Monday, May 31, 2010

Which Way To Roll?

We had a barbecue today, old friends that we love dearly came. Everything was great except every time I walked into the bathroom, I found the toilet paper rolling from above rather than below, the way I like it.

At first, I just fixed it but after the fourth time I lost it and started yelling "Who's been changing the toilet paper? I don't care what is right or wrong, this is my house and I like my paper rolling from behind?" At that point, my friend Jinny broke into laughter. She thought she would be driving my husband crazy and he was the object of her evil ploy. Of course he never even noticed.

We all got into a big discussion about the best way to place the paper on its roll. I'm going to have to google this topic and see which way is the "proper" way. But, even if I am wrong, I am not changing. (Click here to see why my way is the right way. Only a physicist or a mathematician would come up with a scientific reason to support this.)

(Before you ask, my bathroom does have red walls.)

Another Child Being Left Behind

Julia could do almost nothing on Thursday's exam. Even using notes, her mind went totally blank. I was sure she knew nothing because she spent most of every period laughing and carrying on with her two friends.

Most of the class did horribly, even the few that work so Friday I decided to just redo some of the same problems on the board. Julia's buddies decided to make the three day weekend a four day weekend, which left Julia bored enough to actually work.

Julia wrote down the questions and then called me over to help her. I asked her to read the question and then began questioning her about the words? "What is the relationship between the diameter of a circle and its radius?" Without flinching, and in a complete sentence she said, "The radius is equal to half the diameter." I then told her to look at the problem again and see what she could do. "The diameter is 4x + 12 and the radius is 48 so 2x + 6 = 48. She then wrote the equation and solved it.

I went over to her again a few times during the period and every question we discussed, she did correctly. I praised her and asked her if she would like to take her final exam orally as she seems to do much better that way. She smiled and said yes. (I don't know if she will actually show up to do it but I am hopeful she really wants to pass.)

Julia is in the lowest third of our school. She obviously has learning difficulties that were never addressed but I never doubted the very intelligent girl that lives within her. We have data up the kazoo, data showing that Julia has a hard time in school, both behaviorally and academically, yet nothing has ever been done to address her problems and help her overcome them. I feel awful. Julia will only be with me for another 9 days and I have done so little to help her. How long will it take her new teacher to pick up on her problem? Suppose I find the teacher, tell him about how best to work with her and the teacher hasn't the time or the ambition? Will Julia just become another statistic in the world of drop outs? Why isn't any money being used to help kids like her?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not My Area Of Expertise

Miniature golf and geometry should go well together. The whole time we played my husband yelled " Watch the angle", "keep your feet in a square" and "always be perpendicular to where you want the ball to go." I sucked at the game, came in fourth out of four golfers. Maybe this is a sign I shouldn't teach geometry ever again.

Memorial Day Fireworks

I took the previous video last night in Sea Cliff, watching the fireworks. More pictures will be posted at facebook.com --Rita Cat

Some of them are magnificent, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spring Concert

I wonder if the small turnout had anything to do with the holiday weekend. There were only a handful of teachers, not that many kids either and no noticeable administrators.

Well, it was their loss. The concert was great as usual.

What's Good For The Goose....

My friend NYC Ed just wrote a piece on the new vending machines popping up all over his school. He beat me to the punch. One of these machines happens to be near the auditorium in my school so I took a good look while I was at last night's concert and then decided to do some research on the stuff the DOE deems fit to sell its students.

Doritos Chili Chips--140 calories, 63 of them from fat. There is a total of11% fat in the product of which 5% is saturated fat.

Linden Chocolate Chip Cookies--150 calories, 60 of them from fat. There is 11% fat in the product of which 10% is saturated fat.

Pop Tarts--219 calories, 83 of them fat. There is a total of 14% fat of which 5% is saturated fat.

I didn't bother looking up the sodium count, but if you are interested, the links are posted.

The DOE banned bake sales because they are unhealthy. Clubs are no longer permitted to have candy sales because they too are unhealthy and promote obesity. But, if the vending machines are owned and operated by cronies of Klein and Bloomberg, these health concerns fly out the window. I will never be able to learn the double rules of all the games we play.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Be Very Jealous

This is where we are going at the end of August. I won the vacation from an AAA sweepstakes. Check out the pictures. This lodge is on the lake with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and its own private docking station underneath. We are taking friends, but I'm using the master suite.

Snapshots

Day before a three day weekend and Mr. AP is out with his little computer again. Mr. Principal insists this is the best way to judge which teachers are doing a good job and which ones aren't because, according to him, it takes talent to keep them going on these days. Now, I don't mind these administrators looking in the room and making sure that teaching is going on but, what kind of quality administrator needs to walk into a room to do an observation at the end of the day that begins a three day weekend? A good administrator would know what is going on without playing this little gotcha game.

My ninth period was actually better than normal. Being the day before a holiday, attendance was extremely light. Of course two young ladies did walk in ten minutes late with absolutely no valid excuse. I confronted them and then let them sit down and work. If he asks, I can show him the record where phone calls home are listed. One of these girls holds the class record. The other one happens to be the one "dumped" on me a few months ago who rarely shows up. There was the usual "I need a pencil" and "I don't have paper" comments. (I always have a ready supply on hand for these kids.) The good news is that one of the worst prepared kids did come in prepared with her brush and mirror and was able to tidy herself up real nice for Mr. AP.

I don't know what he thought of the class and truthfully I am not all that concerned. I've finally stopped caring about what any admin says or thinks about me. I worry not for me, but for others without the seniority I have. I did my best to keep them engaged, I was in the face of every kid not working and when it came time for them to go to the board, I had lots of volunteers. I even had one girl get her friend to help her with a problem she was struggling on (although I think he might have left before this happened so he didn't see it.) All in all, for that group, things went well. Personally, I prefer the snapshot I took at a street fair on Broadway last Sunday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stupidity Peak

I did something stupid. I volunteered to write the geometry final when Mr. AP and I realized no one was assigned to do it. No one wants to write these exams, especially me, the Queen of Lazy, but I really like my geometry class and decided I could best prep them for this exam by writing it myself.

Most of the teachers in my department just go to Exam Gen or some old regents to get their questions. They are much smarter than I am. I decided to base my questions on the regents but change them because by now, many of the kids have done all the questions and many of the questions aren't all that good to begin with.

Here's where my stupidity peaks. I decided I had to draw my own diagrams using Microsoft Word, something I have never bothered to do before. It took me quite a while to get the hang of using the auto shapes and changing them to suit my problem. It took me just as long to learn to draw the lines to make my own tangents and secants. Adjusting the size of each diagram wasn't all that easy either. But, the real killer for me was getting the letters on the diagram and then figuring out how to get the text written next to the diagram.

After hours of work, I think it came out beautiful. I wish I knew how to put it on this blog because the final product is magnificent, even if I do say so myself. I even found the perfect graph paper, which I downloaded and inserted into the exact right spots on the test.

Now, if only the kids put the effort into studying that I put into writing, all will be worth while.

Don't Mess With Me

My sister went through an ugly divorce years ago. Her bastard ex-husband really took advantage of her and to get out, she let him. I relayed the story to my husband and ranted about what I would have done to that dirty little rat.
My husband looked at me and said, "We will never get a divorce. If we ever decide to part, I'll just stick a knife in my heart, it will be less painful."

Most people will not mess with me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It Pours

One of my AP girls came over to me during class and asked what I was doing eighth period, knowing full well that I am free then. She then shyly told me she would be presenting her science research project and wanted to know if I could come watch. Of course, I told her yes.

We all know that it never just rains, it pours and of course today was the day some of my ninth period kids wanted some extra help--eighth period. I told them to meet me at the back of the auditorium, and that I would help them there until my calculus girl started presenting, and then we would finish when she finished. Three of them showed up.

We sat and worked until the presentation began and I left them to move to the front. My girl was awesome. She spoke about her research on ovarian cancer. She was confident and knowledgeable and I was happy she thought to share with me. But, the real thrill came when I went back to my ninth period kids and they told me how terrific they thought she was. The kids from one of the lowest level classes in the school enjoyed and benefited from this presentation. Anyone who knew them would have guessed this would have been way over their heads.

We left the auditorium and went in search of a place to work. Luck was on our side and the doors to the courtyard were open so we walked out, found a nice shady spot on the grass and sat down to do work. We went over many of the topics they were struggling with and they asked to do it again. I promised I would always be available. Now, to convince the school to let us bring picnic blankets outside and use that spot on a regular basis.

Liar, Liar

Some are pathological liars, some just don't know how to do anything but lie. Read it here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bitch Fest

The previous post explained here. And, for once, I am not the one holding the bitch fest.

The Message Heard

Incompetent, bottom feeding fools! If not for you, kids would not need so much tutoring. They don't need to be tutored in other subjects. I would like to grab you by the hair and drag you to some other schools so you can see how teaching is done properly.

If you did your job correctly, you would not be in the position you are in!

Monday, May 24, 2010

My First Word Cloud

At last week's workshop I learned what a word cloud was and how to make one. Using wordle.net, I made the one below using the RSS from this blog. It's not much, but I'm getting there. It took a while and a little outside help, but I was able to capture it, bring it in to Photo Shop and crop it to look like this. I feel so accomplished.

My Award

My friend, NYC Educator got an award for being one of the top ten education blogs, but I beat him. I got one from people who don't even speak English--the only reason I could possibly have won.

Congrats to NYC Educator and Gotham Schools. They are both great and both worthy of the honor and the people who honored them actually understand what they write.

Check Mate

I lost it when Toby, once again took out his cell phone in class. Without a word of warning, I picked it up, put it in my pocket and told him he could have his mom retrieve it on Friday from the dean's office. Toby didn't say a word when this happened, but after class he came up to me to talk. He told me his mom wants to know what he can do to improve his grade. This, after playing with a cell phone and doing no work in class. Toby is really stressing his parents out. They were in school last week to see the teachers of the classes he cuts. Although he never cuts math, his mom broke into tears when she heard about the poor grades and lack of work in my class.

Toby's parents are Russian immigrants, his mom a doctor, people who came to this country to give a better life to their children and are at their wits end with him. Not wanting to stress out this poor woman any more, I told Toby I would hold the phone until the end of the day and give it back to him then. I put the phone in my pocket and forgot about it until it rang during my lunch. When I looked at the caller ID and saw the word "mom" on the screen, I decided to answer. Mom was shocked that I had the phone and I could hear her sobbing. She told me she called him to get my name as she wanted to talk to me. (This definitely goes along with what Toby said in class so I am sure it is the truth.) I explained the situation and then told her she should not be calling him in school. She profusely apologized and I am sure she made the call without thinking. We discussed Toby's lack of work and once again, she promised to talk to him.

I shut the phone off and went to find Toby. As I handed him the phone I told him he just missed his mom's call but not to worry, I talked to her for him. His face turned bright red as he took the phone, told me he loved me (probably added the word not under his breath) and turned to walk away. Do I think he learned anything from this? NO! Tomorrow he will be back to the same old games.

Design Change Needed

Courtesy of my husband!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Valor

The last day of classes is June 14, which means we have 14 class days left. The kids who have done nothing all year know there is nothing they can do now to earn a passing grade. They do nothing but disturb others when they come to class. We have nothing to hold over them. Everyone making it through these last few days deserves a medal of honor.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Disturbed

I enjoyed the King Tut exhibit, loved seeing the ancient artifacts in pristine condition, but I was very disturbed by all of this and it wasn't until I got home and thought about what I had seen that the reasons for these feelings came clear.

The exhibit displayed a video showing Europeans and Americans, in all their finery, descending into the tomb and looking around. It showed men carefully removing these artifacts so they could be better scrutinized and displayed. It showed Tut's tomb being removed.

Tutankhamen burial was very important to the people of his time. They believed in the afterlife and they believed all their gifts and their efforts would assure him passing on to that life in a good and easy way. Now, twentieth century men and women have gone into the tomb and disturbed the order of things that were so important to them. I was especially disturbed by the model of Tutankhamen's body lying on a table encased in glass for all to see. The video going above, showing scientists removing DNA and who knows what else from his body was sacrilegious to say the least. Although I suppose it doesn't matter after I am gone but I don't want some future generation of scientists picking through my grave and working on my body. I can't imagine what can be learned from all of this that can actually help the population of today.

My friend Under Assault was upset about the exhibit too, but for different reasons and reasons that bother me as well. The idea of all that wealth enjoyed by so few people is heartbreaking. The placement of it, underground, where no one would ever benefit from it just seems so wasteful. I remember feeling the same way as I walked around the Vatican a few years ago, marveling at the magnificence I saw and wondering why some of that money could not be used to save NYC Catholic schools.
I look at all these rich people who think they have the right to do whatever they want and I think about the state of our country today. Billionaires like Bloomberg have taken over education, revamped schools and the little people, like the slave's in Tut's time are treated like dirt. Perdido Street just put up a post about the privatization of public housing that is being pushed by the Obama administration. Centuries later, things are just as bad as ever.

I lack the qualities I need to be a scientist and I could never be a capitalist. I only ended up being a teacher because I had no idea what do do with my life but maybe I made the right choice for me.

Sky Diving

The slide show at the Military ball ended with a picture like this. I'm jealous. I've been planning on going sky diving for years, but its never worked out. The Sargent who runs the program promised to take me next year. I'm hoping to do it then and maybe sooner too, if I'm lucky.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Math Teachers Rock

The JROTC hosted their annual Military Ball tonight. Out of the 6 teachers present, 4 were math teachers.

We are the best!

Given 'Em What They Want

Okay, not what is in the picture, but it does illustrate the point.

Over the years, I've had to change the way I teach many times. Last year, for example, I was told to just give the geometry class theorems and skip derivations, as they were too difficult. This year, everyone is encouraged to develop everything. I've changed the way "do nows" are done, I've changed the way homework is gone over and I've even changed the way I give an exam. I think I change my teaching style more often than some people change their underwear.

To survive, I've had to learn to give 'em what they want. It might be wrong but as the saying goes, I only work here and I want those dollar bills to keep coming.

Not Jumping For Joy

I should be jumping for joy. Yani, the most difficult boy in my ninth period class just got a superintendent's suspension. I should be happy, but I'm not . The system failed Yani. Everyone in the building knows how difficult he is and now that he is gone there will be one less problem child to deal with. I know there are kids who can't be helped and Yani might be so incorrigible that he is one of them but nothing was in place to help him. Yani was always one of 34 kids, in a class with other troubled kids, taking subjects he was not prepared to take. The deck was stacked against him.

Schools are being closed all over the place and kids like Yani are being shuffled from one place to another with no system in place to help them. NCLB and Race To The Top have done nothing to help kids like Yani succeed. Bloomberg has done nothing to help them either. I've been teaching a long, long time and have seen new programs come and go. There have always been kids like Yani and there always will be kids like him. All the money that has been spent on Quality Reviews, ARIS and data analysis hasn't changed a thing.

But let's keep blaming the teacher. Let's make the teacher accountable for Yani's success and let's make sure no money is spent to help the teacher help Yani turn himself around. I'm not jumping for joy because another child will now be lost. Heaven help us all as I can only imagine the kind of adult he will become.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Message to Mrs. T

Mrs. T--I copied the letter on the blog, just for you.

In The Paper Again

I made it to the newspaper again. If you don't know which paper, you have to go here to find the link.

Idiot Teacher

Kids are not allowed to use cell phones in class. We tell them this constantly and when they don't listen, they get their phones confiscated. A deam took one away from one of my students today.

Last week I noticed Tony, a great kid, checking a text he just received. Since he usually does not take out the phone I decided to pretend I didn't see. But, the pretense ended when Tony got up and asked for the pass. Mr. X, Tony's extra curricular advisor sent him the text because he had to see him immediately. Yes, you read that correctly, the teacher sent the student a text! Tony must have told Mr. X how angry I was because Tony came back offering Mr. X's apology.

Mr. X is one of the teenie bopper teachers and needs to learn the difference between being a teacher and being a friend to these kids. Teachers walk to the room, send a monitor to the room or call the room, they don't text students during class. Teachers should not even be texting students who are not in class.

Who would have thought that an educator needs a lesson in being an educator?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Waiting For Dessert

What I did with my soggy beer coaster while waiting for dessert.

It Pays To Read

Attached to a weekly newsletter (which for years I never looked at) was a memo offering us professional development by Discover Education at Discover Times Square. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but it sounded good, so I applied. Well, it wasn't good, it was great. This is what professional development should be--real, relevant material presented by people that know what they are doing. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything that was really math related (on the high school level) but there is so much on the site, I have to give it a thorough look and see what I can dig up. I also learned a few non related free sites (voki.com, wordle.net, blabberize.com, and others I haven't looked at yet.) I made my little welcome voki from what I learned today.

As an added bonus to the day, we got free admission to the King Tut exhibit (worth seeing) and after doing both, I went to see Race at a Wednesday matinee, ticket purchased yesterday from TDF.org

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Junior Entrepenuers

It's that time of year again, the time the seniors in economic classes get to present the project they came up with, the process involved in designing and developing it, the marketing techniques and the video commercial they created.

So far I've sat through two presentation and all I can say is "wow', these kids are dynamite. I especially enjoyed seeing my quiet ELL kids, the ones who barely speak, coming out of their shells for this project. Kudos to the special economics teachers who encourage and promote these activities.

New Tee Shirt

It was a big night. Little Chihuahua had on her new tee shirt to show she was a part of the celebration.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Skip College

Something I have been saying for years...

For college students who ranked among the bottom quarter of their high school classes, the numbers are even more stark: 80 percent will probably never get a bachelor’s degree or even a two-year associate’s degree.

Read the rest of the article here.

Observation Report III

Mr. AP
Period XX
May 17, 2010

The meeting began approximately 10 minutes late as Mr. AP gave teachers a chance to arrive from their classes. He waited until all were seated and handed out the agenda, which he went over in an orderly fashion. End term procedures for collecting books and getting book receipts to the teachers of students we no longer are teaching was discussed. We were told where to find student programs and how to get help finding students who were not on the list.

The next topic discussed involved grades and their affect on student programming. Mr. AP discussed the problems caused by students in the wrong classes and stressed the importance of our checking their placement. He emphasized that although it is the guidance counselor's job to program correctly, they too often make mistakes so we should not depend upon them. It is extremely difficult to teach students who are not in the proper classes and he said he did not want us to start out with poor statistics.

After, Mr. AP went on to discuss how new students would be programmed next year and what would be done to get them into the correct classes. He discussed the criteria that should be used to program current students and asked the teachers for input.

Recommendations:
1. Try to be a little less confrontational with teachers who ask questions. Teachers see problems but don't necessarily see solutions.
2. Serve refreshments.
3. Put cushions on the chairs

Summary: The meeting was well presented. It covered material relevant to our daily teaching assignments. Staff member questions were answered and everyone walked away with a clear understanding of what the meeting was about. The meeting began and ended on a timely fashion. It was obvious to all that Mr. AP has taken previous recommendations seriously and has shown great improvement. Teachers were treated with respect. This meeting is rated "S".

Sunday, May 16, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

My friend Ricochet is looking for no cost morale boosters for the teachers in her school. I offered her one there and I am posting it here because I feel it is that important and needs to be spread around.

RESPECT

Everyone needs it and when I say everyone, I mean everyone: TEACHERS, SCHOOL AIDES, CUSTODIANS, SECRETARIES, SECURITY GUARDS AND CAFETERIA WORKERS.

Teachers are often abused and humiliated by supervisors and that needs to stop. I see plenty of teachers doing the same to other workers in the school. Teachers come into the cafeteria and leave empty packets of sugar all over for the cafeteria ladies to clean up. They use the room for after school activities and never return tables to regular positions. They leave the tables stained with makeup they used in the school play and expect the custodians to clean their mess. I hear teachers complaining about school aides not wanting to do their jobs when forces beyond their control prevents this from happening.

Money is nice and while respect won't pay the rent, it still is something important to us all.

(Pictured above is my favorite cafeteria lady cleaning up a teacher's mess-a teacher who was extremely disrespectful when confronted about the mess.)

Humble Pie

Mr. Porno handed in a blank test paper on Thursday and on Friday came into class and put his head down.

I went over to him and said, "I'm sorry I let you down this term. I couldn't come up with the right way to get you to learn and succeed. I feel awful about this." Mr. Porno looked at me and said, "No, I let you down. I'll do better next year."

I don't know whether he will do better or not but the fact that he knows he was wrong has got to be a step in the right direction. I hope things work out for him.

A friend asked me why I humbled myself in front of this kid who did nothing but make my life miserable all term. I told her I don't look at it that way. This kid has been punished and put down for years. Nothing worked. I just tried a different approach. I do wish there was a way for me to have helped him and feel sorry that I couldn't succeed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

UFT Bull Sh**

Read the entire post from our wonderful union here

One of my favorite Q & A's:

Won’t teachers be reluctant to teach high-needs students if student test scores become one component of their evaluation?

On the contrary, the new system no longer penalizes a teacher who chooses to work with high-needs students. The student achievement component of the evaluation system would be based on a growth model – getting a student from one point to the next; it would not be based on whether all students reached a certain proficiency level. As a teacher, if you have helped your students to progress academically, no matter where they started from, your achievement would be recognized.

Anyone who can move this class along deserves merit pay.

Stacked Deck

I was so excited about this class in the beginning of the year. They weren't at all what I expected and I was sure I could even turn the four term algebra class into a two term class and get them through a regents in one year.

I wasn't wrong about that group. The group I have now only has 5 of the original 34 left. All the kids with potential and a desire to learn were put in other classes and this class was filled with kids who were not passing the classes that are scheduled to take the regents in June. This class was turned into a dumping ground.

The girl who needs her med stopped me after class the other day and said "Mad props to you, Ms. POd. I don't know how you deal with our class every day." Too bad that be don't see these kind of classes the way this learning disabled, emotionally handicapped young woman does.

(This class was not deliberately stacked against me. It was just the way the cards landed.)

Sticks and Stones

Last night, a friend told me about a certain administrator who called one of his students an idiot. The student was hurt and embarrassed and did not ever want to have anything to do with that administrator again. The child has learning problems, and has very low self esteem. The child and the parents are afraid to complain to anyone who could possibly help. This child, who was starting to turn herself around, has now suffered a major set back.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but names can and do hurt.
This administrator should not be around children. I am sure it is not the first time a comment like this was made and it won't be the last. A teacher would immediately be removed for making this comment yet the admin seems to have immunity. No one should be allowed to name call anyone. Everyone needs to be held accountable to the same standards.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Ninth Period

The class:

1 boy who is always going to court and just barely staying out of jail

1 boy who just finished his probation and doesn't have to listen to his mom anymore

1 boy whose mother admits she has no control over

1 boy whose mother told me he has anger management problems

1 girl who told me she has anger management problems

1 boy who stayed home for 7 months watching television

1 boy who cannot stay in a seat for more than 10 minutes

1 girl who just got transferred from a nearby school for G-d only knows what reason. (She told me my sub was "out of pocket with her" because he insisted she stay seated.)

2 new arrivals from Pakistan who know almost no English

1 girl whose mom just took her off her meds

2 students who refuse to go to resource room

1 boy who stares off into space an entire period

1 boy who just got out of rehab (although I think he is using again)

4 kids who never bother to show up

2 girls who show up only twice a week

1 boy who worked the first semester, took a 3 month siesta and is now working again

1 girl who got a no credit grade last semester, failed the first two with me and is now trying to take the regents exam

1 girl who is fine until she gets looked at the wrong way

2 kids who I believe are illiterate.

The rest of the class consists of kids who want to work, are slow learners and are having a hard time in the crazy atmosphere the others have created. And, this is what my union has accepted as a way to judge my effectiveness as a teacher.

Sign Of The Times

I'm addicted to the phone taps on z100. I love listening to the insane people and their even crazier reactions to stuff. This morning's phone tap was a real sign of the times.

One of the DJ's called a father, telling him his precious daughter would not be graduating as she failed a course. The father went ballistic on this person he assumed was a clerk and ended the call by spitting on her. The daughter then called the father and told him the truth about her grades and how they had been altered using photo shop. The father again went crazy, saying things no parent should say to a child and only calmed down after learning the whole thing was a joke.

This episode was not one I found funny, it was sad. The father blasted the clerk for something that was his daughter's doing. He was rude, crude and undeniably obnoxious. He never once stopped to think that this was not a mistake or that even if it was a mistake, it was not the caller's fault. It is not a wonder that certain of our students fly off the handle for no reason when the people that raise them do the exact same thing.

There was a cartoon hanging over the time clock this morning comparing a parent's reaction to a child's failing grade in 1960 to their reaction now. Then, it was the child's fault. Now, the blame lays on the teacher. With attitudes like this, we are all doomed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Great Kids

We have some Basic II kids in our school, kids main stream teachers like me usually give very little thought to. We pass them in the hall, watch them get on their school buses and see them caring for the plants in the lobby. Mostly, we feel sorry for them and then forget they exist.

Well, I will never feel that way again. Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of covering one of their classes because their teacher was absent. I found these kids to be enthusiastic, friendly, extremely helpful and quite bright, in their own ways.

C carries around this key board because he has trouble writing but is a very good typist. He demonstrated his skill for me and I was very impressed. He was much faster than most adults I know and his spelling was perfect. He told me about the USB port and how he goes home and prints up all his notes.

The kids worked on a puzzle the teacher left. All of them completed it in record time and there was no grumbling, like I find in mainstream classes. I then asked D what his favorite subject was. When he told me it was math, I showed him how to do a simple derivative (after all, only subtraction was involved.) It took him a while to get it, but I could see he was excited about learning such a complex subject.

I also noticed the room had a smart board and in my constant quest to learn to use the thing, I turned it on. Of course, I was lost immediately. But, my problems were soon solved by these wonderful kids who gathered around, got it going and gave me a lesson. They took turns writing on the computer and using the board.

Working with these kids was an eye opening experience for me. It is something every teacher needs to do. The world is made up of all kinds of people and the best way to learn to live in it and to help all our students grow is to know first hand what everyone is all about. I know the next time I see these kids laboring in the garden I will go over to visit and praise their hard work. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to get to know them.

This coverage was a pay back for one I owed. It is one I would gladly take again, owed or not.

(Sorry for the bad pictures, I had my cell phone camera available.)

Found On Board As Well

They know how to make my day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Found On The Board

From one of my weaker students. These kids are making it too hard for me to decide.

Count The Ways To Find The Reason

1. Your nastiness to the woman responsible for teaching you what you needed to know to get your license.

2. Your snippy answers to innocent, non-invasive questions.

3. Your accusations against students without letting them defend themselves.

5. Your condescending note, taking the side of a student and never asking the teacher's side when you were deaning.

6. The way our shoulders met in the hall.

7. The way you screamed about me to the student I sent to deliver something to you.

8. The immature way you choose to have others deal with your problems.

9. Not respecting boundaries as to where conversations can and cannot take place.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dear Teachers,

Dear Teachers,

Due to a necessary program change, you will now have Mary Smith is in your class. She is a resource room student with testing accommodations as follows:

time 1.5X, separate location, use of calculator

Her resource room is __ period, with me.

Mary's attendance has improved and together with her parents, we are keeping close track of her.

Thank You!

This e-mail arrived 3/26. Surprise, surprise, no one has made any contact, until today, as to how this girl is doing. (Before anyone starts bitching at me, I let this resource room teacher know that Mary only reported to class once, and it was two weeks after I got this memo.)

Another Observation Report

The observation I wrote for Mr. Principal was so well received, I decided to go back in time and write one for Principal Suit. This one will be done entirely from memory but his words and his deeds are engraved (unfortunately for me) in my brain. Suit Lover, I anxiously await your comments on this observation.

Observation Report
Principal Suit
Period XX
Every Monday meeting during his reign of incompetence

Principal Suit stood at the front of the auditorium yelling at the entering teachers to sit in the front. When Ms. G sat in a seat she thought was close enough, he began a tirade that almost brought her to tears and caused her face to turn beet red. He chastised Mr. C who walked in 5 minutes late and and told the entire staff that a weak bladder was no excuse for tardiness. He told Mrs. X that she should have left her crying student in the hall to get to the meeting on time.

After five minutes, Principal Suit stopped humiliating the staff and got down to business. He repeated for the umpteenth time how lucky they all were to be working at the best high school in Queens. He talked about all we could do to make the school better. He told us all what we were doing wrong and how it was our fault children in the school were not succeeding.

Twenty minutes into the meeting Principal Suit showed the staff some data on a computer screen with print too small to be seen from even the first row. He screamed at Ms. S who was trying to bubble her daily attendance sheets while he spoke as he wanted her undivided attention.

The bell rang to end the period and Principal Suit was still speaking. Mr.G got up to go to his next class and once again Principal Suit released a tirade of abuse upon a teacher. Four minutes later, Principal Suit officially dismissed the group.

Recommendations:
1. Allow 5 minutes for lateness. Teachers come from all over the overcrowded building and need time to gather their materials before leaving the room. Take into account some just finished teaching three classes and need a bathroom stop. Also, leave the teacher time to talk to students if they feel this is necessary.

2. Do not publicly humiliate anyone. If you have something negative to say to say, say it privately.

3. Try to plan your meeting in advance so your goals will be clear and you and everyone else will be able to follow your train of thought.

4. Make your presentations interesting. Everyone is tired at the end of the day and you have to make them want to be where they are.

5. Work on your time management. Teachers have to get to class on time so your meetings cannot run over time.

6. Stop thinking everything you say is important. In reality, nothing you say is even meaningful.

Summary: There was no clear direction as to what the meeting was about or what goals were supposed to be met. One topic did not flow smoothly into another. The staff was obviously bored and only five people were engaged in the discussion. Time was not managed well. Four teachers were asleep, five were using i-pods and 12 were texting while the meeting was going on. This meeting has been given an unsatisfactory rating.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Illiterate Nation

In our quest to leave no child behind we are graduating a bunch of illiterates.

Credit recovery, component retesting, and summer school are just not picking up the kids who cannot read or write.

NCLB is leaving more behind than ever and the race to the top is just going to help this number grow even higher and faster.

We've got to do something and we've got to do it now. If not, all will be lost forever.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Twilight Zone

Did you ever find yourself stuck in a horrible traffic jam which suddenly dissipates?

No exits, accidents, or construction is in sight, the traffic just disappears. Makes you feel like you just stepped out of the Twilight Zone.

This happened to us several times on the drive from Maryland.

Very spooky.
(Pictured above is the truck that road our ass until he was able to cut out in front. The road was full of radar police and I sure hope one of them got this guy.)

Maryland Pictures

Posted a bunch on facebook.com (Rita Cat--e-mail pissedoffteacher@gmail.com)

I didn't want to use up storage here.

A highlight of this trip was a visit to Hampton mansion, a national historic site. We had a great tour of the mansion and the grounds and it was FREE!!!!!

It is amazing how many people miss what is in their own back yard. We were the only people on our tour.

Mother's Day 2010

Down in Baltimore with my two fantastic kids.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Pay Attention, Part II

Which of these coins is listed from smallest to largest in circumference?

Penny, Nickel, Dime

Dime, Nickel, Quarter

Quarter, Nickel, Dime

Also, from One Vs. One Hundred

At least only one person in the mob got this wrong but the contestant did not know the answer.

Watergate Not Revisited Here

Someone in my school must think this blog is the National Enquirer of Packemin HS. Yesterday I found an anonymous note questioning the job a certain person in the school does, or does not, do. The writer of the note assumes I will write some revealing story. The writer is wrong.

MESSAGE TO PEOPLE AT PACKEMIN:

Do not leave me notes like this because I will toss them in the trash. My blog is my issues, not yours. If something bothers you, write it yourself, and post it on your own blog. Also, do not leave anonymous comments to push your own issues. I refuse to post those. Learn to take responsibility for your own words and actions.