Monday, May 31, 2010
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
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
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.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
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.
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.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
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.
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
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.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
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.
Monday, May 17, 2010
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.
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.
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
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.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
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.
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 may break bones, but names can and do hurt.
Friday, May 14, 2010
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
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.)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
5. Your condescending note, taking the side of a student and never asking the teacher's side when you were deaning.
8. The immature way you choose to have others deal with your problems.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
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.
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.)
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.
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
Sunday, May 09, 2010
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.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
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.
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.