Friday, May 30, 2008

Belle Update

Belle is reconsidering having her party. Some of us suggested having it on the night of the school party.

At the very least, we will get a cake and take her to lunch.

And, for the record, the majority of teachers in my school will not attend the end term party. That is what has Suit so upset.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Suit Does It Again

Traditionally, when a teacher in my school retires, they have a big party. This party is for the retiree and the retiree only. Belle is retiring and her party has been planned for one week after the school's end term party. Suit is upset. He thinks people will not come to the end term party because they are going to Belle's party. He asked the people arranging Belle's party to cancel it. They refused. He then got a little departmental suck up to ask them to cancel. Again, they refused. He then summoned each person to his office and "gently persuaded" them to cancel Belle's party. So, after thirty years of teaching Belle leaves us without a proper send off.

Suit says all retirees will be honored at the end term party, but we all know that the most of the honor will go to his little friend. Besides, Belle does not want to go to the end term party and has decided not to attend. Suit thinks the teachers that were going to go to Belle's party will now come to the end term party. Boy, is he wrong. I for one, never planned on attending but if I did, I would now be boycotting it on principle. (Besides, he stupidly booked the party on a Jewish holiday, a big sign of disrespect to the Jewish teachers in the school.)

Who in their right mind has a party that people have to be coerced into going to?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New From Rubber Room

Check out Fidgety--the Truth About Teaching In NYC.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Hate Being Sick

Being sick is no fun. Who would have thought that a little green plant could knock a person off their feet for over a week? Who would have pictured a skin rash and an itch making a person totally useless?

Last week is mostly a blur. I made it to work all week and I even managed to teach my classes. The only thing I remember was hearing the kids yell "Don't scratch." Two of the boys in my calculus class got me a bottle of calamine lotion from the JROTC office and I ended up walking around with big gobs of that stuff all over my arms (which thankfully were covered) and my neck (which was not covered.) I looked awful but when you feel as bad as I felt, nothing mattered.

The itching was bad, but the sleepless nights it caused were much worse. I don't think I got more than two hours sleep a night all week.

The worst part of being sick is that all others around fail to exist. My son was getting over a bad cold, but I did not even ask how he was doing. My husband has an injured knee, but that too, slipped my mind. A friend needed something that I had, but I never even bothered to call him. I couldn't even visit my sister who was in NY from Texas.

My arms still look awful, but most of the itching is gone. I went to the dermatologist today to make sure things were progressing as they should. She prescribed some different medication and told me I was allergic to one of the medications I was using. I should have known since the redness was getting worse, not better and my arms look slightly swollen, but I was so out of it, nothing mattered. We are going to a wedding in a few weeks. I hope by then my arms are presentable enough to be seen in the sleeveless dress I plan on wearing.
I'm starting to feel human again. It will be a long, long time until I go near green stuff in the garden again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What's In A Name?

Picking your child's name when you teach is not easy. Every name reminds you of the reason you waited so long to have children in the first place.

My husband liked the name Eric. When I heard Eric I pictured the boy who sang his homework to the class every day. He then picked the name Bob. I pictured my son perpetually picking his nose. My mom suggested Jason but Jason was the boy who mooned the class. My dad liked Charlie, but Charlie had been arrested for shooting an FBI agent and I did not want my son going through life with that name. Keith was suggested by my sister, but Keith was the boy who never showered and wore the same clothing every day.

The girl names were just as bad. Jessica came to school dressed like a Playboy bunny so that name was eliminated. Paula was arrested for shoplifting so we didn't use that name either. Crystal tried to seduce the principal and Marla never stopped talking.

The problem with names goes on and on. It's a wonder that teachers manage to find names for their children after all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some Incentive To Buy

U.S. Auto Dealership Offers Gun With Purchase
BUTLER, Missouri (AP) - Salesmen at a Missouri car dealership are not just kicking in a free CD player or air conditioner: They are offering a free handgun with every purchase.Through the end of the month, car buyers at Max Motors in Butler will have a choice - $250 (159) toward either a gun purchase or gasoline.General manager Walter Moore said that so far, most buyers have chosen the gun, adding that he suggests they opt for a semiautomatic model "because it holds more rounds."(In the fine print, the ad on the Web site explains, "Check written toward purchase price" and also mentions, "Approved Background Check REQUIRED!!")Moore said he suspects his "Free Handgun" ad will draw protests in some places. But not in Butler, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Kansas City.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

When You Are Barely Making Ends Meet

1. Make sure you have the newest cell phone with a zillion minutes a month and unlimited texting. Don't worry if you go over your zillion minutes, it only costs $$$ a minute. Oh, and make sure you keep sending those pictures. The extra $$$ don't count here either.

2. Be sure to have a DVR connected to your high definition 52 inch flat screen television. You should not have to miss any part of a show if you are interrupted by a phone call.

3. Get a manicure and a pedicure weekly. You cannot afford to look tacky when you are seen texting in public.

4. Use your Pell Grant to take a trip. It is free money and you've already paid for this term's school. Don't worry about extra expenses cropping up.

5. Retake a job that only pays commission and has no health benefits. You have been fired from this job in the past, but, it might be better this time around. Besides, there is nothing as thrilling as not knowing if there will be a pay check at the end of the week or not.

If you are like a certain person I know, there is always daddy to cry to. You are his little girl and he will write you that check to pay your mortgage or your car insurance because your money has gone to pay for the above.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Memo from the college:
Grades must be handed in 48 hours after the last class meeting.

The class I teach ended April 16. I was not given the grade sheet until today, May 22. I guess I missed the deadline.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There's A Body In The Booth

Party Time Again

The end term party is coming soon. Principal Suit must be pressuring Mr. AP to get the members of the math department to attend. (The math department has almost a perfect non-attendance record at these things.) Every memo has a reminder about the party and a sentence urging us to attend. This party is being held on a Jewish holiday. I hope even people that usually attend boycott this year.

I think I will pass this one up again.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What A Waste of Time

Mr. AP was quite nasty when I walked into last month's departmental meeting a few minutes late. I don't let his rude comments get to me but still, this month I tried to be on time (minus the delays caused by hall traffic.) Well, this month punctuality did not matter because Mr. AP was busy. I did not comment to him but I did manage to make a few comments behind the scenes.

I was proud of myself. I managed to keep my mouth shut for the entire conference. Maybe it was the poison ivy or maybe it was just disgust, but I spent forty minutes in the room with him without opening my mouth and believe me, there was plenty to open my mouth about.

For starters, our school is not going to offer the first term of math B anymore. Good students who are finishing math A will now skip the first term and go right into the second one and then take the regents in June. To get more kids through the exam and increase his statistics he has decided that the geometry unit is unimportant. The kids can just go to tutoring to pick up the entire semester they are missing.

Next we discussed the results of Acuity test. I'm not teaching an Integrated Algebra class so I took that as an opportunity to put my head down and nap. The poison ivy kept me up all night. (I really didn't nap, I just wanted to see what he would say when he saw me that way. He always bitches about kids with heads down in class.) Most teachers had not bothered to look at the results for their classes. One teacher, whose results we analyzed, had no kids in Tier I, this meaning none that were destined (according to this exam) to fail. She was in shock when she heard this because many of her students are math illiterates. Mr. AP went on to point out that the exam was given before some of the topics had been taught, so that should be taken into account. He also said that two questions on a particular topic did not show whether a concept was mastered or not but the test was an indicator that we should use. It is a good thing we had that indicator. A teacher who has already given 10 -12 classroom exams and has been working with kids since September would have no way of knowing what her students know without this million dollar test. Besides, we have lots of extra days to reteach all the topics that our students have not mastered since September.

As our meeting ended and the next group began trickling in to start their meeting, Mr AP left to get his lunch. He can be late. He works hard. He doesn't have the easy life of a classroom teacher. In a twelve period school, the poor overworked administrators must meetings. I didn't hang around to see how late he came back. And so, another exciting meeting day has ended.

Dad Knows Best

My dad said "Wear long sleeves. You don't know what you are pulling up." I said, "Don't worry, everything is fine.".

I now have poison ivy.

Moral of the story: You are never too old to listen to your parents.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Enjoying NYC

I met my daughter at Penn Station and we walked uptown, through a street fair, to Central Park and then to a few museums. Beautiful day for a carriage ride in Central Park, something I have never done. I always wondered if the horses were being treated well.
Guitarist serenading himself by the pond.
The Dairy
Remote control boats in Central Park pond. At $10 a half hour, the owner of this concession was cleaning up today.

Ped bikes--I always feel sorry for these guys. At least today was not too hot.
"I Want To Believe" is an unbelievable exhibit at the Guggenheim by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Pictured above is one of a series of cars that he placed at various heights and various stages of a car bomb explosion. Cai has received global recognition as a bold originator of new art forms whose basic material is gun powder. Videos show exactly how this art is produced. They are fascinating. My favorite part of the exhibit was the 108 life size sculptures depicting the hardships of Chinese life in the 1900's. The pain these people felt reached through the clay and into the hearts of the viewers. I recommend seeing this exhibit. It is well worth the $18 it costs to get in. Hurry, the exhibit closes May 28.

The Super Hero exhibit in the fashion institute of the Met was super! The outfits those guys (and girls) wore were great! Of course, you needed the perfect body to get into them, especially the women. Female super heroes are so exploited for their sexuality, but it is still fun to view those costumes and see the fashions they inspired.

Message To Principal Suit

From a tee-shirt in Steve Barry's.
No lower standards! Too bad about your performance bonus1

She Teach Algeebra

Received from my friend, an algebra teacher.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Build A School Here

No air conditioning in this trailer. And now, no fresh air.The SO is collecting money to build a school in Kenya. It would be nice if Bloomberg spent some money on the schools right here in NYC.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I love technology. There is nothing like using a smart board or watching a presentation on power point. I get chills watching those little pictures fade in and out. Unfortunately, when you are working in a 21st century school that is stuck in the 19th century, technology is really hard to use.

As I have written before, my school has only four computers available for teacher use. More often than not, at least one of these computers is not working. We do have a tech guy, but he is always "busy." Last time the computer was down he told me to send him an e-mail explaining the problem. This, from the tech guy, makes me wonder about him.

We have four librarians in the library. They are very good at yelling "Table 3 you are making too much noise." They are also fond of saying "No games on the computer." When there is a computer problem, they have no clue as to how to fix it. When a CD I was using got stuck in the computer, I got yelled at for using the CD drive. When we need long paper in the printer, we are told not to change any settings.

One of my friends just finished her master's in library science. She has great ideas about bringing the math department into the library and incorporating our work on the computers. I'm happy she has these ideas and this enthusiasm. I had to remind her that although her job will now be in the library (hopefully) and time will be allotted to her to get these projects going, I will still be teaching my six classes and I will still be doing my C-6 assignment every day. Luckily, she remembered the workload of a regular teacher and told me she understood perfectly where I was coming from.

My school did get those special computers, the ones hooked up to an overhead, in every department (two rooms). We were given 40 minutes of training. When I said we needed more, the AP in charge told me to use my prep for training. In fact, the little twerp told me that prep did not mean a second lunch (as if I or anyone else I know ever has time to take even one full period for lunch.) Needless to say, these computers are gathering dust and will be obsolete before most teachers get to use them.

As I mentioned before, I love technology. I love being able to use the EGG grading system so I don't have to bubble anymore. I love my TI -83 calculator with the overhead attachment. (Not exactly 21st century technology, but the best I have to use.) I'm happy when the screen goes up after I've used it. Mostly I am happy when I walk in and the board eraser is still in the room and there is chalk.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I know I have asked this question at least 100 times before, but I can't stop myself from asking it again:

We can assume that all children can learn and, if taught properly will learn. Although, I do remember, from high school, that when you ASSUME you are making an ASS out of U and Me. Anyways, assuming everyone can learn, how can we expect any high school teacher, with a class of 34 students, many with learning disabilities, to be able to correct 10 years of educational neglect? How can we assume that the education courses the teacher has taken have prepared her to overcome these difficulties and succeed where others have failed?

The truth is that not all kids are academically inclined. That does not mean that they are not intelligent or gifted in many ways. Yet, society only seems to value book learning. I'm looking forward to the day when vocational skills are valued over academics.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

Schoolgal didn't think I could keep coming up with things to write about. I surprised her yesterday and hope to do so again today.

In our very overcrowded school, AP exams are being given in the gym. The English exam ESL students are taking is being given in the trailers and a faculty conference is scheduled for the auditorium. Principal Suit has his panties in a knot trying to figure out what he will do with all the trailer classes who cannot meet in their trailers and are assigned to the auditorium. These classes will interfere with his toxic workshop.

Meanwhile, Mr. M is upset because his trailer class is being sent to the auditorium again, the second time this week. He needs the class time to make sure he finishes teaching the curriculum before the end of the term. The first time his class met in the auditorium, Mr. M asked for a room and he was told there were no rooms available. Yesterday he did not even bother to ask for one. Low and behold, the phone rings in the math office telling Mr. M. that a room was going to be available for his use after all.

No one cared about the lost teaching time. Everyone cared about the toxic meeting. Something is very poisonous in my school.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Today's Treat

Today was a treat. After a full day of teaching we got treated to a faculty conference. Many teachers in my school get to go to a conference during a lunch or prep period. I'm lucky. I get to go after school as I teach during all the earlier periods when the conference is given.

Today's conference was special. Mr. AP sent an e-mail to the entire department telling us to be on time for the meeting. I wore my roller blades so I could get to the auditorium from the trailer in record time. In spite of this, I was still late. When I walked in Principal Suit was talking about "toxic grading", whatever that is. It was hard to hear him. I forgot to take my i-pod ear plugs out. We got to watch a video of some British dude talking about this toxic stuff too. (Suit forgot to serve the popcorn.) He was also hard to understand, even with the earplugs out.
Actually, I did get the gist of what he was talking about. Basically, kids who do not complete assignments should not fail. They should be given a second, third, fourth,....millionth chance to complete that assignment. They should be allowed to write and rewrite and rewrite again and again until the paper is perfect. They should be allowed to take that test over and over and over until a good grade is gotten. Teachers are getting treated to lots of extra work and students are being treated to working whenever the urge hits them.
Principal Suit tried to engage the teachers in a dialog about the video. He was nice to people who agreed and quite rude to others who didn't. For once I was smart enough to sit back and keep my mouth shut, almost shut. I did enjoy talking to a friend who was also at the conference.

The bell rang at 3:32. Suit was still pontificating. My friend and I got up and left. Suit glared at us but our day was over. This was one treat that was not going to spoil anyone.

I'm definitely taking off Brooklyn Queens Day. I can't bear a whole day of listening to him.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Second Mother's Day

The second Mother's Day without my mom was much easier than the first one . Last year Mother's Day came less than one week after we buried her. Seeing the fresh soil on the newly dug grave was unbearable. Once again my dad insisted on going to the cemetery and as much as he says I don't have to go with him, I cannot bear the thought of him going alone. The beautiful day helps take away some of the sadness of the place.

Mom's grave. Her unveiling is next week. We came today to scrub the family stone. My dad wanted it nice and clean for her day.

Dad walking to car with his cleaning paraphenalia.
Mom loved these ducks. She used to sit on her patio and Florida and watch them for hours. I'm hoping they are bringing her happiness now.
My father's grandparents graves. No one bothered to pay for perpetual care so we cleaned all the weeds around them today. You can see my dad's shadow as he is saying Kaddish for them.

Friday, May 09, 2008


"Buy a ticket to the school play. Get five points added on to your average."

"Buy the school math magazine. Increase your final exam grade by five points."

These are words being said to the students of our school this time of year. I heard kids complaining about these points for sale. I agree and refuse to give points for purchase. Education should not come with green stamps.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The AP Exam

Wednesday was the AP Calculus exam. My kids were psyched and ready. They were nervous. But, they were well prepared. All semester I tested them brutally. They never knew what to expect from a POd teacher test and they usually walked out of them feeling like they had been run over by a truck. No matter how many times I told them not to worry, they worried.

I stressed all term that training for the AP exam was like training for the Olympics. Their endurance was pushed to the limit. For the first time in their young lives, they were forced to think. No longer could they memorize processes and blindly spit back meaningless material.

Today I proctored the English regents, an exam the majority of my English speaking students took. They told me that calculus was a piece of cake, compared to English. The questions on the AP exam were far easier than the ones I had been making them suffer through all semester.

I feel good right now. I know I did my job well. There will be kids who only get ones and twos and will have to retake the course in college. That, does not matter. I told them all to feel proud. My 67 students accomplished more than almost every other student in the building. My 67 students know more math than many of the teachers in the building. Learning calculus is the fresh cake their mom has just baked. Getting a 5 is the added treat of licking the icing bowl.

While I am on the topic of AP exams I have three major complaints:

1. Teachers that are too lazy to do the work necessary to prepare kids for the exams.

Year after year, the kids complain about one teacher who does nothing to
prepare them for the exam. A few weeks ago, she had them playing "dress up" at a mock wedding. Although this might have been nice, it did not help with the exam.

Another teacher never introduced the tape recorder and CD player the kids needed to use on the exam. There were problems with the machines malfunctioning and the kids had difficulties they should not have had.

2. Teachers being removed from their classes the day before their exams to proctor a different exam.

I proctored the English exam today which was no problem as AP Math was given yesterday. The other calculus teacher had to proctor the day before his exam was given. His students missed valuable review and confidence building time.

3. Administrators that don't know how to follow directions.

The memories of the TI 83, 84 or 89 calculators do not have to be cleared before the exam. However, no one told Mr. AP and he sent someone to the room to clear the calculators. Teachers that teach the course are not allowed near the room so we had no idea that this was going on.

At least it is all over. Here is an e-mail from one of my kids. His grammar and writing skills are really quite good, so don't let this writing sway your opinion of him. Next week he is taking the AP physics exam.

Hi Ms POd, just letting you know, the AP Exam went well for me.
The test was overall fair.The Multiple choice with no calculator I didnt know a few of them and i omitted 4. Worse case scenario I get 6 wrong for section 1 plus 4 omits(28 questions).For section 2 multiplechoice with calculator, it was a breeze, worse case scenario 2 wrong(17 questions).For the short answer portion of the exam, it was fair. The hardest question would probably be the slope field one which for 2 parts i couldnt answer. I think for all of the short answer portions I wasnt sure of the answer for about 4 of the parts (6 questions, approx. 3 or 4 parts each = around 20 parts) but i think i did good, im not too worried.What sucked the most was that Ms. H walked around clearing the memory from all of the calculators, which deleted all notes and programs when she should have only cleared ram. Mr. G was talking about this today in his BC class.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kicking Butt

Art is the top student in my calculus class. Art transferred to this school in October from a very prestigious Catholic school in the area. I always wondered why, but never had the nerve to ask. I assumed it had something to do with tuition.

On Monday Art told us he was going to be the valedictorian of his Catholic High School. His bragging got on my nerves so I asked "Why did you transfer? Is Packemin HS a better school?" He looked at me calmly and said "I got expelled." I could not believe my ears. He then told us that he got expelled for egging a house.

Those Catholic schools rock! Here is the smartest kid in the school, a kid destined to attend a top notch college and the Catholic school kicked him out! The school didn't worry about how their statistics would go down. They didn't worry about Art's rights. He screwed up and they made him pay the price. They kicked him out to send him and everyone else a message. This kind of behavior would not be tolerated.

Too bad public schools cannot follow this example. I have a feeling our schools would be a lot better off if we could.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

E-Mail From A Student

I've been getting on one of the girls in one of my classes because her grades have gone done the tubes since she hooked up with one of the boys in the class. I just got this e-mail from her.

Dear ms POd,
It's K (math x pd y). I just wanted to tell you more about what we talked about in class today. I have been doing bad in math ( and honestly, in most of my classes) because I've constantly been getting sick since december ( because even during finals week I did bad in almost all my finals). It has honestly nothing to do with M because even before he and I had been friends, I was still decreasing in my grades in most classes. I've been going to the doctor so much that I'm honestly getting tired of it. I had so many tests done and they still didn't know what was wrong with me. I had to have an MRI ( they found a cyst in my brain.. from birth, but it's not serious), EKG, Sonogram of the heart ( chest cold), 2 blood tests in one month ( and I have to go to repeat it again tomorrow after school because the doctor called and wanted it repeated.) I have to miss my morning classes some time next week because they want me to go to a hemotologist ( which is only open during morning hours). So, from the various tests mentioned above the doctors found from the blood test that I have thalassemia( form of anemia, mostly for people of meditterenian blood) and EBV which is a virus that has to go away with time and I cant really take any medicine. So, with these two things combined it makes me feel very tired... my left side of my body ( arm and leg) feel heavy and numb ( not enough oxygen gets to my tissues). Also, I have sharp pains throughout the day in my lower back and sides of my stomache because my liver and splien are inflamed. Along with everything comes the normal symptoms of extreme dizzines, and constant discomfort.So, this has been going on for a while, its not so fun, and I try to hide it mostly during the day but sometimes its hard. Most people who have the virus I have, stay home for at least 1-4 months. I obviously have been going to school,but there are those occasional days were it gets too bad and I have to go home ( like last friday). Well, thats basically one part of my current life story, and I hope now you realize why I've been doing bad in class ( not only yours). Its really hard, especially since math is one of my last classes, to feel well enough to grasp the entire point of the lesson, which is why I'm attending tutoring now with ms R tuesdays and thursdays pd3.

We never know what kids are going through outside of school. This girl is always smiling, always beautiful and somewhat inattentive. I'm glad I have done nothing more than talk to her about her behavior. I hope she is back to herself again soon.

Security Booth Update

The electricity is in. I suppose there will be a live body in the booth soon.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Top Ten Math Pick-Up Lines

I tell my students, beauty fades, math is forever.

You can tell they believe me, this was sent by the same student that sent me yesterday's essay.
10. You fascinate me more than the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
9. Since distance equals velocity times time, let's let velocity or time approach infinity, because I want to go all the way with you.
8. My love for you is like a concave up function because it is always increasing.
7. Let's convert our potential energy to kinetic energy.
6. Wanna come back to my room....and see my 733mhz Pentium?
5. You and I would add up better than a Riemann sum.
4. Your body has the nicest arc length I've ever seen.
3. I wish I was your derivative because then I would be tangent to your curves.
2. I hope you know set theory because I want to intersect you and union you.
1. Would you like to see my log?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Math Romance

A little math humor--courtesy of a former student. Picture from's got some really cute cartoons on the site.)

They integrated from the very point of origin. Her curves were continuous, and even though he was odd, he was a real number. The day their lines first intersected, they became an ordered pair. From then on it was a continuous function. They were both in their prime, so in next to no time they were horizontal and parallel. She was awed by the magnitude of his perpendicular line, and he was amazed by her conical projections. "Bisect my angle!" she postulated each time she reached her local maximum. He taught her the chain rule as she implicitly defined the amplitude of his simple harmonic motion. They underwent multiple rotations of their axes, until at last they reached the vertex, the critical point, their finite limit. After that they slept like logs. Later she found him taking a right-handed limit, that was a problem, because it was an improper form. He meanwhile had realized that she was irrational, not to mention square. She approached her ex, so they diverged.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mystery Solved

The mystery is solved.

We have a security booth.

No person has used it yet.

It looks like there is no electricity or phone wires connected yet.

But,it is a start.

I've heard it referred to as the PISSED OFF TEACHER SECURITY BOOTH.