Friday, January 30, 2015

Packemin Post

I originally wanted to share on this blog but after reading the post I decided it is better to share it here. I wrote it a while ago, couldn't even decide if it should be posted until now.  But, the story still bothers me and I need to share.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Making Learning Into A Game



I know this cartoon is supposed to be funny and to make Hagar look bad by playing cards with his son but in my opinion it makes him look like a good father.

Hagar is spending time with his child and building his self esteem with positive words.  He is also helping his son with basic math facts, reinforcing these skills in a fun way, in a way his son doesn't even know he is learning.

When I was growing up my mom spent hours playing games with me.  She helped me learn vocabulary and spelling through scrabble.  She taught me probability with board games using dice and spinners, and she helped me learn and reinforce addition and subtraction with card games. As a real small child I learned number recognition and ordering playing solitaire alongside her.

I wonder how many kids are learning this way today.  I've had many students tell me they were not allowed to play cards when I used them with a game involving signed numbers and in lessons on probability.

Learning can and should be fun.  Maybe that was what the cartoonist was trying to show after all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Aruba School Day

I watched a group of children walk happily to the water for their swim lesson.  Each group of 5 had an adult supervisor while in water.

Wonder if these kids have to deal with Common Core testing?

A day like this teaches important things that cannot be learned from books.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Just Announced

NYC schools closed tomorrow.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cheating APs and The Teachers They Love And Support


Another regents week rolls around and once again the AP is assigning proctors who are too afraid of her to proctor honestly.  They know their jobs depend upon her good will and her good will only comes to those who do her bidding.

These newbies are scared.  They still can't believe they got jobs right out of college and landed in a good, safe school with easy parking and good public transportation.  They've heard horror stories from classmates not as fortunate.  They've never had real administrators who know how to teach and how to recognize good teachers.  They've only worked for the one who is schooling them in the art of cheating.  A part of them thinks that maybe the AP is right and this is the way things are done but a bigger part knows it is wrong and will do it anyway.  They want to stay right where they are for the rest of their careers.

I feel for these poor newbies.  They will get caught.  They will all lose their jobs.  Their AP will deny all knowledge of their cheating and will use them to save herself.  She has always done this and always will.  Her boss knows and protects her too.  The good stats will benefit him as well.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cuomo and Teacher Evaluations



I taught high school for over 30 years, the last 20+ at Francis Lewis HS in Queens.  I was pretty good at reaching the students others could not and was always given the most challenging ones.  I even volunteered to take students from other teachers in hope of getting them through.  I say I was pretty good, not great and my passing results were usually in the 80th percentile although one semester I did get 27 out of 28 to pass the algebra 1 regents and graduate.  While some might say my statistics were good, they were usually the worst in the department.  No one seemed to care about the population I taught and the previous history of these students.  Stats were all that mattered. 

Today there is a mad rush mid semester to drop any students who might fail the regents.  No one wants to take a chance on helping them because the students failure translates into the teacher's evaluation.  These students then take non regents math and go on to college where they are ill prepared for success.  Even if they stayed behind and failed, they would have seen material and been better prepared for the future.  And, many who were dropped might have passed, if not the first time then the second.

Teachers should be evaluated.  I worked for a Principal who walked the halls daily and knew what was going on in each classroom.  I worked for an AP (30+ years ago-not at Francis Lewis) who wrote 5 page observations, commenting on every little thing and giving complements and constructive criticism.  She knew who was good and who should not be teaching and acted accordingly.

Teaching is an art and art cannot be evaluated with test scores.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dilbert Does It Again


The AP was hired because the Principal knew she would have no problems finding teachers smarter than her.  Hey, even the lowest level students in the department knew more than she did.  But, the plan backfired.  While she had no intelligence, she had meanness and soon the smart ones left.  the Principal still thought she was a perfect leader. She got the old timers on max salary to leave in droves and the smart young ones to never stayed on long enough to cost him money.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Breakers-Evil Ones

I just finished reading Unbroken and the horror of what those poor GI's suffered as Japanese POWs will never leave me.  The other thing that will never leave me is the knowledge of a stupid, inexperienced lieutenant who sent them out in a plane not fly worthy.  He was the guilty one in this case and should be tried and imprisoned.

This made me think about all the incompetent, inexperienced and out of licensed supervisors out there ruining teachers careers and forcing many to retire.  The special education AP, with no experience in the subject telling others how to teach, ruining not only teachers but students as well.

Unbroken was horrific.  So bad that I cannot bring myself to see these horrors on the big screen.  These stupid administrators are putting teachers and students in harms way, like the lieutenant who ordered them to fly.  This has got to change.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Marching For Change


I am not exactly sure where this post is going and hope it comes out coherent.

I just saw Selma.  I heard the director say that it is not a documentary, but a movie based on fact.  The things portrayed in this movie are factual even if some of the characteristics of the main players have been changed.  The movie, at times, is hard to watch.  The violence hurts to see but it happened.  People were clubbed, beaten and murdered just for trying to get their constitutional right to vote.

Here is why I began this post.  I keep thinking about the Staten Island choke hold victim, the Ferguson victim and other Black men who have recently died at the hands of the police and think about justice.  There are good police and bad ones just as their are good and bad in every profession.  The protesters are only out there protesting the bad ones.  De Blasio is only warned his son about what could happen, not what will happen.  He hasn't said anything that I never said to my students when I taught high school.

The people in Selma marched to create drama and to get change.  I believe that is what today's marchers are also looking to do.  They want justice.  They want all people treated equally.  They know police come in all kinds.  They are protesting the bad, following in the footsteps of Dr. King.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Words To Live By

I read a friend's Facebook post, saw these pictures from Charleston and thought of her supervisor, too dumb to know how she dumb she is


and the person who chose her to be a supervisor.



Sunday, January 04, 2015

Teaching To The Test


When I taught high school and when I talk to people who still teach high school, aside from being miserable, the main topic is statistics and how they are doing everything humanly possible to get those stats up.  (Notice, nothing is being said about getting knowledge up.)  Not only has a generation of students been corrupted, but a generation of teachers as well.

Several days weeks ago I covered a class for a colleague.  The lesson was on exponential and logarithmic equations.  When I called to tell her I covered the entire section she told me she never bothered teaching one particular method because it is never on the final.  I couldn't believe she was teaching to the exam in college.  After years in high school she was brain washed into caring about stats and not education.  Another colleague sent out an e-mail about her 100% passing rate in the remedial class she taught.  While this is great, and she should realize she worked hard and accomplished a lot, the passing rate is no indication of the type of teacher she is.

More and more I see adjuncts teaching their college classes like high school classes.  They run off work sheets and make photo copies of books because that is the only way to get students to work and succeed.  The dummying down of high school has unwittingly spread into college with teaching being as corrupted as students.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Affair


I just finished watching the last episode of  The Affair.  It took 5 episodes to get me interested and I am glad I stuck with it.  This last episode hit home.

The male lead, Noah, is a NYC high school teacher who ends up in the rubber room for a discretion.  (Won't go into any other details of the show here because they are not relevant to this post.)  Although I have not been to a rubber room, the show portrays all that I have heard about them.  The "inmates" are signed in by an evil looking guard.  They sit quietly at tables, reading, using computers, sleeping and being bored.  One has slumped over and is only noticed by a fellow captive who happens to turn around.  EMT removes him and no one seems concerned as the stretcher is carried passed them.  In order to go to the bathroom, ID must be left and the teacher must be signed out.

Noah is one of the few that succeeds in this hell like room.  He is a writer and finally completes his second novel which ends up being a huge success.

If you can't get into the series, just go to the season finale.  I would like to thank Showtime for portraying this for all to see.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chaz Got It Right


I just finished reading Chaz's post and was reminded of a meeting I attended at the college several years ago.

The chair people of the college had a lunch meeting with the assistant principals of the math departments of many of the high schools that feed into it.  The college is stressed as students are coming in totally unprepared.  Their arithmetic skills and algebra skills are non existent and they feel a sense of entitlement, an expectation of passing without doing any work.  The point of the meeting was to find a way to work with the high schools to help these students succeed after they receive a diploma.  I remember the college representative telling that students who do not pass the placement exam must take remedial math.  The high school AP was upset about this.  Her students "worked hard" and "succeeded".  She thought it was cruel to make them take remedial.  She did not want to hear that the kids with 75s, who did not pass the placement test were just not ready to go ahead.  She wanted a graduating class that would not take remedial math even if they graduated knowing no math. Other APs started blaming middle and elementary schools.  The idea of the meeting was to fix the problem and not blame anyone.

High Schools could have 100% graduation rate but that would not mean anything if the kids who graduate are not ready to succeed in the world after high school.  I started teaching in the college over 10 years ago.  I've seen a steady decline in the ability of my students.  It is not them.  It is the way they have been taught and the low standards they have been held down to.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Out For The Holiday








This vintage bus was on 34th St, out for all to see.  The guy on the bottom usually stands in front of B&H Photo, taking and posing and of course charging.  I got this one for free as he chatted with bus driver.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Vicinity

Times Square






 30 Rock
 30 Rock
 Sak's

 Rockefeller Center




 St Patrick;s Cathedral


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Macy's 34th St


After many weeks, I finally have a working computer again.  Just posting some pictures from my favorite store at this festive time of year.