Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It was great seeing them work for a change.

Lucky Star

I've been fortunate in my teaching career. I've always spoken my mind, taken stands on the unpopular and bucked authority and I am still going strong. I don't understand how it has happened. I see people all around me falling for saying and doing less. I must have been born under a lucky star.

(Pictured above--the lucky screen at Empire City that won my dad $50 on a $.10 bet)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Vacation Brings

Having lots of free time today, I took a trip to the Central Library, in Jamaica, my favorite library in Queens. I checked out a bunch of travel books and then headed over to the media section to pick up a couple of movies. On the way, I passed the book pictured above. It actually has nothing to do with calculus but I couldn't resist the title.

Now, to sit back, watch the videos and read this silly book.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Latest E-mail

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.

Departmental Luncheon

I just couldn't get myself to go. Probably no one even noticed I was missing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Ugly Dog

(The following story was sent from a friend. I liked it quite a bit so I decided to share it here. I believe the ugly dog she referred to is an an assistant principal in her school. )

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

Newly rescued Chihuahua takes 'ugliest dog' title

Don't know why I enjoyed this story so much. Chihuahua's are usually not known for their ugliness.

Jun 26, 9:00 PM (ET)


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.

Something Smells

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?"

Happy Retirement Ms. E

Ballet has never been one of my interests but, when a teaching buddy asked me to go to Swan Lake with her, I said yes. She was all excited. We were going to see Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House and the production was by the American Ballet Company. Note, I said she was all excited. I was going because I genuinely like her and I wanted to spend the evening with her. Boy, was I wrong not to be excited. I have never seen anything like this before, although I do remember seeing Swan Lake many years ago. The Opera House itself is magnificent. The crystal chandeliers that go up when the curtain opens is a sight to behold. And, the dancing speaks for itself. How anyone can move the way these dancers do is beyond me. It amazes me when they stand still, in a pose, while the main dancers perform.

The evening came as a special celebration. My friend is retiring this year so Monday will be our last full day together. She is bright, funny and quite outrageous. She says and does things no one else would ever do. Over the years, the kids have complained about her mean disposition. I've told them again and again, "Ms. E is like an M & M, hard on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Her bark is mean but her heart is soft and warm and she goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping her students succeed." Ms. E isn't always easy to be around. When she is pissed off, look out. No one is safe. I know, I've been at the short end of her stick many times. I've learned to back off and disappear until she calms down. She always does. The school system is losing a great teacher and I am losing a favorite colleague but I am not losing a friend. Ms. E, I know you read this blog and I want to say, the following to you openly:

Congrats, happiness, enjoy the beginning of your new stress free life. You worked hard for it and deserve all the good things life has to offer. I will miss seeing you every day but I know you are only a phone call away.

More pictures on facebook.

Teacher Appreciation Song: A Song for Teachers - You Have Made A Difference

Friday, June 25, 2010


Today has to go down in history as the day the DOE did the stupidest thing ever. They opened schools for a full day of classes after all grades have been entered, all regents exam have been taken and everyone who has made it to graduation has graduated.

Classes met for 30 minutes. Several of my classes had ten kids in them but only because I had kids from rooms where the teacher was not present. (My actual attendance was much lower.) The ones that came sat around and socialized. I saw a few sitting in one room playing cards. Several were even watching a movie on an I-Pod. I saw deans and security chasing kids out of the building because all the kids wanted to do was roam the halls.

To some people, appearances are all that matter. Those at Tweed are firm believers in looks are all that matter. No one with an ounce of common sense would have declared today an instructional day. I was under the impression snow days were built into our calendar and if my impression is correct, there was no need for the kids to be in today. But, who am I but a lowly teacher? What could I possibly know about education?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Sign I Can Live By

From the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles.
I'm cheap so I took a picture instead of buying it.

Can Success Be Measured Without Numbers?

I was asked how my Inclusion Boy did on the regents and rather than answering it in a comment, I want to answer that question here.

Unfortunately, he did not pass the regents. He seems unable to score more than 55 although his knowledge of the course is close to 100%. I am no special ed expert but I can see that he can't seem to get what he knows from his brain to his hand. He has no trouble getting it out his mouth. I passed him regardless, he deserves to pass more than almost every other kid in the class, but now the problem comes.

Mr. AP does not want Inclusion Boy to take trigonometry. He feels he will not pass. Inclusion Boy wants to take the class and his parents want him to take it as well. Mr. AP was quite adamant in his refusal to let this child go ahead. I suggested grading him differently from the other kids in the class. He doesn't need the regents to graduate, so why stress over it. Mr. AP was no so agreeable. He asked me if I wanted Inclusion Boy in my class, should I be teaching trig. I told him definitely. He told me he would hold me accountable for Inclusion Boy's passing. I said "fine" and then he started yelling at me, repeating the same question. Again, I answered "fine." Then, he said "You couldn't even get him to pass geometry, how can you get him through trig?" I just said "There is more to learning than the numbers show" and I got up and walked out. I don't know where he will put Inclusion Boy. At one point I did say "You are the boss, you can do whatever you want."

Mr. AP considers himself the "father" of our department and as such, no one should question his moves. Since he is not my father (I do question my father when I disagree with him) and I do question all his moves, you can understand my problems with him.

Inclusion Boy learned quite a bit this year. While his grades don't say mastery, his words do. He only got a 55 on the English regents, yet his English teacher made him student of the month every month and thought he was the class star. His American History teacher has the same glowing things to say about him.

Inclusion Boy will probably not be able to pass the trig regents, but that doesn't mean he can't benefit from being in the class. Differentiated learning should mean evaluating what kids know not only on tests. Besides, all the kids in the class benefit from being around Inclusion Boy.

I don't know what is in store math wise for Inclusion Boy for the fall. I don't want to ask Mr. AP. I will let his mom handle it. It is just so sad to see statistics take over for education and seeing statistics determine who goes ahead and who stays behind.

Hollywood Blvd

Hollywood Blvd pictures here.

I take lots of random people shots so you might find this boring. I love sharing my pics anyway.

How To Get What You Want

When daddy says no, ask mommy. You might get the answer you want. Of course, it helps if you have an angle.

Just A Thought

You can't win on moral grounds if the person you are arguing with has no morals.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lucky Me

I wrote this but never posted it because the situation got smoothed over. I'm so pissed , I should be posting it on this blog instead. of Packemin. The person involved deserves no mercy.

Not Jaded, Realistic

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 Met His Goal

The geometry regents results are in. I am no longer the 60% woman. This term I am the 82.3% woman. Considering the department average is 88%, which includes honor classes, I am quite happy. When I looked at the ARIS records of this class, I saw a pretty sad math history. I was able to reverse quite a few grades and get many to pass.

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.)

This is the first year in over thirty years that I am not agonizing over my regents results. It is not that I don't like the kids, I do. This group, for the most part, is bright, and capable of doing well, if they just did they work. Many of them don't bother. I've made the phone calls and nagged all I can, the rest is up to them.

I've always spent hours outside of class, prepping the kids. I've stayed late and come in on weekends. Years ago, before it became a dangerous thing to do, I used to host study parties in my house. My own kids grew up with my students around. This year, I did none of those things The system has gotten to me. I'm tired of the abuse reaped on teachers whose kids don't perform as well as the admins expect them to. I'm tired of being the 60% woman when I know that without my hard work, I might have been 50%, or even lower.

I am not staying late to mark, or coming in early. My one concession involved tutoring this morning during the time I should have been assisting my AP. I only did that to help my inclusion boy.

I'm torn. I hate what the system has become but I am not ready to tear myself from it.

I've given it my all in the classroom and that is all I am going to give. I looked at some of my kids today and my heart broke knowing that some might not make it.

Santa Monica Photos

The beach was beautiful at dusk and at night. See them here.

Rotation, Yea, Right!

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.

Beverly Hills Bar Mitzvah

I worried for nothing. I should have known better. My cousin, and his late wife are down to earth people. He is a lawyer-partner in a major Los Angeles firm, but he never forgot his roots, and the projects he grew up in. The people he surrounds himself with have similar values and while I am sure I was surrounded by big Beverly Hills money, I came in contact with no Mrs. Drysdales.

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

Don't Wait...

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

Hollywood Motel

I know its Hollywood, but I never expected to be staying on a movie or a set when I made my reservation. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but the motel looks like the one Earl and his brother lived in on My Name Is Earl and the one everyone goes to hide out or die in the movies. It is complete with the manager sitting in a room behind bullet proof glass, a room he never emerges from.

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.

It Won't Be A Trip To Disney

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

More Air Photos


Plane Pictures

Facebook plane pictures--they came out awesome. The pilot said we were over Kansas City.

I love posting from the sky.

From The Air

I love modern technology. My seat has an electrical outlet under it which lets me plug in my computer and download and edit the pictures I took from the plane. As I write this, I am uploading them onto my facebook page, which will be up later today.

Bloomberg Success Story

Jill had a real bad attendance problem and often displayed an attitude problem when she did show up in class. After four phone calls home, a call to guidance and no change, I gave up trying. There were so many needy kids in that one class I used my time and energy to work with the ones I thought I could save.

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


In case you are wondering about all the little posts, it is my way to put off packing. The plane leaves at 6:30 AM tomorrow so I really better get moving.
(Picture is NY skyline from the air)

Marking Regents

We were given a rubric to use to mark the regents. We were told not to go entirely by the rubric because it is often incorrect.

I was so confused. I never thought I would say I preferred proctoring to marking.

Subjective Vs. Objective

I heard the Board of Regents has no idea as to what the passing cut off for the Algebra 2/ Trig Regents should be so they wanted schools to finish marking the exam (given yesterday to over 400 kids), photo copy answer sheets and ship them to Albany by this afternoon. I don't think this happened.

How did we lose the 100 point exam with 65 as a passing grade? How did an objective subject like math become so subjective?

Last Laugh

I looks could kill, I would not be around writing this now. The scowl on the face, the averted eyes make me suspect... (continued here)

The Right Needs To Talk To The Left

Someone needs to tell the left hand what the right hand is doing. I don't care who is doing test programming, it has got to be done correctly. Different departments have to work together to help the kids.

Five boys arrived at the walk in room of Living Environment exam this afternoon, five boys who have IEPs and special testing conditions. Five boys arrived to take an exam where no provisions were made to give them these special conditions. The proctor recognized one of the boys and called around to make sure he was taken care of. The other kids were noticed and helped because of this one boy.

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.

Not Good Enough

I was not good enough to teach trig so I am not good enough to mark it either. Yesterday I fed scan trons through the machine. Today, I volunteered to proctor two sessions so I only had to mark once. I made myself happy.

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


Free Orkut and My Space Angry Graphics Glitters
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.

More Bang For Your Buck

Instead of laying off teachers, schools should be laying off administrators. The last ones in should be the first ones let go. Most are so inexperienced they don't have a clue as to what to do. They could all be replaced by an experienced teacher coordinator. At least two teachers, possibly more, could be saved for every admin. Think how the kids could benefit with more bodies in the classroom.

Stupid Admin

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

Last Class Day

When everyone around me is going nuts, I get an e-mail like the one below from one of last year's geometry students:

Hey Mrs.POd,

I'm taking the Trig regents tomorrow in room XX and I just wanted you to wish me luck and brighten my day. I am not very confident that I will pass them and if I don't I fail the entire course. I hate the math policy =( I just wish I pass, this is the last year of math I am taking and I don't want anything to ruin it. Wish me luck please I think of you as a good luck charm =) cause last year you gave me the strength to take the regents and passed with a 85 !!
Love you.

Most of my classes left today with minimum goodbyes and I didn't feel the sorrow I usually feel at the end of the term. I did get a really nice tote bag from one of my calculus students. It was especially nice because she hand picked different messages with special meanings for each of the recipients and I got a gift card from my special love, my inclusion boy. Believe it or not, the highlight of my day came from my crazy ninth period class. Each kid hugged me goodbye, told me how much they were going to miss me, and even told me I was a good teacher, in spite of yelling at them all term. After a year of torture, I find out they actually liked me.

A few months ago, I was determined to leave in June. Now, I don't know. I'm not waiting for retirement to start my life. I already do lots of traveling and pretty much whatever else I want to do. I'm weak. I need these kids in my life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Feel Good

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!

Birthday Present?

Free Orkut and My Space Happy Birthday Graphics Glitters
Orkut Myspace Happy Birthday Comments & Graphics

How would you feel if your children (not mine) chipped in to buy you liposuction for your birthday. (You are far from over weight and have not an ounce of visible fat on you.)

Bring Back This Punishment

Tar and feather her, I say!

City Day

Going to California Thursday means I needed a NYC tourist day this weekend.

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, 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

Angry Mob

This picture could have been taken at yesterday's UFT meeting.

Testing Crap

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.

Crazy Kids

The kids in my ninth period class actually want me to be their teacher next year.

How weird is that?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Surprise, Surprise

What a surprise, another teacher has been targeted!

My First PD

A few weeks ago, I went to a professional development session at I had a great day, but with everything good, there comes bad and today that bad happened. I had to present a workshop on what I learned. Anyone who knows me (or reads this blog) knows how I feel about PD, so the idea of me sitting in front of a room and doing the talking put my stomach in knots. To top off my butterflies, I only sat through one three hour session which, with breaks and starting late probably only lasted two hours so I am as far from qualified as possible. But payback is a bitch, so I reluctantly paid back and did as good as job as possible. I hoped the people showing up would not expect much so they would not be disappointed.

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.

Repeat After Me

It's not life or death. It's only a job.

I have my health. I have my family. I have a good job that I am in no danger of losing.

I will not raise my blood pressure and risk a stroke or a heart attack.

It's only a job.

Jump Start

Jump Start

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Thank You Mr. President

The top kids in my geometry class, a recent immigrant from South America, wants to double up in math next year. He has the brains and the ability and the desire to take pre-calculus before he graduates. He can't do it, and would you like to know why?


So much for this Race To The Top. Our top students are being left at the bottom.

Picnic Study Group

A colleague saw me carrying around my big quilt today and said in a slippy tone, "Only you get to bring your class outside." I just looked at her in disbelief as she had no idea as to what she was saying.

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.

Jump Start

Jump Start

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Bitter Sweet Ocassion

Next week we are going to California to celebrate the bar mitzvah of my cousin's youngest son. I didn't bother going out when the older two had their big days. It just seemed like too big of a trip for family members I hadn't seen in years. Things change. We get older and what was not important before becomes important now.

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

Mayor Hypocrite

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.)

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

"Ms POd, I get it, but then it goes in one ear and out the other."

(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.)

Just Reward

This mess finally got cleaned up. I loved watching the person doing it get down and dirty.

I could have offered to help, but I just walked away. It felt good.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Seeing Red

In my department, final exams are supposed to be a major part of the final grade. I just finished looking at the geometry final I am supposed to give on Wednesday and feel sick. This exam covers lots of the material I taught from September to January and touches on the stuff covered from February through June. The algebra final I was handed had the same problems.

I know the kids have to take a regents that covers the entire year, but shouldn't the final reflect the work we have finished this semester, especially since that is what their grade should be reflect?

(Before anyone bitches about why I didn't make up the exams, I'll explain here. I offered to write the first part of the geometry final. In fact, I wrote the first part of the exam which was dismissed as being no good without anyone bothering to tell me what they didn't like about it. I decided to give it to my classes anyway and three teachers came to get copies of it to give to theirs. After the first dismissal, I decided not to bother doing any work for the second part. As for the algebra exam, I was only shown it late on Friday. I offered a few suggestions but not enough since I hadn't had time to look at it carefully until just now. Maybe certain people don't believe teachers need to be experienced, but writing a good exam does require practice and know how.)

Devastation In The Bronx

Co-op City opened up in 1969. It was the hope of the middle class, a chance to own something, a chance to give your family an affordable, brand new apartment, with all modern conveniences. It was a dream come true for the people moving there, people moving from walk up tenements and city housing projects. It was the chance to have a life many thought they would never be able to afford.

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

Added Bonus

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

Needed: Psychological Exams

People with personality disorders should not become supervisors, especially in a school setting. There are too many fragile lives at stake.

There is no more licensing exam for these positions but a psychological one would surely be worth the money.

For more, read here.

Award NIght

Last night was Awards night. I always try to go because lots of my students win multiple times. Unfortunately, they don't enjoy the night as much as I do. Many choose to skip it altogether and some of the ones that do come don't even bother inviting their parents. Someone in the college office told me they had a hard time even getting kids who won money to show up.

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.)

I won't deny the joy I felt watching the celebration of the accomplishments of my students, but none of this matches the pleasure I felt watching this young man bask in the glory of his own success.