Saturday, January 31, 2009

NY Times Article

Schoolgal wrote this on a comment but it needs a post of its own. This is dedicated to Mr/Ms Directness and all the other people who think like they do.

I will reprint the NYTimes article here. Note, not once did Randi protest Klein's use of the word "undesirable" or call this new measure unfair and discriminatory. It took her 3 years to wake up only because some ATRs took this to court.

Klein Halts Plan to Make Schools Take Unassigned Teachers
Published: September 2, 2006

On the eve of the new academic year, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein abruptly scrapped plans to impose a hiring freeze that would have forced principals to fill any last vacancies with unassigned teachers already in the system.

Mr. Klein said yesterday that it was more important for principals to choose their own staff than it was for the city to place potentially undesirable veteran teachers who must stay on the payroll even if no school offers them a position.

The decision to lift the freeze, just hours before it was to begin, was aimed at bolstering Mr. Klein’s position in a labor dispute over 44 unassigned assistant principals. To circumvent provisions in their contract that would force the assistant principals on principals who do not want them, Mr. Klein said he would created unneeded jobs for them, wasting as much as $5.2 million.

His stance on teachers once again allowed Mr. Klein to portray himself as a champion of autonomy and authority for principals.

City education officials said they believed most of the unassigned teachers would find jobs in the system. But Mr. Klein’s move raised at least a possibility that the city could be forced to pay the salaries of as many as 1,500 unassigned teachers, at a cost of nearly $100 million.

Officials said that 1,001 veteran teachers had yet to find positions and that about 500 newly hired teachers were also awaiting assignments.

Mr. Klein said unassigned teachers would be used as substitutes. “We will assign them to permanent substitute basis,” he said. “That may have some cost implications, but it’s costlier, I believe, to force individuals on a school.”

The number of teaching vacancies fluctuates, but has ranged from about 400 to 800 recently, ahead of the opening of school on Tuesday, said Elizabeth Arons, the system’s chief executive for human resources. Last year, the system carried 200 to 250 teachers without regular assignments on its payroll.

The city and the principals’ union — which represents both principals and assistant principals — are locked in a bitter contract dispute, and Mr. Klein has said that the seniority provisions are a major impediment. The provisions allow veteran assistant principals without assignments to bump junior colleagues who are not permanently appointed, potentially upending efforts by principals to build cohesive teams.

The union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said management failures by the chancellor’s office, rather than the contract, were the reason the 44 assistant principals did not have jobs.

Last year, the teachers’ union agreed to relinquish similar bumping rights in exchange for a transfer system that allows teachers to apply for openings citywide. Mr. Klein said yesterday that those changes were among the most important of his tenure because principals for the first time “have the authority to hire people who are aligned with their vision, their mission.”

Jill S. Levy, the president of the supervisors’ union, said she was willing to negotiate changes but has accused Mr. Klein of blaming the contract for his own failures. The union said 37 of the 44 vacancies were caused by the administration’s closing or downsizing schools.


Let's Get One Thing Straight

There are hundreds of ATRs out there that do not have regular teaching jobs through no fault of their own.

They taught at schools that were closed down.

They taught programs that were discontinued.

They are over 30 years old.

They are not young and beautiful.

They don't belong to the right ethnic group.

They have been teaching for more than 5 years.

They have been union members speaking out for people like you and your children.

The UFT sold them out when they gave up the right of seniority transfers and the Principal's got the right to hire only those that fit the mold.

I'm not an ATR. I don't like change and by staying in the same school for more than 20 years I have unknowingly protected myself. My school is a good school so it is not likely to be closed down or reorganized. I teach math so there is no way that my position can be done away with. I am safe.

But, suppose I was not the teacher described above. Would it matter that I have been teaching for over 30 years? Would it matter that I am well liked by parents and students? Would it matter that I always get good results and that I spend countless hours of my own time helping my students? Would this have meant anything?

No Principal would ever higher me. Once I leave this job, I know the door will be slammed behind me. Exit only. Unlike years before, retired teachers who changed their minds were welcomed back. Once I leave I know no one will let me come back. (That is why I am holding on now--until I am sure I am really ready to go.)

Check out this article in the Chief to read about this ATR art teacher who has done for more for her students than all you doubters out there will ever know.

Our wonderful union is running workshops on how to interview and how to write a resume. These people are not incompetents. They know how to do this. Our union is making videos to show them off. Since when have teachers become pets to show off in a store window?

All you newbies out there, think ahead. If you are fortunate, you will one day be a senior teacher like the ones out there now. You too might be an ATR. Maybe you should start taking an active role in the union now.

Let's stop blaming the ATRs for the position they are in. Let's stop blaming everyone and put these teachers back in the classroom where they belong and where they want to be. Let's help the city solve its budget crisis by letting the people already on the city payroll do the job they were hired to do.

I know that this blog is an open forum for people to comment and to express their thoughts but some of those words make me sick.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Student's Perspective Of Math B Regents

A former student e-mailed me asking for his regents grade. He is a very bright boy, did exceptionally well in my class and was extremely worried. I sent him his mark and told him to write to Albany and tell them what an unfair exam it was. I even sent him a copy of the letter I sent. Here is his response. The thing that struck me the most in his letter was that he felt all the studying he did was a waste of time. Since this regents was so different,doing the old ones did not help.

Wow, that's a real good letter, i really hope they take it into consideration. I was looking at all the question you mentioned, and i looked them up in the Math B January 2009 Regents and key online, and everything you said was true about them. Also about raising the raw passing score was the first thing i went to look for and i couldn't believe they raised it to 49, that's when i started worrying about myself passing. I hope they do take in consideration for these questions and give everyone the benefit of the doubt and give the full credit for those questions. Yea, also i was telling Daniel that i felt doing the old regents was kind of a waste of time since it didn't really help much on the actual regents. So this letter is also exactly how the students felt, hopefully all the complaints they are getting will persuade hem to fix something. It didn't surprise me that you would appeal, your one of the few dedicated teachers n the school, glad i had you as a teacher last year.

My Favorite Post Of The Year

Break A Leg ATR's


UFT Dues

From every paycheck our union takes $47.27.

What are we getting for this?

The union is running ads on prime time television showing an art teacher in a well equipped room working with two students. Is this reality? I think not. How does this commercial improve my working conditions? Doesn't a lie like this feed into Bloomberg and Klein's Keep It Going NYC Public Schools campaign? Doesn't this support them instead of us?

The union is running worthless and insulting workshops for ATRs. These bright, intelligent and experienced people being told they cannot find a job because of what they are doing, not because of how the union sold them out. My dues is being used for this nonsense too.

I know we need a union but, we need a union that works for us, not against us. The UFT of today is not that union.

Thanks to Mrs. Tsouris, the inspiration for this post.

Good Morning Sunshine....

I got an automated response to the letter I sent Albany about the Math B regents. I just called but no one picks up. I guess these guys don't work afternoons on a Friday. Here is the response. Use the phone number. PLEASE CALL!!! It might not do any good, but we have to let them know how we feel.

Good Morning Ms. POd:

Thank you for contacting the Office of State Assessment. Please contact our office by calling 518-474-5902 and ask to speak with a representative about your concerns with the Math B examination. I hope this information is helpful to you. Thank you for your feedback. This is a crucial part of the test development process.

Eileen Becker

Office of State Assessment, Communications

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Give The Kids A Fighting Chance

The results for the math B exam are in. (Big discussion about the exam over at JD2718. They are not good. Only about 50% of the kids passed. The exam was not only hard, but did not even fairly represent what was taught. There was a logarithmic regression on the exam. The kids never did these. And, to top it off the calculator only does natural logarithmic regressions which use a different base and natural logarithms are not even taught until pre-calculus. The course has so much material in it, I can't understand why a topic like this has to be asked.

There was also a question on the mean and standard deviation. This is a question that can be answered by pushing a few buttons on a calculator. Doing this requires no understanding of the topic being taught. In spite of this, the powers that be decided pushing buttons was worth 4 points.

Missing from the non multiple choice questions of this exam were trigonometric equations, trigonometric graphs and probability. These are topics taught and emphasized in the third part of the course, the part most recently in the minds of our students.

It was interesting watching the kids reaction when they left this exam. Many were confident that they did well. After all, the only other math regents they ever took was Math A, where if you breathe on your own, you pass, they expected this exam to be the same. The cut off for passing on this exam was much higher than on the math B exam and while their raw scores were much higher than the score they received in math B, the conversion was much worse. (49 was passing--out of 86 points) The poor little girl with the Ms POd on her shoulder only got a 39.

Some administrators think that the teacher should be able to predict accurately how a student will do on these exams. Very few of my predictions would have come true. Kids I gave charity passing grades to last year came through with grades in the 70's and 80's. (I had to plead with Mr. AP to let me pass one of these kids.) Others who did very well, bombed this exam badly.
Merry was one of my students last year. I got to know her when she was a tenth grader, struggling through Math A. She came to tutoring every day and did well on the regents exam. Math B has been a struggle, but until this term, she always succeeded. She has spent countless hours studying and going for tutoring. She spent all day Saturday in school getting extra help.
When I told her she scored a 50 on the exam, I started to cry. Then she started to cry and we cried together. She knows her stuff but panics easily and then the knowledge she has flies out of her head. Just a few more straight forward questions would have given Merry her passing grade.

My students will be taking the geometry regents in June. I worry about how they will do. Not for me, I am a hardening my heart against criticism from Mr. AP. I worry for them. These kids have low self esteem, especially when it comes to math. I would hate to see it go any lower.

Anyone Wishing to Protest The Math B Regents Exam

Steven Katz

Office of State Assessment

89 Washington Ave

Room 775


Albany, NY 11234

or email him at:

( I did both! Sorry Mr. AP-I know you don't like it when I do these things.)

I'm going to do it now. We've got to stop these numbnuts in Albany from creating exams like this one and hurting our kids.


The cast of characters continues here.

The Dinger Calls

The phone rings at 10:15 PM. We worry. We're old and our phone never rings that late unless something is wrong. I look at the caller ID and see my friend Dinger's name. I answer the phone and say "What's wrong with your graphing calculator?" Dinger laughs. He can't figure out how to get the y1 to show up so he can graph a linear regression. He spent 30 minutes working on it and then remembered his old friend POd and decided to stress no more.

Dinger and I have a long graphing calculator history. For a brilliant math guy, he is totally brain dead when it comes to any kind of technology. He has kept a whole group of us entertained for years with his graphing calculator (and computer) woes. A few years ago he called up because he couldn't get rid of his "dots". They were all over his screen and he thought his calculator had the measles. When my husband told him I was out of town, he got visibly upset. He called my cell phone so I could help him with his dots. Dinger carries his graphing calculator with him, whenever we are together. He even had it at his daughter's wedding. He always has some problem with it and counts on me to help him out. Dinger taught AP calculus the year I was on sabbatical and called me from his classroom when he could not figure something out.

To know Dinger is to love Dinger and everyone that has ever come in contact with him feels the same way about him. Many years ago, when all the math teachers in Queens met in the same place for staff development, I had a brilliant idea. I had everyone add a note to the evaluation form proclaiming Dinger, from XXXX High School, the calculator guru. These forms made it to the superintendent's office and then back to Dinger's AP, who knew the true man. Everyone had a good laugh at Dinger's expense (including Dinger--he has a great sense of humor.)

We were on the phone quite a while. It only took 20 seconds for the phone to ring after I had hung it up. It was Dinger again. He checked the time on our conversation and it was 32 minutes and 32 seconds. He had to call back to tell me how mathematical our call was.

I don't get to see Dinger and the rest of our gang as much as I would like. But when I do see him, or even speak to him, I remember that he is one of the people responsible for my love of teaching. He was always smiling and happy. He loved the kids and he loved teaching. He was never too busy to stay late or come in early to help a kid. He was always ready to pick up a basketball and shoot hoops in the school gym. Dinger is only a few years older than I am and was only teaching a few years before I started teaching, but I learned so much from him. All future generations of teachers need a Dinger of their own.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Belle Finally Has Her Celebration

Belle's friends were never really happy that her party was cancelled. She was a great teacher and still is a great friend. Tonight, a whole bunch of us took her out to dinner. She thought she was going with one person and was happy to see the whole gang when she walked in.

It wasn't fancy. No one got dressed up. No one made speeches. We already gave her the gift. It was just a nice dinner with friends. Our great friend got honored.

I know you don't read this blog (thank goodness there is still one person out there that knows me that doesn't read this!) but this is what is in my heart for you:

Belle, I am so honored to have worked with you. I valued you as a colleague and will always value you as a friend. Enjoy your retirement. You earned it.

Advice Needed

A seventeen year old girl had her NYS health insurance cancelled because she used it too much.

She is sick and needs some medical attention but can't get it for lack of insurance.

No one in the school seems to know where she can turn for help. We've checked with guidance, the health office, the social worker and the parent coordinator (who at least has a few ideas).

This girl is being abused by the system.

I'm looking for any real advice I can get to pass on to her.

Ms Nose In The Air


Snowy Regents Day

My park

My bus shelter

I saw the snow, got scared and took the bus. I love my metro card. I always have one with extra money on it in my wallet.
Why risk my car and my safety on roads like these when I live and work in places easily accessible by public transportation.

This poor guy looked miserable. He is here from California for four months and he is not enjoying the weather at all.

Me, I adjusted my I-pod, took out my camera and enjoyed my trip.
View from the bus window

All we had at to do in school today was mark a few regents exams. It was an easy day. Too easy a day to stay home.

I still want this guy's job!
Teacher footprints in the snow

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Little Ms POd On My Shoulder

When Ginny saw me after the Math B regents, she ran over and gave me a big hug. Since Ginny is not a particularly good math student, I was wondering why?

"Ms. POd", she said. "I was failing math but Mr. P said he would pass me if I passed the regents. He didn't think I could possibly pass. I know I passed. He only taught me 1/3 of the work. I learned the other 2/3 from you last year. While doing the exam I felt like I had a Ms. POd sitting on my shoulder yelling out things like CPCTC. I'm bringing you a big bouquet of flowers when I get my grade."

I don't know if Ginny passed or not. It is nice to know that she felt confident about the things she learned in my class. I do know, that the papers I marked from the kids I taught last year, the proofs were right. I'm going to look for Ginny's paper as soon as we finish marking tomorrow. She made my day!

Like A Bat Out Of Hell

There is nothing like creating a warm, comforting environment for kids taking a regents exam, especially when these children have unsuccessfully taken the exam before.

YOU CAN REMOVE THE GIRL FROM THE BRONX BUT THE BRONX CAN NEVER BE REMOVED FROM THE GIRL. The Bronx in me demanded this story be told. Sorry, it is only being told here.


Not the scrambled kind of eggs, the electronic grading kind.

Grades are due tomorrow and it took me twenty minutes to find an available computer to work on in school today.

The four computers in the library just don't cut the mustard for a school this size.

Thank you resource room teachers for allowing me to use yours.
(I did finish my grades before I wrote this post!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

See You Guys In A Week...

The hawk was back so I took out my camera in hopes of getting another picture. I guess it was good that it was not around. The kids always go nuts when they watch this guy devouring a squirrel.

While the camera was out, I asked if I could take a picture of T. If he only put the same effort into math that he puts into coordinating his clothing he would not be stressing over whether he is passing this class or not.
These two had to get into the action and get a picture taken. I managed to use photoshop to crop out the faces. Too bad I can't show them. The boys eyes twinkle. The boy is really trying to pass this class (too bad he started trying so late in the term) and the girl is a pain in the you know where. The kids were working on a practice sheet for our "Last Chance Harvey" exam. (One last test to try to pass the semester--they seem to relate to movies better than they relate to math.) And, surprisingly enough, it worked!

Being A Saver Pays Off

If you keep things long enough, they will be back in fashion.

I bought these boots in the mid 1980's. The kids went wild over them. They are the exact style they are wearing today.

Another Departmental Conference

Details here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

UFT Newspaper

I only read the UFT paper to for two things. One is to see if anyone I know has died. The other is to check for special events. Last month, there was an offer for Shrek. The price, $109, was not cheap, but it was better than the box office price and I decided to treat us to a show that was not on TDF. All I can say is that it was worth the money. It was just a fun, lively show. The music and special effects were fantastic.

We got there early. It was so cold we decided to walk around the American Craftsman (52 St and 7th Avenue). I found this great new kitchen clock. I'm a sucker for anything with a face. The weirder the expression the better it is.
I was pretty upset reading this month's union rag--all that talk about how the UFT is doing so much to help the ATRs, teaching them how to write resumes and to go on interviews, as if these intelligent, experienced adults are clueless and then I thought of these tickets and the show I would not have seen without the paper. I just have to remember to turn away from the ugly pages without reading them.

Don't Judge This Book By Its Cover

How do you write a recommendation letter for someone you believe in, someone who has really grown, someone who has a transcript that is far from inspirational. Here is my attempt. I hope it helps.

To Whom It May Concern:

John Smith is a young man whose intellect and virtues go far beyond what the numbers on his transcript represent. To evaluate the true John, a person must know him and know the tremendous strives he has made in the last year.

John is an extremely bright young man. When I first met him, school was a place he came to spend time and he did not take it too seriously. Over the course of the year, he slowly matured and began to realize that an education was very important. Slowly, at first, he began solving difficult problems. He was able to reason out solutions to examples that baffled others. His test grades improved. He now regrets the errors of his ways and is planning on a bright future. John is so concerned about doing well that he spends most of his free time getting extra help in many areas. Now, he is not concerned about passing. He just wants his grades to soar.

John told me that he plans on studying engineering in college. He knows it will be a
long, difficult journey. He knows he has to make up some of the areas he slacked off in during his high school years. I know he is ready to do this. His mind is sharp and inquisitive. He is determined. He is more than ready for this challenge. My own son studied computer engineering in college and is now a successful engineer. He too had to grow into school. I see in John the same qualities my son has.

Any school that John attends will benefit from having this bright, funny, kind, caring, virtuous young man as part of their student body. I recommend him highly.

Sincerely yours,

Ms POd
Math teacher

Saturday, January 24, 2009

To The Teachers Who Molded Me

A special thank you to some of the teachers I have had. You gave so much more than academics. You helped me become the kind of teacher I wanted to be.

From JHS 113, in the Bronx

To Mr. O'Leary who took a whole bunch of us to Chinese restaurant for lunch in his little Volkswagon bug. He did not say a word when I ordered a lettuce and tomato sandwich.

From Evander Childs HS, also in the Bronx

To Mr. Josephs the English teacher who met with us in a neighborhood church during the teacher's strike in the 60's.

To Mrs. Nierenblatt, the economics teacher who invited us all to her fancy house in New Rochelle to celebrate our successes.

To Mr. Stohler, (I think I might have his name slightly wrong), the academic team's advisor who drove us there.

To Mrs. Palley who took us out to lunch to celebrate the perfect score we got on our regents exams.

To Mr. Sodicow, the ARISTA advisor and English teacher who claimed to hate us all but spent hours after school working on special projects with us.

I hope there will be a day when students will have these good memories of me and what I tried to do for them.

A Good Way To Spend A Saturday Morning

Spending time outside of school tutoring my students is nothing new to me. It is something I have always done since my first days teaching. My colleague friends always did it to and we never thought twice about the number of hours we spent doing it. Our classrooms were always open early in the morning and they were filled with kids looking for extra help. We held review sessions during regents week and the kids piled in also. It never occurred to any of us that this was something we should not be doing. It wasn't even until I started at my present school that I learned teachers could actually get paid for staying extra to do this.

Helping my students is a big part of who I am. Maybe its my insecurity, my belief that if I was better at my job, they would be doing better in class. I don't know. I just know it is what I do. Years ago, before we had to worry about consequences of getting too close to students, I used to hold review sessions in my basement. I would take my kid's big blackboard, we sat around the basement floor and worked for hours. My own kids grew up watching my students learn. It is too dangerous to do this now so all my tutoring is confined to school. Over the years, I've worked with them on soccer fields, in gyms and in lunchrooms.

This semester I have no regents classes but a few weeks ago it occurred to me that no tutoring was being offered for the Math B regents. Thank you Mayor Bloomberg for cutting our budget so no funds are available for this. I started getting nervous. Although these kids are not mine now, about 60 of them were mine last year for the first two-thirds of the term. They weren't the strongest math students and I wondered how they would do without extra help. So, what is a nut like me to do? I held a regents review session this morning. Most of the kids are on the senior trip this weekend (a stupid weekend for this since it is right before regents exams and every senior must take at least one exam) and I did announce this at the last minute, but I had a decent turn out. The kids showed up at 10:00 AM (some were there much earlier) full of questions and topics to be clarified. I went over everything they asked and taught them some "legal cheating" (ways to beat the system using the graphing calculator). All in all, it was a great morning. It got my adrenaline going and I feel ready to come home and conquer the world.

I don't do per session. If money was offered, I would have left the tutoring to others. The paltry amount I would receive could not compensate my weekend of lost time. Doing what I did today is what works for me. The reward I got from these kids as they left the room is better than any paycheck I will ever receive. I intend to do the same thing for the kids in my geometry classes who take the regents in June.

Many years ago, when I first started in my present school, a veteran teacher said, "In this school, we don't tutor students." I answered, "This teacher does." That teacher is long gone. This teacher will be gone soon. I'm hoping the new crop of teachers will be more like this than that.

Please Send Money

Dear Fellow Constituent:

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages
and accepting donations.

The Library will include:

1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
7. The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
8. The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
9. The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
10. The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make
you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
11. The Dick Cheney Room, in an undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
13. The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
14. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite
Republican Senators.
15. The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija
board, dice, coins, and straws.

Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate
and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W.Bush:

1. 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
2. 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
3. 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother
and child.'
4. 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription
drugs and medicine.'
5. 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and
democracy - but that could change.'
6. 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and
that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
7. 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
8. 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments
in the future.'
9. 'The future will be better tomorrow.'
10. 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world..'
11. 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some
fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)
12. 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not
having it.'
13. 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
14. 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the
impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
15. 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'...George W.Bush
to Sam Donaldson


Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair
G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Friday, January 23, 2009

Should We Program On Grades Alone?

Should kids only be programmed on grades? Does a number say it all? How about the the human touch? What is wrong with undertanding why the grade came about and take other things into consideration.

Case one: Farah is in a specially created math class for slower learners. Her teacher is going at a nice, slow pace and building her confidence. Farah is finally getting the math and getting grades in the 90's. Should Farah be moved into an honor class? Does the 90 mean Farah no longer needs the TLc she is being given?

Case two: Luis is brilliant but very hyperactive. In tenth grade, he chewed up an empty coke can because it was there. Luis does not always perform well on exams because his mind works quicker than his pen but anyone observing him would see that he is miles ahead of everyone in the room. Should Luis be doomed to slower classes his whole life because of his test grades? [Luis was my student. I realized early on how bright he was and arranged for him to be on the math team. Luis is now in his junior year at a major university studying computer engineering.]

Case three: Karla cut half the semester. When she decided to stop cutting, she returned to class and her grades soared. Her final grade was still quite low due to poor attendance and missing exams and homeworks. Should she be programmed baded on this grade?

Case four: Donald would come into class and swing from the ceiling lights. He had trouble focusing, partly because of his ADD and partly because he was bored. He was placed in a slow class based on this grade? Was that the correct thing for Donald?

Revenge Is Sweet

The kids took the second half of the geometry midterm yesterday. They felt confident and did surprisingly well. In class today, all I heard was,"Ms, did you mark the exams?" When I replied "Yes" I got the follow up question "Can you tell me what I got?"

I kept my cool and replied, "NO!!!!! You guys tortured me all term and now I get my revenge. You have to wait until Monday to find out your score." They begged and pleaded. They needed the grade to get out of punishments. I did not budge. They said, "Why are you making us suffer?" I just said "Revenge is sweet."

I gave them a practice sheet for our "Second Chance Harvey" exam on Monday. They actually worked hard on it. The sick part of me is looking forward to preparing them for the regents in June. It should be a wild and interesting ride.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Uniform Exams

My opinion of uniform exams.

The Things Kids Say

Judy stopped me in the hall. The following conversation transpired:

Judy: Ms, are you dying your hair?

Me: Yes, after two years of you, if I didn't I would be totally white. You would even have sucked the gray out of me.

Judy: You mean 2 and a half years of me. [She smiled as she said this.]

Judy walked away laughing. She drove me crazy but she knew I loved her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm So Confused

I know, anyone reading this is saying "NOT AGAIN!" I can't help it. I'm compulsive. I want to do what is best for my geometry kids and I don't know what the right thing to do is.

Originally we were told that the kids were staying in geometry the entire year, no matter how poorly they were doing. I took this to mean, I better convince them that they can pass. Of course, many can't but I've put on my cheer leading outfit, broken out my best cheers and I am pushing them on. I'm pushing them to at least get a 50 and I'm promising to change the grade to passing if they manage to pass next semester. You still can't hear a pin drop, but most are starting to work. Even some of the real airheads are starting to get it. I made sure I did and redid every problem on the first part of the midterm so many times that they would be able to do it on the exam. They saw that I wasn't feeding them a line of BS and that if they listened they can pass. Maybe, like the Obama supporters out there, they are starting to BELIEVE.

So, what is the problem with all of this? We were just told that the kids who are failing (below 50) can be placed in a different class next term where they will concentrate on the algebraic skills we tried to tell Suit last year they lacked. My dilemma is do I give them a grade under 50 and move them into an easier class or do I keep plugging away, pray the regents will be easy and have a low cut off score to pass, and just try to teach them enough math to pass the course as it is. (They do not need this regents to graduate.) I want to know if they will learn more with me in geometry or more in another classroom, repeating algebra. So many of the kids that are put back end up in a cycle of repeating class after class after class. The things that they don't know now have been taught to them a zillion times and they might never learn them.

I hate being in a position where I am playing G-d with their lives. This one little decision on my part can be a make or break decision for the rest of their lives. What gives me the right to decide who goes on and who does not? Maybe if I did things differently more would be passing. I wanted to be able to give them an easier course but now that I have that option I don't know if I should take it. I'm so confused! Is there any help for me? I need a vacation.

Instead Of A Feed....

Too many people from my school are reading this blog. People who I don't know and can't imagine how they know me are reading and coming up and telling me they read. My bitchy side must really go undercover. If you are on the list, you can check out the latest at Packemin HS. If you are not on the list, don't feel you are missing anything. Most of my stuff is just mindless dribble, nothing much reading anyways.

Since the feed does not work, I will post here whenever there is anything over there to read.

Good Bye, My Old Friend

Good bye old blue jeans. I've worn you off and on for over 20 years, enjoying the times you fit well, agonizing when you were too tight and worrying when you were too loose. I haven't been able to find a pair as comfortable as you.

Your threads are getting thin. I've managed to fix a few of your little holes but I fear there is no help for the ones forming now. I cannot even cut you to shorts as your material is just too weak to withstand any wear.

I will miss you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change We Can Believe In

In the early 1940's my dad was sent to Biloxi Mississippi for basic training. One day, on leave, he took the bus into town. Being exhausted he took the only available seat. People glared at him. The bus did not move. Finally, someone yelled "No whites in the back." My father, confused, then embarrassed moved to the front and stood. He was a young kid from the Bronx and had never heard of this policy.

Today, over sixty years later, my dad is proud to watch the swearing in of our first African American president. He is happy to have lived long enough to see the hatred he saw first hand in Biloxi gone.

One of the African American males in one of my classes proudly held up the first page of a newspaper and proudly hailed the first African American president. The kid said something slightly obscene afterwards and I told him what he said was an insult to the man who has become our next president. He surprisingly agreed with me and sat down quietly. I then said, Obama might be the first but he won't be the last! The kid smiled from ear to ear and got to work.

The speech was broadcast throughout the school. I usually hate anything that wastes class time, but this was good way to spend time. This was history in the making.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Productive Weekend

My birthday cheesecake. They decorated my friend's plate and we had to move the candle to my cake.
The best part of the restaurant--the bathrooms. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I love bathrooms and photograph them wherever I go.

1. My friends and I celebrated my birthday at Grand Luxe Cafe. I highly recommend skipping this place. The food was not that great. The service was awful and the manager was nasty. Even after complaining a number of times, they put the birthday candle on the wrong dessert and decorated the wrong plate. All in all, it was a fun night. I love my friends and it was great being with them.

2. Saw Gran Torino and enjoyed it immensely. It was wonderful to see a movie before it made it to television.

3. Got to visit my dad. I usually see him every weekend but was about to bow out this weekend due to weather when the sun came out yesterday afternoon. We played a couple of hot games of Rummy Q and had a good time together.

4. Saw 21 on DVD. Being a math teacher and a wannabe card counter, I loved the movie.

5. Saw Defiance today with some good friends. I actually saw two can't believe I saw two first run movies in one weekend and got to catchup with friends at the same time. The movie by my house was recently redone and on Mondays, ladies only pay $4.50. My husband was complaining about there being no Man's day, but that's life. Since all our money is our money, we still saved on my admission.

6. Dinner at Grimaldi's--coal oven pizza at its finest.

7. Marked the first half of my geometry classes midterm exams and put those marks into excel. The marks weren't all that bad. The class average was 28/40 (70% for you non-math people.) I'm still not expecting much on the next part, but I'll have to wait for Wednesday to find out.

And now, to figure out what to teach tomorrow.

Different Day, Same Issues

Ednotes posed a question from a math teacher. Another teacher, Saddleshoe, Although I commented there, I had to vent here as well. If we don't do something soon there will be no hope for future generations.

(Pictures from an earlier post)

No matter what I do, half the kids in my geometry class are clueless. I'm not talking about the kids that do nothing, I'm talking about the kids that try.

I decided to take the suggestion of an administrator and talk to the kids about their problems. One of the kids I work with a lot just showed me his PSAT scores. He only scored 34% in the critical reading category. If the child can't read and pick out details, he can't put clues together to solve a geometry proof. Figuring out whether he has consecutive angles or opposite angles in a parallelogram is beyond his scope of understanding. They know that the distance formula is used to show line segments are congruent, they repeat this over and over. They know that a triangle is isosceles if two sides are equal. On exams, they use the slope formula to do proofs involving these concepts. Another kid showed me his math score which was 29%. How can this kid be expected to learn geometry either?

The administrator suggested I talk to other teachers and see if they are having the same problems. I asked Mr. P how his class was doing. He said "Fine". I asked, "Approximately what percent of your class is passing?" He answered, "I have no idea. I don't look at those things." I did hear him and another teacher agonizing as they marked the first part of the midterms about the same mistakes my students make.

One boy told me it would have been better if he had paid attention in the beginning of the term. While that would have made a tremendous difference, it still would not have compensated for his inability to solve word problems. I am at a loss as to how to reteach him all the things he might have learned if he had paid attention.

The DOE is running a big campaign, Keep It Moving NYC Schools, touting the success of our schools under the reign of Klein and Bloomberg. Why aren't there any real reporters out there showing what is really going on in math education today?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


(not an original, but worth sharing--courtesy of my husband)

Dear Employee:

As a result of the reduction of money budgeted for all department areas, we are forced to cut down on our number of personnel. Under this plan, older employees will be asked to take early retirement, thus permitting the retention of younger people who represent our future.

Therefore, a program to phase out older personnel by the end of the next fiscal year, via retirement, will be placed into effect immediately.

This program will be known as SLAP (Severance of Late-Aged Personnel).

Employees who are SLAPPED will be given the opportunity to look for jobs outside the company. SLAPPED employees can request a review of their employment records before actual retirement takes place.

This review phase of the program will be called SCREW. (Survey of Capabilities of Retired Elderly Workers).

All employees who have been SLAPPED and SCREWED may file an appeal with upper management.

This appeal is called SHAFT (Study by Higher Authority Following Termination).

Under the terms of the new policy, an employee may be SLAPPED once, SCREWED twice, but may be SHAFTED as many times as the company deems appropriate.

If an employee follows the above procedure, he/she will be entitled to get: HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel's Early Severance) or CLAP (Combined Lump sum Assistance Payment).

As HERPES and CLAP are considered benefit plans, any employee who has received HERPES or CLAP will no longer be SLAPPED or SCREWED by the company.

Management wishes to assure the younger employees who remain on board that the company will continue its policy of training employees through our Special High Intensity Training (SHIT).

We take pride in the amount of SHIT our employees receive. We have given our employees more SHIT than any company in this area.

If any employee feels they do not receive enough SHIT on the job, see your immediate supervisor. Your supervisor is specially trained to make sure you receive all the SHIT you can stand. And, once again, thanks for all your years of service with us!

The Management

I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No

Ms. M didn't send in my NYU recommendation. She promised she would do it but
I just got an e-mail from the college saying it is missing. I don't want to
bother her again. She already wrote me some. Would you please do it? I know it
is short notice but I really need it?

The above is the story I heard from one of my calculus students Friday. When I heard the teacher involved was Ms. M, I said, "Ask her again. I'm sure it was either an oversight or it got lost in the mail." My student did not want to bother her. It seems Ms. M deleted the original recommendation from her computer and my student did not want to ask her to rewrite it.

What I would like to know is why these kids think it is okay for me to write it? I just counted. I wrote 31 individual letters as recommendations. Thirty one students. Most students are applying to four or five schools. You don't have to be a math teacher to do the math and figure out the amount of work this has been. Why am I always the one who can't say no!

We All Deal With These Kind Of Kids

But, its our fault that they don't behave correctly in class.

Math Joke From A Student

I must be doing something right. Here is a joke sent to me by one of my students. They are always thinking math.
Norwegian Math Test for an Engineer

Ole wants a job, but the foreman won't hire him until he passes a little math test. Here is your first question, the foreman said. 'Without using numbers, represent the number 9.' 'Without numbers?' Ole says, 'Dat's easy.' and proceeds to draw three trees.

What's this?' the boss asks. 'Vot! you got no brain? Tree and tree and tree make nine,' says Ole.

'Fair enough,' says the boss. 'Here's your second question. Use the same rules, but this time the number is 99.' Ole stares into space for a while, then picks up the picture that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree. 'Dar ya go.' The boss scratches his head and says, 'How on earth do you get that to represent 99?' 'Each of da trees is dirty now. So, it's dirty tree, and dirty tree, and dirty tree. Dat is 99.'

The boss is getting worried that he's going to actually have to hire this Norwegian, so he says, 'All right, last question.

Same rules again, but represent the number 100.' Ole stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says, 'Dar ya go. Von hundred.'

The boss looks at the attempt. 'You must be nuts if you think that represents a hundred!' Ole leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree and says, 'A little dog come along and pooped by each tree. So now you got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd, vich makes von hundred.'
'So, ven do I start?