UAI Staff News
February 27, 2023
Welcome Back! Welcome back from the February Break! Hopefully you were all able to get some much needed rest and you were able to recharge in prep for the rest of the Spring! We have 28 uninterrupted days of learning ahead of us and it is a real opportunity to build up momentum and a rhythm to end the year strong!
Sustaining through the next 28 days will not be without challenge. As human beings, we are naturally built to identify and obsess about problems. Think about it. How many words do you use to describe something that is problematic or how much time to you spend thinking about an issue vs. describing or appreciating things that are going well?
It's our nature to be so much better at problem identification, analysis, and resolution
It's our responsibility to also apply these skills to identify, leveraging, and appreciating strengths and understanding the things that work and why they work so well. Strengths-based approaches are key to building motivation and engagement - for adults and kids alike! So, to that end, these next 28 days can be an amazing opportunity for the birth of new strengths-based habits for all of us.
Over the next few Blog Posts, I will be introducing some of the work that the ILT is doing with a pilot group of teachers that involved our work with the CLASS Rubrics and the TeachStone that will help us all develop our capacity as adults to focus on & better understand the high-quality interactions that have the highest impact on student learning. As part of the norming process, we will be visiting teachers who are not part of the pilot and we will be providing feedback for those visits. This feedback is non-evaluative, and is aimed at helping us make sure we are in alignment. We will provide the feedback to you so that you also have a chance to think about your practice through this lens - even if you're not a full part of the pilot.
For this blog post, I want to share the structure of the feedback that you could use as a model for developing your own capacity to provide strengths based feedback for your students. This new structure of teacher feedback has three main parts that you may wish to use with your students.
- Nice Job. This is much more than just the two words or a thumbs up & a smile. This is an in-depth explanation of strength, why it's strong, and why it's important. The strength and importance are anchored to the rubric. The first goal is to find the highest leverage strongest practice that is evident in work (for teachers - the work is teaching...for students.. the work could be student work - what they say, do, or write). The next step is to tie what the person actually did to the rubric. In so doing, we not only develop the person's confidence in their practice, but we also use their own practice to illustrate how the rubric works. This move gives folks autonomy & agency over their own practice and capacity to improve along the rubric. Well-understood strengths are powerful tools for growth and achievement.
- Consider This. In this next part of the feedback structure, the "Consider This" is an invitation to look at something in the practice that is pretty good, but with a few tweaks, it could be much better - challenging the person to think about the things they could do to move their work from good to great! The goal of this prompt is to prompt the person into action. While "Nice Job" is aimed at promoting deepening the understanding of strengths, this prompt helps folks take action - action that have high likelihoods for success. When we experience sustained experiences of success, our motivation to take risks grows and our ability to stretch and build our capacity becomes that much greater. Kids and adults alike need to feel the wins in their work, and they need to experience how their own efforts lead to those wins. Going from good to great is the place to seed those wins. Because this is an action prompt that is rubric aligned, this point of feedback helps folks both deepen their understanding of the rubric AND develop their agency with the rubric - as they will use it to define good and great.
- Making the Most. This final piece of feedback is the challenge feedback. Each of us always has something in our practice that isn't quite working (or isn't quite necessary). The goal here is to identify the hurdles to strengths and finding ways to lower or completely remove those hurdles. This is the problem-analysis/problem solving prompt that we're naturally used to seeing. The difference here being that the problem focus is preceded by strength-focus, with the intent of leveraging strengths to tackle the problems. When we know what we're good at and why, we create solutions that work best for us and the situation at hand.
At first, this may seem like a highly-structured, overly formal method of feedback. However, developing a strong habit of strengths-based thinking and feedback takes structure and routine.
Challenge yourself for these next 5.5 weeks to make a new habit of being strengths-based. Challenge yourself to first think about the Strengths in:
- your own self-talk
- your feedback to students & families
- your feedback to colleagues & supervisors
If you find yourself spending time on talking or thinking about problems - give yourself a time-out and force yourself to give equal time to strengths thinking - what is working, how is it working and why does it work?
The better we become at strengths-based talk with ourselves and our students, the more school becomes a place that we all want to be in and the faster the time flies - until 28 days feels like 28 minutes.
This is our core value of power at work. Strength talk is power talk.
And UAI is so very powerful!
- Tuesday, 28FEB23. Last Day of Black History Month (possible assembly day TBD)
- Tuesday, 14MAR23. Progress Report #2 Grade Entry
- Wednesday, 22MAR23. P/SAT in school day for all 10th & 11th Graders
- Wednesday, 22MAR23. Ramadan begins in the evening
- Thursday, 23MAR23. Evening Parent Conferences 5-8PM (Remote)
- Friday, 24MAR23. Afternoon Parent Conferences 11:50AM-2:50PM (Remote)
- Friday, 31MAR23. End of MP3
- Wednesday, 05APR23. Rapid Dismissal
- Thursday 06APR23 - 16APR23 - Spring Recess
- Friday, 21APR23 - Eid al-Fitr - No School
Announcements & To Dos
Attendance Incentives and the Fab Five. This is the perfect time to be on top of your Fab-Five of Attendance. Incentive trips are coming up and you can check on your five students' attendance progress:
- log into the New Visions Portal with your UAI email
- click on "Attendance" on the left and entering your students' names in the upper right hand corner
- click on the student's name when it pops up
- scroll down to the "attendance" section to see the students' attendance, which should look something like this:
Remember to celebrate the wins, move kids from good to great (e.g. can she shoot for a 95% attendance rate for March - that would be amazing!), and problem solving around any issues that may arise.
New Program Changes Go Into Effect on Monday. Please use THIS NEW LINK for the school program (27FEB23). There have been a few minor changes to folks schedules, so take a good look at your schedule to make sure you know what your program will be. Here are the big changes and what you need to do:
- Grades 10-12 - Advisory Becomes Classes
- Advisors to Do-
- Review the Advisories Tab in the new Schedule to see where kids are supposed to go. Please meet kids in OLD advisory rooms and then bring them to your new rooms
- Special NOTE: If your advisee is taking our new College Credit BMCC College & Career class with J or Danielle, please send them to the correct room. All the kids who are in Judy's LINCT QR class are signed up PLUS any 11th grader who needs a +1 regent exam in June and will sit for the CDOS test.
- Please review the Presentation to prepare to launch the course with your advisory. As a reminder
- Completing the modules are required to earn Health Credit
- Health Credit is required for Graduation (They'll get 1 if they complete all modules by June). All kids need health to graduate.
- Some students may have health already, they still stay in the class to complete the modules. This will be additional credit for those students.
- No changes to Advisory for Grades 6-9
- Learning Labs
- 11th Grade Labs are joining the 12th Grade Labs for Home Study starting on Monday.
- 11th Grade Labs can choose to stay in school for study hall. They need to report to 205F (the farm) if they wish to stay - (this is open for 11th and 12th graders).
- 11th/12th grade students in SETSS and ENL are required to stay.
- 8th, 9th, and 10th Grade Labs are required to stay. There's a new Algebra Regents Prep that is also starting on Monday. Ms. Joanna will be teaching that starting on Wednesday, when she returns. Kids should report to their class on Monday, however. Please see the lists for labs and Algebra Regents groups in the HS Labs & Regents Prep groups in the Schedule .
- 6th & 7th Grade labs have also shuffled. Please check the MS Labs tab in the Schedule
Here are the changes (in yellow) to the Learning Lab Schedule. Please review the HS and MS Learning Lab tabs in the new Schedule to see where kids are supposed to go. Please take attendance and direct students to their correct Learning Lab on Monday. Please print out the list and hang it on your classroom door.
Planning Ahead. As you plan ahead, here are some important dates to keep in mind:
- NYS MS ELA Exam. Weds 19APR- Mon 24APR (21APR is Eid al-Fitr - NO SCHOOL)
- NYS MS Math Exam. Tues 02MAY- Thu 04May
- NYSESLAT Exam. Mon 15MAY- Fri 26May (Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing)
- US History Regent Exam. Thu 01JUN23 - NO CLASSES for HS or 8th Grade
- Final Exam Week For All - Mon 05JUN-MON12JUN (Same Schedule as Benchmark Week)
- Regents Week Begins - 14JUN23
- We WILL be having a mock regents exam period after Spring Break some time in April/early May. Exact dates and schedule still TBD. Courses ending in Regent exams will use this data to structure regents prep for May/June.
Progress Reports & PID Letters. Progress reports & PID letters will be ready for hand out and you should distribute them during advisory. Students are considered to be promotion in doubt if
- They have <90% average daily attendance for the year. They need to get closer to a 90% attendance rate for the remainder of the year.
- They failed 2 or more core classes OR
- They are a senior or 8th grader and failed any class.
Teacher Preferences for Next Year. We are starting to collect preferences for next year as we gear up for the scheduling and hiring season. Please complete this form by the EOD on Friday, 03MAR23.
Superintendent Walsh is Visiting. Superintendent Fred Walsh will visit on Wednesday, 01MAR for his spring PPO Visit. The agenda is still in draft form, and I have reached out to folks directly who we are likely to visit. However, everyone should be ready with a narrative lesson plan and an active lesson (aka move assessments to another day) in the event that he selects your classroom to visit that day! Thank you all!