Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arthur Goldstein, ICE-TJC Candidate

Arthur Goldstein, ICE-TJC Candidate for Exec. Bd. At-large Speaks About the Election

(video and text stolen from EdNotes)

Meatballs too?

Kids were hanging outside my friend's Italian class after the late bell rang. The AP in charge of security happened to be walking by. She thought, "Good, he will chase them into the class. Instead he yelled
"It's linguine time. Go to class."
She felt his comment was inappropriate and unprofessional. I'll go a step further. I take it as an ethnic slur and if it was me, I would report it.

A man is this position should be setting an example, not giving the kids this food for thought.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Birth of a Cynic

I've been trying to figure out when I became such a negative thinker, when I lost faith in the system and when I became the cynic I am today when it hit me--I sat on a committee that chose the new AP of security.

I don't think this process is followed anymore, so I will go through the steps. The committee was made up of teachers, parents, students and administrators. We spent hours sifting through resumes of people that wanted the job, ranking each applicant on a scale of 1 to 10. I forget how many of the top were called in for an interview.

In my school, the position wasn't advertised. The school had a pile of resumes left over from when the new APO was picked (insider got this job so application process was useless). Many of the applicants were no longer interested in becoming AP's. Some had moved and never received the call to come for an interview.

After deciding on the best of the lot, we met one evening in the Principal's office. We began with dinner. The Principal joked and talked to parents as if they were long lost friends and made them feel like their opinions were valued, while she continued to stroke her own ego. The first applicant came in. He happened to be a dean currently working in the school. Unfortunately, he was not a pal of the Principal. When he finished his interview, the Principal spoke poorly of him. This wass not even allowed during these meetings. The process continued for a few more hours. During a break, a parent asked "So how is the AP actually picked?" Principal said, "The top two applicants are sent to the superintendant's office. There two Principals from another school, and handpicked by me, make the final decision." At that point I looked at her and said, "So what we are doing here tonight and what we have done for the past few weeks is meaningless." I walked out, not even waiting for an answer. She sent one of her little suck-ups out to admonish me for my comment, but I didn't care. The damage was done as far as I was concerned.

It just so happened that the best applicant for the job got it. I think that was just luck. Anyways, the guy did a great job. His only problem was that he wouldn't kiss Principal's a**. At the end of the year she convinced him to take a job else where, a major loss for the school.

We don't pick administrators this way anymore. I know there are people that are upset about the lack of collaboration of teachers and administration. As for me, I'm glad. I don't like being a party to such a farce. I don't like the way administrators are chosen but at least teachers and parents are not wasting their time pretending to pick them anymore.

Road to Success

Please make sure the majority of your students are doing passing work.

This line was in a memo from my AP. But I think I have come up with a way to get all my students to do passing work, so I won't have a problem with him.

1. No more homework. This way, no one will fail for not doing it.

2. No more attendance taken. This way, absence won't be a problem.

3. The answers to every test question will be written on the test paper. That way, no one can get an answer wrong and fail.

We should just hand everyone diplomas the minute they enter the school in ninth grade. No one would have to worry about doing passing work that way.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Am I Losing My Mind?

Today was the first day back. When I saw the teacher I share my trailer with, the ESL teacher whose work was destroyed, I asked her if she spoke to the administration about security problems. She told me that since nothing has happened yet, there is nothing for her to worry about. When I reminded her about her destroyed work, she replied, "Oh yes, Ms. Suit, the APO, said that security in the trailers is a problem and it is being looked into." She kept coming up with reasons for the trailer to be left unlocked--reasons I was able to shoot down every time. She finally just left, resigned to what had happened.

Am I insane? Am I wrong to be so worked up about security? Is it better to just rely on history and say that since nothing has happened in the past nothing will wait happen in the future?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Soul Sister

I just found a great new blog, Pissed Off Mom. I''m so happy to have found a sister that I never knew existed. In fact, from reading just a few of her writings, I feel we must be twins, separated at birth.

I don't know if her older son goes to the school I teach at or a similar one, but I will keep writing and trying to expose the problems that all the children and in particular, my new nephews, today are faced with.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Make Up Your Mind

I met a teacher who told me her principal keeps telling her that teaching is not a 6 hour and 50 minute job and that she should stop whining about all the extra work she has to do. It's funny, I never thought about teaching that way either, that is until recently. I always worked hours at home. I never thought twice about the time it took me to write a recommendation, or make up an exam. I never minded calling parents in the evening or writing letters. So, why is it now that everything gets me so pissed off? I think it's because I am now being told I have to do this stuff on my own time. Every minute of the work day is so programmed that nothing remotely resembling education (except for what goes on in the classroom) can take place. One minute I am being told that I am a professional and it shouldn't matter if I have to put in extra hours. Next I am being told that I am too lazy and irresponsible to know how to work on my own, so I must be told what to do every minute. The school can't have it both ways. Either I am a professional or I am not one. Right now, I just wish they would make up their minds.

Seven Things That Would or Would Not Make Me a Good Leader

1. I have a lot of energy and keep moving. I'm never too tired or lazy to make the extra trip to guidance, dean, etc.

2. I drop whatever I am doing to help any kid that needs help. I am usually wearing old clothes and don't mind sitting on the floor in a hallway when that is the only place available for us to work.

3. I am not afraid to speak my mind. I don't fear consequences (although I should!). I am now on FU time at work, but that doesn't mean they still won't find ways to make me miserable.

4. I call and e-mail parents to tell them good things about there kids. A little honey goes a long way.

5. If you are my friend, I will do anything for you.

6. If you are my enemy, I will hold doors for you and do nice things to make you feel uncomfortable. Again, honey goes a long way.

7. I like to help out young teachers. I share lessons, tests and only give advice if asked. And then, I only tell what I would or did do, not what they should do.

I would like to add another part to this list:

Seven Reasons I Would Not Be a Good Leader

1. I am too stubborn. Once I decide something is correct, I will not change my mind.

2. I am a grudge holder. Once I am pissed at you, I stay pissed forever.

3. I have a lot of energy and expect others to be just as energetic. I can't stand laziness and people that don't do what is necessary to do.

4. I am not diplomatic. I can't even pretend to like people that I don't like. I speak before I think.

5. I have no patience for stupid adults.

6. I don't like to delegate.

7. I spend too much time on this damn computer.

I would like tag NYC Educator, Nic, Educator on the Edge, Marco Polo, to come up with a list of their own.

Be Nude to your School

Teaching just doesn't pay enough. Here is what one young history teacher decided to do when she had enough school.

This past May, Erica Chevillar, a history teacher at West Boca Raton High School, got tongues and fingers wagging when photos of her posing for the USA National Bikini Team Web site surfaced. Buoyed by the publicity, the 25-year-old Delray Beach resident has quit teaching in pursuit of an equally noble profession: Playboy Playmate. Chevillar appears in all her educated glory in the magazine's March issue, now on newsstands. She spoke to City Link last week.
Are you nervous about your former students' seeing you in Playboy?

No, I'm really not worried about it. You have to be 18 years old to purchase the magazine. [But] I'm sure they will find a way to get ahold of it.

Do you get recognized on the street now?

Yes. People know me as the "bikini teacher," and I was a finalist on WWE's 2006 Diva Search for a couple of months. It's been funny. People have asked for autographs and if they could take a photo with me.

How has your family reacted to the Playboy spread?

My parents are from a small town in Pennsylvania. I was worried about their reaction, but they've seen the pictures and they think everything was done beautifully.

What's your next career move?

I want to be a Playmate eventually and continue modeling, and maybe get into TV hosting. I was just selected to be the spokesmodel for [social-networking site]

Canal Locks and Education

A section of a canal or a river that may be closed off by gates to control the water level to enable the raising and lowering of boats that pass through it.

While having breakfast with my parents, my dad looked up from reading the paper and said "I don't understand how this article says kids are getting dumber. I thought test scores and graduation rates are going up. How can this be?"

I then proceeded to tell my dad about the subject I know best--the NYS math A regents. I asked him what he thought the passing grade was. He said "When I went to school, it was 65." I told him it has been changed. "80?", he replied. My husband then chimed in "Not even close. To pass the Math A regents you only nee about 36 out of 85 points (or 42%) and you can get graduation credit with an even lower score."

It took a while for an 85 year old man to get the whole picture. He finally realized that education today is like being in a canal lock. You just lower the water level to let the boats pass through.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Self Portrait

An Apology

I offer an open apology to all the people I have misjudged based on a few words written in comments on this blog. It is hard to get a feeling about people based on a few words. Sometimes I have misinterpreted sarcasm for real feelings. I guess I am too sensitive. Sometimes people outside of NYC don't realize how bad things really are in our schools and their comments are also taken out of content.

I am sorry if I inadvertantly insulted anyone. This post is inspired by recent comments from Marco Polo. I took his comments about me and my trailer personally, when I should not have. I have been following his comments and sites and realize that he is a blogger with lots of insights and lots to offer. I had the same feelings about Nic after her first comment. I also quickly found that I was wrong about her.

I have to learn not to make judgements so quickly.


I got an e-mail from AP audit that my curriculum was approved. I was not worried about it not being approved. I don’t teach in a place that would blame me or look down on what I was doing because of this audit. My results over the years speak for themselves. At least in this area, criticism is not forthcoming. I just don’t feeling like doing any more work. It took too much time to write this curriculum, time I could have spent doing other things, like writing on this blog and reading other people’s blogs. Principal Suit should be happy about this. The AP status really does nothing for me personally, but does make his school look better on paper. I doubt it if he will even bother to say thanks when he passes me in the hall.

PS I found a Panera Bread near my parent's house. It is much better than the parking lot for using a computer. I'm coming home tonight, back to my regular Internet connections.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Leavin On A Jet Plane

It's 5:15AM and we are sitting waiting for our flight to West Palm Beach. Thank goodness Jet Blue finally got its act together so we can get out. I'm so glad we were cheap and waited until today to leave. I'm sure if our plans had been for earlier in the weekend, we would not have gotten out. The flight doesn't leave until 6:00 but, being the paranoid, neurotics that we are, we've been up since 3:00, ready to catch the cab to Kennedy.

So far, no hitches. The airport was empty this morning. We were able to print our boarding passes last night and walk right up to the gate. The longest line was at Dunkin Donuts but I was smart enough to buy my coffee cake muffin yesterday and picked up my coffee at a different stand. So now, all we have to do is wait. I'm sitting in a lounge looking out on my plane and just blogging away. I love my little lap top and the fact that Kennedy has wireless connections in their terminals. My husband hates it. I'm online instead of talking to him.

We are going to spend a few days with my parents in their Seinfield like condo in Boca Raton. I could live without the uncomfortable sofa bed in the room you can't move in when it's open and the 3:00 dinner hours but, these little trips make my mom and dad really happy. They are snow birds so it isn't like I don't see them if I don't go, but it still is important for us to make this trip every year. As they get on in years and their health deteriorates, I appreciate them more and more. So, we'll have a few days out of the NYC cold,lots of early bird dinners and get a
way from the hassles and stress of school for a few days. How bad can that be?

PS I never got to post this yesterday. I am now sitting in the parking lot of a restaurant that has wifi because I can't get a connection in my parents house? How sick is this?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dear George,

Dear George,

Out of respect to NYC Ed, I held back some of the things I would have liked to have said to you on his site, on mine, I have no such reservations.

You freely talk about the duties of the teachers to deal with all student discipline problems. If you would have read NYC Ed's story carefully, you would have seen that he did try to have the disruptive boy removed. Teachers are not allowed to send a child out of the room unaccompanied. It is as simple as that. And when he did get someone to remove the child, that kid was promptly returned to the auditorium. The teacher received no back up.

The administrator in charge of my department blames the teacher for everything that goes wrong. His answer to everything is "Raise your expectations." If a kid is absent, the teacher is responsible. If a kid puts his head down in class, the teacher is responsible. If two kids have a fight, blame the teacher. The administrators get performance bonuses at the end of the year and all people like you are pushing and pushing teachers harder and harder so you will get more money.

As far as walking a mile in your shoes, we don't want to be administrators. We are just as smart and probably smarter than most of you. The difference between us is that we like working with children. We like being in the classroom. We are not on the power trip that you guys are on. Years ago, administrators had to be exceptionally bright. They had to have total knowledge of every subject taught in their departments. That is no longer true. Every 20 something year old teacher in my school is taking administrative courses and thinking about becoming an administrator. One of these teachers is getting her internship credits by following my AP around and doing all his dirty work. If making copies qualifies you to be an administrator, she will be a pro. This wannabe administrator taught her class that if the answer to a fraction problem is 8/3 and they write 2 2/3 the answer is wrong. Another time, I quietly showed her a probability question she had taught incorrectly. She answered "well, that is the way I do it."

So George, I think it is time for you and all the administrators like you to stop bashing teachers and walk the mile in our shoes.


PO teacher


Schools need rules. I am a big believer in them. I believe rules should be enforced and there should be consequences when they are not followed. NYC has a rule that cell phones are not allowed in the building. I don't necessarily agree with the rule, but then again, I am only a lowly teacher, so what do I know? If my chairman or the principal happens to walk by my room and notices a cell phone on a desk, they get all out of shape. And there are consequences. Unfortunately, the consequences are only for the teacher who did not do anything about the phone. Now, what is a teacher to do? A colleague of mine regularly calls homes when she sees these devices out. She is now being brought up on charges of abusing a poor kid whose home she called. The parent claims she was picking on him. Another teacher confiscated a cell phone. The kid promptly walked out of the room and into the Principal's office. Suit walked the kid back to class and had the teacher return the phone. I personally have called the deans to take phones away when the kids won't put them away only to see the kids and phones back in class the next day.

Last Wednesday, all the trailer classes plus all the classes of absentee teachers were in the auditorium. It was bedlam. I gave my kids a worksheet, with answers on the back, and walked around helping as best as I could. At first I made them put every cell phone away. That is, until I noticed the other couple of hundred kids sitting with cell phones and no one bothering to tell them to put them away. Security guards and deans stood at the back of the auditorium, never bothering to walk around and see what was going on. It would have been easy to have a massive sweep and collect all these phones.

Now, in reality, I don't believe the kids were doing anything wrong. What is wrong is a rule that is only enforced sometimes, when it is convenient for the administration. Since my school is so large, and it is impossible to enforce the cell phone ban as it is written, the rule needs to be changed.

Last year I taught a difficult class of repeaters. I knew I would be fighting with them constantly if I enforced the hat rule, i-pod rule and all the other stupid rules that have nothing to do with education. But, I needed rules so I came up with ones that I could enforce. The first one was that hats were allowed as long as they quickly came off if the door opened. We had a signal. Once the outsider left, I would signal again, and the hats could go back on. I-pods could be listened to when the kids were working on practice sheets, not during the lesson. The same rule for outsiders applied. I told Principal Suit about my rules. I was afraid he would discover them on his own. He said if he came in the room, he would pretend to be blind. He was happy that these kids were coming to class and going to pass. They were the ones that could make him look bad by not graduating.

I never give my kids long lists of rules and regulations. My rules are simple. Come to class on time. Do your work and homework. Don't talk unless answering or asking a question. Go to tutoring if you need help. Pass exams and you will pass the class. I make the rules that can be enforced.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thinking Blogs

Nic at Siempre Fiel and NYC Ed have tagged me as a "Thinking Blogger". While I am flattered, I really don't see what I write as being of much interest to anyone. I write to vent my stress about the things that go on at work and that I have no control over. I think, when administrators see me coming, they say "what is she going to be bitching about today?". I especially want to thank NYC Ed for he is the one that turned me on to blogging in the first place and Nic. Nic was the first person to actually read what I was writing and share her views. Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me. Although I don't like to see other people going through bad things, and I certainly don't like the way the schools of today are heading, the old saying "misery loves company" is true. Blogging has given me a whole bunch of "new friends" to commiserate and to celebrate with. The anonymity of it allows me to say things I wouldn't normally say out loud. A special thanks to the creator of Thinking Bloggers who thought up this opportunity for us..

Now, for the bloggers that really make me think. I've already mentioned my favorite two, but there are tons more.

1. Life in the Rubber Room--This poor man is spending the end of his career in a Rubber Room. He has sat here for months on end, without even being given the official charges against him. It pains me to read his stories every day yet, I must. It is sad to see the power the system has to cancel out the good works of someone, so fast. While I don't know this man, his writing have given me a sense of who he is. What is happening to him can happen to anyone.

2. Dr. Homeslice. Dr. Homeslice keeps everyone abreast of the struggles teachers are having throughout the country and has some great views on education in general. He is the one who introduced me to Life In the Rubber Room.

3. Bright Minds--this is the journal of a young teacher and the stuff she is facing every day in her efforts to be a good teacher and to help her students. The difficulties she faces from her students and the lack of support from her administration is disheartening. Veteran teachers need to read and support her. The teaching profession needs people like her.

4 and 5. Ms. Whatsit and Educator on the Edge--teachers from a different part of the country than I live in but who shares the same experiences. They want to let people know what is going on so maybe they can do something about them. I feel like I have met myself when I read what these two educators write.

While I am limiting myself to the 5 here (I know, there are really 7 when you count the first two, I am a math teacher) I love all the blogs I have listed on the side and a few more that I haven't listed yet. I read them daily and they help me get through. Thanks to all of you for writing. Keep up the good work.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Some Good Things

My closest friend in school tells me I am too negative. She told me to take a day off to try to get my head in order. She's right and wrong. One day won't help, but I am too negative. I'm going to start thinking about one positive thing that happens every day. There have got to be more positive than negative things, otherwise I would retire.

Today's thought: My friends at work.

No matter how I might appear to the outside world, I am really very shy. I fear rejection so I keep to myself most of the time. Over the years I've let a few people into my world and I am grateful to have them as friends.

1. My group of 6--we go out and celebrate birthdays together. We all put in $25 and take the birthday person shopping and then out for a dinner.

2. The cafeteria people--I always know where I can get an awful cup of coffee but bond with the friendliest, nicest people in the building.

3. The custodial staff--who share my love of Principal Suit.

4. My friend R-who cleaned my car on Valentine's day before he went home to celebrate that day with his new wife.

5. My friend L--"the cutest guy" in the building. I love everything about him, from his shorts to his tee shirts and his sock less feet. He has a heart of gold. May he live to a the age of 100 and die with a piece of chalk in his hand.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Some pictures of my trailer door and what happens when a door cannot lock. The bulletin board on which the ESL teacher meticulously hangs her students work is vandalized. The only thing left are a few scraps and the staples that are holding them in. There is graffiti on the walls and the pegs for coats are missing.

Other dangerous conditions include the thermostat, the electrical outlets and the fire alarm. Also, the bathroom is in poor shape. The soap dispenser holds no soap, the toilet paper is missing and the sink is a disgrace. It took me weeks to get a garbage can in the bathroom. Finally, I guess the custodians got tired of picking up the paper on the floor, I got an old bucket to use. The gated windows, some of which are bolted shut) look out on a handball court. The noise from here in good weather is deafening. We also look out on the garbage bins. It's great when our voices have to be louder that the garbage trucks emptying the bins. The windows have no shades. The kids have the sun glaring on them whenever it is out.

I forgot to mention that the loudspeaker in my trailer does not work. While this does have its benefits (no Principal Suit singing happy birthday and interrupting classes) we miss important announcements such as the trailers are being evacuated for safety reasons.

No matter how bad this looks, it is much better out here than in some of the rooms in the building.

Message to Bloomberg: These are the conditions you are subjecting NYC children to while you keep giving more and more to private schools. Thanks. I guess this is all we are worth to you.



The trailers reopened yesterday. The heat is on. The paths are clear. The only problem is that the surrounding areas are covered with snow and ice. The kids are having a great time, sliding down the ice hill and throwing ice balls at each other. I spoke to some of the deans and the head of security to express concern about the situation. I was told that no one was going outside. It was too cold. I know there are people out there reading these blog entries and doubting the truth of them. I don't blame them. If I didn't live with this stuff, I wouldn't believe it either. If this stuff was on television, it would seem a ridiculous situation. Yet, this is reality. And sadly, the school I teach in is considered one of the best in the city.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Greatest Gift

I gave a test in my M&C class today. I've been pumping them for it for a week, but the snow yesterday threw us off. One of the kids I've really been pushing for didn't even show up yesterday to get the answers to the review sheet. He had been doing a little better in class so I was hopeful he would pass. Hopeful, but not expecting much as he did not pass one test last term and this test was half new stuff and half review. I looked over his shoulder a few times while he was working. He seemed to know what he was doing. When he finished, he requested that I mark his test right away. I don't like to do that, but I did look it over and told him it looked good. Well, I just finished marking it. HE GOT A 74!!!!!!I'm going to make a photo copy and hang it on my fridge. I tried to call him and tell him the news, but his phone doesn't take blocked calls. He'll have to wait until tomorrow to get the results. When this kid left the class today, he told me that he studied non stop for three days. He said "You believe in me and want to help me. I want to pass for you." Today he gave me the greatest gift any teacher can ever get.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Working conditions need improvement

To the Editor:

I need a decent work station at work.

I teach five classes in a shack outside my school. When I am not using that shack, another teacher is in it. I usually carry three bags with me, plus an umbrella and a few miscellaneous books in my arms.

I just spent an hour organizing the things I brought home on Friday so I can spend another few hours marking papers and writing lessons.

My C-6 assignment has me in the cafeteria tutoring, but there is no place to sit. No matter what the signs on the tables say (tutoring only), kids are always there. And who can blame them? They need a place to work also.

When I recently complained about conditions I was told, “The school is overcrowded. Improvise!” This came from a person sitting at her own desk, with her own chair, who gets to go to the bathroom without carrying the world with her.

No matter what Mayor Bloomberg thinks, it is imperative that teachers have improved working conditions. It is necessary to help our students. I am willing to bet the people who work for Bloomberg’s enterprises do not work in such a shoddy atmosphere.

Thanks for sharing my point of view,


Let It Snow

What better way to handle a snowy Wednesday but go to school. It doesn't matter if roads are treacherous and expected to get worse as the day progresses. It doesn't matter if kids have to wait an extremely long time for buses. Keep the schools open. Don't pass up on that state aid, no matter whose welfare is endangered.

My AP was in rare form. He sent out a note wishing us a happy Valentine's day and then slammed all the teachers who didn't make it in. If they didn't put themselves in harms way, they didn't care about providing an education for their students.

And while we are keeping the schools open, make sure to reward the teachers who showed up by giving them extra coverages, coverages that keep them from leaving a little early. Why let a teacher leave even 5 minutes early? Education must come first.

Trailer classes are dangerous in this weather. The paths to them and the ramps and stairs are extremely slippery. The custodians can salt all day, but they still will be slippery. The roofs can collapse under the excess weight of the ice and snow but if that happens it might solve the problems of what do about the doors that don't close and the lack of security. There are no mats inside the trailers either so when kids walk in with wet shoes, the floors become quite slippery. It is challenging to watch them get to their seats.

Education and trailers brings me to my next point. One teacher called up and complained about the dangerous conditions in the trailer. The secretary in the APO's office made a spontaneous decision to close the trailers and move all the classes to the auditorium. Nice to know that secretaries are empowered to make these crucial judgements. Now, all the classes of the 70 teachers that were smart enough to take the day off are also in the auditorium so you can imagine the noise and the chaos. As the day continued, you would think that the school might be able to provide more organization. This definitely did not happen. By ninth period the auditorium was in chaos. Kids were rampantly using their cell phones and i-pods. You would think in a school with zero tolerance for these things security would be walking around and confiscating them. This did not happen.

I try to be a good teacher. I made my classes sit in the same part of the auditorium and gave them a worksheet to do. I put answers on the back and walked around encouraging them to work together and gently threatening them when they stopped working. I hate to see kids going through such torment to get to school and then waste their time. Too bad the administration didn't notice my kids were the only ones working. But, I guess that is par for the course.

The colleges are smarter than the city. My classes there are canceled tonight. I was going to take the night off anyways. Driving is going to get worse and my safety and my car have more value than my job.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I sometimes use the bathroom in my trailer between classes. When you teach 4 classes in a row and you are out there, it is a necessity. Today, while I was in there I heard a knock on the door. Finishing up, I opened the door to see a strange man in the room. At first I thought he must be part of the custodial staff. When I asked him if I could help him, he replied "I need to use the bathroom" and went in. He came out in a few minutes, said, "I see you are busy" (my class had arrived) and left.

While I didn't react when the kids were there, I was really shaken up and went to the head of security as soon as the class was over. If this man could just walk in from the outside, anyone can just walk in. Suppose he had a gun or a knife? He could have robbed or assaulted one or all of us.

The AP of security was clearly taken aback by this incident. He called in the head of the security guards and I told him what had happened and I wrote it up. He promised to have someone outside tomorrow during that time.

I kept insisting that the old man that came in the room wasn't the problem. The problem was that anyone can just walk in whenever they want. There is no security by the trailers and we are located by an open gate off the main street. I was told that there was no money for full time security out there. The school knows this is a problem and it will be looked into. So much for children and safety first. I know the issue is being brought to the attention of our chapter chairman. Maybe he can get something done.

And of course, the teachers are blamed for leaving the trailers unlocked. Kids do have to enter and exit between periods so that will not solve the problem. My trailer's door does not close properly. I've reported it a few times but it has not been fixed. The AP security called it into the custodian while I was sitting there but, he insisted on saying the lock doesn't work (not true--the lock works fine once the door is closed). So now, the custodian will check the door and once again say that there is nothing wrong with it.

I always thought children were the most precious things around. Gold and money gets better protection than they do in my school.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Message from the Principal

....setting individual goals for students might be something you want to consider. This can be done by challenging the entire class to raise their grade by five points from the Fall to the Spring semester. Or you might meet with each student to set a specific individual goal....

I have nothing against challenging students to raise their grades, 5, 10 or 20 points. I encourage them all the time to do this. If a 20 student gets a 30, I praise the 10 point growth and push them to do 20 points better. Over time, I believe the student might be able to pass, and pass with a really good grade. In fact, by using this praise method last term, I helped encourage a boy who was getting 0's to get a 77 on the regents (and he had only taken Math 3/4--he still needs one more course to finish the sequence).

I do however object to the meeting with students individually. When I mentioned this in my usual whiny way to my husband, he said "that is a great idea. why not do this twice a week instead of tutoring?" I told him that idea had been suggested and rejected by Principal Suit. Too many teachers took advantage of situations like this and did nothing. As much as I hate to admit it, he is probably correct. Still, there are plenty of us that do the right thing. We are not being penalized, our students are. If I can't meet with the kids during my professional period, the only periods left are lunch (I do like to eat occasionally) and prep (there are copies to be made and papers to mark). There has got to be a way for good ideas like this one to be put into place. Administrators: I call on you to find the way to let me meet individually with my 150+ students to set the goals that will help them succeed.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I have a couple of kids in my M&C class that in the past have gotten 45's and 50's from me. It feels good to have them want to be there. They have the right to a different teacher. Kids who have failed with a teacher do not have to be with that teacher again. These kids know that I tried to help them and I will do my best to help them this term. I'm glad to know that there are kids smart enough to take responsibility for their own actions. I am really hoping to make a difference with them this term.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bad Teacher

New York City public school teacher faces termination after being paid nearly $6,000 in city money for tutoring a 15-year-old homebound student who had already died, officials said yesterday.

Cheryl Edwards, 37, a fifth-grade teacher at PS 288 in Brooklyn, was paid for tutoring the boy a total of 154 hours between Jan. 23 and June 12, 2006, said Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the city school district.

The boy's family, however, had returned with him to their native Vietnam in mid-January of last year, and he died in a hospital there on Jan. 29, 2006, Condon said.

"She [Edwards] thought she had a great scheme because this kid's mother was never going to call up and complain that she had not been there, because as far as the mother was concerned, she had told her she didn't need her," the commissioner said.

Condon's office began investigating in October after another mother called the Education Department to say that Edwards had not shown up to tutor her 11-year-old son. Investigators found that Edwards had submitted paperwork for six sessions between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11, while the boy said he had never met her.

Condon has referred his findings to the Brooklyn district attorney's office, and the city Education Department is taking steps to terminate Edwards, said its spokeswoman, Dina Paul Parks.

"We will not tolerate the theft of resources intended for the benefit of our students," Parks said.

Edwards could not be reached for comment, and the attorney who represented her during the investigation, Michael Spiegel, declined comment. A NYC homebound teacher had a great idea--bill the city for tutoring a dead kid.

No C-6 assignments, no miserable principals, no lessons, no tests,no discipline troubles, no stress. Only problem, she got caught!!! Not only did she blow her gig, she will probably face jail time. This is the kind of teacher that makes us all look bad. If the article is true, I hope they throw the book at her.

C-6 Time

With the start of the new semester, the C-6 assignments start again. I've been pretending that I don't know what to do and did not start going until yesterday and only then because some of the kids asked for help. I walked into the library and saw the librarians hard at work, as usual, reading magazines and gossiping. The table in the back, the one with the big sign over it that said "Tutoring Only" was full of kids. I walked over there and saw these kids having a great old time on cell phones, using ipods and eating. When I told the librarian I needed a place to work, she pointed me to the little table in the back and told me that was the new tutoring area. She told me the other sign was there by mistake. I ended up sitting near the front, that was where the kids who wanted help were sitting when I walked in. Sure enough, Ms. Librarian noticed my coffee cup and promptly came over to tell me not to drink in the library. I couldn't argue. I knew she was right so I walked out and finished it in the hall. On the way back in I couldn't resist the urge to ask her why she was not monitoring the kids in the back the same way she was monitoring me? She thanked me and supposedly went to talk to them. When I looked up again, librarians were back in their coffee klotch positions so I am sure the kids went back to their regular activities.

Today I asked my AP if I could tutor 4 days a week period 5 and switch to period 7 on the fourth day. Some of my calculus kids are only free period 7 and I wanted to be able to help them too. He started yelling at me. "You are always difficult." Why can't you do things like everyone else? I don't want anyone asking me why you are not where you are supposed to be." I told him I would adhere to a schedule and didn't see the problem. He continued ranting and so I just said "whatever you like, I'll do" and then I left. I wasn't looking to get away with anything. I just want to help the kids. You would have thought I was asking for something for myself instead of the kids the way he carried on. In the past, before these assignments started, I tutored every period. I even came in on weekends and holidays. NO MORE!!! Not when I am going to be treated like this for wanting to help.

Thank you UFT for giving us these exciting assignments! Make sure you leave them in every contract in the future.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What Teachers Make

This was sent to me by a friend.


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,

"What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, and then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental... You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant... You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?"


As I was browsing different blogs recently, I came across the minutes from a consultation meeting in a Queens HS. The first item on the agenda, 70% passing benchmark in all classes drew me into reading further. It seems this is an empowerment school and while there is no real bottom standard for a passing percentage, it is imperative that passing percentages go up. The administrator is planning on visiting all classes with passing percentages less than 70% to see what is going on and what can be done to help the students. He said there is no reason for faculty to feel intimidated.

I don't know this principal well. I've met him. He seemed very personable and caring but, I met him at a meeting where he was addressing the parents of future students, not teachers. I attended the meeting, trying to get a feel for what the school would be like and to see if it would be a school I would consider transferring to.

After reading these minutes, I am glad that I stayed where I am. I don't believe that this administrator will not be blaming some teachers for their poor statistics. Being an empowerment school, he must achieve or he gets the boot. He must show he is working for improvement every day. Someone must be responsible for the children being left behind.

I don't think it is fair to hold teachers accountable for problems beyond their control. Last semester I had two M&C classes. In one class I had 92% pass. In the other I had 54% pass. Both classes were taught identical lessons and took identical tests. The classes were back to back so there was no possible way for the kids to get the answers. Besides, I make them show all work or there is no credit given. One class was made up of mostly 10th graders. They were in a grade appropriate class and were genuinely good kids who cared about doing well and about the consequences dished out by their parents if they didn't succeed. The other class was predominately juniors and seniors with a history of multiple failures. There was a high truancy rate and two of the kids were on some sort of behavioral medication. When they went off, it set the other kids off. Years ago, I had three geometry classes with passing rates of 27%, 54% and 79%. Again, I am the same teacher, doing the same thing in three classes and look at the disparity.

The principal of this school claims that he is going to look into problems like these. He is going to try to make sure that not too many of the difficult kids are in the same class. My question is why is it the statistics making him do this now? These are real problems that teachers in my school have been complaining about for years. A few years ago I had a difficult class. Mid year I got a new student. As soon as he walked in he high-fived two of my trouble makers. I asked my AP to not give me this kid as the class was difficult enough. He said "No problem" and went to another teacher and said "Who is your worst student?" Needless to say, that kid ended up in my class. (He is now in jail as an accessory to murder). Not exactly helpful, was he?

The school where this is being done is a small school. While they might have fewer difficult kids, they also have fewer classes to change them into. While the principal has the right idea, he has no place to put them. He can't change kids difficult home lives, he can't make them come to school if they don't want to and he can't forcibly make them smart if they are not. I fear, the only solution to the improvement policy will be "BLAME THE TEACHER!"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Such Thing As Free Lunch

Principal Suit came into the cafeteria while I was there today. He was enjoying his favorite perk--free lunch. The lunch lady told me he never misses a day. When he was an AP, she told me he used to come in and get lunch, pretending it was for the principal. I guess that $3 was really going to break him. Anyways, that is not the subject of this post, but I refuse to pass up a chance to write about one of his more interesting characteristics.

The reason I am writing is that I have really had it with his attitude towards me. He hates me. The friend I was sitting with could feel the venom seeping out of him because he had to stop near me to talk to her. He's hated me for a long time. Why? Because I refuse to see his vision. I don't agree with his educational policies and I won't bow to him or to anyone else. I am a good math teacher. I get great results. Last year, 27 out of 28 of my seniors passed the math A regents, even though up until that point they had only passed one math class ever. Over 90% of my kids pass the AP exam with an average grade of almost a 4. I come in on school holidays and weekends to tutor the kids (without pay). I stay late and give up lunch and preps. I even sit on the floor in the hallway to work with him when there are no other quiet places available. The kids like me. The parents like me. He cringes whenever he hears anyone say anything nice about me. I don't care. I've decided to stay on as long as I want. I'm going to do the best job I can and enjoy being the pimple on his butt while I do it. Last year, he suggested I transfer to another school. I told him "good school, near home, easy to park, tenure!" and I walked out. We haven't spoken since. The irony of this is that there is a guy in my department that all the kids and parents hate. He fails 70% or more of his classes every term. He's never been told to transfer. There are teachers with discipline problems up the kazoo. He's never told them to leave either.

He hates me. I hate him. We don't have to eat lunch. I help make the school a good place to be. I help get him performance bonuses. He needs to put his personal feelings aside and start respecting what I do for the school. He needs to know that when he will be paying for his lunch by looking at me whenever he comes in for it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Future Teacher

Larry helping me mark calculus test papers.

Sweet Payback

The UFT newspaper had an article about the once again shake-up in education. Being the cynic that I am, I just casually scanned the article and was about the close the paper when I noticed the last paragraph.
Klein also announced a new principal evaluation system in which school staffs will participate in evaluating their school leader.

All you Principal Suits better look out. It's our turn now. Let's see how you feel about being held accountable by the people you supervise!

Growing Old

When I was a new teacher I felt I could not make a mistake. I couldn't show any vulnerabilities in front of my students. They would pounce on any weakness they saw and scorn me for any mistakes I made when I taught. Thank goodness I don't feel like that anymore. I am no longer afraid to show them that I have feelings, just like they do. While I don't discuss my personal life, it is okay for them to know if I am upset about something. If they say something to offend me, I let them know. And more important, I am allowed to make mistakes when I teach. Today, for example, as we went over the homework, I realized that there were questions in it that had not been taught yet. I apologized to them and told them that, like them, I am sometimes lazy. Instead of rewriting a homework assignment, I used one from last year when things were taught in a slightly different order. "See what happens when you look for the easy way out!" Years ago, I might have tried to bluff my way through this. I explain typing errors occur when I am watching television and doing school work at the same time and since I multi-tasking is not good for me, they might try doing homework or studying as a solo activity.

I think the best thing I have learned is that it is alright not to know all the answers. I try to impress upon my students that they are smart. Although not as educated they have a potential that is greater than or equal to that of all their teachers, including me. I lead them on their journeys, but it is up to them to complete the trip on their own. Many times, they take what I teach them and run with it. They can find different solutions than I would think of. I'm not afraid to say I have to go home and look at the problem to make sure their answer is mathematically correct, that they didn't find the answer by coincidence. I'm not afraid to say "I don't know but I will find out how and get back to you." I always credit the source that helps me. When I first started teaching Advanced Placement Calculus, I heard that a certain type of problem was probably going to be on the exam. I did every similar problem I could find with the class. Sure enough, there was a similar one on the test. When we went over it the next week, I remember being stumped. A girl, not even a particularly great student ran up to the board and said "Ms. POd, it is exactly like you showed us." She then proceeded to do the problem on the board. I think that might have been my proudest moment in teaching.

I no longer have the energy or the enthusiasm I had for teaching as when I first started, but I still have lots to give to my students. And they, will never stop giving to me.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Homework Helper?

I got the following e-mail from someone in my AP calculus class:

Ms. POd,
I am sorry that I wanna tell you something very important that somebody in your class is selling take home quiz answers for money and I don;t think it's morally correct.
Needless to say, I was very upset about this. I only give them the take-home quizzes and tests to force them to take homework seriously. I give enough in class assignments that these take-homes don't have a major effect on their grades. I mark on the point system--every short answer is one point and long questions are nine points. At the end of the marking period I total every one's points and curve the grades accordingly, trying to keep things similar to the grading of the AP exam. It usually works well. I encourage the kids to work together. I encourage them to seek help from other teachers and me! I always answer their questions about the exam. I discourage them from paying high price tutors. Selling and buying answers undermines this whole process. I am going to discuss this with them tomorrow, but I haven't figured out exactly what else I am going to do. I hate to give up these take-home assignments because of a few bad kids even though they are lots of work for me. I have 70 papers with 8 questions each waiting to be marked and that doesn't count my other 3 classes. But, if they are not going to be useful, why should I bother? I guess I will have to wait and see the class' reaction when I bring this up.

Super Bowl Alternative

Not being a big fan of Super Bowl, I met a friend and went to the Gold Exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History. It was terrific. Aside from seeing some really nice jewelry and other gold pieces, we learned a lot of the background material that one never thinks about when perusing the showcases of Tiffany's and other like stores. We even met a really great designer from Norway who is in NY researching the possibility of expanding into the American market.

Although this exhibit is not cheap, it definitely is a great way to spend a cold winter day. The C train even stops inside the building so if you don't want to brave the cold you don't have to.

We were going to hit the museum cafe for lunch but it was way too crowded. We went to Patsy's for pizza, salad, and drinks instead. Being Superbowl Sunday, there was no wait to get in.

After culture and food, we braved the cold and walked down to 53 St to catch the train. All in all, a great day. Now, to write the lessons I should have worked on all weekend.

Saturday, February 03, 2007



Here are the ten first place winners in the International Pun Contest:

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says "Dam!"

3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.
"But why?", they asked, as they moved off.
"Because," he said," I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption.
One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan. " Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

8. A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close.
Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop.
Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.