Sunday, April 5, 2020

Week of April 6th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 31
April 6th  2020


Happy Birthday Mr. Courtney!
Sunday, 05APR20 is Mr. Courtney's Birthday.  Bring your festive well-wishing to our AM Zoom!

Week 3 UAI Online Instruction.  We are in our 3rd week of online instruction, and first and foremost I want to Thank You all for digging so deep to find the motivation and inspiration to bring your best online game to our students and their families.  In the midst of all your work, I want you to know that I see you  all committed pedagogical heroes in your own right.  Through your work to engage our students in your instruction, you are definitely contributing to the fight to control this outbreak and maintain the health and safety of our city.  In addition, you are working hard to fulfill your commitment to our school mission, ensuring that our young women receive the education they both deserve and need to become empowered young women.

As you probably already know, there was another flurry of announcements from Chancellor late Friday evening after our Friday PM check-in.  There were a number of announcements, but the two that are the most pressing this week are the ones referring to our use of Zoom for online instruction and the fact that April 9th and 10th are no longer holidays. 

To Zoom or Not to Zoom.... You all were on top of the zoom concerns almost from the start.  As a result, our zoom vulnerabilities were greatly ameliorated, as compared to many other schools across the city.  As a reminder there were several things that you figured out early:

It is not clear whether or not the DOE is aware of all the measure that folks like you have taken to secure the Zooms.  It is also not clear how well the DOE understands the amount of time and energy that you have invested over the last three weeks learning about Zoom, on-boarding your students, communicating with families, and establishing co-teaching structures to optimize the live sessions.

However, I do understand all those things.  I am closer to your work, and have better perspective.  So, my information will obviously be more complete and accurate.

The explicit language from the DOE around Zoom is "DOE staff and service providers should cease using Zoom as soon as possible".  Well, it took us three weeks to get into Zoom, at minimum, it will take just as much time to get out.  In addition, the alternate suggested, Microsoft Teams, requires that every single user (student and teacher) access Teams using their DOE emails.  NONE of our students use their DOE emails, and many of our staff do not either.  To onboard our entire community into MS Teams will take even longer than three weeks.  Ergo, our "soon as possible" will not happen before then end of this school year.

The feedback from all constituencies (Parents, Teachers, Students, Partners), is unilaterally positive around the significance and appreciation of live interaction.  We will be preserving our Zoom structures while we develop a plan to transition to Teams at a yet to be determined future date.

Spring Not Break ... On Friday night, the Chancellor also announced that we will be working through April 9th & 10th, the days that Michael Mulgrew had originally announced would be off.  At first shock, I could see how insulted everyone must have felt to be cast in the role of baby-sitters.  However, we are in fact not just baby-sitting.  We are creating meaningful learning experiences to engage students in thinking, and as a result, we are providing essential services that will aid in the fight to flatten the curve and keep our kids and families engaging in school work, rather than risking exposure or inadvertently spreading the virus.  To that end, see the letter co-written by the Chancellor and Dr. Barbot, the Commissioner of DOHMH.

Here's our plan for Thursday and Friday this week.

Equity of Access to Learning Online.  Thursday (09APR20) and Friday (10APR20) will be days for students to work on and submit any assignment they missed since we started online instruction.  Access to technology and the non uniformity of home experiences require that we create flexibility so that all students have the chance to perform equitably.

Feedback over Judgment.  Whenever we give a number grade, we are passing a judgment on student work.  We are in the time of heightened stress and anxiety for everyone.  Imagine trying your hardest to access online learning, suffering bad data access, competing with siblings or cousins, or even worse, contending with the illness of a loved one.  Take all of that in your mind and reflect on how well you are ready to receive a judgment of your performance - a grade or an evaluation.  OR, Imagine if I popped in on you guys and said, "Hey your online class today was Developing!"  - would that bit of information help you improve?  Not at all.  On Thursday and Friday, use your work time to provide students with feedback that is aimed at improving their performance.  Imagine what your idealized student performance would looks like (AKA your "Look For"), and give feedback to students to help them shift or correct their performance so that is closer to your ideal.  If you want some help with giving feedback, please visit Annie or Kiri this week for our own Office Hours to collaborate with you on constructing feedback for your students on the work they submit.  

Here's our plan for Monday Thru Friday next week.
The Big Picture.  Each day students will have the opportunity to engage in live interactions with each other and their teachers.  In addition, teachers will have significant time to plan and prepare for online instruction in the likely event that we do not return to school on April 20th.  

The Labor Logistics.  The Unions and DOE have come to an agreement that 4 additional CAR days will be added to your banks.  Yes, I realize that you are being asked to work 7 days but are only being give 4....I confess not to understand the logic here.  But that's what is currently on the table.  In addition, you are able to take religious observance days on Thursday and/or Friday (I believe at no cost to your CAR - but now I can't find that wording - so if anyone else has that, let me know).   Regardless of how the religious observance is structured, I purposefully created flexibility in Passover and Good Friday so that you could have enough space and time to attend to family and religious observations.  You are of course entitled to take the days if you see fit, but you should not feel as if you forced to do so. 

UAI Logistics. The schedule is still in construction, so please do share your feedback.  I wanted to share with you while in construction so that I could integrate changes where necessary.  I am trying to make it so that Monday-Thursday everyone has one live instruction day, one office hour day, and two planning days. On Fridays, we'll be focusing on giving feedback to students on submitted work, and reaching out to families and students who are still struggling.

To-Do This Week

Refine Your Outreach Lists.  Thank you for completing this list of students who are not showing up to Office Hours.  Those that are highlighted in Red (3+) or Yellow (2) have been listed by multiple teachers.  Those are the students we will begin our focus of support on.  We'll be having a meeting on Monday with all of our Out of Classroom Staff to strategize support for them.  We ask that by EOD on FRIDAY 10APR20, please revisit this list and remove any student who has caught up in your class and/or who no longer requires the additional intervention.

Zoom Security PD.  If you feel like you need more support in securing your zoom sessions, please join Kiri at 12PM on Monday to walk through how to do that.  In addition, stay on the call to have her do a one-on-one check of your individual security preferences.

Feedback Support Or Any Other Questions.  Please reach out to Annie or Kiri for one-on-one support with providing feedback or any other support you need to improve your instruction and planning for Online Learning.  We'll be visiting classes again this week to reach out to individuals as well!


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