Sunday, January 10, 2021

Week of January 11th

UAI Staff News

Volume VIII
Issue 25
January 11th, 2021

Principal's Message

Last week was certainly a roller coaster of political chaos.  From a recording of over election tampering & bullying to inciting an insurrection, Trump is the chaos agent that won't stop giving.  It is a cloud of darkness in the storm of COVID that is traumatic for all of us.

 Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the cavalry is around the corner.  Educators are now eligible for COVID vaccination.   Annie shared the link posted on twitter to register for the vaccine.  I do hope many of you were able to see that email and register.  As of this morning, it looks like all the spots have been taken.  However, the city website for making appointments for COVID vaccination is now up and running for educators.  So, please check there, too!

Certainly, there are many steps between getting the vaccine and returning to normal.  But, cherish this pivot.  We are at the first step of exiting the storm of COVID.  In at most 10 days, we will take our first step in exiting the storm of the Trump presidency.  While the first week of 2021 seemed like a grim continuation of 2020, these upcoming events promise a turn to a brighter future.

Don't Forget To Scroll To the Bottom to See This Week's Per Session Postings
There's QUITE A FEW NEW ONES this week!!!

Birthdays This Week

Monday, 11JAN:  Happy Birthday Ms. Juelle!!
Tuesdya, 12JAN:  Happy Birthday Ms. Nancy!!

Sunday, 10JAN:  Yalani C (12)
Tuesday, 12JAN:  Shantana N (12), Lillian J (10), Alexis F (11)
Wednesday, 13JAN:  Jerlai T (6)
Friday, 15JAN:  Juvilee PB (12)
Saturday, 16JAN:  Stephanie M (10)


UAI Committee Updates.  

Staff Circles Committee (Members: Annie, Jennifer, Juelle, Marsha, & Nakita) The Circle Committee met last Wednesday to plan this Friday’s upcoming staff circle. Friday’s discussion will be a continuation of our December Circle, with an emphasis on deficit thinking.

School Restructuring Committee (Members: Annie, Courtney, Jen, Kiri, Laura, Marsha, Nadine, Nina, and SarahM).  The SRC met on Monday 04JAN to plan out the spring topics and created three subcommittees to interrogate & evaluate scheduling practices, hiring processes, and pedagogical practices developed during Remote Learning to suss out instances of bias, areas in need of improvement, and components to refine and keep.

The Equity Team (Suzannah, Nina, Elana, Kelly, Phillan, Annie, Nakita, Rebecca C, Damon, Ms. King (Kianna’s mom), Ms. Barnes (Alyssa’s mom), Ms. Martuscello (Veronica’s mom), Kianna King, Emily Payamps, Jerlai Tyner, Jamilah Alshawish, Salia Naschel).  No updates this week

Get Vaccinated!  As soon as you can, please sign up and get vaccinated.  At present, neither DOE nor the unions have mandated vaccination.  However, it is not unlikely that this will inevitably happen. The DOE mandates all sorts of vaccines for adults and students alike.  They have not yet released the options for any exceptions, but when they do I will share.  If you have any concerns, please do reach out!  Sarah R offered to discuss the vaccine via email earlier this weekend.  Similarly, my sister lead teams of researchers at Pfizer in the development of their vaccine.  I would be happy to share your concerns and questions with her, and I know she would be happy to join our staff for a Q & A with anyone who would be interested.

Talk to Your Students to Get Ideas for the Spring.  Our current rate of failing students is triple and in some instances quadruple what it was in our classes this time last year, before COVID.  In some sense, this is to be expected because each of us are brand new to teaching and learning through a screen.  Teachers are learning to master lesson plans based in technology, and our students are rapidly trying to develop the digital literacy and social emotional skills required to learn through a screen, independently at home.

When we first launched remote learning, we were all blindly grasping at whatever might work.  As we grew our technical skills, we found ways that worked & improved our approaches, but much of this came from throwing things at walls to see what stuck.

Now we have 10 months of experience & learning.  It is time to pause and approach our current predicament with science & logic.  Kids are struggling; we are struggling...while the vaccine is coming for teachers, there will be some many months before our entire community will be vaccinate.  We will be relying on screens for a significant portion of our students' learning for the rest of the year.  So, as we close out the fall and ready for the spring, we need to take a beat and discover more intentional approaches to our spring work.

This week & next, we're holding a series informal focus group sessions to find out from teachers & staff what they feel has worked and what support or development they feel is needed to be more successful in their remote teaching methods for the spring.  The goal of these informal focus groups is to gather information and ideas to prepare for our next full day of PD on February 1st, and for other PD experiences throughout the spring term.

STAFF TO DO:  Similarly, this week and next, us advisory and/or class time to gather feedback from your students to learn directly from them.  Focus on the answers you don't have.  Shape those into questions for the students who are at the center of those puzzles.  Also think about the students in your classes who have demonstrated success.  What do you want to learn from their experiences to help your own understanding of what to keep or change in your curriculum for the spring.  Finally, examine your curriculum from the perspectives of students.  Ask them questions that help identify any barriers that may exist for them in terms of access, engagement, and academic success.  What is required to be successful in your class and are there barriers that exist for some students that prevent them from having access to success in your class?

Weekly Grade Upload.  As a reminder, please upload your grades by the end of the day on Monday.  Progress and Participation categories need to have at least 1 grade per week.  By the end of today, students should have at least 6 grades in Progress and Participation.  There are 4 more weeks remaining in the marking period.  If you do not have 6 grades in those categories do not create assignments to meet the minimum. Rather, shift your planning to meet the goal of at least 1 participation or progress grade per week.   

COVID Prognostication.  Now that we are in the pipeline for vaccination, many questions are popping up about what that means for a return to school.  DISCLAIMER - I do not KNOW anything for sure, but I will share my own DOE Tea Leaves interpretations.  Here's what I know and what I can best guess based on these knowings...
  • Only Four Weeks to Feb Break.  This is the first week educators are getting vaccinated.  There needs to be at least three weeks between the first and second dose (for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines), and there are 135,000 employees in the DOE (not counting all the Charter, Parochial, and Private schools).  We will not be returning to in person school prior to February Break.

  • Almost 200K Vaccinated So Far.  DiBlasio has pledged to have 1 million vaccinations by January's end.  Since the vaccines arrived in NYC on 11DEC (one month ago), about ~192K (~177K - first dose, and ~15K - 2nd dose) have received vaccines.  NYC would have to more than triple that rate to reach DiBlasio's goal,  Given that they have not yet responded to the requests from Pfizer and Moderna to move the vaccines into pharmacies, that may be a hard goal to meet.  If they do make that move, the game will change and we will exponentially be able to near the goal. If that happens, there is a good chance that all DOE employees will be fully vaccinated by Spring Break.  

  • Spring Break is the Last Week of March.  It would make the most sense that IF we were to return to in-person working (notice that word choice), it would happen no sooner than after Spring Break (05APR21).  Of course, "making sense" has not been this current administration's take that prognostication with a large grain of salt. 

  • Not All Students Will Return To In-Person Learning This Spring.  Even if we reach a rate of vaccinating 1 million people per month, there are still 8 million people in NYC.  That means from today, it will take at least 8 months to vaccinate the entire population of NYC.   Many of our families will continue to choose to keep their children home until they themselves (and their children) are vaccinated.  Given our students and the majority of their parents age and health, many of our families will not be eligible for the vaccine for some time.  That means that we will need to have some form of remote learning for a chunk of our students and families for part or the rest of the school year.  What that specifically looks like will depend on the number of families choosing to send their children to in-person learning or remain in remote.  We are way too far out from that decision to make any clear guesses about that.  What we can say is that some form of Remote Learning is here to stay for the remainder of the year.

  • What if I don't want to get the vaccine?  I really don't know.  I don't know if staff will be allowed to return to the building without having been vaccinated, and I don't know if staff will be allowed to work remotely (meaning that the only other option would be taking a medical leave).  I can share that I am personally confident in taking the vaccine (I have my appointment on Tuesday), and I am personally making sure that my own family gets vaccinated.  However, these are my personal decisions as is the decision for you and your vaccination options is yours.  No one can force you to become vaccinated.  That is certain.  What is not yet clear is what that means in terms of your working conditions with the DOE.  Please reach out to your unions for more guidance.  I can 100% guarantee that your unions will have more information on this subject than me!!

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.  

Summer School Curriculum Writers.  In preparation for summer school, we need teachers to work collaboratively to write units and lessons plans for summer school NX students.  These curriculum writers will be expected to work 1-2 hours per week to meet/write/review units and lesson plans for the summer.  The goal will be to have fully complete lessons that can be reviewed with summer school staff by Monday, 14JUN21.  The team will be working on core subjects and working in conjunction with Annie and Kiri.  There will be 4-6 positions available.  Posting closes on 25JAN21.  Please complete the per session form and email Kiri to apply.

SRC Sub Committees.  The SRC met on 04JAN to plan for the spring term to address revisions/redoing of the school schedule and to reflect on and evaluate the new pedagogical practices we implemented during remote learning.  We are looking for staff to join one of two subcommittees (Scheduling and COVID Lessons Learned).  These committees will meet regularly (as determined by the committee) to create the schedule for the 2021-22 school year, and identify and refine pedagogical practices from Remote Learning that will continue into the next school year.  Timelines on this are imminent, so this special post will begin as of today and close two weeks from today on Tuesday, 19JAN20.  Please complete THIS FORM by 19JAN20 to apply for either of these subcommittees.  As an FYI, the SRC is joining with the Circles Committee and Equity Team to revamp the hiring process.  The goal is to complete the revamp by 01FEB in time to launch our hiring season.  As a result, there wasn’t time to post a new sub-committee position for two weeks and meet the 01FEB deadline.

Data Team.  The Equity Team and SRC are in need of data support.  We need a team of folks who have experience with basic functions in excel (using formulas, sorting, filtering, creating charts, etc.) and have a willingness to learn to master DOE data platforms (ATS, STARS, New Visions Data Portal).   The job will be to access DOE data platforms to pull requested data (as requested by the Equity Team or SRC) and use tools (like Excel) to present that data in accessible formats for the Equity & SRC teams and for the staff and community in general.  Hours will vary as needed, but will average at 1-2 hours per week (in training and working).  Posting is open through 25JAN, please complete the per session interest form and email Kiri if interested.

Academic Skill Development Advisory Lesson Developer. The Counseling Team is looking for on person to help create advisory lessons that will support student academic skill building. Topics include, but are not limited to: Navigating GC efficiently, How to use Google Calendar to support time management and work submission, How to Navigate Pupil Path to support Informed decision making. The Ideal candidate will create at least 1 unit of lessons (8-10 lessons) . Lessons must include both the lesson plan for advisors and accompanying slides and student activities. Approx 20 hours of per session total. Posting closes on 25JAN. Please complete the per session interest form and email Jen if interested.

Black History Month Community Activity Submissions. The Culture Committee is beginning to plan Black History Community Activities and we are looking for a wider range of staff voice and ideas. If you would like to help plan a community event for February, please complete the per session form ASAP. This year’s theme for Black History Month this year is: The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. Approx 10 hours of per session total per position with a minimum of two positions.

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