Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Larry

Just had to post Larry's picture today. We officially made him ours on Halloween, three years ago. He was so tiny. It seemed too dangerous to allow a black cat out on Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What To Do With Him?

I called a parent of a boy that keeps walking into class late. Each day he manages to be a few minutes later than the day before. It is almost like he is seeing how far he can push me.

Today I insisted on a late pass which, of course he could not supply. When I tried to send him to the office, he refuse. When I started to call security, he left on his own. He pissed me off so much that I stayed late to call his mom.

I was overheard while on the phone. Someone yelled out "Jimmy doesn't do well with women teachers." To which I replied, "I'm not getting a sex change operation to make him happy."

The person then went on the explain that Jimmy does better with male teachers (although I have seen him in those classes and he is pretty much the same) and suggested I transfer him to a different class. The person speaking said Mr. Y would not put up with him, he would just fail Jimmy.

Failing Jimmy is not something I want to do. Academically, he has been doing great. He happens to be a bright boy who fails because he is walking to the beat of a different drum. He is difficult but extremely intelligent. (I also like him i spite of the stress he is causing me.)

So now I am at a loss as to what to do. Jimmy's mother might be able to get him to behave for a few days but then it is back to the same behavior that has been going on for years. Passing him to another teacher is just passing off the problem. I might be better off but, will Jimmy? Will Jimmy actually settle down in another classroom or will he make that teacher miserable too? I want to be the one to save Jimmy. Do I keep him or do I throw him out like spoiled milk?

Playing Cards

I come from a working class family. We didn't have much money so mom and dad entertained my sister and me with games. We played card games for hours. I learned to count and to recognize numbers from a deck of cards. I learned how to order my numbers from playing rummy and I learned addition from casino. My mom introduced casino with subtraction to enforce teach those skills. Maybe that is why I've always loved math.

Kids today don't play cards with their parents. Teaching probability is a problem when we get to the card questions because many have never touched a deck of cards in their lives. They have no idea how many cards are in the deck, the suits or even the colors of black and red. They say that their parents don't like gambling.

How sad that a simple thing like playing cards with your child is considered bad? Is it a cultural thing? Many of my students are foreign born. Or, are parents today just too busy to enjoy this simple pleasure with their children?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From A Union E-Mail

Four things to fear: the hoof of a horse, the horn of a bull, the smile of a Saxon, the promise of a principal. (freely adopted from the Irish)

(Sorry, Hula--but I could not resist!)

The union suits were at our school today, advising the best way to handle "emergencies". their advice was great though sad to have to hear. I already read most of this stuff on Chaz's blog.

My friend, the ATR, tried to talk to one of the Suits about her position as an ATR. All he did was tell her how lucky she was to be getting a paycheck. He had it rough, much rougher than she is having it. He was laid off in the 70's, no job, no income.

He didn't get how she was suffering. He didn't get that a wrong is a wrong is a wrong.

If he got shot in the heart twice and I got shot once, we would both be dead. What would it matter that he got shot twice as often as I did? Bad, is bad.

I would amend the above statement as follows:

Four things to fear: the hoof of a horse, the horn of a bull, the smile of a Union Representative, the promise of a principal. (freely adopted from the union e-mail)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Elephants

The elephants, the ones who won't forget, who held their ground and did not go to the party.

1. The teacher who was told to transfer because she did not share his "vision". Good test scores, excellent relations with students and parents meant nothing to Suit. She remembers.

2. The teacher who was ignored when a close family member passed away. The who was given no slack as she took off to care for the dying relative.

3. The school aide who was invited to Suit's "coronation" when he became principal and then was told to serve the coffee.

4. The para who was humiliated for doing his job too well.

5. The cafeteria lady who had major heart surgery but never even got a get well card or a phone call inquiring about her health.

6. The teacher who has been threatened and written up because she dared to defend a colleague a few years ago.

7. The AP who is in the rubber room because he wouldn't wear a tie.

8. The AP who fixed the programs of over 100 kids, made one mistake and had programming privileges taken away from him.

9. The teacher who got up 2 minutes early from a faculty conference so she would not be late to her class.

10. The teacher who was written up for using a cell phone in the hall even though the call was to a doctor and that was the only free time the teacher had.

11. The teacher who was not given the PTA Heart Award because Suit said "she was not the kind of person he was looking for."

12. The wonderful security staff we used to have.

13. The teacher who was yelled at for bubbling attendance sheets while Suit was speaking.

14. The teacher who was bad mouthed, by Suit, for privately commenting on something he did.

15. The school aid who requested a change in hours two days a week so she could go to school.

These are my people. These are the ones I am proud to call colleagues.

They're Not Elephants

They're Not Elephants (sorry, invited readers only)

School Gal Speaks

Dear Pissed Off Teacher,

You know that I will miss your blog. It is valuable and I hope you reconsider. You really didn't know other teachers from your school knew about your blog??? It only takes one teacher to spill the beans if your school is anything like mine.

Gee, Does that mean when I called your staff, Suit and AP "Idiots" I was doing it to their faces!!!! I hope so!!!!

You have nothing to worry about because you spoke the truth.

So please take the next few weeks to listen to any feedback. I am sure some of the readers who are emailing you are from your school and were grateful, mainly because they had no backbone, that you were expressing what they were

And, if you do decide to begin a new blog, I hope you invite me.


Of course Schoolgal was added immediately. I am a big fan of her comments.

I had a conversation with Principal Hula about this blog today. He told me not to stop writing, that he has thick skin and can take it. Besides, he said he learns from reading. He really seems okay. I will keep writing here but will not include anything that can be incriminating about anyone in my building.

I've been teaching a long time and I have never met an administrator I liked and truthfully, I still don't trust anyone in a suit and he does wear one 4 days a week! I think I will tread carefully.

Nothing has been posted on the new blog yet. That is a good sign. If I decide to make this my last year at least it will end on a high note.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reaching Out From The Grave To Suck You In

Ghouls, the hand reaching out from the grave to grab you and suck you in.

That is the way many of the teachers in my school see ex-Principal Suit. They despise the man and all he stands for yet they fear terrible consequences if they do not go to his party and honor him.

Tonight there will be many people in attendance. Many will be teachers who he has humiliated and hurt financially (taken away per session jobs). Many have been denied comp time jobs they were entitled to. Poor sheep, too scared to take a stand. Too scared to stand up for what they know is right.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Protect Yourself

Protect yourself. Read this on Chaz's blog.

Let's Push Out The Push Ins

I haven't published on the new blog yet. I'm still going to write here. If I haven't responded to you yet, I might have missed the post or you didn't include your e-mail. Give me 48 hours and then just write again. The responses have been overwhelming. I had no idea so many people read this blog. That one will just be saved for the down and dirty stuff.

I don't care who reads this post. Rush-in teachers are being used all over the city and our children are being hurt. The policy has to be advertised and stopped.

To save something, I'm not sure what, except for space, many resource room kids only see their resource room teacher in their history or English class. These teachers are "push ins". Their mission, whether they chose to accept it or not, was to work with these students in the mainstream environment. Now they might be doing better in this history or English class but they are not being serviced in math or reading or anything else that matters.

Personally, I can't imagine this type of system working in my classroom. I don't think I would like an extra voice talking while I am talking (the kids do enough of that without assistance.) If the students spent the period working individually, or in groups, an extra body in the room would be great. My feeling is that they come to school to be taught. I am paid "big bucks" to teach. I want to earn my check. Having them work individually all period is not something I am being paid to do.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


All the interest in the new blog shocks me. I never thought much about my random posts.

I need e-mail addresses to send out invites. You can send your e-mails to Please understand that I will only allow people I have a blogging relationship with already.

Cover Is Blown

(one of two girls doing their homework in a nearby fast food place--cropped to hide names and faces)

The faculty meeting went off as scheduled. Principal Hula (formerly known as Mr. New) was true to his word. He took the questions from the staff and answered them. Many of his answers were the kind a politician would give, but they were answers nevertheless. He said he really cared about what we thought and wanted and he wanted to be the kind of leader that helps. He sounded sincere, and, I can't believe I am writing this but, I actually like him. I know we are still in the honeymoon period and it is natural for things to get a bit rocky when we move to the next stage of our relationship but, I LIKE THIS GUY!!!! I think I can even work with him. I had no desire to read a book, listen to my I-pod or ring my cell phone non stop. Now, liking is not the same as trusting. He is still an administrator and an administrator's agenda can be total opposite of that of a teacher's. My trust is something that is not given in a day, a week or even a year.

Waiting for the meeting to start, one teacher comment on Principal Hula's shirt and suggested that we take a picture and mail it to ex-Principal Suit. Hula saw me taking the picture and came over to ask me if I was taking it for this blog. My cover is blown! My face turned the brightest red. He knows my feelings about Suit and Mr. AP and all the other things that drive me crazy in this place. He told me to talk to him about any issues I have. He already stopped the announcements and lowered the music on my request. I'm going to be careful. I'm considering making this an invited only blog or starting a new one. Or, maybe I will just quit writing.

Mr. Hula doesn't want or need my advice but, since I am older, more experienced and have one foot out the door, I am going to give it here:

1. Respect your staff, the entire staff. Everyone here performs a valuable service, from the custodian to the kitchen lady, to the school aides, to the paras, to the security staff, to the teacher, to the assistant principals. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Suit never got this and as a result, many people, including myself, stopped doing as much as we used to do.

2. Listen and consider what people have to say to you. You are the boss and all final decisons are yours. Some of us have valuable ideas. Just consider them and if you reject these ideas do it based on intelligent reason, not on ego. Suit never got this either and as a result many of the programs he started did not work.

This blog was started to get out the frustrations caused by Suit's faiure to follow these simple premises. I needed an outlet and got one here.

As of today, nothing negative will be written about Packemin HS, at least not on this blog. Sorry, it is about to become very boring. Anyone who has been following it and would like the dirt is welcome to become an invited reader on my new blog, Packemin HS, the Blog.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wild Ride

My geometry classes are comprised of weak math students. All the kids have failed math at least once in the past. Too many are still failing. I was happy to see quite a few parents of these kids today. The parents were concerned and wanted to help. Quite a few parents said, "My child does well when he likes the teacher. This term XXX is coming home happy."

It's going slow, but I am making progress with these kids. Today they all worked great. Yesterday, they were even quiet for a while. Sometimes I feel like I am on a wild ride and other times I feel that I can make a difference.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No Interruptions

We made it through parent teacher evening with no announcements over the PA system.

On another note, Suit tried to change our C-6 assignments. We fought him but he would not give in. He left without making any decisions. The new principal took our side and lt them stand as they were!

I think I might actually like this new principal.

Q & A Session

Mr. New left a note informing the staff that there will be a faculty meeting tomorrow before parent teacher conferences. The note was sweet. It invited us to come and ask him questions. The tone of the note was inviting.

Mr. New asked us to leave questions for him in his mailbox. Not being a shy one, I decided to take him up on his offer and left him the following. I look forward to his answers.

October 23, 2008

Dear Mr. New,

As you are probably aware, Principal Suit made sure that everyone who passed the Integrated Algebra Regents or the Math A regents in June and had gotten a 55 in the class had their grades reversed. All these students are now taking MG 21 (geometry).

Many of these students are failing miserably. They lack the skills needed to succeed and have trouble with basic concepts. As their teacher, it is breaking my heart to see how many are not succeeding. I gave a test on Tuesday and mailed copies of 28 (out of 60) papers home because the grades were so low.

I would like to know how you are going to help us address this problem. Going slow does not seem to be the answer, as I have been doing that.

I also hope that you can address the issue of computer access for teachers. The library only has four computers available for teacher use. Yesterday, the printer was not working. Today, only two computers were working. It is very upsetting to spend the better part of a prep period waiting for a machine or working on one only to find that you cannot print out what you need.

Thank you very much for taking the time to deal with this issue.

Sincerely yours,

Ms. POd

Math Dept

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mr. New Seems To Be On Target

Suit pushed a lot of kids into the second term of math B although they either failed or never took the first term. He only cared about pushing them ahead so our school would get a better grade.

Billy is one of those kids. It took Billy three years to pass the first year of algebra. Billy was not doing well in the class and his teacher wanted to put Billy in a more appropriate class. Suit said "NO."

Billy's teacher went to Mr. New (new principal) and made the same request. Mr. New said "Well, what does Billy want to do?" I think this guy might be okay! He actually cares about what the kids want and what is best for them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Best Line Of The Day

Suit is a legend in his own mind.

(Heard in the teachers' cafeteria today as we were discussing how nice it is not to hear Suit on the PA system all day long.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Math Error--NCLB Screws Up Again

Our surreal nation: School district math snafu forces layoffs of math teachers
Geoff Williams
Oct 17th 2008 at 5:40PM

CNN is reporting today on its web site that due to a miscalculation in the school district budget for Dallas, Texas, officials were forced to lay off 375 teachers and 40 counselors and assistant principals yesterday. Another 460 teachers were transferred to other schools within the district.

At least one girl was crying, in the article, as she said good-bye to her music teacher. "Why do you have to leave?" she was quoted as wailing.

The irony would be funny if it weren't so sad and serious: that a math error is hurting Dallas' school children. A math error? A math error has led to the dismissal of math teachers, and numerous other instructors, and it's going to make at least the Dallas area's educational system even weaker, and as I noted in a post just yesterday, when we have a weak educational system, our entire country suffers.

While the nationwide school program No Child Left Behind program is often maligned for its bureaucracy, it's incidents like this that make me see why it was created. When children are left behind, some of them grow up and get jobs. Like in the government, not to mention Wall Street, and even the occasional corporation like Enron. Suddenly, I'm starting to see that a lot of people, kids and grownups, would be better off if at least some adults in prominent financial positions were forced to retake some of their high school and college math courses.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

Fed Up

Departmental meetings took place today. Mr. AP was his wonderful, warm self. He went on and on about how we should not give kids 55's if they are failing. Instead we should give them their true averages. I hate this idea. It is bad enough to have a kid fail, but why should we rub salt in their wounds by giving such a low grade? The powers that be in my school believe that since a 55 is only 10 points below passing, anyone who gets a 55 can pass. Suit changed every 55 to a 65 in June to move them all ahead. With this theory, we should just change the 65 passing grade to a 55 passing grade. Then, we can pass everyone with 45's because they would only be 10 points below passing. After we try this for a while, we can change the passing to 45 and keep going until everyone who breathes passes. Oh wait, this is already being done--just look at the raw scores and the equated percentages on the New York State Regents exams.

Now, because everyone has passed, everyone is taking geometry. The kids can't do the work, they just don't have the skills. Their taking geometry would be the equivalent of asking me to take a course in Nuclear Physics. To compensate for this, we are being told to "dummy down" the course. Those words are not being used, but we all know the meaning of what we have been told to do.

Years ago, when I was a newbie teacher and even years earlier, when I was a student, I learned that in geometry, nothing is ASSUMED because when you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME. Mr. AP is telling us to get kids to draw conclusions by looking at pictures of lines and stating which ones are parallel and which ones are perpendicular from the way they look. Ridiculous! I can't draw a straight line to save my life and I spend half my teaching time telling them that if it's not given, its not true. Mr. AP is also telling us to have kids measure paper to find the midpoints (most of these kids can't use a ruler and finding the middle of an 8.5" by 11" paper is going to be impossible.) We also spend quite a bit of time teaching constructions with a compass and a straight edge. We argue that a ruler and a protractor are not good enough to get the measurements correct. Now, he is going backwards.

Mr. AP claims that you can't teach proofs until the kids understand the concepts. This is true. But how far back can we go in one semester? My son is a computer engineer. I look at his computer screen and have no clue what he is doing and even when he tries explaining his work to me, I am lost. I can never pick up in a short time what he has spent years learning. These kids are in the same situation. At this time, I can't understand his computer programming any better than they can understand geometry. I'm not incapable of learning, I just don't have the background and neither do these kids. Maybe I can learn the stuff at some time in the future as they might learn to master math then too.

It is time to teach kids on a level they can understand and master. It is time to stop fudging the courses to make everyone believe they can do it all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hot Dog

(Little Hot Dog with his proud grandparents)
(Hot Dog Family lighting a candle)

One of the best things that has happened to me at Packemin HS was becoming friends with Hot Dog. I met Hot Dog in the teachers' cafeteria when I was in one of my foul moods, determined not to become friends with anyone new. Hot Dog however had already become friends with someone I liked so we began conversing and surprisingly enough, we hit it off right away. I found a soul mate in Hot Dog. She shared my cynicism and my distrust of the administration and she shared my love of teaching and my love of the children we both taught.

Hot Dog and I have been teaching together for a very long time. We've gone through some bad but mostly good times together. Today was the epitome of our relationship. Her son was Bar Mitzvahed.

I had tears in my eyes as I saw this little boy standing on the Bimah with his proud parents and grandparents. I remembered the difficult time she had conceiving and carrying. And, even before this, I remembered the difficult time she had convincing her now husband that he should follow his heart to be with her.

Little Hot Dog was did a fantastic job. He made everyone feel good. He led the service, he read from the Torah and did a mean Haftorah. He finished off with a sensational speech.

After the service, Little Hot Dog got to celebrate his achievements at a fantastic party. Surrounded by friends and family, he danced and ate and enjoyed himself tremendously. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Hot Dog has a ton of friends with personalities similar to her own and although some of us only met for the first time today we felt a bond.

I know I bitch and moan plenty about school but without Packemin, I would never have met the Dog family and I would not have been part of their lives. My life would be much poorer with them.

Not The Worst

Mr. P said "Suit is not the worst principal around." That was easy for him to say because he wasn't being targeted for career ruination. I'm not being targeted either but my eyes are open. I see what is happening to my colleagues. I see what he has done to others. He goes to arbitration at the DOE and lies. The arbitrators believe him because "He is a principal. He always speaks the truth." I know of a person languishing in a rubber room somewhere because he would not bow down the the Suit's demands and he refused to wear a tie. Suit made up things to destroy this guys reputation and credibility.

Anyone who deliberately sets out to destroy another person is wicked. Maybe there are others more wicked but evil is evil and whether he was not the worst around does not excuse or condone his behavior.

The new principal was an assistant principal in a high school in another borough. I don't know if he was a leadership academy person or not. I'm still reserving judgement on him. I'd like to think that there might be at least one decent administrator out there.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Today I bought a card that was 50% off. The price was $.75 plus tax which I knew would be about $.83 or $.84. The guy rang it up and asked me for $.88.

"Impossible, I said." Tax on a dollar is 8.25%. There is no way that tax on $.75 is $.13.

He looked at me like I was nuts and said "That is what the register told me. Here is the receipt."

I told him that I didn't care what the receipt said and that I didn't care that the difference was only pennies. Then I realized the register rang the tax on the entire amount. Again, he said "That is what you must pay." Although I needed the card and I was in a hurry, I stood my ground. He finally rang the sale again and came up with the $.82 I thought I should pay.

He glared at me as I picked up the card and left. I let him keep his bag. Let him make up his money that way. The $.06 I saved is meaningless. The feeling I have being right and forcing him to acknowledge it is priceless.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Sick Joke

The Indian With One Testicle

There once was an Indian who had only one testicle and whose given name was 'Onestone'. He hated thatname and asked everyone not to call him Onestone.

After years and years of torment, Onestone finally cracked and said,' If anyone calls me Onestone again I will kill them!'The word got around and nobody called him that any more. Then one day a young woman named Blue Bird forgot and said, 'Good morning, Onestone.' He jumped up, grabbed her and took her deep into the forest where he made love to her all day and all night. He made love to her all the next day,until Blue Bird died from exhaustion.

The word got around that Onestone meant what he promised he would do. Years went by and no one dared call him by his given name until A woman named Yellow Bird returned to the village after being away. Yellow Bird , who was Blue Bird's cousin, was overjoyed when she saw Onestone. She hugged him and said, 'Good to see you, Onestone.

'Onestone grabbed her, took her deep into the forest,then he made love to her all day, made love to her all night, made love to her all the next day, made love to her all the next night, but Yellow Bird wouldn't die!

Why ??? OH, come on... take a guess !!! Think about it !!! You're going to love this !!!

Everyone knows... You can't kill Two Birds with OneStone !!!

Another Opinion Of Suit and The New Guy

Note from a colleague:

Read your post. You're right. of course, but I think another problem with our ex-boss is he is thick as a brick. He's not at all good with concepts. It frustrated XXXX to no end. She thinks the new guy is a lot more lucid. I hope she's right, as we and all the kids are well rid of his rampant self-serving self-indulgent solipsistic juvenile idiocy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Principal Update

We have a new principal, but Suit is still roaming the halls like he is king. He's still on the loudspeaker and he is still coming to the cafeteria to get his free lunch. The only difference now is that he is collecting his pension and earning lots of extra money on the side. One of the school aides told me he plans on being around for three months. She was told to set up a mail box for the new principal right next to his.

Suit's retirement party is next week. All the little suck ups are lining up to go. Some are swearing up and down that he was a great principal. I can come up with lots of reasons why he was the absolute worst one we ever had but two reasons come to mind. One, he is close minded. He sees things his way and his way alone. He is not open to new ideas or any ideas that conflict with his. Second, he does not respect other people. He looks down his nose at school aides, cafeteria workers, security guards and teachers. He thinks nothing about berating anyone, anywhere and anyhow.

Yesterday I asked the new principal to cut down the announcements. He said he would. Today I asked him to lower the music between periods. He also said he would. I don't want to be a thorn in his side, but I want some better working conditions. Suit might still be around but he is no longer in power. I hope this guy is strong enough to take the reigns and put this guy in his place.
In other news, the little suck ups are already starting. Two of the sweet young things were already bringing a welcoming plant to the new guy. I'm sure it is going to be an interesting year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Possibly A Ray Of Sunshine

I met the new principal today. I was happy to see that he was not wearing a suit. He's young (probably 40). He seems nice and not too full of himself but only time will tell.

I heard him say that he is not going to make too many changes. That was my opening.

"New Principal, the announcements are too long and too often. This morning they were disturbing to my AP students taking a test. In the afternoon, my class is difficult and the lengthy announcements make it even more difficult." To which he replied, "I agree. If things don't change please speak to me again in a few weeks."

Maybe there is some hope.

He's Not Quietly Slipping Away Into The Night

Principal Suit sent out his last memo thanking us for making his principalship (his word, not mine) such a wonderful experience. The new principal starts on Tuesday. Suit is hanging around to show him the ropes. A good mentor would stay behind the scenes and help from the office. Suit doesn't plan on being this kind of mentor. Hopefully the new guy will put him in his place and take the lead himself. The staff is invited to meet this new guy on Tuesday. I will bet any amount of money that Suit will be in the office with him, controlling, or at least trying to control the situation.

Someone told me that Suit appointed himself Principal Emeritus at the last faculty conference. I never pay any attention to what Suit says, so this might or might not be true. I do know that he told a friend of mine that he likes the job too much to ever leave.

The next few weeks might really get interesting, especially if this new guy has a completely different set of values. Stay tuned. Updates will be reported here as soon as they occur.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What A Wonderful Example

Bristol Palin's fiance has dropped out of high school to take a job on the North Slope oil fields as an apprentice electrician.

Sarah Palin is encouraging this. What a wonderful example our VP wannabe is setting for the youth of America.

Software Engineer Needs Help

This guy left the following message asking for help. Since I come from a family of engineers, I wanted to help. I don't assign papers but I know many others do. He can be contacted at

I was looking for a teachers opinion on ‘writing research papers’ or other classroom group activities. I am a software engineer and I am trying togather some information on how often a class is assigned group writing activities and if teachers may need any assistance grading, managing those activities.I followed some teacher blogs and dropped this note. I am sorry if this is inappropriate.

That One

As a teenager, my daughter drove us crazy. We even took her to a psychologist at one point hoping that someone could do something to make her easier to live with. She met with the psychologist once, alone. The second meeting was a family meeting. My daughter hated going. When the psychologist asked her exactly what the problem was, she pointed to her father, brother and me and said "THAT ONE, THAT ONE AND THAT ONE." Needless to say, she was very angry.

The psychologist was great. She said that my daughter was just going through normal teen stuff and did not need to see her. (My daughter has grown into a sensation adult so this professional was correct.) I totally forgot about this incident until I heard McCain use the same words during last weeks debate. The anger and resentment I heard was the same irrational words I heard from my 14 year old child. She scared me then. He scares me now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why Gay People Need Marriage

Jack left Jill to be with Joey 15 years ago. The divorce was messy, but Jill kept the house and got child support and alimony for a few years. Things were tough, but the courts forced Jack to pay and she survived.

Jack has been with Joey for 15 years. They have been married in every sense of the word, except they have never been able to tie the knot legally as gay marriages are not legal in the state of New York. Joey was at Jack's side through the divorce and he nursed Jack through a terrible bout of Hepatitis. Joey is now very sick. He has a neurological disease and he is deteriorated very quickly. Jack is once again unhappy and he is leaving Joey. He doesn't want to be around a sick person. He can't stand seeing Joey in the condition he is in.

The house, the car and all of their money are in Jack's name. Jack and Joey are not legally married so Jack has no legal obligations to care and support Joey. Joey is not only sick, he is also now penniless and homeless. He depends on an older sister to care for his needs. Jack's children, both adults, are devastated by this. They cannot believe their father would desert the person who he has loved and cared for all these years. Jack's children have stepped up to the plate. They are helping Joey, taking him to doctors and making sure he is eating. Joey was not always nice to Jack's children and Jack's wife, but that is not stopping their care of him now.

Jack's ex-wife raised her children to do the right thing. They are a credit to her. Poor Jack, who will care for him when he is old and infirmed? These children have gotten past Jack's awful treatment of their mother and them years ago. They will have nothing to do with him after the way he has treated Joey.

Way to go with the new law, Connecticut!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who Cares About Laws?

"The Palins said they feared for their family's safety after Wooten made threats against them", according to an article in today's Newsday.

Betcha it be great to have a vice-president who thinks it it fine to break the law for their family? Isn't it great to see the second in command of our country thinking it is fine to do whatever she sees fit as long as it benefits her family? Just an average hockey mom or six-pack Joe for V.P.

UFT Chapter Leader Being Treated Like Crap

Read here.

How about some help for this chapter leader from some of the UFT officials?

Read About NYC's Greatest Bargain

Great Bargain

Thursday, October 09, 2008

13 Years! Don't Slam The Door On Your Way Out

I'm not going to sugar coat this. As of xxx. xx, 2008, this department no longer exists. You are all being laid off.

Those are the words that greeted a friend of mine last week as she was called to a meeting with her entire department. She new that the meeting would not be good ans the vice-president never bothered to talk to the peons that worked under her.

My friend works (still has a few weeks to go) for a non profit organization. She and her colleagues deliver valuable services to needy clients. I can't mention the name of the organization because the clients involved have no idea what is going on. Nice! Not only are the employees getting stomped on, the people they are servicing are being destroyed as well.

A few years ago, the main function of this organization was changed. Originally it serviced one disability. Now it supposedly helps many. The web site looks fantastic. It shows all kinds of wonderful services. Too bad none of them really exist.

When the function was changed, the method of filling our forms and reporting on what was being done also changed. No one bothered to tell the staff and the first year they failed their audit. A "gestapo" agent was brought in to straighten things out. She never helped. She never made recommendations or answered questions. She worked to get rid of the department and succeeded.

My friend met with human resources yesterday. They asked her how they could help. She told them to hire an agency to help find them all new jobs. Human resources said this will never be done.

My friend only has a few weeks left. She is supposed to tie up all loose ends. She is not allowed to tell her clients. It's just "Slam, bam and thank you mam. Your gone!" What a way to start the new year.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Conversation With Principal Suit

Principal Suit: Mr. Hall Patrol, you are bringing down the tone of this building.

Mr. Hall Patrol: I don't know what you mean.

Principal Suit: There is a piece of toilet paper on the floor in front of the boys bathroom. That is bringing down the tone. You are on patrol. You must do something about it.

Mr. Hall Patrol: My job is to keep the halls safe, not clean.

Principal Suit: Go tell the custodians to clean up this piece of toilet paper immediately.

(At the end of the period, Mr. Hall Patrol related the story to the custodians and everyone had a good laugh. Principal Suit never did get that piece of toilet paper thrown away. Perhaps he should have picked it up himself.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

What Really Counts

It has been said before, no one outside of education really cares about all we do. Here is an e-mail I got from a parent of a boy I taught last year.

Dear Mrs.Pod,

I am bob's mother. I would like to request you to write my son a recommendation letter. Although he didnt do good in the class, he told me that you know him pretty well and he likes you a lot. And he needs a recommendation letter from his closest teachers and first thing it got on my mind was you and you was an only teacher that actually cares about him. So i took your email from him and i feel embrassed asking you for recommendation becasue he wasnt any good in the class.
I quickly sent her the following reply:

Please don't feel embarrassed to ask for a recommendation. Bob has a lot of good qualities that I will be happy to incorporate into a recommendation. Tell him to bring me the form.

You have a wonderful son, who just needs to mature a little bit. He is lucky to have wonderful, caring parents.
To which she responded:

thank you so muchhhhhhhhhh.I am overwhelm. Thank you so much.

My AP won't agree, but there are some things more important than having a quiet classroom.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Message To My Councilman

Schoolgal suggests we all write to our councilmen and all members of the city council, telling them to vote no on ending term limits for the mayor. You can find your councilman here.

This is the letter I wrote:

As a NYC teacher and resident for over 30 years, I want to ask you to vote no for ending term limits for this mayor.

Mayor Bloomberg has destroyed education in the city of NY. Students now, more than ever are being promoted without knowing anything. Merit pay for administrators is leading to the passing of everyone, no matter how little they know. Principals are reversing teachers grades without any kind of teacher input. Class sizes are still out of control. Millions are being spent on private consulting companies that care little or nothing for our students. Thousands of quality teachers are without a classroom. Many are sitting in rubber rooms on trumped up charges due to a personal conflict with an administrator. They languish there for months before they are even presented with charges and then they never get a fair hearing. The city is wasting millions of dollars here too.

Bloomberg has done little to nothing to help the middle and lower classes of this city. Under his administration, public transportation costs have risen.

Please, if you really care about the children and citizens of NYC, vote NO!!!!!!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Kingdom For A Trash Can

Mr. M is still a trailer teacher. He complained last year, but not nearly as much as I did. He is a mellow kind of guy and, no matter how bad things get, he keeps going. A few years ago, he had to teach with an open umbrella because his roof leaked when the snow melted.

Mr. M doesn't ask for much. Right now, a garbage can in his classroom is all he needs to make him happy. He's been requesting one for over a year. He's continually told that none are available in the building. He has tried using empty cartons, but the custodians just remove them whenever they clean (which is not all that often) so he does manage to have a trash receptacle sometimes.

No garbage can means the papers on the floor and in
the bathroom build up. The place is a pig sty. Maybe Suit's greatest achievement was getting trash cans under the water fountains in the halls, but a greater one might be getting trash cans in every classroom.

Friday, October 03, 2008


OCTOBER 3, 2008

This is the note we all found when we wandered in at 7:00 this morning. NO explanations, just the note.

I didn't have any exams planned for today, so I was not concerned. Ms. Teenie Bopper was not so unconcerned. The marking period ends next week and she was planning on giving her second exam of the period. Telling her at 7:00 on the day the exam was to be given was not nearly enough notice. She bitched and complained (not to Mr. AP, he never comes in that early) and probably cancelled her test.

Surprise, surprise! The fire drill that was planned for period 8 came off period 9! She could have given her exam. All those giving exams period 9 were screwed.

Administrators are allowed to make mistakes and change their minds. They are not in the same category as teachers and should not be expected to act in the same professional manner.

A Pleasant Reason For The Chaos

There was lots of excitement in my 8th period class today. Even the normally "quiet" kids were not so quiet. And, then someone told me about the bird in our court yard. I looked out, and then grabbed my camera. We almost never see birds like this in the city and never in the courtyard, which is surrounded by the building on all four sides.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Update On My (Almost) Brush With RR

It seems Mr AP was very busy Monday afternoon. My class was not the only one he paid a visit to. He visited quite a few of the other repeater classes.

Every teacher had the same reaction I did--wait until the memo comes out on Thursday. All our classes were "wild." Two days off followed by one day of school and then another two days off is not exactly conducive to learning. Attendance was awful. (At least my attendance was good.) He did not say one word to me, but asked another teacher to speak to him after her class. Maybe my class wasn't as bad as I thought it was or maybe it was good compared to what he had seen in the other rooms. Misery loves company and today we all laughed about the observations.

Ms. ATR passed Mr. AP in the hall and said "Hi, how are you doing?" He answered "terrible" and walked away. I'm sure he is very worried about how the kids in these repeater classes will do. A failure on their part is a reflection on him and from what he saw, there is little hope of having great statistics this year. Oh well, this is not my problem. I just go about my business, teaching as usual, and hoping for the best.

The class from hell was even on good behavior today but I don't have confidence that it will last. My motto--one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fighting Fire With Fire

A commenter on one of my last pieces reminded me of a tactic I used years ago when an AP did not like my lesson. This AP was teaching the same, low level prep and having the same problems with the class. I innocently asked if I could observe her. Of course she had to say yes. I walked into her room, equipped with a big yellow pad and pens. I sat in the back and wrote for 40 minutes straight, looking up once in a while to catch her looking extremely uncomfortable. When the period was over, I thanked her and left. She never asked to speak to me about the lesson. She never learned that I doodled the entire period. she never bothered me again.