Reports to go home at 3:00

Dear Parents,

We are finalizing reports and due to the new structure, they will be going home later than expected.

As always, each report is double proof-read, and as always some mistakes will get through.  Our Department Heads, then Senior Administrators read each report, correcting errors.  We usually catch 95%.  Producing high quality reports is enormously important to us, so if a mistake got through, please reach out to me and we will have it corrected.

For information on how to access your reports, please open this document:

Report Cards Thursday!

Dear Parents,

I have just returned from an amazing recruiting trip to the United States!  We have such an exciting year ahead and I can’t wait to get started.  I intend to write more details in the coming days but I wanted to drop a quick note about Reports on Thursday.

Reports will be going out on Thursday.  These are the official reports of the school.  With open gradebooks there should be no surprises, but these reports include comments on how your child is doing as well as an official GPA.  Please remember that our Grade 9 students will have the adjusted GPAs that match the KHDA guidelines for American Schools.  Grades 10 through 12 will have the same GPAs that were developed by the school.

As always, some parents were contacted by email regarding accounts that are in arrears.  If you received an email regarding monies owed, please reconcile that prior to Thursday so that your child’s reports can released.

We look forward to continued learning in Semester 2!

Best,

Ole Sealey

High School Principal.

 

A Very Good Start to the New Year!

KHDA INSPECTION A HUGE SUCCESS!

Well, we are in week two of 2018 and things at UAS are in full swing!  Last week we had our KHDA inspection and I am pleased to report that it was an exceptionally positive experience.  The inspectors took a long, critical view of the work we have undertaken and were very complimentary of the things we so around here.  Middle School, in particular, was applauded for their growth, a fact that is sure to pay dividends for High School as these great students transition to the older grades.  I am not at liberty to give the overall judgements, but I can say that the school’s improvements have been recognized by the KHDA.  In my time at UAS, I have been proud to serve on the leadership team that has now improved the school in over 40 areas!  We will continue along that trajectory in the coming years.

It is important to communicate that the AFEF board WILL NOT be raising fees next year, even with the successful inspection!

INNOVATION @UAS!

One of my favorite parts of inspection is the National Agenda mandate for schools to become more innovative.  The inspectors asked us to put together a presentation on innovation.  Wanting to take an innovative approach, I asked Mr. Jackson to set up a camera in our media centre, in front of the green-screen.  I then put out an all-call to the teachers to come and share some of the great things we do in the school.  57 people came to share their ideas. Here is what we came up with in less than 24 hours!

First Ever Cohort of National Honor Society Students at UAS!

We do not do anything at UAS to impress inspectors, rather, our relentless dedication to improving the quality of education we provide your children is being recognized.  Last week, Dr. Haag led the inaugural cohort of UAS students to join the National Honor Society (NHS).  NHS is the most distinguished academic and service learning society in America.  UAS has been working for two years to get accreditation and we are so pleased that we were able to induct almost 30 of our best students into this prestigious club.  We had a guest speaker, Dr. Kamel Haddad who gave the most eloquent speech on understanding the sub-text of such an honor.  It was a truly wonderful night!

UAS ARTS RETREAT!

One of the goals of the school is to improve the learning experiences of the our students.  Yesterday, I was delighted when 60 students and 18 teachers gave up a portion of their Sunday to participate in the first ever UAS Arts Retreat.  Led by Ms. Williams, Ms. Etmadi and Ms. Corarito, the students participated in acting, performance, visual and musical arts.  It was a great event.  Teachers got in the fun as well, and despite a lifetime of stage-fright, I was even coerced into going on stage to participate in the event.  It was a lot of fun!

COMING UP – ASSESSMENTS WEEK JAN 21-25!

In the next two weeks, there will be a lot of assessments.  We will not collapse the timetables, but students will be writing a number of assessments, up to two per day in Grade 11.  We are hoping to put a little pressure on the students to get them used to managing their time while still preparing for assessments.  We will use this week to give some final in-class assessments for Grade 10 students in semestered classes.   It is important that students attend in the next two weeks as they could miss a great many assessments which will be challenging to catch up.

Upcoming dates:

  • Jan 14 to 18 – CIS/MSA/IB verification visits
  • Jan 15 – 6:30 PM- MS/HS Choir Concert – MPH
  • Jan 17 – 6:30 PM- MS/HS Band Concert – MPH
  • Jan 21-25 “Assessments Week”  – Grade 10 finals and Grade 11 IB week of assessment
  • Jan 27 – Feb 1 – MAP TESTING
  • Thurs Feb 1 – End of Semester 1 – All Engrade Gradebooks to be fully updated at that time.
  • Feb 1 to 3 – UASMUN conference
  • Sun Feb 4 – Sports day (collapsed schedule / MS WWW)
  • Thurs Feb 8 – proofed reports and comments to be on Engrade.
  • Thurs Feb 15 – Reports go home.
  • Feb 18 – 22 Week Without Walls / IB Mock Exams (Grade 12)

Invitation to Director’s Coffee on Wednesday 8:00 AM and 6:30 PM

THANK YOU!

Dear parents,

First of all, I would like to thank so many of you for your supportive emails, texts and drop-ins regarding my appointment as Director for next year.  I have fallen in love with this school in the last three years and am very proud of what we have accomplished.  I have been honoured to be a part of Mr. Torris’ team and have helped plan, build and oversee many of the initiatives that team has put in place.  I am relieved that we will be able to take that work forward, as there are no plans to change course.

To help communication, on Wednesday, Mr. Torris, Mr. Dorn and I will present information about the direction of the school on behalf of the AFEF board.  As communicated in my coffee two weeks ago, the board has three key roles:

  1. Provide fiduciary oversight to ensure the finances of the school are stable and sustainable.
  2. Approve academic proposals brought forth by the Director.
  3. Contribute to, and approve strategic plans brought forth by the Director.

It is not the case that the board will make substantial changes to the school.  As Director, my role will be to lead the school, develop the strategic plans, manage faculty and liaise between the board and the stakeholders.  The board’s job is to hold me accountable for those things.

When we met two weeks ago, I asked for a number of questions from parents to report back to the board.  Those questions will be answered at the meeting.  We will be running a session at 8:00 in the morning in the secondary library and another in the evening at 6:30 PM.

We do hope you will come support the school and we look forward to working with you.

Reflections from a School Visit

Last week, I was in Saudi Arabia evaluating a group of schools.  I have been a school evaluator for the IB since 2010, and am now an evaluator for the Middle States Association of Schools as well.  School accreditation is a rigorous process!  It keeps schools and boards accountable, in this region, 50% of schools do not get accreditation!  The school we inspected was recommended for accreditation.  I am writing this because it’s important parents know that I believe our school – UAS – is doing a much better job in many areas than the school we just accredited.

We have our KHDA inspection and our CIS/MSA/IB accreditation visits coming up in January.  These are hugely important for the school.  KHDA gives annual inspections and in my time here I have seen enormous growth.  My first year here (2015-16) was the first year the KHDA has “Very Good” as a rating that year the school increased in a net total of 17 areas.  Last year, we improved in another 15 areas.

When we get our accreditation in January, the CIS and IB accreditations will be valid for five years, and MSA will be valid for seven.  The school is determined to continue to improve.  We want all our students to achieve their personal best, and we are putting in place the structures to attain that goal.  By putting in an American Programme to run parallel to the IB, we anticipate seeing further student success in both areas.  It is an exciting time to be at UAS!

Community Involvement

I am enormously proud of the school and particularly the students for their increased involvement in community.  Last Wednesday, our Emirati Committee, led by Hind Al-Futtaim did an amazing job running our National Day celebrations.  The students planned, organized, decorated and carried out the event.  The learning they did was phenomenal and if you attended, you would say it was the best National Day the school has ever had.  We look forward to seeing future events being run at UAS.

In addition, our CAS students continue to do amazing things in the community.  Last weekend, 14 students supported the media tent at the Emirates Airlines Rugby 7’s event and this weekend we have seven more taking place at the Dubai International Film Festival.  Volunteering is a huge part of learning and the work the kids are doing has been great.  Ms. Ray has worked tirelessly managing the student reflections and work (each experience needs to be documented!).  Of course, it takes a village and these incredible opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the support of our parents, particularly Ms. Haddad and Ms. Khatib.  If you have any ideas for ways the school can get more involved in the community, we would love to hear them!  Check out the great things our kids are doing at DIFF:

That’s all for me!  Have a great Winter Break and we will see you all on Wednesday!

 

Athletics Awards and High School Principal’s Coffee.

Athletics Awards

Last night we had another wonderful celebration at UAS, our season one athletics assembly!  It’s an event that has really evolved to something special under the leadership of Mr. Trottier and Mr. Carter.  In season one, our UAS athletes took home no less than 11 banners at NESAC!  More impressively, I was at a leadership conference recently, where I met the Director at Kuwait International School.  He commended UAS on the class with which our athletes conduct themselves.  Winning is one thing, but winning with class is another.  I think one of the reasons our teams are so successful is the culture of excellence we are encouraging.  The value of sportsmanship is so critical to success.

If you are following me on Twitter (@obsealey), I was pushing out information on the night under my hashtag #proudprincipal.

High School Principal’s Coffee

Last week I got an opportunity to speak to a lot of parents regarding next year and the future of the school.  I would like to carry on that conversation.  I know that the Al Futtaim Education Foundation are finalizing their plans for next year and parents can expect much more communication soon.  The main topic of the conversation will be on the Moral Education course mandated by the KHDA, but, I will be happy to field any questions on Monday, November 27th at 8:00 AM in the library.  I hope to see you there!

Best,

OB Sealey

High School Principal.

 

Open Gradebook, Reports, Parent/Teacher Interviews, CAS, 10 Minute Plays… Just another week at UAS!

This school moves fast!  Great schools do!  This week is just another week at UAS and here is what’s on…

Interim Reports vs. Open Gradebook.

The school’s official reports are out now, you would have received a link to them on the portal.  In Grades 9 through 11, there are no formal grades on the reports, the reason for this is that it is too early to give a judgement.  On these reports, the most important information is in the feedback.  Each student gets a personalized comment indicating what type of learner they are, a particular learning strength, and, an area to improve.  They also get an “effort” and a “behaviour” grade.  Those are very important!

Grade 12’s have been in their courses for 14 months, for that reason we can give them a grade.

With the implementation of Engrade, our school’s open gradebook, there is less of a need to report.  For that reason, we will have only 3 formal reports per year.  There will be one interim report, an end of semester report and an end of year report.

What is the difference?

The open gradebook gives parents access to their child’s progress.  It contains extremely valuable information about student learning.  It is comprised of formative assessments and summative assessments.  The grades that go on reports are only derived at by summative assessments.  On the other hand, our reports are formalized, legal documents that students use to transfer to other schools, or, to get into university or various summer programmes.

As a parent, you should be aware of two things re: open gradebooks:

1) After an assessment, teachers have a maximum of 10 days to post grades on the open gradebook.  If that time elapses and you don’t see a grade, please reach out to that teacher.  Our teachers work hard but it’s your right to get in touch and ask for an update.

2) Grades that go on reports are only related to summative assessments, using the practice of “BSP” or best-sustained performance.  The way we calculate reports is by tracking the most recent and most consistent summative grades in the gradebook.  When looking at Engrade, you should see a clear correlation between the best sustained performance and the current result.  There should be no surprises in your child’s grades; if you are confused as to how the teacher came to the final conclusion, simply ask at Parent-Teacher Conferences.

The Importance of Formative Assessments.  

Although they don’t “count”, it can be argued formatives are far more important to learning than summatives.  It is very rare that a student performs well on summatives while not attempting formatives.  Also, formative assessments can give great information on habits of learning and effort.  If a student is not doing well on formatives, they are unlikely to do well on summatives.

Key Questions to Ask at Parent Teacher Conferences:

Friendly reminder – the sign-ups for Wed/Thurs Parent-Teacher Conferences closes Tuesday at 9:00 AM!

Good schools focus on one thing and one thing only: LEARNING!  I worry (a lot) about our school because most conversations I have with parents and students (and in many cases, teachers) is about grades.  Grades are reflections of how well students have learned.  Once we stop talking about grades and start talking about learning, something miraculous will happen… grades will go UP!

Here are some key questions to ask your teachers this week:

  • How would you describe my child as a learner?
  • What types of assessments are best suited for my child’s learning style?
  • What degree of choice do you give my child in designing their assessments?
  • Does that apply to both formative and summative?

To be candid, there will be a varying degree of responses to these questions.  Remember, it was just two short years ago where this school had a “rule” where students were not allowed to be assessed if the task didn’t prepare them for the IB.  Please ask these questions anyway.  We are not preparing students for the IB… we are preparing them for life!

Somehow, in the world of getting good grades, we’ve missed that along the way!  But… with the help of some parents, our culture is changing.  UAS is becoming an institution of meaningful, life-long learning.  We are truly committed to creating caring, critical-thinking, responsible global citizens…

If not grades…how, then, does the IB prepare my child for life?

Here are some photos that will explain it better than I ever could…

UAS students, teachers and parents teaming up with Autism Rocks to create a fun day for people with challenges!

20 UAS students applied and 10 got accepted to support Design Week this week!

These pictures are a huge shout out to our CAS coordinator Ms. Emily Ray and amazing parent volunteers, particularly Ms. Ghia Haddad, Ms. Dima Khatib, the Senior Moms and the PSTO.  One of my favorite expressions is “a rising tide raises all ships” and it’s clear the tide of learning is high as can be at UAS.

10 minute plays!

On Thursday, at 2:30 PM, we invite parents after parent-teacher interviews to attend our 10 minute plays put on by our Drama Team in the MPH.  Please come support our students.

Lastly, if you are not already doing so, please follow me on Twitter: @obsealey.

I am starting to push as much of the great work as I can under the hash-tag #proudprincipal.

 

 

 

Open Gradebooks IB Parent Survey, Senior Swag, CAS and Kris Fade!

Well, another week at UAS is in the books, and like every week… what a week it was!

Open Gradebooks!

Last week, we opened up our Gradebooks.  We did this for several reasons:

  1. The grades belong to the student, not the teacher!
  2. Why do parents have to wait until report season to know exactly how their child is performing?
  3. Report Grades should be a cumulative picture of progress, not 4 unrelated grades separated by quarters.
  4. Having 2 formative and 1 summative assessments per quarter is not a reasonable expectation when we consider the number of distractions in a quarter (ie – winter break).

As of last week you will have received an invitation to Engrade.  For advice on how to log in and view your grades, please watch this video!

By now, all teachers should have some work up on the Gradebook.

IB Parent Survey:

This year, we are in our 5 year review of the IB programme.  Once we complete the verification visit in January, we will be authorized to maintain our programme for another 5 years!  Ms. Cummins needs you input!  Please fill in this survey to help her out!

Senior Swag!

The Senior Parents are hoping to raise money for Prom/Grad/Senior Breakfast.  Below are the pictures of their awesome gear.  If you are interested send your order to: seniorsparents@uasdubai.ae

Creativity, Activity and Service!

Our kids are pretty amazing and Ms. Ray, with tremendous support from some of our parents is working very hard to get our kids out in the community and doing great work!

Here are some shots of our kids bringing joy to others at the Kindergarten starters in Garhood and at the Down Syndrome Association of Dubai.

Kris Fade was here!

We had a great event last Sunday, where radio personality Kris Fade came to UAS to celebrate our students and to share an important message about bullying.  It was a lot of fun!  We had a lot of fun!  They gave us three days to plan, so it was a bit of a throw together, but our kids have real talent and showed real character!  Check it out!

 

Have a great week!

 

The Week Ahead

First of all, I’d like to thank all the parents who came to the Grade 8 and 9 Parent information evening on Wednesday night.  The topic was answering questions about what a parallel American Stream (beside the IB) will look like for the class of 2021.  We will have more sessions as the year goes on.  If you missed it, the presentation can be found here.

It’s going to be a busy week this week! 

On Sunday, Kris Fade will be at UAS as part of the 20 schools in 20 days.  All of Middle and High School will be present!  We think it’s going to be an amazing event for our kids.  We wish we could invite parents to be a part of it, but bringing all of Middle and High School into the MPH is going to be a challenge.  Look here for video of this event next week!

PTSO Walk for Breast Cancer – Thursday!

On Thursday morning, Period 1, we are having a UAS walk for breast cancer.  It will be a short, symbolic walk around the campus.  Please dawn your best pink outfit and come join us.  High School will begin our walk at 8:00 AM, from the field.

Google Training!

This weekend, 25 of our teachers undertook Google Certification and 25 more will take it next week.  Being a Google Certified Educator is an impressive feat, and by year’s end, all UAS employees will have that on their CV!  It is improving our workflow and will have a significant impact in the classroom.  I can’t wait to see all the creative things that come out of it!

Dr. Quaglia is here!

Once again, one of our favorite people, Dr. Russell Quaglia is with us this week.  For those of you new to UAS, Dr. Q is a world leader in the field of student voice and student aspirations.  His work at UAS has led to us re-developing the UAS development plan, focussing heavily on engagement.  Please stay tuned to announcements for opportunities to connect with Dr. Q!

Have a great week, UAS!

 

Fixed Links…Inshallah!

I’d like to give a big Thank You to the parents who informed me the links were not working in my previous blog.  I have changed the sharing settings and the links “should” work now.  If they do not, I will have to go and re-create the surveys.   Please send me an email if you still not get in.

Here are the last 2 items from my weekend blog with fixed links…

Open Gradebook

In high school, we are preparing our launch of the open gradebook.  We are targeting having Gradebooks available to parents on October 15th.  There is a lot of important information to pass along regarding this.

All summative assessments on Engrade will have a one-to-seven result on them.  Formative assessments, however, look different for different reasons.  We are using our Tuesday collaborative planning times to see what the impact of standardizing formative assessments would look like.  Please fill in THIS SURVEY to give us your input on whether you want both formative and summative assessments in your Gradebook.

Meeting for Grade 8 and 9 Parents

On Wednesday, October 11th, I will be hosting a meeting to re-inforce the specifics of the implementation of our American Education Steam at UAS and how it will co-exist with our IB program.  The meeting will take place in the library at 6:30 PM and is open to Grade 8 and 9 parents.  If there is significant interest, it will be moved the the MPH.  Please click here to register.

If you can’t meet us on Wednesday, please take 24 minutes to watch the beginning of year assembly below.  Mr. Jackson did a great job editing it!  In the first 24 minutes, there is important information that will be re-communicated on Wednesday night.

This week’s update…we need parent feedback!

Please Read!

Throughout this blog post there will be links to a few surveys for parents to give input.  Please read the entire post and fill in the surveys to help us help you! 

Great Start!

The start to the school year has been great!  Our new teachers have settled in well and the quality of learning in classes looks better than ever.  Over the summer, the Al-Futtaim Educational Foundation (AFEF) invested heavily in the school structure and the impact in the classroom has been huge.  Classrooms and hallways are brighter and the new furniture is much more dynamic.  These things make a big difference in education!

Instructional Coaches

As you know, UAS is committed to growing from within.  We have great practice at UAS and it’s only getting better!  In addition to the infrastructure upgrades, Mr. Torris and AFEF agreed to invest in, and develop, an internal coaching program here at UAS.  Their impact has been significant.  As a learner who is always focused on improvement and growth, I am engaging in a coaching cycle.  I meet with my coach once per week and together we prepare my various meetings.  The meetings are filmed and we go back and watch them to ensure the engagement is high and the pacing is appropriate.  It’s a very interesting process and I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

Google Education

We are a one-to-one laptop school.  Next year, every student in high school will have a MacBook.  That is changing how we approach education at UAS; modernizing it.  You may be familiar with the “SAMR” model of technological integration.  Below is an image of what that looks like.  Over the next two weekends, most of our teachers will be taking Level 1 or 2 Google Certification.  100% of UAS teachers will be Google Certified at least to Level 1 this year.  In the coming years, it is our ambition to have UAS staff as Google Trainers and Innovators, joining the world-wide connection of high-class educators who redefine practice.

 

Open Gradebook

In high school, we are preparing our launch of the open gradebook.  We are targeting having Gradebooks available to parents on October 15th.  There is a lot of important information to pass along regarding this.

All summative assessments on Engrade will have a one-to-seven result on them.  Formative assessments, however, look different for different reasons.  We are using our Tuesday collaborative planning times to see what the impact of standardizing formative assessments would look like.  Please fill in THIS SURVEY to give us your input on whether you want both formative and summative assessments in your Gradebook.

Meeting for Grade 8 and 9 Parents

On Wednesday, October 11th, I will be hosting a meeting to re-inforce the specifics of the implementation of our American Education Steam at UAS and how it will co-exist with our IB program.  The meeting will take place in the library at 6:30 PM and is open to Grade 8 and 9 parents.  If there is significant interest, it will be moved the the MPH.  Please click here to register.

If you can’t meet us on Wednesday, please take 24 minutes to watch the beginning of year assembly below.  Mr. Jackson did a great job editing it!  In the first 24 minutes, there is important information that will be re-communicated on Wednesday night.