Sunday, June 7, 2020

Week of June 8th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 40
June 8th,  2020

The Uncomfortable Truth Poster
An Uncomfortable Truth.  This weekend I was making posters with my family to join in the protests in Groton, CT.  My 83-year-old mother came down the stairs with her poster, saying "All Lives Matter".  This opened up very long and hard conversation.  As we spoke, I shared with her what I know of American History.  

I took no joy in recounting the history or talking to my mother about her innate racism. But I did see the justice, and it did help me find my own words in the work.  My mother did not know about the 3/5ths compromise that built one of the first foundational cornerstones of racism in the US Constitution.  My mother didn't know about Supreme Court Cases of Plessy vs. Ferguson or the  Dred Scott decision, which were two more pivotal pieces in America's construction of Racism, designed for black people.  

Then Harvey jumped in...and shared with me this speech from one of the Lincoln-Douglass debates where Harvey quoted Lincoln as saying:  "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality."

To which both my mom and I chimed in unison, "Lincoln said that?!?!??" 

(Harvey then told us about the movie called The Uncomfortable Truth, which I had heard about but never saw.  It's on Amazon Prime now, if you're interested.  Loki Mulholland the documentarian, director, producer traces the construction of racism and oppression of black people in America.)

Oppression is a human tool as old as humans.  Racism in America is a fire that was lit nameley and explicitly under black lives.  From our country's most revered document to it's most prestigious laws to it's every day laws & guidelines (like the GI Bill or Redlining), Racism in America is build to oppress Black Americans, and that was the truth of this nation, and the truth to help my mom understand why it is "Black Lives Matter."

Did I make any headway?  Yes...but 83 years is a lot of experience, so it's still a process.  However, she made a new sign that said "I'm a Republican AND Black Lives Matter"

Collage of locations and people having to do with Stonewall.

Celebrating the LGBTQ Community.  A few weeks ago, the mayor announced that no large gatherings would be sanctioned, and cancelled the parades, the year of the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  Today would have been the Brooklyn Pride parade.  There is so much in the world today, and so much that must be done to really dismantle the system designed to oppress.  However, I want to make some space and time to recognize another community beaten, bloodied, and marginalized both the powerful in this country.  Annie shared with me this article about the history of the Stonewall Riots, prompting me to remember that it is necessary to celebrate the pride of our communities AND to remember the pain and how that pain was intentionally constructed to elevate one community over another.  We need both pride and knowledge to be able to enact change.


Happy Birthday!!!
Ms. Emma (again?? Tues 09JUN) and Ms. Jamie (Thurs 11JUN)


Last Week of Academic Instruction.   Your final assignments should be posted up this week and due no later than Monday.  All final academic grades will be due next Friday (19JUN20).  For the week of 15JUN20 and 22JUN20, we will be doing a series of college and career activities to engage students.  This week and for the rest of the school year, teachers need to be asking students to complete attendance questions and taking attendance in Skedula.  We still need to be taking attendance through to the end of the year.

Student Check Ins.    On Monday June 8th, Jen and the counselors will be working with grades of students to engage them in connecting them with their peers and the UAI community, and to check in on them.  Much like we did on Monday's staff check-in last week, students will have rounds to share their thoughts and feelings.  Teachers are invited to join, too!  See the times below.  Check Jen's email for the zoom information, and please do help get the word out by posting in your Google Classrooms.  In addition, I know that many of you are working with students to organize and develop action steps.  Can you please share with Jen so that she can pass on to the students?  Thank you!
  • Topic: 6th Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 7th Grade Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 8th Grade Gathering to check-in and share
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 9th grade Gathering to share and connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 10th Grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 11th grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Topic: 12th Grade Gather to Share and Connect
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

To-Do This Week

NX Follow Check Ins.  Your data "NXer List" on the Remote Learning Tracker is accurate for your class.   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

Graduation Team. Those teachers who signed up to be part of the team to prepare the graduation boxes (Cherry, Elena, Brodie, Kristina, Jamie, Courtney, Phillan, Marsha, and Doris), please report to school at 10AM on Monday. Please be fully masked, gloved up and ready to enter into public space. Remember, this is purely volunteer, and there is absolutely ZERO problem with changing your mind and not coming (just text me so that I know something didn't happen to you!!).

This volunteering does not come without risk. COVID is still happening. We will maintain social distancing and we will be limited to the Cafeteria, Main Office, and 1st floor rooms. Please do not plan to access your classrooms during this time. The permit I needed to file was super explicit about that.

I know that sounds very doomy and gloomy - particularly since packing the graduation boxes is going to be pretty fun, but it's my responsibility and duty to remind you of the risks we are taking during this Global Pandemic.

Summer School Staffing Update.  I am still finalizing the shifting pieces for summer school staffing.  You will hear from my by EOD on Monday with the final update.

Selection of Accountability, Communication, and Transparency Committee (ACT!).  Dude - I told you I'm bad at naming stuff!!  Anyway, I know I didn't get to hear the end and I apologize for having to run out.  I needed to meet with the principals of the UA about re-opening in the fall (more on that soon, I promise).  

I did hear that folks wanted to meet at 2:30 to select representatives from their Affinity Groups to join me on a committee designed to ensure clearer communication, transparency and accountability for school based decisions.  I just don't know if I'm supposed to host that meeting or if you're meeting on your own.  I'm happy to open the space and break you into your rooms and hand over hosting privileges to folks in the Affinity Groups.  Either way, please let me know.  The goal is to have our first ACT committee meeting this week!

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