Sunday, November 21, 2021

Week of 22NOV21

UAI Staff News

Volume IX
Issue 13
November 21st, 2021

Principal Message

Thanks and Appreciation.  As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, it comes at time when the Courts of Kenosha, WI acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse for murder and gun violence.  

Our country is still very much broken, and that weight can exert a heavy burden.  I don't have words for this verdict, yet.  I am still processing much.

However, it is especially in the moments when things seem darkest, that I dig deep to find appreciation and gratitude for those things in my work and home life that are beacons of light.
  • I am lucky and am thankful for having an amazing life partner, healthy & funny child, and even appreciate my satan-cat whose love is only expressed through scratches and biting.
  • I am really grateful for working with so many dedicated and talented people who share my vision for creating a school and learning experience worth of our students and their families.
  • I am on my knees saying thank you thank you thank for having a short week to give us all a much needed break and time with loved ones.
The dark and negativity will always find a way to seep in.  It doesn't need our help.  Finding gratitude or the slivers of good in the daily challenges we face requires intentionality and effort.  Make the effort this week to focus on the good and celebrate the things both at home and at work that you are lucky to have and enjoy.  Celebrate the light!

Important dates this month.  

  • 22NOV21:  Staff Potluck - 3PM in the Library
  • 23NOV21:  MP1 Grades Due at 3PM
  • 24NOV21: Rapid Dismissal at 2PM for All Students
  • 25NOV21 & 26NOV21:  Thanksgiving Recess - NO SCHOOL
  • 30NOV21:  PTA Zoom Meeting

Committee Updates

Equity Team.  No Updates this Week

Circles Committee.  No Updates this week.  Our next Staff Circle will be on Monday, 29NOV21 at 3PM in the library (then breaking out into separate rooms)

Consultation Committee.  The consultation committee met on Thursday, 18NOV21.  We discussed Staff Attendance, Learning Labs, and Masks & Technology issues (See Below).  The next meeting is scheduled for 12JAN21.  The agenda will be shared out in the Sunday blog on 09JAN21.  Damon will be facilitating, so please do share agenda items with him!


Staff Handbook Attendance Policy Update.  As the principal, I am charged with supervising staff around both instructional performance and employee responsibilities (like professionalism and time & attendance).  

In a typical year, we have always had issues with folks calling out a lot, but this year, things are triple that problem, leading to an increased instability and loss of instruction for our students coming back from an already unstable year of school riddled with countless amounts of lost learning.  

At this date in 2019 (the fall before COVID hit), we have 54 staff absences.  This year, we have 159.  We are almost triple the rate. 

At the same time, staff are tired and exhausted.  All of us are tired and exhausted, and all of us need some space for our mental health.

There needs to be a solution that ensures students receive the high quality learning that they deserve and provides time for teachers to have some out-of -classroom time to catch their breath to ensure that students continually receive high quality learning.

There is no language in the contract (either via UFT or DOE interpretation) that entitles staff to the right to use 10 days of calling out each year.  The entitlement is that staff will be compensated for up to 10 days.  For example, if someone called out on Mondays and Fridays for 5 weeks in a row, they would be paid for those 10 days, but they would also be subject to disciplinary actions because this is a clear abuse of the use of these days.  Also, it doesn't make sense to wait 5 weeks to jump in and have a conference.  The goal is have a conference earlier enough for behavior to be corrected, without further discipline and the quality of student learning is preserved.  Please Review the Updated Policy HERE.

January Regents Week.   We will not be having many students taking regents during January Regents week.  During the PowerUp week prior to Regents Week, those courses terminating associated with a Regent exam this year (Living Environment, Earth Science, Algebra I, English, and US History) will be taking a practice regent exam.  We need to take a litmus test of how students are doing in these courses to determine June Regents plans and course plans for next year.  The mock regents will be designed by the Instructional Leadership Team and based upon the course topics you will have already taught by then.  We'll be using these assessments during Regents Weeks in planning teams to determine spring planning and preparation.

To Do This Week

This is the stuff that requires your attention AND it's stuff you need to do!

Staff Handbook Signoff & Attendance Policy UpdatePlease review the updated attendance policy under "Sick & Personal Days" in the UAI Staff Handbook.  Please sign off on the sign-off form and update any Emergency Contact information by Wednesday, 24NOV21.  Please also complete the request for a non-classroom work day for MP2.

<<REPOST>> It's Shopping TimePlease use ShopDoe to submit your orders for the Spring Term.  Submit your order requests to THIS folder by 30NOV21.  We are aiming to enter all submitted orders before the winter break so that items arrive by the start of the Spring Term.  I know it seems so far in advance, but everything in the DOE moves slowly, so we have to create a timeline to accommodate for this.  

MP1 Ends Friday.  Marking Period 1 ends on Friday 19NOV21.  Grades are due on TUESDAY 23NOV21 at 3PM.  

Learning Labs Expectations.  Learning labs need to be stabilized before we can flexibly use them.  For MP2, all learning labs will be fixed and silent.  
  • Implement Learning Lab Expectations.  Please make sure to create silent study time for Learning Labs using these expectations.
  • Take Attendance.  All teachers should have access to their Learning Lab rosters in Skedula.  Please reach out to Phil/Jennifer if you cannot see your learning lab in your Skedula.  Please take attendance in Skedula and please send students to their correct rooms. DO NOT send students or admit students from other Learning Labs into your room.
  • Fluency Work.  Nearly all students are behind in their foundational reading, writing, and math skills.  All ELA and Math teachers are being asked to create fluency tasks for students to complete in Learning Lab (see Rachel & Judy, Math & ELA ILT leads for details).  Students should have fluency work to complete each day in Learning Lab.
  • Google To Do List.  All teachers should be posting assignments in Google Classrooms so that those assignments appear in a students' to do list.  
  • What do I do if a students says they have no work
    • Check Google To Do List - work on those assignments
    • Work on Fluency Assignments - posted on Google Classrooms and in this DOC
    • If they finish All of their work, students can always read or journal!  Please have paper or direct to news articles online available for students.
    • If students need help - have them use email or G-chat to get help. Learning Labs are to be silent work time for all during MP2.  Please do not make an exception in your own learning lab.  It makes everyone else's learning lab 10 times harder than it needs to be.

Per Session Postings

  • Club Teachers.  If you are interested in running a club during Lunch, Learning Lab or After School, please email Kiri and complete the Per Session Interest Form.  For Lunch/Learning Lab clubs, you will be paid a prep period coverage.  In-day clubs must be during your prep time for a prep-period coverage.  After school clubs can meet as often as you'd like.  Clubs must have at least 8 students to be viable.  Teachers will submit student attendance along with per session sheets.  <Posting Closes 06DEC21>


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