Sunday, October 18, 2020

Week of October 19th

UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 13
October 19th, 2020

Principal's Message

Working Smarter not Harder.  This week, I've heard from a variety of different folks about how much work they have - particularly with grading and feedback.  

In the digital learning milieu, you have lost access to quick assessments and informal, non-verbal feedback.  There is an efficiency in brick and mortar learning that is lost in Remote Learning.  Where you used to be able to quickly walk through the room to hear students or check on their work, or when you could readily exchange an encouraging or redirecting facial expression with many students, now you no longer have those quick go tos.  They are replaced with writing in the chat, jotting on shared slides, or putting notes into Pear Deck.   The upside to this is that you are getting significantly more and more accurate information from students.  The downside is that it takes a lot longer to sift through and respond to student responses.

To account for this, you need to be be relentlessly intentional.  The moves you made on these lessons last fall when you were in person were motivated by different reasons and adapted to different circumstances.  Remote lessons are completely different.  So as you plan, slow down and ask yourself and your co-teachers
  • What is the goal of teaching this way (asking that question, using groups, using the chat)?   Is this the best move in a remote lesson?  Why?  Will another move get us to student thinking (and thus higher quality student engagement) faster?

  • Why am I grading and when am I giving feedback?  When is assessment information for the teacher to see how the lesson is landing and when is it a vehicle for feedback for or evaluation of students? How am I communicating which is which to students?

  • If my students aren't talking to each other (or at all), why is that?  Have I done enough to make the environment safe?  Have I planned to build peer relationships or did I assume that they would grow naturally (like they do in person...but wait...we're not in person...so bad assumption)?  How well do I know each of my students as individual people?  What are my plans for getting to know them as individual people?  
Remember...the goal is not to simply get work done, but to get the best work done with the most efficacy and least waste of time & effort.  In order to do that, you need to make time in your planning and thinking to invest in intentionality.  When you do, you will find yourself working hard, true, but working a lot smarter, too!







Staff Birthdays This Week

NO Staff Birthdays This Week





Office Hours & Intervention.  There are four more weeks until the end of the first quarter.  Now is the time to see evaluate which of your students are in need of your support and intervention.  Your grades should be updated in Skedula by now, and you should use that to quickly identify students in need of your support.  Prioritize students at risk of failing MP1 for your Office Hours this week and on Fridays.  Please document the students' response to your intervention in Skedula and cc their advisor so that they can help you.  Office Hours are also an excellent time to get to know your students as individuals.  When students feel that YOU care about them, they will want to engage (and perhaps even put those cameras on!).  Practice some perspective shifting and think about how your students think about you.  Read their feedback too.    If you still don't know, ask them.  

REPOST from Last Week:  
    • Students who have NO documented evidence of intervention cannot receive a failing grade.
    • If a student does not show up to intervention (or refuses intervention), teachers must call home.  Please record notes of conversation in Skedula (and cc Advisor).  
    • If you cannot reach a student, please escalate immediately to advisor and direct supervisor (Annie/Kiri/Jen) for extra support


Small Groups.  Several teachers have dedicated periods to do Small Group work with students in greatest need of intervention and extra support.  These groups are NOT in place of Office Hours with classroom teachers.  Rather, these groups are additional supports for students.  Classroom staff should refer students to the following grade teachers for extra support if/when they find that their office hour and other classroom based intervention are not sufficient.  Please email the names directly to these teachers and they will coordinate small groups with you.  There are two types of small groups 
  1. Small Groups for General Ed students in need of extra help in addition to Office Hours, and 
  2. Small groups for ENL or SPED students in need of extra support in addition to Office Hours - note- these students are already mandated (see links below).  Please reach out to teachers for specific supports you feel your ENL or SPED students need for your course.
  • General Ed Small Groups
    • 6th Grade:  Alison, Marsha, Sarah R
    • 7th Grade:  Alison, Marsha, Sarah R
    • 8th Grade:  Marsha, Cassandra
    • 9th Grade:  Marsha, Cassandra, Nina
    • 10th Grade:  Rebecca C, Nina
    • 11th Grade:  Rebecca C, Joey
    • 12th Grade:  Joey - Joey also time to work in small groups and individually with seniors on their college statements.  Please refer students for support with these, too.
  • ENL Small Groups:  CLICK here to see the Tracking Guide Laura made for our ENLs!  It's awesome! Thank you Laura!
    • Laura (grades 6-8); 
    • Rebecca F (Grades 9 & 10); 
    • Suzannah (Grades 11 & 12)

  • SETTS Small Groups:  Also CLICK HERE to see the SETTS schedule Nadine made for our kids who have SETTS on their IEPs.  It's also awesome!  Thank you Nadine!!
    • MS & HS Group SETTS:  Tiffany & Christina
    • HS Individual SETTS:  Danielle R & Nadine


Bringing Our Work Outside of the Circles.  Our collective work around Anti-Racism and Full Inclusivity does not exist in circles or meetings alone.  Already, there are many instances of how our work is expanding beyond our meetings.  Some examples:
  • Applying ABAR (anti-bias/anti-racist) strategies - Individuation & Perspective Taking.  Structures like Small Groups, Office Hours, and Advisory have given staff the opportunity to use two key strategies to overcome implicit bias.  We learned about these last June with the Office of Equity and Paul Forbes.  Today, these structures allow us all time to get to know our students and families and better understand their stories and needs.  Similarly, Annie, Jen, and Kiri have established regular one-on-one meetings and lead small teams of staff to achieve the same goal of individuating those whom we lead and understanding the perspectives of those in our charge.

  • Engaging in Belief & Awareness Work with Circles.  Our Circle committee is skillfully planning experiences to build relationships and allow us to connect with one another while at the same time, providing us with much needed experiences to build our awareness and shift beliefs.  In some instances, several teachers have already adjusted curricula to be more culturally responsive and inclusive. 

  • Investigating and Analyzing Systems of Inequity with our Equity Team.  Our Equity Team has launched their work in studying our Grading Policy in order to identify & confront inequity & construct a new the policy that includes the perspectives of all stake-holders (parents, students, staff) and ensures equity and success for our students.  This is work that is slow and intentional, but it is important work to make sure we do right!

  • Process Change Work of the School Restructuring CommitteeOnce launched, the SRC will begin the work of analyzing schools systems and structures (like hiring, scheduling and professional development) and root out racists and exclusionary structures so that we can build new systems and policies that protect the rights of and include all.
This work is a collective responsibility of all of us.  These are the big examples of what folks in our community are doing, but daily there are small positive steps that each of us can do to move our school further along the continuum to becoming a fully antiracist, fully inclusive school community.  


Per Session Postings

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

Student Newspaper Advisors.  Jen is looking to recruit teachers to be advisors and supports for a student run newspaper.  Hours will be 1-2 per week.  Posting will close on November 2nd.  To apply,  email Jen directly AND COMPLETE THIS FORM

Testing Coordinator.  Joanna has moved on from UAI, and we are in need of someone to coordinate all testing and compliance activities.   The testing coordinator manages all components of schoolwide testing.  Historically, tests include DRP, SAT, AP Exams, Regents, Middle School Exams, NYSESLAT, Regents etc.  This year, we do not yet have a clear picture of what exams are being offered, but the testing coordinator will be charged with tracking and organizing around that information as it arises. The testing coordinator reports to Kiri.  Teachers with prior testing coordination experiences preferred (please write about that when completing the form).  Hours will vary as testing periods come and specific requirements of exams.   Please apply by completing the form above and emailing Kiri by 19OCT20.

Anti-Racist Committee Work (aka School Restructuring Committee).  Posting closed:
Applied:  Nadine, Sarah M, Courtney, Laura, Marsha
Staffed:  Nadine, Sarah M, Courtney, Laura, Marsha



Per Session Positions Staffed To Date.  The SRC will be looking at UAI systems and structures to confront and dismantle any biased practices.  Staffing & Hiring were one of the main priorities raised by staff last spring.  It is important that we keep an eye on our movements and attend to making sure opportunities are offered and staffed equitably.  Here is our YTD data from September (it doesn't not include the PD hours offered to all staff in August).  Please review and share your feedback (anonymously) so that the SRC can make any adjustments as needed. 

Diversity & Equity in Staffing Analysis YTD:  
  • 17 people (of 44 total or 39% of staff) staffed 24 positions
    • 2 counselor/dean (of 5 total) - 40%
    • 2 paraprofessionals (of 4 total) - 50%
    • 13 teachers (of 35 total) - 37%

  • Of the 24 positions filled
    • 41% - 10 positions are filled by black staff (6 people)
    • 13% -   3 positions are filled by non-white staff (2 people)
    • 46% - 11 positions are filled by white staff (9 people)

UAI teams working on co-constructing UAI into an Anti-Racist & Fully Inclusive School
  • Circles Committee:  Jennifer, Juelle, Marsha, and Nakita  (not staffed Kristina, Laura)
  • Equity Team: Damon, Elana, Kelly, Nakita, Phillan, and Rebecca C  (all applicants staffed)
  • School Restructuring Committee: Courtney, Laura, Marsha, Nadine, and Sarah M (all applicants staffed)

UAI teams working on school culture and student recruitment
  • School Culture & Student Activities:  Elana, Kelly, Phillan, Rachel, & Rebecca F  (not staffed Jelissa, Nadine, Rebecca C)
  • Student Recruitment Committee:  Christina, Jelissa, Phillan, and Rebecca F (all applicants staffed)


As an FYI- Here are the UAI Staff Race & Staff Position Demographics:

AsianLatinxBlackWhite
Total42142747
Counselor/Dean00145
Paraprofessional00314
Teacher32102035
Leadership10023
AsianLatinxBlackWhite
Total9%4%30%57%
Counselor/Dean0%0%20%80%
Paraprofessional0%0%75%25%
Teacher9%6%29%57%
Leadership33%0%0%67%



Monday, October 12, 2020

Week of October 13th

UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 12
October 13th, 2020

Principal's Message

Finding the Joy
!  Thank you to all of you who shared their moments of JOY during Thursday's meeting.  I think we all need reminders of the work we do daily and the value our efforts bring for our students and families each and every day!  Even in this tiny little picture, there at the back is a happy hand waving in excitement as her classmates focus on their screens, pursuing their first college credit through their senior LINCT QR course.  


Here are some quotes from your colleagues.  Please enjoy their JOY:
  • I'm having a lot of success working with one of my advisees who is usually really hard to contact, but she feels comfortable enough now to text me/ask any questions about her progress, which feels like a huge win!

  • A student emailed me and told me because of how comfortable I was being myself they felt empowered to come out to their mom. I cried.

  • Not really a story but just a shout out to the 6th graders who have changed advisors so much. They have been rolling with the changes and are really shining in class discussions and support of each other. They have even organized Zoom lunches and study help sessions for themselves.

  • Every Monday and Tuesday in Earth Science we play music that relates to the lesson we are going to teach while students log on. I usually dance to the music and some of the girls laugh or join in! Pretty cute and makes them feel comfortable.

  • [One of my students who has had a rough start to this year] is showing that she really wants to do and be better this year. She's been turning in all her work ON TIME and participating in the chats during live lessons. I'm so proud of her!

As I have come to know, teaching and learning in the time of COVID will always have endless challenges and obstacles. I've also learned that each of these challenges can be all-consuming and overwhelming.  However, the eternal optimist in me is incredibly stubborn, and as a result, I've also realized that alongside (and sometimes buried within) each of these hurdles, there is always a nugget of something beautiful and amazing.  All we have to do is to choose to see.

So this week, challenging yourself.  Find the joy, and when you do, share it (with your students, your colleagues, your friends & family, or, if you're feeling super share-y- shoot me an email to post it in next week's blog!






Staff Birthdays This Week

NO Staff Birthdays This Week





Grading, Analysis and Feedback.  This is our 4th week of instruction this year!  We have five more weeks until the end of the first marking period.   While the launch of this year was smoother than our sudden shift to remote learning in March, there were still quite a few shifts, changes and hiccups!  Use your time this week to analyze student work, and provide the support and feedback necessary to overcome barriers to learning and growth!
  • Look at Student Work in Co-Planning.  Assess student work with your co-planning team.  Understand why students are succeeding, missing the mark, or not turning work in at all.  Ask:
    • How well are our lessons landing with students and how do we know?
    • How many students did well on this assignment and why is that the case?
    • Which assignments had the biggest success rate (students turned in and did well) and why?
  • Plan Intervention and FeedbackAfter global analysis, work together to create and execute plans for feedback and to identify students in need of intervention.  
    • Which students are missing assignments and why have they not turned them in?
    • Which students turned in work, but completely missed the mark? What help do they need?
    • Which students turned in work, but need a little help to improve their work quality?
    • Which students performed excellently, and why was it so good? How do we celebrate that?
    • Which students showed the biggest growth; how did they do that? How do we celebrate that?
  • Skedula Updates.  Please make sure to update Skedula with all grades by Friday 16OCT20.  You do not need to transfer attendance, only grades. If you are wondering "How do I transfer Google Classroom Grades Into Skedula" and try these directions.  (Please note, never be shy about just googling your question!  There are many, many imperfect things about Google - but they are super useful for finding answers to technical questions like this!!)

SRC Scheduling Committee Updates.  The SRC Scheduling subcommittee met on Friday to address feedback from staff on programming needs.  We will be hosting a Q&A Session on Tuesday at 3PM to answer your questions and address concerns.  For now, here are the updates that are going in place starting tomorrow:
  • Friday Flexibility.  
    • CHANGE:  Instead of assigned small groups, Fridays will now be a day-long block of Office Hours.  Staff can use the time flexibly for office hours or extra grading/feedback.  
    • RATIONALE:  Many staff are calling for more time for grading, planning, and feedback.  The original plan for Fridays was to create small groups for intervention and support.  By changing Fridays into a block of Office Hours, teachers can flexibly use the day to do both as needed.  Kiri will leave the Teacher & Programs the same - that way students and teachers will be able to see which times work best for each teacher's Office Hours.
  • Friday Attendance
    • CHANGE: Advisors will be responsible for taking attendance for all advisees each Friday.  This week, advisors need to teach into the process for attendance on Fridays:
      • At 8:30, advisors will send out a mass email/send Remind/text to have students submit attendance via a Google Form.  Forms need to be submitted by 9AM.
      • At 9AM, advisors email/call/text/send Remind to advisees who did not submit form.
      • At 9:30AM, advisors call parents/guardians of advisees who did not submit form to find out what is happening with the student for the day.
    • SAME:  Zoom teachers (PE, Theater, Spanish) still continue to take attendance in Skedula on Fridays.  All teachers post Asynchronous work for students to complete on Fridays.
    • RATIONALE:  We still need to take attendance on Fridays.  Advisors are the only ones who have consistent contact with everyone on Fridays (PE/Theater/Spanish only see some students)

Tracking Intervention.  As we are midway through the marking period, it is important that we rapidly identify students in need of support so that we can intervene and prevent failure.  Intervention and support are always important, but in Remote Learning, intervention and support are critical components to students success. 

As we move towards the end of the marking period, Annie & Kiri will be reviewing your intervention lists in their one-on-ones with you to see what support you need to help students achieve.  This year, all student attendance and interaction in Office Hours and Small Groups (not - ENL/SETTS they will have their own attendance tracking soon) should be entered into Skedula as a comment.  Please copy their advisor so that they advisor can track/support intervention.
  • PLEASE NOTE
    • Students who have NO documented evidence of intervention cannot receive a failing grade.
    • If a student does not show up to intervention (or refuses intervention), teachers must call home.  Please record notes of conversation in Skedula (and cc Advisor).  
    • If you cannot reach a student, please escalate immediately to advisor and direct supervisor (Annie/Kiri)

Co-Facilitating Duties.   The SRC Subcommittee met to clarify responsibilities of Co-Facilitators.  Here are the duties.  Co-Facilitators are charged with the supporting the online classroom management of synchronous lessons.  Please remember to add your Co-Facilitators to your Skedula classes so that they can perform their duties.  Those duties include:
  • Zoom Attendance Management.
    • Manage the Waiting Room (let students in, send wait room messages, etc.)
    • Take Attendance & Upload into Skedula
    • Send Link to lost students
    • Block potential bombers

  • Zoom General Management
    • Mute students when needed 
    • Turn off student video when needed
    • Turn off annotations (if enabled)
    • Change Screen Sharing Permissions
  • Zoom Breakout Room Management
    • Set up breakout rooms (given direction by lead teacher)
    • Visit breakout rooms to prompt conversations/keep students on target
      • This is just to get the conversations going or keeping them on track
      • This is not instructional assessment of prompting - this is class management
    • Send messages to support time management
    • Support technical troubleshooting in breakout rooms
  • Zoom Chat Management
    • Ensure students are chatting appropriately
    • Raise up questions/comments to lead teacher
    • Share necessary links/prompts in chat for students
    • Save chat if needed



Co-Teaching Duties.  You can review and update Co-Teaching Duties as needed.  In Co-Planning Meetings This Week, please 
  • Invite Annie/Kiri to Co-Planning.  We'll begin our visits to meetings this week.
  • Review AgreementsCLICK HERE to review & update Co-Working Agreements as needed.

Zoom Class Visits Begin this Week.  Jen, Kiri and Annie will be visiting zooms and Google Classrooms to provide feedback and support this week during one-on-ones and in writing.  Please make sure to share your links and Google Classrooms so that we all have access!


Per Session Postings.   As a reminder, there are NO per session opportunities without a posting.  This is one of the changes we made to increase transparency and equity for UAI.  Several folks have asked about submitting hours for things that have NOT been posted this year.  Those hours cannot be approved without proper process (two weeks posted) and thus will be automatically rejected (or if they slip by on accident because Del/Kiri/Nancy missed them, they will be adjusted accordingly).   If you want to propose a per session activity, please reach out to Annie/Kiri/Jen and the soon to be composed SRC committee.  If approved, your idea will be posted below publicly below in the Per Session Postings section.  


Per Session Postings

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

Testing Coordinator.  Joanna has moved on from UAI, and we are in need of someone to coordinate all testing and compliance activities.   The testing coordinator manages all components of schoolwide testing.  Historically, tests include DRP, SAT, AP Exams, Regents, Middle School Exams, NYSESLAT, Regents etc.  This year, we do not yet have a clear picture of what exams are being offered, but the testing coordinator will be charged with tracking and organizing around that information as it arises. The testing coordinator reports to Kiri.  Teachers with prior testing coordination experiences preferred (please write about that when completing the form).  Hours will vary as testing periods come and specific requirements of exams.   Please apply by completing the form above and emailing Kir by 19OCT20.

Anti-Racist Committee Work. The Summer Restructuring Committee met to discuss next steps and set plans for the remainder of the year incorporating the feedback that some of you shared in last week's survey (thank you for that!).  Moving forward, the SRC will now be known as the SCHOOL restructuring committee, and we will begin recruiting and selecting members for the committee.  This committee will work in conjunction with the Equity Team to evaluate systems and policies at UAI and take the steps necessary to ensure that they are equitable.  Please COMPLETE THIS FORM by 13OCT20 if you are interested in joining!



Sunday, October 4, 2020

UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 11
October 5th, 2020

Principal's Message

Fall is definitely upon us now!  The leaves are changing colors, there's a cool brisk wind in the air, daylight hours are waning, and we have officially launched in-person learning!!  

We have certainly weathered our share of bumps and curves this year, but we have all done so fairly well.  That is a true testament to the hard work and dedication you each have to your work with our students and their families.  The work is never ending, and it seems like the hours of work never stop, but each & every one of your efforts is so wonderfully appreciated by me, Annie, and Jen, but most significantly by our students and their families.  Thank you all!

As we move on from our launching phase to the next phase, the work and efforts will continue be demanding.  I do not know precisely what this next phase will be, but we have found a way to create our own rhythm in this sea of change.  As we move ahead, there will be more bumps and curves, and I know, as we move forward in the year, we will weather them all with skill and grace.  

Happy October UAI! Keep up the excellent work!





Staff Birthdays This Week

My calendar says there are no birthdays this month?
Is that true? Email me if it's wrong!!




STARS Program Updates.  Tomorrow students should be following the 01OCT Program.  I have run into a bit of a wall in uploading this program into STARS.  They've changed some things on the backend to align with their new program "models" - none of which we are following.  As a result, STARS isn't taking our program upload.  I know this will have to change now that they are allowing schools to SBO program variants.  So, I am working with our program support folks to do a work around.  I know that this is super annoying, but I appreciate your patience as I try to find a work-around, yet again.  I'm aiming to solve this issue this week, but in the interim, please use (or continue to use) Google Classroom to track grades and assignments.  In addition, please continue to take attendance in our usual attendance sheet (see next)


Attendance & Advisor Outreach.  Please use the Attendance sheet to track student attendance this week.  It has been updated with the new groups.  Please note, that students with individualized programs may not appear in the group list.  To take their attendance, please search for their names and mark their attendance for your course.  Some key things
  • Attendance Sheet Mistakes.  If you see a mistake on the attendance sheet, please put that in Annie's Parking Lot so that we can fix it!
  • Advisor Contact Log.  I created a tab for you to log your advisee outreach.  This week, we need to be particularly vigilant with our advisees to ensure they are settling into a positive routine and not getting lost.  Please review the attendance sheet daily and use your Advisory Tutoring and Friday Outreach time to connect with advisees who missed any zooms or is falling behind in work this week.  It's particularly important that we be proactive and get ahead of any issues our students may be having before they develop into course failure.  Advisor interactions and outreach are the first tier of intervention.  Please use these three extra periods per week to stay on top of your advisees & help them where needed!  Log your outreach & support in the tab called "Advisor Contact Log" 
  • Advisory Contact Information.  Please feel free to update the "Advisory Contact Info" tab with any more reliable information that you have.
  • Attendance Outreach.  If you are having problems connecting with your advisees, please reach out to Annie for support.  You can track that support in the "Attendance Outreach Log"


Grading, Feedback & MP 1 End.  The first marking period ends on November 13th.  We did start late, so this marking period will be shorter than the others, but please remember to follow the grading and feedback expectations set to you at the start of this year in our UAI Staff Handbook.  Here are the highlights:

Minimum Number of Grades.  For MP1, you should have a minimum of (adjusted for our now 8 week quarter)
  • 20% Participation - 8 participation grades
  • 30% Progress - 8 progress grades
  • 50% Performance - 4 performance grades
Feedback.  In addition, through your Office Hours, Class Time, or Small Groups on Fridays (starting 16OCT), you should have small group or individual feedback sessions for all students, but in particular for students who are not yet mastering course content and skills (and thus in need of some feedback and guidance).  In addition to in-person feedback, all students should be receiving written feedback on formative tasks to understand how better to improve their performance and be ready to demonstrate mastery on the performance tasks you assign.

Google Classroom Turn In.  All assignments should be turned in via Google Classroom.  Google Classroom allows you to readily provide written feedback and can track your grades and which of your students have yet to turn in work.  Also, once parents (and advisors) are associated to your GCs, a report will be issued to let them know which assignments are missing.  Please use this tool.


Per Session Postings

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

Testing Coordinator.  Joanna has moved on from UAI, and we are in need of someone to coordinate all testing and compliance activities.   The testing coordinator manages all components of schoolwide testing.  Historically, tests include DRP, SAT, AP Exams, Regents, Middle School Exams, NYSESLAT, Regents etc.  This year, we do not yet have a clear picture of what exams are being offered, but the testing coordinator will be charged with tracking and organizing around that information as it arises. The testing coordinator reports to Kiri.  Teachers with prior testing coordination experiences preferred (please write about that when completing the form).  Hours will vary as testing periods come and specific requirements of exams.   Please apply by completing the form above and emailing Kir by 19OCT20.

Anti-Racist Committee Work. The Summer Restructuring Committee met to discuss next steps and set plans for the remainder of the year incorporating the feedback that some of you shared in last week's survey (thank you for that!).  Moving forward, the SRC will now be known as the SCHOOL restructuring committee, and we will begin recruiting and selecting members for the committee.  This committee will work in conjunction with the Equity Team to evaluate systems and policies at UAI and take the steps necessary to ensure that they are equitable.  Please COMPLETE THIS FORM by 13OCT20 if you are interested in joining!




Google Classroom Turn In Function and Gradebook