Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Note from My AP

On 11/29/06, Pissedoffteacher wrote the following to her AP:


And his response was the following:

You might wish to contact RG for an answer.

I would like to share with you that some of us call from home because some parents are not available during the day while others call during their prof. lunch, before or after school. No one should call during their C-6 assignment. Furthermore, teachers who teach the double period classes will not be asked to write recommendations while teachers of upper level or honor classes will. Should teachers of lower level class be asked to do more because they don't have to write recommendations? Absolutely not. One can always ask for double period classes so that she does not have to write recommendations. You can do it as well.

You don't even have to contact parents if all your students are doing what they are supposed to do. But if they don't, what choices do we have? Sometimes, calling parents don't even help. But we all have to try.

Have a good evening.

My response to him will be something like the following:

1. Contractually I am entitled to a preparation period and a duty free lunch.
2. My work day is already extended to 6 hours and 40 minutes. You have no right to ask me to extend it any longer or to work from home.
3. I happen to have taught double period classes as well as honor and AP classes. No matter what I teach, I write the recommendations.
4. You are in effect asking teachers who have honor and AP classes to do more than teachers who just teach double period classes. We all have the same c-6 assignments. We are the ones being asked to do more.
5. Most of the teachers teaching the double period class are not capable of teaching the advanced classes, They are teaching them because that is best for them, not best for the school.

Enjoy your day too.

The Power of Good Cooking

I asked a student today what made the big difference in his work ethics. In the beginning of the semester he was always playing with his blackberry and trying to get by doing as little as possible. Now he is working hard, getting great grades and his blackberry is no where to be seen. He told me "Food!" When I asked him to elaborate, he told me that during the summer he decided to stay out one night until 4AM. His mom didn't yell or scream or even say a word. He thought he got away with it. The next morning, he got up and found his brother and sister eating pancakes, bacon, eggs and all kind of goodies. When he asked "where is mine?", his mom pointed to the refigerator and left the room. She refused to make him dinner that night or for that matter feed him anything for the rest of the summer. Finally, his grandmother took pity on him and began to cook for him. He told me he never wanted to go through that again so he was going to take the easy way out and just do what was expected of him. The woman is a genius.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dumb and Dumber

One of my more difficult students was playing with his Blackberry in class today. I asked him to turn it off and put it away. I don't have the energy to confiscate them. Besides, being in the trailer and so far from security I don't want to risk unnecessary confrontations. The kids, always at least pretend to turn them off and put them away, at least for a few minutes. Today, a kid refused to turn it off. I told him I was going to call security and get it confiscated if he didn't put it away on his own. He didn't seem to care. I had to leave my trailer (no phone, of course!) and go to next trailer to call for help. Naturally the switchboard operator won't answer the phone, she doesn't want any trouble. I had to call Principal's office. When I went back into my room, another student had his blackberry out. I told him security was on the way, he better put it away. He also refused to listen and kept on playing. I said, "You now lost your's too." A dean came in and took both kids out.

I don't know what is wrong with some of these kids. They knew the consequences and kept going anyways! Five minutes later, a girl took her blackberry out. She wasn't smart enough to keep it away but when I bellowed at her, she put it away quickly. It's only the beginning of December. I don't know how I will make it to the end like this?

Monday, November 27, 2006

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Teacher told her class to copy the questions from the board and leave room for answers. More than one kid asked why they had to leave the room to get the answers!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I've been teaching for over 30 years and have never met an administrator that I liked or respected. I am sure there are good ones out there, just none have ever crossed my path.

My first AP was I woman I will call RSquared. She is one of the meanest people I have ever met. Custodians put dead birds in her letter box and someone took chains and smashed the side of her car while it was parked in the lot. Everyone, even the nicest people, people who never said a bad word about anyone, felt she deserved this treatment. She was abusive to teachers she did not like, so abusive in fact, that the principal would go to other teachers in the math department, to get a feeling for the teacher in question, before he took any actions agreeing with her. She had teachers make up long question sheets, which she claimed were going to be used for coverage if anyone was absent. In reality, she printed these questions and sold the books. No one got author or monetary credit. I got along with her until I told her I was taking a child care leave when my daughter was born. She then gave me 5 classes in 5 different rooms, making sure I had to pass through the student cafeteria to get from room to room. When I grieved, she claimed she had nothing to do with rooms, The programmer showed me a schedule that had me in one room until RSquared changed it.

Now, comes the principal that worked with her. I thought he was a good guy until I needed him to sign my release papers to come to the school I am now in. He refused due to a power struggle he was having with her. Even though he knew his school was too far from my home, and I could no longer travel there (having two babies at home) he refused to help me out.

The next administrator I came in contact with was in the special education department. I liked teaching kids with limited abilities. I really thought I could make some difference in their lives. He didn't agree. He constantly harrassed me for things he let other teachers do. His final act towards me was letting me go to teach in the math department (my license) but not before he bad mouthed me so much that they really did not want me either but had no choice since I had tenure and building seniority.

Next comes BSquared, the math AP who had no choice but to take me. He was only a temporary chairman, but he was on a power trip. He gave me five of the worst classes in the building. When he realized that he was not going to be doing the job a second term, he gave himself (as AP) one of the worst classes. He figured the new person coming in would get stuck (which she was). If for some reason, she didn't come and he got to keep the job, he planned on changing programs. OK was the woman who took his place. Her philosophy was to give herself and her friends all the best classes. She dressed quite provocatively and the kids called her a hooker. Her make-up was always smeared and her slip was always showing. She used tears to get her own way when people disagreed with her. Her husband was always around. He used to sit at department meetings and give dirty looks to anyone who was not paying attention to her.

OK went on to greener pastures and we now have a chairman who I am embarrassed to admit I get along great with. This doesn't mean I don't see what he does to other teachers. We had two teaching fellows in the department a few years ago. They were really bad teachers. He didn't have to keep them. But he didn't have to be abusive either. He constantly yelled at them and belittled them in front of students. He is carrying on this behavior now. He deliberately gave one teacher a super late schedule, even though he knows she prefers to be on early. He begins every meeting threatening U-ratings and insulting certain teachers daily. Everyone knows who his little nasty memos are addressed to, even though no one is mentioned by name. One guy in my department has a mentor from the UFT. Because of this, our chairman is not allowed to go near him until Dec 1. The poor guy is living in fear and dreading this day. He is terrified of being alone with the chair. I don't care if this guy is bad (which I don't think he is). No one deserves to be treated like this.

Principal Suit has filled up many of these entries on his own, so there is no need to discuss him here.

Hopefully, before I retire, I will meet good administrator.

Friday, November 24, 2006


We are spending Thanksgiving with my daughter in her new house in Maryland. It's exciting. She is only 25 years old and has purchased a town house not too far from the Baltimore area. I see so many kids her age still searching for careers and I am so proud of how well she is doing.

Too bad her maturity ends here. She just had a huge fight with her 24 year old brother (also doing well, a computer engineer almost finished with his master's degree). They went at it the same way they did when they were four and five years old. She told him to get out of her house and he packed and was ready to leave when he realized he forgot his phone. I managed to block the door when he went to retrieve it and stood there where they screamed and yelled at each other and eventually made up. My two brilliant children made up by biting each other.

Kids--got to love them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I'm an accidental teacher. I am the first college graduate from a family of barely high school graduates. With no role models, I followed the only profession where I knew college graduates, I became a teacher. I'm lucky. I found a career I love. I loved it from my first day. I really wanted to be a great teacher. I was always good at things, but never really, really good and definitely not great. I did not meet my own criteria and was depressed. Lucky for me I became good friends with Phil, who I assumed was an experienced teacher. He was so comfortable with the kids. He knew everything about the school and he helped me immensely. Aside from the teaching basics, he helped me realize that I didn't have to be perfect to be good at what I did. It was okay if a lesson bombed occassionally. It wasn't my fault if the kids didn't listen. He helped me to not be afraid, not of the kids, the administrators or anyone else. He taught me that I didn't not have to be great. just had to do my best and to care about the kids I taught. I owe my success in teaching to Phil. I found out, thirty years after I started teaching that Phil was a new teacher, too. He was teaching just one term longer than I was. Since today is Thanksgiving, I am publicly giving thanks to my wonderful friend and mentor. May all new teachers find a Phil to help them through.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We Have the Best Medical Coverage???????

I just called GHI to find out about the status of the procedure I am waiting approval on. They, of course, don't handle it and put me through to Care Core, the company that does handle it. Care Core callously tells me that my claim has been rejected. "So you are just going to wait for me to get sick and die?" is what I said to the claim representative. She then answered that my doctor is at fault. They requested additional information that my doctor never sent. I know my doctor well. This was not the truth, but I called my doctor to check anyways. The receptionist said "They lie! GHI is the worst. They reject these claims all the time. I'll resubmit on Monday, but I don't know what good it will do."

And the UFT suit that came to my school kept insisting that we have some of the best health coverage in the country.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Interclass Visitations

Today was interclass visitation. We got to go visit another teacher's class with our AP and a few other teachers. We got to see what they were doing right and hear about what we are doing wrong. I got to see an honor M&3 class. Of course the kids were all doing exactly the right thing. The teacher was terrific. Now, I am not putting down this teacher. Although she is fairly new, she is good at what she does, she is just not as perfect as my AP would like to make us believe. I looked in the window before we walked in the room. There were a few kids not paying attention. But, these are good kids, easily intimidated. When they saw the crowd walk in, they put on their best show, as did their teacher. We all tend to do things differently when we have an adult audience judging us.

After the five-minute visitation we went back to the office where we were supposed to discuss what we saw. The only one doing any discussing was my AP. He kept insisting that all kids can learn. If we expect them to do the correct thing they will do it. Any problems in the class are our faults. If kids are failing, we need to figure out how to get them to pass. He didn't want any excuses for disrespectful kids and for failures. I personally don't care what he says about me. I told him I had problems yesterday, when a kid decided he was going to leave early. My AP knows better than to mess with me, so he told me I handled it perfectly. I know he would not have made the same comment to other teachers.

This meeting offered the teachers with difficult classes no answers on how to handle the problems. The only purpose of this meeting was to make people feel inferior. One of my colleagues, a great teacher who has been teaching 25 years, looked like she was about to cry because she has one of those classes that is impossible, no matter what she does.

I know my AP is responsible for the department. He wants good results to make sure he keeps getting those big performance bonuses at the end of the year. He's not going to get them by constantly putting the teachers who work in his department down.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Hope I Found A Way

I have a couple of good kids in my M&C class, that fail, no matter what they do. I experimented with them on Friday's test by letting them take the test earlier than the rest of the class, on a free period, when I, or someone else could sit with them and encourage them. Encouragement was given, help was not. Both kids passed the test. One got a 76 and the other a 65. Hopefully, I will be able to build their confidence this way and they will be able to start passing under the same conditions as everyone else. I know my chairman would have a fit if he knew I was doing this. I don't care. When you have one foot out the door on the way to retirement, there is nothing he can do to bother or hurt me. I just hope I can help the kids.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I went to student's cafeteria today during my C-6 assignment to search out the kids in my M&C class who I thought might have lunch that period. They were going to take a test this afternoon and I wanted to give them some extra help. I could only get one of my students to come for the help. On the way to tutoring room, (yes, I now have a room to use!!! Complaining got me out of the library and into a vacant room) I asked him what was going on. He was such a hard worker in the beginning of the term and he was sinking fast now. He looked sad. he told me his mom needs an operation, her third. She has thyroid cancer and it is spreading. His grandmother was just diagnosed with breast cancer and his dad might be losing his job. His brother might be thrown out of school. The kid told me he works after school, in McDonald's and is worried about losing that job. He works to help support his family.

Principal Suit told us that if kids are not passing, we must find a way to help them. We should change whatever we are doing and get these kids to succeed. I can help this kid with math, but I can't cure the cancer in his family and I can't support them. I feel so bad for the kid, but there really is not a lot I can do to ease his home situation. I thought about referring him to guidance, but, what can they do besides talk to him?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talking to Guidance

Teacher: Mr. Blue, I am coming to you because you are Joe's guidance counselor and he is exhibiting very strange behavior in my class.

Mr. Blue: Do you think your class his appropriate for him? What would you like me to do? He passed the two classes before this one. This is where he belongs.

Teacher: I am not coming to you because he is failing. Unfortunately, he is not the only one failing in the class. I am coming to you because his behavior is bizarre. He walks around the room. He tells me I am getting on his nerves. He tells me to get out of his face whenever I try to talk to him. He is late every day. I have not been able to get in touch with his parents. I would like you to look into the problem.

Mr. Blue: Other teachers have not complained.

Teacher: I have been experiencing this problem with him for quite a while. The way my day is programmed I have not had time to stop by. Please contact his teachers and see how he is doing.

Mr. Blue: My door is always open. Please stop by when you have time.

The conversation continues with Principal Suit.

Teacher: Excuse me, Principal Suit, I have a problem. I don't know what you can do about it, but I would like you to take this problem under consideration. Teachers need time during the day to dixcuss kids with counselors. With professional assignments and 5 classes there is no time for this.

Principal Suit: You have a lunch period. Use that!

Teacher: Principal Suit, I am entitled to lunch, just like you are.

Principal Suit: (getting irritated) Well, then use your professional period. Make sure to report there first so people will know where you are. And if you stop in the rest room, make sure you let someone know what you did in there.

Teacher: Principal Suit, I carry three bags plus my coat and my professional assignment is on the complete opposite side of the building. Even if I go there first, there is no where for me to leave my things so I must carry them with me. It is just too much.

Principal Suit: Oh go do what you want. I can't be bothered with this nonsense.

Let's see what tomorrow holds!

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

The school aid in charge of the telephone doesn't answer the phone--she doesn't want to deal with any incoming problems. This woman got a life time achievement award last month. The secretary who works for the AP of administration checks the caller ID and only answers the phone if she likes the person calling. The secretary in charge of student records will only print address labels for the teachers of the classes her son is in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


"I don't want a kid who can't pass Math A to be my doctor."

"This is a comment I hear more and more everyday from teachers who have some of the really low functioning kids in their classes. They don't want to pass them because they don't want them to go on to medical school??? Just how ridiculous is a statement like this??? Passing the Math A regents or any regents for that matter is not a sign of intellectual ability. It just shows that the kid has mastered what the state deems to be the minimum requirements for a high school diploma.

Many, many years ago, the state felt that too many kids were graduating without really knowing anything, so they instituted the RCT's to show competence in basic areas. When the kids couldn't pass these, they lowered the passing grades and let everyone through. The state then decided that these RCT's weren't good enough so they decided to make everyone pass a regents. When the kids started failing these, they again lowered the standards. So, a kid today getting a regents diploma might be no better off than a kid who graduated 30 years ago without this diploma.

Back to the subject--the kids we are passing today with just the barest knowledge of high school subjects are not the ones that will go on to medical schools. They are not going to be the ones competing for admission to Harvard and Yale. They are the kids that need that little piece of paper so that they can get the job sweeping floors at UPS or managing a fast food restaurant. As far as I am concerned, my standards can be as low as the states standards. I try to teach to the top. I drive the kids crazy all semester with high expectations. But, if they give an effort, I will pass all that pass the regents, no matter how little they actually know.

School Spirit

Friday is school spirit day! By unanimous decision, all teachers are supposed to wear their school shirt on Fridays to show school spirit. Funny, I don't remember being part of this vote. My school spirit takes the form of showing up to work every day and doing the best I can for the students. I refuse to be a party to this "camp activity". Principal Suit can now have one more thing to not like me for!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

US Math Scores Lagging

What a surprise, US math scores are lagging again. According to an article in today's NY Times ( It seems the NCTM has decided that fuzzy math is just not doing it anymore. It is not enough to have kids draw pictures and explore their feelings. They need drill and rote practice. It is interesting that this article came out a few days after Principal Suit made us sit in the auditorium reading an article on alternative methods to teaching. One of the things this article said is if kids don't get geometry, walk them around the building so they can find rectangles. I hope now that Principal Suit and the Board of Regents has seen this article we can get back to the basics of teaching math.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I have a girl in might night class at the commununity college that is very learning disabled. SHE IS NOT STUPID!!!! This girl, is in class every time it meets. She does all her homework, underlines pertinent material and is running an A in the class. I feel good watching her succeed and knowing that the A she is running is doing more for her self esteem than it is for her GPA.

This girl knows she has reached her academic ceiling and although she would like to get an Associates Degree, she realizes she cannot do it. The work is too hard. SHE IS NOT STUPID. It takes a bright person to see their limitations and work within them. Along with my class, she was taking a history class and a Spanish class. Unfortunately, she was not doing well in either and was forced to drop them. But, SHE IS NOT STUPID!!!! She paid for the courses, bought the books and continues to attend class. She does all the work and sits for the exams. She is determined to learn as much as possible.

Now, we just need to make the Board of Regents as smart as this girl. Make them see academic ceilings. Force them to help our students succeed on a level that is good for them.


Definition of profession:
An occupation that requires training and specialized study

Definiton of professional:
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

I got to thinking about my C-6 "Professional" period and decided to look up the word. I then began to think about what I am required to do during my "professional" period and I realized that calling what I and my colleagues do during a professional period is an oxymoron.

To begin with, some of my colleagues have hall patrol. Now I don't know what colleges they went to, but I am sure that none of them took a course dealing with this while they were in college. On the same note, a few sit by the front door and issue late passes to students. Highly unprofessional activities.

Now, my professional period is slightly more professional. I tutor in the library. I really don't mind tutoring. It's something that I have been doing since I started teaching 30 years ago. (a professional activity). What is unprofessional is the notion that I must be assigned to do it. It doesn't matter if my students are free periods 6 or 7--I must be there period 5. Another unprofessional aspect of tutoring is the poor spot we are forced to tutor in. I would be better off tutoring on the subway (not rush hour, of course) than in our library. The library is noisy, overcrowded and kids use it as a hangout. The librarian is glued to her chair in the front of the room and never looks up from the magazine she is reading. Still more unprofessional is that I need to be told what to do with my professional time. I have no time during the day to call a parent, confer with a student or to talk to colleagues about common preps. Professional activities that need to get done.

The next contract should change the term "professional period" to "let's degrade our teachers some more period". That way, at least we would know what we are in for when the contract passes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gun Control

Six Hours and Forty Minutes

Friends who aren't teachers are always telling me what a great job I have. I only work 6 hours and 40 minutes a day. I'd like to know how many of these friends got up at 8:00 AM Sunday morning to grade papers, enter the grades in the computer, and then sit for the rest of the day, until 9:00 in the evening, making up exams and writing lessons. Maybe I am only required to be in a school 6 hours and 40 minutes, but I am working the equivalent of 7 days a week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Top and Bottom

Everyone should teach the top students and the bottom students, if not every term, at least every few years. When we don't do this we get jaded and forget what the other half is like. I know this because I taught special education for a few years and then followed this with quite a few years of only teaching bottom level courses. The math supervisor at that time didn't like me and this was my "punishment". I fooled him, though. I like the bottom kids. Those are the ones that make me feel like I accomplished something when they succeed. There is nothing like that feeling I get when a kid who has almost given up on ever being able to master a concept gets it, and then graduates high school. Anyways, let me get back to the point of this post. I am now deemed a good teacher by the administration and have been teaching advanced placement calculus for over 10 years. The kids in these classes are wonderful. They are bright, and motivated. They do homework, ask questions and argue over every point on an exam. I love teaching them as much as I love teaching the kids that struggle. I find that teachers that only teach these top kids forget that the ones on the bottom exist. They express an intolerance toward people that cannot perform what we deem to be ordinary activities (like making change when the computer register is not working.) The ones who teach only the kids at the bottom start to think everyone is like that and start to lose faith in the future of our country. When they see a kid that actually can do any work, they think he is a genius, when he is probably just an average student. The best way to appreciate and help students is to actually teach all of them--the good students and the bad ones.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Business

In scholarly pursuit of bad breathSparrow and cricket, but not Cricket and Sparrow »Math scores are improving
An eminent mathematics professor writes:
I have just discovered a market that exists for a new business. A student had his “private tutor” regrade the final exam and is “demanding” the new grade.
If I start a business to meet this need, here’s how its first advertisement will read:
“Not doing well in math? Our staff has year of teaching experience. Just bring in your final and old exams and we will re-grade them for you and find you all the points you need to raise your grade. We have yet to see the F that couldn’t be changed to a C.”
Posted Friday, November 10th, 2006 at 12:01 am under Letters from readers, Arts and science.

Thanks to MW for sending me this article

The Past

I think I just figured out the problem with education today. Years and years ago, when I was a new teacher, the government realized that many kids were severely lacking in math and reading skills. Because of this, a Title I program was created. I don't really know what was done for the reading part, but I do know about the math. I would have been out of a job, except for this program. My classes consisted of 12 students. I worked with a paraprofessional. Each child had a folder in the classroom and the work they did in that class was geared toward that individual child's needs. Along with the Title I class, the students took a regular math class, usually a fundamentals class. We not only worked on the basic skills, but we worked on anything else the kids needed help with. Years ago, I had my own room. I had many different kinds of activities for them to work on. Imagine, I actually got to help my students and saw many of them succeed. I remember one girl, a high school senior, who had somehow fallen through the cracks in the system and could not count past 100. The thought of this kid in Math A today is frightening.

I am not naive enough to think that the Title I remedial program was the answer to all the problems that plague education today, but it was a start. At least kids were not cutting or acting out becauae the work was too hard. Some of the kids I teach today are no brighter than the kids I taught then. We are still graduating kids that do not have basic academic skills. It doesn't matter how many regents their record shows they have passed. I wish these kids could get the same kind of help that was given out 30 years ago.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Complaining Again....

I feel like a broken record. I spoke to the parent of a child in my M&C class today. The girl comes to tutoring at least 3 days a week. She does her homework and her classwork and is still failing, and failing miserably. My heart is breaking for this kid. The mother wants her to go for more tutoring. I honestly don't think more tutoring will help, although I did tell her where she could get help and even recommended a calculus kid that would be willing to help her. The poor kid is overwhelmed. She can't take anymore tutoring and I don't blame her. She already gives up her lunch to get extra help. She is on the track team and goes to practice almost every afternoon. Years ago, I used to think that kids should give up things like track to concentrate on academics. I don't think that anymore. These kids need something to do that they can excel in. Anyways, this kid started to cry when I told her about the extra tutoring. She said "I just can't do anymore." I believe her. I feel helpless. I don't know what to do for her. I want to tell her parents to have her tested, that she might have some learning disabilities, but I don't want to incur the parent's wrath, for saying this. I sent a note to guidance. I hope the counselor follows up on it. When are the powers that be recognize that not everyone can learn everything? I hate being the deliver of this kind of abuse on innocent children every day.

Principal Suit Does It Again

We lost instructional time yesterday due to the rain. The sidewalks in front of the trailer were flooded so all trailer classes sat in the auditorium. Today, Principal Suit had a fire drill period 9. Now we've lost two days in a row. Too bad this guy never uses his head. I know that legally the school must have a certain number of fire drills a term, but why during a period where kids already lost class time. He definitely could have made the drill either earlier or later in the day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rainy Days

And Noah said to Principal Suit "Do as I did and build an ark and on this ark put your trailer teachers and their students for it shall rain so hard that the walkways will be flooded." But did Principal Suit listen???? No, Principal Suit was too busy having teachers read articles on more effective ways of teaching. He wanted math teachers to take their classes on little trips around the building, to show them rectangles, squares, perpendicular and parallel lines. He was sure this would be the cure for all the math problems in the school. Today, the rains came. Noah was correct, the roads to the trailer flooded. The teachers and the students were forced to sit in the auditorium. The noise level and confusion from the disruption of the normal day prevented the teacher from pointing out the geometric shapes surrounding them. The students, happy to be free of the classroom only wanted to sit and chat with their friends. The day was lost.

Moral of the story: Principal Suit must learn to concentrate on issues important to education.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Purpose of AP's

"The AP is the toilet seat between the teachers and the principal."

Retired AP Science

Election Day Staff Development

7:45 - 8:30 We had breakfast consisting of "Lender-style" bagels, cream cheese, or butter and coffee.

8:45 - 10:30 We sat with out departments and learned how to write a lesson. It's amazing, I've been teaching over 30 years and now I know that I have been asking anticipatory questions and my lessons have congruency. I couldn't respond to my AP's question when he asked us to define congruency because I've never heard the term used in regards to lesson planning. I'm just too old, I guess.

10:45 - 11:45 We sat in the auditorium and listened to Principal Suit praising himself about how great our school did in the ratings. He is sharing his $20,000 bonus with us by giving us all tee shirts. And we only had to wait on a 20 minute line to pick them up. I hope he hasn't noticed that mine is still in the box it came in.

11:45 -12:00 We had a union meeting. Instead of discussing issues pertinent to us in school, our chapter chairman told us who to vote for. He also told us what a great contract we are getting (he is Unity all the way) and we couldn't possibly hope for anything better. I'm sure he wasn't happy when someone grabbed the mike and told everyone exactly how little this new contract was going to give us.

12:00 - 1:00 The best part of the day -- LUNCH with two of my good friends. We tried to go to a bagel store away from school, to be alone. Unfortunately, lots of others had the same idea. Oh well, at least we got there first and had a good table.

1:00 - 1:45 Anger Management Session. This consisted of the AP in charge of security standing in front of the room telling us what a great job he is doing. No one is controlling my anger and boy am I angry by now!

2:00 - 2:30 Back to our departments. Once again being treated by our AP as if we do not know how to teach.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Newbies and Staff Development

The teachers with thirty minutes experience are gearing up for their big day of staff development. I was told I was mean for calling them that. I can't help it. It's true. Imagine someone knowing something for thirty minutes trying to train someone who has been doing the stuff for thirty years. Of course these young ones claim they would rather listen to the more experienced teacher, and I am sure many of them would. But,we aren't the ones taking all those administrative courses. We aren't the ones trying to get in good with the administration. We are just the ones teaching our classes on a daily basis, watching the slow decline of the educational system in NY.

I used to be asked to do things for staff development. The problem the administration had with me was that I wanted to be paid for my time preparing for the staff development. I really didn't think this was too much to ask. At one time, they paid some outside consultant a fortune to come in and teach us about discipline. (This consultant had not been in a classroom for over ten years.) My requests were always met with "Sorry, we have no funds available." So I answered, "Sorry, I think I will pass." I feel bad about not passing along some of my knowledge to the newbies but not bad enough to do anything about it. I guess I will just bring a bunch of papers to mark, a magazine to read and hope the day passes quickly.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wasted Time

I just spent thirty minutes straightening out my papers and bookbag. THAT'S THIRTY MINUTES of time I could have used for something else if only I had a place to work during the day. I am so tired of having to leave a room the second a bell rings that everything I am carrying gets thrown in any bag I have so it won't get lost. I'm tired of carrying everything I own with me all day. I have a coat (now that the weather is getting bad), an umbrella (on rainy days), three bags and often miscellaneous books in my hands. Principal Suit passes me in the hall and wants to know why I am carrying so much? He probably thinks I am ready to sneak out for the day (if only I could!). I've already explained (as I have many times in the past) that it is cold and wet going to the trailer and that there is no where to leave things. If I leave something in the trailer inevitably I will need it in the building, and vice versa. It's been said before. The teaching day is not the 6 hours and 40 minutes that we are required to be in the building. It includes all the work we do at home also. I'm just so tired of the stupid work. The wasted time I just spent organizing my stuff (because there is no place to do this in school). Now I can spend a few hours doing some real work.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


We have an insta-hot on our kitchen sink. It's a wonderful little device that is hooked up to the faucet and provides boiling water in an instant. I love it. Anyways, I went to make a cup of tea this afternoon and found it dispensing cold water only. Upon checking, I found the circuit needed to be reset. No big deal. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said "Oh yeah, I thought it might not be working. The water came out cold when I used it last night." Now, why didn't he check????? MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 03, 2006


I know this is politically incorrect to say, but there are kids out there that are just plain stupid as far as some schoolwork goes. They work hard. They go for tutoring. They just don't get it. I have many kids like this in my M&C class. These are the kids that are breaking my heart. No matter how much they do, their test grades are still in the 20 - 30 range. One of my little girls gives up her lunch daily to go over work with me in the library. She can somehow manage to factor and divide complicated fractions, but she forgets how to factor when the factoring is alone. She can't remember the simplest facts, even if we have gone over them five minutes before the exam. I wouldn't label this child as one who needs special education because I really don't think test modifications would do the trick for her. It doesn't matter how slow we go, or how long I give her to finish a test. She is clueless. That doesn't mean that she can't receive an education, or go on to a career where she will make a ton of money. She just can't do math (and I've heard she has severe problems in English also.) One of my students is a resource room kid. He gets extended time on exams. I found a calculus student willing to work with him, almost on a daily basis. He's still failing. He too could use an alternate course of study.

I would label a learning disabled child as a child who has the capacity to learn, one who might need some modifications, but one that is intelligent enough to master the material. I don't think that is what is being done now. Kids that don't achieve are being tested and labeled. They are put in special education classes. The big drawback is that these kids are expected to master the same material as anyone else. The only difference is that the classes they are in are smaller. The work can't go any slower because they are expected to pass the same regent exams in the same amount of semesters as anyone else. Instead of using the label learning disabled, we need to figure out a way of helping these kids. Helping them is not forcing them to take courses that they cannot master.

I Love The Internet

I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!!!!! I won two front row tickets to see Elton John on Thursday night--grand prize from an online contest sponsored by Newsday. Now, how to relate this to teaching????? I am teaching combinations and permutations in my college class. The students are having a hard time knowing when to use each. This prize has done it. There was only one grand prize winner, so order mattered in picking the thirty one winners from all the entries. There were thirty other winners who just won regular seats. The order they won in didn't matter at all. They just have to be happy they are getting to see the show. Me, I am getting dinner in addition to the show!!!! I usually hate going anywhere on a work night. Getting up at 5:30 every day takes a toll on me. But, I guess this time I will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Power of the USPS

I accidentally found a great way to get my M&C kids to start studying and caring about grades. I mail home every test paper that is under 55. I started doing this before parent teacher conferences and the results were great. I couldn't believe how many parents walked into the room holding the test with the note expressing my concern for their child and my desire to meet with them. I just gave another test on Tuesday and the results were vastly improved. Even kids who passed the first made sure they studied extra hard. They told me they did not want a test paper mailed home!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Upcoming Staff Development Day

All the teachers with 30 minutes of experience are gearing up for the upcoming election day staff development. I can't wait to see what these young ones have come up with us to do. I wonder when they will let us know what our hours are for that day. It's less than a week away and we still have no clue.

Guess Who's Not Coming to Lunch?

Principal Suit is hosting a big buffet luncheon for the raters tomorrow. He's invited some teachers to join him for this wonderful meal. Of course, he didn't invite anyone who actually has something to say--only the ones who agree with him. I'm sure that was a good move, most of us would worry about ecoli poisoning from sharing his food. He did stop one teacher I know in the hallway and ask her if she was coming. She knew nothing about the meal as she had not been invited. He then quickly rescinded the invitation saying "Let me think about it. I'm not sure if I should invite you or not." This was even a new low for him.