Sunday, November 30, 2008
So much to write, so little time. I could fill a book but this and the other little blog will have to suffice.
We have a chair shortage at Packemin High. Classes with 34 kids often only have 31 chairs. (Thanks Bloomberg--Keep It Going NYC Public Schools). Being resourceful, we scrounge around and borrow chairs from other rooms.
Mr. P is in the room next door. While I am short three chairs, he has at least four empty ones, so I send my students to get chairs.
Today, Crissy came back all upset. "That man won't give me a chair unless I give him my ID card", she said. I couldn't believe my ears and went to check it out for myself.
Sure enough, Mr. P said "I need my chairs. How can I guarantee they will be returned if I don't hold some identification."
I calmly told Mr. P that the chairs would be brought back, no ID needed. He often leaves the room before the period is over and he leaves with the ID card. He said, "Send your kids out a few minutes early." And then, Ms. Calm lost it. "You teach bell to bell but my kids should lose instructional time to return chairs that don't belong to you. That is not going to happen." I took the chairs and left.
The conversation continued again later in the day but by then I realized as I was talking to Mr. P, I was talking to someone with a pea sized brain and just left.
Many years ago I had a similar problem with a teacher who would not give my class chairs. I solved that problem also. I made sure I arrived much earlier than he did and emptied the room before he arrived! He never even knew the chairs were missing.
Gee, I know things are tight but do we really have to get so possessive of chairs?
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A mother's love is something I never understood. My mother used to drive me crazy with her incessant worrying. I had to call her whenever I went somewhere and when I got home from where I was going (even after I was married). She drove me crazy. And then, something happened, I had my own daughter.
Now, if you ask either of my children, they will tell you that I am not exactly the maternal type. I used to turn the clocks ahead because my little princess could read numbers before she could walk and I wanted her to go to sleep early (dinner at 4, bath at 5 and bed at 6). She knew that I never got up before the clock said 7:00 so I used to distract her until the clock said 7:02. (It took her a while to catch on to that. I enjoyed outsmarting a year old child.) In fact, for years I told everyone that I would never have children, my tropical fish were all that I needed.
If someone had told me how I would feel when I had this child, I would have told them they were nuts. I felt awful while I was pregnant, yet I relished every little kick or movement while she was inside of me.
Words can never come close to expressing the way I felt the first time I held her and how I feel about her, even today, every time I look at her or think about her. Things are not always great between us. I know there have been many times when we did not like each other but there was never one moment when I did not love her. To this day, I can think of no one I love more than I love her (or her brother).
Today, as my precious bundle of joy turns 28, I recall her lying in bed with me, rubbing her bottle all over my belly, to give milk to her unborn precious baby brother, I remember her sitting on the living room floor, cutting out pictures beginning with the letter K and yelling in "how is clock, kitchen?" and her fighting with her first grade teacher because she wanted to use a picture of a knee and a knife as her "k" words. I remember her falling off the podium as she gave her fifth grade salutatorian address, after the principal predicted she would fall because she was always reading. I remember the pain I felt as we packed her off to college. It was as though someone put their hand down my throat and ripped out my heart. I remember the joy when the phone call came telling her that she got the job she wanted with all her heart.
My special, wonderful baby girl lives many hours away from me now. I miss all our theater and museum trips and how she likes to wander the city aimlessly with me. But, I know she is happy. She has a fantastic job, a beautiful house and a very special boyfriend.
Happy birthday daughter. I love you more than you will ever know.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Once upon a time a man appeared in a village and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.
The villagers, seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands at $10 and, as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He next announced that he would now buy monkeys at $20 each. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so scarce it was an effort to even find a monkey, let alone catch it !
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would buy on his behalf.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: "Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has already collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each."
The villagers rounded up all their savings and bought all the monkeys for 700 billion dollars. They never saw the man or his assistant again, only lots and lots of monkeys!
Now you have a better understanding of how the WALL STREET BAILOUT PLAN WILL WORK!!!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Mrs. M was a very good teacher, but a bit unconventional. One day Principal Gotcha decided to pay Mrs. M a surprise visit.
The lesson went well. Mrs. M really knew her stuff and she knew how to keep her class involved and learning. But, Mrs. M did not have that one thing Principal Gotcha wanted more than anything else, a written lesson plan.
Mrs. M was quick on her feet. At the end of the lesson she scurried to the ladies lounge, claiming an excruciating stomach ache. Principal Gotcha, being male, could not follow her inside. Mrs. M immediately sat down, wrote out the details of her lesson and emerged ten minutes later, paper in hand.
Principal Gotcha turned red, accepted the plan and begrudgingly gave Mrs. M the satisfactory rating she well deserved.
Principal Gotcha has been retired for many years. So has Mrs. M. How many new Principal Gotcha's are out there now? We can only pray that there are lots more Mrs. M's to keep them on their toes.
We are so lucky to have our jobs and our health coverage, they say. Look around, they say, see how many people are out of work with no jobs, no income, no health coverage. We should count our blessings, they say.
I tried to be quiet, I really did, nothing they were saying was going to impact on me directly, but then a spark ignited inside of me and I exploded.
Yes, we have it better than other professions but better is not good enough. Why are we accepting mediocrity. Why aren't we standing up for what is right?
I asked the lackey about the union's support of Bloomberg's third term. He answered "Bloomberg was going to get it anyway, why make waves."
I asked the union lackey about ATRs. He said, they just got a great deal from the DOE. Smart principals will hire them in a minute. I reminded him of the fact that principals do not like experienced teachers, that they don't like teachers that think and have minds of their owns. Years ago, principals hid vacancies whenever they could. No one wanted a veteran teacher who would not jump when told to. He said smart principals did not think like that. I said the smart ones were few and far between. He just kept talking about the one smart principal he used to work for.
I aksed the lackey about Randi sabatoging the candlelight vigil for ATRs at Tweed (see the sidebar on ednotes for details). The lacky ignored the question.
The lackey promised there would be no job layoffs, no worry about pensions being funded and no loss of tenure. Will Randi really stand up for us or will she buckle under as she has done in the past?
I asked the lackey about the Keep It Going NYC campaign? The lackey never heard of it.
A colleague asked about how job security was going to be secured at a Green Dot school. The lackey did not have an answer.
Many years ago Eddie Murphy starred in the movie Coming to America, the story of a rich prince coming to the United States to find his true love. Eddie was so spoiled that he even called for the royal wipers when he finished in the bathroom. Well, Randi's wipers are making the rounds of Queens schools these days. These guys make me sick.
Things are different at the college level. J is teaching at the community college I where I teach. The school was desperate for math teachers in September and when the chairman called and asked if I knew anyone who wanted to work, I thought of J immediately.
J retired from Packemin HS for a number of reasons. Here I'll just say it was her age. She was tired of working full time. J was not ready to sit home and jumped at a chance to teach in the college.
Last week J had her first observation there. As much as I tried to reassure her that things would be fine, she was nervous. She loves working there and wanted to make a good impression.
J's observation went great. The person observing her loved the lesson and loved everything she did. She praised J up the kazoo when the lesson was over. J was shocked. She taught for over 30 years and never received an observation that was not full of criticisms.
The person who can do no right in a high school setting does no wrong in a college setting. Life is stranger than fiction. The college would never subject a teacher to the scenerio described in the first paragraph. The college does not play gotcha. In NYC public schools, this happens all the time.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The first career I ever wanted was that of a journalist. My mom convinced me that I would have a hard time earning a living that way. Besides, I hated English classes in school. I could never understand why my teacher thought her way of writing something was better than my way. So, I gave up on English and studied math. It was much harder for me, my grades were not nearly as good but, when something was wrong there was a concrete reason for it to be wrong and a solution that was indisputable.
This blog is my feeble attempt to take a crack, albeit anonymously, at a writing career. I've already tried being an ice cream scooper so all I have left to try in the way of careers is truck driving.
The reason I am writing this post is because of the following e-mail:
Hi,I looked at the website of the guy who sent me this, and it looks legitimate. I'm not sure I want to start with any advertising. After all, this is my blog, and my issues, but it was nice to know people actually read this stuff. I even added the counter on the side to keep stroking my ego.
Who is the contact for discussing advertising on your blog Pissed Off? We have received 5 requests this week for advertising on Pissed Off, and the page has been viewed 64 times.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The only thing harder than being a NYC High School Teacher is being an executioner who is against the death penalty.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yes, Keep It Going, NYC Public Schools, in yellow.
NYC has also increased the number of days a year a teacher must work by adding mindless, waste of time staff development days in August, on Election Day and on Brooklyn-Queens Day. NYC has also lengthened the school day. It is now easy to remove a disgruntled teacher to the rubber room. Thousands of teachers are without classrooms.
The following is a comment Justice left after reading one of my posts. The school system has sucked my heart out also. I get through by concentrating on the kids I am working with, by the kids who come by to share their successes and by hugs I (I know, I should not be taking them) they give me in the halls as they pass me by.
How can I be "human" when I am being treated inhumanly?How can I show compassion when I am treated with contempt?It seems to me that by introducing this "corporate model" of and increasingly privatized public school system "humanity" is not a factor.
You should've have seen with the reverence and fetish ardour Klein and Liebman spoke about the ARIS system that will tell you everything" about your charges in front of you, at this past week PEP meeting at Tweed. They even produced a young corporate type newbie Math teacher who lovingly talked about how ARIS is helping his students. The newbie "talks" to ARIS on his laptop from home. I am sure he does not talk to his colleagues but he talks to the 81 million computer system! Remember HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey?"I have seen the future and it does not work." Zardoz (1973)
Friday, November 21, 2008
I gave the same questions over and over. I drill. I made them flash cards. I hooked them up with individual tutors. I stopped dong proofs. I can't get them to understand.
I asked them to name parallel segments, they gave me angles.
I asked them to fill in _____ lines form right angles. They wrote parallel lines.
They don't bring calculators and subtract incorrectly.
They solve the equation 2x + 4 = 10 by writing 6x = 10.
I have never taught a class where anyone who was working failed the regents. In fact, every regents class I have taught in the last few years has had almost 100% passing. There will be many failures this time.
I should have retired last year. I should have quit while I was ahead.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Edwize just posted a new agreement with Klein. Of course my comment hasn't been posted yet, but I am sure it will be deleted by the powers that be.
Here is a link I hope you will encourage NYC teachers to fill out.It goes to the Obama transition team.
Before I begin, I want to state that I am not an ATR, I am in no danger of becoming an ATR and no one in my family is an ATR.
Billy went to see Administrator Y. He was sure that it was an oversight because such a fine administrator would never renege on a promise to a boy. Administrator Y said "I am a busy administrator. I have lots of work. I have no time to write your recommendation." Billy was crushed. He needed the recommendation as the college office would not send out his college applications without it. Billy finally convinced a teacher to fill one out for him in a hurry.
Would you accept Billy telling you he couldn't do his homework because he was busy? I'm guessing the answer to that is no!
Would you accept an excuse like that from a teacher who was not prepared for his class? I'm guessing the answer to that is no also.
So, why do you think it is alright for you to be busy? Are you the only one busy? Is your time more valuable than every other person's time?
Administrator Y, you took a job that required lots of work. You had to know that before you took the job. Did you want the perks without the responsibility? Were you just tired of being in the classroom? Do you like the prestige of having an office and a title?
Administrator Y, your job has many obligations. Writing this boy's recommendation is one of those obligations. Do what you expect others to do. Or, are you one of those that say Do as I say, not what I do?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've heard this comment over and over and over again from my geometry students.
It is mostly accurate, but not 100% so. They did pass one test. They managed to squeak out a 65 on the integrated math regents or the math A regents which means they know roughly 35% of the material.
And now they are talking about tying our paychecks to student test performance.
"CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY!"
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I just checked. It is only November and I have already written 25 individual letters of recommendation for my students. I'm only counting the letters, each letter has at least 3 or 4 applications attached so the amount of work involved is incredible. There have also been countless forms filled out for the college office. That number will increase once scholarship applications begin.
Before I write a letter of recommendation, I read over the student's resume and personal statement. I also question them as to their goals and interests and try to find the one or two things that will make the subject of the recommendation stand out from all the others.
As I was writing this post an e-mail came from Macaulay Honors Program. They are collecting all their recommendations online this year. So that is another thing I must do. Since I have no computer access at work, those are done at home.
As for brighter kids not needing attention, think again. Would you be happy if your honor child came home from school saying the teacher had no time to help him with a problem? Or, how about, forget that scholarship, Johnny needs me more and I don't have time to fill out your recommendation. Bright kids are just as time consuming, albeit in a different form.
So, all you parents out there with kids with special needs--I feel for you but I feel for these other kids too. They are just as entitled to help and special treatment as everyone else. Too bad there is no federal law protecting them. Don't judge me without having a clue as to what I do! And, as for telling me what I would do if your child was in my class, SORRY, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Technology does nothing to give kids what they really need--the human touch. Kids need to know that the person teaching them cares about their success. These kids need to know that we are proud of their successes and want to help erase their failures. They need the human touch, something that no amount of technology will ever add to the classroom.
Friday, November 14, 2008
IEPS, the things special education teachers spend hour upon hour working on.
IEPs, Individual Education Plans--at least 12 of my geometry students have them.
IEPs, things I have never looked at and have no plans to look at.
IEPs, things I have no time to look at.
IEPs, time that could be better spent helping the students.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Mr. Y needs a quiet spot to relax, have his coffee and prepare for his day at work.
Mr. Y is working in the only peaceful spot around--his car.
Imagine Bloomberg, or Klein or Weingarten or a school administrator having to start their day like this? Pathetic, isn't it?
And now I just heard a rumor that Suit will be getting $700 a day to mentor new Principals. On top of that, it is rumored that he will get at least a $20,000 bonus for the report card grade our school got by his dubious methods. Last year he got all new furniture in his office. The DOE claims they have no money but just spent $80,000,000 on ARIS computer system to track students [and teachers.]
So, the teacher sits in the car, the school aide earns $.43 more an hour and the rich keep getting richer. What a city we live in.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Mathematicamama sent me a site that contains the exit exams for Geometry in Virginia. The problems looked great--exactly the type I would like to use in my class, but I did not want to print 24 pages on my home computer so I saved the e-mail and went to the library to print the exam.
Our library has a total of four computers for staff use. After all the school has almost 5000 kids, 4 staff computers should be plenty, right! I was thrilled to see that two were available. Of course when I sat down to work, I had to restart the computer. We now have individual log in codes and the dunces in my school don't understand the difference between logging out and turning off. I can't believe I have to ask the librarians to put up a sign telling teachers how to log off.
So, I finally restarted the computer, logged on to my e-mail and got the site up and running. I hit print, and waited for my beautiful questions to appear. Nothing happenned. I checked. There was paper and toner in the machine. The librarian couldn't find the problem and promised to call for help, which was no help for me. I already wasted 20 minutes of my lunch period and quite frankly after teaching four periods in a row, I was not in the mood for that nonsense.
I'm not exactly a shrinking violet so I ran down to APO office and started bitching about wasting time and the crappy conditions we are forced to work in. She felt bad and let me use her computer which was good but I couldn't get back my wasted time.
I guess the school feels we teachers must lose some weight. We don't need lunch. But, I am fed up (and not because I am getting too much to eat.) They want us to use all this new technology but having a working computer and printer is too much to ask for.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I e-mailed this boy his test grade and the picture I took of him at Haagen Daz (including his face) and got this in reply:
woah ms are you serious!!! wow i never ever got that hight grade in mathbefore!!! wow YOUR THE BEST TEACHER EVER!!! thanks
Am I really ready to give this stuff up? Do I really want to retire? I'm so confused. One minute it is yes and then an e-mail like this. I think I need professional help.
Monday, November 10, 2008
My husband and son say all I ever do is bitch, bitch bitch. Whether it is on this blog or in a letter to the editor, I bitch. They claim I never say anything positive about my school. Well, sit back, that is about to change right here.
One of the most important things a student can do before choosing a college is to go visit it. My own kids put one foot on some campuses and knew the school was not for them. How they knew, I don't know, but they knew.
Many of my students are inner city kids with no way to visit schools outside the city. Our new college advisor is arranging school tours for these kids. Next week they are going to Stonybrook. Monday they went to Cornell and Binghamton. I used to hate missing a day of instruction but in my old age I realize there is more to life than math (I know, that is hard to believe) and I encourage participation on these trips. But, I still hate to miss a day of work.
I had an epiphany today. Why not give them the work to do on the bus? It has to take at least 4 hours to get to Cornell. There are plenty of smart kids on the trip. Why waste the time listening to I-pods and chatting with friends when they could be doing math?
I quickly ran off extra copies of the day's lesson and ran it down to the lobby, where the kids were meeting. At first, I was greeted with not as much enthusiasm as I expected. But, when I explained that I was worried about them being bored on the bus and that after all, I was the only teacher worried about this. They should be thanking me instead of complaining. Grudgingly, they accepted the assignment and those without pens scrounged around for them. I did get a few thanks out of some. I hope they really meant it.
Next week I will be more prepared for the trip. I'll remind them a day in advance to pack writing equipment along with their cell phones and I-pods.
I love these kids. I love how my school is helping them get ready for their future.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Now that it is known that I write a blog (most people still don't know how to find it, thank goodness) I am being hit with all kinds of things to write about. It seems I am not the only person who likes to bitch and rant. This message is to all of you out there who want their stories told:
This is my blog. It is my place to rant and rave, not yours. You are too timid to open your mouth and speak the truth. You refused to put your name on a petition to end the music or stop the brain teasers because you did not want to make waves. You picked up the paper off the floor. You went to the end term party because you were afraid of repercussions if you did not show up. Don't expect me to speak for you.
I will not use this blog to bring anyone down. You might not be getting along with an administrator and that administrator might be wrong but deal with it on your own. Your trailer was trashed but you did nothing. You did not complain about the lack of security outside. I don't care if your C-6 partner is not showing up to do his or her share of the work. That is your problem, not mine.
You would not stand with me in the past. I took heat for what I believed in. Now, S**T OR GET OFF THE POT. Write your own blog. Write your own letters. Open your mouth and speak up for yourself.
Again, MY BLOG, MY ISSUES!
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I saw a sample of what the new geometry regents will look like.
I have hope.
I think I can get most of them to pass.
It will take a lot of work and a lot of revision in what I teach, but I BELIEVE I can do it!
MY KIDS WILL PASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, November 07, 2008
I tried doing the same types of things in this school. In the beginning, I participated in our International Festival. Only here, it was not fun. The people in charge were rigid and got angry at our two left feet and our lack of talent. I went to basketball games but found many times I was the only faculty member present. I attended every concert and play. Eventually, I stopped going. And then Suit became principal. He tried to run the school as if it was one big summer camp and he knocked out the little wind that was left in my sails. Not attending school functions was, in my mind, a good act of defiance. There was no way I could be found insubordinate because I did not go to a school party.
I've often thought about what I would have done if I did not become a teacher . My first career choice would have been driving an 18 wheeler with huge smoke stacks across country. That career will have to wait until I retire, but I already checked out the nearest tractor trailer school and I plan on following up on this dream soon.
Students enjoying ice cream after their team practice.
One of my geometry kids enjoying a pint of vanilla--my favorite subject. I wish I could show the expression on this kid's face as he ate away. He was in heaven. This kid was giving me a hard time in the beginning but we are bonding now and he is doing great. Too bad I didn't know about his love of ice cream. I would have had something to share with him earlier in the year.
My had scooping chocolate-chocolate chip. For me, a dream come true. (My husband knows I am a cheap date!)
We're not singing, but we still can't please everyone. Some higher ups, the mayor, the chancellor, the principals, assistant principals, etc, will never be pleased with what we, the classroom teacher do. If we jumped the fire, they would claim the flame was too low. If we flew through hoops, they would want to know why they were not higher above the ground.
Years ago, in my youth, I worried about pleasing these people. When someone in power walked in my room, I broke out in hives. Now, I've reduced the feeling to butterflies which quickly disappear as soon as they leave. Old age brings wisdom, the wisdom to know that no matter what I do, some people will never be satisfied. I have come to terms with this. My goal is to help my students the best way I can. I can't help them all and but I will never ever do some of the new fangled stuff being shoved down the teachers' throats. I'm lucky. I've been left alone to keep the POd show going because, for the most part, it works. I'm lucky, I have tenure, age and years and untouchable, as long as I do my job.
A friend from another school is not so lucky. His AP hates him. No matter what he does, no matter how hard he works, no matter how good his results are, it is not enough. My friend is miserable. His stomach is in knots all the time. Try as I might, I can't convince him to relax. He is a 20 year veteran teacher who just has a few years to go. He will never make his AP happy.
I sent him a recording of Garden Party. I hope he gets the message.
As for me, I'd rather drive the truck.