Sunday, February 24, 2019

Week of February 28th

UAI Staff News

    Volume VI
    Issue 25
    February 28th, 2019
    (71 instructional days remaining)


    Welcome Back UAI!  Welcome Back from February Break.  Hopefully you were all to get some well-earned rest and relaxation and/or you were able to do some work to get ahead for our next block of instruction.  Or perhaps, you are that superb person who managed to do both!  Whatever your specific case, we are all back at it on Monday!  This next stretch between February and April break poses a unique opportunity for a long and virtually uninterrupted instructional block running up to state exams.  Take this advantage in the calendar to make the most of building your students' capacity and intellectual growth.  We haven't had this many consecutive days of instruction since the school year started.  This is the period where we can really build up some great momentum as we push off into the end of the year.  Here are some important dates to keep in mind

    • March 7th & 8th:  Middle School Benchmarks, Early Dismissal for MS Students ONLY.  All students lunch at 11:15 and dismiss at noon.  All MS teachers will grade benchmarks in the PM.
    • March 22nd: Marking Period 4 ends
    • March 25th:  Marking Period 5 begins.
    • March 27th:  P/SAT Day for 10th and 11th graders.  All 9th and 12th grade students and teachers should plan field trips for the day to clear the building for 10th and 11th grade testing.
    • March 28th & 29th:  High School Benchmarks and Full School Student Led Conferences. Regular day for MS on the 28th, and half day on the 29th.   Half day for HS both days, teachers grade in the PM. [Note the calendar change was approved by the NYCDOE]

    [Repost] Teacher Passion Projects.  The Shippy Foundation is funding teacher passion projects for all Urban Assembly Teachers.  Check out the RFP (request for proposal) here.  The application is due March 1st. 

    Updating What Ready to Learn means at UAI.   As a reminder, we are forming a committee to update UAI school rules.  This committee will meet after school on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00 in Rm 409 to discuss collected feedback, recent research, and goals for UAI's Ready to Learn Policies and expectations for their implementation.  Also remember, even if you cannot make that time, your voice still matters.  You can 
    • share your thoughts in person with me, Annie, Jen, or Brodie 
    • share your thoughts in this anonymous survey.  
    • share your thoughts by leaving a note (typed or handwritten) in one of our mailboxes in the main office.  
    Also as a reminder, we cannot abandon the rules while we revisit them. Until we have a fully approved and improved system in place, the current system needs to stay in place.  Please continue to enforce school rules and expectations for being ready to learn. 

    To Do This Week

    Monday PD.  To make room for our March not Madness PD month, this Monday's PD will be grade team time for PLOPs and Grade Team Meetings again.  We will begin PD together in Room 409 for staff-wide announcements with everyone.  Please sit by grade teams.  Then, after, teams will meet to complete PLOPs and when finished,  go through grade-team driven agendas.  As a reminder, we are back to normal Tuesday outreach this week.

    Teacher Attendance.  Let's face it.  It's a truth as old as time.  Whenever students have a substitute teacher, they just don't learn as much as they do with their usual teacher.  When you are absent, you are missed!  Each year the DOE provides teachers with 10 days to cover any sick or personal business.  If you have missed 5 or more days this year and/or you have been late (or left early) 5 or more times, you'll be getting an email from me to let you know your current status.  At any point you can check your CAR on the NYCDOE payroll portal .  If you feel that there is an error, please see Nancy ASAP so that we can correct it.  With this stretch of almost uninterrupted instruction ahead of us, this is the time to be in the classroom to make the most advances with our students.  Try to schedule your appointments outside of school hours, and remember to rest up and take care of yourself so that you can be at school healthy and happy!  Remember, if you have to call out or call in late, please call my cell at 917-776-0460.

    March NOT Madness.  CLICK HERE to see the results of your March NOT Madness PD assignments.  To the extent possible, everyone got their first or second choices.  We needed everyone to participate in the Survey Focus Group so adjustments were made to ensure that.  Also, there was not enough interest in the Book Club nor the Staff Circles, so those two were cut.  If you have any questions, please let me or Annie know as soon as possible!  Please take a moment to complete this Teacher Survey so that we may prepare the Survey Focus Groups. 

    Student Support Services Updates

    Per Session Opportunities

    Join the Hiring Committee!  Alison, Marsha, Phillan, Danielle Ro, Nina, Nadine, Rebecca F. Rebecca C., Megan, Kelly, and Jamie are all on the hiring committee.  If you submitted interest and don't see your name on this list, it's likely that I missed your email!  Just send me another one and I'll add you on.  Our first meeting will be on Saturday, March 9th at 9AM.  We will orient you and train you to prepare for our first hiring fair which will be from 10-12 on March 9th.  Also, save the date for March 23rd.

    We Need Dance Chaperones for the March Dance.  Please email Jen for details and she will confirm your selection for chaperone.


    Sunday, February 10, 2019

    Week of 11FEB19

    UAI Staff News

      Volume VI
      Issue 24
      February 11th, 2019
      (76 instructional days remaining)


      UAI Celebrates Black History Month.  UAI is pulling out the stops to celebrate Black History Month!  From showcases celebrating student narratives inspired by Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye, to highlighting Historically Black Universities, to celebrating unsung heroes in STEM, to honoring the work and talents of our young women in Girls' Inc's Winterfest -  the list is seemingly endless, and if I missed something - it's only because there's so much wonderful happening here at UAI.  It's a true, true joy to see us come together, breathing life into the very mission of our school!   Ok, now I'm tearing up...before I get too mushy, I'll let the pictures speak the thousand words I can't!

      Black History Month Assembly.  This Friday will be our school-wide assembly celebrating Black History Month.  Many shout outs to Kelly, Vanessa, and Jen for organizing this event for our school!  The assembly will take place last period on Friday.  As per usual, we will be calling students up to the gym by grade.  This Friday, please keep students in 6th-period classes until your grade is called up.  We will begin calling students up between 1:50 and 1:55 on Friday.  Also, as per usual assembly protocols, all students need to have everything with them when they come up to the gym.  Teachers need to actively help keep students engaged in the assembly.  At the end of the assembly, we will be dismissing students by grade via rapid dismissal.

      Teacher Passion Projects.  The Shippy Foundation is funding teacher passion projects for all Urban Assembly Teachers.  Check out the RFP (request for proposal) here.   I strongly encourage you all to apply!  The Urban Assembly is also offering a workshop to support your application.  They have a wonderful team of folks who are highly skilled at transforming your ideas into proposals! The workshop is THIS Wednesday 13FEB19 at 4PM at 90 Broad Street (just one stop from UAI on the R train).  Click here to register.  The application is due March 1st. 

      Updating What Ready to Learn means at UAI.  Your feedback matters!  In the Perception Institute Feedback, we heard folks wanting to talk more about the school rules and the need to update them to ensure respect for all.  While that workshop was not the time and place, we are now creating one!  I am forming a committee representing all UAI constituencies - teachers, parents, students, partners, deans, counselors, and support staff - to rethink our Ready to Learn policies around dress code, electronics, and food.   This committee will meet after school on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00 to discuss collected feedback, recent research, and goals for UAI's Ready to Learn Policies and expectations for their implementation.  If you cannot make that time, your voice still matters.  You can 
      • share your thoughts in person with me, Annie, Jen, or Brodie 
      • share your thoughts in this anonymous survey.  
      • share your thoughts by leaving a note (typed or handwritten) in one of our mailboxes in the main office.  
      If you are interested, all you have to do is show up after school in room 409 at 3PM on Wednesday 27FEB19.  If you know a parent or student who would be interested in joining, please also send them to room 309 on Wednesday.  We will be announcing this at the SLT meeting on Monday 11FEB19 and sending out a school messenger and email to students and families, too.

      This committee will meet Wednesdays during the month of March to put together a proposal to submit to staff, students, and families for feedback, revision, and approval.  To be clear, we cannot abandon the rules while we revisit them. Until we have a fully approved and improved system in place, the current system needs to stay in place.  We will move forward with change, but we also cannot create chaos in the process of doing so.  So, as we move through the process, we will keep upholding the current system.  The main goal of our work in the committee and then as the community as a whole is to create a shared understanding of the purpose and goals of UAI's Ready to Learn policies AND to provide the community with a clear and succinct articulation of rules that demonstrate respect for all.

      To Do This Week

      Monday PD.  This Monday's PD will be grade team time for PLOPs and Grade Team Meetings.  We will begin PD together in Room 409 for staff-wide announcements with everyone.  Please sit by grade teams.  Then, after, teams will meet to complete PLOPs and when finished,  go through grade-team driven agendas.  We will have Grade Team meetings on 11FEB19 and Monday, 25FEB19 to complete the remaining PLOPs for the year.  As a reminder, there is no Tuesday outreach time this week (because we had extended time last week!)

      March NOT Madness.  We've received feedback around PD structure and the Consultation Committee shared ideas that folks want to have in their PD options.  For the month of March, PD will be centered on self-care - whatever that best means for you!  Some love mindfulness and health & wellness.  Some get self-nourishment through the work.  Some want to improve themselves through connecting to the UAI community.  For some, it's a combination of those!  Here's some of the workshop options we've developed for March.  Also, there's still time to add - so if you have an idea, please let us know.

      [Required for All] Survey Focus Group.  As I mentioned at the January PD, this is something that we all need to do as a community in preparation for the Learning Environment Survey coming up next month.  I need everyone to sign up for at least one Survey Focus Group in the month of March to review our schools' performance in various indicators and to discuss how UAI is showing strength and/or where UAI needs to improve!

      [Staff Choice] Health and Wellness.  There will be an array of health and wellness options throughout the month of March to support teacher self-care.  Tangerine Yoga Studio is running a Yoga workshop.  Our very own Ms. Vanessa will be conducting an Aroma Therapy session.  Art Therapy with "Pinots" - yeah, probably no vino, but some healthy smoothies perhaps, and painting.  We're also having an expert on Mindfulness lead the staff in strategies aimed at decreasing stress and managing emotions.  In addition, Jen has launched a Go Fund Campaign to bring self-care opportunities (like massage) to our hard working UAI staff. 
      [Staff Choice] Blind Spot Book Club.  This one comes from a Staff Recommendation.  Blind Spot is the book that Paul suggested to us during his workshop last week.  Ms. Suzannah suggested that we form a book club to read together as a community.  Those who are interested should definitely sign up.  It's totally fine to sign up for the book club for three out of the four weeks in March (or whatever combination you'd like).

      [Staff Choice] Planning and Bulletin Boards.  There is no end to the work we need to do to make the best learning experiences and learning environment for our young women.  In preparation for SLCs in March, we will need to refresh our bulletin boards to showcase the work we do with students each day.  The stretch from February break to April break is a long one this year.  Putting your best and most engaging lessons before our students will definitely make the time fly!

      [Staff Choice] Staff Circles Pilot.  One of the recurring themes of our consultation committee and teacher feedback is finding a method to improve communication at UAI.  Community Circles are used in Restorative Justice practices to build community a respond to issues through constructive dialogue.   Before fully committing to this structure, we want to take time to explore its fit and efficacy with our UAI staff and family.  Topics of discussion during this pilot will be driven by participants and school needs.  If you are interested in learning more or helping us determine and/or shape how circles could work for UAI, please do sign up (for as many as you want!).

      All March PDs will begin with everyone in 409 to share staff announcements.  Then we will break out into the rooms of your selected PD options.  Please make sure to complete this survey TODAY so we can organize the rooms and get you to the workshops you want!

      When you Need to be Absent or Late.  This weather is wacky and the flu bugs abound.  Get that Purell out and grab some Clorox wipes for your classroom surfaces (we have some in the main office storage closet).   Transit has gotten worse, and trains are stuck with signal errors and sick passengers.  Give yourself some extra transit time to help avoid these problems.  However, if that all fails and you do fall sick (or need to care for a sick family person) or if you are gonna be late, remember the new policy started this Fall.
      • Sick Days:  You must call the principal (that's me!) at 917-776-0460 by 6:30AM on the morning you are calling out.  During that call, I will let you know if you should put in a call to sub-central.  I will also work with you to figure out your lesson plans and copy needs and how to coordinate that.  Sometimes calling out happens.  But if you don't give us a chance to coordinate well, it creates undue stress on your colleagues and students.  Call me when you are calling out
      • Personal Days: Personal days need to be approved beforehand.  Please submit forms to Brodie at least one week in advance of the date you need.  Mondays and Fridays preceding or following school holidays will not be approved.
      • Arriving Late:  If you are running late, please call Kiri no later than 8AM.  Like when you're absent, we need some time to coordinate coverage.  I know it's not always predictable, and sometimes you're stuck underground with no service.  However, in the times that you CAN please do call me so we can be organized and provide students with the best standard of learning in your absence.


      Student Support Services Updates

      This past Friday, Jen and I met to review the impact role of our social-emotional & counseling support team.  The work that Jen, Lauren, Jennifer, Marni, Danielle I, and Doris do on a daily basis isn't always completely evident nor always clear.  Folks get the SEL updates in the various forms, but the complete narrative of how all of the Student Support Services work outside of the classroom to enhance student academic achievement still needs to be told.  The first step in doing this will be including weekly updates for the entire team in this section.  

      The mission of the student support team is to provide the necessary social-emotional supports for the entire UAI community (students, families, and staff) to ensure student academic success and realization of the school’s mission.

      The key areas in which this team works are

      • Social Emotional Learning - SEL classes in 6th & 9th grade and SEL counseling groups provide wide-spread support to most UAI students. For those students requiring extra guidance in developing social-emotional competency (e.g. students requiring mediation or recidivists requiring intervention), the team works with the deans to identify and support these students in need.
      • Next Level Guidance - Our students matriculate in 8th and 12th grade to their next phase of learning. Our team supports our students and their families in selecting optimal matches for the level - individually adapted to each student & her families desires and needs.
      • Student Activities in cultivating and coordinating partnerships (Girls Inc. and NYU Tandon School of Engineering), organizing school assemblies and celebrations, and in curating and publicizing student opportunities.
      • New Student Recruitment by organizing recruitment events and cultivating relationships with school counselors to create pipeline relationships with elementary and middle schools to secure school enrollment.
      As the supervisor of this department, Jen will be posting a new section to the blog each week.  So, please do read more and share your questions and comments so we know how to better improve our communications!

      Per Session Opportunities

      Join the Hiring Committee!  After the February break, we will be launching into our hiring season.  Our first Hiring Fair will be on Saturday, March 9th.  At UAI, our philosophy is to find the best and brightest teachers for our students.  To achieve this, we cast a very wide net at the start of our hiring process and look for any and all possible candidates who could be a good fit for our school.  If you are interested in joining the committee, please send Kiri or Annie and email.  We currently have two Hiring Fairs on the docket (March 9th and March 23rd), and there will be an array of city and district hiring fairs coming up (dates are still TBA).  

      Sunday, February 3, 2019

      Week of Feb 4th

      UAI Staff News

        Volume VI
        Issue 23
        February 4th, 2019
        (80 instructional days remaining)


        Chimamanda Adichie.  Our 3rd extended day of the year on Monday will continue our work around uncovering and beginning to understand implicit bias.  Paul Forbes is the Director of Equity, Anti-Bias, and Diversity from the NYCDOE's Office of Educational Equity.  He will be leading our workshop on Monday, and has asked that we watch and be ready to discuss Chimamanda Adichie's TED talk, "The Danger of a Single Story".  Tomorrow's session will be from 3:00PM-5:00PM in the library

        Your feedback matters!   Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts from our last workshop on bias.  One resonating theme was the issue around time.  Almost unanimously, everyone found the information to be useful and learned from Rachel's presentation.  However, it was also so much in such a short amount of time.  It was overwhelming.   Folks wanted more time to digest, discuss, and understand.

        This is long, hard work, and we are only barely scratching the surface.  Ultimately, our goal as a community is to build our understanding and develop strategies to avoid the negative impact that implicit bias can have on our community and our students.  This is the long-term goal of what will likely be a multi-year process. The goal by the end of this year through these series of workshops is to increase our own awareness around issues of equity and bias.   Before we can fix anything, we first have to understand.

        We are at the start of a long journey, and with the help and direction of experts like Rachel and Paul, we will stay the path as we improve our own understanding and reflection on these issues.

        As for Monday, your feedback was heard!  The workshop we are getting is originally designed as a 5 hours workshop.  Paul has agreed to give us two sessions so that we have the time needed to digest the work.  We have 2.5 hours on this Monday, but we need to find another extended day time between now and April to continue the work.  The UFT consultation committee is meeting on Monday so please reach out to the members (Kelly, Sarah, Jake, Danielle, Suzannah, Elena, Nina, Damon, or Matthew) to let them know your thoughts so we can have your ideas represented during the meeting.  

        To Do This Week

        Year of the Pig.  Tuesday is Chinese Lunar New Year,  Like Rosh Hashanah, the Chinese New Year is not based on the Gregorian Calendar and the date varies slightly each year.  Like all New Year celebrations, Chinese Lunar New marks the beginning of a fresh year, and the start of a new zodiac sign to govern that year.  This year is The Year of the Pig!  There is NO School on Tuesday.  School Messenger calls have been sent out, and it has been announced on Social Media.  Please also announce in classes with your students.  

        Black History Month.  Last Friday marked the start of our celebrations of Black History Month. In addition to the school-wide activities (posters, announcements, Girls' Inc. Black History Month Performances, and the schoolwide Assembly on 15FEB19), please make it a point to integrate black history month into your lessons during February.  Part of the way all of us connect to the mission to the school is by finding a means to empower all of our students.  One way to do that is to help them see themselves and make connections to our curriculum.  Through highlighting role models to introducing engaging activities and texts, there are many pathways to inspire our young women.  This is our daily work, but February is an opportunity to emphasize that work to connect to Black History!

        [Repeat Post] Preparing for Mid-Year Conferences.  Now that Annie is back from jury duty, we can fully resume our meetings with folks.  We do apologize for the delay!
        • Intellectual Engagement:  What do you do to maximize the time students spend engaging in high levels of thinking throughout the lesson.
        • Formative Assessment:  How do you make student thinking visible to you and what do you do to assess student thinking throughout the lesson
        • Using Student Work to Inform Instructional Moves:  How do you to respond to student thinking throughout the lesson and how does your feedback impact student achievement both throughout the lesson and unit.
        • New Question that you'll be working on during PD: How do you connect to the mission of UAI in your daily work?  What is your personal vision for your role in achieving UAI's mission?
        • Annie:  Megan, Damon, Tom, Meaghan, Tracy, Elana, Jake, Natalie, Zack, Suzannah, Kelly, Nadine, Elena, Giselle, Rebecca F., Freida, Laura
        • Kiri:  Matthew, Danielle, Jamie, Joey, Marsha, Rebecca, Amanda, Kristi

        SEL Weekly Update

        SEL Update:  6th graders have spent the last few weeks learning the differences between bullying and drama.  Through role play, scenarios, videos, and deep discussions they know what it means to be an upstander and the best ways to help someone who is being bullied in person and online.  They are armed with concrete steps they can take to address cyber bullying and almost all of them have either witnessed or experienced it on various social media platforms. Soon we will dive into how to be a good digital citizen.