Sunday, October 24, 2021

Week of October 28th

UAI Staff News

Volume IX
Issue 9
October 28th, 2021

Principal Message

Time & Space.   Returning from a year of remote teaching and learning has felt overwhelming to all of us - students, staff, and families alike.  

While remote, we had found a lot of time - time that we gained from no longer having to commute, time we gained from sharing the workload with our peers, and time we didn't want, but nevertheless gained from the loss of constant contact with our students.

Additionally, we worked at home, in spaces that may have been crowded, less than ideal for instruction, and for many of us - populated with our families who were competing for our attention - by using our limited internet, walking into the frame of our zooms, or literally crawling onto our laps to demand attention in the middle of lessons.  All of that was true - but it did feel physically safe from the risks of COVID.

Now we're back.  The demands of in-person instruction are high, but there are definite gains.  Being in-person with our students and lessons is incredibly more efficient, effective, and impactful.  The trade off is our time is now filled with commuting, 5.5 hours of daily instruction, and happily (but still time-consuming) connections with peers, students & their families.

This week, we're in the last week of October, and while the dust has settled (mostly), I think we're all still working on settling into a rhythm that feels good & sustainable.  We have done all that we can do to make the physical space of UAI as safe as possible, and <knock on wood> we haven't had a positive COVID case since September.  So, our space is not perfect, and we could find ways to improve no doubt, but for now - it's stable.  Time seems the bigger priority.  To help, we already created time in the program (extra outreach time, flex time for planning and outreach on Mondays & Tuesdays).  This week, I'm making some minor structural adjustments to the program to give back a little more time.  Here's the full list of created time for you to do the work on your plates this year:
  • Flex Time On Mondays & Tuesdays
    • From the start of the year, you've had outreach time built into your professional periods and Monday extended time has been given back to you for planning and prep.  
      • First Monday of Month - ENL/SPED PD Workshop Series
      • First Tuesday of Month - Grade Team Meetings & Attendance Review
      • Twice Monthly (dates TBD) - Staff Circles - These were added, but circles are our primary tool to develop community and provide support for one another.  This, I know, feels like the opposite of making time, but Circles are a valuable investment of time for our community and collective mental health and well-being.  We'll start twice monthly for the fall to strengthen our foundation and move to monthly in the spring.
  • Planning Teams Share the Load
    • ICT and ENL Co-teachers were limited (as much as possible) to the number of Gen-Ed Partners they had this year.  The goal of that was to be able to effectively share the planning and grading load equitably among co-planning team members. In addition, some courses have multiple planning teams working on them.  Share the load - work collaboratively to divvy up lesson, activity, &/or assessment planning.  Work with one another to establish common expectations of what you want to share, who is doing what, and when it will be do.  If we learned anything during Online School - it was that many hands make lighter work.  Share the load to create more time for everyone!
  • Less IS More
    • As we journey towards Mastery-Based Grading, you should be reallocating your work & time away from the trap of endless homework and endless grading and towards more effective planning for in-class verbal feedback, as well as time for high-quality written feedback.  This means fewer assignments with more feedback, and fewer major assessments - to allow students time to earn from your feedback.
  • Learning Lab Adjustment & Flexibility with Small Groups
    • Starting this week, Teachers can flexibly use assigned small group time for work directly with students or extra planning time.  (See "Learning Lab Update" below for details)

I know that the structure of schools make it seem like there is no choice over ones own time and space, and most times that is true (for me too!).  However, in the places where there is agency, take stock and use it effectively, efficiently to create the greatest impact for yourself and your students.

Committee Updates

Equity Team.  The Equity Team had their first meeting of the new school year to discuss our focus for the year:  achieving a more equitable discipline policy.  The team worked together to create survey questions for the students and families to gather feedback about the launch of the new school year.  Agenda for 10/14/21.

Circles Committee.  No Updates this week.

Consultation Committee.  Our next committee meeting will be on November 9th at 3PM in room 403.  There should be a UFT meeting prior to that where you can raise up issues.  You can also reach out to Elena ( who has stepped up to be the facilitator for the next Consultation Committee meeting.


Doors & Windows.  I am excited to announce that Marsha will be returning to UAI on Monday.  There have been a lot of things happening for UAI and for Marsha in the last few months, and as the saying goes, when a door closes, there's always a window that opens.  For both UAI and Marsha, that couldn't be more true.  Marsha will be taking over the vacancy left in Suzannah's departure from UAI.  She will be co-teaching with Kelly & Jenetta for the remainder of this year.  The timing of this transition couldn't have been better, and I couldn't imagine a more perfect person to fill in the role for our students and our community. Welcome Back Marsha!!

Marsha shares: 

As many of you know, I left UAI this summer to be the assistant principal at UA Gateway. Being a new AP in a new school was a journey in my career I was ready to take on. While I fell in love with the community, I realized it wasn’t the best fit for me. Ultimately, I resigned as AP last week. What this means is, I automatically revert back to [a teacher line]. That being said, I am returning to UAI starting Monday October 25. This transition felt like a major step back for me at first. But I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I can’t wait to see my UAI family again!

Learning Lab Adjustments.  All learning labs have now been entered into the program, and will be appear in your PupilPath courses once Phils syncs Skedula with Stars on Monday Morning.  Also, I've made some adjustments to the labs so that for the 7th-10th grade, all labs have two teachers (Thanks to Jennifer & Marni for stepping up) and can be split evenly every day.  What that means is that small groups have become flexible.  We no longer require small groups to happen so that class size is safe for learning labs.  

So - this is found time for staff.  You are directed to use the professional time as needed to best support student success.  If that means you pull students from their labs for tutoring/feedback, then do so.  If that means using the time to call homes to update families on students progress, then do so.  If that means using the time for extra planning and grading, then do so.  The only expectation is that the time is used to maximize student success - particularly for those students who need the most help.  How you choose to structure that time to do that is up to you!

PAG Meetings Launched.  I had the first PAG meetings with students this week.  I met with 8th, 11th/12th last week and will continue meetings with the 6/7th and 9/10th this week coming up.  I'll share out the final themes in next week's blog once all meetings are complete.  There's still some advisories with no reps - so please update THIS doc so I can invite your reps to the meeting! 

To Do

UAI teachers choice due Nov 1.  All staff have $250 to spend for UAI classroom/office supplies.   Staff will be reimbursed up to $250 (tax is not reimbursable, so please get the tax exempt paperwork from Del - or be prepared to pay tax yourself).  All receipts are due on next Monday at 3PM.  To submit receipts
  • Tape All Receipts to a 8.5x11 piece(s) of paper.  Try to get as many on one page as possible to be visible, but definitely use as many pieces as necessary.  Write your name, the date, and "UAI Teacher's Choice" at the top of each page (and include page number and total pages at the top of each page).
  • Scan the Page(s) into a PDF.  You can download any Scanner App on your to scan to a PDF and email the pdf to yourself.
  • Complete the UAI Teacher's Choice Form.  Please complete THIS FORM no later than 3pm on November 1st.
Please note - UAI Teacher's Choice is NOT the same as the DOE funds.  DOE funds will be due later this fall.  Please be on time with this form.  There will be no extensions. 

Order Period for Spring Course Materials Opens now through Nov 30th.  Start thinking about what you will need for the spring term.  Please look ahead into the spring for things you may need.  Yes, you will have to use ShopDoe.  If you have particular items that you need but cannot find on ShopDoe, please reach out to Dai ( or visit her in room 201) for support!  Please make some time this month for your spring ordering.  Depending on our budget situation, we may not have funds in the spring to purchase..anything...  So, yep, spend now, or be wanting later!

Marking Period 1 Ends on November 19th.  Please plan for the last week of the Marking Period to be an enrichment/remediation week.  You last week of new instruction will be the prior week (ending 12NOV21), and the following week (ending 19NOV21), will be time you use to work individually or in small groups with students to extend or remediate their mastery of skills taught during Marking Period one.  Please reach out to your ILT team leaders (Judy, Nakita, Rachel, Kelly, or Phillan) or me or Annie for extra help in planning this time effectively for students. 

Per Session Postings

  • No New Postings This Week


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