UAI Staff News
February 3rd, 2020
Deficit Thinking Diminishes When we Start Paying Attention...
Last week I was giving feedback to a teacher and she was explaining how she was providing supports to ENL students in two different classes. Both students were pretty new to the English language, and both students were tasked to engage with rich texts written in English. In one class, the teacher made the decision to provide the student with time to practice English (vs. the content). In the other class, the teacher used Google Translate to translate the document into Arabic. The teacher had doubts about the accuracy of Google Translate, but chose to use it anyway. The teacher was "surprised" when the student wrote (in English) her response to the questions associated with the text.
In one case, the teacher viewed English language learning as something that needed to be "fixed."
In the second, the teacher viewed English as another language, and provided the students' stronger language as an alternative.
In one case, the teacher's focus on addressing the limitation as targeting the learning English limited the student's access to the lesson & thus to thinking.
In the second, the teacher's focus on the providing the correct linguistic scaffold to access the content unlocked the students' intellectual potential and empowered her to demonstrate her thoughts, and thus engage in learning with the rest of her classmates.
On a daily basis, teachers make a million different decisions rapidly. Time is highly structured and in schools, it moves forward with particular zeal. We all have the best intentions, but the challenges of time coupled with the limits of our current capacity is what opens the door to deficit thinking.
This teacher may have missed the target on the first effort, but lessons were certainly learned in seeing the outcomes with the second method. There are no secret formulas that protect us from deficit thinking. Instead, the thing we need to do is to try and the recognize & challenge ourselves when we're "surprised" or hear ourselves saying our students needs X because she can't do Y. The more we reflect, the more we will see how and when deficit thinking sneaks in.
And once we're pretty good at recognizing and challenging....Then you'll notice a shift in your mindset and subsequently (because you already are accomplished and creative pedagogues) a growth in strategies to support student learning for all.
No Birthdays this Week
Celebrating Black History Month. Please check out the SEL updates which will include the events for this month. In your classes, include raising awareness within your subject area (e.g. introduce famous African American female scientists in science class, read influential texts from powerful African American female authors, discuss important contributions in social justice from African American female activitists). These amazing people should be highlighted in your courses throughout the year, but if February is our month to draw extra attention to them.
Attendance Check. Nancy put copies of your CAR in your mailboxes last week. You can always check your CAR and other payroll and HR services using the Payroll Portal. You should make it a habit to check your CAR and attendance periodically. Mistakes can happen, but they can be corrected! Please review your CAR, attendance, and coverage pay to make sure your records are accurate.
Hiring Committee. It's hiring season again! This year's hiring committee consists of: Tiffany, Marsha, Rebecca C, Rachel, Sarah M, Phillan, Jamie, Sarah R., Kelly, Elena, Annie, Jen, and Kiri. If you are interested, here's what happens on the hiring committee
- First Cast a Very Wide Net. To find the best teachers, we cast the widest net to get the most applicants. From this pool interview and select candidates for demo lessons & debrief interviews. We post for all positions and all grade levels each year. We then interview all the candidates at multiple interview fairs that happen on several Saturdays throughout the Spring. The hiring committee is charged with interviewing panels of candidates and selecting the best of these candidates to perform a demo lesson and debrief the interview.
- The Demo Lesson. Annie and Kiri watch all demo lessons, and where possible, hiring committee members join (volunteering their prep, lunch and/or professional period).
- The Debrief Interview. After the demo lesson, Annie & Kiri lead the interview to listen to the candidate reflect on the demo and see how well the candidate is at taking in and using feedback. As with the demo lesson, hiring committee member join in on the debrief interviews.
If you are interested in joining the committee, please reach out to Annie!
To-Do This Week
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.