Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Friends

Monday was the first meeting of my spring college class.

I was greeted outside the room with a big hug from a former student. After I signed her over count slip, she loudly told the class that I was a great teacher. In fact, she said she never had a teacher like Ms. Pissed Off before and has never had one since. She told everyone about how I called her mom and harassed her constantly. I told everyone not to worry. College teachers are not permitted to call parents.

When I got home, I went through all my old records until I found her. She was in my class way back in 1999. Here are her grades:

78, 75, 72, 66, 72, 59, 52, abs (final exam) 53 (regents) and 55 in the class.

The first thing I noticed when I looked up her grades was that she did not pass and she was still happy to have me as a teacher again. That made me feel really good. The next thing I realized is here is a kid that could not pass ninth grade math and was now sitting in a pre-calculus class. Some people really grow into education. From her work the first night, I would say that she is one of them and I have confidence that she will do very well this term.

So, all you teachers out there. Don't assume that a kid that is not succeeding now will never amount to anything. Don't assume that you have failed that kid just because the kid has failed your class. You are not a fortune teller and you have no idea what will happen in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Data Analysis

Data, data go away.
Never come another day.
Me and others just want to teach.

Don't bother us with useless stuff.
Too much data, enough is enough.
Me and others just want to teach.

It doesn't matter what the data will say.
Some kids will fail anyway.
Me and others want to teach.

Teachers are not blind little mice.
What we need is real advice.
Me and others just want to teach.

We don't know how to help the ones that fail.
The data you give us is like junk mail.
Me and others want to teach.

Data, data disappear.
The PD day is more than anyone can bear.
Me and others just want to teach.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Forgot to Mention...

the three F status people milling around and facilitating the staff development and our Broad Award. I saw the banner as i was leaving today. I wonder if that is how Suit funded his new leather furniture.

PD Day

My recuperating colleague missed an exciting staff development day. The day began with coffee and munchkins. Someone really broke the bank feeding us teachers. I hope Klein and Bloomberg don't read this blog to learn about the frivolous expense. After the satisfying breakfast, we all went to the auditorium to hear the state of the school address. I know my colleague would have been beaming as he heard all the things the school was accomplishing. Our school got rave reviews from both the British Quality Review and the Korean teachers who visited. (My class was one of those visited by the Koreans, but I never got any feedback.) As the teachers in the auditorium loudly applauded our accomplishments, I could only think that recuperating colleague would soon be back to join the cheering crowd.

After the state of the school address, Ms. Suck Up took the mike and led a discussion about things she learned from the data as we looked at "What's Up in Ms. Suck Up's Class?". We then adjourned to the student cafeteria to continue this discussion in groups. Although we were supposed to be randomly assigned to tables, I ended up at a table full of my department (I was the only one in the right place and I was there first so, for the record, this time I did nothing wrong.) We were not exactly the most cooperative and only scribbled down some stuff at the last minute. Principal Suit made the error of calling on us to read our responses. You would think he would have learned by now that it is better for him if I don't speak at these things. My responses to how we can help our students were: smaller classes, relief from C-6 assignments to actually talk to students and computer access. Of course he said that all of these things are already possible, but we all know they are not.

When this excitement ended, we had about 30 minutes free time. If Bloomberg had his way, we would have been mopping floors or cleaning bathrooms during this time. Then, the UFT had its wonderful, award winning luncheon. We only had to wait on a 20 minute line so the Chapter Chairman could make sure everyone eating had paid their $12 dues. (Everyone knows how teachers try to get away with things.) We were handed a plate, a fork and knife and got to walk down the assembly line of bagels, rolls, salads, cheese and cold cuts. At the end of the table there was a sight that would rival any Viennese table--Entennman's cakes, cut into small pieces, soda and coffee. We ate lunch on the comfortable benches and tables in the student's cafeteria. While we were eating, we were treated to union propaganda, courtesy of the same union sap one of my colleagues was accused of assaulting last term. No one even looked like he was going to punch this guy today. Maybe, because the accused colleague was not present and no one else bothered to listen to this union propaganda. We also heard that two of three teachers finally found out that they got the sabbaticals they had applied for (now, if they can still register for classes.) Terence (AP Security) was waiting in the wings for the meeting to break up. He quickly made a mad dash for a plate and free food.

After lunch, we had departmental meetings which consisted of more rambling, only this time the rambling only came from my AP. Again, we looked at data to see which kids were failing. The last meeting consisted of more data analysis, only this time it was by grades. Still no solutions. The AP's seem to think that opening discussion actually will help the kids with problems. Terence led this meeting and discussed the virtues of vocational education and how much money he just paid out to a plumber. He suggested we get the Electrical Union to send representatives to our classrooms. I asked him how taking physics or chemistry or doing a geometry proof would help the kids with one of these careers. He gave us some stupid, meaningless double talk. I guarantee most of the plumbers and electricians, bright though they are, have not had any need for these subjects and probably did not like them when they were in school.

Finally, 2:50 and we got to leave. I don't know why I came in today. I didn't plan on it. But, if I did not come in, recuperating colleague would not have known all he missed. Thank goodness he is coming back on Thursday. He can see all this stuff first hand and won't need me to keep him informed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Worth While

Cooper is a young man I met during my C-6 tutoring assignment. He needed to pass the regents in math B to pass the course. He came in with a well used regents book and lots of questions which showed how hard he was working.

The last day of school Cooper was the only one who showed up for tutoring. I was able to really help him that day and showed him some tricks on the graphing calculator that would help him on the regents. Since he didn't own one of these calculators, I gave him mine, to practice and to study with. Although I only learned his name five minutes earlier, I had no doubt that he would study and return the calculator to me.

I was correct on both counts. Cooper was waiting for me after the regents to hand me the calculator. He was in the street because someone told him I had gone for lunch and he did not want to miss me. And, Cooper passed the exam. He didn't just squeak by, he got a 76. He was thrilled when I called to give him the news.

I know I do more than my fair share of bitching and complaining about those C-6 assignments, but a kid like Cooper makes doing it all worth while.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Math Regents

(from a Math A exam)

The math A regents is a joke. The cut off to pass gets lower and lower every term. Of course, there are some hard problems. The key is that you can get a 90 or better on the exam and not even attempt these problems. These problems are added to make the exam look valid. Even the hardest problem--graphing a parabola and a circle is not difficult using a graphing calculator.

Math A does not teach math. It is such a hodgepodge course that kids can get through it without knowing how to factor ore even solve an equation. They can pass by working backwards from the multiple choice questions. I am ashamed to admit that I taught a group of kids who had only passed one math course in four years how to pass the regents.

I tutored a bright, albeit somewhat lazy boy for the math B regents. His mom was thrilled that he got a 76 when he took math A and figured he could do the same on the B exam. The boy expected to be able to pass just from the multiple choice. It took me quite a while to convince him that was not true and that he really had to know the material in order to pass this exam.

The math B exam this year was difficult, and required understanding of mathematics. But, the cut off to pass was low. (Not as low as math A, but still low.) The problem with the exam is that some of the questions were so difficult, that some of the kids gave up during the exam. I heard that more than a few were crying. The kids have no way of knowing, while they are doing this exam, what the passing grade will be. The only thing they know is that the exam is hard and that there are too many problems that they cannot do.

Years ago, the regents exam was the culmination of a years work. Teachers knew the topics that would be on the exam and knew how to prepare the kids for the exam. Grades were usually not a surprise and teachers felt pride when they saw their students succeeding. Now, the exam covers a year and a half of material and there is no way of knowing what will be tested and what won't. Of course bright kids do well on the exam, no matter what. It is the average kid that struggles.

Kids should be able to think. They should be able to do more than just spit back material they have been taught, but regents should test what has been taught. The math regents are a farce. Passing, failing, means nothing. I used to like the regents exams. I felt they kept up standards. Now, they only serve as data for some meaningless reports that say our kids are doing better (or not.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

How To Make Them Take Math A Seriously

Dilemma--the Math A Regents is a joke. The kids know it is a joke. Everyone in my school passes it. So, how do you make kids take math a seriously? You start a rumor.

One year, months before the regents, I told my classes that I read an article in the NY Times that the upcoming regents was going to be the hardest regents in years. The powers that be in Albany had been getting a lot of flack about the exam and how easy it was to pass, so this exam was going to be exceptionally difficult to show everyone how serious the Board of Regents was about keeping up standards. Every day, I added fuel to the fire, scaring them a little more. I did not realize how effective my little talk was until other teachers starting coming up to me, asking me about the article I read.

Well, my scare tactics worked. That year I had 100% passing in two classes. Everyone got over 75 and the majority of the kids went on to complete Math B and get regents diplomas. At first they were angry at me because the test was really an easy one and I scared them for nothing. Later, they were happy because they actually learned some math that term.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rest and Relaxation

One of the best thing about teaching high school is regents week. Sure, we have to proctor exams (very boring). Sure we get humiliated by anal retentive administrators who insist on making us wait on long lines so they can check over every thing we did while proctoring. And, sure the marking is tedious. But, all, in all, these few days are a pleasant respite from the normal day to day activity.

One of the good things about my school is that we are free when we don't have any assignments. Today my only real assignment was at 10:15. I did not show up until after 9 and was able to take a long lunch and then leave early. Yesterday's schedule was similar. Tomorrow and Monday will be spent marking regents but, that is okay. I still can go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee without waiting for the bell to ring and I don't have to worry if my cell phone goes off.

The kids come back on January 30. I think we are going to have a full day of school. The kids are not going to be happy to be back in class and I am sure that teaching will not be easy. They've gotten report cards and new programs. Classroom management will be difficult, to say the least.

Sorry to rub this freedom in the face of all you elementary and middle school teachers. I just could not help myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


No story, I just liked the way this picture came out.

Tower Of Babel

Heard from a kid taking the English Language Regents this afternoon:

Kid: Ms., Can I have a copy of the test in Spanish?

Ms.: Sure, and I will bring you the Spanish regents in Greek.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

McMansion Neighbors

The neighbors have returned.

They turned off the dripping water.

They picked up the old newspapers.

I guess we will never know where they went.

In spite of not liking them , I would rather have them home than have a vacant house next door.

Three of the Reasons I love Teaching

These three girls got up early on their day off to get extra help in calculus.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Where is Educator On The Edge?

Educator on the Edge's blog is missing. Her last post was December 12.

Could she have removed it because of all the controversy involving Mr. Me and Principal?

Let's hope no one in her district found out about the blog and she got herself into a spot she can't get out of.

Educator on the Edge--if you are out there, we are rooting for you.

Mystery Continues

It's over six weeks and the neighbors are still missing.

We are trying to come up with a scenario as to what could have happened to them?

While the house was being built, they were around every day, supervising every part of the construction.

Who would leave a million dollar house for this amount of time without checking on it unless something is up?

Did they go back to "their country" and have trouble getting back here?

Are they in hiding? Is someone out to get them?

Did something happen to render the house unlivable?

Did they lose the house to a sub prime mortgage?

The mystery grows, as does the ice forming on the side of their house and in their driveway from the leaking water faucet and the newspapers pile up higher and higher.


No words needed on my part. This story and Justice say it all.

My only comment is that right now classes are being stacked so that some teachers have more difficult kids to teach than others. One of the and low level classes is now being given only the lowest level classes in the school. Her classes are full of repeaters, kids who should be juniors and seniors but have no math credits (and not too many in other subject areas either.) The AP is aways harrassing her. The newbies have much better kids in all or most of their classes. When a newbie took over for a teacher going on sabbatical last year, the AP removed all the trouble makers from that class. Guess where they went?

While I agree that incompetent teachers should be removed, test scores are not the way to go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Algebra Proficiency

Catherine Johnson posed the following question:

How can a parent determine whether his or her child has reached proficiency
in algebra 1 or 2?

I don't really have the answer to this but I do have a few criteria that I think are important to be able to do well in mathematics.

1. Understanding of signed numbers. Calculators are all right for a supplement, but nothing replaces knowledge.

2. Ability to solve all types of linear equations.

3. Factoring is a must. If the student can factor and solve a linear equation, then the student can solve quadratic equations and work with algebraic fractions.

4. Interpret a word problem. Changing the words to algebraic symbols is a must. Combine this with all the above and their is nothing that cannot be accomplished in mathematics.

I would be interested in hearing what others consider essential to algebra.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday Pictures

TDF has the Color Purple available. I've been wanting to see it for years. I couldn't understand how a story so sad could be made into a musical. It was absolutely fantastic--one of the best musicals I have ever seen. I recommend it to everyone.
Larry getting ready for his Saturday afternoon nap.
Husband's favorite dish--dumplings with meat sauce from our favorite, cheap Chinese place Mee's Too on 53rd and Ninth.
One of my favorite dishes--steamed vegetable dumplings (and yes, they are green.)
I keep trying to get a decent picture of this building. It looks so pretty all lit. So far, this is my best shot, but I will keep trying.
The walk and don't walk sign were lit together--very confusing.

And last, but not least, one of my AP calculus students working on her take-home test in the library. This kid loves math and was having fun doing the test. She is going to Queens College Time 2000 program to become a math teacher. The Math A book laying nearby is because she just finished tutoring a Math A student.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

We all thought the bathroom was never coming back. When we returned after summer break, it was closed for renovations. Rumor had it that a classroom was going to take its place. Kids have been given toilets to study in for years. The only thing different here is that the room was being renovated first. But, we all got a big surprise. New stalls, floors and walls. The only garbage can is by the exit. I wonder how long the floors will stay this clean.
New toilets but the toilet paper still does not roll easily.
New sinks, but the soap dispenser is empty. Someone left a bottle of some watery soap and no paper towel dispensers.
Someone must have gotten a gift they did not want. It does look pretty here.
We have a new woman's bathroom on the first floor. It is pretty and bright and really makes doing your business pleasurable. It opened yesterday and I got to be one of the first people to use it.
Now, if they could only do something to make my trailer look half as good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Smile...You're On Candid Camera

Yesterday, there was a knock on the door during my period 4 AP class. I was shocked. No one ever comes out to the trailers. Upon opening the door I found my favorite (no sarcasm, she really is my favorite) F status person with five people. She told me they were teachers from Korea who wanted to see an AP calculus class. Principal Suit wanted to know if it was okay if they came in. Suit sent her because he knew I would never turn her away.

I was shocked. Suit never sends anyone to the trailers, let alone my class. I let them in, made them introduce themselves to the kids and told them they were in for a treat. This AP group is the "liveliest" AP group I have had in years.

The group walked to the back and I continued teaching. Actually, I was just going over some really difficult derivative problems requiring a calculator. The kids got into it and were really showing off. I hate anyone in my room and tried to ignore the visitors in the back. One of them whipped out a video camera and started filming everything in sight. I was too dumbstruck to say anything. The guy even video taped the class next door through the window.
When the class ended, I went to Ms. F Status and complained about the video taping. She agreed with me and promised to talk to Suit. I don't know what the outcome was. Later in the day, I was discussing this with the AP stat teacher and she was also upset about the recording. Of course my AP's only response was "You are always complaining." I do complain, but only when things like this happen.

My students and I don't want to end up on Korean U-Tube. I don't think it is even legal to tape kids without their parent's permission. I only wish I had thought to tell the guy to put the camera away. Hopefully Suit will not allow this again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Dinger

I never mention anyone by name on this blog, or use pictures of anyone I know, but I am going to make an exception for my friend Dinger, in honor of his 60th birthday which we all helped celebrate this weekend.

Dinger is physically 60 but mentally he is really just a big kid at heart, like we all are. He is warm and outgoing and loves family, friends and life itself. Everyone who knows the Dinger falls in love with him. When my mom died, and my dad was falling apart, Dinger (who only met him once before) knew how to bring a smile to his face.

Our group of friends came together in the math department of a big inner city high school. We had a miserable AP and some difficult kids and we bonded together to survive. But, we did more than survive. We grew into good teachers who gave and gave to our students. Dinger led the pack when it came to student-faculty basketball games and he portrayed a mean Diana Ross at our Faculty Frolics show. To this day, I cannot listen to "Stop, In the Name of Love" without seeing his face.

Dinger had a different way of doing things. Other teachers gave out pluses and checks. Dinger gave his classes B's. No one (including him) knew what they meant, but the kids loved them. Dinger and I team taught one year. I did the work and he sat in the back and worked on his new business. I did not care. Just being around him enriched my day.

All of us eventually left that first school. Some, like me, left to be full time mommies, for a while. Some transferred to become administrators and to get away from our miserable AP. Others left when the school was closed for reorganization. (In those days, teachers could actually get into other schools.) Dinger ended up in a Queens school, closer to home. I looked forward to Election Day Staff development when all Queens math teachers got together and we got to spend the day together. Dinger is a technophobe and no matter how much he tried, he could not get the hang of the graphing calculator. As a joke, a bunch of us wrote on the evaluation form how wonderful he was and how we wanted to go to a workshop run by him. The joke backfired when the Superintendant called his AP and he was asked what was going on. But, like always, Dinger took it in stride.

Dinger is retired from teaching, but not retired from life. He still tutors and he teaches a weekend regents review class. He is the social director of our group, calling and making plans for all of us to get together. He plays basketball and runs rings around the twenty year olds.I just got off the phone with him. We all know each other 38 years and our friendships are just as strong today as they ever were.

If every teacher could have a Dinger in their lives, the hardships of teaching would be a lot more bearable.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

Today was really cold but not cold, enough to keep the phys ed teachers from bringing their classes outside. This was not the first time I have seen them out in this weather. I have even seen them out in the rain.

Most of the kids did not have sweatshirts or sweat pants so they went out in shorts and tees.

I met one of my students on her way out. This girl is prone to asthma and looked like she was freezing inside the building. I took off the sweater I was wearing and made her wear it. Her PE teacher got mad at her for this! Let me add, the teacher was wearing a hoodie and sweat pants.

I don't claim to know anything about teaching PE, but I do know when it is too cold to go out in summer attire. Today was one of those days. I don't understand why the parents aren't screaming about this lack of consideration for their children.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Calculus is by definition a hard substance and the study of calculus is also hard. My tests are even harder because they emphasize applications of knowledge, not just rote reiteration of problems that were taught in class. Studying is not enough to pass a test in my class. You really have to be able to use what you have been taught.

I know this is a difficult thing for kids to do. I don't expect them to do well on my exams at this point of the term. (All grades are curved so they don't have to worry about averages being ruined.) I do expect them to know certain things and I have no tolerance when they don't.

1. The use of the word IT is strictly forbidden. They must be specific in all their justifications. Yet, as I mark midterm exams, I find this word on more than one paper.

2. All answers must be expressed to a minimum of three decimal places. This is mentioned every single day. Yet, as I mark midterms, I am constantly taking off points for answered expressed as only a one or two place decimal.

These kids are bright kids. I know they understand THREE. I don't understand why they fight using three places for their answers. Maybe when they get the exams back, with the -1's for decimals and "ITs" they will learn to do what is required of them.

Good Week

Th lights of Broadway
Virgin Records--good place to browse while waiting for your show to start.
Fire department action outside the theater
Fire truck in front of Phantom.
My birthday cake at Cheese Cake Factory.

Some weeks are better than others. This week was one of them. Although I hate to go out on work nights, Wednesday I made an exception to celebrate my birthday. We saw Xanadu and had dinner at a great Thai restaurant on Ninth Ave. Xanadu was fun, nothing great, not worth full price but we definitely got our TDF ticket price worth. The fire trucks outside the theater did lend the evening some extra excitement. The only downer for the evening was the subway ride home. The signals were not working and we kept getting stuck between stations. Luckily Xanadu was only 90 minutes so we still got home pretty early.

Friday night my group of six got together to celebrate my birthday at the Cheese Cake Factory. While I won't share our pictures, here is my cake.

Everyone needs a week like this once in a while.

Friday, January 11, 2008


My son is in Israel right now. Birthright is the organization that sponsors this trip. It is an all expense trip for Jewish young adults, ages 18 - 27 to travel to Israel. The purpose is to help them connect with their roots and discover a connection to an important part of their heritage.

I wanted him to take this trip while he was in college. He was not interested in it. My daughter took it and had a wonderful time. I'm glad he decided to make the trip now. It is the opportunity of a life time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Smellington Would Love This Teacher

(Smellington from Billionaires for Education Reform)
Jan 10, 5:07 PM (ET)

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - Intimidated by snowy, slippery roads, a teacher cracked open a can of chili and slept in her classroom. Emma Clisante had a sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush and fresh clothes Tuesday night at Ogden Preparatory Academy.

Teacher Sleeps in Classroom During Storm

"I'm from the Dominican Republic, and when I see snow on the roads, it scares me to death," Clisante said.

She read, surfed the Internet and caught up on other tasks. She turned off the lights when custodians left at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"Every hour, I would wake up," Clisante said. "I locked the door from the inside and tried to hide myself under my desk."

Principal Kathy Thornburg was impressed.

"It warms my heart and shows the quality of educators we have at the school," Thornburg said.

McMansion Update

There was a car in the neighbor's driveway for a little while yesterday. There were also two cars in front of the house. We did not recognize two of the three cars. We thought they were back. But, no one stopped the drip in the driveway. We went out for the evening and when we came back the cars were gone and a light was on downstairs. The light was still on today. We peaked in when we drove by yesterday and did not see any furniture.

The mystery continues to grow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Insane Asylum

I walked into the library today to do my C-6 assignment and found ten kids waiting for help. To complicate matters, Terence (aka assistant principal in charge of security) brought four more kids in for tutoring. It didn't seem to faze him that there was standing room only or that I am only one person. He did his duty so he could go and eat his lunch. The salad dressing and silverware he takes to go with his brought from home lunch were waiting for him.

When I got to the library, there were no chairs available. Mr. Comatose (the only male librarian was sitting at the front desk, staring out into space, as he usually does. Sometimes I steal that chair, but not today. I ended up going into the librarian's office and taking one of theirs. I'm sure they had a fit when they saw it missing, especially when I did not return it at the end of the period. I figured that was the least they could do to earn their salaries.

The libarians got upset when they saw so many kids asking for help and actually came over to try to organize things. Of course their organization involved lots of noise and screaming and asking me if I knew the kids. I told them that knowing them was not a requirement of tutoring and that I would go around and answer one question at a time. The kids wanted to know why there weren't more teachers in the libary, as midterms are this week and next. The librarians tried to answer, but I ignored the question and told everyone to get Suit so he could see what really goes on that period. I just ignored everything around and kept tutoring. The librarians got nervous thinking Suit might actually come up and see how awful the library was, so they managed to make some of the kids leave and I ended up with about 8. One girl said she has trouble getting help because it is always so crowded.

It's a good thing we have tutoring. So much gets done.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And The Password Is.....

My bank password never expires.

My Visa password never expires.

My AOL password never expires.

My DOE mail password expired.

Imagine, DOE mail is more important than any personal stuff I have. I guess there are plenty of hackers out there who can't wait to get their hands on Klein's latest memos.


The trailer inspectors showed up today--three of them in fact. They walked around the trailer, noting and photographing all the irregularities that I have been posting about for years.

I made sure to point out the exposed electrical box, the windows that no longer open and the lack of fire bells and PA system. My trailer buddy pointed out his holes in the walls, his constantly running faucet and the rails falling off the ceiling. We both forgot about the leaky ceiling but luckily I ran into these guys in the cafeteria and told them about it. I also forgot to mention the fetid puddle in front. I hope they noticed it. There was no water in it today, but it was full of mud and old leaves.

The kids enjoyed my little tour of the classroom. I bet the administration wouldn't like it and I have a feeling, the custodian with these guys did not like it either. TOO BAD!!! NYC kids deserve to learn in a decent environment.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One Of The Reasons I Still Teach

I gave my Math B kids a test Friday that came exactly from the questions I gave them to work on over the winter break. Some kids did them, and did well on the exam. Too many of them didn't even bother looking at them. Oh well, their loss. I am sure some have given up already and I can't say I blame them. When you are lost September, October, November and December, it is impossible to get found in January.

One of my kids, N, did not show up for the test. N is usually a hard worker and although not a great math student, a passing student. I offered him a make-up today, provided he brings me a note tomorrow. He took the test. At the end of the period he was still working. I went over to see how he was doing and he said, "I'm sorry. My grandfather died over the weekend and I just could not concentrate and take a test yesterday. My parents don't even know I left school early. I didn't study for this test." I asked him why he even took it. I would have given him a makeup at another time. He said, "I don't want to make any excuses. I had time over the weekend to study. I should not be treated differently than anyone else."

I wanted to hug him but I didn't. I told him not to worry about the test. I would let him work on it when he felt better, or make up another test for him. I told him it is impossible to concentrate when so much stuff is going on around you. He'll be okay, he just has to learn that there is nothing wrong with mourning.

This is the third story I have heard since September about grandparents dying. It is the third time that the kid tried to carry on as if nothing bad had happened in their personal life. I feel blessed to work with such fine students who have respect for their education and their families. I don't understand the ones who won't work when I see these kids that do, in spite of all the hardships they face.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

More NY Pictures

Tourists enjoying a shoe shine on 6th Ave and 46th St. It was a beautiful, warm day. I hope they gave this guy more than the $3.00 he was asking for. They looked like they could afford to pay more.
A depressing sign on 43rd St and 6th Ave.
And last but not least, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It was lit, but the lights are hardly showing. Going green this year really dimmed the tree. It was still beautiful.

McMansion Intrique

The neighbors are still not around.

Newspapers are piling up outside.

And now there is a leak on the side of the house. Water is coming out of a pipe and icing up the driveway. If it continues, the cracked concrete will have more cracks in it from the expanding ice.

I wonder if the leak is just outside, or inside as well?

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Future (OF ATRs) According to Klein

I just copied this from Ednotes:

Klein to Go After ATR's Weingarten Says
A correspondent reports:

Randi's visit to the Queens Rubber room

Aside from a lot of useless prattle, she also indicated that Klein was going after ATR's as a form of featherbedding. She, as always, the unsuspecting, unknowing, innocent lawyer, does not seem too sure about her ability to uphold the union's ironclad policy of protecting ATRs. What else is new?

An ATR in my school came to the cafeteria today visibly upset about something. When pressed, she told us that she had been called down to the APO's office. It seems APs, deans and school aides have been complaining about her classroom management. It is interesting that this incident came about today, the day after the above story came out. This woman has been in the school since September and in all this time has only had two classes that she could not handle. The classes she could not handle are classes that give their regular teacher a hard time. Yesterday, she had the class from hell. One AP walked into the room and got the kids to settle down for a little while. Unfortunately, this pompous a** did not show his face until the last twenty minutes of the period and did not stay around for long.

We sat and tried to figure out who could have complained about her, aside from him. He gave her no indication that she was doing anything wrong. No one could believe a school aide would say anything and we are guessing that words were put into some aide's mouth. As for the dean, we have suspicions. There are quite a few young wannabes around.

Someone posted a comment asking me if I knew about the rubber room. My answer is yes. Did I know anyone who is or has been in one of those rooms? My answer to that is yes also. The charges against these people are top secret, sometimes they don't know themselves what these charges are. Teachers fear these rooms as they can languish in them for months. This woman and other ATRs fear for their futures. They fear ending up in these rooms and then losing their jobs. They are being put in impossible situations. They are given classes that are impossible to control and are given no work to do with them. There is nothing they can do. Klein wants them off the payroll and principals will do anything and everything necessary to oblige.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Rubber Room

Watch The Rubber Room. It is an eye opener.

School Aide

School aide watching the door.
School aide shutting the door.
Kids sneaking out the door.

School aides might be the only people in the school system treated worse than teachers. I happened to walk into a rarely used stairway today and found this lady sitting by the door, wearing her coat, guarding the exit. She had no walkie-talkie and no way to call for help if she needed it. Her job was to guard the door and to keep outsiders from entering the building. Her area was extremely cold and from my point of view, dangerous. She said "I'm only a school aide" when I told her how awful I thought her job at the moment was.

School aides are an integral part of the school system. They have no clear cut job descriptions and as a result are forced to do the jobs like the one pictured above. No one deserves to be treated like this. This woman is much more than "only a school aide."