Sunday, December 16, 2018

Week of December 17th

UAI Staff News

    Volume VI
    Issue 17
    December 17th, 2018
    (99 instructional days remaining)


    Lessons from Visits, Observations, and Intervisitations.  In the final teaching days of 2018, it's a good time to take stock of some key feedback and observations that we've had (or have done) in the last several weeks.  The biggest trend is around how we are working with our Lesson Look Fors.  We are improving significantly as a group in articulating quality look-fors that demand higher order thinking from our students.  As a result, our students across grades and classrooms are definitely being pushed to think beyond "identify" of "matching" or copying.  More of our students are posing questions, sharing their ideas, and putting their thinking into writing as a means to consolidate their learning.

    One common stumble that we are seeing through our intervisitations and observations is in teacher circulation.  In pursuit of finding the look-fors, teachers are pausing too long with turn and talk pairs to elicit them from students.  This means that many teachers are spending 2-3 minutes with a single pair, while the remaining talking pairs are either finished with their discourse and/or making the same conceptual mistakes without prompts or guidance.

    This week is a great one for taking stock of your own practice by looking at thinking and circulation:

    Planning for Student Thinking
    Continue working on your lesson look-fors.  Evaluate them using Webb's DOK (what level of thinking are you demanding).  Look at your lesson time allotment.  How much time are students spending at Level 3 or 4 for the duration of your lesson (students should be thinking at Levels 3 or 4 for a minimum of 30 or more min during the period)?   Suggestion:  About every 5 minutes, students need to be asked to be doing something (writing/talking/engaging in an activity to figure something out).  At the end of a piece of instruction, create a quick turn and talk (or stop and jot) to help students engage in thinking.

    Pay attention to your timing and circulation.  How long are you spending with each pair?  Are you picking up trends across multiple pairs?  What are you doing with the trends and patterns that you find? Suggestion:  During student discourse or work, use the first 1-2 minutes to get a lay of the land - visit every pair or group and take stock of what you hear first.  THEN, make a decision with what to do with it - what hints can you drop to put pairs on the right track to think independently without you?  Do those hints work for the class as a whole - if so then pause the talk and give it to everyone!

    To Do This Week

    Monday PD.  We are rescheduling our Parent-Staff extended PD from this Monday to a Monday in late January/February.  We are still finalizing plans with Mr. McLean, Damon, and Doris.  Stay tuned!!  For this Monday, we will be giving the time over to grade teams to complete DESSA evaluations, January Plops, coordinate any logistics for trips this week (if applicable), and share any final scheduled assessments.  To the extent possible, please do not overburden students by giving multiple exams on the same day.  Having 4 major course content exams on the same day is unfairly taxing on students.  Please check in with one another to avoid this outcome as much as possible.  LDC teachers will continue to meet in 305 with Marsha and Rebecca.  All other members of grade teams will meet in the following rooms immediately at 3PM

    • 6th Grade:  Alison (facilitator), Jennifer, Amanda, Tracy, Jennifer, Marni
      • (Laura, Sarah & Phillan will be in LDC)
    • 7th & 8th Grade:  Natalie (facilitator), Megan, Matthew, Cherry, Joanna, Jake, Natalie
      • (Kristina, Christina, Marsha will be in LDC)
    • 9th/12th Grade:  Jamie (facilitator)Meaghan, Zach, Elana
      • (Damon will be at SLT; Cassandra, Rebecca C., Rebecca F will be at LDC)
    • 10th/12th Grade:  Danielle R (facilitator), Nina, Kristi, Suzannah
      • (Elena will be at SLT; Tiffany & Freida will be at LDC)
    • 11th/12th Grade:  Kelly (facilitator), Judy, Tom, Giselle
      • (Joey will be at LDC)
    Holiday Craft and Karaoke.  Please remind your advisee's families that we have our annual UAI family craft and karaoke night on Monday, December 17th at 5:30PM.  Please invite them to tjoin us!

    Tuesday Outreach.  Please let families know that we will be doing a rapid dismissal at the end of 6th period at 2PM on Friday, Dec 21st.   There will be no after school, and all staff must make plans to rapidly dismiss the building along with the students.  We will be closing the building for the holiday just after dismissal.  If you are planning a trip, students will not be allowed into the building after 2PM.  So, if students need to re-enter, please return to school no later than 1:30PM.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    Week of December 10th

    UAI Staff News

      Volume VI
      Issue 16
      December 10th, 2018
      (112 school days remaining)


      More on "Multiplication if for White People" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, by Lisa Delpit.    As we finish up our 2nd round of observations focused on assessment and student look-for, this quote from Delpits chapter "How would a fool do it? Assessment" brings up Mike Schmoker's work from Results Now.  Delpit cites Schmoker's ideas for elevating student achievemetn by forming teacher teams focused on the following:

              • being clear about what is to be learned and assessed
                     [e.g. Lesson Look Fors]
              • using assessments to evaluate a lesson's effectiveness and making constructive adjustments on the basis of results
                     [e.g. listening into to Turn & Talks or Reading student writing]
              • conducting checks for understanding at certain points throughout the lesson
                     [e.g. student discourse, student summaries, or written work]
              • having kids read for higher-order purposes and write regularly
                     [e.g. reading for learning or analysis; writing every day]
              • clearly explicating and carefully teaching the criteria by which student work will be scored or evaluated.
                     [e.g. clearly stating/showing the criteria for success]

      These are exactly the Look Fors that Annie and I use as we move around your classrooms to evaluate practice and student learning.  In your planning teams, continue to support each other in refining and elevating the quality of these points in your plans.  As you increase the quality of your Look Fors, your ability to respond and adjust to student thinking (as shown through your assessments and checks for understanding) will also improve.  As you increase the clarity of your Look Fors, your articulation and communication to your class about what it means to be successful will also increase.  The Lesson Look -Fors are the first step to high quality planning and lesson execution.  They are not a checklist of what you want students to say or do - rather they are an articulation of the type of thinking you want to see students execute in class. 

      To Do This Week

      Annual UAI Winter Staff Celebration.  Our annual winter celebration will be on Friday, December 14th from 4-6PM at Commonwealth Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Please give Del $20 if you wish to attend.  All are welcome!  If you'd like to bring a guest, you are welcome to do so.  Please just give $20 for them as well.  The $20 includes an open bar and food (TBD - but I am open to suggestions if you have any!) from 4-6PM.  Please at least RSVP to Del by the end the day Tuesday so that we have an accurate head count and can move forward in ordering food!

      Tuesday Outreach.  Please announce to parents this week that we are hosting our annual UAI family craft and karaoke night on Monday at 5:00PM.  The PTA meeting will also be the same night.  We are also recruiting for our SLT and PTA Executive Board.  So, if you have parents who may be interested, please let Del know ASAP!  Also:
      • 12/14 - School Assembly at 2:00 - parents are always welcomed to attend if they would like
      • 12/17 - PTA meeting and Family Craft Night - PLEASE GET PEOPLE TO ATTEND THIS EVENT   Everyone that attended had a lot of fun last year 5:00-6:30
      • 12/21 - Rapid Dismissal at 2:00 PM and no after-school - Start of Winter Break!!!!

      SEL This week

      6th grade SEL-
      We have been learning about peer pressure in SEL. The girls learned about how their peers can be both a positive and negative influence. They made up skits showing what negative peer pressure may look like and then used the tools they learned in class to show various ways they can resist doing things that don’t feel right to them. They practiced saying no and standing their grounds in some very creative skits!

      This past Wednesday, several Middle School and High School Girls Inc. students were invited to participant in the Annual PopUp Shop hosted in the Metlife building in Manhattan. These amazing students have the opportunity to the sell items they made in their respective clubs. Some of those items included cook jars, book marks, essential oil roller balls, candle holders and body scrubs. By the end of the night these entreprenuers were able to sell all of their products! 

      9th Grade SEL: Last week, we dove deep into our unit on bullying and social media. We participated in thoughtful turn and talks and completed readings on our essential question: "How do our interactions online impact our everyday experiences and relationships?". Although there were tough moments where we had to be completely vulnerable and really put ourselves out there, we were able to use our experiences to become more mindful of other perspectives.

      This week, we will continue preparing for our next Socratic Seminar around this focus question as well as the following supporting questions:

      • How can hearing another person’s experience with bullying change our perspective?

      • What resources are available to teens who are being bullied?

      Sunday, December 2, 2018

      Week of December 3rd

      UAI Staff News

        Volume VI
        Issue 15
        December 3rd, 2018
        (117 school days remaining)


        More on "Multiplication if for White People" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, by Lisa Delpit.   The lessons from this book are endless.  This week, I found the following ideas from the chapter, "Warm Demanders:  The Importance of Teachers in the Lives of Children of Poverty" particularly inspiring:
                • Successful teachers of low-income, culturally diverse children know that their students are "school-dependent"...Children who are not part of the mainstream [privileged culture] are dependent on schools to teach them whatever they need to be successful. 
                • ...[Inequity], family issues, poverty, crime and so forth all affect poor children's learning opportunities....[The] quality of teaching has six to ten times as much impact on achievement as all other factors combined.
        At UAI, our mission is to bring the type of learning and educational experiences our students need to successfully compete in STEM fields and careers.  Inherently, our mission is one of social equity.  In order to build the skills and resilience necessary for our students to overcome the hurdles placed before them, our students depend on UAI and the amount of work, effort, and attention to quality that our teachers put into planning and executing high-quality instruction everyday.  Instructional work is neither easy nor simple.  Our work each day is to plan and execute the best learning experiences that push student thinking to higher order levels and use that level of thinking to acquire new knowledge and skills. 

        Last week, several folks expressed interest in intervisitation for classroom management.  When students' minds are challenged and when they are provided with entry points with which they can actively engage in the challenge, behaviors follow suit.  Behaviors are a by-product of instructional planning.   While it can be necessary at times, the goal in instructional planning is not to find ways to control behaviors.  Rather, the goal is to perfect learning activities and lesson execution so that student behaviors promote critical thinking.

        Each visit will have the same agenda.  All visits will start in Room 401.

        • 10min Review the lesson and examine the look-fors and protocols for classroom visiting
        • 15min Classroom Visit
        • 20min Debrief & Discuss the Visit and Lesson Plan

        Please click the link to sign up for a specific classroom visit.  You will be provided with coverage if you teach during the same period.  To the extent possible we will try to get everyone into their first choice!  Here are the visit details:

        • Wednesday, 05DEC at 8:30AM:  
          • Earth Science; Exploring Convection with Ms. Kristi 
        • Thursday 06DEC18 at 9:25AM:  
          • 9th Gr. ELA; Writing Strong Arguments with Ms. Cassandra & Ms. Rebecca F
        • Friday, 14DEC18 at 8:30AM:
          • 8th Gr. CC Algebra; Exploring inequalities with one variable
        • Date still TBD
          • Spanish II; Irregular Verbs - finding and applying patterns

        Girls Inc. Does it Again!  This month, seven High School Girls Inc. participants were invited to the Adidas Creator Farm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They worked in groups and were guided by women who work in a wide range of roles across the sneaker industry to create a design and sales/marketing strategy for a shoe. The girls had an amazing time presenting their new creations to a group of talented Fashion professionals. 

        To Do This Week

        Annual UAI Winter Staff Celebration.  Our annual winter celebration will be on Friday, December 14th from 4-6PM at Commonwealth Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Please give Del $20 if you wish to attend.  All are welcome!  If you'd like to bring a guest, you are welcome to do so.  Please just give $20 for them as well.  The $20 includes an open bar and food (TBD - but I am open to suggestions if you have any!) from 4-6PM.  

        Monday PD.  This Monday is the first Monday of the month.  We will be meeting in Grade Teams in Room 409 to continue writing plops for December and January.  All teachers should meet in 409 for announcements.  Please complete this brief survey so that we can make sure we cover your concerns.  After announcements, we will go straight into PLOPs and/or team meetings.

        Tuesday Outreach.  This Tuesday, please focus your energies on reaching out to families to get emails.    Please CLICK HERE to see which of your advisees still need an email.  We want to improve the reach of our newsletters, and direct email to families is the best bet.

        Conference Outcomes.  As a school, we saw 60% of our families in person.  While I know some of you had phone-conferences with your families, the in-person conferences have much more impact.  Face-to-face conferences better enable us to build critical relationships with families that lead to student achievement.

        As a reminder, Tuesday Outreach is designed for phone conferences.  We should be conducting phone conferences with each of our advisees at least once per marking period.  By now, you should have had at least two phone conferences with each of your advisees.  These conferences should be reviewing student progress and setting goals.

        No Per Session Updates This Week

        Sunday, November 25, 2018

        Week of November 26th

        UAI Staff News

          Volume VI
          Issue 14
          November 26, 2018
          (122 school days remaining)


          "Multiplication if for White People" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, by Lisa Delpit.  I first Delpit as a first-year teacher working in an alternative high school here in Brooklyn.  In 1997, I had recently arrived in NYC.  Reading it was pivotal to my perception of myself as a teacher in relation to my students and their families.  About two years ago, I finally made the time to read this next book of hers, which gave shape to work I had been as an administrator.  As we near parent conferences and benchmark exams at the end of this week, I'm borrowing her words to express my thoughts and charge for the week.  From her chapter "Picking Up the Broom: Demanding Critical Thinking", Delpit writes:

                • In the name of "test prep," students spend hours and hours completing worksheets that are presumably meant to increase their test scores on standardized tests...Some instructional approaches focused solely on repetition of decontextualized bits may "work" temporarily to raise test scores for children in urban settings, but if the children's minds are not engaged, then the programs are failures.

          Our main instructional goal for this year is to engage teacher thinking around student thinking and to do so by articulating lesson activity look-fors in their planning.  By being explicit about look-fors, teachers will be able to evaluate the level of thinking that their activities demand of students.  In so-doing, the goal is to plan for critical thinking and to move away from planning for doing.  When we focus on planning for thinking, we achieve high levels of student intellectual engagement.

          Throughout our visits to classrooms, worksheets are common.  The paper itself is not the issue, it's what's on the paper that needs to be considered.  To what extent are kids being asked to critically think, and if the task is clearly one that requires higher order thinking, are we over-scaffolding the exercises to get them to completion vs. supporting their ability to productively struggle?

          This is a short week leading up to our first series of benchmark exams, our baseline measures on state exams.  Continue to exercise high levels of planning and reflect on the levels of thinking that your lesson activities demand of students.   To see how this plays out in your own discipline please sign up for a visit to one of your colleague's classrooms by CLICKING HERE.  Once you sign up and we finalize the calendar, you can expect a google calendar invite and follow-up instructions for coordinating logistics.

          To Do This Week

          Monday PD.  On Monday, we're going to have a series of different activities for staff. Several folks will want to be in two places at once.  All staff should report to your assigned rooms at 3PM.  No announcements this week.  We'll do a combined announcement next Monday to cover both last week and this week.

          • In Room 409 w/ Annie - Setting and Following Through on Common Expectations for 8th graders.  This is targeted for any teacher of the 8th grade.  The team is working on establishing and committing to following through on behavioral and academic expectations.  This team will meet on the following Mondays;  26NOV and 10NOV to complete the work.  Damon, Meaghan, Cherry, Joanna, Christina, Jake, Natalie, Nadine, Elana, and Tracy
          • In Room 407 w/ Kiri - Planning Intervisitation Visits for Lesson Look Fors.  We'll begin prepping for classroom intervisitations coming up in the next couple of weeks.  Cassandra & Rebecca F. (9th ELA), Kristi & Amanda (Earth Sci), Jamie & Matthew (8th Gr. Algebra), Elena & Giselle (Spanish)
          • In Room 305 w/ Marsha & Rebecca - Continuing LDC Work with Christine.  Laura, Sarah, Phillan, Kristina, Tiffany, Freida, and Joey

          Prepare for Student Led Conferences.  Please use Tuesday outreach time this week to prepare your classrooms and bulletin boards with student work.  Please make sure you are keeping THIS DOCUMENT up to date with your notes and appointments.  The main office will be scheduling students and confirming appointments this week.  It will greatly help the main office and the professionalism we put forth with our families if our Del and Nancy have up-to-date information.

          Prepare for Benchmark Exams.  Please check this Benchmark Schedule.  There have been changes.  Your lunch period is a full lunch period, now.  Everyone has an extra long prep on Thursday, and all teachers should report to their assigned grading room, promptly at 1:10 to grade the Thursday benchmarks.  At the start of each benchmark day, all proctors should report to room 145 to pick up their proctoring bins for the day.  At the end of benchmarks, please return those bins to room 145.  All teachers who are hosting intervisitations for next week need to report to room 401.  Prep time on Friday will fall at different times for different teachers, depending on your SLC appointments.

          SEL Update

          9th Grade: 9th grade successfully completed their first SEL Socratic seminar on key issues in 13 Reasons Why paired with supplementary nonfiction texts. We made sure to root every observation with evidence when discussing our focus question: "Are teens equipped to handle everyday stress?" We were reflective about how both internal and external factors (lack of support or mental health awareness in school or at home, harmful comments on social media) can affect our ability to effectively manage stressors. We discussed how classes like SEL are beneficial for the mental health of all teens (shout out to the SEL team) and why all schools should have them.

          We will be wrapping up our week by prepping for our student-led conferences. We are excited to show off our artifacts that represent areas of strength and reflect on those that represent areas of struggle.

          No Per Session Updates This Week

          Sunday, November 18, 2018

          Week of November 19th

          UAI Staff News

            Volume VI
            Issue 14
            November 19, 2018
            (125 school days remaining)


            A Farm Near You Coming Soon!  Mr. Tom has been working with NY Sun Works to get a new hydroponics lab built in room B49.  Mr. Damon sought out the grant last year and handed off the project to Tom this fall.  Mr. Tom has since been working diligently with NY Sun Works to bring the UAI indoor greenhouse to life!  This will be a fantastic hands-on learning opportunity for our students and staff to learn more about aquaculture, hyrdroponics, and sustainability!  In addition, the basement will have some greenery to brighten it up!

            UAI Staff CrockPot Potluck and PTA Potluck.  On Monday, we have two events.   All staff are invited to bring something to our crockpot PD.  If you can't bring a slow cooker, feel free to bring anything you can.  After the staff Potluck, please stay to join our PTA potluck later that night!  I know it's not always easy to find the time to bring food to these kinds of things.  Please don't feel limited to a crockpot recipe.  Branch out and let us know what you are able to bring.  It can be anything - it's the spirit and thought that counts!  Please sign up to let us know what you can bring.  CLICK HERE

            To Do This Week

            PLOP Prep, Grade Team Meetings, and a CrockPot Potluck.  On Monday, we will be starting in on December PLOPs.   We will begin the meeting with Administrative Announcements.  We can't fix or praise things that we don't know about!!  Please complete this quick one-question survey so that we can be sure to address anything that may be on your mind.  CLICK HERE to let us know what needs to be addressed and/or celebrated! We will be switching up the order a bit for Monday

            • 3:00-3:40 PLOPs - End of Nov and Beginning of December
            • 3:40-4:10 Potluck and Announcements

            Tuesday Outreach.  Student Led Conferences will be one week from Thursday.  This is a short week, so we need to make sure that we reach out to all of our parents before Thanksgiving so that they have enough notice to schedule an appointment with us.  Many of you have already entered in your appointments into the sheet . Thank you so much for that work!!  By the end of outreach on Tuesday, we need all teachers to enter their appointments into this  SLC Appointment Sheet.

            Student Led Conferences and Benchmarks.  As part of the announcements on Monday, we will be going over expectations for Student Led Conferences and Benchmarks.  Please reach out to your grade team members this week to learn about their experiences with SLCs and Benchmarks.  Then have your questions ready to go for Monday's PD.   Also, if you share your questions and concerns in the survey link (above), we'll be prepared to give you a thorough answer at PD!

            SEL Update - Ask 6th graders to listen with their EARS and they should understand the type of listening you require. They spent time talking about the difference between listening and really hearing and taking in what others say. Keep an eye out for the break down of EARS in our next SEL sound bytes.
            They also spoke in depth about their core values and how identifying them can help make for clearer, better decisions when they’re faced with both peer and internal pressure. They had so much fun trying to chart their future paths by writing about where they’ll be at 20, 28 and 65 years old!

            Monday, November 12, 2018

            Week of November 12th

            UAI Staff News

              Volume VI
              Issue 13
              November 12, 2018
              (129 school days remaining)


              October Member of the Month  Class of 2016 Alumna, Shavonnie Victor (the student I showed during PD on Tuesday) is making headlines again!  This time she is being celebrated as Cornell University's National Society of Minorities in Hospitality's (NSMH) student of the month.  Historically, managers in the hospitality environment have not represented a wide diversity of backgrounds.  Cornell's NSMH goal is aimed to recruit and support students of varying backgrounds to change that narrative.  Well beyond graduating from UAI, Shavonnie continues to find her voice to build a better, more just future for us all!  Way to go Shavonnie!!

              To Do This Week

              PLOP Prep, Grade Team Meetings, and a CrockPot Potluck.  Our next full staff PD will be on Monday, 19NOV18.  Thank you to everyone who used their professional period time to complete the PLOPs that are due this month.  We will be starting in on December PLOPs next Monday.  In addition, for some Thanksgiving cheer, we're inviting all staff to join in on a crockpot potluck!  If you can bring something for the celebration, please sign up here. Here's next Monday's Agenda

              • 3:00PM - PLOP Writing
              • 3:30PM - Announcements - Reviewing SLCs and Survey Data
              • 3:45PM - Grade Team Meetings

              Tuesday Outreach.  It's not too early to begin scheduling parents for SLCs.  This year our Student Led Conferences are on Thursday evening (5-8PM), 29NOV18 and Friday afternoon, 30NOV18 (11:50AM-2:50PM).  Please begin scheduling SLCs this Tuesday.  To optimize the time, please schedule parents every 20 minutes, which will give you 18 slots to fill.  Please enter your appointments in THIS document. 

              NOTE:  We are always trying to update our parent contact info to keep it up to date.  Please enter parent phone number and email into the SLC appointment sheet and in the NOTES section, indicate if the contact information is new or if it matches Skedula.  

              Sunday, November 4, 2018

              Week of November 5th

              • UAI Staff News

              Volume VI
              Issue 12
              November 5, 2018
              (134 school days remaining)


              Halloween Fun!  Nearly the entire staff joined in the fun of dress up last Wednesday!  Those in costume paraded through breakfast causing a tidal wave of teenage paparazzi that was a sight to behold!  Once again the 6th-grade team brought out their A-game with their Wonderland Themed gear, but close on their heels this year was the 7th grade with their Coco/Day of the Dead inspired costumes and the 10th-grade team in the garb of the 4 estates of the French Revolution.  Finally, Annie wowed all the grown-ups with her dead ringer costume of the Honorable RBG, but alas, too many of our young students recognized her only as Judge Judy.  On the upside - if our students knew everything already, we'd all be out of jobs!  Overall, it was a wonderfully fun day!

              To Do This Week

              Monday PD.  Due to our Superintendent Visit on Wednesday, we are shifting Monday PD time to school beautification.  Annie will introduce more of this in PD on Monday, but we will be moving PLOPs and Grade Team meetings to 19NOV18 (next Monday is a holiday).  We want to give teachers time on Monday to fill out our bulletin boards with student work (that has actionable feedback and is posted up with a description of the task and its rubric).  In addition to attending to our bulletin boards, teachers can use the Monday time readying their lessons for Wednesday's visit.

              Tuesday PD.  All staff should expect to report to UAI on Tuesday unless you have previously spoken to Annie or myself in person.   Tuesday's PD is critical to the work we have been doing for the last few years around planning and elevating the quality of our classroom instruction.  On Tuesday, we will be focusing on developing the quality of our Look Fors in our lesson plans.

              • 8AM - Breakfast Optional
              • 8:30AM - State of the School Address
              • 9:00-11:00AM Investigating the Power of High-Quality Lesson Look Fors
                                         [Annie, Kelly, Suzannah, and Zack]
              • 11:00-12:00PM Lunch
              • 12:00-1:50PM Lesson Planning For Observations (with Planning Partners)
              • 2:00-2:50PM Prepping for the Visit (lesson planning and bulletin boards)

              SEL Update

              9th Grade: Last week, we dived into the word "perspective" and took a look at how individual perception shapes the way we tell stories and interact with the world. During our Thirteen Reasons Why novel study (and in 9th grade ELA!), we began looking at different perspectives and started to understand how there are multiple layers to every issue, relationship and story. Our goal is to tie the work we've done around two overarching SEL skills (relationship building and social awareness), relationship builders and damagers, effective collaboration techniques and our novel study together via a socratic seminar. We have a busy but fun week ahead of us!

              6th graders worked more on learning to solve conflict constructively. One of those strategies is reflecting their friends feelings as a way to allow them to feel heard and understood. They practiced how to confront someone using “I” statements and learned how starting with you can contribute to a less productive outcomes. We even saw them trying to use these new skills in action as we helped with several mediations this week!

              Sunday, October 28, 2018

              Week of October 29th

              UAI Staff News

              Volume VI
              Issue 11
              October 29th, 2018
              (139 School Days Remaining)


              Spirit Week Success.  School spirit was alive and thriving at UAI this past week.  Many thanks to Ms. Jen for pushing and promoting each day to build our school spirit.  Many shout outs and many, many thanks go to Ms. Kelly for organizing the seniors into creating a fabulous and spirited assembly.  It went smoothly and truly showed how much our students appreciate one another and our school!  As per last week's staff meeting, we will continue to solicit feedback from staff regarding how to better improve our school culture and school events!  Stay tuned for our updates around next month's Advisory activities!

              To Do This Week

              Monday Announcements. These announcements are driven by your responses to the surveys we send out to you.  Last week, we got 12 of 50 staff responding.  This week we got that up to 15 out of 50.  All staff should feel free to respond!  There's still time so please take a minute to share your thoughts.  The more folks who respond, the more reliable the input!  CLICK HERE.  Please do answer the last question - even if it's just to share what you feel is good!  We can address good things too!

              Mission and Vision Statements.  The response to our first Parent-Teacher Workshop around Implicit Bias was overwhelmingly positive.  This Mission Workshop was aimed at revisiting the schools' mission and to study and reflect on our own implicit bias on young women in STEM.   These workshops were conceived of and planned in our School Leadership Team meetings.  Originally, the goal was to bring in an outside organization to facilitate these conversations with our parents and teachers.  Ms. Doris researched Border Crossers, which are a high-quality organization with an equally high price tag.  Mr. McLean then found out through his DOE contacts that we should be able to receive this support via the DOE, but we couldn't organize them in time for our October PD, so Kiri and the Consultation Committee stepped in.   The SLT is looking for volunteers to work together to target these DOE supports and to prepare for our next Parent-Teacher Workshop on December 17th.  Our next SLT meeting is on November 19th, so interested staff should be prepared to present initial plans by then.  If interested, please email Kiri.  

              Technology Support.  There have been a couple of questions regarding technology support.  To reiterate, for now, please email me or Brodie directly for any support you may need.  Phil Bertani will be our new tech support person, but the DOE process for onboarding new staff is notoriously slow and laborious.  HR told me they would reach out to me by the end of the day Friday to confirm approval for the position.  I did not hear from them and have to call them again, first thing on Monday.  Once we onboard Phil, we will then communicate with everyone the systems that will be in place to provide tech support for UAI.  In the meantime, please be patient as we transition our new technical support person onto the campus payroll.  Direct emails to me and or Brodie will be the best way you can get technical support until this process is completed.

              PD Committee.  As a reminder, we have a standing PD committee that meets to plan PD for the staff all year long.  We meet on Fridays at 11:15-12:10 in room 401.  Rebecca, Marsha, and Jamie are three who have consistently attended all year.  However, the committee is always open to everyone.  In particular, the committee is focusing professional development work this year on lesson planning for student thinking and in-class coaching.  If you'd like to have input on planning PD for the staff, please join us or reach out to Rebecca, Marsha or Jamie so they can hear your ideas and bring them to the meeting!  Here's the Agenda for Monday's PD

              • 3:00-4:10:  LDC in Room 305.  Teachers working with LDC meet weekly under the leadership of Marsha & Rebecca with the support of our Generation Ready Literacy Coach, Christine Del Negro.  Announcements will be delivered to LDC group at 4PM  Monday 29OCT18 Agenda.  
              • 3:00-4:10  All Other Staff in Room 409.  All other staff report to room 409.  
                • 3:00-3:15 Updates from The Survey followed by brief Q&A
                • 3:15-3:30 School Goals and Vision for Professional Development at UAI
                • 3:30-4:10 Lesson Planning Look Fors - Learning how to plan for thinking vs. planning for doing

              Social Emotional Learning This Week

              Social Awareness - 6th graders spent time this week focusing on social awareness.  They practiced how to talk to a friend who is disappointing them and how to respond to conflict so that everyone walks away with a "win-win".  If they're having trouble collaborating in class and need to make compromises ask them how they can turn their conflict it into a "win-win"! They also reflected on gossip and how it may impact their lives in and out of school.  They used the 4 question "gossip test" to help decide if the information they receive should be passed on.  Let's hope they use it for real! 

              Relationship Building - 9th grade continued to work on relationship building skills. We took an in-depth look at different relationship builders and damagers and how they affect our connections with the people around us. We then began to connect the different damagers we identified to our independent study novel Thirteen Reasons Why. Reading the book alongside our unit on building better relationships has helped us ground our work in the real world!

              Monday, October 22, 2018

              Week of 10/22

              UAI Staff News

              Volume VI
              Issue 10
              October 22nd, 2018
              [144 School Days Remaining]


              Spirit Week.  This week is our first spirit week of the year.  Activities like this create a common feeling of belonging for our community and our kids.  So, don't be shy and jump in to the full spirit of the week.  We will be culminating this week with an assembly last period and celebrating all of our seniors who took their first step towards applying to college.  [Full disclosure, I myself am dressed as my favorite character - school principal - because I totally forgot about today - BUT I will be in full force for the rest of the week!] 

              To Do This Week

              Monday PD.  Today's PD will be split with our LDC teachers joining Rebecca and Marsha in room 305 and the rest of the staff will join us in room 409.  LDC teachers will begin work as an English team to vertically align their standards and expectations with the goal of creating common expectations that prepare students for advanced level courses later in high school and beyond in college.  This work will begin with other teams as we move through the year.  

              New Art History Course.   Many shout-outs go to Ms. Natalie who has stepped up to fill in for the Art vacancy created when Tracy stepped in for Dance.  This course will explore art of the world and looks to pair with the history courses of the grade. Thank Ms. Natalie, this is bound to be a wonderful opportunity for our students.

              Tuesday Outreach.  Report cards went out on Friday to students.  Please call home to make sure your advisee's families received them.  For all teachers who have students who failed your class, please call your students' families so they have an understanding of what needs to be done to correct their current trajectory

              SEL This Week

              Review & Relationships. This week 6th graders showed how much they have learned in SEL class thus far by participating in a family feud style review game.  Not only did they get really into it but they proved that they are retaining important information about why we have SEL and how developing the skills are useful and important!  They also spent time being thoughtful about friendship and made "friend wanted" ads stating the type of friend they would want and how they themselves would make a good friend to others.  Their ads were full of depth, honesty and even humor.  We are going to try to display them in the hall by 304 if you want to take a look! 

              Per Session Opportunities

              Student Government Teacher. Students have always wanted to participate in student government.  At UAI, we've struggled to find someone to help build the program and create a sustainable system for our students.  We're looking for a teacher to run a 6-12 student government that would meet after schools from 1-2 hours of per session per week.  Responsibilities would include managing elections and then holding regular meetings to conduct and complete government duties - which will also need to be articulated with the group.

              Sunday, October 14, 2018

              Week of 10/15

              UAI Staff News

              Volume VI
              Issue 9
              October 15th, 2018
              [149 School Days Remaining]


              Student Recruitment.  Our student recruitment is in full swing this weekend with staff and students working hard in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  We are looking to maximize our incoming classes next year to grow our school size.  UAI is a special and exciting school for young women, and more young girls should have the opportunity to join us!  Many thanks to the staff and students who gave their time this weekend, and many thanks to Ms. Jen who has been spearheading this hard and intense work!

              To Do This Week

              Grades due on Wednesday by 3PM.  The first marking period ended on Friday, 12OCT18.  As with all marking periods, you should communicate with students that at UAI our grades are cumulative.  That means that marking period report cards are like snapshots of progress, and students continue their work and development through each marking period until the final one in June.  For Dance and Ms. Giselle's Spanish classes, all grades will be "NG" or no-grade and student work will pick back up for the 2nd marking period.  Please remind students and families, that marking period grades are progress reports and the only grade that goes onto transcripts is the final grade in June.

              Dance Position Filled.  During Consultation Committee, several people brought up concerns about rumors that students were spreading regarding Sursattie's sudden absence.  Whenever students bring up rumors, we always need to counter with consistency and safety - even if we don't know the whole story.  Students need to feel that they are in a safe, secure, and healthy school - always.  With respect to Sursattie, her departure was uncertain for a while, and it was not clear what the final decision was going to be.  Ultimately, she decided to resign due to personal and health reasons.  The final decision came on September 28th.  We have been trying to find a replacement since the start of September, but at this time of year, there are no quality DOE certified dance teachers who are able to fill the position.  Ms. Tracy has a dance license and will be taking over the position starting on Monday.  We still have two ATR staff (Ms. Pamela and Mr. J) who will be on staff to help cover Ms. Tracy's classes until we find a solution there (which is in the works and should be finalized this week).  Mr. Matthew (our regular sub) will be covering the rest of Ms. Giselle's maternity leave until November 2nd.   

              First PTA-Staff Workshop.  Tomorrow will be our first Staff-Parent workshop with two more to follow in December and April.  Please meet in the Library and please arrive on time at 3PM.  On Thursday, the Consultation Committee met to help plan the workshop and came up with the following goals and agenda:

              Goal:  By the end of the workshop Parents and Staff will build stronger community tie by collaboratively revising the mission of UAI.  In so doing, parent and staff members of our community will have a shared understanding of the mission of our school and how best to promote the mission for our students.  

              • 3:00 Welcome and Overview of the Afternoon
              • 3:15 Storytelling IceBreaker
              • 3:30 Taking at Look at UAI's Mission
                • UAI's Story - in your own words
                • Sharing - What did we all have in common?
                • What does the Mission Say?
              • 4:00 Understanding our Glows and Grows
                • What parts of our mission come through strongest and why?
                • What parts of our mission are less visible and why?
              • 4:30 Making the Mission Real
                • In what ways do we realize the mission in our actions with students?
                • In what ways can we improve?
              • 5:00 Taking a look at the UA Mission and NYCDOE Mission 
                • How do we fit in?  Why is it important to see UAI in this work?
                • Write another mission statement
              • 5:20 End of Workshop
              We are trying to create groups for this workshop.  If you have not filled out THIS SHEET please do so now.  Even if you have zero parents confirmed, please fill out your name and enter "no parents confirmed" so that we know and can group accordingly.  If you have parents and have yet to enter them, please do so now! Thank you!!

              SEL This Week

              Review & Relationships. This week 6th graders showed how much they have learned in SEL class thus far by participating in a family feud style review game.  Not only did they get really into it but they proved that they are retaining important information about why we have SEL and how developing the skills are useful and important!  They also spent time being thoughtful about friendship and made "friend wanted" ads stating the type of friend they would want and how they themselves would make a good friend to others.  Their ads were full of depth, honesty and even humor.  We are going to try to display them in the hall by 304 if you want to take a look! 

              Per Session Opportunities

              Student Government Teacher. Students have always wanted to participate in student government.  At UAI, we've struggled to find someone to help build the program and create a sustainable system for our students.  We're looking for a teacher to run a 6-12 student government that would meet after schools from 1-2 hours of per session per week.  Responsibilities would include managing elections and then holding regular meetings to conduct and complete government duties - which will also need to be articulated with the group.