Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Plan


Imagine you are a 25 year veteran teacher who, until recently, has always been considered a very good teacher.  Your inexperienced newbie of an administrator has decided to rate you ineffective.  You need a plan if you are going to survive.

The incompetent administrator has handed you a plan to help you improve.  She really does not know the first thing about teaching, especially teaching your subject, but is quite good at intimidation and has mastered the art of making people believe she knows what she is doing.  Don't be fooled.  Make her go over the plan with you.  Insist she teach model lessons for you to observe.  In other words, make her work for her money.  And, most importantly, force her to show herself as the ineffective teacher she has accused you of being.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Return To Work


 I thought I made up my mind to give up working in the college.  There is so much I want to do and working even two nights a week stands in my way.  I didn't want to go back but I was committed, my name was in the catalog and people registered for my class so I decided to stick it out.

Thursday was the first class.  I went in a little early to fill out some paper work and pick up syllabus to distribute.  A young man walked into the office to check on his class.  I looked at my roster and found his name.  He grinned from ear to ear when he heard I was his teacher.  He made my night.

I wish he wasn't so happy to see me.  I wish my first night didn't go so well.  I love being in the classroom and am not sure I am ready to give it up for good.

On another note, I will keep working because here I am evaluated by what I do, not by scores.  The college understands we have no control over who is in our class and whether they work or not.  Us teachers are respected and treated like the professionals we are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Dad


My dad loved order and he loved keeping his affairs in order.  He paid his phone and cable bills the minute they came in and he called the credit card company daily, kept track of every charge and had a check in the mail days before the actual bill arrived.  His rent was sent in on the first of the month even though there was no problem as long as payment was in by the 10th.  The first line of his will stipulated that all his debts be paid immediately upon his death.

Because of this I ordered the foot marker for his grave early on.  I contacted the government and made sure he got a veteran's plaque for the stone.  He earned it.  He served as a medic on the front line in Germany and France during WW II.

The cemetery where dad is buried has a nine month waiting period between burial and stone setting, something about the ground having to settle.  Well, the nine months passed and the stone is set.  The ivy has been planted.  Sunday was his unveiling.  (We uncover the stone and say some prayers.)  My dad was not a showy person so we kept the gathering small.  We prayed and cried and then went to a nearby diner to celebrate his life.  (Usually unveilings happen closer to a year from death.)

I still go say Kaddish (prayer for one who has died) several times a week.  There is no requirement for females to do this, but there is no one else.  I know some people hire a man to do this, but that doesn't feel right to me.  I can't do the required twice a day and I can't go every day, but I do the best I can.  It makes me feel good.  My dad wasn't overly religious but I like to think he would be proud of what I am doing for him as he was when I did same for my mom.

It is almost 10 months.  I know he is in a better place.  I still have the urge to call him all the time.  I still miss him.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

To All My Teacher Friends


Have a wonderful year.  I remember this feeling well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Years Improve Everything Including Teaching


The big school complaint used to be that experienced teachers were at good schools and the bad schools were all staffed by newbies.  The complaint was all good teachers took transfers to better schools as soon as they had enough years.  Schools with the neediest populations always were the schools with the most teachers without tenure.

Things have changed.  And now these teachers with tenure and experience are considered the worst teachers.  How sad.  It takes a minimum of three years in the classroom to become a good teacher and the majority of teachers get better every year.  Teaching is a learning experience that never ends.

No one goes into teaching to get rich.  Very few stay past the minimum requirements for retirement just to build a pension.  I don't know about other states, but NY teachers don't need to do this.  Our pensions provide us with an income good enough to let us avoid the torture of a job we hate.  I know teachers including me, who worked non stop up until the day we retired, doing our best to help our students.  We did not sit on our haunches because we could.  Sure not every teacher is like this but there are bad apples in every profession, why single out teachers?  Why don't administrators use mechanisms in place to get rid of teachers who don't belong in the classroom?  (If these administrators did their jobs correctly, documented properly this would not be a problem.)

Tenure and experience is not and has never been the problem.  Schools never did well with only new teachers and they won't start doing well now.  Schools need a mix of old and new.  We both learn from each other all the time.  I personally do not know how I would have survived without the older, tenured teacher's help.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Huh????

From the official NYC website:

Am I the only one confused?

8/20/2014 12:00:00 PM
Fireworks - Boardwalk Beach 38th St, Far Rockaway - 8/22/14 (QN)
Notification issued 8/20/14 at 12:00 PM. There will be a fireworks display at 9 PM on Friday, 8/22 over the Boardwalk at Beach 38th St, Far Rockaway, Queens. In case of inclement weather, the display will occur at 9 PM on the previous evening, Thursday, 8/21.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AP Office

This reminded me of my former AP's office door with its strict warnings to stay away when closed.

If someone needed him, too bad. Pity the student or teacher who dared to knock.

His office had the only window and air conditioner.  The rest of us stifled when the door was shut.

He needed quiet to work.  The rest of the staff and school, be damned!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Photo Shop

My husband introduced me to Topaz lab, part of Photo Shop program.  I am addicted.  It is amazing the details this little add-on brings out.  Following pictures were taken in Northport, LI on August 17, 2014 and edited today.

 (Actually this one was taken in Huntington)










Friday, August 15, 2014

Keeping The Stereotype Going

This 72 year old lady from Lebanon is fluent in Arabic and French and understands quite a bit of English, although she speaks it haltingly.  She has a PhD in pharmaceutical studies and has a wonderful sense of humor.  She enjoys traveling the world and meeting new people from all over.

This lady is a jewel and I was blessed with talking to her and laughing with her on my Celtic Highlight  tour.  My husband and I teased her about her smoking and told her stories about my mother-in-law's similar smoking habits, including a common brand.

The non-Lebanese people on our tour never gave themselves a chance to get to know this remarkable woman.  They bought into the "Arab-Muslim" stereotype perpetuated by our tour guide.  They lost out big time.

The more I think about the events of my trip and the marginalization of these people, the sicker I feel.  It scary how people will buy into stereotypes and cause a lot more danger than not speaking to people on a trip.  This how Nazis were put into power.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tweet

I never had an interest in Twitter until I heard it was a good way to get companies to listen to your complaints about them.

I don't know if it will help, but I have been tweeting about Globus  and their tour guide who could have been a taped program with a racist attitude.Globus

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tour Guide Blows It Bigtime


A tour directors job is to keep things going in an orderly fashion. He has to make arrangements and meet deadlines.  He should know his material and make things as interesting as possible.

We just finished a Celtic Highlight tour with the guide pictured above.  I know the description of him I am about to use is not nice, but "Hitler youth" would be the words I would use to describe him.  Punctuality was all he cared about and he never hesitated to threaten leaving people behind if they were 1 minute late returning to the bus after a stop.  On our first day out, a Lebanese woman was a few minutes late coming back.  He had words with her, she smiled and got back on the bus.  He said we would rotate seats every day, but "Lebanon" (a big group on the bus) did not have to rotate and they could stay in the back.  On day two a man was late.  The same woman said, "you will give me a minute to find him" and she left the bus.  He called his company to get permission to leave them both behind.  It turned out, the man waited in the wrong spot and the woman, whose first two languages are Arabic and French, chose poor words to express what needed to be said.  From then on, it was a head butting situation.  The tour was separated into two groups-us and them and it was painful.

Except for my husband and myself, everyone was from small town USA or a country with few Arab citizens. They easily followed his lead and marginalized these bright, educated, interesting people.  It wasn't until the end of the tour, when we were saying goodbye, that most realized how wrong they had been and how poorly the tour guide handled the situation.  

Yes, our tour guide was efficient.  We got to every place we were supposed to visit.  But, I believe, a good tour guide should be more than an efficiency expert.  He should at least pretend to care about the people he is showing around.  He should at least pretend to want them to have a good time.  He should speak slow so anyone who struggles with English can comprehend.  He should heal conflict, not encourage it.

Globus was the company we used.  I plan on writing them directly with my comments but I also plan on posting on Trip Advisor and other duties.  No one should use a company that hires someone like this and I want to do my part to spread the word.

More on tour and other problems later.  But, Scotland and Ireland were great and we loved both countries.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

We Lose

Today I spent quite a bit of time talking to a physics teacher from Lebanon.  He works 13 hours a week because he has many years experience.  New teachers work 20 hours a week.  His students stand when he enters the room and say "thank you sir for teaching us" when they leave.

Teachers are respected and graduation rates are high.  Students graduating are prepared for university study.  He could not believe the stories I told him about Packemin, especially when I told him it was one of the best in the city.  He could not imagine a school where students were pushed to use calculators and get answers by plugging multiple choices into calculator.  He was astonished to hear how kids with 70 IQ's were suddenly passing all their exams.

The  people in charge of education in the US should be ashamed.  We might be graduating more students now but our students can't compete with those in the rest of the world.  But, nothing matters except making sure schools keep improving test scores and administrators keep getting bonuses for doing this by any means possible.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Vacation On The Cheap V

Queens has some of the most beautiful parks in the world.  Take this one near 35th and Bell--Gold Pond.  There is fishing and hiking around the pond.  Cross the street for nice ball parks.  Climb the steps to a gazebo and more park land or go over the bridge to walk alongside the Cross Island Parkway and watch fishing and boating (or do those things) without spending a dime.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Vacations On The Cheap IV

Some people think you have to like paintings of black on black or white on white or other stuff that makes almost no sense to most of us to like modern art, but those people have no sense of what modern art really is.

Enjoy the impressionists like Monet, art of greats like Picasso and Munch, see great photo exhibits, furniture exhibits and other stuff at the MOMA in its great new building.  The museum is not cheap but Fridays, after 4, are free.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Vacation On The Cheap VI

Spend a day wandering the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  The day I was there tulips and cherry blossoms were in full bloom.  There is a wonderful hot house and a cafeteria that looked pretty good too.  Check the website for free days.  The gardens are easily reached by subway or car.  If you drive, check out nearby neighborhood for free spots.  No need to spend $10 to park in their lot.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Vacation On The Cheap III


A good day out can be found on Governor's Island.  You can get there for free on early weekend ferries from Brooklyn and Manhattan, $2 round trip after or $6 each way on East River Ferry.  The island is federal park land and you can spend hours just walking or riding bike round the island.  There is lots of public art and many of the buildings house art galleries.  Often you can find artists at work along the way.  There are food trucks with lots of good, reasonably priced food, a really cool beach bar where they sell snacks.  It comes complete with palm trees, volley ball nets and kooz ball.  There are benches and tables and all weather couches.  You can even bring your own food and eat here or picnic anywhere.  If you are a history buff there are several tours, also free, of forts and island.

After a day in the sun, there are plenty of good reasonable dinner places in Brooklyn, lower Manhattan or anywhere ferry stops.  All you need is a metro card and some energy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vacation On The Cheap II

A good way to spend a Friday afternoon is at the Whitney.  Not sure when, but at some time instead of hefty admission price you can pay whatever you want.  Fridays they are open until 9 PM.  Right now, there is a great exhibit by Jeff Koons.  Included with your just about free price is an audio tour and even museum tours if you hit it on the right time.

Many of the museums have pay what you want nights.  The Craft Museum on Columbus Circle has this on Thursday and Friday evenings, the MOMA has Target Fridays.  Many participate in Bank Of America weekends.  Just get a credit card and then cancel if you don't want to use it but keep the card to get into museums free.  Also, check before paying as city museums have only a suggested admission.  You can pay anything you want.  Save the $25 for lunch.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Teacher Goddess


Two little girls walked into temple this morning and were overjoyed to see their teacher.  They hugged her and she returned their sweet endeavors

I remember growing up and thinking my teachers were Gods and Goddesses too.  Even in high school seeing them in a store or on the street was better than meeting a rock singer or a movie star.  Times have changed.  Kids don't revere teachers anymore.   It is sad.  I hope these two children keep on loving their teachers and always have ones like the one they saw today.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vacations On The Cheap I


If you are a New Yorker and can't afford big vacations don't think you can't have a fun vacation anyway.  People say the city is expensive and it can be but, there are so many things to do and see that don't cost anything you won't be able to do them all in a week.  Instead of my usual bitch posts (which I do to bring a smile to the faces of those stuck with incompetent administrators) I will write about some of those in my next few posts.

A great freebee is the fashion museum at FIT.  There are changing exhibits all the time and you can get pretty close to the amazing clothes (lots of guards so not too close) that are not hidden behind glass.

On the north side of the school, which is on 27th St and 7th Ave, there usually is an exhibit by students.  Last week the photo show was fashion on the High Line.  Also exhibited was the amazing fashions.  I've seen other photo shoots, clothes made to resemble birds and even creative use of milk cartons.  There are two galleries in the main area with a third one opened occasionally where I've seen exhibits including British Invasion fashion, boots and motor cycle jackets.  The main galleries are the real highlight.  Currently there is an exhibit on the history of lingerie.  They don't allow pictures inside but they are permitted outside.

While in the area, check out the High Line (free)  Chelsea art galleries (also free) and the Rubin Museum (inexpensive).  If you really need to watch your pennies, pack a lunch to eat while walking on High Line or buy a light lunch at the Chelsea Market.  If you don't like the crowds on the High Line, just walk along Hudson River.  The parks and the water views are breathtaking.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Posts


I heard some of these posts are affecting certain people the way ice affects a bad toothache.

I must be doing something right if people are seeing themselves in what I write.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evaluations By A Know Nothing Novice


The experienced teacher knew her very low functioning students had to unwind a little before they got down to the business of learning after a weekend, especially a weekend that involved a fun school outing.  She knew the best way to get them to settle down was to spend 10 to 15 minutes in the beginning of the class letting them talk about the weekend.  She knew these students found it impossible to work for 48 minutes anyway so no educational time would be lost.  Besides, part of education is socialization and learning communication, an activity she facilitated during this time.

It just so happened that this was the day the inexperienced AP showed up at her door to do an observation.  The AP knows nothing about special education and less than nothing about dealing with this population.  The teacher knew in her head that she should drop the small talk and begin her lesson but her heart told her to continue doing what she knew was best for her students.  She followed her heart and let brain lead the way to teach the best possible way.

The novice AP was so happy with what she saw, she wet her pants.  She found a way to give the 30+ year veteran teacher an ineffective rating.  Her day was made.  She did not notice how well the teacher did in reaching her students.  She did not notice how well the teacher connected with this population and used this connection to help them grow.

The experienced teacher has had enough of the humiliation she received at the hands of this novice and retired.  The kids are now in the hands of a person who cares nothing about their education and their future.

Every day more teachers walk away from administrators like this one.  The teachers aren't going to suffer.  They will reap the economic rewards of a lucrative pension.  The kids will be the one to suffer.  If only the Principal had a child with special needs.  Then, he might care about what is happening to the kids in the hands of people like this.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Afternoon Walk




I ran into an old friend from Packemin while walking on the Cross Island Parkway this afternoon.  He left the school over 10 years ago and has no idea how bad things have gotten there.  He was shocked to here how many good teachers were harassed out of the school.

This friend had been some who worked closely with the kids, did much above and beyond the scope of the job.  He remembered what I and others did for these kids and felt sad for the kids without teachers like us around.  I told him about the incompetents in charge of some departments, people without experience in the field supervised.  I told him about the AP who instructed her teachers to give out answers during exams and to complete credit recovery assignments for students.  He knew what I was saying was true.  He was disgusted by the turn and what has happened to a place he once felt had the well being of students at heart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kudos To Schools With Standards


After reading a Newsday editorial admonishing Nassau Community College for their poor graduation rates, I wrote this letter.  They didn't publish it, so I am putting it up here.



I don't know anything about NCC but I work at a different Community College and see similarities in graduation rates.  I say kudos to both schools for keeping their standards and not giving diplomas to students who have not earned them.  

Not all, but many students come into class expecting to do nothing, and pass, just like they did in high school.  They want extra credit and seat credit time.  They expect review sheets where the teacher does every problem for them.  They are so used to the teacher being admonished if they fail, they expect this to continue in college.  They don't buy books and they don't do homework or study.  They can't sit in class for two hours without being on their cell phone, texting or using Facebook.  Aside from this, their skills are appalling.  They can barely multiply.  Division and fractions do not exist in their worlds and decoding is a lost skill.   

I am thrilled to work for an institution, that offers help to students, offers a softer path to college than four year institutions do, but doesn't give away anything.  A degree from this school means something.  I am sure NCC has the same population and the same policy.

Stop pushing the college to graduate more.  You will only end up creating college graduates prepared for nothing, similar to what the public schools do today.  Kudos to these institutions for keeping education real.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When Personal Grudges Are Most Important


When an art teacher is hired to teach reading when a reading teacher is ready, willing and able to take the position something is wrong.

Personal feelings are getting in the way of educating students.  It is more important to the administration to punish the teacher by not hiring her than to get the right person to teach the class.

So much for Principals and Assistant Principals caring for those students whose welfare they are in charge of.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pushed Out Before Her Time


After 30 years the teacher had enough and retired.  It had nothing to do with the students and it wasn't to get the extra money the contract would give her.  No, it had to do with her incompetent, mean spirited administrator.  A person who had no idea what it took to teach a population like the one this woman taught.

This incompetent rated the teacher ineffective time and time again.  Eventually a different admin came to observe.  This admin raved about what she saw and rated the teacher highly effective.

The kids lost a good caring teacher.  The admin is happy.  One more senior teacher, one more threat to the admin's security is gone.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hey Mona Davis--Your Kid Could Be In Deep Doodoo Without Tenure

I am no longer teaching so I pose no threat to this child or any child but I state here and everywhere that teacher tenure is a must for students.

Many years ago I sat in on an IEP conference for one of my students.  I wanted the boy to be given a reader, a writer and a calculator for exams.  The psychologist and the AP present did not agree.  The parents wanted what I wanted.  Without fear of reprisal, I was able to firmly state my case, emphasize my long knowledge of the boy and his abilities.  I won but made no friends from those supporting the opposite position.  I also suffered no consequences.

So Ms. Davis, if you get your wish and end teacher tenure I hope your child never needs anyone to stand up for her.  No teacher should have to risk a job to do what is right for a child.

Message Schools Like Packemin Are Giving Students


Teacher:  John, why are you here during the summer?  You don't show up during the school year.

John:  That's right Miss.  Why should I come to school every day when I can show up for just 15 days during the summer and get my credits!

UGH!!!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Shame On You


I'll write here what those still teaching can't.  If you see yourself in these words, feel very ashamed because not only are you committing these atrocities, you are doing so with knowledge.  I am willing to bet there are dozens of you all over the city.

I know you are wondering who I am referring to, but most readers of this blog probably know from the title that I am referring to a bunch of school administrators, particularly Principals.  You know, those people who are "master educators" and want to do everything for the good of the student.

I say shame on you because your policies have put incompetent, inexperienced, uneducated people in charge of individual departments in your schools.  You have allowed and probably encouraged these individuals to abuse competent and experienced teachers, to humiliate them and to drive them away from education.  It is because of you (yes the new contract too) that so many are fleeing the schools, retiring as soon as possible. You claim to care about education, but would you want your child to be in the hands of one of these people? Bright kids suffer and don't get me started about kids with special needs.  Would you want your daughter or son being taught by someone who was told my their administrator to give out answers during regents or other statewide exams? Would you want your child cared for by an administrator who had no respect for them? How would you feel when your child received a diploma but could barely read or write and then was sent on to fail in college?

Yes, shame on you for what you have done.  Bloomberg might have considered you master educators.  It seems Farina and DeBlasio have no problem thinking you are great.  But, I know the truth and so does every in the public school system.  Even you know you are a fraud.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

My Half Empty Cup


It is easy to see the cup as half full rather than half empty when it is not your cup.

About a month ago the sciatica pain I sometimes suffer from returned.  I noticed it slowly getting worse every day so I promptly called my pain doctor, made an appointment and then arranged for the much dreaded epidural steroid shot.  By the day of the shot, the pain was awful, but I was confident that I would be walking with a minimum amount of pain in a day as that is what happened with this treatment two years ago.

By day 1 I felt a little better, by day 2 I felt I could walk and we headed to the beach.  Unfortunately the pain set in before I reached the sand but I hobbled through and managed to enjoy the day.  By day 4 I hurt but was not ready to stop so I headed to Gangster Museum on St. Marks Place with my husband and friends.  The pain started slow but increased to being unbearable.  Calls to the doctor were met with the word "patience" and it could take two weeks to work.  But, the pain grew worse and worse and finally I got in touch with the doctor to get a pain killer.  I read the side effects of this new pill and was not happy so I tried to stick to taking them only before bedtime.  Yesterday I decided to give them a chance during the day.  MISTAKE!  Nausea and dizziness came along with pain relief.  I preferred the pain.

Today, almost two weeks after the shot, I am able to walk again and only have slight, bearable discomfort.

Over the weekend I sat and cried.  I saw myself never getting better, never being able to live the life I loved.  The inactivity I have been living is killing me.  Not being able to walk and run is not sitting well with me.  My closest friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in October.  She has been forced to give up work, going out, her hair, and everything she loves but still she was not depressed.  She met every phase of her recovery with a smile and a belief that what she was going through now was only a temporary set back.  Her illness is life threatening.  Mine isn't.  Her cup was never being emptied.  I wish I had her attitude.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I Live and Will Die In Queens


I am a New Yorker and love everything the city has to offer.  It is the city I was born in and the city I hope to live in until I die.  I always thought I wanted to live in Manhattan, to be in the heart of things.  As I get older, my desires and wants have changed.  I realize I will never be able to afford a three bedroom, two bathroom co-op in the heart of the city and at this stage of my life nothing less will suffice.  I love my husband but want to be able to have space between us and I certainly do not want to wait my turn to use the bathroom.  I don't want to shlep laundry to the basement and I certainly don't want to have to take a bus to get to the subway living in Manhattan.

This New Yorker has decided to spend the rest of her time right where I am now, in my own home in Queens.  I only just realized that living here is like having it all.  The bus on my corner gets me to the subway in a half hour or less and the E or F train gets me to midtown in another 30 or so minutes.  Living in Queens also gives me easy access to the beaches and wonders of Nassau and Suffolk county.  I am 20 minutes from both NY airports which take me almost everywhere in the world non stop although living in Queens I can experience the world without ever leaving my borough.  I can keep my car without selling a kidney to pay for parking.

I know lots of people moving to Manhattan in their retirement years.  I was at first jealous.  They had what I always wanted.  After careful consideration I realize these friends are not doing anything different than what I already do.  I am happy to stay put, exactly where I am today.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jury Duty Experience


The summons had me calling in daily, after 5 PM, starting June 20, which meant my life was on hold all week.  I had to cancel appointments as I wouldn't know until the last minute if they could be kept.  Every day, when I called, I breathed a sigh of relief as my number was not called.  But, I knew when I hung up on Tuesday Thursday would be my day to report.  I was thankful to be assigned to civil court as criminal proceedings scare the crap out of me.  Besides, I don't think I am capable of deciding a life changing fate for anyone.

The recording told me to report at 9.  Being conscientious I got there at 8:50 and saw a line a half block long.  I waited and it got longer.  I sat until there was no more line and entered at 9:20.  The court  officer glared at us as if we were the prisoners and gave instructions in a very stern, no nonsense voice.  She entertained no questions.  While this was quite intimidating, I saw her point after a few minutes.  People are just plain dumb.

The first thing she said was if anyone was accompanying a juror, they should come forward. A woman got up with a baby.  At least ten people, all alone, got up to talk to her.  After finding out they were potential jurors and alone, she had them sit.  She said again, no questions yet but one man would not sit and kept going up to talk to her.  They collected juror summonses and then had people with problems line up.  Some were real but I am sure many were made up.  The number who claimed to not speak English was amazing.

After all this we sat.  Some people were called.  A 100 year old judge came in to address us.  He was kind of F status, retired but still working, collecting a pension and a hefty paycheck.  He emphasized how important we were and how we were respected but respect seemed to be lacking from many of those working there.  He said we hadn't lived until we were part of a jury.  This is one part of life I don't mind not living.  We didn't know how long we would be there.  It could be until 5, but not likely as most judges do not like working full days. (It didn't matter what we liked.)   We could be spending one day or two weeks.  But respectfully treatment of jurors is utmost.  (I do get they don't know but it is still discerning not to know.)

The wait in the jury room was long.  They did show Mrs. Doubtfire on television, there are computers, books, magazines and wifi and the chairs aren't too bad.  Still, not the way most of us would choose to spend the day.  At noon they switched to World Cup game which was an improvement.  My nap was interrupted when it was announced the US team would move on.

Lunch was from 1 to2.  At 2:30 they let people called but not picked this morning go home. It would have been nice if they let them go an hour and a half earlier. They only called one jury all day.  I'm no expert, but there has got to be a better way.  At 3:30 they sent us all home and told us we were finished with jury duty for at least 4 years.  Again, I could not believe how many people asked the court officer if they had to show up the next day.

I thought about blowing this day off.  I was sick and know I could have gotten a doctor's note.  I'm glad I didn't.  One day, no panel, was more than enough for me.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bless My Healthcare


When my back and leg started hurting several weeks ago, I knew, from experience I needed to see the pain doctor right away and I knew he would probably be sending me for an epidural shot.  I got the two medications I needed, one cost $5.15 and the other $1.80.

I am grateful every day for the health coverage that allowed me to get exactly what I needed immediately.  I can't imagine not having the ability to get the help I needed, the help that has me now on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Passive Resistance

A former Principal wanted us all to dress like it was 1950.  He spent the good part of a faculty conference telling us not to wear thongs, what today is called flip flops.  I remember watching some young teachers cringe as he talked about thongs as their definition was different from his.

Anyway, Mr. Former Principal and I did not see eye to eye on anything.  I spent the warm months in my flip flops, even bought the above pair in his honor

Things were different then.  Now I think I would be "toeing" the line in more conservative shoes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Dogs Have A Party


The little dogs had it with the yappy, nasty chihuahua.  They were going to party and they wanted no part of her.  They planned it in private and kept it a secret.

The party was a huge success.  Everyone laughed and had fun.  No eye bulging, barking, moody dogs around.  And that is the way it should be.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Retirement Henry, You Earned It

Apology before you read:  Henry never hated the kids.  It was the system that ruined them and made his life so hard.  Some of his rants mislead me.  He was a great teacher who always put kids first.

My friend Henry retired.  He has written over and over again how much he hates the kids and hates teaching but I always knew that was not true.  Today, on Facebook, he posted a beautiful note from a student, a difficult girl who was always being punished, never talked too.  Henry took the time, on his last day, to get to know her and to try to figure out a way to get through to him.

The school system took Herny's heart for teaching and ripped it out of his chest.  I feel so sad when I think of all the students who will miss out because this man is no longer in the classroom.  I feel awful when I think of all the needy students being placed in the hands of inexperienced teachers.

Henry is not the only teacher the system ripped from the students of New York.  APs, threatened by teachers older and smarter than them are pushing them out all the time.  Melanie will never again be able to help the lowest functioning special education students learn to read and Barbara will never again touch the hearts of the non diploma bound students that were in her care.  Elaine will no longer spend weekends tutoring her math students for free and Debbie will no longer spend hours helping out with college essays.

Tenure is what kept these caring teachers in the classroom.  Miserable, incompetent APs couldn't get rid of them by rating them poorly so they drove them to retirement with horrible, disgusting attitudes.  It takes at least 3 years to learn the trade and become a good teacher.  It takes longer than that to become a master teacher.  It takes a lot less time for know nothing administrators to get great teachers out of the classroom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Is Inclusion An Illusion?


“Is inclusion an illusion?”

by Jared Krybus

I was born in
Toronto. I’m 29 and have two younger siblings: Jordan, 26,
and Karla, 22. My parents, Manny and Marlene, adopted me at
birth. They’re the only parents I’ve known and I’m so
fortunate that they have treated me like their own. They
instilled in me a “never give up” attitude and told me
not to let moments define who I am.

I live in a condo by
myself. I work as a teacher’s assistant at Zareinu
Educational Centre and as a program assistant at DANI. I pay
all my own expenses. I play goalie on a hockey team. I’m
into hip hop and like to freestyle rap. And I love cooking,
especially pasta with chicken.

I’ve been told that
I have something called Global Delay, but I don’t really
know what it means. All I know is that I have a delay with
processing, fine motor issues and a speech impediment. I
stammer, and when I get really stuck my mouth starts to tick
or my hand goes up. I’ve had lots of awkward situations
where people thought I was drunk, and that hurts.

I grew up in
Thornhill and went to Vaughan Secondary School. I was in
what they call an Intensive Program, where my classmates and
I would integrate with the other kids for subjects like gym
and art. Kids would make fun of me in the playground and ask
me why I spoke funny, so I became a great storyteller
because I really didn’t know what to tell them.

I can never be
myself. People always interrupt me and correct me and
don’t allow me to follow through. It takes me longer to
process things than other people, but I was taught that
it’s better to take your time and focus on what you’re
doing and put your heart and love into it. But everyone is
in a hurry. They don’t take the time to hear me out.
I’ll be talking and they’re trying to figure out what
I’m saying, and they’ll say the word before I have a
chance to say it. I don’t know what their intentions are -
maybe nothing, maybe ignorance - but they don’t have time
so they think it’ll be faster if they try to figure it out
themselves. I’m used to it by now, but it still annoys me.


I love working with
people with challenges. I already advocate for myself, so
I’d like to become a spokesperson who advocates for others
like me, to help them find jobs, to prove to society that
everyone is capable. I would love to change the perception
that people with special needs are insufficient. We have to
try to include them in society ... even though they should
already be considered part of society.

Everyone is human.
Everyone has issues. People forget that every child is
human. Instead of calling them “a special needs child”
they should be calling them “a child with special needs”
or “a child with Down syndrome.” Put the human features
first and the challenges second.

People are under the
illusion that they’re not special needs. Everybody creates
their own normal. I play hockey every week and that’s
normal for me. I’ve had a stutter all my life so that’s
normal to me. It doesn’t make me who I am but it’s part
of me.

I am where I am not
in spite of my limitations but because of them. For example,
I’ve developed problem-solving skills: if I can’t get a
word out then I say an easier word. It has taught me to go
with the flow and to take chances and not be afraid of the
outcome. People are usually awkward around me because they
don’t know what I’m going to say or how intelligent
I’m going to be. But I can keep up a conversation with
anyone about politics or sports or whatever. I may not have
higher education but that’s doesn’t mean that I’m not
educated or I don’t have my views or opinions.

People don’t want
to see people like me get hurt. They don’t want to see me
struggle. But struggling is good. It lets you know how to
handle things, to problem-solve. You’ve got to learn how
to deal with your struggles yourself rather than have other
people smooth it over for you.

If I could offer
advice to people I’d say this: have no expectations
whatsoever, have no preconceived notions. Don’t judge.
Saying, “He can’t do it” is dismissive. There’s a
reason for everything! A child might not be able to
communicate by mouth, but give him an iPad or another
communication device and he can tell you everything.

I’ve learned so
much from Zareinu’s children. They’ve taught me to smile
every day. That when you think you can’t do something,
that’s when you show people that you can. And that when
you least expect it, that’s when greatness happens.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Chicago Blogging Buddy


I just came back from a long weekend in Chicago and met a blogging friend.  I got to put a face and a voice to a woman I have been friends with for years.  It is always great when I get to be up front and personal with  one of these people I have only known online for years

The "wonderful" teaching conditions in Chicago my friend left the system and is now working as the director of a private school for the grand rate of $14 an hour.  She leaves her home at 7 in the morning and arrives home at 7 in the evening.  Although her paycheck provides her with a luxurious life style, she moonlights nights in a bar and weekends in a department store.  (The department store pays more than her teaching job.)  She will probably have to go back to the public system, but dreads this.  In the past, she had to moonlight to pay an aide to help out in her kindergarten class of 43.

Everyone thinks teachers have great incomes.  My friend worked three jobs to put her son through school because she knew he would not survive in the public system.  What a crime!

I am so grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made and met through blogging, bloggers in New York, in other parts of the country and even Canada.  My world has been enriched by these individuals and I am so thankful the Internet has given me this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014



Today is my first Father's Day without my dad.  It feels strange not to be making that early morning trip to the Bronx to take him out for his favorite meals.  We only went to the diner near his house and he only ordered a short stack of French toast but he insisted on reading the menu every single time and asking me if they served what he wanted.

It has been 9 months since he died, but my fingers still itch to call every night at 6 and first thing every morning.  I miss the strong, confident man he once was, the father who could and did everything and I also miss the needy, dependent man he became. He was my dad and I loved him so much, as much as he loved me.

There are no words to describe the impact a father (or mother) has on a child.  Most children think of their father as being the best father and I know my dad was one of them.  He was always around when I needed him, from the time I was a little girl until the age I was when he got sick.  I knew he was gone when he stopped telling me to call him when I got home or when he stopped telling me to stay home whenever the weather was bad.

I miss the crazy phone calls consisting of weather reports and what he ate (which was always the same thing.)  I miss preparing his favorite meal-meatballs.  I miss him but I am happy he is spending this Father's day with my mom, the love of his life.  He had no quality of life at the end.  I pray there is quality in death.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Plan



The little dogs had enough.  They got together and planned.  They were going to stop the Chihuahua from hurting them ever again.  This time they had evidence and knew they could win.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dilbert Says It Again


This is the way today's incompetent, inexperienced, insecure administrators treat teachers who are more experienced, more secure and more knowledgeable.  They beat them down.

The APs who got the job, heaven only knows how, is threatened by teachers who not only know more than them, but are better teachers than they are use this technique all the time. An AP who could not pass a licensing exam without help and who got an administration degree with borrowed papers is incapable of anything but ruling by abuse.

Such is the system in too many of the schools I am familiar with.

Friday, June 06, 2014

A Wish

Think everyone can think of a few people to wish this on.  Nice and uncomfortable but no lasting harm.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I Have A Life, Thank You For Worrying About Me


A commenter on Thank You Wimps wrote some rather unpleasant names which I deleted and posted that I needed to get a life, which I also deleted because I dared to say negative things about teachers who voted for the contract.

Well dear commentator, Mr. or Ms. Unity Hack, I have a great life thanks to the union of the past.  When I began my career the UFT was actually a union by the teachers and for the teachers.  When contract terms were unacceptable, we went on strike.  Don't tell me times were different then.  Things cost less but we earned much less.  We were single wage earners with families, mortgages, college loans, etc., but we did what we had to do and our union backed us up.  When we went back to work we paid dearly (two days for every day out) but it was worth it.  Conditions and salaries were better for all.  Happier teachers made better teachers.  People wanted careers in education.

No, I don't need to get a life.  I travel, I go to the theater, I eat in nice restaurants.  I do pretty much whatever I please. The UFT of the past helped make this possible.   And, I will continue to write what I want when I want on this blog.  Mr. or Ms. Unity Hack, you probably don't want members reading this and worry they might become disillusioned with you and you will lose the nice life you have made on our backs, doing nothing to help us.  The sad part is that most teachers have no idea what is going on around them and that is what keeps creeps like you in power.

Keep writing in those nasty comments.  I will just keep hitting the delete button on my keyboard.