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!