Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Thank you very much for working hard. I will be sending you the Regents passing percentage in the email. If you feel you are on vacation and should not be bothered, you don't have to check your email. But why would anyone not want to know how he/she did?
Personally, I know how I did. I know the population I worked with, what their history with math is. For the most part, the kids did better than I expected. There was only one that I expected to squeak by with a 65 that failed. The teachers in my department all did everything they could do get their students to pass. To judge us by a number is ridiculous. Kids count, numbers don't. Sixty percent, eighty percent or even one hundred percent, we should not care.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
A mother dog protects her pups and keeps them warm and fuzzy. She would never leave them with a stranger during their most important times, even a mill dog knows enough to protect her own.
The ugly dog cared for her pups minimally, leaving them alone frequently. They searched for her endlessly. A wolf roamed around, talking often to the ugly dog, telling her what she should do with her puppies. Even though she had other dogs telling her how to care for her puppies, the advice that the wolf was giving her sounded so much easier. He told her that she could leave them alone whenever she wanted....that nothing would happen....that they would be alright! She listened to the wolf and left her puppies alone one afternoon and when she came back......they were gone. Only a trace of fur was left behind. The wolf was off licking his lips. The ugly dog didn't care...she had no responsibilities now....not a care in the world! She walked away from where her puppies were with a smile on her face.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Jun 26, 9:00 PM (ET)
By TREVOR HUNNICUTT
PETALUMA, Calif. (AP) - A Chihuahua's oddly curved back and legs and closed-up left eye earned the 4-year-old rescue dog top honors at the World's Ugliest Dog contest at a Northern California fair on Friday.
Sporting a gray, brown and black coat, Princess Abby Francis beat a rough-looking slate of candidates for the prize, including Pabst, a teeth-bearing boxer mix who won last year.
Princess Abby shivered in the cool breeze after her win Friday night while nestled in the arms of her owner, Kathleen Francis, who received a $1,000 check at the 22nd annual contest held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma.
The victory was a surprise to Francis.
"I don't think she's ugly at all," she said. "I think she's the most beautiful dog."
Francis says she adopted Princess Abby from her veterinarian about five months ago. This was the dog's first such contest since she was found running through the street.
Celebrity vet Karen "Doc" Halligan says the Chihuahua's problematic back, legs and eye may be due to being inbred.
"She's a poster child to spay and neuter your pets," she said.
Contest judges included Halligan, Vertical Horizon lead singer Matt Scannell, "That 70's Show" actress Christina Moore and fair board member Brian Sobel.
Two ATRs got jobs at a nearby high school. The principal asked them to sign letters stating they knew they were provisional employees and could be excessed in June. In fact, she insisted they sign. They worried about signing and called the UFT. The UFT said, "Don't worry, the letters mean nothing." The teachers signed but were not happy about doing so.
Last week both teachers got excess letters. They called the union. The union said, "Stupid you, why did you sign those letters?"
More pictures on facebook.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
My husband tells me I am too jaded, that things are not as bad as they appear. He's wrong. I've been around long enough to be able to read between the lines. I know that when administrators want something, they find a way to make it happen.
I've always kept my nose clean, so there is nothing legit to get me on. I get good results and am well liked by the kids and their parents, so there is nothing on me in this area either. They know I don't want to leave yet, but my salary is a strain on their budget. My big mouth and ideas bother them. Only recently, I was admonished for notifying guidance counselors of kids who would be going from failing to passing and passing to failing instead of only telling them only the later. Taking the initiative is something frowned on in education, even if that initiative is for the benefit of the students.
Last week I got to visit the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. Even sitting next to the magicians gave me no insight into how they did their tricks. With these guys, I see their tricks with no effort.
I need the summer to cool down and think about my future plans. I know things are going to turn out fine.
We got e-mails encouraging us to come to the end term party, to sit with our departments and celebrate.
I was in California but even before I knew I would be gone, I decided not to go.
I have no feelings of camaraderie.
Certain members are set up with the choicest programs in the department. Other people are given programs that intend to force them out.
Certain members of my department are already partying with Mr. AP and it is not costing them $45 to get together.
School is a job, nothing more.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I just looked at the following post I wrote last week but never put up. I probably could have gotten a few more to pass if I did a little more, but the system has beat me, at least when it comes to caring about statistics.
(Post written June 15, the day before the geometry regents.)
In all the 25+ years I have been at Packemin HS, certain courses have never been rotated. Rotation is a contractual right, but it has not been followed in certain courses, not only in math, but in other subject areas as well. It takes a certain expertise to teach an AP course and they say you don't get really good at teaching it until you've done it three years in a row. The math team has been taught by the same person, rightly so, since before the beginning of time. She is great at it and no one would want someone else to teach it.
Now you might wonder what brings up this topic now. I have been teaching the AP calculus class since 1995, it has never been rotated for the reasons mentioned above. No one ever grieved the class and I am sure no one presently teaching would. I only got to teach it because the person who taught it before I did left. Next year, Mr. AP has decided to rotate this assignment and give the class to someone else. All of a sudden he is a big supporter of the contract. (Unfortunately his support of rotation only affects this class, none of the other classes people have been teaching forever.) And, he is also considering rotating sessions, although he knows I have to be in early to teach the college class.
I have a theory as to why he is doing this. The old boys club has gotten together and devised a plan to get one fat cat teacher on maximum salary to retire. They know they can't attack what I do in the classroom and they know I will not abide anything that violates the contract, so they got together and found a legal way they hope to make me miserable enough to retire. They will make sure I get something from my preference sheet to keep it all nice and legal.
Well old boys, I have a message for you. This old girl is not going anywhere until she is good and ready to go. And, she has a few tricks up her sleeve too. Sit back, relax,but don't get too comfortable. I'm already a few steps ahead of you.
I was worried that I would be out of my element. After all, Beverly Hills means Prada, and Gucci and lots of other expensive brands I browse at on Madison Ave and sometimes shop for on Canal St., I expected fancy cars and bling galore. I didn’t care if I stood out because I wanted to be at this Bar Mitzvah and my skin is thick enough to take the looks a poor relative from Queens might be given.
The Bar Mitzvah itself was fantastic. Temple Beth Am, in Beverly Hills is one of the most beautiful temples I have ever been in. The Bar Mitzvah boy out shined every other Bar Mitzvah I have ever seen, including my own son (sorry Son of Pissed Off). This remarkable young man ran the entire service, reading two Torah portions and a very long Haf Torah flawlessly. He wrote a touching, meaningful speech that explained the week’s Parsha and related it to today’s world.
I knew the day would be bitter sweet. When my cousin got up to speak, and started talking about his late wife, there was not a dry eye in the synagogue. How he had the strength to do this, I will never know. I have tears in my eyes again just thinking about his son’s tears as he became a man without his mom in the room.
The service was followed by a very nice lunch, excellent food, classy and also down to earth. There were no revolving centerpieces or gourmet plates with nothing to eat.
The celebration continued in the evening with something I have never seen before—a party totally for kids. It took place in a beach house on the beach at Santa Monica. There was a DJ and food kids loved and a separate room for adults. The evening was perfect and we spent quite a bit of time outdoors. I hate being in photographs but when I watched the montage and saw all of his mom’s pictures, I vowed to try to let people take more of me. I realized she was there in spirit, although not in body. Again, there was not a dry eye in the room.
I realized that no one would have missed me if I didn’t show up. I love my cousin but we haven’t been close for years. His three sons are wonderful, but this is only the third time we have ever met. Yet, I felt my presence there touched them as much as it touched me. I’m sitting on the plane, writing this in Word as this flight has no Internet. I’m exhausted and I’ve just missed several days of work, something I never do but I am glad I did it and will gladly do it again should the opportunity present itself.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The only time some of us (actually me) manage to see family is at simchas (happy events) and funerals. Words of advice--don't wait for the latter to happen.
We got off the plane celebrating with one side of the family to mourn tomorrow with the other side. I vow to stop being to lazy or cheap to enjoy the former.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I am not really complaining. I love the atmosphere. We never stay in motels like this and I don't miss all that fancy, shmancy stuff. The room is nice. We have a great king sized bed, a television, a microwave and a refrigerator, it is in a great location, right on Sunset Ave and the price is right.
For day 1 pictures, click here. I got to eat at two famous places--Pinks where I got a vegan hot dog and Inn Out where I got a cheese burger, minus the burger, animal style. Lots more pictures to come.
My husband, a retired engineer said "What's the big deal if kids come in an extra day? You have to be in school anyway?" This, he said, when he heard me bitching about the full day of "instruction" on June 25.
My husband never set foot in a classroom since he graduated high school (except for classroom visits when our kids were in elementary school) so he has no idea as to what it is like to be in a room full of kids who have taken all their exams, know all their grades are in, and have been out of school for almost two weeks. I forgive him for this ignorance as he does not claim to know anything about teaching and education. Klein, on the other hand, is not forgiven. He is the head of one of the biggest school systems in the nation. How can he not know what a waste of time having kids come to school on June 25 will be? What can they possibly learn in this one day? How can he not know the trouble teens can cause when no one has a hold over them? How can he not know that most parents will do the right thing and keep their child home? June 25 will be no Magic Kingdom.
(Lots of Disney Land pictures to post but it will take me hours to edit them. Hopefully I will have an outlet on the plane going home and get to work on them then.)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Jill came to see me the morning of last day of classes. She returned her book and then started talking to me, something she had not done all semester. She told me her mother has been extremely ill and she often stayed home, or left school early, to care for her. She told me it was hard to concentrate when she was worried all the time about whether her mom would live or die. On top of the worrying and the care for her mother, she had to take care of the house, doing all the cooking, shopping and cleaning. My heart broke as her story unraveled. She told me she tried talking to her guidance counselor earlier in the year, but he seemed disinterested and never made any attempt to help her or to even notify any of her teachers of her problems.
Jill said she did not want to fall a year behind in her school work. She had always been a good student and I could see from the little she did for me that she was bright. Her guidance counselor told me she is ineligible for summer school because of her attendance issues.
Before Jill left me, I put in a call to the counselor, and repeated exactly what Jill told me. I told him she was on her way down to see him. I don't know what happened. I do know that Jill will now be another child being left behind. I do know that Jill is another child the system is failing. Even if something is worked out and she is able to make up her credits, she will never be able to make up her education. Any chance she has of being successful is being squashed. This is one child not winning the Race To The Top.
Hey Mr. Education Mayor, what are you doing to help kids like Jill? Their success or failure needs lots of help. Keep cutting education budgets. Keep excessing teachers. Keep kids like Jill down. I imagine that is what you wanted from the beginning. You need an uneducated population to serve you and that is one thing you have succeeded in creating.
(Posted while in the air somewhere between NY and LA)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
How did we lose the 100 point exam with 65 as a passing grade? How did an objective subject like math become so subjective?
These kids should speak up for themselves but we all know they don't. This is just another example of how kids, especially kids with special needs fall through the cracks. If not for the proctor, these kids probably would not have gotten their extended time and readers.
The marking groups are made up of several teachers--one effective teacher, one so-so effective teacher and one ineffective teacher. My group had to search for a new member. Guess which one!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Orkut Myspace Angry Comments & Graphics
Instead if displaying horrifying anger, try to find a way to channel the energy into something productive. Some things can be changed if we work together and towards a positive end.
When anger is the only emotion possible, make sure that anger is directed at the right people.
At a nearby Queens high school students were told NOT to bring calculators to the Algebra/Trigonometry regents. Being good students, they obeyed.
At the same Queens high school mentioned above, the administration was NOT prepared to distribute calculators to all the students who showed up to take the Algebra/Trigonometry regents. Some waited over an hour for a calculator to be given to them.
On a more positive note, most of the students at Packemin HS had their own calculators and for those who did not, Mr. AP was well prepared with calculators for all.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
My final exams are all marked and grades are made up and entered. I even made up the last exam my ninth period begged to take tomorrow to improve their grades. (I don't even think they will take it seriously, and it won't change anything. No one can learn a whole terms work in a weekend even if studying was involved. I have to give it a shot--anything for 45 minutes of peace.)
Now, I can concentrate on fun stuff, like vacation!
My daughter is in this weekend and together we hit the city for a big day out.
First, we got off the subway at 63rd and Lex and walked uptown through Central Park. It was a beautiful day for walking. I took a few pictures of the boat basin, a gazebo I never noticed before and some guys practicing some kind of kung fu moves. (see them on facebook.com, if you are interested.)
The Met has a fantastic Picasso exhibit at the moment. I've been to many Picasso exhibits in Spain and France, and a while ago at the Whitney, and I never get tired of looking at his works. I love seeing his early works which are so different from his later cubisms (my favorites.) I took some photos, also on the facebook page. The museum is also running a special exhibit called American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity. (no photos in this exhibit.) If you love looking at clothes the way I do, this exhibit is for you. As much as I love museums, after about two hours, I get a "museum headache" so we left. (We did check out some of the modern art sculptures and photographs on the way out)
After a quick lunch, we headed over to 61st and York to the Mount Vernon Hotel. Tbis NYC landmark is one of the oldest buildings standing and one of only sixty-two fully accredited historic house museums and sites throughout the United States. Although I have lived in NY my entire life and have even worked blocks from here, I never knew this place existed. I never even heard of the day hotel. We had a lovely private tour of the house and the gardens. This is definitely an off the main beat place I would recommend to anyone coming to NYC.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Today, my ninth period class got treated to the Acuity Test. It is great that the city, in this extreme financial crisis, has spent thousands of dollars to give this exam to my students. After all, I certainly am not capable of knowing what they know and don't know. The exams I've given all term and the assessments I've made just watching them mean nothing because I am but a teacher, not a mega company with ties to the billionaires that run the city.
Today was such a meaningful day for my little darlings to take this exam. Their final was Wednesday and yesterday was a day off for them. Monday is the last day of school for the year. Many decided to take an extended weekend so attendance was sparse. The ones that showed up had no interest in taking another exam, especially an exam that would not have any impact on their grade. I tried lying and telling them it would count and this worked until they started asking me questions about what was on the exam. We haven't studied graphing or functions yet and these were some of the first questions they were hit with. The good ones got nervous as they had no idea what these questions were about so I broke down and told them the exam was just a way to access what they knew so their teacher next year would be better able to help them. While not academically smart, these kids are street smart and didn't buy my explanation. Needless to say, we had a sitcom in the making.
Acuity is just another word for crap, the crap we are feeding our kids in this "test only" generation of school. It sucks big time.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I opened the session by telling them to read the weekly bulletin, including attachments. I found out about the PD there and they could do the same. I showed them the some of the Web 2.0 gimmick they could use, taught them how to blabberize and how to make an avatar. I showed them photopeach and wordle and the cute things I was able to make with both. If I say so myself, the slide show of the boy's baseball team that I set to music was great.
It is now evening. I survived my first ever presentation on a PD day. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and most people said they got something out of it. I hope they just weren't being nice and meant what they said.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
THE CLASSES ARE FILLED. THERE IS NO MONEY TO CREATE ADDITIONAL ONES!
So much for this Race To The Top. Our top students are being left at the bottom.
I've been working lunch time with some of my ninth period kids, trying to get them to actually learn some math. By accident, I stumbled upon the idea of a picnic. I let them get their lunch and then we went right out the front door and spread the blanket. I let them eat and do math at the same time. They loved the idea and the kids I've been working with aced the final.
I never requested permission to go out. In fact, there is a good chance I would have gotten stopped if I asked for it. I decided to take a chance. I never left school property so I figured I couldn't get into too much trouble. We plopped ourselves down in plain view of everyone.
My teaching ideas are not for everyone and they all don't work. This one did. The kids loved doing this and every day more and more kids joined in. (Many saw us on their way back from the lunch they snuck out to have.) I don't know why my colleague was so jealous. No one stopped her from bringing in a blanket and doing the same thing.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
My cousin lost his wife a little over two years ago. She was 48 years young, vibrant, happy, full of life. My last memory of her was watching her swing her 11 year old son around the dance floor at a wedding. I had a feeling she wouldn't be around long as she told me she was going to start an experimental program because of the ovarian cancer she had. She never did get to start the program as she died during some exploratory surgery a few weeks later.
What can you say to a 48 year old man who loses the love of his life so prematurely? There are no words to ease his pain. It will be a bitter sweet occasion to see his son become a man without the mother he loves standing by and I know he will need all the support he can get.
We cashed in our frequent flyer miles, booked a cheap hotel and I've got a few personal business days to take. I'll miss being around when my kids take the geometry regents and I will miss graduation, but family comes first. Family will always come first.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Budget cuts are hitting our school and every school severely. Many kids will no longer be able to take a fourth year of math or foreign language. Admission to AP courses will be limited.
But, we elected a mayor who puts the education of NYC students first. How about changing his self imposed title from the Education Mayor to the Hypocrite Mayor? In NYC, it is children last, as always. (He fulfills this title in more ways than one.)
(Quote from one of the hard working young ladies in my ninth period class as we were practicing solving quadratic equations for the final. Thankfully, it stayed in long enough for her to get it correct on the exam.)
"Ms POd, I get it, but then it goes in one ear and out the other."
Sunday, June 06, 2010
My family was one of the first residents. In those days, people moved in according to the floors their apartment was on. We were on the fifth floor and were assigned the third day. It was so exciting. We were getting a terrace and my sister and I were going to share the huge master bedroom with two closets. I still get tingly thinking of our first night in the apartment.
It took five years to complete the complex and after the initial move, people waited years for apartments to become available. I knew I wanted to live there when I first got married so we added our name to a list way before the date.
Today, Co-op City should still be a wonderful place to live. The people that live there are still some of the best people in the world. Everyone is friendly and helpful and caring. But, it takes more than fantastic people to create a desirable neighborhood.
The buildings of Co-op City are coming apart. They are surrounded by barbed wire fences, blocking off exits and paths to the once majestic outdoor areas. Yes, there are still gardens like the one here
but the scaffolding and the barbed wire fences make the area look more like a war zone than a family oriented neighborhood.
And now, to add insult to injury, the staff of Riverbay is on strike. Management wants to cut health benefits to these already underpaid workers in exchange for a 2.3% raise. Garbage is piling up, and there was even a dead rat or bird (I refused to get close or my picture would be better) on the side of one of the buildings.
The people that live in Co-op City are hard working, middle class people. They need and deserve a quality place to live. They work hard and should be getting what they pay for. At this time, they are not. The politicians don't care. They never did. They allowed this magnificent city to be built with sub par materials and then hired cheap, inefficient contractors to fix the mistakes. What has happened here is a crime.
Co-op City, the dream come true has now turned into a nightmare for so many.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Wanting to enjoy the beautiful weather, my husband and I headed over to Freeport, to enjoy their annual Nautical Mile Fair. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenery and the sites only a summer time fair has to offer.
As an added bonus, one of my best blogging buddies who happens to live in the area, joined up with us. We walked and chatted and enjoyed a beer under the gazebo pictured above. My husband finally got to meet someone I've been talking about for years. (I'd mention his/her name but the location of the fair might give way to the real identity.)
I took lots of pictures which are posted here, on my facebook page.
Friday, June 04, 2010
There is no more licensing exam for these positions but a psychological one would surely be worth the money.
For more, read here.
Pictured above is one young man whose arm did not have to be twisted to get him here. This young man has severe disabilities and one of his teachers told me he has seizures several times a day. I don't recall what he got his certificate for, but I will never forget the pride on is face as he walked everywhere, telling anyone who would listen about his award. He never saw me before but that did not stop him from sharing. He allowed me to take his picture (which I e-mailed to him immediately.)