Sunday, June 29, 2008
Mr. AP would like to be a principal. If he asked, here is the letter of recommendation I would write:
To Whom It May Concern:
Mr. AP has been at Packemin HS for many years. He first served as a teacher and then moved on to become the chairperson of the department. The department has benefited greatly from his ability to fix the copy machine, whenever it breaks down. He is also good at finagling extra masters and ink for the machine.
Mr. AP is the type of principal you want if you want someone who believes he is smarter than everyone else in the building. No one knows as much as he does or has more common sense. He can determine whether a child will pass or fail, just by looking at a name and a few test scores.
If you want to hire a principal that knows how to antagonize parents, Mr. AP is the man for you. He yells at parents if they knock on his office door and he makes them wait long periods of time to talk to him. He will not consider any requests they make if they are different than what he has in mind for that particular student.
If you believe that one ethnic group should be favored over all others, hire Mr. AP. This ethnic group of students gets preferential treatment. He also hires teachers only of this ethnicity also.
Mr. AP is constantly blaming teachers for all the ills of the school. He will berate them if their regents grades
are not high enough. He will berate them if their final grades are not within 5 points of the regents exam. He will not allow them to make their own decisions about who should pass and who should fail. If you want a principal that will hold teachers accountable for all the school's troubles, Mr.
AP is your candidate.
If these are the qualities you are looking for in your next principal, hire Mr. AP. No one does any of the above better than he does them.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
I'm sorry to say this, it makes me sound like a fool but, I HATE GRADUATIONS, yet I never miss them.
Last night, my friend Gina's son Billy graduated from high school. Gina's husband, Billy's dad, died two years ago. Billy loves having people lots of people around so Gina asked me to attend the graduation, which I did.
First off, let me say that Billy is not a nice person. He is rude and disrespectful to his mom and his mentally disabled uncle. He thinks the world revolves around. Part of this behavior is stuff he can't control, but most of it can be controlled. I know, he controls it when he has to.
Billy graduated from a high school on the ritzy south shore of Long Island. Snobbery was in the air. Journals were distributed with full pages full of the young high schools achievements, pictures and wishes from their families. They must have cost a fortune to produce. In spite of all this, it was great seeing Billy walk across the stage. He is a special education student that accomplished a difficult feat. I feel part of it. I got him through Math A.
My school had its graduation today. This was the first time graduation came a day after school ended. I actually got paid to go! This is the only per session I have done in years. I figured, since I always go to graduation anyways, I might as well get paid for the day.
This year's set up was better than last year's. The kids (all 950 of them) lined up in an air conditioned gym. It was pretty organized and the kids were well behaved. It took forever to get into he auditorium. Naturally, there were too many speakers and Suit managed to tell his stupid jokes. In spite of the length, it was nice. I would have cut the part where they do the Faces of Packemin HS. That could have saved 15 minutes. And, although the music was great, three pieces were unnecessary. One of them showcased the talents of a teacher. He was great but it was not appropriate here. Parents wanted to see their children graduate, not see this guy perform.
To me, the highlight was calling the kids to the stage to receive their "diplomas". It took over an hour to call 950 names and Suit posed for a picture with every kid (He must be exhausted afterward all that smiling.) While I hated waiting for it to happen, it was nice for the kids.
Afterwards, people milled around outside. I saw a few of my kids but there were just too many people around to really find anyone in particular. Just watching the proud parents and seeing the flowers and balloons was enough to make me glad I sat through that boring ceremony.
Worse than the speakers and the length of the ceremony was the traffic getting out. I'm smart. I parked right near the exit and walked a long way to the ceremony. It got me out 40 minutes sooner.
Graduations are long and boring. Traffic is terrible. I look forward to next year's event.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Suit announced his retirement at the faculty conference today. I have mixed feelings. I really despise this man (as anyone who has read this blog can tell) but he is basically harmless to most of us. He might hate me, but he knows my results and relationships with the kids are both good and he leaves me alone (except for his verbal nastiness).
Is the devil I know better than the devil I don't know? Only time will tell.
Either way, it is good to know I can walk if things get too heated.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Ms Dirty Dog always dreamt of being a secret agent. She grew up watching shows like Mission Impossible, Man From Uncle and I Spy and fantasized traveling the globe with a suave, good looking partner like James Bond. Unfortunately life did not have that plan for her and she became a school secretary. Ms Dirty Dog labored diligently behind her desk, always dreaming about what she felt should have been her life long work.
One day as Ms. Dirty Dog was turning on her computer, an electric shock passed through her body. She lost consciousness for a few minutes. When she woke up she was no longer Ms Dirty Dog, she was now Spy Dirty Dog. She had the power to prowl the halls during regents exams and to peer into every classroom. The teachers were terrified. No one dared to sit while proctoring. Spy Dirty Dog had her trusty pen and pad ready to record every misdeed. Pity the poor proctor who failed to notice a student had a bag on their lap or unconnected headphone wires around their neck. No one was immune to the eyes of Spy Dog.
At the close of the exam, Spy Dirty Dog reverted to her alias, Ms. Dirty Dog. The only difference was now she was content and happy with who she was. She had followed her dream. Her super ego could rest until next year's regents exam.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I'm teaching the wrong subject. We never have time to color or draw pretty pictures in class.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Belle's party never came to be but I don't think she was as disappointed as she was angry that Suit persuaded her to cancel it. She is actually quite reserved and does not like to be the center of attention.
I did not want Belle's last teaching days go unnoticed, no matter what she wanted. Wednesday one teacher got her to leave the marking room and I made a quick appeal for $10 a person to buy her a gift. My normally cheap department tripped over one another giving me money. The newbies who barely know her contributed. Mr. T, the cheapest man on earth not only threw in his money but money for someone else. Before I knew it, I had over $200 in an envelope in my hand and it was up to me to find the perfect gift.
Ms. H told me that Belle loves crystal and suggested a Waterford picture frame. I headed out to Fortunoff's and found one I hoped she and everyone else would like. I also stopped and bought a big bouquet of flowers. At 1:30 we all took a break from marking to present Belle with her flowers and her gift and a little speech:
I cannot let Belle leave without saying a few words about her and to her, publicly. Belle, I know that you have been counting down to this day since the first day I met you in lounge twenty two years ago. In fact, I know that if I want to talk to you, and you are not teaching, you will still be in that same ladies’ room.
Belle, now that you will not be working, you will have time to pursue your secret, X- rated interests. You will have long hours, alone at home, to peruse the Internet to find those perverted jokes that we all know you love. You pretend to be shy and innocent but that red face and smile always give you away. **** and %%%% will have to e-mail you your daily dose of perversion.
One of my fondest memories of you is the day, many years ago, when you got up five minutes early to leave while marking regents. You tried so hard to be inconspicuous but &&& yelled out “half day, Ms Belle” and you turned the loveliest shade of red.
Now that you are free you can also pursue your interests of finding **** a girlfriend. I know that you know his likes and dislikes and will do your best to find him a companion, maybe your mom, so he can join you in retirement bliss.
Seriously, Belle, you have been one of the most wonderful colleagues anyone could ever ask for. We all could depend upon you for help and inspiration. Your worksheets are terrific. Your kindness is inspirational. You gave the kids the extra love and caring that most of us cannot do. At the same time, you kept your standards and taught them well. You left an indelible mark on the lives of the children you taught. These kids learned math and a lot more from you. As you go on to the next phase of your life, remember us all and how much we love you.
Belle was thrilled with the gifts and thrilled with the attention. It was just enough to make he feel really good without feeling overly self conscious.
The students at our school are losing one of the best teachers ever. Does anyone in power care? They are happy to get one over paid teacher on maximum salary off the payroll.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Mr. AP: You must call the homes of students who are cutting. Their parents must be informed so that they can return to class.
Mr. AP: You cannot pass a student with more than 14 absences unless you speak to me first.
Ms Teacher: Mr. AP, I would like to pass Abe even though he has 20 absences. Some of them were medical excuses but a few were cuts. I spoke to his mom whenever he was out and things improved a lot.
Mr. AP: You cannot pass a student who has cut. You are too easy. Let me check his record.
Ms Teacher: Mr. AP, you told us to call. He took every exam and has a passing average. He made up homework he missed. His dad is dying and he is going through a rough time.
Mr. AP: Everyone has problems. His dad dying is no excuse for missing math. He probably cheated on the final exam anyways.
Ms Teacher: He is not a cheater. He deserves to pass and we would be doing him a major injustice by failing him. He will only get angry and do worse next term. He needs our support right now. I know him much better than you do. He earned the right to pass.
Mr AP: Do what you want. It is your responsibility if he fails the regents in January.
Footnote: Ms Teacher passed Abe. She hopes he will continue doing well but knows that there is no guarantee. Although Ms Teacher is not usually a gambler, she felt Abe was worth a chance.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Lights in Windsor Hotel.
Flowers around the edge of tables (center pieces were additional).
Mount Stephen Club.
My cousin Judy was sent to a fancy college to find a rich husband. The one she found became a doctor with a lucrative practice. Her snobbery built an impenetrable wall to our friendship. In spite of this, she was there for me when my mom died and at the unveiling. My mom and Judy's mom were sisters, extremely close sisters and my mom's death hit my aunt very hard. I know that my presence at this wedding was a special gift to this 85 year old lady.
Now, to the wedding. We arrived around noon on Saturday, after leaving NY at 5:30 in the morning. The drive only took about six hours. We figured a plane, with all the waiting around would take almost as long. (We got lucky--going home the weather was terrible and all the flights out were cancelled. No one flying got home until the next day. We treated ourselves to staying at one of the recommended hotels --Omni. The room was magnificent. The service impeccable. We joined their select club (free) and had coffee and juice delivered to the room every morning.
Saturday night there was a big rehearsal dinner. Only about 200 guests showed up there. It was on the second floor of a downtown restaurant. The food and drinks went on for hours. Every time you put down your wine cup, someone filled it up. Sunday was the big day. There must have been over 300 guests at the Windsor Hotel , which was Canada's first grand hotel. The wedding began at 5:30 and ended at 1:30 in the morning. The rabbi was flown in from New Jersey and there was a cantor as well. There were sixteen attendants in the bridal party. The flowers were breathtaking and the food might have been some of the best I have ever eaten. When the eight piece band stopped playing around 1:00 AM a DJ took over. As if all this wasn't enough, the celebration continued Monday at the Mount Stephen Club. (The Mount Stephen Club was originally a men's club that did not allow Jews. It is now owned by two Jews and has a kosher kitchen.) The kosher brunch included two omelet stations, crepes, french toast, lox, sable, fruit, bagels, etc, etc etc.
Judy's daughter is getting married soon. Judy will try to make this wedding even bigger. For me, it will be local so we will miss all the smaller parties, but that is fine. We had a great time. Both the bride and the grooms family have a lot of money so the extravagant wedding was well within their budgets but it still seemed a bit extreme to me. Still, I am glad to have been a part of it and will cherish its memory. I wish the young couple a lifetime of happiness together.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The school newspaper had a big article on the Gay Straight Alliance Club. Some of the kids seemed shocked and dismayed that a club like this could exist in our school. I quickly told them that I am the faculty advisor and went on to explain the purpose of the club. One girl asked me if the club was looking for converts. I said, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" The purpose of this club is to promote tolerance and to teach that we are all equal. The treasurer of the club, a senior who I have grown to admire, respect and love said "Sexual orientation is only a small part of who we are. There is so much more to us than who we are attracted to." The shocked kids stopped and thought. Then, they all commented that one of the founders was a good friend of theirs.
We are not completely tolerant and open minded yet, but, we are on the way.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
My period two class presented me with these beautiful flowers and made speeches about their year in math. One girl claimed to hate math until her year with me (this I find hard to believe.) Everyone in class stood up an applauded. It was my first standing ovation.
And, now you know why I don't want to retire.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Ms Out of it Teacher: We have an ATR in my school. Where do these guys come from? He was okay in the beginning, but now he is awful.Ms Out of it Teacher is typical of too many in the teaching profession. They can't see more than a few inches in front of their faces. These are the people that will continue voting our rights away.
Ms Teacher Who Knows The Truth about ATRs: ATRs are ATRs through no fault of their own. This teacher was probably at a school that was closed up or reorganized.
Ms Out of it Teacher: Well, he can't control a class and we are stuck with him next year.
Ms Teacher Who Knows The Truth about ATRs: You don't know the entire story. You don't know what this guy has been through. Be careful, the same can happen to you and me.
Ms Out of it Teacher: It can't happen to me. I am in a good school. I have seniority. My principal loves me.
Ms Teacher Who Knows The Truth about ATRs: It can happen to anyone of us. It happens to one of us every day. You never know when your principal will leave, when something will go wrong and he will need a scapegoat or even if your school is reorganized. You are lucky to be safe now. Many of our colleagues are not so lucky.
Ms Out of it Teacher: This guy is bad. I can't believe he will be back next year.
Monday, June 09, 2008
On a good note, my air conditioner is working. On a bad note, the air in the trailer next door is not working. The kids and teacher feel like Hansel and Gretel being pushed into the oven by the wicked witches Bloomberg and Klein.
Suit had his little grand daughter in school today. I wonder how he would feel if her classrooms looked like the one my students learn in every day.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I met Coach Susie at a party this weekend. Susie works F status at the school she retired from. She coaches a bunch of elementary and middle school teachers on the art of teaching math. She went on and on about what a valuable function she serves for her school and how wonderful the principal is, keeping the best interests of all her students first. Her school, an alternative school has no special education students or students that score below level three. If, on the rare chance that one does score a one or two, that child is burnt at the stake.
Coach Susie made me think of the F status people 15 More Years is always complaining about. This woman spends a good part of her day doing data analyis and test coordination. This data analysis is necessary so students can be trained for the tests and not to many will be burnt.
By the way, everyone in Coach Susie's school went to the end term party because it is such a jovial place to be.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
All first year students at a certain college take three courses in the Core Studies Program. The first two course are taught in large lectures, with all 100 students in a single class. The third course is taught in ten classes of 10 students each.
The students claim that classes are too large. The mean (100+100+10)/3 = 70 students per class.
The administration claims the total enrollment/number of classes is 300/12 = 25 students per class. The mean class size is perfect.
Which average would Bloomberg/Klein be spouting?
Problem form Using and Understanding Mathematics--Jeffrey Bennet an William Briggs
Friday, June 06, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Last night was senior award night. Some of the awards are so subjective and it seems like only departmental favorites get them. Too many good kids are left out. Most teachers do not show up. I usually avoid the night also but Victor was going to get the most improved student award. Since I suggested he be given that award, I wanted to see his face when they called his name for a math award. Believe me, it was worth it. He expected awards in English and history but never in a zillion years did he expect one in math.
Victor was in my Math $C class last year. When I checked records, I discovered that Victor had failed math the entire year before and should have been in Math $A instead. Victor begged to be allowed to stay in class. Mr. AP was adamant that all failing students be removed. Ms. AP Guidance (a great administrator) agreed to give him a chance. He worked hard and passed the regents in January, a full semester before he was required to take the exam.
Last semester I told Victor to take College Now Math. I knew he would do well and figured it might be a good way to get his college math requirement out of the way. Not only did he take the course, but he ran a 95 average. No one was more deserving of this award than this young man. The hug he gave me in the hall today was worth the pain I felt last night listening to Suit talk.
My kids were happy that I took the time to come to the award ceremony to see them. My favorite part of the evening was when Jordan's father went up to receive Jordan's awards. Jordan's dad sat up front with the students, dressed in a suit and tie and went up whenever Jordan's name was called. Jordan couldn't be there because he was at another ceremony receiving another award. I took a picture of dad and e-mailed it to Jordan. It was a bitter sweet day for both Jordan and his dad. The first anniversary of his mom's death had just passed.
Another reason I went was to see who won this year's Heart Award. The winner was a new teacher who was unknown by most kids. Almost no one applauded. She was given a bouquet of black and white balloons and a certificate. Nothing like the great stuff I got last year.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
There was a new memo from Mr. AP today.
He's been getting a lot of grief from Principal Suit because the people in my department tend to take off on staff development days. The math department has the absolute best attendance in the building. We almost never take off on teaching days. One day, a few weeks ago, there were 17 teachers out in the school and not one of them was a math teacher. Suit just doesn't understand that sometimes a teacher just needs a day off and if there is going to be a day when the kids are not going to miss instruction, that is the day to take off. Besides, although he thinks that everything he says is mportant, no one else thinks it matters for anything. I do wonder what kind of exciting day he has planned for us. I am sure we will all be chastised for one thing or another. He will definitely berate (not by name, of course) a teacher or two. Maybe he will bring in a keg or a bottle of wine? That is the only thing I can think of that will make the day exciting. Some people are afraid to stay home. I'm on everyones s***t list anyways, so there is no reason for me to attend. I have a doctor's appointment so anything I write about the day will be hearsay only.
Please make sure you do your best to show up on Thursday, June 5, 2008 – I have an exciting day planned for you. I will distribute important information on the new Geometry course. It will be a good idea for you to show up.
I know most people in this department do not drink, do not like loud music or do not dance, but I encourage you to attend the end-term party so that you get to enjoy the food and company.
These memos are getting pathetic. He is begging us to go to the party even though we don't drink, dance or like loud music. Personally, I love the drinking, music and dancing part. It is the company that I can't stand. Suit has been on his case to about the poor participation of the math department in school functions. Suit ought to think about why people won't participate instead of coercing us to do so. Poor Mr. AP. Although I have no love for him, he should not have to take heat because I, like the rest of the department, am a party pooper.
A few people are talking about possibly going to the party, because of Belle. Most are determined to avoid it at all costs. We feel Suit is maniputating us by getting Belle to attend his party. We'll take Belle out for lunch during regents week.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
When Willie was a little boy, classes were homogeneous. The smartest kids ended up in the 6 - 1 class and the slowest in the 6 -6 class. Little mediocre Willie ended up in the 6 -3 class, which was fine with him. As luck would have it, Mr. Ding was teaching the 6 - 3 class that year and Willie was exposed to his first male teacher. Mr. Ding didn't believe in mediocrity and he pushed the kids to their limits. Every day he drilled multiplication tables. Every day, he pushed reading. In spite of this, Mr. Ding believed school should be fun. In good weather, he brought his class outside every day at 2:00 to play. They swung bats and chased baseballs and laughed at the 6 -1 kids still inside with their books.
Willie is an adult now. He went to Stuyvesant High School and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees (in math) from Queens College. He credits Mr. Ding with turning his education around. Willie recently retired after a long, successful career as a high school teacher. He took the lessons he learned from Mr. Ding and applied them to his daily teaching. I am betting that Willie has influenced and helped students in the same way that Mr. Ding helped him.