Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My New Favorite Hangout

Jeremy's Ale House, Freeport, NY
More picture here.

Student Rating Systems

The statistics unit of my college class spends quite a bit of time talking about valid studies.  As an extra credit assignment, I asked my class to make up a survey that could evaluate their teachers.  It is interesting that not one question in this study deals with test grades.  Kids are a lot brighter than the people running the school system.

Survey 1:
This is a confidential assessment that will help evaluate your teacher’s performance.
Consider each of the following statements below. Then, rate them accordingly to your teacher’s performance.
1           2             3                      4                      5
Never  Rarely  Sometimes  Frequently  Always
1. Is available outside the classroom

2. Provides clear lessons

3. Provides lessons with an objective/aim

4. Actively involves students into the lesson

5. Seeks constructive feedback from students

6. Knows and addresses students by name

7. Gives students sufficient time to finish exams

8. Values what students have to say

9. Communicates with students respectfully

10. Explains homework efficiently

1                  2                 3                      4             5
Strongly    Disagree  Neither      Agree      Strongly
Disagree                      Agree/                          Agree
11. Treats students equally

12. Assists students individually, if needed

13. Displays the enjoyment of teaching

14. Actively involves students into the lesson

15. Arrives to class late on  regular basis

16. Promotes  a great classroom environment

17. Teaches lessons at a reasonable pace

18. Informs students of grading policy

19. Speaks in an appropriate tone

20. Admits to mistakes and fixes immediately

Purpose of this assessment
The purpose of this assessment is to be reliable means of determining the quality of education a teacher gives. This assessment is designed to remove as many biases as possible. The confidentiality of the test ensures the participant is being as truthful as possible. And the comments section is used to identify any confounding variables. For an example, if a student mentions they have had teacher twice and failed both courses, we take this into account.

How to interpret this test
The Maximum points a teacher can receive on this assessment is 100 points,
The Minimum points a teacher can receive on this assessment is 20 points

Excellent teacher =                                                                      90 – 100 points
Great teacher =                                                                              80- 89 points
Satisfactory teacher=                                                                  70-79 points            
Teacher needing a vast amount of improvement =             60 – 69 points   
Unsatisfactory teacher =                                                  20-59 points                                                                                                

Survey 2:

1. From a scale of 1-5, how affective are Ms. Lopez’s learning methods?

1         2         3         4        5

2. From a scale of 1-5, how hard are Ms. Lopez’s tests?

1         2         3         4         5

3. From a scale of 1-5, how easy are Ms. Lopez’s projects?

1          2         3         4         5

4. From a scale of 1-5, how much can you rely on Ms. Lopez for extra help during class?

1          2         3        4         5

5. From a scale of 1-5, can you trust Ms. Lopez with things you don’t feel comfortable telling to other teachers?

1         2         3          4         5

6. From a scale of 1-5, do you understand Ms. Lopez’s way of teaching?

1         2          3          4          5

7. From a scale of 1-5, do you think Ms. Lopez is organized with her lesson plan?

1          2          3          4         5

8. From a scale of 1-5, how much homework does your teacher give you every night?

1         2          3          4         5

9. From a difficulty level of 1-5 (5 being the most difficult), how hard is Ms. Lopez’s homework?

1          2         3        4        5

10. How much does Ms. Lopez show that she respects you as students?

1         2         3         4        5

11. How much do you respect Ms. Lopez as a teacher?

1         2         3        4        5 

12. Do you think Ms. Lopez cares about you enough to help you reach your goals, set your goals in life, etc.?

1         2        3       4        5

       13.  Does Ms. Lopez give you too much or too little discipline?

  1       2        3        4       5 

13. Do you think Mr. Lopez has fair control over the class?

                                 Yes                 No

14. Ms. Lopez listens to our opinions and things we have to say.

                               Yes                   No

15. I want to keep contact with Ms. Lopez when I graduate High School.  

                                    Yes             No

16. Ms. Lopez makes me feel welcomed in her classroom.

                                   Yes              No

17.  Ms. Lopez takes the time to get to know each student in our class.

                                  Yes                No

18.   Ms. Lopez lets our parents know how we are progressing in her class.

                                   Yes                 No

19.   Does Ms. Lopez take her time teaching you the topics so everyone in the class is able to understand?

                                    Yes               No

20.   Ms. Lopez encourages us to challenge our selves so we can fully understand a topic

     Yes              No

Monday, May 30, 2011

Couldn't Resist

A health food or drug store somewhere south of 34th St on Second Ave.

Do It Right In The First Place

James came to me and asked why he still had a credit recovery assignment.  He said he did the last one and was sure he passed.  I checked and found it was incomplete.  When I told him, he said, "Ms, I stopped when I answered enough questions to pass."  I told him that wasn't good enough, he had to complete the assignment and since he didn't, he will have to start again.  He didn't think that was fair since he only had about 6 or 7 left on the original.  "Too bad", I said, "you should have done it right in the first place."  He left angry.  I don't know whether he will do it or not and frankly, I don't care.  These kids expect the world handed to them on a silver platter and I'm not serving.

(pcture is from fireworks 2011 Sea Cliff)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I'm Sorry I Whined About This

No matter how much I hate slot machines they sure beats emergency rooms, hospital beds and doctor offices.
Posted by Picasa

I Can't Believe We Ate The Whole Thing

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kids Last Again

The students at Packemin were chosen to field test Integrated Algebra questions.  Instead of much needed regents review, the kids get to spend a period bubbling answers to questions that have no effect on their grade.  Oh yes, the questions are good for review but my kids need teacher direction and constant feedback which they will not get by doing this exam.  We have 11 teaching days left.  Out of these 11 days, 2 are devoted to a final exam, which really only leaves me 9 days to instill enough information into their brains to get them to pass. 

My kids will be testing questions for a company that will make big bucks writing the exam.  They should have a choice as to whether they want to do these questions or not.  They should be paid for their time.


The deed was something that should not have been done.  The perb tried to worm his way out of trouble by changing the description of what he had done.  He also promised never to do the deed again.  The DA was good and the cross examination went better than anyone could have hoped:

DA:  Perb, if you catch your wife sleeping with another man, and she says she won't do this next year, is this acceptable to you?

Perb:  Well, that is not the same...

DA: Just answer the question, yes or no.

Perb:  But,,,

Judge:  Perb, answer the question.

Perb:  No

DA:  And, if your wife says she wasn't sleeping, she was napping or snoozing, would that be okay?

Perb:  You can't compare.

DA:  Just answer yes or no.

Judge:  Answer the question.

Perb:  No

DA:  So changing the verb and promising not to repeat a performance does not make the act forgivable.
I rest my case.

Judge:  Guilty as charged. 

The perb's eyes got red and if you looked carefully, you could see tears welling up in them.  He was a broken man.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Saw This Tonight

and couldn't resist.
Have a good three day weekend.

Joining The Line

If my job will be tied to the success of my students, I'm glad to be getting out now.

Some of my algebra kids

1.  Don't do homework, or don't bother to check the ones they did.
2.  Don't bother to open the regents book while we are going over problems.
3.  Refuse to walk up to the front to pick up a calculator.  (Heaven forbid they brought their own.)
4.  Talk non stop.
5.  Don't go to tutoring.

It wouldn't matter that I spent my lunch tutoring Wendy.  She is the only one who bothers to come for help and she is not in my class so I get no points for her success.  And, all the college recommendations I've typed  would mean nothing either.

I've given it my all.  There is nothing left.  The unemployment line would be my new friend.

A Knife In The Heart Of Education

I sat around all afternoon waiting for kids to show up so I could help them with their credit recovery assignments.  Two showed up ten minutes into the first period.  One had gotten the slip of paper listing the assignment, the other wondered why he hadn't.  Him, I sent to guidance.  He was resistant saying his counselor never had time for him but I insisted he go, assured him the counselor would be happy to help.  Hopefully he followed my advice.   The other I cajoled into sitting down and starting.  I asked him if he was studying for the regents and how he thought he would do.  He just shook his head and said he didn't know much.  I told him I was here to help and he got started.  It only took me 30 seconds to realize this boy was lost.  It never occurred to him to take out a pencil and paper.  He didn't even know the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees.  He worked for about 20 minutes, answered one without help (which he got wrong) and about 5 with my help (which he got right.)  I don't know if he will bother to do any on his own or even return.  The whole thing seemed sad to me. Even if he gets the credit, he will still not know very much.

As bad as the first period was, the next two got worse.  No one showed up, not for math or for the other subject help was being offered in.  I had even called the parents of my students, telling them of this opportunity and my help.  I've stopped the kids in the hall and almost begged them to come.  A colleague said she couldn't understand  why the kids aren't taking advantage of this free gift they are being offered.  I don't agree.  The kids know they can't do the work and can't stand the frustration of failing again.  They know that they couldn't do the work in class and have no expectations of being able to do it on their own.

(Continued here.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's A Whole Different World Today

Girl 1:  Ms, don't tell me you didn't text when you were in school.

Girl 2:  There were no cell phones or texts when she went to school.

Girl 1:  Then how did she ever make plans to meet her friends?

Thank goodness no one answered that I didn't have any when I was their age.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What A Group

I don't normally share my personal life with my students, but, I felt I had to tell them about my dad's health.  I wanted them to understand why I had to answer my cell phone if it rang and why I have been out a few times recently.  (I had perfect attendance until recently.)  My crazy, dysfunctional algebra kids got it. Today, one by one they stopped me in the hall and asked how things were going.  One girl told me to call her if I needed to talk.  Another offered me a hug.  A third told them all to be quiet and work as I didn't need the stress.  They  worked all period today.

These kids are tenth graders.  It feels good to know there will be a few people who will miss me next year.  They aren't great students but they are fantastic people.   I know I will miss every single one of them.

No Child...

If you missed her last show, don't make the same mistake again.  She is fantastic and, she speaks the truth about education today.


Obie Award-winning actress and solo performer Nilaja Sun will return to Barrow Street Theatre in her Off Broadway play No Child... which began performances at BST in 2006 and ran for 311 performances, playing to sold-out audiences for over a year.

No Child... is an exploration of the New York City public school system, in which Sun transforms with rapid-fire precision into the teachers, students, parents administrators, janitors and security guards who inhabit our schools and shape the future of America, making this play one of the most acclaimed theatrical events in recent years.

Who Says You Can't Get This For Free?

I so wanted to open my mouth.  There is so much wrong with this that once I started I didn't think I could stop.  I wasn't in the mood for a confrontation and I knew my words would start one.  But, I have to get them out, so I posted them here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


A beautiful building.

A comfortable waiting room, complete with coffee, tea, television, computers and wi fi access.

Caring staff and wonderful doctors.

It is still a place of despair, a place we go for hope but often come home from only with worry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Abuse Never Ends

It wouldn't seem like a meeting if someone didn't get bashed.  Retirees are still getting it.

It's A Gamble

When trying to determine whether a child should move ahead or not, we are often asked, "Can you guarantee he will pass the regents?"  I always answered "There are no guarantees in life."  I realized today that was the wrong answer.  I should have said, "Can you guarantee he won't?"

When we don't give someone the chance to prove themselves, we might be altering the path their lives might take forever.  There are no guarantees in life but some things are worth the gamble.  Here is one I've written about recently and there are others, many others.

Made The News Again

It's not an editorial, like Arthur Goldstein's, but I got my voice out, just the same.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lady Gaga and Calculus

No Giveaways

I'm marking algebra exams and coming up with lots of 64s.  Tomorrow I will hear, "Ms, can't you just give me one extra point?"  I explain, over and over "I don't give points, you earn them."  They just don't understand.

Saturday, May 21, 2011