Sunday, December 24, 2006

Don't Think, Just Do


I can't find a more appropriate description of Principal Suit's treatment of the teachers in my school.

Big Businesses Stink

I was on the phone before with a friend who is head of the obstetrics department of a major hospital in Houston. She told me her hospital is being taken over by a bigger one and she thinks that is a good thing. She won't lose her job and neither will any of the nurses that work for her, but some of the top administrators are getting walking papers. I guess these people mean nothing to her. She is happby because the hospital will have goals to meet and more ways to deal with people that don't meet them. For example, she is now able to write up anyone who is sick on or around a holiday. She says she knows who really needs the time off and who doesn't, but does she really know what is going on in any body's private life? The nurses in her unit are required to do more and more every day to meet these goals. There are no excuses for not meeting them. I tried to explain to her that the school system is doing the same thing to us and most of us have just about had it. Most of us work to the best of our abilities, but there is a limit. There is no incentive to work outside of our paid work hours (although every teacher I know does this). Her employees are entitled to a floating "spiritual day." Her opinion is that only the religious should take it. Often she is forced to give up time off and others in the same situation should do the same thing. I'm sure many of us will be called down if we take Jan 2 off, even though we are entitled to 10 sick days a year (with no doctor's note required).

Something must be done to stop these big corporations from taking over everything. They are whipping us so hard that there is no flesh left on our backs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Principal Suit's Worthless Solution

In September Principal Suit decided that Math A should no longer be given in four terms. Everyone could pass it in three terms. I think this is because one of the things the school was sited for was not having enough kids in Math B. My AP told him this was not a good idea, but did he listen? NO! Now that he has had a chance to review second marking period grades and has seen that most of the math classes with these kids have less than 35% passing (some barely have 20% passing) he wants us to go back to four terms. The new directive to Math $1 teachers is to stop teaching the new stuff and go back and teach over all the stuff that the kids didn't get the first time around. What Principal Suit fails to realize that most of these kids still won't get it. The ones that are too stupid to learn it will never get it. Kind of like, if you spoke to me in Chinese, only spoke the words really, really slow, I still wouldn't know what you were talking about. The other ones are just too unmotivated. Since they didn't do the work the first time around, what makes anyone think they will do it now? And if they do get it, are they going to be passed based on three weeks worth of work. Are we then sending the message that it is okay to do nothing for four months because in the fifth month you will learn all you need to pass the course? And how about the poor kids who actually did the right thing? That twenty percent that should now be able to finish Math A in three terms and go on to take Math B? They are now being penalized and made to repeat work that they mastered. Even the kids that will pass will pay a price in the end. They might be able to learn the stuff that comes in the beginning of the term. After all, most of that stuff is stuff they have been doing since middle school. But, when they get to the hard topics, at the end of the semester, they end up failing again. Since Principal Suit insists that all classes be annualized, these poor kids are going to be in Math&A once again in Septemberor they will go to summer school, where breathing is the only requirement for passing and be passed through with no background or preparation to pass math&C This is a no win situation for everyone.


Yesterday Principal Suit made a big deal about a holiday collation he was holding in his office from 12:00 until 3:00. He really wanted people to come. He said, "don't worry about lunch, there will be food." I usually avoid him and those things at all costs, but a good friend who I haven't seen for a while wanted me to go with her, so I agreed. Upon entering the office we saw his conference table covered with paper plates and one little slice of crumb cake. There was coffee on the side. My friend was pissed off. She didn't bring lunch because she thought she was getting fed. He had said earlier in the term that he was going to share his bonus with us, we all assumed he would be at least feeding us. My friend did hear him whisper to his assistant principal buddy "come back later, I have cold cuts for the people I like."

And he wonders why I don't like him?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blind Date - Olde English Sketch Comedy

It takes a math teacher to find and appreciate this one!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Super Clubs

We are all set to go on our annual winter vacation. We are going to Jamaica. We like Jamaica so much that we booked this trip almost a year ago, just when we got back from last year's vacation. In fact, we liked the trip so much that we booked the same hotel. Imagine our surprise when, looking at the website last night we found out that the hotel was undergoing major renovations that would not be finished until the middle of January. When spending big $$$$$ for a vacation, no one wants to be around construction. Calling the hotel got us no where so we called our wonderful travel agent. Carl quickly assured us that it was probably almost done, and we shouldn't worry. After all, he hadn't been told there was a problem, so there couldn't possibly be one. Well, today we found out that the resort is closed, has been closed for three months and will not open again until the middle of January. When were we going to be told this? WHEN WE ARRIVED IN MONTEGO BAY? Super Clubs said they would try to get us into another one of their resorts. This was not acceptable. Runaway Bay, where we stay is nice. Some of their other clubs are not! Good old Carl came through for us. He got his agency to pick up the difference in cost and we are now going to Sandals in Ocho Rios. A happy ending, we hope for us, but how about all those other vacationers? And if I wasn't an Internet junkie we might not have known and been in the same position as everyone else.

Super Clubs--I know you probably will never read this but I want everyone to know how you treat your customers. I will not vacation at one of your hotels ever again and I will tell as many people as possible to find somewhere else to play.

A Memo From My Supervisor

My AP is the king of memo writers. Putting teachers down seems to be his new motto.

Here is an excerpt from his last note to us:

Some classes have less than 35% of the students passing. We are here to help students learn. We must try different ways to get our points across. It is not right that we depend on a few of us to teach the "bottom students" because others are ineffective. It is unacceptable that some classes have less than 20% of the students passing. I would agree that those students do not know how to learn. They might have attendance issues. Knowing all that, what are you going to do to help them learn?

Although I am not currently teaching any of the classes he is talking about I take offense at his tone. Once again, it is the teacher's fault if the kids are not passing. It is the teacher's fault if they are not coming to school. It is the teacher's fault that these kids don't do homework, don't stop talking in class and don't do any work at all. I've been teaching for a long time and haven't figured out yet what to do with some of these kids. It's time to face the fact that there are kids out there that cannot learn, no matter what we do. And if the administrators really think that something can be done to help them, maybe they should come up with solutions.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kid Smarts

The holiday show was today. A bunch of my calculus kids missed class to be in the show. They came running in afterwards, all upset, asking if they could come to the period 4 class to make up the work they missed. I was proud of them. It's good to know that some of the kids in the school are smarter than the administration.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

No Wonder They Fail

I took Thursday off. I was sick. I never take a sick day but this time I knew I had to see a doctor. I felt bad about taking the day off because my M&C's were going to take a test on Friday. I had given them a practice sheet on Wednesday but Thursday was the day we were going to go over it. Well, I got two frantic e-mails from kids in the class, worried because they needed some help with some of the problems. Friday I got greeted by kids begging me to postpone the test until Monday. I figured, what the heck. What difference does one more day make? Maybe they will actually listen and do better this time. Boy, was I wrong. More than half of them had no clue where the sheet was and only a handful of the ones that had the sheet had actually looked at any of the problems. When I went over it, a few still talked non-stop and did not pay any attention. I don't get it. I always liked math in school, but it didn't come easy to me. I think that is why I majored in math. It was a subject that I respected because of how difficult it was. I wish I had had teachers that took the time to make up practice sheets and really explain what was going on. Some of these kids are just too dumb to understand, no matter how slow I go, but that is not the case for most of them. If they would put the effort of working and paying attention into the effort they take to goof off, they would be a lot more successful.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This Might Help End Discipline Problems

Nev. Politician: Let Teachers Carry Guns

Dec 14, 10:12 PM (ET)

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada state senator and also-ran in this year's Republican primary for governor says the Legislature should consider letting teachers carry guns in classrooms to stem a rise in school violence.

"I would expect enough teachers would be interested so it would serve as a deterrent," said Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas. He said he's preparing a bill to introduce when state lawmakers convene in February.

While Beers said teachers would have to undergo firearm safety training, Las Vegas-area school officials said that allowing more weapons on campus would make schools less safe.

"The more people who have guns, the more likely it is that there will be a shootout," said Clark County school Superintendent Walt Rulffes. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he was aware of no studies supporting Beers' argument that schools would be safer if teachers carried guns.

School trustee Sheila Moulton said teachers might need more training to identify and deal with potentially violent students. But she rejected the idea of arming teachers.

"That is not the solution," Moulton said. "I'm not for putting guns in the classroom even when teachers are trained on how to use them."

Clark County school police carry weapons, and district high schools typically have two officers on campus during school hours. Some large middle schools also have armed police officers. The district is the fifth-largest in the nation, with more than 300,000 students at 325 campuses.

Beers cited reports of more than a dozen guns confiscated at Clark County school students so far this year, and several recent instances of gun violence on and off Las Vegas-area campuses.

"We have banned guns in schools in Nevada and most of the rest of the nation for the last 20 years," Beers said. "Part of the problem is a small percentage of the population is brought up without a knowledge of and respect for guns."

The Show Must Go On and On and On and.........

Principal Suit thinks that some things are much more important than education. For instance, the holiday show. In our 250% capacity school, it takes six times for all the kids to see it. And of course, the show runs over an hour so two classes are cut short three times this week. If a class is being taught during the show period, and it is not that classes day to see it, that class is extended to over an hour. Teacher must plan for it and prepare extra work. Teaching bell to bell is important, but only if it does not interfere with the show. Of course kids in the performance are going to miss three class' each this week, but what does it matter? There are some things just more important than education!

On another note, Principal Suit has violated our contract by extending the period 10 class 10 minutes beyond normal ending time, causing teachers on a 3 - 10 period to work a longer day. I know our exec board met with him today. I hope they had some luck in getting him to change this time schedule.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My AP told a teacher today to "Raise her expectations" when he happened to walk by her classroom and saw a boy with a hat on. The class was full of kids taking the class for the umpteenth time. They were quietly working on an exam and doing quite well. The exam was not easy, her expectations were high and the kids were meeting them. This comment, from the guy who last year complained that when we used words like reciprocal and inverse in the class we were expecting too much out of our students.

These AP's ought to get their priorities straightened out. Not noticing a kid in a hat has nothing to do with expectations.

Because Teachers Don't Get Paid Enough

Teacher in Crack Over Butt Art

Dec 12, 10:58 PM (ET)


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - To hear the students tell it, Stephen Murmer is a fun, popular art teacher who is always quick to crack a joke. But there is another side to Murmer. A side that has agitated school officials and resulted in his suspension. A side that focuses, almost entirely, on the crack in his backside.

Outside of class and under an alter ego, the self-proclaimed "butt-printing artist" creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas. His cheeky creations sell for hundreds of dollars.

This has not gone over well with Chesterfield County school officials, who placed Murmer on administrative leave from his job at Monacan High School.

Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after he was suspended on Friday, ACLU legal director Rebecca Glenberg said. He told Glenberg that administrators had suspended him with pay for five days because of his work as a butt-print painter and that he also could face unpaid suspension pending an investigation.

Murmer has been instructed by the school administration not to speak with the media, Glenberg said. He did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow confirmed that a Monacan art teacher had been placed on administrative leave but declined to provide additional details because it is a personnel issue.

"In the school system, personnel regulations state that teachers are expected to set an example for students through their personal conduct," Marlow said. "Additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that schools must teach by example and that teachers, like parents, are role models."

Murmer went to great lengths to keep his work life separate from his activities as an artist, said ACLU executive director Kent Willis. As a butt-printing artist, he goes by the name "Stan Murmur," and appears in disguise in photographs and videos promoting his art.

"As a public employee, he has constitutional rights, and he certainly has the right to engage in private legal activities protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution," Willis said.

A nearly naked Murmer expressed concern about remaining incognito during a 2003 appearance on the now-canceled cable television talk show, "Unscrewed With Martin Sargent." In a clip from the show, available on, Murmer dons a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head, a black thong - and nothing else.

"I'm certainly proud of the ass painting," Murmer said in response to questions about his disguise. "I do have a real job where I do have real clients and I don't think they'd be too understanding if I was also the guy who painted with my ass."

That video has made the rounds at Monacan High, where the mere mention of Murmer's name was enough to elicit grins from students Tuesday. Most appeared to be firmly behind their teacher, describing his suspension as "stupid,""ignorant" and "kinda retarded."

"Everyone has been talking about it," senior Heather Thompson said with a laugh as she and other students streamed out of school.

Thompson, who worked with Murmer in the school's art club, said many students have known about his paintings for a few years, but the YouTube clip recently got everyone buzzing. She and other students described Murmer as a funny, likable and popular teacher. There is little support among the student body for his suspension, she said.

"It was simply him expressing himself and his art, and it had nothing to do with school - he wasn't advertising," she said.

This is not the first time Murmer has faced potential problems because of his extracurricular activities. Three years ago, he contacted the ACLU after he was told school administrators were unhappy about his paintings, Willis said. The issue eventually blew over with no suspension issued, Willis said. It was unclear why administrators decided to take action now.

Owning a piece of Murmer's art doesn't come cheap. On his Web site, his creations run upward of $900. His most popular piece, "Tulip Butts," goes for $600.

So how does one become a butt-printing artist? On his Web site, Murmur said his journey began a few years ago when he was told to find an organic item to use as a stamp for a class painting assignment. He decided to use his posterior. His final product was a hit with the class and a butt painter was born.

He was, however, the only student not asked to hold up his organic stamp.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Its that time of the year again. Party time! It's a shame that school spirit is so low almost no one wants to attend. Principal Suit was in the teacher's cafeteria today pushing the party. It's sad that the only people that attend are the people that want to suck up to him. One teacher, with a really cushy job had said five minutes before he made his entrance "I don't think I am going to go to the party this year." When he asked her point blank if he would see her there, she answered "Of course you will." So she will be there along with a few others that she can convince to come and lots of young teachers that are afraid to say no. As for me, I am going out with friends, to nearby bar that has at least 60 beers on tap and am going to have my own celebration.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pound of Flesh

Now if a kid is late to class three times, they want us to contact the parent and send the kid to the dean's office with an official letter stating the date we contacted the parent. Before we send the kid, they want us to call the office.

We have to go in the hall between classes, have a do now on the board when the kids walk in, collect and return homeworks and teach bell to bell. I wish they would just take the pound of flesh and leave us alone.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dr. Suit has a Hissy Fit

Dr. Suit has his panties in a knot again. It's 10:06:03 and Dr. Suit is holding an IEP conference and all the participants are there except for Mr. T, the math teacher. Dr. Suit is furious. He goes to Mr. T's supervisor and says "Mr. T is not here. He is 3 seconds late. I saw him outside smoking a cigarette again. I am Dr. Suit. I must get this meeting over with on time. How else will I be able to take care of my private practice on school time and show up on time for my golf game? Supervisor, you must discipline him severely." Now Supervisor knows Mr. T well. Supervisor knows that Mr. T is very conscientious and responsible and would never go outside and smoke when he is needed inside. Supervisor asks Mr. T why he is late and tells him what Dr. Suit said he was doing. Mr. T explains that he was coming from a classroom on the other side of the building. He forgot to put on his running shoes that morning so he had to walk instead of run to the meeting. Supervisor says "I will take care of Dr. Suit. I do not want him harrassing the best teacher in my department."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Somewhat of a Handle

I had a conversation today with an AP (she caught me by surprise in the hallway). She is actually one of the better ones, has somewhat of a handle on reality. Notice, I use the word somewhat. I once again started telling her that the C-6 assignments left no time during the day for calling homes or writing letters and then reminded her that the C-6 assignment comes from within the school and the schools could change the assignments to give us some flexibility. She promptly told me that when that system was tried last year, some teachers took advantage and did nothing. I promptly told her that the same teachers were still doing nothing. She answered "We know that." When I asked her then why we couldn't go back to the flexibility and let the teachers work in a professional manner, she couldn't answer.

Somewhat of a handle I guess is a start. You've first got to see the problem before you can fix it. Now we've got to push for a real handle on reality.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grade Correlations

I checked my grades for marking period II today, made sure they were all correct. I wasn't too busy so I checked my percentage pass. My 8th period M&C class had a passing rate of only 33% while my 9th period had a passing rate of 75%. I do the same things in both classes. My 8th period has lots of truants. My 9th period has almost perfect attendance every day. I know this is a big part of it. There is no way for kids in period 9 to get the exams and answers from the earlier class. I'm sure Principal Suit will find some fault with these grades. I don't care. I just wish he could come up with a way to help the failing kids.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Fairy Tale

"Too many kids are failing your tests. They are too hard."
"Too many kids are passing your tests. They are too easy."

The poor teacher is so confused, too easy, too hard. She feels like Goldilocks looking for the porridge that will be just right. The only problem is that this is not a fairy tale and there is no happy ending. No matter what the poor teacher does, it is never just right. Instead of finding the comfortable bed, she is once again threatened with a U rating.

Comments from an Administrator

"Every teacher should be in the halls between classes".

"If a student is late once, call the parent."

"If a student is absent twice, call the parent."

"If a student is not doing homework, call the parent."

"If a student fails, you are a failure.

"I want another performance bonus. YOU MEASLY TEACHERS BETTER DO MORE SO I CAN GET ANOTHER ONE THIS YEAR. Stop taking lunch breaks. Stop going home until 7:00 PM. Start coming in at 6:00 AM. You may no longer use the bathroom on school time. If I don't get another bonus, you will get a U rating and be on the unemployment line."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Extra Credit

Why do kids ask for extra credit when they haven't even done the bare minimum of work that has been given to them? It never fails. The marking period ends and they all of a sudden wake up and want to do extra work to pass. I'll never convince them that extra credit for them means more work for me and I'm not willing to do it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Principal Suit's Bonus

Our chapter chairman mentioned the principal's performance bonus in his last newsletter. Needless to say, our Principal Suit did not like this. He quickly defended the bonus in his weekly announcement papers claiming the bonus is something that was negotiated into his last contract and the UFT is against performance bonuses. What he doesn't mention is that he would not have gotten this without the hard work of the faculty. What he doesn't seem to realize is that his constant harrassment of us to do more than we are already doing is not going to work. Slavery is outlawed in this country and I refuse to do any extra work that will bring him another bonus.

I am against performance bonuses for teachers. One of the reasons is that I don't think teacher's performance can accurately be measured. There are too many outside factors involved. Another reason is the prejudicial factor. Principal Suit does not like me. He's already suggested that I transfer (which, I told him, is not going to happen). A parent nominated me for a Heart Award, no money, just an honor. He told her I was not the kind of teacher he was looking for--they should think about giving it to someone else. If I can't even get an honorary award, what chance would I ever have for getting a bonus?

Thursday's Exam

I gave my M&C class a test on Thursday. I really tried to make it easy, so more of them could pass. And I did the unthinkable--I gave them a review sheet a few days before with almost identical questions on it. If my AP knew, he would not be happy. I'm smarter than he is, though. I call the sheet practice, not review and I hide the real questions in with lots of other ones.

Some of the kids are good. They see through my tricks and manage to do quite well. Other kids have been beamed up to space somewhere and have been sent back to earth without some of their gray matter. For example, I gave them a question on combinations. I gave this one on the practice sheet nC2 = nC4 and the same problem with the 2 and 4 changed on the real test and at least 25% of the class got it wrong. I probably went over it 10 times before the exam and told them to beware. The also could not put these into their calculator and get the correct answer, even though I made sure to tell them they would have to do this on the exam. I did 1000!/999! on the board and on the test asked them 2000!/1999! and they couldn't do it. I know some of the stuff is hard, I try to teach the hard stuff, but put enough easy stuff on my exams so that everyone can pass. If only they would put the effort into studying that they put into goofing off, miracles could occur.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Note from My AP

On 11/29/06, Pissedoffteacher wrote the following to her AP:


And his response was the following:

You might wish to contact RG for an answer.

I would like to share with you that some of us call from home because some parents are not available during the day while others call during their prof. lunch, before or after school. No one should call during their C-6 assignment. Furthermore, teachers who teach the double period classes will not be asked to write recommendations while teachers of upper level or honor classes will. Should teachers of lower level class be asked to do more because they don't have to write recommendations? Absolutely not. One can always ask for double period classes so that she does not have to write recommendations. You can do it as well.

You don't even have to contact parents if all your students are doing what they are supposed to do. But if they don't, what choices do we have? Sometimes, calling parents don't even help. But we all have to try.

Have a good evening.

My response to him will be something like the following:

1. Contractually I am entitled to a preparation period and a duty free lunch.
2. My work day is already extended to 6 hours and 40 minutes. You have no right to ask me to extend it any longer or to work from home.
3. I happen to have taught double period classes as well as honor and AP classes. No matter what I teach, I write the recommendations.
4. You are in effect asking teachers who have honor and AP classes to do more than teachers who just teach double period classes. We all have the same c-6 assignments. We are the ones being asked to do more.
5. Most of the teachers teaching the double period class are not capable of teaching the advanced classes, They are teaching them because that is best for them, not best for the school.

Enjoy your day too.

The Power of Good Cooking

I asked a student today what made the big difference in his work ethics. In the beginning of the semester he was always playing with his blackberry and trying to get by doing as little as possible. Now he is working hard, getting great grades and his blackberry is no where to be seen. He told me "Food!" When I asked him to elaborate, he told me that during the summer he decided to stay out one night until 4AM. His mom didn't yell or scream or even say a word. He thought he got away with it. The next morning, he got up and found his brother and sister eating pancakes, bacon, eggs and all kind of goodies. When he asked "where is mine?", his mom pointed to the refigerator and left the room. She refused to make him dinner that night or for that matter feed him anything for the rest of the summer. Finally, his grandmother took pity on him and began to cook for him. He told me he never wanted to go through that again so he was going to take the easy way out and just do what was expected of him. The woman is a genius.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dumb and Dumber

One of my more difficult students was playing with his Blackberry in class today. I asked him to turn it off and put it away. I don't have the energy to confiscate them. Besides, being in the trailer and so far from security I don't want to risk unnecessary confrontations. The kids, always at least pretend to turn them off and put them away, at least for a few minutes. Today, a kid refused to turn it off. I told him I was going to call security and get it confiscated if he didn't put it away on his own. He didn't seem to care. I had to leave my trailer (no phone, of course!) and go to next trailer to call for help. Naturally the switchboard operator won't answer the phone, she doesn't want any trouble. I had to call Principal's office. When I went back into my room, another student had his blackberry out. I told him security was on the way, he better put it away. He also refused to listen and kept on playing. I said, "You now lost your's too." A dean came in and took both kids out.

I don't know what is wrong with some of these kids. They knew the consequences and kept going anyways! Five minutes later, a girl took her blackberry out. She wasn't smart enough to keep it away but when I bellowed at her, she put it away quickly. It's only the beginning of December. I don't know how I will make it to the end like this?

Monday, November 27, 2006

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Teacher told her class to copy the questions from the board and leave room for answers. More than one kid asked why they had to leave the room to get the answers!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I've been teaching for over 30 years and have never met an administrator that I liked or respected. I am sure there are good ones out there, just none have ever crossed my path.

My first AP was I woman I will call RSquared. She is one of the meanest people I have ever met. Custodians put dead birds in her letter box and someone took chains and smashed the side of her car while it was parked in the lot. Everyone, even the nicest people, people who never said a bad word about anyone, felt she deserved this treatment. She was abusive to teachers she did not like, so abusive in fact, that the principal would go to other teachers in the math department, to get a feeling for the teacher in question, before he took any actions agreeing with her. She had teachers make up long question sheets, which she claimed were going to be used for coverage if anyone was absent. In reality, she printed these questions and sold the books. No one got author or monetary credit. I got along with her until I told her I was taking a child care leave when my daughter was born. She then gave me 5 classes in 5 different rooms, making sure I had to pass through the student cafeteria to get from room to room. When I grieved, she claimed she had nothing to do with rooms, The programmer showed me a schedule that had me in one room until RSquared changed it.

Now, comes the principal that worked with her. I thought he was a good guy until I needed him to sign my release papers to come to the school I am now in. He refused due to a power struggle he was having with her. Even though he knew his school was too far from my home, and I could no longer travel there (having two babies at home) he refused to help me out.

The next administrator I came in contact with was in the special education department. I liked teaching kids with limited abilities. I really thought I could make some difference in their lives. He didn't agree. He constantly harrassed me for things he let other teachers do. His final act towards me was letting me go to teach in the math department (my license) but not before he bad mouthed me so much that they really did not want me either but had no choice since I had tenure and building seniority.

Next comes BSquared, the math AP who had no choice but to take me. He was only a temporary chairman, but he was on a power trip. He gave me five of the worst classes in the building. When he realized that he was not going to be doing the job a second term, he gave himself (as AP) one of the worst classes. He figured the new person coming in would get stuck (which she was). If for some reason, she didn't come and he got to keep the job, he planned on changing programs. OK was the woman who took his place. Her philosophy was to give herself and her friends all the best classes. She dressed quite provocatively and the kids called her a hooker. Her make-up was always smeared and her slip was always showing. She used tears to get her own way when people disagreed with her. Her husband was always around. He used to sit at department meetings and give dirty looks to anyone who was not paying attention to her.

OK went on to greener pastures and we now have a chairman who I am embarrassed to admit I get along great with. This doesn't mean I don't see what he does to other teachers. We had two teaching fellows in the department a few years ago. They were really bad teachers. He didn't have to keep them. But he didn't have to be abusive either. He constantly yelled at them and belittled them in front of students. He is carrying on this behavior now. He deliberately gave one teacher a super late schedule, even though he knows she prefers to be on early. He begins every meeting threatening U-ratings and insulting certain teachers daily. Everyone knows who his little nasty memos are addressed to, even though no one is mentioned by name. One guy in my department has a mentor from the UFT. Because of this, our chairman is not allowed to go near him until Dec 1. The poor guy is living in fear and dreading this day. He is terrified of being alone with the chair. I don't care if this guy is bad (which I don't think he is). No one deserves to be treated like this.

Principal Suit has filled up many of these entries on his own, so there is no need to discuss him here.

Hopefully, before I retire, I will meet good administrator.

Friday, November 24, 2006


We are spending Thanksgiving with my daughter in her new house in Maryland. It's exciting. She is only 25 years old and has purchased a town house not too far from the Baltimore area. I see so many kids her age still searching for careers and I am so proud of how well she is doing.

Too bad her maturity ends here. She just had a huge fight with her 24 year old brother (also doing well, a computer engineer almost finished with his master's degree). They went at it the same way they did when they were four and five years old. She told him to get out of her house and he packed and was ready to leave when he realized he forgot his phone. I managed to block the door when he went to retrieve it and stood there where they screamed and yelled at each other and eventually made up. My two brilliant children made up by biting each other.

Kids--got to love them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I'm an accidental teacher. I am the first college graduate from a family of barely high school graduates. With no role models, I followed the only profession where I knew college graduates, I became a teacher. I'm lucky. I found a career I love. I loved it from my first day. I really wanted to be a great teacher. I was always good at things, but never really, really good and definitely not great. I did not meet my own criteria and was depressed. Lucky for me I became good friends with Phil, who I assumed was an experienced teacher. He was so comfortable with the kids. He knew everything about the school and he helped me immensely. Aside from the teaching basics, he helped me realize that I didn't have to be perfect to be good at what I did. It was okay if a lesson bombed occassionally. It wasn't my fault if the kids didn't listen. He helped me to not be afraid, not of the kids, the administrators or anyone else. He taught me that I didn't not have to be great. just had to do my best and to care about the kids I taught. I owe my success in teaching to Phil. I found out, thirty years after I started teaching that Phil was a new teacher, too. He was teaching just one term longer than I was. Since today is Thanksgiving, I am publicly giving thanks to my wonderful friend and mentor. May all new teachers find a Phil to help them through.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We Have the Best Medical Coverage???????

I just called GHI to find out about the status of the procedure I am waiting approval on. They, of course, don't handle it and put me through to Care Core, the company that does handle it. Care Core callously tells me that my claim has been rejected. "So you are just going to wait for me to get sick and die?" is what I said to the claim representative. She then answered that my doctor is at fault. They requested additional information that my doctor never sent. I know my doctor well. This was not the truth, but I called my doctor to check anyways. The receptionist said "They lie! GHI is the worst. They reject these claims all the time. I'll resubmit on Monday, but I don't know what good it will do."

And the UFT suit that came to my school kept insisting that we have some of the best health coverage in the country.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Interclass Visitations

Today was interclass visitation. We got to go visit another teacher's class with our AP and a few other teachers. We got to see what they were doing right and hear about what we are doing wrong. I got to see an honor M&3 class. Of course the kids were all doing exactly the right thing. The teacher was terrific. Now, I am not putting down this teacher. Although she is fairly new, she is good at what she does, she is just not as perfect as my AP would like to make us believe. I looked in the window before we walked in the room. There were a few kids not paying attention. But, these are good kids, easily intimidated. When they saw the crowd walk in, they put on their best show, as did their teacher. We all tend to do things differently when we have an adult audience judging us.

After the five-minute visitation we went back to the office where we were supposed to discuss what we saw. The only one doing any discussing was my AP. He kept insisting that all kids can learn. If we expect them to do the correct thing they will do it. Any problems in the class are our faults. If kids are failing, we need to figure out how to get them to pass. He didn't want any excuses for disrespectful kids and for failures. I personally don't care what he says about me. I told him I had problems yesterday, when a kid decided he was going to leave early. My AP knows better than to mess with me, so he told me I handled it perfectly. I know he would not have made the same comment to other teachers.

This meeting offered the teachers with difficult classes no answers on how to handle the problems. The only purpose of this meeting was to make people feel inferior. One of my colleagues, a great teacher who has been teaching 25 years, looked like she was about to cry because she has one of those classes that is impossible, no matter what she does.

I know my AP is responsible for the department. He wants good results to make sure he keeps getting those big performance bonuses at the end of the year. He's not going to get them by constantly putting the teachers who work in his department down.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Hope I Found A Way

I have a couple of good kids in my M&C class, that fail, no matter what they do. I experimented with them on Friday's test by letting them take the test earlier than the rest of the class, on a free period, when I, or someone else could sit with them and encourage them. Encouragement was given, help was not. Both kids passed the test. One got a 76 and the other a 65. Hopefully, I will be able to build their confidence this way and they will be able to start passing under the same conditions as everyone else. I know my chairman would have a fit if he knew I was doing this. I don't care. When you have one foot out the door on the way to retirement, there is nothing he can do to bother or hurt me. I just hope I can help the kids.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I went to student's cafeteria today during my C-6 assignment to search out the kids in my M&C class who I thought might have lunch that period. They were going to take a test this afternoon and I wanted to give them some extra help. I could only get one of my students to come for the help. On the way to tutoring room, (yes, I now have a room to use!!! Complaining got me out of the library and into a vacant room) I asked him what was going on. He was such a hard worker in the beginning of the term and he was sinking fast now. He looked sad. he told me his mom needs an operation, her third. She has thyroid cancer and it is spreading. His grandmother was just diagnosed with breast cancer and his dad might be losing his job. His brother might be thrown out of school. The kid told me he works after school, in McDonald's and is worried about losing that job. He works to help support his family.

Principal Suit told us that if kids are not passing, we must find a way to help them. We should change whatever we are doing and get these kids to succeed. I can help this kid with math, but I can't cure the cancer in his family and I can't support them. I feel so bad for the kid, but there really is not a lot I can do to ease his home situation. I thought about referring him to guidance, but, what can they do besides talk to him?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talking to Guidance

Teacher: Mr. Blue, I am coming to you because you are Joe's guidance counselor and he is exhibiting very strange behavior in my class.

Mr. Blue: Do you think your class his appropriate for him? What would you like me to do? He passed the two classes before this one. This is where he belongs.

Teacher: I am not coming to you because he is failing. Unfortunately, he is not the only one failing in the class. I am coming to you because his behavior is bizarre. He walks around the room. He tells me I am getting on his nerves. He tells me to get out of his face whenever I try to talk to him. He is late every day. I have not been able to get in touch with his parents. I would like you to look into the problem.

Mr. Blue: Other teachers have not complained.

Teacher: I have been experiencing this problem with him for quite a while. The way my day is programmed I have not had time to stop by. Please contact his teachers and see how he is doing.

Mr. Blue: My door is always open. Please stop by when you have time.

The conversation continues with Principal Suit.

Teacher: Excuse me, Principal Suit, I have a problem. I don't know what you can do about it, but I would like you to take this problem under consideration. Teachers need time during the day to dixcuss kids with counselors. With professional assignments and 5 classes there is no time for this.

Principal Suit: You have a lunch period. Use that!

Teacher: Principal Suit, I am entitled to lunch, just like you are.

Principal Suit: (getting irritated) Well, then use your professional period. Make sure to report there first so people will know where you are. And if you stop in the rest room, make sure you let someone know what you did in there.

Teacher: Principal Suit, I carry three bags plus my coat and my professional assignment is on the complete opposite side of the building. Even if I go there first, there is no where for me to leave my things so I must carry them with me. It is just too much.

Principal Suit: Oh go do what you want. I can't be bothered with this nonsense.

Let's see what tomorrow holds!

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

The school aid in charge of the telephone doesn't answer the phone--she doesn't want to deal with any incoming problems. This woman got a life time achievement award last month. The secretary who works for the AP of administration checks the caller ID and only answers the phone if she likes the person calling. The secretary in charge of student records will only print address labels for the teachers of the classes her son is in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


"I don't want a kid who can't pass Math A to be my doctor."

"This is a comment I hear more and more everyday from teachers who have some of the really low functioning kids in their classes. They don't want to pass them because they don't want them to go on to medical school??? Just how ridiculous is a statement like this??? Passing the Math A regents or any regents for that matter is not a sign of intellectual ability. It just shows that the kid has mastered what the state deems to be the minimum requirements for a high school diploma.

Many, many years ago, the state felt that too many kids were graduating without really knowing anything, so they instituted the RCT's to show competence in basic areas. When the kids couldn't pass these, they lowered the passing grades and let everyone through. The state then decided that these RCT's weren't good enough so they decided to make everyone pass a regents. When the kids started failing these, they again lowered the standards. So, a kid today getting a regents diploma might be no better off than a kid who graduated 30 years ago without this diploma.

Back to the subject--the kids we are passing today with just the barest knowledge of high school subjects are not the ones that will go on to medical schools. They are not going to be the ones competing for admission to Harvard and Yale. They are the kids that need that little piece of paper so that they can get the job sweeping floors at UPS or managing a fast food restaurant. As far as I am concerned, my standards can be as low as the states standards. I try to teach to the top. I drive the kids crazy all semester with high expectations. But, if they give an effort, I will pass all that pass the regents, no matter how little they actually know.

School Spirit

Friday is school spirit day! By unanimous decision, all teachers are supposed to wear their school shirt on Fridays to show school spirit. Funny, I don't remember being part of this vote. My school spirit takes the form of showing up to work every day and doing the best I can for the students. I refuse to be a party to this "camp activity". Principal Suit can now have one more thing to not like me for!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

US Math Scores Lagging

What a surprise, US math scores are lagging again. According to an article in today's NY Times ( It seems the NCTM has decided that fuzzy math is just not doing it anymore. It is not enough to have kids draw pictures and explore their feelings. They need drill and rote practice. It is interesting that this article came out a few days after Principal Suit made us sit in the auditorium reading an article on alternative methods to teaching. One of the things this article said is if kids don't get geometry, walk them around the building so they can find rectangles. I hope now that Principal Suit and the Board of Regents has seen this article we can get back to the basics of teaching math.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I have a girl in might night class at the commununity college that is very learning disabled. SHE IS NOT STUPID!!!! This girl, is in class every time it meets. She does all her homework, underlines pertinent material and is running an A in the class. I feel good watching her succeed and knowing that the A she is running is doing more for her self esteem than it is for her GPA.

This girl knows she has reached her academic ceiling and although she would like to get an Associates Degree, she realizes she cannot do it. The work is too hard. SHE IS NOT STUPID. It takes a bright person to see their limitations and work within them. Along with my class, she was taking a history class and a Spanish class. Unfortunately, she was not doing well in either and was forced to drop them. But, SHE IS NOT STUPID!!!! She paid for the courses, bought the books and continues to attend class. She does all the work and sits for the exams. She is determined to learn as much as possible.

Now, we just need to make the Board of Regents as smart as this girl. Make them see academic ceilings. Force them to help our students succeed on a level that is good for them.


Definition of profession:
An occupation that requires training and specialized study

Definiton of professional:
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

I got to thinking about my C-6 "Professional" period and decided to look up the word. I then began to think about what I am required to do during my "professional" period and I realized that calling what I and my colleagues do during a professional period is an oxymoron.

To begin with, some of my colleagues have hall patrol. Now I don't know what colleges they went to, but I am sure that none of them took a course dealing with this while they were in college. On the same note, a few sit by the front door and issue late passes to students. Highly unprofessional activities.

Now, my professional period is slightly more professional. I tutor in the library. I really don't mind tutoring. It's something that I have been doing since I started teaching 30 years ago. (a professional activity). What is unprofessional is the notion that I must be assigned to do it. It doesn't matter if my students are free periods 6 or 7--I must be there period 5. Another unprofessional aspect of tutoring is the poor spot we are forced to tutor in. I would be better off tutoring on the subway (not rush hour, of course) than in our library. The library is noisy, overcrowded and kids use it as a hangout. The librarian is glued to her chair in the front of the room and never looks up from the magazine she is reading. Still more unprofessional is that I need to be told what to do with my professional time. I have no time during the day to call a parent, confer with a student or to talk to colleagues about common preps. Professional activities that need to get done.

The next contract should change the term "professional period" to "let's degrade our teachers some more period". That way, at least we would know what we are in for when the contract passes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gun Control

Six Hours and Forty Minutes

Friends who aren't teachers are always telling me what a great job I have. I only work 6 hours and 40 minutes a day. I'd like to know how many of these friends got up at 8:00 AM Sunday morning to grade papers, enter the grades in the computer, and then sit for the rest of the day, until 9:00 in the evening, making up exams and writing lessons. Maybe I am only required to be in a school 6 hours and 40 minutes, but I am working the equivalent of 7 days a week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Top and Bottom

Everyone should teach the top students and the bottom students, if not every term, at least every few years. When we don't do this we get jaded and forget what the other half is like. I know this because I taught special education for a few years and then followed this with quite a few years of only teaching bottom level courses. The math supervisor at that time didn't like me and this was my "punishment". I fooled him, though. I like the bottom kids. Those are the ones that make me feel like I accomplished something when they succeed. There is nothing like that feeling I get when a kid who has almost given up on ever being able to master a concept gets it, and then graduates high school. Anyways, let me get back to the point of this post. I am now deemed a good teacher by the administration and have been teaching advanced placement calculus for over 10 years. The kids in these classes are wonderful. They are bright, and motivated. They do homework, ask questions and argue over every point on an exam. I love teaching them as much as I love teaching the kids that struggle. I find that teachers that only teach these top kids forget that the ones on the bottom exist. They express an intolerance toward people that cannot perform what we deem to be ordinary activities (like making change when the computer register is not working.) The ones who teach only the kids at the bottom start to think everyone is like that and start to lose faith in the future of our country. When they see a kid that actually can do any work, they think he is a genius, when he is probably just an average student. The best way to appreciate and help students is to actually teach all of them--the good students and the bad ones.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Business

In scholarly pursuit of bad breathSparrow and cricket, but not Cricket and Sparrow »Math scores are improving
An eminent mathematics professor writes:
I have just discovered a market that exists for a new business. A student had his “private tutor” regrade the final exam and is “demanding” the new grade.
If I start a business to meet this need, here’s how its first advertisement will read:
“Not doing well in math? Our staff has year of teaching experience. Just bring in your final and old exams and we will re-grade them for you and find you all the points you need to raise your grade. We have yet to see the F that couldn’t be changed to a C.”
Posted Friday, November 10th, 2006 at 12:01 am under Letters from readers, Arts and science.

Thanks to MW for sending me this article

The Past

I think I just figured out the problem with education today. Years and years ago, when I was a new teacher, the government realized that many kids were severely lacking in math and reading skills. Because of this, a Title I program was created. I don't really know what was done for the reading part, but I do know about the math. I would have been out of a job, except for this program. My classes consisted of 12 students. I worked with a paraprofessional. Each child had a folder in the classroom and the work they did in that class was geared toward that individual child's needs. Along with the Title I class, the students took a regular math class, usually a fundamentals class. We not only worked on the basic skills, but we worked on anything else the kids needed help with. Years ago, I had my own room. I had many different kinds of activities for them to work on. Imagine, I actually got to help my students and saw many of them succeed. I remember one girl, a high school senior, who had somehow fallen through the cracks in the system and could not count past 100. The thought of this kid in Math A today is frightening.

I am not naive enough to think that the Title I remedial program was the answer to all the problems that plague education today, but it was a start. At least kids were not cutting or acting out becauae the work was too hard. Some of the kids I teach today are no brighter than the kids I taught then. We are still graduating kids that do not have basic academic skills. It doesn't matter how many regents their record shows they have passed. I wish these kids could get the same kind of help that was given out 30 years ago.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Complaining Again....

I feel like a broken record. I spoke to the parent of a child in my M&C class today. The girl comes to tutoring at least 3 days a week. She does her homework and her classwork and is still failing, and failing miserably. My heart is breaking for this kid. The mother wants her to go for more tutoring. I honestly don't think more tutoring will help, although I did tell her where she could get help and even recommended a calculus kid that would be willing to help her. The poor kid is overwhelmed. She can't take anymore tutoring and I don't blame her. She already gives up her lunch to get extra help. She is on the track team and goes to practice almost every afternoon. Years ago, I used to think that kids should give up things like track to concentrate on academics. I don't think that anymore. These kids need something to do that they can excel in. Anyways, this kid started to cry when I told her about the extra tutoring. She said "I just can't do anymore." I believe her. I feel helpless. I don't know what to do for her. I want to tell her parents to have her tested, that she might have some learning disabilities, but I don't want to incur the parent's wrath, for saying this. I sent a note to guidance. I hope the counselor follows up on it. When are the powers that be recognize that not everyone can learn everything? I hate being the deliver of this kind of abuse on innocent children every day.

Principal Suit Does It Again

We lost instructional time yesterday due to the rain. The sidewalks in front of the trailer were flooded so all trailer classes sat in the auditorium. Today, Principal Suit had a fire drill period 9. Now we've lost two days in a row. Too bad this guy never uses his head. I know that legally the school must have a certain number of fire drills a term, but why during a period where kids already lost class time. He definitely could have made the drill either earlier or later in the day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rainy Days

And Noah said to Principal Suit "Do as I did and build an ark and on this ark put your trailer teachers and their students for it shall rain so hard that the walkways will be flooded." But did Principal Suit listen???? No, Principal Suit was too busy having teachers read articles on more effective ways of teaching. He wanted math teachers to take their classes on little trips around the building, to show them rectangles, squares, perpendicular and parallel lines. He was sure this would be the cure for all the math problems in the school. Today, the rains came. Noah was correct, the roads to the trailer flooded. The teachers and the students were forced to sit in the auditorium. The noise level and confusion from the disruption of the normal day prevented the teacher from pointing out the geometric shapes surrounding them. The students, happy to be free of the classroom only wanted to sit and chat with their friends. The day was lost.

Moral of the story: Principal Suit must learn to concentrate on issues important to education.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Purpose of AP's

"The AP is the toilet seat between the teachers and the principal."

Retired AP Science

Election Day Staff Development

7:45 - 8:30 We had breakfast consisting of "Lender-style" bagels, cream cheese, or butter and coffee.

8:45 - 10:30 We sat with out departments and learned how to write a lesson. It's amazing, I've been teaching over 30 years and now I know that I have been asking anticipatory questions and my lessons have congruency. I couldn't respond to my AP's question when he asked us to define congruency because I've never heard the term used in regards to lesson planning. I'm just too old, I guess.

10:45 - 11:45 We sat in the auditorium and listened to Principal Suit praising himself about how great our school did in the ratings. He is sharing his $20,000 bonus with us by giving us all tee shirts. And we only had to wait on a 20 minute line to pick them up. I hope he hasn't noticed that mine is still in the box it came in.

11:45 -12:00 We had a union meeting. Instead of discussing issues pertinent to us in school, our chapter chairman told us who to vote for. He also told us what a great contract we are getting (he is Unity all the way) and we couldn't possibly hope for anything better. I'm sure he wasn't happy when someone grabbed the mike and told everyone exactly how little this new contract was going to give us.

12:00 - 1:00 The best part of the day -- LUNCH with two of my good friends. We tried to go to a bagel store away from school, to be alone. Unfortunately, lots of others had the same idea. Oh well, at least we got there first and had a good table.

1:00 - 1:45 Anger Management Session. This consisted of the AP in charge of security standing in front of the room telling us what a great job he is doing. No one is controlling my anger and boy am I angry by now!

2:00 - 2:30 Back to our departments. Once again being treated by our AP as if we do not know how to teach.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Newbies and Staff Development

The teachers with thirty minutes experience are gearing up for their big day of staff development. I was told I was mean for calling them that. I can't help it. It's true. Imagine someone knowing something for thirty minutes trying to train someone who has been doing the stuff for thirty years. Of course these young ones claim they would rather listen to the more experienced teacher, and I am sure many of them would. But,we aren't the ones taking all those administrative courses. We aren't the ones trying to get in good with the administration. We are just the ones teaching our classes on a daily basis, watching the slow decline of the educational system in NY.

I used to be asked to do things for staff development. The problem the administration had with me was that I wanted to be paid for my time preparing for the staff development. I really didn't think this was too much to ask. At one time, they paid some outside consultant a fortune to come in and teach us about discipline. (This consultant had not been in a classroom for over ten years.) My requests were always met with "Sorry, we have no funds available." So I answered, "Sorry, I think I will pass." I feel bad about not passing along some of my knowledge to the newbies but not bad enough to do anything about it. I guess I will just bring a bunch of papers to mark, a magazine to read and hope the day passes quickly.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wasted Time

I just spent thirty minutes straightening out my papers and bookbag. THAT'S THIRTY MINUTES of time I could have used for something else if only I had a place to work during the day. I am so tired of having to leave a room the second a bell rings that everything I am carrying gets thrown in any bag I have so it won't get lost. I'm tired of carrying everything I own with me all day. I have a coat (now that the weather is getting bad), an umbrella (on rainy days), three bags and often miscellaneous books in my hands. Principal Suit passes me in the hall and wants to know why I am carrying so much? He probably thinks I am ready to sneak out for the day (if only I could!). I've already explained (as I have many times in the past) that it is cold and wet going to the trailer and that there is no where to leave things. If I leave something in the trailer inevitably I will need it in the building, and vice versa. It's been said before. The teaching day is not the 6 hours and 40 minutes that we are required to be in the building. It includes all the work we do at home also. I'm just so tired of the stupid work. The wasted time I just spent organizing my stuff (because there is no place to do this in school). Now I can spend a few hours doing some real work.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


We have an insta-hot on our kitchen sink. It's a wonderful little device that is hooked up to the faucet and provides boiling water in an instant. I love it. Anyways, I went to make a cup of tea this afternoon and found it dispensing cold water only. Upon checking, I found the circuit needed to be reset. No big deal. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said "Oh yeah, I thought it might not be working. The water came out cold when I used it last night." Now, why didn't he check????? MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 03, 2006


I know this is politically incorrect to say, but there are kids out there that are just plain stupid as far as some schoolwork goes. They work hard. They go for tutoring. They just don't get it. I have many kids like this in my M&C class. These are the kids that are breaking my heart. No matter how much they do, their test grades are still in the 20 - 30 range. One of my little girls gives up her lunch daily to go over work with me in the library. She can somehow manage to factor and divide complicated fractions, but she forgets how to factor when the factoring is alone. She can't remember the simplest facts, even if we have gone over them five minutes before the exam. I wouldn't label this child as one who needs special education because I really don't think test modifications would do the trick for her. It doesn't matter how slow we go, or how long I give her to finish a test. She is clueless. That doesn't mean that she can't receive an education, or go on to a career where she will make a ton of money. She just can't do math (and I've heard she has severe problems in English also.) One of my students is a resource room kid. He gets extended time on exams. I found a calculus student willing to work with him, almost on a daily basis. He's still failing. He too could use an alternate course of study.

I would label a learning disabled child as a child who has the capacity to learn, one who might need some modifications, but one that is intelligent enough to master the material. I don't think that is what is being done now. Kids that don't achieve are being tested and labeled. They are put in special education classes. The big drawback is that these kids are expected to master the same material as anyone else. The only difference is that the classes they are in are smaller. The work can't go any slower because they are expected to pass the same regent exams in the same amount of semesters as anyone else. Instead of using the label learning disabled, we need to figure out a way of helping these kids. Helping them is not forcing them to take courses that they cannot master.

I Love The Internet

I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!!!!! I won two front row tickets to see Elton John on Thursday night--grand prize from an online contest sponsored by Newsday. Now, how to relate this to teaching????? I am teaching combinations and permutations in my college class. The students are having a hard time knowing when to use each. This prize has done it. There was only one grand prize winner, so order mattered in picking the thirty one winners from all the entries. There were thirty other winners who just won regular seats. The order they won in didn't matter at all. They just have to be happy they are getting to see the show. Me, I am getting dinner in addition to the show!!!! I usually hate going anywhere on a work night. Getting up at 5:30 every day takes a toll on me. But, I guess this time I will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Power of the USPS

I accidentally found a great way to get my M&C kids to start studying and caring about grades. I mail home every test paper that is under 55. I started doing this before parent teacher conferences and the results were great. I couldn't believe how many parents walked into the room holding the test with the note expressing my concern for their child and my desire to meet with them. I just gave another test on Tuesday and the results were vastly improved. Even kids who passed the first made sure they studied extra hard. They told me they did not want a test paper mailed home!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Upcoming Staff Development Day

All the teachers with 30 minutes of experience are gearing up for the upcoming election day staff development. I can't wait to see what these young ones have come up with us to do. I wonder when they will let us know what our hours are for that day. It's less than a week away and we still have no clue.

Guess Who's Not Coming to Lunch?

Principal Suit is hosting a big buffet luncheon for the raters tomorrow. He's invited some teachers to join him for this wonderful meal. Of course, he didn't invite anyone who actually has something to say--only the ones who agree with him. I'm sure that was a good move, most of us would worry about ecoli poisoning from sharing his food. He did stop one teacher I know in the hallway and ask her if she was coming. She knew nothing about the meal as she had not been invited. He then quickly rescinded the invitation saying "Let me think about it. I'm not sure if I should invite you or not." This was even a new low for him.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Have Nothing to Fear

I don't understand what teachers are so afraid of. Big deal, the raters are coming. How does this really impact on me, a lowly classroom teacher? If by some miracle they see something they really like, my chairman and principal will get the credit and possibly a performance bonus. I might get a thumbs up in the weekly newsletter, although my principal does seem to forget to recognize anything I do correctly. Now let's suppose that they hate what they see in my classroom. My principal and chairman are also responsible. So they may get written up, and may lose their bonuses, but hey, that's not my problem. I vow that every day I come to work to do the best job I can for my students. I don't think the clothes I wear or the decorations I put on the walls affects their ability to learn.

Today, as I walked down the hall I heard tenured, experienced teachers worried about what the raters will find. Teachers are worried about putting on a show for them, trying to impress them. Teachers are afraid that classes will not be well behaved and they might look bad. Teachers are trembling with fear.

I say this kind of fear has to end. WE ARE GOOD TEACHERS. WE ARE DOING OUR BEST WITH WHAT WE ARE GIVEN. I didn't give birth to boy who cannot sit still. I've done all I can to keep him in his seat, but nothing works. I didn't buy the girl the cell phone that she insists on taking out all period, no matter how many times I ask her to put it away. We have got to stop being afraid and learn to stand up for ourselves. THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN DO TO US!!! I've already taught the worst classes in the building. I've had late session and early session. I've taught 3 preps. I've taught in trailers and half rooms. I've been threatened with file letters (athough none have ever been written). It is this kind of fear that allows people like Klein an Bloomberg to walk all over us. It is this kind of fear that gets our unions to accept such awful contracts. WE MUST STOP BEING AFRAID. THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE TO FEAR!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rating the Raters

Questions for the Raters:

1. How many years have you taught High School Mathematics?
2. What subjects in mathematics did you teach?
3. What school did you teach in? Where exactly is that school?
4. What was the perfomance level of your students?
5. How was the performance level of your classes determined?
6. How large were your classes?
7. Did your school provide extra help and provide a suitable spot for students to receive this help?
8. Were copy machines and decent text books always available?
9. Did you like being in the classroom?

Some more important questions:
10. How will these findings help my period 1 students get to school on time?
11. How will you get level 1 and level 2 students to read and do math?
12. How will all this money being spent on ratings make the school system and the education of our children any better?

After all, I think we should know something about the people that are going to rate us. In fact, maybe they should be rated!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dress For Success

Next Wednesday is Dress for Success Day. This is the shirt I will be wearing.

More Suit Wisdom's

All teachers are expected to teach from bell to bell. The bells are not working so synchronize your watch with the school clock.

Make sure you go into the halls a few minutes early. We want to keep kids moving, halls clear.

Before you begin teaching, make sure you pass around a garbage can and get the kids to pick up all paper on the floor.

Again, teach from bell to bell.

If the kids in your period one class are getting to school late, figure out a way to fix the problem.

Principal Suit Contributes

"My major contribution to this school has been placement of large garbage cans in the halls."

Principal Suit
Faculty Conference
October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Some Parents Need Help

I have a severely learning disabled boy in one of my Math C classes. He gets extended time on exams and is allowed to finish his exams in resource room. Even with this extra aid, his highest grade has been a 20. His resource room teacher wants to help him, but he will not allow her too. I arranged for one of my advanced placement calculus kids to sit with him, tutor him and even look over his shoulder while he takes an exam. So far, there has been no improvement, although the boy that tutors him thinks he might be able to get the stuff in the end. I would also like to add that my class has 34 kids in it, some of them, slightly on the difficult side. Anyways, I'm not complaining about the kid. He is a good kid, tries, and I am hopeful that by the time the regents comes around he will able to learn enough to get a 55. The problem is his parents, or more precisely, his father. They came to see me this evening. They were obviously upset about his lack of progress in math. I explained the help he has been given and then told them I was at a loss as to how to help him. At this point, the father said "That is not the answer I want to hear" and got up to leave. I told him to go see my chairman, maybe he could offer advice. The father just kept walking never looking back. I like this kid. I would really like to see him succeed. I've gotten kids like him to succeed in the past. I've never had a parent treat me like this. I'm a big girl, though. I don't like being treated like this, but I can take it. I just hope he is not being verbally abusive to his son at the moment because of the boys deficits in mathematics.

Note from AP to Department

"Every teacher is expected to conduct bell-to-bell lessons, even though the bell is not working."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Death of a Program

Last semester I had some Math A students that were really struggling. They needed help, more help than I could possibly give them. I came up with an incredible idea. I paired one of my advanced placement calculus students with one math A students. The AP student became the private tutor of the math A student. The kids worked together all year, exchanging e-mail addresses and phone numbers and even ended up getting together to work on weekends. This went far beyond my expectations. It was a great program. The weak kids all ended up not only passing, but mastering the subject. The AP kids learned that everyone is not as smart as they are and felt rewarded every time one of their kids passed an exam. As far as I could see, it was a win-win situation for all. This semester I wanted to expand the program to include students that are not in my class, open up the tutoring to anyone who wanted to partake. Alas, the administration feels it is more important for me to sit in the overcrowded, noisy library every day and tutor one or two kids (if that many). This way, they can say that there is a teacher available every period in the library. I had to stop my peer tutoring program because of time limitations. I felt an obligation to my tutors. I wrote them glowing letters of recommendation for colleges and scholarships. I stayed late and gave up lunch time when they needed help, paying them back for the hours they gave up. I asked the administration for a flexible C-6 assignment, so I could keep the program alive. I WAS TOLD NO!!!!!!!! And so, the program is dying.


Our tech guy needed an office. A chunk of the clock room was walled off so he can have a space to work. A new social worker joined the staff. She too, was given an office. One of the special education teachers with a comp time job was displaced from her desk, so a new office space was carved out of an existing room for her. When I asked why a space cannot be created for tutoring, I was told to "Deal with it. This school is just too crowded. No space is available. The noisy library will just have to do." I have come to realize that teachers don't count for anything in this system, but I really wanted to believe that the kids do count. Our principal says he wants more kids to pass, but he will only provide lip service to tutoring. If he took the tutoring program seriously, he would set up a proper place for us to work.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Suits Are Coming......

Principal Suit: Attention, attention! Next week we are going to be visited by the Suits from Planet X. They are going to see our classes in action and rate us. I will let you know exactly what they are looking for so you can plan accordingly.

Suitless One: But, Principal Suit, we are good teachers. We already plan what is best for our students.

Principal Suit: Lowly Stupid Suitless One! I don't care if what you are doing is helping your students. I don't care if you are finally getting them to come to class and to pass. I care about you making me look good so I can get another $20,000 performance bonus. DO AS I SAY!!!!!! And make sure you are dressed appropriately. I don't want the Suits from Plant X to see any teachers wearing shorts, jeans, tee-shirts or sweat pants.

Suitless One: Principal Suit, with all due respect, how do I personally gain if our school is given a good rating?

Principal Suit: Do a good job and I might give you a thumbs up in the weekly bulletin. Now, begone and speak no more!


Today I went to the library for my C-6 tutoring assignment, as usual. As usual, the library had more kids in it than is probably allowed by the fire department. The unusual was that there were no chairs. The school was having a blood drive and all the extra chairs were down at the drive. When I complained about no where to sit, one of the librarians told me there was plenty of floor space. Funny, but I've never seen him sitting on the floor to work. When I complained to the APO's secretary, she told me "Improvise, this school is too crowded. Tell the kids to sit on the floor so you can have a chair." This, from a woman, who actually has her own desk and chair. I would never tell a kid, or anyone else for that matter to sit on the floor. I told her I would improvise in the teacher's cafeteria and left. I wrote a long letter to the APO about the horrendous library conditions. I'm looking forward to hearing her lame brain excuse tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dr. Suit and the Cafeteria Lady

Dr. Suit: My little dog is raising money to send poor cats to a cat camp for the summer. I want to leave the collection can on your counter.

Cafeteria Lady: I'm sorry. I don't think you are allowed to do that. You will have to get permission from my supervisor.

Dr. Suit: Just ask her.

Cafeteria Lady: She is mean. You ask her. You are the one that wants to put it there.

Dr. Suit: You, a lowly cafeteria lady are making me ask? How dare you! And you forgot to bow when I walked in.

Cafteria Lady: Ask her yourself. I will not be bullied by a Suit!

(Dr. Suit asks the supervisor and is told that he can only leave the can on a windowsill. He is unhappy as no one is seeing it and the poor little dog is not raising enough money to send the poor little cat to camp. He defies all and places the can back on the counter)

Dr. Suit: No one is putting money in the can. Cafeteria Lady, I told you to tell your customers to leave their change in the can.

(Cafeteria lady picks up the can and slams it down on the nearby windowsill. Dr. Suit is so angry that the steam coming out of his ears is pressing his suit while he wears it.)

Dr. Suit: What did you do? How dare you do that to my can? I AM DR. SUIT! YOU MUST OBEY ME!!!!

Cafeteria Lady: You are wrong. My boss said it stays on the window and that is where it stays. She wears a suit too. And her SUIT is more powerful than your SUIT.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The New Business of Education

Now that business men are running our school system, teacher training will be reduced to this level more and more. The main difference will be that teachers do not even have a cubicle to sit in. I carry everything I need at work with me, all day long. I even have to carry my jacket and umbrella (on rainy days) because my classes are out in the trailer. The message in the next to last square is the message we are sending to our students when we force them to learn in bathrooms and hallways.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mr. Suit and the Staff Meeting

Mr. Suit holding a seminar on how to get teachers opinions on how to make the school a better place.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Joy In Learning Math?

A new study finds that there is no need for students to find math relevant to succeed in it. I having been teaching math for over 30 years and couldn't agree more highly with the finding that there is no need for math to be relevant to a student's life . There is no need to create such complex word problems, using ethnic names, that the purpose of the problem is lost in translation. Kids have to understand that everything they learn in school is learning for knowledge sake. Most of the things we learn in school have no relevance in our lives. I never enjoyed reading Shakespeare, found nothing important in what he wrote, but my education would have sorely been lacking had I not been exposed to his writings. Besides, how would anyone know what courses of study they should persue if they are not exposed to everything out there?

The new trend in education is to let the kids sit in a "horse shoe". This way, they can supposedly speak to each other easier, communicate better, be happier. I am willing to bet this is not being done in many of the countries whose math grades surpass ours.

While there is no need to relate math to students lives, there should be joy in learning mathematics. Teachers need to present material in an interesting fashion. They need to make the material as fascinating as possible, to make the students want to learn it and to make them believe they can succeed. Too many of our students today suffer from math phobias and fail because they believe they cannot pass. The joy of learning should be the feelings of success when a difficult topic, such as factoring is finally mastered. I have actually seen math phobic kids light up with joy when they finally understand what they have been taught.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Getting Over

A friend was recently working out at a nearby gym. It just so happens that one of the trainers is a former student of hers.

Trainer: Yo, Ms. Good, you are really looking good these days.

Teacher: Thanks. What are you up to since you graduated?

Trainer: I'm working here and going to Yo Yo College Part time. Ms. Good, I would never have graduated HS without your help and now my bro needs your help too.

Teacher: What do you mean? Would you like me to look over his senior thesis? Does he need help doing the research?

Trainer: No, Miss. I want you to hook him up with a paper. If you do that I can make sure you have muscles like these (points to his arms) and look as fine as that hot young mama on the treadmill.

Teacher: When you were in my class, you struggled, but you did the work. (At least I hope you did it by yourself. It was not done very well.)

Trainer: Come on Miss, you do for us and we do for you. You know we can help each other out. Cut my bro some slack!

Will It Ever Get Here?

Here is a teacher waiting for the same performance bonus the administrators in our school got.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Conversation with a Student

Student: Miss, Miss, are you going to pass me?

Teacher: You have a 34 average. Your highest grade was a 38.

Student: But don't you count homework and effort?

Teacher: You are missing 10 homeworks, handed in 5 homeworks that were incomplete and got 40's on both take home quizzes.

Student: But Miss, math is hard. I get nervous on tests. I think you should pass me because I come to class every day.

Teacher: Sorry.

Student: My parents will beat me and send me to AXEAEAB to live with my relatives there. I will have to work in a coal mine and will hardly get enough to eat.

Teacher: At least you won't have to worry about passing math there. Have a good trip.

A Fine Mess

My school is giving PSAT"s tomorrow. It is the first time they will be given on school time and proctored by teachers. My assignment starts at 8 but I am not due in until 8:45. Even though I pointed this out to the administration it has not been changed. Even teachers starting at 8:00 are due to come in the exact time the kids are supposed to be in their seats in their assigned rooms. A fine mess the school will be in. I feel an illness coming on. I feel so bad about having to taking a sick day tomorrow and missing all the excitement.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good bye Tension, Hello Pension

Now that we are all doing an assigned professional period, I would like to know when we are expected to:
1. call parents
2. send letters to parents
3. speak to guidance about troubled kids
4. write college recommendation letters
5. fill out progress reports for our special education students
6. bring exams to resource room for our special education students
7. comfort or help a child who we find crying in the halls
8. provide tutoring to a child whose lunch or internship does not coincide with the period assigned for tutoring.
9. etc., etc., etc

Our days are so programmed now, there is no time to provide the human touch to education. I've just about had it and am almost ready to pack it in. "Goodbye tension, hello pension" seems more inviting every day.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why Principals and Teachers Should Not Carry Weapons

Principal Who Shot Kittens Could Face Felony Charges

INDUS, Minn. (Oct. 15) - A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month.

Wade Pilloud, who resigned as principal of the K-12 Indus school, 40 miles west of International Falls, said he shot the kittens to spare them from starving to death after their mother was killed in an animal trap.

Pilloud said the shooting, which occurred on school grounds, endangered no one.

"I have bred cats, and I currently own two myself,'' he wrote Friday in an e-mail to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I am not a cat hater. I did not want the animals to suffer.''

The incident happened Sept. 21, and several students still on the grounds for after-school activities heard the shots.

"There were parents who felt, apparently some rather strongly, that there were concerns about the safety of their children,'' said Joseph Flynn, an attorney for the South Koochiching/Rainy River School District. "The district's position is that safety was not compromised.''

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Great News for City Schools

Great news for every school. They are getting approximately $20,000 each for faculty furniture, copier machines and service contracts. Unfortunately, in my school, the only place to put furniture is in the halls. Every other space is taken up for classroom space. The copy machine in my department's office hasn't worked for over a month. Maybe now it can finally be fixed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mr Shorts Gets A Letter from Principal Suit

Principal Suit must not be too busy these days. He just sent Mr. Shorts a letter addressing his school attire. It seems that the only thing Principal Suit is really concerned with is appearances. The fact that Mr. Shorts is one of the best teachers in the school never enters into the picture. It doesn't matter that the kids in Mr. Shorts' classes are actually learning or that they enjoy the class. It matters that Mr. Shorts will not conform to the image that Principal Suit has in mind of the way a teacher should dress. One of the new television shows this season has their own Principal Suit. Alec Baldwin plays this clueless guy who comes on board to fix a show that doesn't need fixing. He proceeds to do this by firing the producer (who dresses similarly to Mr. Shorts) and making the head writer don a fancy suit to go to a meeting. Of course, both the writer and the producer end up doing the right thing and save the show at the end, proving that Suits don't always know what they are doing.

Now, contractually, unlike the Alec Baldwin character, Principal Suit has no right to tell teachers how to dress. As long as the clothing is not showing off any unmentionable body parts, it can be worn. Principal Suit knows this. Instead, he attacks other things about Mr. Shorts. His latest letter rebuked him for drinking coffee in one of the offices while speaking to the secretary. Principal Suit claims that Mr. Shorts is disrupting work but everyone knows this is hogwash.

I say, Principal Suit, our school has real problems. We are extremely overcrowded. We have teachers sitting in the halls to tutor. We have classes with standing room only. We have copier machines that haven't worked in months. Don't you have better things to do with your time than to pick on poor Mr. Shorts?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Shocking Math Scores

What a shock? The results of a new set of New York State math exams show about two-thirds of students performing at grade level, with striking disparaties between rich and poor school district. Shocking that the number of students on grade level of in wealthy areas was more than twice the number as in impoverished urban area. The courts have ordered at least $4.7 billion more a year for city schools to help close the gap, but good old Richard Mills insists that money is not enough. Of course, why would the city schools need money? For tutoring? For smaller classes? Mills wants schools to review their programs. I think he is the one that created some of the new standards that teachers are being forced to teach to. He wants better teacher training. I vote for more staff development days being lead by the 20 something teachers, just out of college.

Aside from the issues of money, Mills fails to realize that there are major differences in students living in poor areas as opposed to living in wealthier ones. An affluent parent will easily pluck down $100+ an hour to provide their child with a tutor. There are kids in some parts of Long Island that have tutors in every subject, just as a precaution, in case they need help. No amount of state aid will ever be able to bridge this difference. And, although politically incorrect, I have to talk about differences between people in poor areas vs. affluent ones. Aren't poor neighborhoods often filled with recent immigrants? Can their childern't progress be compared to that of the doctor or lawyer's child? Although I hate to generalize, it true that people move away from the poor areas as their incomes increase. People left behind are struggling. Even if they are just as bright, parents are often working multiple jobs at long hours and are just not around to provide needed help.

If Klein is really serious about NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND he must provide smaller classes for city students. No one can expect him to do anything about socio-economic conditions, but he can at least make it feasible for children to get a good education and to get help in areas where they have deficits.

How the Grinch Stole Health Care

I need a certain medical test. Nothing life threatening. At least, not at the moment. My doctor wants me to take the test because she needs a baseline to go by so she can watch and see if there are any changes in the future. Unfortunately for me, and thousands like me, it is no longer a doctor's decision as to whether a patient needs a test. It is up to the insurance company. The insurance companies are now farming out all requests for tests to a company called CareCore whose only function at the moment is to reject the claim. Or rather, not reject it outright, but to demand more and more information in the hopes that the party involved will either give up and forgo the test or just pay for it without going through insurance. I guess the insurance companies think patients are going through these tests for fun, subjecting themselves to doses of radiation and the indignities of medicine just for the hell of it. I wonder who actually works for CareCore? Do they really have enough medical knowledge to make these decisions? It's sad that our lives are now being controlled by the insurance company.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Jeb and George Strike Again

According to an article in Today's Newsday, both Jeb and George agree that the No Child Left Behind Act is not working the way it is written. Do not dispair! They have united to come up with a system that will work to improve our schools--CHANGE THE WAY THE SCHOOL'S ARE RATED!!!!!! Instead of fuzzy ratings like "needs improvement" the schools will now get letter grades ranging from A to F. This is a much better idea than reducing class size or changing curriculums to make work more relevant or even providing worthwhile remediation. The best thing about this plan is that millions of dollars will probably be given to some firm to come up with a rating system instead of wasting the money on our children's education. Let's give a big hand it to the Bush administration on their successful way of handling another problem.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Last week Bush signed a bill extending No Child Left Behind legislation. Even he admits that the law is not as successful as he would like it to be. For one thing, parents are not getting their children's grades in a timely fashion. Often by the time they get these grades, it is too late to change schools. Also, with good schools operating at 250% capacity, there is just no room to take these underachieving students. Even if they do make it into one of these schools, they cannot be properly serviced because of the overcrowding. With class sizes of 34 (many more than that since over sized classes are still prevelant) there is no way for even the best teacher to reach out to help these kids. Bush mentions tutoring, but only 19% of the students that are entitled to the tutoring are actually receiving it. Even if it were to be readily available, after a full day of school, how many kids will actually be able to absorb anymore?

One of the solutions Bush mentions is more testing. Aren't our kids tested enough? We spend so much time testing and preparing for testing that little teaching is being done. Even in a high school, regents preparation in a weak class takes the place of mastering a subject. I am ashamed to admit that I have taught kids how to pass an exam without actually knowing any mathematics. Besides, if its only improved test results that anyone wants, I am sure someone will find a way to either redesign the exam to make it easier to pass or to just change the scoring so a lower grade is needed to pass.

If we really don't want to leave any children behind we have to change the way we are teaching them. Elementary school teachers have to be allowed to go back to teaching the basics of arithmetic and reading. Some things just have to be learned by memory and rote practice. There is no way around this. High school students have to be taught courses more relevant to their interests. Forcing everyone to take college preparation courses and then head on to college is not the answer. The world needs hair dresses, car mechanics, and floor sweepers. We need to teach our students that everyone plays a valuable part of society and there is no shame in any kind of work. What's wrong with teaching kids to pass a civil service exam so they can work for the post office or the sanitation department. We will always need people to work in these fields. If someone has trouble reading, they cannot be expected to become a psychologist, nor can the kid who needs remedial math become an engineer.

I believe that no child should be left behind, but the way we are going about it now is all wrong and we are leaving more children behind now than ever before.