Sunday, February 9, 2020

Week of Feb 10th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 25
February 10th,  2020

Deficit Thinking Diminishes When We Start Questioning Assumptions...
This week, I was chatting with one of the 11th grade teachers as they were making copies for class.  Each spring the junior teachers gear up to begin preparing letters of recommendation for next year's graduating class.  We prioritize the letter writing by the student's class rank.  While ultimately all students have recommendation letters written, those students with the highest GPAs will be applying to the more competitive colleges, where their letters will carry more weight.

As we spoke about the logistics, we then went in a review of who was at the top, and our Monday PD discussion about the low disproportional representation of our African American students in the top of each of our graduating classes, the Class of 2021 included.  We chatted more specifically about specific students and discussing possible root causes of why they were not at the top of their classes.  At one point, the teacher said, "[Student X] could be at the top if she came to school on time." I found myself nodding along in agreement, saying, "Yeah - you're right! She's always late, and we've talked about her often."  The teacher echoed the efforts, listing constant family outreach, parent meetings, student meetings etc.

Then in the midst of my own bobble-headed nodding, I caught myself.  "Wait," I thought.  "Why is she late? How does lateness impact her academic achievement and performance?  Should it be that way?"  I continued my internal musing..."There are some cultures obsessed about time and being on time - like the Americans & the Dutch, probably the Swiss (but that's likely a stereotype & bias) - but I'm not certain that timeliness is a universally held assumption."

I don't have the answer, but I do know I need to question myself and my colleagues.  So, I did and I asked the teacher, "Why does her lateness prevent her from being at the top of the class?  Does she know that by being late she is closing off scholarship and college choices that could literally be hers to claim?  Have we ever had that convo with her? If so, does she truly understand the exchange she is making - taking current time for future opportunity?"

As we think about the expectations we set for students, it's important that we question our rationale.  For example, for my questioning and thinking, I still firmly believe that the student needs to come to school on time every day.  Being in the classroom on time and being an active participant, creates a stronger learning experience and valuable work habits that will facilitate the students' future work in college and beyond.

However, I am equally certain that there has to be a way that we communicate more clearly about two categories of achievement - social emotional development (e.g. in this case, time management) and academic achievement.

One way to achieve this is connecting student behaviors to academic outcomes through formative feedback in the classroom (and through calls home with families).   For example, when students arrives on time, imagine the students arriving in class on time.  She is now able to join into the planned Turn and Talk around the Do Now, and now has an extended understanding of the idea.  The teacher hears her ideas and then says, "I'm so glad you made it on time today.  Your ideas with your partner provided valuable insight into this topic <because of x>.  If you come on time each day, your ideas will continue to develop and it will show in your (speaking, writing, analysis, etc.)."

Remember, the only way to shift deficit thinking out of practice is through constant attention to it.  There is no magic bullet.  There is not simple answer.  Through our questioning and lack of resolution, there is constant discomfort.  We need to walk towards that feeling and push ourselves to think flexibly and consider multiple perspectives and possible solutions.  The status quo has not worked.  Only through collective reflection and questioning can we hope to find alternate methods to better empower our young women.


No Birthdays this Week

Survey Questions.  After analyzing the survey data from our January PD, there are a few questions that need some clarity for folks (just informational).  This is just an indicator that I have not been clear enough.  Here are the things that some folks indicated concerns in their responses and commentary that are readily cleared up with some facts:

  • Hiring New Professional Personnel:  Teachers are involved in the hiring process throughout the spring (I described that in last week's blog).  If we are left to hire in the summer, teachers who are in summer school fill in for the hiring committee.  Just to remind you, the hiring committee includes:  Tiffany, Marsha, Rebecca C, Rachel, Sarah M, Phillan, Jamie, Sarah R., Kelly, Elena, Joey, Annie, Jen, and Kiri.  11 our of 35 classroom teachers (or nearly 1/3 of the teaching staff) are on the hiring committee.
  • Planning How Discretionary Funds Are Used:  Each year people get tripped up by the word "discretionary."  Discretionary funds are all funds outside of budgetary requirements (e.g. Title I requirements) and staffing.  Every time I ask you guys for your wish lists, I'm asking for your input on discretionary funding.  This year teachers have submitted orders (all of which were placed in the summer), over the course of the Fall, and now for the spring orders.  So each time you have submitted a ShopDoe order or come to me asking to buy XY or Z for your class, that was your input into discretionary funding!

To-Do This Week

March Not Madness PD.  This Monday the ELA teachers kick off their multi-session PD series on text selection and scaffolding access to rigorous texts in the ELA classroom.  At the end of this series, the team will submit a collaboratively decided list of texts by grade level.  They will be working together on 10FEB, 24FEB, 02MAR, 09MAR and 16MAR.   For the rest of the staff, we will be launching our annual March Not Madness PD series.  In this series, teachers have the opportunity to select from a variety of workshops focusing on well-being and pedagogical effectiveness.  Taking feedback from the survey, we are incorporating your requests on PDs around Classroom Management, Strategies to Support ENL students, and Strategies to Support students with IEPs in your classroom.  The workshop descriptions are listed below.  During March Madness, we'll be holding focus groups around the Survey Data  to get your input on how to address concerns and extend accomplishments.  If you're not in a focus group, you'll be participating in one of these workshops.  Please complete THIS SURVEY to submit your choices.

  • Pedagogical Effectiveness Workshops
    • Developing Strategies to Support Students with IEPs:  Hallie from the Affinity Support team will be running a PD to help teachers understand how to best leverage student IEPs and develop strategies to better support the academic success of those students in their classrooms. March 9th ONLY. 
    • Classroom Management Techniques:   Ms. Nina will be hosting a classroom management PD to share her strategies and techniques for creating a safe, warm, and orderly learning environment.  March 23rd ONLY. 
    • Scaffolding Readings & Assessments to Support ENL Students: Ms. Rebecca F & Ms. Laura will be running a workshop on supporting teachers to develop strategies and approaches that increase ENL student entry into rigorous texts and more accurately assess their learning. March 16th ONLY. 
    • Independent Work Time with Co-Planning Team:  Teacher teams may elect to choose a Monday to get a jump on the week's planning.  Repeating Sessions.

  • Mindfulness & Well-being Workshops
    • Learning Walks:  Walking with a colleague and just talking about pressing topics is a great way to process your thinking and collaborate on new ideas around issues that have been persistent struggles.  On the learning walks, staff can choose a topic, colleague and destination (e.g. walk across the Brooklyn Bridge). Repeating Sessions.
    • Yoga: Exercise and Meditation combine to provide staff with a means to manage stress, health, and exhaustion.  We will have a yoga class offered to those who are interested in joining!  Exact Date still TBD.
    • It's Game Time!: By popular request, we have created a Game Day PD.  Come join your colleagues in blowing off steam with games and puzzles.  I'm bringing Elena's cards against humanity and Dashiel's new game called "Joking Hazard."  I also have Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, and others.  Bring in your favorites (puzzles and games alike). Repeating Sessions.
    • Sip and Paint:  Also back by popular demand is the Sip and Paint workshop.  The "Sip" portion of the Painting PD will be open to all at the UAI staff happy hour on March 20 (after our PM SLCs have completed) and the Paint portion will happen the following Monday on March 23 ONLY.

Monday PD.  Final orders for the Spring Term.  The end-of-the year budget deadlines are fast approaching.  We cannot make any modifications to the budget (i.e. move money around) after March 4th.  This means we need to get your orders and process them all by Friday so we have enough time to move funds that were not used on materials or books into other budget areas (e.g. technology or per session/per diem).  This is your Spring Input into discretionary funding.  During Monday PD, we will all meet to go over announcements.  Then, we will split into ELA team and everyone else.  (ELA teachers can use their Tuesday time to submit their requests.) Everyone will have the remainder of PD time to put together their ShopDoe Cart.  Your cart must be fully checked OUT (I'll remain in PD to show you how if you need support) and submitted to me and Nancy by the end of the PD period.

Tuesday Notification Celebrations and Promotion In Doubt .  Please continue to use these next two Tuesdays before the February break to reach out and review each of your advisees' growth and performance for the fall term.

  • Discuss Academics.  If she passed everything, how can she continue to excel?  If she is failing a class (or HS Regent exam), her promotion may be in doubt.  This means that she may have to attend summer school.  Parents often need to hear this early so they can prepare summer plans accordingly.  Remember, All HS Students have another chance to take exams in June and in August.  All students have another chance to recover current failing grades by passing their courses by June.  Solicit from parents what they would need from us to support learning at home.  Share your information on Skedula and with your grade teams.
  • If attendance is the issue (lateness and/or absence), find out from the parents what seems to be happening, and ask them how we can help. Share your information on Skedula and with your attendance grade team leads.
  • For behavior and Social Emotional Development, share her strengths and areas of growth.  Find out from parents if there is anything we can do at the school level to help them continue to build her growth in key SEL areas. Share your information on Skedula and with your grade teams and counselors.

Social-Emotional Learning Update

Per Session Opportunities

No new postings this week


No comments:

Post a Comment