Friday, December 30, 2016
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Happy holidays to all!
I grew up in a world where my holidays were never acknowledged. I am enjoying the generic happy holiday greeting. I don't feel slighted by the lack of the word Chanukah and I certainly don't believe there is a war on it because it is not mentioned.
Enjoy whatever you celebrate or just celebrate this wonderful season.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
I loved teaching high school math. I was blessed with a career that brought me happiness. I cried when I retired and still miss it but, it was a job, not a calling.
I worked for that paycheck and if it wasn't there I would have been out the door.
I don't know why the lawyer pictured above is now teaching algebra but I am willing to bet no "higher authority" called him there. He would not be doing it without the bimonthly deposit in his bank account.
(Picture from an ad on the F train)
Friday, December 16, 2016
A STATEMENT FROM CHANCELLOR JAMES B. MILLIKEN
December 14, 2016 | The University
The City University of New York is a national leader in welcoming, supporting and educating immigrants, regardless of status. Today, there is quite understandably heightened concern about the ability of universities across the country to protect and support their undocumented students. Since the presidential election, I have written to the CUNY community to reaffirm our historical commitment to providing education and opportunity to all, with particular emphasis on our fundamental commitment to immigrants. I have stated unequivocally that CUNY will take any steps available under the law to protect and support its undocumented students.
I joined other leading university presidents writing to urge the incoming administration to retain the humane and beneficial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through our important partnership with TheDream.US, CUNY has the largest number of undocumented students supported by private scholarships in the country, and we will pursue other means to support our students.
We are justifiably proud of our historical leadership in welcoming, supporting, and providing a wide array of services to immigrants. This is true on our campuses and it is true across the city through our outreach programs. We operate the extremely effective “Citizenship Now!” program, at this time more important than ever, which has offices in all five boroughs, providing one-on-one legal services, referrals to needed social services, reviews of legal status and assistance with immigration and visa applications. Our campuses have been providing counseling and other services, and each campus will establish a central point of contact for information and resources for students.
Our commitment to undocumented immigrants at CUNY is not new and has been demonstrated by the resources and attention we devote to these valued members of our community. Over the last month, I have had many discussions with students, faculty and staff at CUNY, and I write today to share more broadly many of the important elements that will continue to be part of CUNY’s pledge to its community. CUNY’s commitment includes the following:
- CUNY will take no action to assist in the enforcement of the immigration laws except as required by law;
- CUNY will protect student record information in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act;
- CUNY will not turn over student information to immigration enforcement authorities except pursuant to court order;
- CUNY will not request or gather information about students’ citizenship or immigration status in the course of providing educational or other services or in connection with public safety activities except as required in connection with tuition or financial aid eligibility;
- CUNY will not permit immigration enforcement officials to enter its campuses except to the extent required by a warrant or court order;
- CUNY will work with city, state and federal leaders in support of immigration reforms that maximize, not diminish, educational opportunities for all students.
We will continue to monitor and assess policies and practices that affect our students and take action, consistent with our obligations under the law, to support and protect our students. CUNY will continue to pursue policies and practices that help ensure that our campuses welcome and value all of our students, regardless of immigration status, race, religion, nationality, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And we will always condemn acts of violence, hate crimes, and expressions of bigotry and intolerance. In short, CUNY remains the university that, in the words of the first president of our predecessor institution the Free Academy, educates “the people, the whole people.”
James B. Milliken
Anyway, this semester there was a young man in my class who I can say I disliked immensely. I still wish him no harm and do hope he grows up and becomes a successful person in all ways possible. Donny sat in the back of my class and played with his phone or slept. When I tried talking to him (which happened more than once) he got nasty so I stopped trying to reach him. After all, it was his tuition and his time that was being wasted and thankfully, in the college, teachers are not responsible for the students passing. Our supervisors know that the students are a mixed bag, some good and some not so good.
Donny thought coming to class was enough. I guess seat time credit is something he picked up in high school. I know Packemin counted it quite a bit. Not so in the college. Test grades count. Class participation and homework count. I have to admit I enjoyed watching Donny turn all shades of red during the last quiz before the final. I took pleasure in his missing the final and entering a grade of F on his transcript. I also hope he will learn something from his failure and change his attitude for the future.
I am not vindictive. Donny got the grade he earned. But I am also human and delivering it did make me happy.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
What got me was how he said it was me who got him into engineering and through the first three terms of calculus in college. He said he could not have done it without the things he learned in my class. I am not sure this is true, but it sure felt good to hear it. Needless to say, he made my day.
When I left the high school I doubted myself as a teacher. After all, when someone repeatedly tells you how awful you are, you start to wonder if they are right. Mr. AP did this to me all the time. In fact, I heard he is still talking about me (and not in a nice way) at department meetings. I have no illusions about myself as being G-d's gift to teaching. I know I had my faults but I also know I worked very hard, put in tons of extra hours and put my students first. Looking back, I know I made a difference in many of their lives, a difference that is helping them lead good lives now.
It is no secret that I did not get along with my former AP. At one point he even promised me that I would end up retiring on a very sour note and he did everything possible to insure this would happen. What he could not take, and will never take is the joy of learning I instilled in my students, the respect I gave them and they gave me in return and the love we had for each other. I was not the teacher he wanted me to be but I was the teacher my students wanted and needed. I served them well. Students like the one I met today help me reaffirm my belief that what I did was not only not bad, but that it was pretty good.
(picture-Freedom Tower from St Paul's Church)
Monday, November 28, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Monday, November 07, 2016
Last week a boy stopped me after class and said "Do you remember me?" I didn't but pretended too. I did not want to hurt his feelings. He had been in my class at Packemin and said I was one of the best teachers he had and I made a difference in his life.
This is what teaching is all about.
Thursday, November 03, 2016
This is what teaching is all about.
I was with a friend today who was telling me a story about a person who always put her down. Even though she knew what he said was not true, he said it so loud and so often she sometimes believed him. My former AP did this to me too and I too sometimes doubted myself. I wish I could hug that young man from yesterday and tell him how much his words mean to me.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
The Principal was invited to address the local civic association meeting. He took the microphone and began spouting the virtues of his school, how it turned around for the better and how the school was finally becoming problem free.
Talking to faculty and other staff at this high school paints a different picture. Security tells of the many fights they are still being called to break up. There still must be neighborhood trouble as these guards ring nearby streets at dismissal time. Attendance is at an all time low and getting lower every day. School aides are still assigned to patrol stairways and are still worried about their safety. These same stairways still reek from pot smoked there.
I understand the Principal's need to sell his school. It is located in an upper middle class neighborhood and he needs the students who live nearby to attend. But, while I understand, I protest.
The school is still far from a good one and far from safe. The Principal is lying to the community he serves. I would not send my child there.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
I met a wonderful retired teacher in my UFT origami class. We chatted and she asked me if I am familiar with any blogs and then mentioned Chaz's School Daze. I told her that not only did I read it, I knew Chaz and thought he is a great guy and fantastic teacher. I then introduced myself and she said she was a fan of my blog, read it regularly and even said my words helped her make her decision to retire.
Anyway, all this is background. I knew I met a kindred spirit when she told me about the harassment she received at the hands of a baby Principal, treatment that lead to her decision to leave. She knew the Principal expected her to leave her room with all its beautiful decorations behind for the teacher taking her place, the teacher who was a good friend of the Principal.. But she stripped the room bare and took everything with her or trashed it. She told the Principal she knew a new teacher would want to start with a clean slate although she knew in her heart the opposite was true.
This teacher has seen pictures of the new room and it is not very nice. She says she doesn't care but I know there is a part of her that is gloating.
Another good, older teacher has left the system. Children are now being deprived of a caring, experienced, competent teacher. The Principal only cares about the friend she was able to give a job. Education continues its downward slide and no one cares.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
It has been 5 years since I left Packeminm, and even more since some others have left but you still are talking about us at department conferences. While I am thrilled to provide you with material for your long, often boring and always useless and incomprehensible meetings, I am impelled to speak to you now, and give you some words of advice.
First off, my fellow retirees and I are gone a very long time and most of the teachers in the department have no idea who we are or why you hate us so much. But, since we both know many of them read this blog, I will fill them in on all that they are missing.
Mr. AP only likes the young and innocent. He likes the ones who revere him and call him uncle and who cower and bow when he speaks. Mr. AP also needs a punching bag and there always will be one of you ready to fulfill that need. You see, many of us, the ones he talks crap about were once well liked too. We were the ones who created programs, wrote curriculums and made sure everyone was being educated to the highest level possible. We stayed late and came in early and were responsible for the department's reputation. You think you are safe but you are not.
And now back to advice for Mr. AP. Start conducting meetings that will actually help your teachers and in turn, the students. Prepare your remarks and make sure they are making sense. Try to understand, as you once did, that different teachers have different methods just as different students learn differently. I remember when you told me you didn't understand how I conducted my class, but it worked and I should keep on doing it. You even entrusted me to teach a class of 28 seniors who had never passed a math class and was more than pleased when 27 out of 28 passed.
Mr. AP, I remember sitting with my colleagues and being bored to death at your conferences. We counted the seconds until we could leave and walked out making fun of everything you said and suggested we do as most made no educational sense. I remember being in the math office late one afternoon and was surprised to hear the newbies, the little angels, the teachers you put on pedestals making fun of you too. Most of them see right through you but humor you to keep their jobs and their good programs. So, as a final suggestion I suggest you observe other Assistant Principals and learn the proper way to conduct a meeting and treat the teachers who work in your department.
I trust you will take this advice and give up your practice of bad mouthing retired teachers and focus on things that will help the teachers and students under your care, especially if you don't want posts like this to keep appearing.
Gone but not forgotten
Friday, September 16, 2016
It is hard to fathom what is going on in the mind of this Principal. I can't believe any Principal, entrusted with the education of thousands of students can make such a lame, self serving decision, but s/he did. I find it hard to believe s/he can justify this, even to her/himself.
The department I am referring to needs a new Assistant Principal. There are experienced, competent teachers in the school who hold the appropriate license and want the job. Instead, a person with zero days in the classroom, zero days as a supervisor and zero experience in this subject has been put in charge. This person is not familiar with rules and regulations and will be able to offer no guidance to the teachers being supervised. Yet, this person will be making all the decisions and will be deciding who is effective and who is not.
If this was the plot of a movie or a television show anyone with half a brain would say it was too stupid to be true. Sadly, it is true. A pompous ass of a Principal is making a mockery of the system because of a grudge or a favor s/he owes someone. It hurts to see so many people being put at risk because one uncaring, unknowing individual is in charge.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
I remember the desolation and the heartbreak after the attack 15 years ago. I love seeing my city rebuilt, strong, better than ever. I love NY and lower Manhattan is my favorite part of the city.,
And of course the wonderful events, like Battery City Dance
Thursday, September 08, 2016
My college class will have their first exam next week. I gave them a list of problems to help them prepare and spent the evening letting them work on problems (which they all did.)
As the class was leaving, I heard a Spanish woman calling across to a Korean male asking him to text her his answers so they could compare. An African American student sat and worked with a boy from South East Asia and a Jewish girl and a Pakistani girl in a hijab also exchanged numbers.
I love teaching in Queens. I love seeing students from such diverse backgrounds bonding together and working to succeed. Queens is one of the greatest places in the world to live.
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
I took last semester off. I was lazy and wanted to avoid the cold, and truthfully, I was hoping I wouldn't miss teaching. I was wrong. I did work occasionally, covering classes for teachers who were out and I loved it. Subbing in the college is great. The administration only expects me to do my job in the classroom, nothing more. I teach everything from remedial math to statistics and advanced calculus. The students are responsive and appreciative and I can make more money in two hours than I would make subbing a whole day in a city school. But, I missed my own class.
Last Thursday was the first day of the fall semester. As usual, the thought of having to move to get there did not make me happy but once in I felt that old adrenaline rush. The first thing I noticed was a real black board. Only old timers like me can understand the thrill of chalk dust flying. I just have to remember to bring a rag to wash the board down before class. Although the school does clean boards daily, mine is the last one of the day so it is pretty bad when I get there. My students seem nice and motivated. Several remembered me from classes I covered in the past, one remembered me from Packemin and another told me he took my class because his cousin said I was a great teacher. I don't know how true that is but it was nice to hear.
My teaching day is from 8 PM to 10 PM this term. I am sure I will be bitching every night as I get ready to go but smiling as soon as I park my car and walk towards my class. I will stop working one day, probably take the winter off again but I won't give it up for good any time in the near future. It is great dong something I love, having fun and getting paid
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
This man thought of his athletes as his sons and they thought of him as a father. He gave advice, love, tough love and financial support when it was needed.
Today's standards and ineffective APs might not think he was an effective teacher because no tests could ever measure the good he did, the number of lives he enriched. Danielson would never know the quality of the man.
(Pictured above is his wife, wearing the chain he always wore.)
Friday, August 05, 2016
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
I just saw this on a friend's Facebook page and had to share it here for many of the administrators at Packemin and other schools who read and hate this blog.
This is for all of you!!! You can't teach and don't know the first thing about your subject area. You have know idea who is a good teacher and who isn't one. And, if you did notice a good teacher you would harass that person out of the building because of your fear of being shown for what you really are.
Shame on the Principals who appointed you, and shame on the superintendents who appointed you, poor excuses for a Principal because you know as little as the APs in your cabinet.
I'm gone and have the freedom of saying what others left behind cannot.
Sunday, July 03, 2016
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Picture from Bronx Zoo
I transferred to this school through a back door. I was on child care leave when a friend called and told me about a special education vacancy in math. I had only a few special education classes and my only experience was with a few special needs students who had been main streamed before I went on leave, but I liked working with needy students and applied. The AP who interviewed me liked what he saw and brought me to meet the Principal. During that interview the Principal asked me what kind of students I disliked. Without missing a beat I said, "the ones with the guns" as I came from a pretty rough school where many of the students packed weapons. He laughed and offered me the job immediately. Unfortunately I had a hard time getting a former Principal to sign my release. Armed with a letter from the new school I went to Brooklyn, met with Rufus Thomas and my career at Packemin began.
At Packemin I taught emotionally handicapped and educationally handicapped students both math and computer classes. Computers were new and I was learning along with my students and I had zero experience with the emotionally handicapped boys I was now responsible for. During the first week the Principal came to observe me. The lesson was awful. The boys in the room saved me. When they saw the Principal, they sat down and started putting on a show for him. He understood that the show was to make me look good. During our post op, while criticizing the lesson, he praised the way the students responded to me and let me know that was more important than the questions I asked or the lesson I wrote. Of course with experience I got better and won his praise on lessons too.
When my son was small he suffered from terrible ear infections and asthma and too often I had to leave to take care of him. When I apologized to this Principal he said, "How can I expect you to take care of the family here if you can't take care of your family at home?" Another time he gave me a last minute personal day to catch an earlier flight to Texas as I had to be there for a Bat Mitzvah and the weather in New York was supposed to be horrendous. He told me he appreciated my honesty in coming to him rather than just calling in sick.
I was fortunate to teach in a time when I did not have to worry about losing my job at the whim of an incompetent administrator. As long as I showed up and was prepared I was safe. But, I was always a little intimidated by this man because he was so smart. Although his field was English, I knew he could pick apart my lessons and find any mistake I made, even in a calculus class because he would research anything he did not know before our post op conference. After he left, I always felt I could organize a totally bogus lesson. As long as the kids responded well and worked in groups it would get a wonderful report. No administrator would bother to check the math and realize it was all made up.
Don't get me wrong. Life under this Principal was not a bed of roses and I could fill up a post with things I did not like about him. But, he is gone and it is time to remember the good and to hope by talking only about his good, his work can help today's administrators focus on the important things teachers do, the way they impact their students and to realize this has nothing to do with the questions they ask, whether their students raise left or right hands to show understanding, or the percentage of students passing. He told me once that I think with my heart and I know that was meant as a compliment. Hopefully his intelligence will inspire administrators to learn the subjects they are supervising and make smart decisions about who is effective and who is not. and to realize the heart has a major part in what makes a good teacher.