Sunday, May 31, 2020

Week of June 1st

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 39
June 1st,  2020

America is Broken...and has been for a long, long time.

This past weekend, our country once again erupted into riots of anger at the persistent injustice towards black and brown Americans that has lasted since the infancy of this country.  Almost 80 years after America was crawling out of the devastating aftermath of the Civil War, the bonds of racism, once overtly recognizable in the actual bonds of slavery, still persisted in equally real persistent oppression of poverty and inequity in 1965.  Then, Martin Luther King spoke to this, saying:

        ... riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. ... But in the final analysis, a riot 
        is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has
         failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.
         It has failed to hear that
the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.
        And it has failed to hear that large segments of
white society are more concerned
        about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity
        And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's
        winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position
        of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. 
                                                                          [Martin Luther King Jr., "The Other America"]

Fast forward to 80+ years after this speech, we find ourselves trying to survive 2+ months of shut-in protocols, that still left disproportionate numbers of black and brown americans on the frontlines, and thus suffering illness and death in significantly more numbers than their white counterparts.  From our screens, we see white men with actual guns protesting angrily inside governmental buildings about their "right to be released from COVID restriction" - with no violent or substantive restraint from local officials.   Also from our screens, we see image after image of whites exercising their privilege to attack, oppress and kill black americans.  When people, black, brown, and white rise up to angrily protest in public spaces (and without arms) they are met with aggressive tactics, including tear gas, batton beatings, horse stompings, and being driven over by an SUV. 

In his time, Dr. King described "The Other America".  From my own perspective, there is no "Other America."  There is just one America and from its very inception, the rights and freedoms belonging to all humans, were only designed to be protected and secured for some. Our America was built to do exactly what it has been doing for almost 250 years, maintaining the rights and liberties of white, wealthy men.

One thread that we can pick up and learn from American history is that sometimes great change requires equally great upheaval.  In colonial America, the Revolutionary War was seeded with protests and riots.  I'm not sure, but would be unsurprised if the British monarchal media described these as self-destructive or misguided.  Today, American history describes them differently.

We are in the middle of another historical moment.  This moment has come before (Civil Rights in the 60s, Rodney King Riots in the 90s) and more recently (and rapidly with Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, Gregg Cooper, and so many thousands more).  As educators, New Yorkers, and Americans, it is our job to rise up and fight this cycle.  

Last week, Annie and Jen began organizing students and staff to come together to first process the impact of these events on ourselves and our community.  After which, we will work collectively to organize a response and action as a united community of UAI.    Join us this work to first, come together as a community and then, work collaboratively to find ways to make a unified call to action in an effort to protect our young students of color who are facing a looming summer of no summer programs, no summer activities, and likely interactions with law enforcement.   As we shape and articulate our demands, we add them to the cacophonous calls of these riots, we move forward in the hopes to be heard, and when we are, we become part of the movement - pushing the nation out of the sickness of its origins and into fulfilling its commitment to ensuring liberty and justice for all.


Happy Birthday!!!
Mr. Brodie (Tuesday, 02JUN20) and Ms. Emma (Sat, 06JUN20)!!


Brooklyn Queens Day.  This Thursday 04JUN20 is Brooklyn Queens Day and we will be using that day to engage in Professional Development activities.  At 10:45PM on Friday night, I found out from the Chancellor that it IS an instructional day for students.   I....can't...even.....

Here's the plan at UAI.  On Thursday, teachers should provide students with work time on assignments.  Please provide them with appropriate instructional resources (e.g. links to videos, notes, etc.).  However, this day will be an asynchronous instructional day for all students.

For UAI staff, here's our agenda for professional development.   Final plans are in process and links will be shared out in our GC by end of Tuesday!
  • 8:30AM-9:30AM
    • 8:30-8:45AM Roll Call and State of the School Address
    • 8:45-9:15AM Looking ahead to 2020-21 and School Re-Opening
    • 9:15-9:30AM Stretch Break
  • 9:30-12:00PM 
    • 9:30-10AM - Planning for Virtual Learning, Re-Planning a Fall Unit
      • What is the purpose of the unit and why - beyond the exam....
      • What do we ask students to do and why?
    • 10AM-12PM - Planning with Partners
  • 12:00-2:00PM
    • Independent Work Time and Lunch
  • 2:00-2:50PM
    • Staff Circle and Community Building

09JUN20.  Also in the Chancellor's late night message, June 9th for Middle School teachers is still a "reorganization" day - so no live instruction.  Since we will already be in "asynchronous learning" by that time, we will continue with the plan (because again, the day is still an instructional day for students).  Teachers will use that day to continue outreach and finalize grades.

Asynchronous Learning.  Next week will be the final week of Asynchronous Academic Instruction.  All final grades are due on Friday 19JUN20.  Instruction will continue during the week of 15JUN and 22JUN.  Instruction will be focusing on providing students with activities around college and career opportunities.  We are finalizing those activities this week, and we will be asking that you post them up in your Google Classrooms to help us get the word out to students and families.

To-Do This Week

Final follow up with students who have NX as a floor grade.  By Friday, please make sure the tab "NXer List" on the Remote Learning Tracker is accurate for your class.  If someone is currently passing, then please remove them from the list.  If someone needs to be added to the list, please add them to the list (you can copy their line from the "Final Floor Grades" tab and add it to the bottom of the NXer tab).  

NXer Daily Meetings.  We will be having daily check ins immediately following AM check ins during the week of 08JUN20 and 15JUN20.  Any teacher who has an NX student on the NXer list will be asked to stay on after AM check in and we will be going through the list of students one at a time to review outreach attempts, results, and necessary next steps.  In particular, we will be looking for answers to the following questions:
  • What is the student missing and why hasn't she turned in the work? 
    NOTE:  If you don't know, please reach out this week to find out.  
  • Which assignments are necessary to show student academic skill level?
    NOTE: Keep assignments focused on student outcomes vs. student academic behaviors.  Summative assessments in latter May & June should be course cumulative assessments of student learning (thereby inbedding learning targets from earlier in the year, including March and April).  Therefore, having students complete course cumulative tasks AND tasks from March are repetitive evaluations of student competency.  Please have these cumulative assessments named in the Teacher Updates column on the NXer tab of the Remote Learning Tracker.
  • How many different methods and how many different times have you attempted contact?  To what success or no?  Any student on your NX list should have at least one active (phone call, text exchange, What's App exchange, etc) outreach attempt per day. If the active attempts are unsuccessful, there should be at least two passive attempts (email, text, remind, etc.) to connect with student.  Each contact should be contacted in Skedula until successful contact is made OR you have completed two passive contact attempts for each contact listed.  
    NOTE: Please update your log of contact in the NXer Tab (far right) on the Remote Learning Tracker


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