Sunday, August 31, 2008


We were at a street fair near Union Square today. There were plenty of Obama buttons and tee shirts for sale. I could only find one little button for McCain.

Street vendors want to make money. Is this a sign of who the city will vote for? Is this an indication of who our next president will be? Or, is this wishful thinking on my part?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Message To Suit

Suit began the year by telling us that a student's education might begin at home but it ends in school. When my kids went to school, they always came home at the end of he day and did homework, studied and learned all kinds of non-academic things that have made them the successful adults they are today. If their education ended in school, I fear to think about what would have happened all those hours they were out of school, after school, weekends and vacations. I have never met a teacher, no matter how good that teacher was, that could educate a child completely. Hillary Clinton wrote "It Takes A Village", maybe not a village, but at least a family and friends.

Now, since the student's education is ending in school, it is the teacher's responsibility to find a way to educate completely. The teacher must find a way. Suit has no idea how this will be accomplished, but accomplished it must be. Perhaps the chemistry department can come up with a pill or spray that will provide instant knowledge.

Suit constantly berates my department for not having the kids sit in horse shoes and for not using enough group work. He says that we are not open to change. Although he has been told over and over that the kids need smaller classes, that double periods are too long for them to sit, that they will not go for tutoring and when they do go, they need direction, he makes no changes. He wants them all to pass. He feels that by sitting in the classroom they must have learned the work and shuld be able to move ahead. He doesn't understand that math is a cumulative subject. There is no way to move ahead without mastering the basics. He wants our school to be better than the nearby schools. He has a competitive nature. The teachers just want to teach to the best of their ability, they don't care about winning the gold.

Suit, I don't care about your bonus or your prestige. I will continue
to do what I feel is best for my students. You claim you are retiring
soon. Let's all hope that your replacement is not as stupid as you

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day Two

(another picture taken to kill time!)

Today's staff meeting began with the old "right to know" stuff. We have a right to know about all that stuff in the school that will kill us but there is nothing the school will do to protect us. I remember years ago a colleague requested the Hepatitis B (?) vaccine after we were told how much we needed it only to be told it was not available to teachers. We can easily be replaced with a new TFA recruit so why should the city waste any money on us. I spent the time putting on my nail hardener. Since getting rid of the tips, my nails are very soft. This was a good opportunity as they would have plenty of time to dry.

Next came our exciting once a year union meeting, another waste of time. He managed to tell us that jobs have to be posted fairly. He also pointed out that the principal violated an agreement he had made with the union by not giving us a promised free lunch today. Here is one of the exec board members handing out the minutes from yesterday's exec board meeting. It's chock full of mistakes.

Next we got treated to listening to more of Suit's performance. Schoolgal asked if we've met New Suit and the answer to that is no. It seems no committee has been formed yet because there are not enough applicants. I don't believe that Suit really wants to step down.

Giving out program cards and metro cards was the best part of the day. Even being with the kids in such an awful situation reminded me how much I love teaching and being with them.

Then we got a whole hour to get our rooms ready. I've been taken out of my beloved trailer and put into two different rooms. The people that are in my trailer want the rooms I am in. They don't understand that I must be punished for demanding security outside and they are just peons, along for the ride. I, along with most of my colleagues, refused to spend an hour cleaning rooms. I opted for a walk to my favorite retreat Dunkin' Donuts. I used my free coupon for an egg white flat bread sandwich that was delicious (and less than 300 calories.)

The graffiti covered bridge to my "secret place". How do they get up there to do that stuff?
My hideaway!

The garbage covered bridge leading to the hideaway.

We ended with more of Mr. AP's ramblings and we all got to go home an hour early. Thank goodness the kids will be back next week. I can't take any more of these days.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nothing New To Say

Nothing much new to say about staff development day. I did take a picture of my pal's bag. She came well equipped for the day.

Her puzzle book was a lot of fun, although the fluorescent light made it hard to see some of the pictures.

The parent coordinator was giving out the attendance form. I asked for one for my friend and was told "One per customer, but since I see her, you can have two." Well Parent Coordinator, I got a second one just for me.

Suit held court as usual. It doesn't seem to matter that he is retiring. He rants and raves as much as ever.
I entertained myself taking these stupid pictures.

When we broke into departmental meetings, Mr. AP went on and on about how we shouldn't be passing kids just because they passed the regents. Suit told us that we should not have higher standards than the state and that we should pass them all. I wonder what new Suit will tell us to do. Mr. AP also told us that the goal of the slower math classes is to get the kids a 65, not a 90. I wish the parents could have heard that one.

While suit was addressing our meeting, announcement after announcement came over the loudspeaker, disrupting him. He was obviously very distressed about this and called to complain about how he could not conduct a meeting with all the interruptions. When the teachers in the room said he does the same to us as we try to teach, he said "that is not the same." Later, he made announcements while Mr. AP was conducting the meeting. Mr. AP called him to complain. It was the one saving grace of the day.

Although programs were not officially given out (why should we see what we are going to teach when classes start on Tuesday), we did get a look at the tentative schedule. While I have a pretty good program, my prophecy about being removed from the trailer did come true. I guess he decided to put someone in their who won't worry about their safety. I'm not going to complain. I would rather not let him see that he got me upset.

Anyways, I ended the day with one of these. I didn't think about taking a picture until it was empty.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Will Survive

The only power my AP and principal have over me is the power I give them. I choose to give them none and this drives them crazy. While they do decide what classes I teach and what periods I teach, this is all they can do. Since my school will have a new principal this term I think I will send him/her the following letter:

Dear New Suit,

I am an experienced, veteran teacher with enough years to walk any day I choose. I'm here because I want to be here. After all these years, I still get a charge out of standing in front of the classroom and having 34 bodies think I am an expert and know exactly what I am talking about. I will not let you or anyone else take this feeling away from me.

I know your tactics well. You can put me on late session if you want. I've been there and done that and like the song says, "I WILL SURVIVE." You can give me the hardest kids in the school to teach, but I've done that too. And, while I can't reach them all, I will reach many of them. I'll just stock up on an extra large bottle of Motrin and keep that six-pack cooled in my fridge and "I WILL SURVIVE." You can write me all the nasty notes and make all the snide comments you want. I've written plenty of those notes and made many of those comments myself. Yours roll off my back like water on a duck. "I WILL SURVIVE."

New Suit, don't waste your time trying to get me to retire. I'll leave when I am good and ready to leave. Nothing you do or say will push me out sooner. Instead, why not try to use my expertise to help out some of the new teachers and our students. Try to be smarter than Old Suit.
Sincerely yours,
Ms. POd Teacher

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Discount For This?

The insurance companies give a 10% discount for taking the defensive driving class. Don't ask me why. I didn't learn anything but I did draw the picture below.

My son said that this had to be worse than staff development. He's never been to staff development. Even this was better.

My Sentiments Exactly

(click on cartoon for an easier to read version)

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Good To Be Wanted and Loved

The chairperson of the community college I teach in called over the weekend. She apologized for calling me on the weekend and asked if I would be willing to take on an extra class. She would even create a special class for me so that I could teach two in a row. And, although the class was scheduled to start at 3, I could start at 3:15 so I would have plenty of time to get there from the high school I teach in during the day. Unfortunately, we have meetings once a month and I can't even make the 3:15, so I had to turn her down.

The chairperson called again today. She was creating a 4:00 class so I could teach an extra class. She said she has other people, but I am her first choice. At first I said yes, but then I realized I would be going over the maximum number of hours allowed for an adjunct and had to turn her down. She told me not to worry and that she would keep me in mind for the spring term. She also told me that when I am ready to retire I should give her a call and she would create a program for me.

It feels good to be wanted. It feels good to be appreciated.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Justifying Worthless Education

In his letter to the editor in this Sunday's Newsday, David Abrams writes:

The Board of Regents recognizes that our greatest challenge in New York State is in closing the achievement gap. Regents exams are a threshold level for high school graduation. Many children, even on Long Island, are struggling to pass five of these exams. For many, getting over the bar at 65 in math, science, English and global history and American history is a milestone accomplishment that equips them for higher education, a lifetime of employment and solid citizenship.
I wonder what planet Abrams lives on if he thinks a 34% in math and a similar grade in the other subjects are equipping students for higher education and employment. Abrams is only justifying his salary and job and that of his bosses.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Last Days To Play

Summer is ending so I only have a few days left to really enjoy.

Yesterday I hit fashion exhibit at FIT, Arbiters of Women's Fashion. It was not one of their better exhibits, but it was worth the trip. The museum is free and it is in a great part of the city.

This ugly romper from the early 50's reminded me of those disgusting gym uniforms I had to wear in high school.

After the museum, I did my usual long walk.

Walking along 32nd St, I was struck by the beauty of this old church among the new sky scrapers. Today a friend noticed the Gimbels on the building at the left. Gimbels was a great department store that went out of business in the late 70's.
I loved the way the sun hit this building.
Bargain's from Jack's World. Everything in this basket is .99 or less.

Today, I took the subway down to the ferry to Governor's Island. The ride down there is long but well worth the time. The ferry is free, about a 10 minute ride to the island. The terminal bathroom is spotless. (I'm sorry, but those things are important to me.)

The view from the boat was spectacular. We got pretty close to the Water Falls and although they don't impress me as art, the engineering feat is spectacular.

My favorite though is the view of the Manhattan skyline.

A park ranger gave a great tour of the island, explaining the forts and all the historical significance. Friday is bike free day and everyone can get a bicycle for one hour for free. We just wandered around on foot.

After Governor's Island, we headed up north, towards Century 21, detouring through Battery City Park and stopping for lunch by the Sail Boat School adjacent to the Manhattan Financial Center. The view is breathtaking.

After lunch, a walk through the Manhattan Financial Center, over the World Trade Center construction site to Century 21 (a mistake, that store is just too crowded) and then home.

Next week it will be back to whining and bitching about school. There are always weekends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

1. Lots and lots of trips to Manhattan, exploring different neighborhoods and taking in the beauty of the architecture around me.

2. Visits to museums and parks and many shows both on and off Broadway.

3. Movies--those artsy and foreign films that I don't have time to watch during the school year. Movies both on video and in the theater.

4. Books.

5. Friends and family and weddings, engagement parties and graduation celebrations.

6. Hundreds of digital pictures.

Summer is coming to an end. While the trip to Israel did not materialize, I still managed to live every day to its fullest. But, as much as I love my free time, am I ready to do this for the rest of my life? Should this really be my last year teaching?

I just bought this book to help prepare for the big day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Voted #1 Pizza

And, it is not far from where I live.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

That Was Easy

John Hildebrand set out to show how easy the NYS regents exams are. Read his story in Newsday here.

Teacher Abuse

Please read this account of a persecuted teacher and this one and all of the other rubber room horror stories listed in the left column of this blog.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Big House

Our founding fathers built Eastern Penitentiary to treat prisoners humanely. Now, things did out that way. It can hardly be considered human to keep people in solitary confinement 24 hours a day, years at a time, with only the only light coming in from a small window in the ceiling, but humanity was the goal They believed that everyone had some good in them and if they repented (hence the name penitentiary), it would come out.

Too bad the powers that be don't feel the same about teachers. Rubber rooms are not much better than the conditions these men and women had to endure.

The only light in the cells.
The long, gloomy hallways. Prisoners were brought to their cells with sacks over their heads to keeps their anonymity.
The cell which only had bed, toilet and a bible.

Locked in.

And, last but not least Al Capone's cell.

While prisoners had no comforts or luxuries, Capone had a double cell furnished as it is shown with a full radio in the back.

Thank goodness no group of people gets such preferential treatment today.