Sunday, April 19, 2015

Last week I stopped by Kohl's to return something and remembered running into two of my students there years ago, kids I knew were on late session and should still have been in school.  I asked them why they were out and they looked at me and said.

"Miss, we needed to use the bathroom and you know how disgusting the ones at Packemin are.  We just couldn't go there."
I told them it was a good story and they should be in school, not in a department store but inside I knew they were right.  The bathrooms were pretty gross.

Wonder if they have gotten any better since I left?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Class Room Management

The class was hard to handle and I called the deans more times than I was comfortable with, but, I was at my wits end and needed help.

At the end of the semester I went to the head of security and apologized for calling so often.  He told me not to worry.  Every student I had called about had a file two inches thick in his office.  He said I called less than other teachers and I actually had done a good job dealing with them.

My AP did not agree.  He never stopped letting me know how bad I was at classroom management and to this day, 4 years after I retired, still takes time from department conferences to remind the staff of how awful I was.

I learned never to call him.  Several years later I had another hard to handle class.  This time I went to the Principal for help.  After paying the class a short visit he told me some of the students were incorrigible.  Of course, to my AP, I was at fault again.

Another teacher in the department had a rough class.  She went on sabbatical and he gave the class to a new teacher.  But, before handing over the class, he removed the 3 biggest trouble makers.  The class was well behaved and he never stopped telling everyone how the new teacher did what the experienced teacher could not do.  He never even considered removing students for the old timer.

Judge teachers, but judge them fairly.  Realize some kids are just going to do the wrong thing and no one can stop that.  Stop stacking class and stop blaming teachers for things they cannot control.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shame On You!

Yes, you heard right, shame on you.  You are the Principal that is allowing the teacher to be abused by his immediate supervisors, probably even encouraging it.  You don't care that the teacher has been in the system for over 30 years and in your school for more than 20 of them.  You don't care that the teacher spends hours of his own time helping his students, before and after school and even weekends.  You don't care about the hours he agonizes over exams and lessons.  All you care about is that you don't like a couple of questions you heard him ask or the problems he has had with students that everyone else in the school has with these kids.  You care about your vindictive, incompetent AP who does not like him and you support that supervisor.

But, mostly you don't care about the children you are in charge of.  You have allowed this AP to make the teacher so miserable that he walked out before the end of the semester.  You sacrificed the education of over 100 students to get a good, caring teacher to leave.  The teacher wasn't perfect, no one is but in the scheme of things that doesn't really matter.  The kids who were fortunate enough to be in his class learned well.  They had a loving, nurturing teacher.  Now they will have a string of substitutes.  There will be no stability There will be no one involved enough in their lives to care.

You claimed to have taken the job of Principal because of your love of children but you are not showing it.  You have your own.  Would you want their teachers to walk out in the middle?  You might as well admit it, you care about moving up on the career ladder and nothing else.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Picketing For Good Jobs

I promised this great group of young people I would post their picture.

They were standing in front of Verizon, on their own time, demanding good jobs, not an unreasonable request.

(2nd Ave, south of 14th St)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Department Conference

This reminded me of the department conferences I used to attend.

Nothing the AP said made sense.  He never lacked for words either.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The grade fixing at John Dewey HS is not local to that school.  It is epidemic to all schools in the city.

Years ago, before I retired, I ran a credit recovery program.  I wanted standards and insisted on it.  I carefully chose 300 problems of varying difficulty and set up two online assignments.  After several weeks it became obvious that the students were not doing them.  Administration changed the two assignments adfsto one and then instead of 150 questions, only 75 were required.  Still, many kids did not do the assignments.    Those who did often had help.  Several students told me they paid others to do assignments for them.  I watched a teacher (an Assistant Principal) doing one of her student's assignments on a smart board with the entire class.  Other teachers set aside class time to let students work on these assignments instead of doing their own class work.  Students got credit for two classes in one.

John Dewey is under the microscope now but the inspection should extend throughout the city.  With the push to pass everyone, for schools to stay open and for Principals to get their big bonuses, cheating is epidemic.  It will continue until things change.  It is about time schools are getting caught.  Maybe now education will get back to the way it should be.

Monday, March 23, 2015

PS 1

PS 1-an old school now used as an art museum for some of the world's most experimental art. I like the art but love walking around this old, re-purposed school building.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Royal Commandment

The AP had a simple demand.  Everyone had to pass.  Even one failure meant the teacher was no good and not doing her job properly.  The teachers did the best they could to do his bidding.  They did not want to be subjected to his verbal abuse and they certainly did not want to risk their jobs.  In order to fulfill this commandment the teachers pretty much gave up teaching and focused on test prep.  They taught their students how to work backwards from multiple choice and to use guess and check instead of thinking through the problem.  This method worked rather well since it is possible to pass a regents by only getting some multiple choice questions correct.

The AP was happy with the group of teachers who followed his order.  He rewarded those teachers with praise and good programs.  He had parties for them.  Those teachers basked in his praise, never once realizing how much they were hurting the students they passed along.

Now those students are in college where they actually have to produce to pass.  They don't possess any basic algebraic skills, can't solve an equation or even add and multiply signed numbers.  They don't know how to study.  They want second, third, and fifth chances.  They are angry because getting by with no work is no longer an option.  They don't understand how life is so different now than it was when they were in high school.

The AP is not concerned with these students.  He did his job.  He got them out of his school and had great statistics too.  Their future was not his concern as he would not be judged by whatever happened to them next.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dilbert Does It Again

Ever wonder how some of those AP's become APs?  You know, the ones who never taught the subject they are put in charge of or the ones with 2 years experience, still wet behind the ears?
Well. leave it to Dilbert to explain how they got their jobs.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Tuesday three siblings and their spouses came together to bury their father.  It was a sad day but the siblings knew their father had led a long happy and healthy life and it was his time to go.  Tuesday evening sibling one did not feel so good and went to the emergency room.  He never made it home.  The doctors found a clot on one of his lungs and that was the end.

Today, two siblings and their spouses came together again to bury their brother.  Lots of other family and friends came from near and far to offer hugs and support and to say goodbye to a man who loved life and was loved by all.  The man was only 63 years young.

I'm still wiping tears but am also smiling as I remember the good times I had with this guy, the hours we spent hiding out on a back porch when the party we were attending was too loud.  I remember the hugs and the laughter we shared throughout the years, the happiness when he told of his upcoming wedding,  and the joy of celebrating his 60th birthday.

Eleven of us left the cemetery and went together to a nearby dinner for lunch.  We sat and ate and talked about all the years we all had together and how, while not related by blood, we were family.  One friend, one who usually eats only what is good for him had a huge piece of chocolate cake.  He was celebrating his life and the knowledge that we all will go one day, some sooner than later.

This man went far too soon.  But, he didn't know his days were numbered and he did not suffer any pain.  I am glad he knew how much we all loved and respected him in his life and did not wait until it was too late to show how much we cared.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Snow Closure

I looked out the window and realized it would be really hard to get to the college to cover the class I had promised to teach for a colleague today.  I called in and was told "be safe and don't worry."  told I would decide about my own class later on.

E-mails kept coming from my students asking about class tonight as may live far.  I looked out and saw no sign of the weather improving and decided to cancel.  Two and a half hours of math is not worth the risk of an accident.  I didn't expect the school to close and felt I should look out for myself and my students.   I called to let the school know and again  heard "be safe."

I checked e-mails after 2 o'clock and found this message:

Due to the severe weather, all regularly scheduled classes and activities that begin at 4:30PM or later are cancelled for today, March 5, 2015. Additionally,  Community College will close at 5PM. 

I'm glad the powers that be at the college made a safe decision.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Guidance Counselor

She became a counselor because she hated being in the classroom.  Her behavior management skills were lacking and she gradually started hating the kids.  Guidance was her way out.

Too bad she still hated the kids she was entrusted to help, the kids who were the neediest in the building.   The kids knew how she felt about them and so did their parents.  Many adults in the building knew too.

She will read this and know it is about her.  She will be angry.  She'd be a fool to say something.  No names are used and no school mentioned.  But she will probably complain anyway, outing herself to everyone, even the people in charge.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a little boy who dreamed about becoming a teacher.  He wasn't too smart of a little boy but he muddled through college and managed to get a teaching job through some back door program.  The problem was the boy was not a very good teacher.  He barely understood the material and was not able to get the material across to his students.  Luckily for this little boy the Principal of the school did not care.  The Principal decided the best way to handle the situation was to make the little boy the assistant principal of that department.  The Principal knew the little boy would not be able to help new teachers (or any teachers) but that did not matter.  The little boy was now in place to do the job the Principal wanted--that of harassing senior teachers and getting them to leave voluntarily or by force.

The little boy had trouble getting the license he needed to keep the position.  It took multiple times for him to pass the exam but, like college, he eventually got through.  Meanwhile he became more and more stressed by the senior teachers in his department.  They knew his was incompetent and inexperienced and he hated anyone seeing the true him.  The little boy started going after these teachers by making sure they had different preps every semester, courses they never taught and had no ready material for.  Then he started writing letters (with grammatical mistakes).  He stacked classes with the most difficult students so these teachers would have poor results and he made nasty comments to them and about them in front of colleagues and students.

The little boy felt loved, not by the students or the teachers, but by the Principal.  He had power.  He was making the lives of others as miserable as he could.  The little boy was very happy.

If this fairy tale ended now, the little boy would be very happy, but alas, that will not happen.  Eventually there will be a new Principal, maybe even one with standards and the little boy will be put in his place.  The teachers being harassed are strong.  They will stay and fight.  They will not let the little boy win.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Principal and The Boy With The Cell Phone

The Principal began his PD address with a story of the day he left his office.

"There was a day I had to leave my office to attend to matters on the third floor.  Since this does not happen very often I lost my way back.  While wandering the halls I came across a young Caucasian man leaning on window sill on a cell phone.  I asked the young man where he belonged and he told me to be quiet.  He was talking to his friend.  I repeated my request and again he told me to wait and asked me if I ever talked to friends.  He then went on to tell me to be respectful.  Finally he got off the phone and we could chat.  I again asked him where he belonged and he told me the class he should have been in.  I walked him back to class and told the teacher to let him in.  I waited at the back door and watched, ready to write the teacher up for not handling the situation properly.  I saw the teacher say something, saw the boy start to cry.I walked away.  Now I must decide whether to write the teacher up for verbal abuse or for not taking proper action or both.  Our students must learn to respect our authority and we must earn it and then demand it.  We as a staff have a long way to go."

I heard the story and wondered why the Principal did not confiscate the phone and take the boy to his office and call a parent.  At the very least I wondered why he did not bring the boy to the dean or guidance.  I wondered why the poor teacher was being dumped on again.  I wonder when the Principal will start earning the respect of the students and the staff.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Overcoming A Disability

The boy was a special education student in high school, a little higher functioning than most, he spent his years in main stream classes team taught by a special education teacher and a main stream teacher. XZ (The special education teacher recognized his ability but her hands were tied by the main stream teacher)  The boy seemed to be off in space but always had the correct answer when the teacher questioned him.

The boy was unique in in this class of low functioning students.  He had a brain that worked well and worked constantly and he liked to solve problems in unconventional ways.  The methods, while correct, were not the ones in the solution manual and the main stream teacher was often confounded.  She couldn't follow his logic and disrespected him and his ingenious methods.  The main stream teacher did not like him because she was intimidated by his creativity.

Low and behold this main stream teacher went on to become chairman of the special education department. She no longer taught inclusion classes because she feared encountering students like this boy again and, as supervisor, she did not have to do this.

The boy, the one the special education supervisor did not like graduated high school and went on to college. He took classes  calculus and physics and Shakespeare and Chinese.  He studied with professors who liked creative thinkers.  He did well.  He is now studying engineering in a very prestigious university and will one day shine in his chose career.

This boy managed to overcome his inferior teacher, the one who never thought he would succeed,  the one who now leads the department whose goal it was to help him succeed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Courting Votes

It seems Mulgrew is doing what he does best.  That is, he is keeping retired teachers happy.  He wants to make sure when election time comes around they will be in his court and give him their votes.

Mulgrew loves his retired teachers.  They sing his praises at meetings and, since they are not working  they ask nothing in return.  He doesn't have to waste time defending them or answering their questions.

Mulgrew might be in for a rude awakening.  The new bunch of retired teachers don't remember or care about the union Shanker created.  They and their colleagues have long been neglected and abused by the union of today.  They will be smart enough to give their support to union leaders who care about teachers.  No longer will they vote UNITY without any thought to consequences.

Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to get my retro money.  I just wish it wasn't on the backs of working teachers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

The AP wants to send his teachers on vacation feeling good.  Well, actually he wants to feel good, he really doesn't care about them.  He knows he will not have a good week home.  There is no one to celebrate Valentine's Day with and no one except the cashier in Starbucks who is even willing to smile at him.  Being jealous, he will do anything he can to ruin the teacher's time off too.

The AP does not have to think too hard to come up with the best way to ruin every one's vacation.  Armed with his lap top he will pay a visit to as many classes as possible late in the day.  He knows the kids are already on vacation mode and the upcoming day of love is all that is on their teenage minds.

He is now happy.  He feels his manhood swelling at the thought of the hours he will spend writing the reports to ruin their lives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chinese Exclusion/Inclusion

The New York Historical Society has a wonderful exhibit now until April 19 on Chinese Exclusion/Inclusion in this country.Although I knew some of this history, the extent of the horrors these people experienced was something I never realized.  The above statements were statements made by those incarcerated on Angel Island.  The young woman pictured is sitting on a bunk watching and reading history.  I watched her for 10 minutes and her only movements were to change screens.  She looked like she was not moving until she saw it all.  The ping pong paddles are from relations between US and China in the Nixon era.

This is an exhibit everyone needs to see to prevent this type of discrimination from happening again.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Worry Free Day

When I retired I worried I had done the wrong thing.  I have to say I worried for nothing.  Looking out the window, at the ice covering my car, I am glad I have no where to go and can play with these photos from the Museum of Natural History, taken yesterday.  We were also able to stop at the New York Historical Society on the way home, no worries about writing lessons and being observed on a Monday full of snow and ice.