Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Must Read

No Grass Grows Under My Feet

Yesterday, the first day of vacation, I hit Met to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit.  There was a long line and the exhibit was mobbed but it was so worth it.  I'm going again, only next time I will get there when it opens.  (NO CAMERAS WERE ALLOWED.)

As an added bonus, I saw Ringo Starr's gold drum. It was only on display until today so you'll just have to make due with the pictures above.

I Feel Good

This is a boasting post.  If this will turn you off, stop reading now.  If you keep reading, beware!  None of your negative comments can hurt me about this!

I interviewed at the new college today.  After speaking to the head of the department I taught a sample lesson for him and another math teacher.  THEY LOVED ME!!!!   They said I was heads above everyone else they interviewed and offered the job on the spot.  They told me to take the weekend to decide if I want it or not.  I don't need to.  I WANT IT!!!!!

To the person who said good riddance:  GO SUCK AN EGG!!!  I'M DOING A HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN YOU WILL EVER DO!




(Pictured above is the view from my new school.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Regents statistics are all that matters to certain people.  Esepcially important is how one teacher stacks up against another.

Last year no one saw individual algebra results.  I guess they were pretty bad.  Guess who was teaching these classes?  I know this years results were fantastic. 

The stat I'd like to see is how this year's group did in comparison to last year's. We all know that one will never be available.

Who Are You When I Am Not Looking

My buddy Ricochet asked me to post a link to this.  I decided to post the entire video instead.  It's great.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Score Card

Years in the building:  27

Number of honor classes taught: 0

(regular algebra, trig and geometry classes.)

Knowing Where You Are Not Wanted

Being told a party starts at 2:30, showing up and seeing that it is ending makes one feel nice and wanted.

Why bother issuing the invitation in the first place?  The little gift couldn't have meant that much.

G-d Bless Medical Insurance

I'm getting my father back.

 Good Great health insurance got him into the offices of fantastic doctors.  The first doctor diagnosed the disease on a Thursday and got him an appointment with an oncologist on the following Tuesday.  The oncologist applied some pressure and got him in for a necessary body scan on Friday.  By Tuesday, we saw doctor 3, the radiation doctor and he got my dad started on treatments that Thursday.

It's been 4 weeks.  The cancer is shrinking and he is feeling much better.

My brother-in-law had no medical insurance.  His cancer went undiagnosed for years.  And, even when diagnosed, it took three months until he could start state subsidized treatment.  He didn't last very long.

And some people still think they don't need medical insurance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You Really Might Not Want This

What you wish for might not be what you really want.

The department you are dreaming of running, the one you keep saying it will be in a few years will not do what the one you have to day does. 

Will that department find points to help kids pass?

Will that department give up their weekend to finish marking exams?  This weekend, the majority of the markers were the ones you want to get rid of.  And for that matter, where were you today?  You arrived late and left early.  Do you think we didn't notice?

I have a feeling you will soon be wishing for the good old days.

Smelly Situation

Is it legal for a teacher to stay in a room during a regents exam and translate questions for their students?  No one knows what they are saying and if answers are being given out.

If the questions are reworded in another language, can this really be considered translating?

Does it  matter that there is no equivalent word in Chinese or Korean for an isometry?  Isn't there an unfair advantage given to children who have this word explained to them?

Have the teachers who have done this translating earned bragging rights about having the best statistics in the department?  Do these teachers deserve the points these scores will give to their value added data?

I smell something rotten going on here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Old Teachers

The call went out begging for people to come in this weekend to finish marking geometry regents.  Against my husbands advice, I went in, Jewish guilt being the driving force.  Imagine my surprise to see the room full of older teachers, teachers who have continually been abused, people who care about doing the right thing and doing the job well.

So much for the myth that we are only in it for the paycheck.  I am willing to bet none of the senior teachers were there for the money. 

Friday, June 24, 2011


Waiting at TRS to hand in my papers.  My husband is here.  I couldn't do this online.  My best friend and her husband are here doing the same thing.

I'm online.

It is the only thing making me smile.

My Retirement Speech

The only thing I regretted about not having a big retirement party was not being able to give a final speech.  I decided to use the end term party as an opportunity to say goodbye.  I'm not sure people were thrilled to hear me, but that was too bad.  I was never one to keep quiet.  (BTW, the party was great, I had a fantastic time and am very happy that I attended.  I discovered that there were people in the school that actually like me.)

I want to share my speech here.

I can’t believe it has been almost 27 years since I started teaching at Packemin HS and 38 years since I began my teaching career at Julia Richman HS.  Time certainly flies when you are having fun and to me, teaching has always been fun, even on its worst days, it was a labor of love.

Over the years I have worked with many wonderful people and have made lifetime friends.  I became a teacher by default, not knowing what else I could possibly do with a degree in math, but I never regretted my decision.  Teaching completed me.

These last few years have been especially good for me.  For the first time in my career I worked for a Principal who respected me, valued what I had to say, actually did what I suggested sometimes, and was always available to talk to.  I thought pigs would fly and hell would freeze before I ever said a kind word about any administrator, but I was wrong about that.

I leave now, with a heavy heart, but know that for me, leaving is the right thing to do.  I want to thank you all for making these last years a blast.  I’ll still be here period 1-teaching my College Now class and I promised my dysfunctional algebra kids that I would come around to help them with geometry so you still be tripping over me in the hallway.  My poor husband is worrying about all the projects I will find to involve him in, but between teaching the two community college classes, possibly two more at another college, writing letters to the newspaper and keeping up my blog, taking photography classes and truck driving lessons, I will still leave him with plenty of time to sit and play with his i-pad.

I wish you all the same joy and happiness I have felt being a teacher.  Remember, life is too short not to enjoy life and we do spend a major part of our lives here.

Have a wonderful school year.  As you return in September mourning the end of your vacation, I will be feeling just as sad, knowing Packemin is no longer a place for me to spend my days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hitler Youth

OK, this person was not a member of this disgusting organization, but if you watched her marching around the school, scrutinizing every little thing that goes on and listened to her barking orders, you would swear she valedictorian of this group.   It would be bad enough if she was an administrator, or even a teacher of the subject being tested at  the moment, but no.  I hate to pull rank but this person is only a lowly (click here to see her position.)  I wouldn't say this if she didn't come across with that miserable demeanor, looking down on everyone around her and acting like her word was the word of G-d.

I thought, perhaps I was exaggerating my feelings against this woman.  (I do have a tendency to do that.)  But, as I opened my mouth and made snide little comments in front of others, nobody said I was wrong and everyone agreed.  Even a colleague who never says a negative word about anyone jumped on the bandwagon and added his own comments to the fold.

This woman must be going through life without any sort of love or friendship.  Maybe she was abused as a child and is venting her frustration on others.  Or, maybe she is just a mean, ugly bitch.

This Kid Won't Take Your Kid's Seat In Harvard

And, you will suffer no life long, or even short term health effects  if you give him that extra point on the regents.

The rubic is not G-d.  It is full of situations no one ever counted on.

Have rachmones.  Have some compassion in your heart.  One day, you might have a child in the same situation.  Treat this child the way you would want someone to treat your own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They Deserve Better

If you cut them, they will bleed.  Pain is as real to them as to any one of us, yet ATRs are being treated as subhuman beings and no one is doing anything to prevent this.

ATR 1 has moved from school to school.  Last year she found a "home", a school where the kids loved her and she loved them.  She worked hard, got them to succeed, got satisfactory ratings from her AP but got an excess letter in June anyway.  It was be gone and make room for the young one coming in.  This year, she was placed in a school far from home, but she did her best, built a relationship with the kids only to be transferred midyear.  The new school seemed like heaven.  Everything was going great. Along came June and along came the excess letter.

ATR 2 has a similar story to ATR 1, only slightly different.  ATR 2 was appointed to the school she is currently in.  They begged her to come to them.  Everything was going great.  She thought she finally landed a permanent position.  And then, along came June, complete with excess letter.

ATR 3 has a different background but has been bruised beyond belief as well.  He has gone above and beyond the requirements of any teacher in hopes of showing the stuff he is made of.  The school saw it and agreed he was great.  They gave him tutoring assignments and per session money.  But, they also saw him as working stock and piled on assignment after assignment, giving him only the bare minimum amount of time to have lunch.  He finally asked for equal treatment, only to be denied.  ATR 3 has no hope of being appointed to the school he is currently with.  The interviews he's been on end with a "don't call us."  He knows it is all about his age.

The part of all this that hurts me the most is the bashing that is coming from the ATR peers, with the superior attitude.  Any one of them could end up an ATR any minute.  It could happen from a closing school, a program that no longer exists or a vindictive principal.  How about ending the abuse from our end and starting a drive to support our fellow union members.  Remember, it is about us, and us includes the ATR.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Always Pre-Soak

Two women had the job of getting the clothes really clean.  The fabric was delicate so no scrubbing was allowed. 

Wash Woman One did not bother pre-soaking.  She set about getting the clothes clean by throwing them in a pot of boiling water.  The stains were not removed.  In fact, they were permanently embedded making everything unwearable.

Wash Woman Two did things slow and easy.  First she applied Shout, known for its stain removal abilities. Second, she soaked the clothing for a day in a mixture containing all purpose bleach.  Third, she loaded the machine and washed in lukewarm water.  The stains all came out.

Wash Woman One is no longer employed.  Wash Woman Two just got a raise and a big promotion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cha Cha Chihuahau

My calculus kids found this blog.  I'm glad I started self censoring a while ago.
Anyway. one of my students sent me this in recognition of my chihuahua posts so I thought I would share.
It seems appropriate since I have been doing quite a bit of dancing at friend's retirement parties lately.

(This post is dedicated to the friend who missed the weekly chihuahua post.)

Credit Like This Shouldn't Matter

4. Please do not pass a student who fails the Regents exam unless they are seniors. Seniors should be given a grade of 65 or CR provided they attended class regularly and tried. Your own standards can’t be that low since every single Regents exam comes with a curve. Some people argue that just because a student fails the Regents exam, it does not necessarily mean that they know less mathematics than someone who passes the Regents exam. While it maybe true, no one will give us credit when a student fails the Regents exam.
The line I put in bold sums up one of the major problems with education today!  Why do we have to worry so much about getting credit?  How have we sunk so low as to make credit more important than people.

While marking, I skimmed many of the papers of my own students. checking out how they answered the questions I wasn't marking.  And, I felt a surge of pride as I saw them correctly make a table for an inequality with a slope of 2/3.  They listened and they learned.  I saw similar results on many of the other problems.  Are these answers good enough to get them the required 31 out of 87 points they need for a passing grade?  We won't know until the multiple choice get marked.  And, while some don't deserve a passing grade, shouldn't they be given credit for what they accomplished?

I had a large group working with me up until the start of the exam.  Before they left I said, "Feel proud of what you have accomplished.  Look at how little you knew in September and how much you know now.  Don't let a number on an exam discredit what you have learned.  If you don't make it now, I know you will be ready to make it in August.  I'm proud of all of you, no matter what the numbers show." 

All today's emphasis on test scores is hurting our kids. It shouldn't be our credit that matters but theirs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Walls Have Ears

Be careful about saying things you don't want others to hear.
You know you don't want your words repeated.
You never know who is listening.
You might though, if you have access, click here.

Finally, An Answer

I called at 7:30 this morning.  There was no answer.  I figured he might be asleep (he is usually up by 5:30) or in the bathroom.  I called a few minutes later, got the same, no answer.  I thought he might be throwing out the garbage and chatting with a neighbor. I tried his cell phone, no answer.  I repeated this for 30 minutes, my heart beating a little faster every time there was no answer.

My husband wanted to go for pancakes, it is Father's Day.  I said not until I get him on the phone.  I thought I might have to run over.  Finally, after 45 minutes he picked up.  He was doing laundry and had no cell reception in the basement.  A giant weight was lifted off my chest.

The radiation is working and he is feeling much better so he decided to take care of business.

Happy Father's Day daddy.  I hope I have years ahead with you.  I will never complain about the worrying as long as there is an eventual answer.

Nassau County Sucks

A big fine arts crafts fair had been advertised in Newsday so we thought we'd go and possibly spend some money.  At the gate we were greeted with a $10 charge because we are not residents of the county.

Well, we gave them a big FU and turned around.  I feel sorry for the vendors at Christopher Morley.  I bet they lost lots of money with this policy that discriminates against outsiders.  If they are smart, they will sell their wares somewhere else next year.

Dealing With The Undealables

Regents proctoring reminds me of one of my all time least favorite APs.  I dreaded proctoring exams in her department and always begged for any other assignments.  Anyway, this post is for those who work in schools where the administrators have sticks a little to high up their butts with a little bit of advice on how to deal with them.

Prunella was in charge of one of the larger departments in our school. As you can see from her name, she was not a happy, smiling person. She terrorized her department and tried to do the same to everyone she came in contact with.

Prunella tried this on me a number of times. She was never successful.

Time 1: I returned regents exams. Although there were no instructions in the envelope, Prunella expected certain things to happen before she accepted the exams. We had to wait on long lines to hand them in. When my turn came, she complained that my papers were not in alphabetical order. I told her that there was no place that said I should alphabetize them. She said I had to sit and put them in order. I told her the only thing I had to do was go to lunch as I only had 30 minutes until my next assignment started and I left. She threatened to report me. I laughed and kept walking.  Nothing happened.   She knew I was right.

Time 2: Prunella came into a room was proctoring in and started screaming at me for some exam infraction she supposedly saw me commit. I went to the principal (pre-Suit) at that time and said that even if I am wrong, I should not be admonished that way, in front of students. He agreed. She ended up getting spoken to for her actions.

Time 3: I was teaching a 7-8 split program with a living environment teacher. The kids were difficult. Without notice, Prunella changed the days each class met. I found out about the change from the kids, was not prepared for the group I was given and the class was a disaster. I went to the principal (different one). Prunella was really given it this time and she apologized to me. She even was nice to me for a few weeks.

I used to see Prunella walking down the hall and hold the door for her. I watched her burn slowly. I always said you are welcome to her unsaid thank you. I managed to beat her at her own game.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Need My Music

Marking regents is boring but boring is not the only reason I am glad I am doing this for the last time.  Listening to the comments some teachers make about the kids is so much worse.  Some of the papers belong to ISS kids who are  limited.  I hate hearing them being ridiculed even though they don't know this is going on.  Teachers laughing at kids who just can't do the work is cruel.

I'm glad I had my i-Pod charged and I am keeping it charged.  It is good at blocking out the comments.

Welcome to Bloombergville!

Welcome to Bloombergville!

Thanks to NYC Educator

Friday, June 17, 2011

Avoiding A Grevience

For as long as I can remember, I've asked to teach a trig class.  Each term I was greeted with the same "NO!" 

Well, guess what?  Trig is on my tentative program for next September.  I say tentative because we were told the program we were being given meant nothing and we were only getting one to fulfill the union contract.  Everyone was handed a program except for me.  (I haven't handed in any paper work so I am still on record as a returning teacher in the fall.)  After being told I didn't hand in a preference sheet (which I did), the program mysteriously appeared in  my mailbox with the classes I asked for on it.

There is not problem giving me a program I want as long as I won't be around to follow it.

Another Blogger Encounter

I'm excited.  Ms Cookie is coming to town.  I'm going to meet another blogger!

More Credit Recover Thoughts

There was a question on this year's algebra regents that asked what would happen to the median and the mode of a group of test scores if year grade was increased by three points.

A young man who scored a 92 on his credit recovery assignment answered:
"The mean becomes the median and the median becomes the mode."
Yep, let's pass him.  This kid has a real understanding of mathematics.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Credit recovery thoughts

Janice was one of last year's algebra kids.  She wasn't in class very often and when she did show up, she didn't do much. Calls home and to her guidance counselor did nothing to get her to do what was required to get her to pass.

On the very last day of school Janice came to me and told me the reason for her poor attendance.  Her mom was very sick and Janice thought she might die.  To a fourteen year old, on the verge of losing her beloved, solving algebraic equations was about as meaningful as a thermal underwear in Caribbean.

Fast forward to today.  Janice came to see me and told me her mom is doing much better.  Janice too, is doing much better.  She is passing all her classes and is even talking about becoming a pediatrician, a pretty good ambition for a kid who washed out during her freshman year! 

I hope and pray Janice will be able to follow her dream.. The biggest obstacle in her path will be credit recovery.  Instead of giving Janice the courses she needs, she will be allowed to do a series of questions on the computer and then will be awarded credit for everything she failed in the past.  Notice, I said credit and nothing about knowledge. With this sort of education how can she be prepared for college?  And, if she can't do college, she certainly can't go to medical school and the closest she will


Thoughts To Ponder

Does the horse turn chicken when threatened?
Shouldn't the horse retain its dignity and fight back?
Why would the horse give up his identity so easily?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Never Know

The walls have eyes and ears.  You never know who is watching and who is listening to what you are saying and doing.

Previous Knowledge

My college pre-calculus class had just finished the trigonometry unit and I dreaded marking the exam papers.  The students, mostly hard workers, just didn't get it.  The course spent some time reviewing the material from high school but then jumped right into the more advanced stuff.  These kids didn't have the background they needed to succeed.  No one, not even the most effective teacher in the world, can, in two hours, get students to master what they should have learned in three months.

But hey, Bloomberg is still touting his record.  Who cares if they can't read or do math?  He's graduating them all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not There Yet

Everyone keeps asking me if I am excited, if I am looking forward to what tomorrow holds.  I wish I could answer in the affirmative, but I am not there yet.  In fact, I'm further away than I imagined I would be.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, saying goodbye to my seniors.  These kids leave every year and swear up and down that they won't forget and will be back to visit.  While some do, most go on (as they should) to their new, exciting lives in college and never look back.

My crazy algebra kids, now that is an entirely different story.  This is the group that did little to no work and drove me crazy.  Yet, this is the group that lined up for hugs as they walked out of the room and are already begging me to come back for their graduation, adding "if" they graduate.  This morning, my pain screamed and told me I ruined her life by calling her mom but wants me to meet her here over the summer to start teaching her geometry.  (This is not happening.)

And this, written by another pain:

Where to start.  Well, thank you for always calling my mom.  LOL.  I hate it but thank you.  If it wasn't for you calling I'd probably be failing math class and also the regents.  You are an amazing teacher and an amazing woman with a good heart.  Even though our class gives you a headache you still stay calm and teach us.  I just want to thank you and to go on knowing you made a difference in some body's life and that's me.  

My prayers go out to you and your father.  Stay strong Miss..  You deserve the best.
P.S.  Keep calling my mom.  LOL
These words from my one of my favorite cutters.

I really do regret not coming  to class enough and not trying hard cause you make everything so much simpler.  Next year when I'm sitting in math class, I'll think of you and remember to do good.
One of my students suggested I get a year book.  Instead I got a notebook and have been letting the kids write me messages to remember them by.  They are beautiful and will give me something wonderful to look back on.

 What I got from the algebra are heart wrenching.  I hope they make it, but even the ones that no they won't, don't blame me.  (pictured above are my algebra kids--spending their lunch reviewing for final and regents exam)I expected nice words from the AP kids.