Monday, March 31, 2008
Cheaters Never Prosper
Sometimes you just have to let kids cheat! I watched a kid erase a perfectly correct solution and replace it with his friend's totally wrong one. I separated them, but then let the test stand. I'll get my revenge when I return the papers.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday was the end of my eleventh month period of saying Kaddish for my mom. The Heavenly Tribunal judges a dead person's soul. A guilty verdict takes twelve months while acquittal takes eleven. Eleven months of Kaddish says that the soul was pure.
I'm not an overly religious person and while I do like to go to shul, I never attend as often as I should. When my mom died, I decided to honor her by saying Kaddish as often as I could. I know it is something she would have wanted me to do. She would be proud and my grandfather (her father) must be looking down, smiling on my deed.
When my mom first died, my aunt told me to send a donation to Yeshiva University so the people there could pray for her. I couldn't do that. Prayer is personal. I did not want a stranger doing my praying for me.
Attending services daily was not easy. Although making the commitment was a decision I made out of duty, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Kaddish is a healing time. Attending every night gave me a chance to pray, and be alone with my thought for twenty minutes. I prayed with mostly the same people every evening, mostly very old men. We did not become close friends, but we became friends. I met my boyfriend here. I met a man who recently lost his wife, but was going on with his life, reading, attending college classes and talking to anyone who talked back. He is the one I will miss the most as I am no longer going to attend daily. (I did promise to come at least once every few weeks so we can keep in touch.)
Thursday night was the end. When the Rabbi announced the end, I started to cry. Everyone hugged me and urged me to keep attending whenever I could. It was an experience I will never forget. I never expected to be able to keep attending services for an entire year. Now a days, most people don't do this. Some of the people I know don't even bother with the week long shiva period. Kaddish may have religious significance but the spiritual healing that resulted from it was what benefited me the most. I'm glad to have the free evenings but I have been rewarded in more ways than one for doing this.
We Will Make A Difference
But, on the plus side, the hole in the trailer is fixed. It only took four little screws to reattach the piece that had fallen off! On the minus side, it rained and the puddle is back.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
A Pleasant Surprise
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
First Gay Straight Alliance Meeting
Last week was the first meeting of the Gay Straight Alliance that I agreed to be the faculty advisor for. I went to the meeting, dreading what I had gotten myself into, afraid of what I would be dealing with and pissed with myself for having to stay in school an extra period.
This week, I am going to the meeting without the dread. I still don't want to stay late, but I am looking forward to listening to the ideas of a bright group of young people, proud of who they are and willing to embrace the lives they are leading.
About thirty kids attended last week's meeting. Most were gay, although many were not. These kids had joined to show their support. One of the organizers, a boy in my period one class, told me he was not gay and then asked if I thought he was. I told him that I would never judge anyone by appearances and it did not matter to me what his sexual preference is.
The kids took turns introducing themselves and talking about things they were interested in. I was relieved that sex did not come up as I am a firm believer in abstinence for teens. After this, they broke into groups, discussed whether gay marriage should be legal and then shared their findings with the rest of the group.
The meeting ended with a talk about the Day Of Silence coming up and how they would show their support. The girl who introduced the topic was fantastic. She explained that by not speaking they would be speaking for all the gays that could not speak for themselves.
During my C-6 assignment today, I met a young man who was at that meeting. We started talking about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I want the kids to get involved in a lobby to over turn that law. (I am sure there must be a lobby group working on that somewhere.) I then found out that the JROTC has the same policy, so I am going to try to push them to work towards the end of that in our school.
These kids are alive with spirit. It might take a while, but it is kids like this that will change the world.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Please Pass The Trash Can
The appearance of our school and classrooms can have an impact on our student behavior and learning. Please monitor your classroom and pass the trash basket around to your students and ask them to pick up any trash that is on the floor around them. If you come into a classroom and find that it is in poor condition, please report this to your assistant principal, supervision.
This, from a principal who allows this and this to go on!
The Great Divide
Friday, March 21, 2008
Ms. Math Teacher was sitting in the teacher's cafe yesterday, as usual, doing school work. It seems a math teacher's job is never done. Ms. Math Teacher usually has her I-pod in her ears so she can work without distraction, but had forgotten to put them in on this day.
Sitting at the next table was Mr. Whine who was enjoying his lunch of cheese and crackers. Mr. Whine is a brilliant liberal arts teacher and a fantastic educator and he never has to work during his lunch period. His is usually pontificating on some topic or another, and while Ms. Math enjoys listening in, she needs the I-pod so she can turn him off and concentrate on getting her work done.
Mr. Whine was talking about his child today. He is a parent totally enamored by his child. Ms. Math Teacher has met the child and totally agrees with his assessment. This period, Mr. Whine was whining about the child's math. He went on and on about trapezoids and triangles and other shapes he has no use for. At that point, Ms. Math Teacher lost it.
"Mr. Whine, it is parents like you that make it hard for math teachers and the children they are teaching. Every year, parents come to school and when I tell them their child is struggling in the class, they respond with 'I always had trouble in math too.'"In other words, it is fine for the kid to struggle in math. It is no big deal to get a low grade or fail math because the parent failed math too.
Mr. Whine is a learned man. He is probably much brighter than Ms. Math Teacher. I am sure he would not accept his child not being able to read or write, yet he feels as long as his child is competent enough in the four basic operations, plus fractions, decimals and percents, she knows all the math she will ever need. I'm not saying that a parent's attitude will make everyone love math, but a more positive approach to the subject sure might help. Besides, at the moment, this child loves math and is doing quite well. An attitude like Mr. Whine's may turn the child off to math.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Student Urinates in Lunch Box in Class
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A teacher was put on paid leave Tuesday while officials investigate why a student urinated in a lunch box during her class.
The Meadowbrook Middle School student urinated in a lunch box while hiding behind a classroom bookcase, Orange County school officials said Tuesday.
According to statements by other students in the class, school officials think that when the boy asked to go the restroom on Thursday, teacher Jameeka Chambers told him to hold it or use her lunch box.
The boy took the lunch box, hid behind a bookcase, urinated in it and returned it to her, Frank Kruppenbacher, attorney for the Orange County School Board, told the Orlando Sentinel.
"I think we clearly know she didn't tell him, 'Go pee in this box,' in the sense of going to go do that," Kruppenbacher said. "That's beyond our comprehension."
Chambers is to be interviewed on Monday.
The next morning the boy's mother complained to the principal and told a local TV station that Chambers would not allow him to use the restroom.
The boy was not regularly in Chambers' class, but was in her room to complete makeup work on a computer, Kruppenbacher said.
This is a first-year teaching job for Chambers, who teaches sixth-grade language arts.
A telephone number listed under the name of a Jameeka Chambers in Orlando was busy.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
What He Really Meant
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Dump Your Children Here
This is something new. Someone seems to have forgotten to pick up the garbage or even put it in the dumpster. Last week when it was windy, a teacher got hit with a flying box.
More garbage pictures. We walk through this every day to get to the building.
Got to love working for the NYC DOE!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Kid's Say The Darndest Things
No one makes a big deal about Pi day in my school. I'm the only one who even bothers to wear a Pi shirt and wish the kids a happy Pi day. I wonder if I could have taken the day as an RO, being a math teacher and all.
Anyways, I have some pretty bright kids this semester. Some didn't get the happy Pi day on the board, and I had to go through the name the date game. They usually got it then and told me how corny I was. I did have one surprise, a good one and not from one of my better students.
"Pi is not 3.14.08, today's date. You are celebrating the wrong day, Ms. POd." You just have to love a kid like that.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Bet You Didn't Think They Could Get Worse
I have met with parents whose children were cutting their math class. I was told by some parents that some math teachers never bothered to contact them when their child was absent. Ladies and gentlemen, please make a phone call and make sure you speak to the parents of students who cut your class. It is unfair that we do not speak to parents when a student is cutting our class. It is not fair for a student to fail a math class only because s/he does not attend, either. Remember, you can not teach to the empty seat a student sits in. You can only teach the student in that seat.Wow! So now I am responsible for making sure every parent knows every time their child is absent. Let's see. Thirty four kids in a class, five classes a day (actually six for me with the college now class in the morning) and no free periods except for lunch and prep. No available phones. No place to sit. Many parents cannot be reached during the school day. This sounds really like something I am really going to do! There is one teacher in my department who is outstanding when it comes to calling parents. They are always coming in to talk to him. He has not eaten lunch in weeks and many of the kids are still having problems.
The PTA will print a new letter and I will ask parents to contact you if their child is failing math and they have not heard from you. You might be better off to be pro-active and contact parents first.
Don't get me wrong. I contact parents all the time. Chronic cutting is not the teacher's responsibility. We have an attendance teacher in the school. We fill out scan sheets every day with daily attendance. It's not the teachers fault that the attendance teacher and the attendance office can't do it all. We can't do it all either. Besides, a kid that has chronically cut math and suddenly decides to return to class will be incapable of catching up since all new math depends on previous knowledge. Years ago, my AP told me I was too nice to the kids so they all came to my class. He said that was the reason I sometimes had discipline problems. Now he is telling me to get them all come to class.
I would like to insure that when math teachers retire, we are not in a "hole". Therefore, if you are interested in teaching a first period. College Now Course, please see me as soon as possible. We have to make sure you are approved by the college involved.
This last paragraph was meant for me. Instead of asking me about my plans, he makes a stupid announcement to everyone. If he would only have asked, I would have told him that I plan on continuing College Now after I retire and that when I am ready to give it up, I will give the school plenty of notice. I've already had this conversation with the College Now Liaison. I thought about telling him how obnoxious and insulting his memo was but then I figured, why bother? He hasn't gotten anything in the past and I am sure he will get nothing in the future. I'd rather bitch about him this was and get everything out of my system. By Monday, he will have a new agenda anyways.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Me and My Big Mouth
Last week, a nice boy in one of my classes asked me to sponsor his club. I did not walk away fast enough and he said, "It is an interesting club." Here is where my big mouth got me in trouble. I had to say "What kind of club?" He hesitated and then said "Gay-Straight Alliance".
This must have been a difficult subject for him to approach me with and I decided I wanted to help. I was glad that I couldn't as I teach the period the club wanted to meet. He then asked me about another period and again, I couldn't. My college job conflicted with the time. I felt bad, told him the other days I would be available and tried to find a teacher willing to work with this club. Turns out no one wants to stay late.
Yesterday this boy approached me again. After much thought, the meeting time was changed to agree with my schedule. I am now the sponsor.
I've managed to avoid all after school jobs for over thirty years. I refuse all per session jobs. I'm not going to kill myself working now just to pad my pension for later. Since I don't want to stay late for money, I certainly won't stay late for free. While I stay late to help my students, I try never to do it officially. I've got to learn to keep my big mouth shut.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Math Standards Today
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Should A Teacher Be Forced To Attend Graduation on a Sunday?
DEAR READERS: In the past week I received several letters responding to the column about the private-school teacher who wanted to be paid for being forced to attend a graduation on a Sunday. The school doesn't have to pay her because teachers are exempt from overtime. All of the letters took the teacher to task. Here is a sample:
DEAR CARRIE: I was disappointed to read that a teacher is more concerned about getting paid on graduation day than attending this exhilarating ceremony. The choice to become a teacher is a decision that obviously requires people to give of themselves. The nights I spend grading papers and creating lessons, going to workshops to improve and stay current with educational reform, and keeping up with the daily routine all go along with the job.
The choice to become a teacher is a decision that has an impact not only on the future of your students but also on your life. A teacher's desire to work with children is a calling and does not end in the classroom. Watching them grow and making a significant difference in this world is rewarding alone.
[That reader] should be proud to attend the graduation ceremony, because teachers are partners in their students' learning and a reason these students have this wonderful opportunity. Believe me, I truly believe that teachers are underpaid, but, as a teacher, I would take real pleasure in watching my students be part of the "pomp and circumstance."
I, for one always attend graduation but I am so tired of people talking about teaching as a "calling" and that our job does not end in the classroom. Most teachers do take pleasure in watching their students achieve, but enough is enough. Yes, we are teachers but we have private lives as well. Not wanting to attend a school function after school hours does not make anyone less of a teacher or less devoted to their students.
This year, for the first time, the graduation at my school will be held a day after the last day of school. I am sure that I will attend as I cannot imagine not watching my seniors graduate, but I resent the fact that it is being held this day. I intend to go as a guest and will do no work assisting in the graduation unless there is some sort of compensation. The school could easily substitute a staff development day in exchange for attending graduation. (Oh no, how would we survive without all that data analysis training.) It is not fair to always ask teachers to give. We are considered professionals when something is needed from us, otherwise we are considered peons, worthy and deserving of nothing.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
This meme requires each player to find a picture or design a piece of art that communicates what you, as an educator, are most passionate for your students to learn about. I was tagged by Tamareden who has a wonderful blog I just found.
The most important thing I teach my students is how to think. If they understand a concept and know how to analyze the question, they can do anything. Too often, my students have succeeded by memorizing rules and completing assignments by rote. I always say "Give a man dinner and he has food for the night. Teach him to fish and he has food for life." By understanding concepts, they are ready for life. The math I teach them is good, probably not helpful in the long run for most. Everyone needs to think and learn how to apply those thoughts to making good decisions. The picture is one I took this summer of a man salmon fishing in Alaska.
THE RULES OF THE MEME:
Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for kids to learn about
give your picture a short title.
Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt”
link back to this blog entry.
Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network
I would like to ask all who read this blog to think about what they are passionate about and share it.
Friday, March 07, 2008
The Memos Keep Coming
During my routine visits, I observed a few classes in which the teacher was “teaching” while some students engaged in their own conversations. Thus, one could not hear a pin drop. This really has to stop. We are not teachers to students who want to learn. All students who attend your class want to pass and you are responsible for every student on your class roster. Please start engaging every student during your lesson. It is unacceptable for students to sit in your class and do next to nothing in terms of learning math. The new world we live in requires you to try to reach every student.
First he is telling us that we are not teachers to students who want to learn (an obvious typo, but being petty is something I am good at) and then he is telling us that all students who attend our classes want to learn. I don't think I teach in the same school he does.
Ms. XXXX came up with a Citizenship Report which included positive aspects of what a student does. I will revise our old one to include the positive aspects. Please do not mail a letter which is positive so that we can save some postage. Please only mail the letter which indicates that a student will fail.
Saving a buck is more important than saying something nice about a kid. I often get more accomplished with nice words than with harsh ones. This is a guy that would not understand about that.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Doc In A Box
Yep, Doc In A Box, that is what my kid's pediatrician used to call those walk in clinics that you go to when you can't get an appointment with the usual doctor.
I have an ear infection. Being the idiot that I am, I went to work anyways. My eighth and ninth period classes were scheduled for an exam and I did not want to disappoint my students. I always hated it when a teacher was absent on a test day and I had to go home and study all over again. I called my regular doctor to get an appointment but, Ms. Bitch, the receptionist, said there was nothing available until tomorrow. Knowing I needed the anti-biotic, I hit Doc In A Box.
I walked into the office and was excited to see only one person waiting. I was sure I could get in and out in no time. No such luck. The receptionist took twenty minutes to sign me in. Then, I had another 15 minutes in the room waiting for the doctor. She looked, confirmed what I knew and told me she would give me a prescription for drops and the anti-biotic. I thanked her and walked out.
The woman at the front desk kept me waiting for another twenty minutes to finish the paper work and give me my prescriptions. Another bitchy receptionist, full of herself and the power she has over us poor mortals.
On the good side, I do have my medicine and the drops are already working. I think I'll wait until tomorrow to mark the exams. It's not a good idea to mark them in the mood I am in.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Ms Timid and Mr. Bully
Mr. Bully visited Ms Timid's class last week. The class was a repeater class consisting of all juniors taking freshman math. Ms Timid was proud of them. They were all quiet and everyone was working except Jimbo. Jimbo had his head down and was evidently having a great dream as he was grinning from ear to ear.
Mr. Bully: Jimbo has his head down, Ms. Timid. Why haven't you done anything about it?
Ms Timid: I'm sorry Mr. Bully. I'm trying so hard. I've called Jimbo's mom. I've spoken to the guidance counselor. I offered him money to stay awake in class. I bought him a new bed, the kind where he could pick his own sleep number. I figured if he slept better at night he would not be tired in class. I even went to Jimbo's house last weekend to see if he wanted some extra help. Nothing I do works. I'll try to do better.
Mr. Bully: Trying is not good enough. You must get all these students to pass or you will get a U rating and end up in the rubber room. I will not lose my job or my bonus because of you. Stop by my office at 5:00 PM. I need to speak to you.
Ms Timid: But my day ends at 1:40 and I have a doctor's appointment. My appendix has been acting up all day and the doctor said he could take it out this afternoon. I did not want to take a day off for a little operation.
Mr. Bully: It will only take a minute, then you can go have your operation. Just make sure that you are in school tomorrow. And, don't be late. Oh, and enjoy your trip to the doctor.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Sometimes we know we should do something, but put off doing it for various reasons. By the time we get to do them, it is too late.
just died. I knew he was sick when I did not see him in temple for the daily minyon and for services last Shabbos. I asked about him. At first, no one knew where he was. They thought he was just staying away because he did not like a comment someone made to him. Then we found out that he fell and was in the hospital. He was not a very nice man, most people in the temple really did not care much for him. No one went to visit. I planned on going to see him, but between work and visiting my dad, I never had time. Tomorrow afternoon was going to be my visit. Today the phone call came that said he passed away. I am not going to get to make my visit.
Sol was one of the first people I became friendly with when I started attending the daily minyon.He was a lonely old man and I was just sad. It was nice to see a friendly face while saying Kaddish. Besides, he flirted with me non stop. It felt good to be told how young and beautiful I was, even if the man telling me that was 95 years old.
Sol liked me to sit with him. At first I resisted because I like to hide in the back. I'm glad I gave in. He told me that the thirty minutes we spent together were the highlight of his day. Jack thought he was an expert on everything. He knew more than the Rabbi and knew more about life than anyone. I just smiled and agreed with him. He was arrogant, but harmless.
I really never got to know the man. Intellectually I know that I did not do anything wrong by not going to see him. He never would have expected me to. I hope I brought a little bit of joy into his life. I feel I could have made his last days happier by paying a visit to his hospital room.
Maybe others won't miss him. Maybe he wasn't the easiest man in the world to get along with. But, I will always remember him, sitting in the second row, loudly saying his prayers, wrong pronunciations and all. Sol, I will miss you.