minimum.  Please refer to the UAI Teacher Observation Look Fors to help you prioritize your planning and instruction.  In particular, during this round of observations, we will be looking at:


      • 1D- Designing Coherent Discussion
        • Learning tasks include questions to push students to think - not just one answer questions and require students to create their own understanding through the application and synthesizing of prior and new knowledge.
        • Learning tasks include extensions, scaffolds and/or supports to provide equitable access to learning for students with learning differences.

      • 3B - Questioning and Discussion
        • Discussion structures are implemented daily in service of students discussing questions that push critical thinking and reflection where more than 90% or more of students successfully engage in the discussion structures. NOTE: The easiest way to meet this expectation is to have turn-and-talks planned throughout the lesson
        • Discussion topics and questions are implemented strategically to advance student thinking where more than 90% or more of students engage in the discussion to actively create new understandings and learnings.

      • 3D - Assessment
        • Criteria that tells students the content, skills and process/practice that is necessary for success and that you will give them feedback on.
        • Teachers actively seek to elicit from students their current understandings, skill mastery and ability to implement practices and the teachers track that information for planning and to give students helpful feedback. 
        • Throughout the class period, teachers regularly give feedback to students that pushes student understanding, skill and/or ability to implement and specific practice.  Feedback is for pushing and challenging the learner to deepen thinking not simply to complete the task. 


      <<Reminders from Last Week>>
      Marking Period 1 is Ending.  Next Tuesday 08OCT19 is the last day of the first marking period.  Teacher grades are due on 15OCT19 at 3PM.  Please see Ms. Jennifer and/or a member on your grade team for help with submitting grades via PADs.

      Monday PD.  October 7th is the first Monday of the Month, which is our traditional Grade Team Meetings which will have PLOP writing and Attendance Team Updates as fixtures on the Agenda.
        • 3:00-3:05 Announcements
          • Congratulations Cassandra! - You've been selected to review the blog this week!
        • 3:05-3:15 Skedula Grade Transfer
        • 3:15-3:50 - Attendance Team Update
          • 3:50-4:10 October PLOPs


        Student Support Services Update


        Per Session Opportunities

        No New Postings This Week 

        Tuesday, October 1, 2019

        Week of Oct 2nd

        UAI Staff News

        Volume VII
        Issue 7
        October 2nd, 2019

        Announcements

        October 1st.  Coming from two months of vacation into three straight weeks of work is a hard transition for staff and students alike!  But we did it smoothly and successfully.  Inevitably, there are some things to improve and we are endeavoring constantly do so, but overall, the launch of the 2019-20 school year has been amazing!  That is due to all of your hard work.  In the first 19 days of school:
        • Overall Student Attendance is at 88.71 (down from 89.4 from last September and short of our 90% goal for the year).  Our newly minted attendance team worked through September to understand our systems, analyze problems and create an action plan which you will learn about at next Monday's PD.  While we fell short of the attendance goal, there were some positive gains around attendance this mone.  This year, we are more efficiently discharging students who chose not to attend UAI (outcomes of this work will reflect next month).  Also, more UAI staff are regularly taking period attendance in Skedula, allowing our main office team more effective use of their time to follow up on absent students.  We still need to work towards 90%.  One key effort in this work isn't just the stats and figure - it's the classroom teachers.  When a student is absent, make sure she feels missed when she returns to class.  The relationships we build and the instruction we offer are our two most potent tools in improving attendance.  The attendance team will work on the logistics, but we need everyone to help our students feel that they belong in school every day!
        • Too Early for Other Benchmarks.  Our other main goal this year is instructional improvement, specifically in student performance on state exams (Regents and MS exams).  MP1 ends on October 8th.  That will be the first indicator in our progress towards our goals this year.

        October has 20 instructional days broken up by Yom Kippur, Columbus Day, and Halloween (which has historically low attendance).  These first 17 days of school were a strong start to the academic year.  These next 20 days will be the ones that concretize all of that hard work to set up for a fantastic rest of the year!





        Happy Belated Birthdays!  It took a minute to get our birthday calendar up and running, and we missed a couple of key birthdays!  Happy Belated Birthday to: Jennifer (10SEP); Laura (21SEP); Tiffany (22SEP); and Judy (29SEP).  Hopefully, you all had fantastics days.  Moving forward, Nancy is now ready to send out regular b-day wishes as your special days come up!





        Schedule Changes & Grades.  All schedule requests have been updated (except for two students who will be completed tomorrow AM).  If your students have questions about why they have been moved, it is because either the student requested or a teacher requested.  Please use THIS DOCUMENT to help student understand how the changes were made.  If you entered grades, they will need to be transferred to the new course section.  Nina will walk through how to do that during PD on Monday. As a reminder, you should be updating Skedula at minimum of twice per month.

        To-Do This Week

        Tightening Up Some Structures.  When we provide super tight and seamless structures & routines for students, we create a predictable and safe environment for them.  There is comfort in routine and there is safety when systems run as they should.  One thing we need to work on is our passing periods.  If all teachers followed this two simple moves, that would do an enormous amount towards creating a safe and orderly school for our students.

        • Stick to the Bell Schedule.   As a reminder, teachers are expected to start and end classes on time as per the bell schedule (see below).  Schools are a very carefully choreographed and at UAI, we do not have bells that govern our classes.  We respect our teachers to have the agency to say when classes begin and eng.  However, when classes start or end late/early, students are released to the halls.  If you release too early or too late, you are not releasing in synch with the other teachers and thus, no one is at their doors to help usher students in.  Please track your time and follow the bell schedule.


                • 1.  8:30-9:23
                • 2.  9:25-10:18
                • 3.  10:20-11:13
                • 4.  11:15-12:08
                • 5.  12:10-1:03
                • 6.  1:05-1:58
                • 7.  2:00-2:50
        • Increase Hallway Presence.  UAI is spread out over 7 separate floors.  It is impossible to staff deans, hallway monitors, or admin on every floor for every passing.  We need all teachers to be at their doors to rapidly usher students into and out of classrooms.  Please do not remain in your classroom during passing.  If you need time to reset between classes, please make it a part of your lesson plan to reset during the Do-Now or during the Exit Ticket.  If you need to talk to students at the end of class, please do so at the doorway.  


        Marking Period 1 is Ending.  Next Tuesday 08OCT19 is the last day of the first marking period.  Teacher grades are due on 15OCT19 at 3PM.  Please see Ms. Jennifer and/or a member on your grade team for help with submitting grades via PADs.

        Monday PD.  October 7th is the first Monday of the Month, which is our traditional Grade Team Meetings which will have PLOP writing and Attendance Team Updates as fixtures on the Agenda.
          • 3:00-3:05 Announcements
            • Congratulations Cassandra! - You've been selected to review the blog this week!
          • 3:05-3:15 Skedula Grade Transfer
          • 3:15-3:50 - Attendance Team Update
          • 3:50-4:10 October PLOPs


        Per Session Opportunities

        No New Postings This Week