Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Most Important Part Of A School?

Could poor bulletin boards really get a school closed down?

If so, we might as well give up now.

Knee Jerk Reaction

It shouldn't matter, but I can't help the way it makes me feel.  It is that involuntary reaction, kind of like when your knee jumps when the doctor hits it with his little hammer.

I was going over homework, turned and saw Principal and AP standing outside my door, ready to make an entrance.  I told my class, an enthusiastic calculus group, to be good, as we were getting company.  They responded immediately.

In past years, that alone would have relaxed me.  Supervisors looked for kids who were quiet and  working but now a days that is not enough.  I know the kids are supposed to do most of the talking and I am supposed to ask the questions that will elicit their answers rather than giving them myself.  Normally, I do teach this way but not always and not at that time.

As I said, I was in the middle of going over homework when they entered.  The assignment was on an overhead, done by a student, but I was doing the explaining.  Many of my students do not speak English well and some barely speak it at all.  It is more efficient time wise to do all the talking.  (We went to single period this term and I am worried about time.)  I could have switched gears when I saw them about to enter, but I am what I am and putting on a show is not something I am comfortable with so I kept doing what I do, teach the way I think is best.

Surprisingly, I haven't heard a negative word.  Mr. AP, who usually never misses a chance to have a go at me didn't say anything when I saw him later on in the day.  Maybe there is something to say about all these mini visits.  It gives the admins a chance to see what we are all about all the time and it does take the pressure off when a bad lesson has been taught.

My reaction is not a fear of an unsatisfactory less but a matter of pride.  A friend told me she never goes to the supermarket in sweats and no make up because she wants to look her best for anyone she happens meet.  I'm not into makeup or clothes but I do want to be at my best whenever anyone is in my room.  Being good and looking good there is something that matters to me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Memo 93

Why is it when admins make a mistake, it is because they are human and busy.  When teachers make a mistake, even when they admit a mistake, they are castrated publicly.  Explanations and apologies are not allowed.  (At least I manage to divert a private session with the admin in question.)

We are not Supermen.  (See the movie, if you have doubts about that.)

I made the memo again!  Two out of two ain't bad.  I feel a challenge coming on.  I wonder what I can do to make it to memo number 3.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cut Off At The Knees


Replace Him With A Computer

I always come home from work full of dirt I want to unload on this blog.  Today, instead of unloading first, I went to read some of the blogs I haven't had time to look at today and found this from our wonderful chancellor. (thanks to Gotham Schools for sharing the link.)  My dirt will have to wait.

Q What about the “seat time” rule, which makes students spend a required number of hours in a classroom, rather than learning partly online?

A [We’re] trying to move the state away from its ridiculous seat-time requirement, the featherbedding requirement for teachers, meaning you have to have a teacher in order to get credit.

As long as a kid can knock down algebra, why should we worry about the magic ingredient and how he got it?
Read the rest of the article here, on this rag that calls itself a newspaper.

I read this in disbelief. 

How can these words be coming out of the mouth of the Chancellor of NYC Schools?  How perposterous!  Kids need to learn in an environment with other children.  They need to work together and to learn together.  They need teacher explanations.  They need a human touch.  They need this all the time!

What this city does not need is a chancellor who knows nothing about education.  He's te one that should be replaced by a computer.  As long as the school system is beign ruined anyway, why should we worry about the magic ingredient that is causing its damnation?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Miserable "Human" Being

The register of my ninth period class gets smaller and smaller every day.  I wondered if the class was going to be disbanded and went to ask.  Here is the answer I got:

"No, we have several classes with low registers.  When the kids come to complain, I try to move them and make them happy."

I couldn't believe what I heard.  First, kids are being moved from my 9th to my 7th period so they aren't exactly getting a teacher change. And second, you can say a lot of things about me but that are probably true but kids complaining is not one of them.  Kids beg to get into my class if they are taking what I am teaching and get upset when they find I can't be their teacher.  I was told a parent was in tears at a PTA meeting last year because her child could not be in my class.

My question, asked innocently, and with the intent of being able to plan better was met with a blow so hard that if I did not have a cement foundation, I would have crumbled.

I am angry at the comment but I am not hurt by it.  I know whence it came and take it as such.  However, I won't forget it and there will be a penalty charged for it in the future.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Superman Is Already Here

I just marked my first algebra exam of the semester.  In a class of 34 students, the grades ranged from 11 to 93.  Sixteen of the kids got grades of 80 or above while 10 scored under 50, 6 under 40.

Someone with super powers is needed to teach a group this large with this diversity. If I go too fast, or do problems too difficult, I am losing half the class.  If I stick to snail's speed many will be bored.  I heard a boy in another algebra class say,"This must be a special ed class because we are going so slow." (My class is not unique.)

These kids are in a four term class which means none are math super stars and while they can and do do well, they cannot learn on their own. 

Klein praises Waiting For Superman.  He should realize that to be a NYC public school teachers is to have super powers.  He has nothing to wait for.



Difficult Conditions Makes Cranky People Cranky

No place to call home makes people cranky.  Walking around with everything you own on your back makes it ache.  Using filthy public computers that are too slow and often not working well makes using the computer undesirable.  Standing over a smelly garbage can while calling a parent and then running back to the disgusting computer to log the call and relay a message to guidance hurts a lunch appetite.

Teachers aren't the only ones over worked.  Guidance counselors have way many kids on their case loads and there is no physical way for them to know all of them, let alone help them.  For most, the kid is just a name on a page and even the most conscientious has an impossible job.

No matter what anyone thinks, working in an over utilized, over stuffed building like the one Packemin is in, is not good for anyone.  It causes short fuses and it makes people say and do things they often wish they could retract.  Today's emphasis on grades and standardized exams puts undo pressure on everyone and pushes all to the breaking point.

I might not have to worry about certain things, but seeing what goes on and passes for an education hurts.  Seeing how the school system has deteriorated under the terror reign of Bloomberg makes it impossible to sit back and say and do nothing.

I apologize to anyone who has been hurt by anything written on this blog, but I don't retract anything I have written.  The majority of the people that work at Packemin HS, whether they be teachers, counselors, paras, school aides, cafeteria workers or security are fine hard working people.  It is conditions they work under that are not so fine.


Don't read anything into these posts.  They are the ramblings of a teacher disgusted with the system.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Call Me

They lashed out at teachers claiming we don't let them know what is going on with students.  They said forcing us to use computers would get us to give them information to help them do their jobs.

We don't have easy access to computers but many of us have started doing this anyway.  We found mistakes they made and had questions about things they did.  They have easy computer access yet only a few bother to send responses.  Even second request e-mails go unanswered.

This reminded me of the friend I used to have who always claimed I never call.  I did call her.  I stopped when she stopped returning my calls.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Class Size Matters

 Today was test number one for my algebra kids. 

My period 7 class has 34 kids in it, 34 kids who show up on a regular basis.  They aren't a bad group but they need non stop monitoring.  No one would believe the sounds that came out of some while they were taking the test.  They weren't cheating or even talking just making some strange noises which, I'm not even sure some knew they were making.  It was a very strange situation.  Proctoring this group was much harder than teaching them.

My period 9 class has  register of 19.  I probably shouldn't advertise this but with computers and all, someone will pick it up anyway and the dynamics will change.  Today, one went home sick, two new admits did not show and one regular was absent.  Because it is a small group and very manageable, I called the father of my absent girl while the kids were working.  Naturally he had no idea as to why she was not in class and although he did not jump to conclusions, he said he would get an answer about her attendance when she got home.  The best thing about the call was the reaction of the kids in the class.  They couldn't believe I had done that.  They told me they wouldn't mess around with me because I mess around with them.  One girl, with a history of cutting said, "Damn, I'm glad I saw that.  Now I am never going to cut this class."

The ed deformers never mention class size.  The Post accused a Queens high school of crying crocodile tears because they filed a law suit about class size.   I couldn't have made the call I did period 7.  Small classes are a big part of the answer.

(BTW, I have a letter to the editor in the Post relating to this article.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


To quote a dear friend:

You can't have a third floor without  first and second floors.
You can't teach math 3 and 4 if the students do not know math 1 and 2.

Let Them Eat Cake

The class does not count as part of a regular program.  It is not included in the regular school day so it does not count as a sixth class.  We get none of the benefits teachers with a sixth period get.  It is possible for us to have four preps and four classes in a row as this class does not count.  Aside from regular work any teacher has, there is a ton of paperwork.  We must submit weekly attendance online too.  In spite of this, we are expected to do scan sheets and grades and other high school related stuff.  And now, I was told to do this too.  Well, its not going to happen.  If you want the work, give the time to do it.


Don't discount kids with IEPs. One of my top AP calculus students this term has one.   I'll make sure she gets her extended time and her resource room teacher will do the rest!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Petition To Oprah

Let's try to get Oprah to have Diane Ravitch on. Sign the petition here.

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

Here's a novel idea that will help our students and not cost the city a dime.

Jiaq, a new immigrant from Pakistan, is taking an algebra class and Ms. Panto, a math teacher is teaching the class Jiaq needs to pass. Wouldn't it be great if Jiaq and all the new arrivals could be in Ms. Panto's class? Jiaq would not feel so lost if he could ask a private question in his own language. Ms. Panto could certainly offer him words of encouragement and a little extra help with words he could understand.

I won't take credit for this idea. It came from one of my algebra students as she watched a young man, in this country only a month, struggling in class. This seemed so simple to implement I immediately went to Mr. AP. He agreed and made the change immediately. Jiaq was happy with Ms. Panto. Ms. Panto was thrilled to be able to help Jaiq and practice her language. It was a win-win situation for all.

Notice, I used the word WAS. Ms. Panto told me Jaiq had a program change and was no longer in her class. She had no idea where he ended up. Being the rabble rouser that I am, I went in search of Guardian Angel. I explained the situation and she promised to get on it and get Jaiq and Ms. Panto back together. I'm confident by tomorrow this will be done.

There are no bilingual classes in Jaiq's language. Teachers like Ms. Panto are the only hope for kids like Jaiq. With ARIS and all the other sophisticated computer programs around, shouldn't it be easy to find these kids and put them with teachers they can help them in a language they can understand? I'm sure there are others floating around that need the same help. And Mayor Money Bags, this won't have any affect on the additional 2.7% you are cutting from our school's budget so you can still hire your expensive consultants and private contractors.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Liar Beware

I hate when someone lies to my face and expects me to believe. Post here.

Please Do This

Petition to Oprah: Please book Diane Ravitch to tell the other side of the story.

How Come?

How come the DOE get away with stuff like this? Standards are good. The way they are being applied is not.

Quote Of The Day

"It takes me more time to get back and forth from school than I actually spend in the building."

Quote from a former student, a senior who was only given three classes this semester. When he asked his counselor for more, he was told, "Sorry, due to the budget there are none available.."

Monday, September 20, 2010


School officials have found a way to make even those disasterous test scores sound good.

84% of the elementary and middle schools who got A's last year will get no lower than C's this year.
13% of the schools that earned B's will get no lower than a D
The top 25% of city scorers will earn no lower than a C

"We aren't going to allow progress to be completely discounted simply because the [scoring of the state exam] changed," said city Education Department spokesman Matt Mittenthal yesterday.

Ludicrous. I started writing a commentary on the above and then gave up. Those words speak for themselves. Read the entire article in today's Daily News. I want to thank Gotham Schools for pointing this stuff out.


I read this article in the Post today, thanks to a Gotham School link, lost my cool and wrote to them. Every teacher and parent needs to do the same.

It's been an explosive afternoon. Thanks to the encouragement of a post by Mrs. Chili, I called 311 and lodged a complaint about a nearby school that has no problem putting up traffic cones to block city streets when its students get out of school in the afternoon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Questions For The Deformers

1. Why don't you ask for smaller classes? Don't you realize teacher will do a better job with a smaller group of kids?

2. Why don't you ask for better learning conditions? Wouldn't kids do better if they were not forced to sit in dilapidated trailers and bathrooms? Wouldn't they work better with air conditioning in the warm weather?

3. Why do you want kids to spend more time preparing for exams than they spend learning? Why don't you want kids to learn to think for themselves?

4. I heard Judge Judy tell a fire fighter that she wouldn't tell him how to put out a fire because that is not her field of expertise so he shouldn't tell her how to judge. Why do you think you can tell educators how to teach when education is something you know nothing about?

I know why you blame teachers instead of trying to fix the problem. Real fixes cost money, big money that you and everyone else are unwilling to spend on public school children. Teachers are expendable. Colleges graduate enough new ones every year to guarantee there will be replacements for all the teachers who have had careers destroyed or have just been driven away by people like you. These new teachers are cheap. They won't last, but that is what you want. This way you can avoid pensions and high salaries. As for the kids, you don't really care if they learn or not, you just want someone to blame.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

L'Shana Tova

Sitting in temple all day is tough. My Hebrew is not as good as it should be and I tend to lose my place quite a bit. I also like to understand what I am reading so my eyes tend to drift to the English translations. There are people walking in and out, clothes and jewelry to check out and conversations to eavesdrop on. It is hard to pay attention.

Sitting in synagogue this year made me think about what some of my students must be going through. The third term algebra classes are full of kids who did not pass algebra 2. They need to know what was taught in algebra 2 to be successful in algebra 3 and 4. They are now expected to be able to solve quadratic equations while most cannot factor and many have no grasp of signed numbers. Some try for a while and then their attention turns to cell phones, I-pods and conversations with their neighbors. Others put their heads down and go to sleep. The room pass is in constant use. I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of the same things. The use of electronic devices is forbidden on the holiday, but day dreaming and frequent walks to the bathroom are not. I want to be in temple and immerse myself in the observation of my holiday, but I can't. I think of my poor students. Many have close to perfect attendance but do nothing in class. They are the ones that feel like I do. I know some just come to socialize and there are groups of people that come to synagogue for the same reason.

I know, for me, the answer would be to study more, to improve my skills to be able to participate fuller. I tell myself I will do this every year, but so far, I have not listened. It is hard and time consuming and to tell the truth, I am not very good at languages. My kids know they should also study more but they face the same obstacles I do.

I don't have answers, I wish I did. I've often heard people say, "If the kids just applied themselves more, they would succeed." Thee people should spend a day as I just did, trying to keep up with something they do not have skills to keep up with. Maybe that would at least help them become more understanding and then maybe someone could arrive at a solution to the problem.

Check Out Fidgety's Latest Post

If You Knew Betsey

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thanks Obama, For Nothing!

Many of the better colleges require their students to come from high school with four years of math. Not an unreasonable request, right? Well, in the quest to save money, the majority of kids at Packemin are not getting that option. Courses like Discrete Math, pre-calculus for seniors and non-AP calculus are no longer in the budget. The courses the local junior college offers on our campus are not available to them either as they have been filled with juniors needing an extra class. The kids are upset and so are their parents.

A young woman came to me with her mom today, begging for admission to my college class. Since the class is capped at 25 (college rules) and there are 25 attending, I had to stay firm and say no! She didn't want to hear that and kept repeating her need for a fourth year of math. She also gave me quite a story as to how we could let her take her class, but that is a story for another time on the other blog.

All I've got to say now is thanks Obama, thanks for your RTTT money, money to use to collect data and to evaluate teachers. Money not to be used to actually help our students reach the top, money to be used for credit recovery and test prep, things that help our stats, but not our students. How can you say everyone should go to college when money you have given to the schools is not being used to help kids get into college? How can you be such a hypocrite? How would you feel if this girl was your child?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wrong Profession

My bed calls for me. The fridge is holding out that ice cold beer.

Both will have to wait.

I have lessons to write, homeworks to mark.

I want to hurt everyone who says teaching is a part time job.

No time to write the post burning inside of me.

I should have become an ed deformer. At least then I would have my evenings free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ed Deformers Make Me Want To Hurt Someone

I started out only half listening to South Bronx Teacher's broadcast last night. (I was working on some lesson planning at the time.) But, the more I listened, the more the broadcast got my interest and the faster my blood boiled. I swear, I would be behind bars right now if that ed deformer Grunfeld and I were in the same room. This jerk only knows one thing about teachers and that has to do with data. He has absolutely no clue as to what goes on in a classroom and just the thought of people like him having the ability to decide if I am competent at my job makes me want to cry. It also makes me glad I am at the end of my career and have nothing to worry about when it comes to guys like this one.

Anyway, I didn't start this post to continue the beating he got last night. All this data stuff reminded me of an incident that occurred during an AP exam several years ago. Mohammad, an extremely bright and hardworking young man, accidentally skipped one line while bubbling answers on the scan tron for his BC exam. Unfortunately, the skipped line was at the beginning of the test. Because of this, his answers were marked incorrect and instead of the 5 he should have earned, he got a 1 on the exam. Relying on data would make this child and his teacher look incompetent and both were anything but that.

Everyone wants good teachers in the school, everyone, even the teachers. We don't want to clean up other people's messes when we pick up kids who can't do the work they should. We don't want classes of 34 because we are "good" while someone else gets a class of 10 because he is "not". But, test scores are not the way to determine this.

Good principals and good APs know what is going on in every classroom. They see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears what the kids are doing and learning every day. They hear what kids say, and listen. They should able to judge if what they are hearing is worth investigating. (We do need a way to police these principals as there are too many unscrupulous ones around that use their authority to hurt good teachers.) In spite of what most people think, teachers do not have life long jobs. Tenure protects and guarantees due process, but that is all it does. Everyday, teachers lose their jobs. Some deserve to lose them and many do not.
So don't blame unions, don't blame tenure and certainly don't look at data to know if your child's teacher is proficient or not. Look at the whole picture.

BTW Grunfeld, that math teacher understand statistics much better than you ever will. Many years ago, we had a teacher in my department who scared the crap out of all but the best kids. When program cards were given out, the kids lined up at guidance, begging and pleading for a program change. She also manged to remove any kid who was failing. Her stats were always the best in the department and this was thrown in the face of every other teacher for years. Another teacher in my department was driven to a sabbatical by some rough kids. A new, pretty young thing was hired to take her place. The first thing that happened was the worst offenders in her classes were removed. Her stats and her classroom management were much better than that of the person she took over from. Fair? I don't think so. Would you want your career's future managed this way? I doubt that very much. Don't talk about all things being equitable. In real life, they never are.

I don't know anything about LAUSD but I do know about the NYC DOE. It has been shown that the tests are invalid. Why would anyone in his right mind want his child's teachers evaluated using these invalid instruments of measure?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Internet Radio Broadcast Tonight

Next South Bronx School Internet Radio Cast
Tuesday night, September 14 @ 9 PM Eastern

Internet radio.

The call in # is (917) 932-8721

Is This Real?

It would be funny if it weren't true.

If someone could not swim, would you take them diving? If they couldn't see, would you let them drive a car? In education, being unable to do A seems to have nothing to do with moving ahead to do B. No one wants to be held accountable. Someone else is always being faulted for either not following the rules, for not understanding the rules or for making stupid rules.

I feel like I am living in a "He Said, She Said" reality show. Anyone watching would not believe it wasn't scripted. The saddest part is the kids who are caught in the middle.

For more of my frustrations, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Conversation With A Student

Me: I missed you Wednesday. Why weren't you in school?
Student: Ms, I had to go shopping for school supplies.

At least she had a pen and a notebook today.


I just went through the transcripts of all my algebra kids. All I've got to say is

I'm on my way to the college soon, but I promise a good post on this when I get back. Unfortunately, most of the post will be on the other blog. I promised a certain person that I like and respect I would not go off about certain things on this blog. I hope he realizes he will owe me for not writing it here.

I Will Not

To find out what I am saying no to, click here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

City Day

Wonderful daughter is in for the holiday and we got to treat her to a Broadway show, Brief Encounters. No reviews were available when I bought the tickets but it sounded interesting so we took a chance. It was very good and very different. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something out of the ordinary.

After the show, which was only 90 minutes, we walked down to the Stand, on 12th St for dinner They make a mean veggie burger and a great toasted marshmallow shake. On the way we passed the Limelight, which is an old church turned into a modern mini mall with lots of cute shops. Sorry, no great pics, I only had my little point and shoot with me. I put them here.

(Pictures taken from 54th and 8th, looking north.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Teach 'Em To Fish

ARIS makes creating class lists a breeze. All you have to do is open the page, click on the little export in the corner, save the file on an Excel spread sheet, delete the stuff you don't need and auto fit or change the column sizes to what you want and then save the document in a place and with a name you will remember. It sounds complicated but it really is not. Everything is menu driven, easy to follow. (When you are taught correctly.)

I didn't realize until this week how computer illiterate some of my colleagues are. My poor friend almost had a heart attack when she found out she would need to do this for one of her classes. I said, "Never fear, you too shall be an expert in only a few minutes."

Unfortunately, on the day of the lesson, several cackling cronies were in the audience and their snarky comments and giggles unnerved her, but she persevered nevertheless. I refused to touch the keyboard as I gently pointed out the menus she needed to use and the places her mouse had to glide. Before long, she was the one laughing and her hecklers were looking mighty sad.

When we finished the spread sheet, we had to attach it to a file and e-mail it to the person in charge. My poor colleague did not know about the little paper clip and the fact that the file had to be closed before it could be attached. Again, once this was pointed out, she became an attaching fool.

We've had countless staff developments on ARIS and e-mails. We've been shown templates and files and other stuff that are relevant only to the application we are reviewing at that moment. No one ever bothered to go through a menu and to explain the why and how things work.

Attaching a file or exporting a document are easy if you've been around computers for a while. Many teachers have not. To get them proficient, they need basics. They need to be taught the same way we teach children. They need to understand and be able to explore concepts on their own. Only this way will they be able to fully use the wonderful technology available.

I had the same problem trying to learn the Smart Board and the graphing calculator. Instead of menus, I was shown templates and given long written sets of instructions. It was only when I found a friend willing to go through each application was I able to fully understand and apply. By doing this together, I even helped this friend increase her basic knowledge.

This all gets down to one thing. We need to not learn by rote, we need to understand. When I teach a new math concept, I try to get the kids to understand why things work the way they do, introduce common sense rather than memorization. I started doing this years ago when I first started teaching calculus. The AP test is designed to test thinking and applications, not concepts memorized from a book. Over the years I have tried to incorporate these same skills into every class, even the special education ones I taught years ago. Surprisingly, it works pretty well.

If you give a man a fish, he has dinner for the night but if you teach him to fish, he has dinner for life. We all need life long nourishment.

Canine Blogger

It seems everyone has a chihuahua story. I usually don't go with guest posts, but I got this one from the guy posted above and I wanted to share. Enjoy.

Even though he became pack leader he knew himself that it is was only from his bark being the loudest of the pack. In the beginning he was able to use the older, wiser Chihuahuas for their knowledge, wisdom and loyalty to past leaders. The older chihuahuas were always respected by others, something the young pup wanted and longed for. He came up with a brilliant idea and even licked paws at the thought that it was all his idea! He gathered new, young chihuahuas, ones that other packs didn't want. He would give them a home, food and a pack to be part of. He would win them over. He would have his own pack of loyal chihuahuas, ones that thought he was the wisest and the most knowledgeable! He stood up in pride as he watched these new puppies all around him, doing whatever he asked and barking whenever he asked. One problem: the young chihuahuas also wandered toward the older wiser Chihuahuas. They also knew of their wisdom and knowledge. The pack leader did not like what was going on. How would he be able to control them? Get them to bark when he wanted? He made sure that the young chihuahuas were busy with menial jobs when the older dogs were gathered and resting. They would never get a chance to be together. He would make sure their loyalty stayed with him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't Worry, They All Get Toilet Trained

That was the line a friend told me the instructor used in a class his wife made him take when his young son refused to give up his diapers. And, the teacher was correct. The dad is proud to say his son, now a 28 is no longer wearing diapers.

Dad has a lot more reasons to be proud of this boy. The whole training story was brought up because son had been a student of mine in a remedial math class many years ago. It took lots of phone calls home and charity on my part to get him through the course. Son always talked about his desire to be an aeronautical engineer and although I never said anything negative to him, I never thought it was possible.

I am happy to say I was wrong. Son was just a late bloomer. It took him quite a while to grow into his brain, but grow he did. The instructor was right, in more ways than he knew.

Going For It

My daughter's boyfriend introduced me to Groupons. Until yesterday, I have just been browsing the pages. Thursday's deal was a $30 certificate to Darryl Strawberry's new restaurant for only $15. I figured, what's $15 but a few beers. How could I go wrong and I bought one. Now, today's deal has me. It's from Philadelphia, which is not too far:

Today's Deal: $115 for a Tandem Jump at Skydive Philadelphia ($195 Value) .

I think I am going to go for it. I've had the urge to jump for years and never made the time. This will force me to do it. I'm taking him and my daughter with me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

First Day

Attendance was surprisingly excellent. My calculus classes had 100%, but that was expected. My college class had close to 100%, but that class is period 1 and that attendance was expected too. It might be a college class in a high school, but think community college and things will become clearer. As for my two algebra classes, I was only missing three or four kids in each, typical of the first day, so things might be off to a good start.

Due to the austerity budgets too many kids were being deprived of a fourth year of math so I suggested dropping my 7 -8 calculus class (kids met 2 or 3 additional periods a week which for me amounted to an extra class) to create a third class. We finally have an administration that listens and this is going to happen. More work for me but I don't mind. The joy on the faces of the kids who will now be able to take the class is priceless. I know the AP scores might go down but it is worth taking a chance. We can thank our RTTT money and our wonderful mayor for providing what is necessary for the best kids in the city. (Sarcasm intended!)

I have to admit that the algebra classes have me a little apprehensive. I haven't taught for this particular regents, and the kids are extremely weak. I worry about discipline. But, I've decided to come on strong. I am going to make them sit in rows, something I haven't done in years. I already instilled fear in some when I saw the cell phone out or the hat on. Instead of Delaney cards, I handed them a work sheet consisting of last year's topics, things they need for the regents. I also told them that whatever wasn't completed was for homework and I don't play with that. Hopefully, I will be able to keep this up. Army regimentation is not my style and not the warm, fuzzy stuff in style today.

Standing in front of the room, walking around, trying to learn names and personalities felt good. I so want to retire but when I think about giving this up, I start getting depressed. I know a good start to the year means nothing and I won't complain if things turn and I give me that push out the door I know I need.

Mulgrew's Propoganda

From Mulgrew's latest e-mail:
We reached a landmark agreement with the city to shut down the so-called "rubber rooms" and put a faster, fairer hearing process in place.
Go visit Fidgety or Moriah and get the facts from people who have been there.

Mulgrew and company are feeding us some pretty heavy propaganda. For teachers like the two mentioned above, nothing has changed.

Shuffling The Deck

The more you shuffle a deck of cards, the more useless they become. Casinos discard decks after a few hours of play.

The DOE is in the process of shuffling ATRs. Teachers from school A have been moved to school B and the ones in B are now in A. The DOE does not want them to get comfortable. They know new environments are often unnerving. They can't fire the ATRs so they are using psychological warfare, hoping this constant shuffling will wear them out and they will retire, like the decks of used cards.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Stupid Me

I make it a practice to walk everywhere that is less than a mile from my house, especially when I don't have much to carry.

I walked to the supermarket, a mere 1/2 mile from my house to pick up a dozen eggs, all I needed. But, orange juice was on sale so I just had to buy two half gallons. We want to make waffles this weekend and when the quart of buttermilk called my name, I just had to take it as well.

I should have called home and someone would have picked me up. But, I am stubborn and I have pride. I walked it all home. My arms ache. I am really not too bright.


My inclusion boy passed three regents this summer--ENGLISH, EARTH SCIENCE and GEOMETRY!

It just shows that with a little extra time and help, many kids can succeed. For more on him, click here.

Money Isn't Everything

I could have taught a sixth class which would have boosted my pension by big bucks, but I decided life is too short to work so hard. You never know when your last day on earth will be and I don't want mine to be spent slaving away.

Moving Ahead

How would you handle this?

Jill got a 65 in first term algebra and a 45 in second term algebra. What class should she be programmed for now?

Well, if you came up with Algebra 2, go directly to jail. Don't pass go, and don't collect $200. But, if you said Algebra 3, you landed on free parking and get to collect all the money in the middle because you guessed correctly.

You see, Jill is being moved ahead, the thing our illustrious education mayor wants more than anything. And, it is cheaper to move Jill ahead than to create the classes kids like her need. See, kids like Jill are not being left behind at all.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Feeling Good

The alarm ringing early, the boring meetings, the throngs of kids waiting for program cards, I didn't care.

It felt good to be back.

I probably won't be able to say the same thing in a few weeks, but for now it works. At my age, day by day is what counts.

(Pictured above--my nerd clock, courtesy of my two wonderful children)

They Killed Kenny

For those too mature to watch South Park (obviously I am not one of them), I will tell you that Kenny, one of the little boys, comes from a very poor family. He always wears a parka pulled so tightly that it covers his face and muffles his voice. In the first five seasons, Kenny would die in almost every episode and then reappear the following week. Doing something so despicable to a poor boy didn't really matter. No one, except for his friends and his family would miss him.

Bloomberg, in his infinite school budget wisdom, has killed the fourth year of high school math. Kids who want to take calculus, pre-calculus or discrete math as seniors are being deprived of the opportunity. Only a select group, the elite of the elite, will have classes funded and will be able to carry on.

In this day and age, where we are supposed to be moving everyone ahead, for every baby step we take forward, we are taking giant steps backward. Even expressions like "please" or "may I" are useless. There is no money for the education of New York City children. They are like Kenny, the poor, the ones that do not count for anything.

So, my message to Bloomberg and Klein:


1:36 AM

The time programs were sent out for the new school year.

Teachers go back today. School starts tomorrow. Lots of time to prepare NOT!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ethnic Neighborhoods

If you can't travel, or don't like to fly, you can experience much of the world from visiting different NYC neighborhoods.

Just jumping in the car and driving less than 15 minutes brought us to the Orient today. After an interesting walk through the Queens Botanical Gardens, we walked up Main Street and passed stores and restaurants rivaling all in China Town and I am sure many in Asia itself, although I have never been there to compare.

Years ago, used to meet my mom on Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue. Her bus from Co-op City dropped her there and we spent hours shopping, eating and just walking around. The high point for her was always when we ran into one of my students and they would tell her how much they liked me and what a great teacher they thought I was. Right now, I wish I could call her and tell her about how the neighborhood has changed.

We had some yummy snacks, really cheap and bought some great produce.

Adventures end. Tomorrow is back to work. My husband can get back to relaxing in his lounger. He can't wait for me to walk out the door. I did take some fantastic pictures at the Gardens. Some look quite professional. You can see them here on facebook.

Why Is This Sign Necessary?

It's in Braille too. Would a blind person think of looking at the sign over a toilet bowl? Would the blind person need the sign?

(From the Queens Botanical Gardens)

Can't Waste A Minute

With summer ending this week, I decided we needed one last excursion so I dragged my husband (and if you knew him, you would know that he had to be dragged) to Governor's Island for the day. By checking the website, I found that ferries now run there from Brooklyn, a much easier trip than South Street but Pier 6 only holds small boats and we waited quite a while to board. Beggars shouldn't be choosers, and the day is free, but, the city needs to figure out a way to move people at a better pace.

That being said, the day, along with the weather, was perfect. Pier 6 is a child's wonderland. The whole area is built in one of the most magnificent playgrounds I have ever seen. The sidewalks are soft, no need to worry about scraped knees or head injuries. There is a water area, a swing area (even baby seats on some swings), slides, jungle gyms and sand areas. It made me yearn for young children to bring to play there.

The ferry ride itself is very short. Yesterday, the island hosted an art fair, which was quite interesting. I loved it all, but especially the photography exhibits. It is cool seeing what others do and how they compare to what I try to do. More than the art, I loved the old buildings, the Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines. There was also a truck food fest but no food is worth an hour wait to me, so we passed on that. There is a "beach" area and a concert area as well.

We got off ferry in Brooklyn, scoured the neighborhood for a while, found a good place for beers and another for ice cream, took a bunch more pics and then went home.

Enough promo for my last I Love NY post of the summer. If you get a chance, go visit. The island is only open Friday through Sunday until October 10.

For pictures, visit my facebook page.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

Ricochet's post made me think of this old nursery rhyme.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses
And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Friend's introduced us to Astoria tonight, a part of Queens that I have been to, but never got to know. They showed us the great wall murals (one done by students at Frank Sinatra HS), interesting grocery stores (where I got yelled at for taking pictures), the inexpensive fruit and vegetable stores, the fantastic bakeries and the delicious restaurants.

I promised the owner, Nanna, I would write a post about her eatery, Telly's Taverna. The food was outrageous. At first, I was apprehensive. I know it is better to eat a whole fish than a filleted one, but I just can't get past the bones. They promised to fillet a flounder for me. Not trusting, I stuck with a spinach pie which was probably the best one I ever ate. My friends had fish, my husband had pasticcio and we had a huge, fresh Greek salad. And, no meal would be complete without the Greek beers. (One round was us on the house.) Nanna said she likes people to leave happy because when they are happy they tell a few people. When they are unhappy, they tell everyone. That is when I promised to use this blog to tell everyone how great the place was.

After dinner, we explored the neighborhood. Naturally, I had to take pictures but I only had my little point and shoot with me. I posted them here, on facebook.

Last Thoughts Before Tuesday

School starts up again next week and most teachers are moaning and groaning and dreading the things they will face when they return. I feel kind of weird not sharing these emotions. I know I can walk whenever I want and, if I wake up on September 7 and decide I've had enough, I can hand in my papers that day. Being on FU time gives me a whole new perspective on teaching, one not shared by too many.

I know I should walk. Financially I would be better off retired. Besides, I hate getting up in the morning and I am already dreading the 5:30 alarm, leaving the house before sunrise and the days of the winter. (I do have my automatic starter to help me deal with the cold.) I'm not looking forward to roaming from room to room, dealing with the over crowding and fighting with my supervisor. I hate having to teach to the test and I hate teaching kids who have no interest and no need to learn what I am showing them. I know the copy machine will keep breaking down and we will run out of chalk. My back will ache from carrying heavy bags from room to room.

In spite of all of this, I am not ready to go. I get a rush just walking out of the house with a book bag thrown over my shoulder and when I walk through the main door and head to the clock room to move my time card, I feel good. I look forward to the adrenaline rush I get when the kids I know from last year, even the ones I could not pass, greet me in the hall and worry because I am not their teacher this year. I can't describe the feeling I get when I walk into a room of non English speaking ninth graders and hear, "You are Ms POd, everyone know Ms POd." I enjoy helping kids, even the ones that are the biggest pains. I love being in the classroom, having a captive audience that laughs at my jokes and takes what I teach as the gospel. In short, I do what I do for me.

I will miss my summer freedom, all my trips and city excursions. I will miss the time I get to spend on my photos. But, life is a trade off. We can't do everything we want. I am grateful for my health and my vacations that give me the time to both work and play. I am fortunate to be married to a wonderful man who enjoys our time together but has no qualms about me pursuing the interests that do not interest him. I know he is thrilled that school is starting. He's looking forward to getting back to his restful retirement. And, he is dreading mine.

(More pictures here. I just broke down and paid for more storage so I can post them on this blog soon.)

Good Point

see more Political Pictures

My good buddy Ricochet has the link on her blog, but I wanted to share the entire thing.

Must Learn To Be Nice

The property tax bill for my house just arrived. Good news this time. Although the entire amount is not due now, the city is allowing me to pay it in its entirety. I feel awful about all the mean things I've written about Bloomberg when he is now letting me pay thousands of dollars in advance. I must learn to speak kinder of the man and his policies.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dylan's Candy Store

Spending my last day of vacation playing with pictures. I'm still working on my Andy Warhol theme. They are posted here.

The S List

I've really got to stop being so cynical. I was promised something and that something happened. I must be at the top of a certain person's s**t list right now but, believe it or not, that is making me very happy. Unlike others, I am looking forward to returning to work on Tuesday.

It's Up

Programs are available on ARIS. It feels good to know what I am going to teach this semester.


Some AP's are more efficient than others. And, that is why some teachers have programs and others do not.