Sunday, September 20, 2020

Week of September 21st

 UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 9
September 21st, 2020

Principal's Message

Tomorrow will be the first day of classes for the 2020-2021 school year.  We will begin this year just as we ended last year, fully remote.  However, when we stepped into this new remote instruction world in March, it was sudden, unknown, and as a result, incredibly petrifying.

Since then, both as a community at UAI and a member of the United States as a whole, we have experienced wave upon wave of social and political change.  Together we experienced a national racial reckoning which ripped open our own interrogation of inequity built into UAI systems and policies. Simultaneously, we are surfing the hills and valleys of the DOE's whiplash guidance to school opening and protecting the health and safety of ourselves, our students, and our families.

Through all of it, we have hung together and today, we find ourselves as prepped as possible to welcome our students and their families back to the new school year.  We are not in a perfect positions - that's just an impossibility.  We are in the best possible place we can be.  You have all worked relentlessly to prepare your students and your classes for tomorrow's launch.  For tomorrow, honor yourself and your work.  Inevitably you will encounter issues either tomorrow or in the days to come.  A tech glitch here or a lost student there - expect these things to happen.  Ready yourself for the bumps, and when you do, be confident that you WILL navigate them all and do exactly what our students need you to do!  You have been asked to deliver the impossible, and as a result, you produced and will continue to do pretty darn great work!

I thank you, Annie & Jen thank you, and most of all, our families and your students will truly appreciate you.

Good Luck to you all this week!  You are gonna make some amazing lemonade out of this mountain of lemons, and I cannot wait to see  you do it!

To Do This Week

Schedules and Messaging. You were cc'ed on the message students received and the Student Facing Schedule 21SEP-30SEP20. You also still have access to the UAI Schedule 21SEP20 which has the staff programs and student lists with student names. Changes to advisories are still happening. To the extent possible, I am trying to keep the groups the same, but those will have to shift in some cases as well. From here on out, when I make changes to the lists or schedules, I'll send a message out to those teachers impacted. At this point, the rate of change has decreased to a level that I can keep up with. Students are still opting into remote, so the changes are still happening, unfortunately, so please adapt as needed. Help us communicate to families by explaining that changes are a result of students opting into remote and maintaining advisory/group sizes. If they have specific issues, please DO NOT tell them to email me directly. I can't keep up with that volume. Instead, please gather their requests/questions and enter them into Annie's Parking Lot.

Professional Expectations for Remote Working 21-SEP thru 30SEP20. As discussed in our Friday meeting, please uphold the professional work expectations while working remotely this week and next (and any time you are working remotely).
  • Ensure Working Tech. Please make sure your internet and device are adequate for effectively delivering instruction with your students. If you do not have reliable internet or reliable technology, then you will need to work at school. If you are working under accommodations and you cannot create an effective work environment at home, please reach out to me, Annie, or Jen as soon as possible. If we cannot find a way to resolve a way for you to effectively deliver your responsibilities from home, we will have to explore other leave options.

  • Your Camera MUST be on. Whenever you are conducting live zooms with students, your cameras are required to be on. When you are in meetings with co-teachers or in staff meetings, camera use can be negotiated by members of that meeting, but whenever you are working with students (in small groups, in live zooms, or one-on-ones) you need to have your cameras on so that they can see you. Building relationships with a screen is challenging. Just as you find challenges with working with students with their screens off, they are exponentially more challenged when your screen is off. It will take time to build the trust and relationships with your students so that they feel comfortable with you & their peers. When you develop those trusting relationships, your students will turn their cameras on. The first step to doing that will be make sure your camera is on with them at all times.
  • Safeguard your Zooms. Please remember to use your zoom safety protocols (e.g. Waiting Room, Controlled Chat, Whiteboard Annotation turned off, etc) to make sure that you have guarded as much as possible from any zoom bombers.
  • Build In Your Break Times. You have 55 minutes to hold your zooms. Please start your zooms on time (at the start of the period). However, you can definitely build in break time between zooms. So, for example, if your zoom is scheduled for 1st period (8:30-9:25), you should start your zoom at 8:30 and then have the option to end as early as 9:10 (40 minute zoom) but no later than 9:20 (50 minute zoom).
  • Be on Time to All Meetings. We will have regularly scheduled Co-Planning and Staff meetings this week. Please plan to be on time for the start of those meetings. All of these meetings begin promptly at 2:50PM.

Prioritize Connections. In Person teaching has countless opportunities to build relationships with your students. An informal hello, a little look or even a high five (remember those days!) are all the tiny things that build up into more formal interactions like a one-on-one or extended conversation. This year, we don't have that with the majority of our students. So, we need to find ways to create them. Work together to brainstorm and think of strategies to do these small acts of connections (e.g. private chats to students, dropping into a breakout room chat and connecting with individuals & their ideas, individualized notes on student work, phone calls home, etc). You need to make explicit space in your planning and lesson execution for building relationships with your students this year. You no longer have the informal, unplanned space to leverage. It will feel a little planned and stilted, but the more you try, the more you will succeed, and ultimately, the stronger your relationships will be. Find ways to connect with your students BOTH academically and personally every day. For example, this week, you may want to have shorter full class zooms (e.g. 30 minute full class), and save the last 10-20 minutes of the live zooms for small groups to just get to know and connect with & simple get to know your students. Show genuine curiosity about who they are and what dreams they have, and that little bit of time will lay incredibly strong foundations for the rest of the year.

Being Anti-Racist is A Daily Effort. Many, many thanks to Marsha & Annie for their work in launching our work around rebuilding UAI into an Anti-Racist organization. Please do reach out to Marsha to join the planning team in planning future circles. Also, a number of folks mentioned being out of the loop on the work that folks did this summer - so please do refer to the Summer Restructuring Committee goals and Outcomes.

In launching this school year, please remember that working to control unconscious biases and work towards becoming an Anti-Racist organization is not binary (a yes or no). It is a continuum, as Marsha shared with us on Friday. Each of us as individuals can being the work individually. The strategies of perspective taking and individuation are two that all of us need to slow down and adopt in our work with our students and each other.

Prioritizing relationships allows us to get to know the individuals (both child and adult) with whom we work. Pausing to consider multiple perspectives on a position will be key to supporting your development of teaching and learning environments that dismantle systemic racism and move UAI along the continuum towards becoming an anti-racist institution. In June, we participated in Modules 1 (The Stories we Tell), and Module 2 (Mirrors and Windows) which discussed these strategies. CLICK HERE to revisit those modules.

My Mistakes. It is without a doubt that there are mistakes some place in the programming. The amount of variables, whiplash redos, and non-stop changes, has made it impossible for me to catch everything. All I ask is that when you see something, please ask! I ask that you use Annie's Parking Lot because I will definitely lose track of anything you email to me. There's just too much volume - not just from UAI staff, but from the DOE, UAI students, families and partners (not to mention all the annoying ads from vendors that totally annoy me). So, please, expect that I will make mistake, AND know that when you tell me about them, I will fix them! Thank you!

Per Session Activities

To Apply for any of the following per session opportunities, please COMPLETE THIS FORM and email the appropriate point person listed in this posting.  

Circles Committee.  Marsha & Annie have done an amazing job launching our staff circles this year.  This is a big lift and we are looking to involve more staff to support the planning as we move forward in the year.  We are looking for 2 teachers to work collaboratively 1 hour per week to plan our monthly circles.  Please complete the per session interest form and email Marsha with your interest.  

Student Recruitment CommitteeEven before school starts, we are planning ahead to next year! This year in particular is going to be challenging. So, we are looking to recruit 4 teachers for our student recruitment committee. We will certainly need to shift our historical practices, and as a member of the team, you would be part of developing a new physically distant strategy for getting our school's name out there and to recruit new students for the Fall 2021 semester. This committee runs all year long and hours will vary with a minimum of 4 hours per month. Please complete per session interest form by 28SEP20 and email Jen. Jen will be making final selections for the committee.

School Culture and Student Activities Committee. Posting Closed.  Selections will be announced by Jen.  Deadline to Apply was Friday 20SEP20. Thank you to all who applied!
        APPLIED: Elana, Jelissa, Kelly, Nadine, Phillan, Rebecca C, Rebecca F & Rachel
    SELECTED: Elana, Kelly, Phillan, Rebecca F & Rachel

Equity Team. Posting Closed. Selections will be announced by Summer Restructuring Committee. Deadline to apply was 20SEP20.

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