Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Picture from Bronx Zoo
I transferred to this school through a back door. I was on child care leave when a friend called and told me about a special education vacancy in math. I had only a few special education classes and my only experience was with a few special needs students who had been main streamed before I went on leave, but I liked working with needy students and applied. The AP who interviewed me liked what he saw and brought me to meet the Principal. During that interview the Principal asked me what kind of students I disliked. Without missing a beat I said, "the ones with the guns" as I came from a pretty rough school where many of the students packed weapons. He laughed and offered me the job immediately. Unfortunately I had a hard time getting a former Principal to sign my release. Armed with a letter from the new school I went to Brooklyn, met with Rufus Thomas and my career at Packemin began.
At Packemin I taught emotionally handicapped and educationally handicapped students both math and computer classes. Computers were new and I was learning along with my students and I had zero experience with the emotionally handicapped boys I was now responsible for. During the first week the Principal came to observe me. The lesson was awful. The boys in the room saved me. When they saw the Principal, they sat down and started putting on a show for him. He understood that the show was to make me look good. During our post op, while criticizing the lesson, he praised the way the students responded to me and let me know that was more important than the questions I asked or the lesson I wrote. Of course with experience I got better and won his praise on lessons too.
When my son was small he suffered from terrible ear infections and asthma and too often I had to leave to take care of him. When I apologized to this Principal he said, "How can I expect you to take care of the family here if you can't take care of your family at home?" Another time he gave me a last minute personal day to catch an earlier flight to Texas as I had to be there for a Bat Mitzvah and the weather in New York was supposed to be horrendous. He told me he appreciated my honesty in coming to him rather than just calling in sick.
I was fortunate to teach in a time when I did not have to worry about losing my job at the whim of an incompetent administrator. As long as I showed up and was prepared I was safe. But, I was always a little intimidated by this man because he was so smart. Although his field was English, I knew he could pick apart my lessons and find any mistake I made, even in a calculus class because he would research anything he did not know before our post op conference. After he left, I always felt I could organize a totally bogus lesson. As long as the kids responded well and worked in groups it would get a wonderful report. No administrator would bother to check the math and realize it was all made up.
Don't get me wrong. Life under this Principal was not a bed of roses and I could fill up a post with things I did not like about him. But, he is gone and it is time to remember the good and to hope by talking only about his good, his work can help today's administrators focus on the important things teachers do, the way they impact their students and to realize this has nothing to do with the questions they ask, whether their students raise left or right hands to show understanding, or the percentage of students passing. He told me once that I think with my heart and I know that was meant as a compliment. Hopefully his intelligence will inspire administrators to learn the subjects they are supervising and make smart decisions about who is effective and who is not. and to realize the heart has a major part in what makes a good teacher.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
Thirty two year old APs who know nothing about teaching and everything about harassing those who do and incompetent Principals who appoint and support them and care nothing about them and everything about statistics, it is no wonder this is happening every where.
The criminals are the principals who should know better, who claim to care about kids who let these miseries keep on going. The kids are the ones suffering.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Thursday, June 09, 2016
Friday, June 03, 2016
Thursday, June 02, 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
Friday, May 20, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Sunday, May 08, 2016
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
It's teacher appreciation week and I found the following in a post on Facebook from a former student:
Pissedoffteacher, as my high school math teacher well I meant to hate you, because everyone knows I hate math, but you made us laugh which in turn made me want to learn, and I left high school with a greater appreciation for what a good teacher could get out of even the students whom struggle.Comments like that are what helps me believe I was a good teacher, one who made a difference in my students lives. I'm glad I left before a bunch of incompetent administrators had the power to rate me ineffective because I was old and not afraid to stand up to them.
The pictures above are by an art teacher who took his students into the street and painted over a dreary, filthy, graffiti tunnel and made a little part of the city beautiful again. This teacher is one who is making a difference. Thank you Joel Artista from St. Gregory's.
Sunday, May 01, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
I highly recommend all NYC residents get a city ID and head over to the Bronx Zoo to pick up Wildlife membership. This gives entrance to Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Flushing Zoo, Prospect Zoo and the Aquarium.
I only had a half hour today but I got to visit the penguins, my favorites in the Central Park Zoo. These two little guys were busy flirting with all their visitors.
Of course there are tons of other benefits to be had with this ID. I had to buy a new case just to keep all my membership cards together.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Saturday, April 09, 2016
Monday, April 04, 2016
Friday, April 01, 2016
Today's Daily News had an article where Chancellor Farina is bragging about the decline in suspensions in NYC schools.
I wish the newspapers would really care about what is going on in the schools and go to the people that know, the teachers, students and deans. They should stop relying on these statistics that hide half or more than half of what actually happens. School administrators are more interested in keeping their A ratings and making sure they are attracting the most students than they are in being truthful. When I taught I saw way too much being unreported.
When people ask me about my former school, I hesitate, not wanting to tell all that I really know because it is better than most schools around. Still, it is not nearly as good as it is portrayed and while it is pretty safe, no one will ever hear of incidents swept under the carpet that keep the safety rating so high.
Friday, March 25, 2016
It has come to my attention that some of you have been doing the most unthinkable, educationally sound practice ever. You have been praising your students and congratulating them on getting good grades. This practice has got to stop immediately. Your compliments will only make those who did not do well feel bad and that is not something we want. While praise is important it must come from their peers, not from you. Students congratulating other students will encourage everyone to do better.
Remember, it is not your job to say nice things to any of your students. If you do, I will put a letter in your file and you will be rated ineffective at the end of the year.
Administrator at Large
PS: As you know I do not have any real teaching experience and no education courses under my belt but I read about this on a blog on the Internet, written by a shoe salesman in India so it must be correct.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
I have been covering college classes for years, mostly for full time professors, those with PhDs. Some leave detailed lessons, others just pages in a book. Some just leave exams. They all have one thing in common. They are extremely grateful for what I have done, thank me and request I cover again whenever they need coverage.
Mr. J is a fairly new adjunct. I was asked to cover his class when he had to attend a meeting. Mr. J sent me the chapter sections he wanted me to teach which was more than adequate. I started the class the same way I start every class, asking the students if they had an questions on previous work. Unlike other classes, these students told me they had no idea what was going on. The teacher had covered the beginning half of chapter two and the beginning half of chapter 3. He expected me to finish the second chapter which could not be done unless the students knew the first half. I did some review and got through about half of what he wanted. As I always do, I sent an e-mail explaining what I had covered.
Instead of the usual appreciation I got a sharp reprimand and a demand to finish what I was told to finish whenever I covered again. While I don't know for sure, I am betting he needed me to teach material he did not understand himself.
This is the difference between someone who can teach and someone who pretends to know how to teach. I hope his students fill out their teacher evaluation forms professionally to let the college know this guy is masquerading as a teacher. They deserve better.
Friday, March 18, 2016
One of the benefits of retirement is the ability to take advantage of all the city has to offer and this week I did just that at the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts.
Wednesday afternoons, three wonderful opera singers perform in front of an audience and art song master Paul Sperry in the program Joy In Singing. The audience is not only treated to a fantastic afternoon of music but have first hand experience watching a coach bring out the best of voices that are already outstanding.
I am not an opera fan and wasn't even sure I would enjoy this performance but in my quest to experience it all, I gave it a shot and was not disappointed. I loved the music but I also loved watching the teacher at work. He did, what all great teachers do. He praised all the performers, emphasizing their strengths. And, when he found areas that needed correction, he explained what he wanted without putting down what they had done and demonstrated exactly what he wanted. He never lost patience with one singer who didn't understand his corrections and worked with her until she got it.
As I watched the evaluation process I thought about teacher evaluations done by assistant principals and principals today. Mr. Sperry is a master of his craft. Those evaluating teachers are not masters and many can barely teach, having failed licensing exams and only being in the classroom a very short time. Mr. Sperry knew what he wanted and knew how to demonstrate this. He was able to bring out the best. Today's administrators only offer criticism, never ways to correct. He knew how to do all this without shame and humiliation and every performer who left the stage left feeling good about themselves. I don't think most teachers would say this after a post evaluation conference.
Every young performer at Joy in Singing learned something and will be better because of this experience. This is what school administrators have to be able to do for teachers if they truly want the best for their students.
(Picture is sunset in Austin, Texas)
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
This is a comment on Teacher Shortage post. Sad treatment of teachers which trickles down to our students is happening everywhere.
Great post. It is pathetic to watch a middle school AP with 5 years of phys ed teaching experience rip apart a 15+ year veteran math teacher who is an amazing teacher. The reason the AP rips her apart? Because he can!! Power hungry trolls most of them are. Teach for 3-5 years, get your admin degree from Touro "University" and presto!!! You are an instant expert administrator. Pathetic.
(Picture from Subway Art Tour-Walkaboutnewyork.com. Tour is run by Phil Desiere one of the most amazing tour guides I have ever met. He is informative and entertaining and his tours are not bank breakers. Anyone who wants to learn about the city and likes to walk should consider one of his tours.)
Monday, March 14, 2016
Friday, March 11, 2016
No wonder NYS has a shortage of teachers. It is no wonder teachers, good experienced teachers are getting out as soon as they can, fleeing from even the best schools in the city.
I have not only heard the stories, but have witnessed personally ineffective, know nothing administrators ripping apart good,experienced, caring teachers because they have minds that work and refuse to cow tow to administrators who know less than the students they are in charge of.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Faculty at University of Texas have been warned to drop controversial and sensitive topics from curriculum, limit student access and only meet students in controlled environments after the school as the law now allows students over 21, with licenses to carry concealed weapons on campus.
Even the military does not allow weapons in barracks and classrooms.
Imagine a crazed student with a gun and a failed exam or an F paper!
Thursday, February 18, 2016
We sat and chatted for about an hour. It was great seeing her and hearing about how great she is doing. The words that rang out for me was when she told me she learned to love math in my class and how she had no idea how she even ended up in an advanced placement math class as her math grades leading up to the class were not very good. I didn't want to tell her that I would bet being the same race as the assistant principal might have had something to do with her being in the class as other students, possibly more qualified were not allowed in, but that is another post, ones addressed on this blog many times. Anyway, all ended good for this young woman. She got a 3 on AP exam, enough to get college credit and never having to take math again.
I worked for an AP who, day after day, tried to make me feel like I was the world's worst teacher.In fact, years after I left, he still spent many department meetings talking about what an awful teacher I was. I'm glad I never bought into his nonsense and left before he had any real power to destroy my career but I know he is doing the same to teachers still in the school and good, caring teachers are leaving in droves before they are actually ready to go.
The real evaluation of what I do and did as a teacher comes from the students who sat in my class daily. A young woman who graduated in 2010 still remembers how she felt and learned in my class lets me know I really did make a difference. The students are the ones who know.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
As a math teacher I strongly take the opposite side. I have seen students come back from missing only one day and are lost. They cannot do the new work because doing it depends upon what they learned the previous day. After a week of vacation it is almost impossible to get back on track.
Family vacations are great but they have a time and a place. If parents cannot take off when school is not in session parents must find other ways to bond with their children. There are always weekends and evening. Even before all the testing, the stakes were just too high and no one will convince me that vacations should take place on school days.