Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maybe This Is Why I Get Worked Up So Easily

What does this say about me? Red has always been my favorite color. the above is a picture of my bathroom walls. I drove my husband and contractor crazy when I insisted I needed red. And, when we buy a new car, if it is my turn to pick, the car is always red.

How red and other colors affect us
BY RACHEL MAHAN Psychology Today

March 31, 2009
Everyone has a favorite color, but no color affects us as strongly as red. Here's some info on the hue:

COMPETING Putting on a red jersey could give you a competitive edge at the gym or in a pickup basketball game. According to a study from Durham University in England, Olympians wearing red uniforms perform better than those wearing blue in combat sports.

Be careful. You may be adversely affected by the guy in the red shirt next to you on the treadmill.

SOLVING The X's your teacher scrawled in red pen might have left indelible ink on your brain. German and American study participants who viewed a flash of red had more difficulty solving anagrams and completing analogies compared with those who saw green or neutral colors like black.

We probably associate red with mistakes or danger, says lead study author Andrew Elliot, a psychologist at the University of Rochester.

Similarly, subjects working on difficult tasks in a red room performed worse than those in a blue room, according to a study by Nancy Stone, a psychologist at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla. Think twice about that scarlet lamp shade.

STANDING OUT Wearing red can get you noticed, and not just because it's a vivid color. When you see bright red, it may actually speed up your heart rate, says Barbara Drescher, a researcher at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Bright green can do the same, even though green is seen as the most pleasant hue, while red is rated least pleasant. Drescher isn't sure how long the arousal lasts.

"We adapt very, very quickly," she says.

Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

Pissed Off Post

I hate friggin' everybody in school today.

I hate the calculus kids who didn't know they had homework. I especially hate the kid who says I scare the crap out of him and then does whatever he wants to do. He's the one that wants me to get a job at Psyops.

I hate my geometry classes. They don't shut up for five minutes. No wonder they don't understand anything.

I hate Rosie. She goes to all her classes now but does very little work.

I hate the goals I am supposed to write. Even if I write them, how can I possibly enforce them.

I hate the guidance counselors. I hate the one that programmed a senior for geometry and wants to leave him in this class even though he has no shot of passing. I hate the one that was told put the kid in the wrong class and was too afraid to open her mouth and do something about correcting the problem. I hate the bobble-head counselor who had the nerve to ask me to tutor one of his students on my prep period because the mom requested me. I hate the counselor who buys into the kids sad sack stories. I hate the counselor who was supposed to find a geometry tutor for a student and handled the problem by leaving me a note to find a tutor.

I hate the whole concept of goal writing. I hate it so much that I won't do write them. I hate them so much that this is the second time I am mentioning them. I hate the teacher that told me I should because she didn't want me to get in trouble. I hate her timidity. I hate the jelly legs that are afraid of their own shadows. I hate her worrying about me getting in trouble. I don't care. Bring the file letter on!

And most of all, I hate commenters like the Michelle Rhee impersonator (I am sure she would say these things if she commented here). I have a guess about your real identity, but I will keep it to myself. I am so sick of their teacher bashing and their blaming teachers for all the ills of education today. I'm sick of them telling me to make this work relevant. They are the ones providing the curriculum, not me.

OK, so I am having a bad day. I just went for a walk to Carvel and the friggin' Carvel is still closed. I couldn't even get ice cream to cheer me up. Maybe tomorrow will be better but right now I am glad that I have the option of never going back. I know I will only be missed until they find a nice young teenie bopper to take my place.

Making Math Relevant

It is hard to make some of the stuff we teach relevant to real life. For most topics, it is a real stretch, but I do my best every day. Here are a few examples:

The Value Meal At McDonalds: The whole idea of a value meal is that you are getting lots of food for your dollar. It is the same with a math problem that includes quite a few different topics. I always call those kind of problems my Value Meal Problems and tell the class if it wasn't for math, McDonalds would not have this product to sell.

Matching Outfits: The whole concept of clothes matching is mathematical. We can only combine like terms and do so by matching up the variables. Where would fashion be today without math?

The song--Make New Friends But Keep the Old, One is Silver and the Other Gold: We learn new concepts all the time but use our old concepts with them. There would be no friendships and music without mathematics.

Emerils's --Kick It Up a Notch--comes from making math problems slightly more challenging each step of the way. Where would he be without his trademark and could he have even thought of it without math?

The Lion King's Circle of Life: This one is too obvious. We all know about the circle of mathematics and how everything goes back to the beginning. This great hit could not have come to pass without mathematics.

The movie--My Big Fat Greek Wedding: The father kept saying everything came from Greece. We know that is not true--he was just stealing that line because everything comes from math.

The Red Carpet: We just rolled it out tonight as I introduced imaginary numbers to my night class. Nothing can be better than celebrating a brand new number.

OK, so maybe I am stretching just a little, but there is no way I can find to make a triangle congruence proof or i to the 1001 power relevant to the real life of my students. I'm not that good. I don't know anyone that is.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jelly Legs

Message to Michelle


Let's get this out in the open:

You would prefer I spend my time in school writing goals rather than:

1. Helping my students with the material they are learning

2. Contacting parents about possible problems my students might be having in class.

3. Tracking down cutters and trying to get them back to class.

4. Writing meaningful lessons.

5. Marking exams so I can return them in a timely fashion.

6. Meeting with other teachers to find out what is going on in their classes and learn something that might help me with my own.

7. Meeting with guidance counselors.

8. Getting to know my students on a more personal level.

9. Eating lunch--maybe you think I am too fat anyways.

10. Going to the bathroom--I'll just buy a value pack of Depends.

You are making a heck of a lot more money than I am and if you choose to work 24/7, that is your business, not mine.

Don't take my lack of goal writing as a lack of commitment to my students or my job.

The business of education is not the same business as in the private sector. Never forget that. We have no control over the products we are working with. We can't control their natural abilities, their home lives, their study skills, or anything else. Writing goals will not change this.

And, let's just say I do write a goal: "Mary will come to class prepared to work every day" and Mary does this. Mary has met the goal. Unfortunately, Mary still cannot master the material. Must she be passed because she met the goal? And then there is Johnny: "Johnny will raise his grade from a 90 to a 95 by June" and Johnny cannot meet this goal. Should Johnny be penalized? Should we really have different standards for different children?

This whole idea of goals sucks. It is just another way to dump on the teacher and blame the teacher for all that ails education today.

Save Our Schools

With no major plans Saturday, I headed down to John Jay College to join the workshop run by ICE and TAGNY to save NYC schools. In fact, it was this meeting that inspired my Eve Of Destruction rant.

It was good to see so many people willing to work towards a common goal and come out and show their support on a Saturday. There were parents, teachers, both young and old, retired teachers, ATRs, rubber room teachers, teachers in fear of rubber rooms and students.

I got there just in time to here Norm speak about the need for teacher seniority and the problems of ATRs. He was eloquent as usual. I hope everyone in the system realizes how fortunate they are to have someone like Norm still out there fighting for them. I know he is an inspiration to me.

I was most impressed with two students from high schools in Brooklyn that were going to be shut down. These kids knew the problems in their schools would not be solved by shutting them down. These kids knew they were coming from an environment with warm, caring teachers and they felt shut out of the whole process. Yes, they wanted better schools but they wanted the schools created in a better way.

I was also very impressed with a young man who taught third grade. Being a high school teacher, I never realized how much impact those standardized tests have on our children. I could not believe that this guy could not teach social studies and other electives for five months due to this insane test prep and that the tests represented none of the real things his kids were learning.

Charter schools were another big topic. I've always known how selective they were but had no idea that they were operating in the same building as public schools and all the undesirable students were being sent to that public school. No wonder the test scores are so different.

The highlight of my day was meeting two of my favorite blogging buddies. Justice, is HOT, HOT, HOT! I wish I he were older and I was younger and single. I bet the generalissimo is jealous of this smart, good looking guy. I also met Moriah. What a great, caring, dedicated teacher. Her administration should be sent to Guantanamo. Let's hope things get better for her. Stop by her blog and offer her your good wishes. They will mean a lot to her. In the mean time, Moriah, e-mail me! I can't do much but be a support group for you but that I promise to be. And, I will bring at least one friend who I know is on your side.

It is not too late. All you teachers out there, stand up and be counted. What is happening to your colleagues could happen to you.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Barry McGuire: Eve of Destruction

My husband has XM radio in his car. I don't drive it much, but when I do I listen to a lot of 60's music. Maybe it is because I grew up in that era, but I love the spirit of the songs, the values of the people then. We didn't settle for the status quo. We fought.

Today, I heard Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction and I thought about the shape of our school system and decided to change the lyrics to some of my own. I hope he doesn't mind.

The Education world, it is explodin',
Ignorance flarin', politicians gloatin'.
You're old enough to college, but not for knowin',
You don't believe in studyin' -- but what's that machine you're totin'?
An' even the honor program has knowledge lackin'.
But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say,
An' can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
Blame the teacher, there is no other way,
Nothing will help, not even merit pay.
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Yeak, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here just contemplatin'.
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of billionares don't end our frustration,
An' closin' schools alone can't end the situation
When human intellect is disintegratin',
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the knowledge that is missing in our city,
Then take a look around you ain't it a pity.
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space,
But when you return it's the same ol' place,
The books unread, the unused brain a disgrace.
You can use your calculator, but don't leave a trace.
Make goals for every student, but don't don't do it in haste,
An' tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction,
No, no, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Our graduation rate is growin',
Populations not knowin'
The skills needed are lackin'
Feels like we've been slackin'
An' can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
Blame the teacher, there is no other way,
Nothing will help, not even merit pay.
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

(And the stuff I should be doing keeps piling up higher.)

Procrastinating Sunday

Does this look like the work station of someone who has an operational left side of their brain?

You can't even see the whole mess because I don't have a wide angle lens? Notice, I have to be in view of a turned on computer at all times. And, who in their right mind would stop and take a photograph of the disaster, download and edit it and then publish? I still have tons to do and with Passover around the corner, I have to hit the stores and start cleaning my house. And I finally got my bonus assignments marked and graded. Since the some of my geometry kids are so weak, I gave them a copy of the last test, told them to get help and I would count it 60 -40 with the original test to help their grades. Only about half bothered to do it, but they are also in the pile.

A Ground Breaking Woman

I'm over posting today but I just wanted to pay tribute to Janet Jagen, the U.S. born ex-President of Guyana. Ms. Jagan was not only the first white person, she was the first female and the first Jew to become president of this nation.

Ms. Jagan died yesterday at the age 88 of an abdominal aneurysm.

Sunday Comics Day

I keep telling my students this.

I'm going to give this cartoon out tomorrow. Hopefully they will start believing me.

To My College Now Class

They were having a hard time with the concept of mutually exclusive events.
Hopefully this Rhymes With Orange cartoon will help.

A New York City Bargain

This sign was on a 6 train I rode this weekend.

Personally, I believe the sign is so right and the value we are getting for our money now a days is just out of sight.

I spent the day roaming around Manhattan and decided to go home to my dad's house in the Bronx. I haven't ridden the number 6 for a long time and wanted to relive my elevator train days. Unfortunately, the memory of the trips did not equal the trip I took.

I got on the 6 only to discover that the train was only going to 138 St. I got off to wait for the next one. The next one came and had the same destination so I took it to 125th St where I figured I could either get another 6 or change for the 5 and then take a bus ride that would be slightly longer.

No other 6 came so I hopped on the 5, thrilled to be on the real train of my youth. I looked forward to gazing out the window as the train sailed through the south Bronx. I was thrilled to remember the stops in order, Prospect, Intervale, Simson and then Jackson, the stops before the numbers began. I was eager to see what was the same and what was different.

The first half of the ride was just as expected. There were a few new buildings along the way and the train stations all have pretty stain glass windows in parts. However, the train did not run all the way to my stop and we were all forced to get off at 180th St and hop on shuttle buses for the rest of the journey. The trip that should have taken me 45 minutes now took close to two hours.

So now you can see the value I have gotten for my $2.00 ride. I got to ride on three trains and two buses. I got to travel over an hour extra and all for the same fare.

With value like this, the MTA should be charging $5.00 a ride, not the measly $2.50 they are planning to charge.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

All Kids (Even Big Ones) Love Cars and Art

NYC has fantastic art exhibits, lots of them are free if you know where to find them.

Right now, until April 6, there is a BMW car art show at Grand Central Terminal. Seeing this exhibit made me wish I was an art teacher, an elementary school teacher or even the parent of young children again. I can just imagine the fun kids would have after seeing this exhibit and then going home to create similar works of art with their match box cars and paint sets. I wish math lent itself to this sort of creativity.

Part of the exhibit consists of BMW's decorated by famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and Robert Raushenberg. The exhibit not only has these great cars to see, but there is an audio and video part to explain the background. Details about how difficult these surfaces were to paint and the meanings of the designs was also explained. You can even dial up extra information on your cell phone.

This part of the exhibit was done by a guy named Robin Rhodes, from Cape Town, South Africa. Growing up he was forced to interact with chalk drawings that reflected his poverty, his shames and his desires. This is where he discovered his talent and his love of art.

In this exhibit, Rhodes has applied paint to the wheels of his BMW and has used the car as a "brush" on a blank canvas.

Git Er Done

Larry The Cable Guy is one of my favorite comedians. Even though some of his politics are way to conservative for me, I like his openness and his candor and the way he just wants to get everything done.

The emphasis on goals this year made me think of him. Goals are what is important. Achieving success is not as important as looking like we are achieving success. We were given a list of goals before parent teacher conferences and told to check off one for every child we saw. I took one look at the goals and chucked the paper. I refuse to tell a parent that the goal I have for their child is to practice every night. My goals are simple. Come to class prepared to work. Do your homework. Study. Learn to think. Pass the class.

Mr. AP asked some parents to check that their child was taking notes in class. The parent felt that it was not his responsibility. Now Mr. AP wants each teacher to check that the kids are taking notes.

Goal #1: Parents will take more responsibility for their child's learning. They don't have to be an expert in the field of mathematics to see that the child is taking notes in class and doing homework.

One of the parents I spoke to last night was upset because there was no real plan in place to give her daughter the extra help she needs to pass math. The girl is sweet, hard working and very limited in mathematics. Tutoring in the library does not fulfill this girl's needs. I agree. Last week, I was working with six kids at the same time, four of them were in different classes. It was impossible to help them with more than one or two problems apiece. The librarian wanted to bring over three more kids and got upset when I told her absolutely NO!!!!!!

Goal #2 to our administration: Provide real help to struggling students, not help that looks good on paper.

Another parent was grateful that her daughter was finally going back to her classes instead of wandering the halls. Unfortunately, there are still too many kids (one is too many as far as I am concerned) wandering around.

Goal #3 to our administration: Come up with a real plan to get the kids back in classes. Offer them support to get them to keep going to class.

I got a new student in my geometry class this week. I went to her former teacher to try to find out why the change was made this late in the term. I discovered that the girl was not doing well in her honors class. I asked why she was put in a remedial class instead of a regular class. The teacher did not know, but felt it was the wrong class. I went to guidance to get it changed. The counselor was adamant about it not being her decision and I had to go over her head to help get the girl in the correct class.

Goal #4 to the guidance counselors: If someone asks you to do something that you know is wrong, don't do it. You have a great supervisor, go to her and get her to help you make the right decision. I know most of you are barely out of diapers, but you are in the grown up world now. Learn to stand up. Learn to think. Stop taking orders blindly.

Goal #5: If you recommend a change, follow through to make sure the change was done correctly. Don't be afraid of consequences. You have tenure. Nothing is going to happen to you because you made an inquiry.

The teacher above was afraid she would be yelled at because of this change and was afraid to do anything herself, yet she was happy the girl was gong to be put in the correct class immediately.

And, while I am on guidance counselors

Goal #6: When a parent calls you and wants you to arrange individual tutoring with a certain teacher for their child, say NO!!!!! Do not put the onus on the teacher. You know that teachers are not operating as private tutors in the building.

And finally,

Goal #7: Stop wasting paper and time on goals. Get ER Done!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rebel With A Cause

It's school survey time again. The parent coordinator was distributing them as I left yesterday. She stressed how important it is that we all fill them out. She assured me of my anonymity.

I don't care about being anonymous. When I have something to say, I say it loud and clear and never worry about who knows what I said.

I told her I haven't decided if I am going to fill out the survey or not. I am against the whole idea of school ratings and report cards. The rebel in me wants to do away with these useless pieces of paper. I know I can't change the system alone, but I have to start. Filling out the form is the equivalent of selling out, something I don't know if I want to do.

(NOTE TO HULA: Don't worry, I already mailed my form and since I was too lazy to read it, I filled it out as suggested. A short faculty meeting and a good lunch goes a long way towards making me cooperative.)

The Educational Scientist Solves A Problem

Rosie's mom came to see me. She thanked me 100 times for getting Rosie back in class.

It wasn't me. I don't have the power to do all that much. It was the suggestion and the work of educational scientist that did it.

Without his input, she would still be walking the halls.

It took me over thirty years to learn that a principal can serve a real purpose in a school if that principal chooses to do so.

Suit's greatest accomplishment was trash cans in the hallways.

Too bad he never had an educational scientist to go for advice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parent Teacher Evening

Waiting in the doorway for parents.

Asking, do you want me?

Looking forlorn as they go see someone else.

Now I know how the women who work the red light district must feel.

Respectful and Moral

(Note I found on board when I walked into class. It made my night)

My college algebra class meets for two and a quarter hours twice a week, from 6:00 to 8:15. Everyone is exhausted by 7:45 but I push on. They tell me other teachers give them a break in the middle, other teachers let them leave early. They tell me I am cruel.

I tell them I am respectful of them. They are paying good money to take the course and they are entitled to get their moneys worth. I respect their intelligence and their ability to learn and I respect them too much to cheat them out of their valuable education time. I tell them that I am a moral person and it would be immoral of me to take a paycheck that I did not earn.

I know that many of them worked all day. I tell them that I worked all day as well. I taught six high school classes, tutored a period in the library and a period on the floor outside the teachers' cafe. I'm old while they are young. They should have more energy than I have, but I am still raring to go.

I think they are starting to believe me. They worked until 8:15 tonight and I even had one stay for my office hour after class. I'm beat but I feel good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweeter Than Candy

One of my students had her head down (a big no-no in my school) when Hula stopped by to pay us a visit.

As soon as he left, she came and asked me for a nurse pass. I asked if she was feeling okay. (I had already asked her to pick her head up before he walked in the room.)

"Ms", she said. "I have a headache but I really don't need to go to the nurse. I just don't want you to get in trouble because my head was down."

She really did not want to miss the class. I told her not to worry about me. I told her I'm too old to worry about things like getting in trouble because her head was down.

And, that has to be one of the sweetest things I have heard in a long time.

Math Is Better

Most people don't understand why I take the pictures I do. I don't understand them either, I just like them. Slum Dog Millionaire almost did not make it to the big screen. Warner Brothers gave the film away because they did not think it would be a big success.

That is the problem with movies, and books, and art. Liking or not liking them is so subjective. The thing one person considers great will be the worst thing another person has ever seen. I know. I've walked out of Broadway shows that won all the Tonys. Too many people dislike my photos.

Math, on the other hand is concrete. There is none of this fuzziness. There is no grayness. While approaches to a problem might be different, the final answers are all them same. There is no judgement involved.

Math was far from my best subject in school. I had to work my tail off to get by, whereas I could easily ace an English or history class without even attending. But, when an English teacher dared to put a red mark on my paper, I saw red. Who was he to challenge my comma? Who was she to tell me my interpretation of a story was wrong? Math was never like that for me. I knew I earned the red marks. I respected them. I worked harder to make sure I got as few of them as possible. My work was not open to interpretation.

There is a beauty to math that other areas do not have. The concreteness itself is the thing that makes it so special.

In my geometry class, we are working on all the circle angle theorems. Even the kids are starting to get excited (actually they are just laughing at me) as I show them the beauty of every straight line coming back to 180 degrees and agreeing with every circle coming back to 360. We can do the problems different ways, but the results are the same. The wonderfulness is not open to interpretation. The wonderfulness is there for all to see.

Math is the best.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Hope He Means This

I know I drive my geometry kids (and all the other ones as well) crazy. I mail letters home, I mail exams home. I call their parents if they are doing something wrong, even when they are no longer in my classes. I stop them in the halls when they are trying to make time with a member of the opposite sex and bother them about their grades and getting extra help. I am the original nudge. What I lack in teaching, I make up for in perseverance.

I just got this e-mail from the boy who loves ice cream and JROTC. In fact, he was the one who got me to the competition. I really hope he means what he wrote. He started out doing poorly, got better and has now sunk to all time lows. I've called his house, his JROTC teachers, his battalion commanders. I'm at my wits end. At least this letter gives me hope.

Hey ms.pod... look I been having a bad week and was upset about my personal issues in my life... these two days I been out sick. I’ll come back tomorrow (wed) I hope you can give me a chance to redeem myself starting tomorrow.

If you want can you give me the topic we have been learning this past week and I will go over it myself and learn the material myself. Sorry I have been behaving the way I have

I have to believe tomorrow will be better.

You Don't Work Here Anymore, Dirt Bag

I thought I was finished with my Suit posts.

I never used to open school e-mail. Since I had no computer available at work, I had no obligation to check it at home. We now have computers available for use in the teachers' cafeteria and since I was one of the major complainers before, I feel an obligation to check this e-mail every day.

Imagine my surprise when I opened it up today and found this message from ex-principal Suit.

Why no lead time for PT conferences? At least one day?

Ex-Principal Suit,
Educational Dirt Bag, Integrated Trash Police and Upholder of Proper School Attire

Principal Emeritus, Packemin High School

Our UFT exec board went to the administration last week and asked that the due date for grades be changed from Monday to Tuesday so that teachers would not have to work on the weekend. The administration agreed. Suit disagreed and shared his disagreement with the entire staff.

I assumed he was being nasty to our administration and although I have never been an administration fan, I hate it when people are mean and nasty for no reason and I got angry and sent him the following e-mail:

Maybe our new principal was just trying to be nice to teachers--a novel idea!

Not that he needs my support, but my temper always gets the best of me.

Then, a colleague pointed out that Suit was probably directing his evil, nasty comments to the staff. In the past, anytime teachers asked for anything, they were wrong. Every time we asked for something guaranteed by our contract, he assumed we were hurting our students. This never occurred to me because I really never considered us powerful enough to have the administration change anything on our behalf.

So Suit was being nasty to our administration, or nasty to the teachers, or probably nasty to both.

He doesn't work here anymore. He should keep his opinions to himself and at the very least share them privately with other administrators involved.

I'm sure my e-mail and this post (if he knows about it) have not moved me up on his list of favorite people. I guess I will just have to live with that.

International Festival

Our school had its International Festival this weekend. I only got to see half as I was celebrating a friend's birthday. However we finished eating early, sang a quick happy birthday and then I ditched them to go back to school.

Here is a picture of Rosie and her friend. Rosie was so happy to see me there. I hope she keeps her promise to start going to all her classes from now on. I e-mailed Rosie's mom to tell her Rosie missed class on Friday (she knew) and included the picture (with the heads.) She was thrilled. Here is a picture of me an my belly dancers. The girls are Muslims and Jews--a great mix. These are the kids that can solve all the problems in the mid east if they get a chance. The girl with the long sleeves next to me is the one whose tongue I want to rip out.

For more, click here

Monday, March 23, 2009

Progress Reports

Thirty eight progress reports, many including a photo copy of the last exam are ready to go out in tomorrow's mail.

Mr. AP sent me the form online so it was easier than writing names in.

Of course our school has one big alpha pile of labels and it was so hard to find my students that I just hand wrote each letter.
And now, off to the college for my evening class!

I hope it is worth the effort. Maybe now I will be able to get some of these "bubble heads" to start working.

Seventh Son

Everybody talkin' 'bout the seventh son
In the whole wide world there is only one
And I'm the one, I'm the one
I'm the one, I'm the one
The one they call the seventh son
I can tell your future, it will come to pass
I can do things to you make your heart feel glad
Look in the sky, predict the rain
Tell when a woman's got another man
I'm the one, oh I'm the one
I'm the one, I'm the one
The one they call the seventh son
I can talk these words that will sound so sweet
They will even make your little heart skip a beat
Heal the sick, raise the dead
Make the little girls talk outta their heads
I'm the one, oh I'm the one
I'm the one, I'm the one
The one they call the seventh son
I can talk these words that will sound so sweet
They will even make your little heart skip a beat
Heal the sick, raise the dead
And make the little girls talk outta their heads
I'm the one, oh I'm the one
I'm the one, I'm the one
The one they call the seventh son

I was just thinking about that old song. Maybe teachers really are the Seventh Son. Maybe we do have the power to get everyone to work just that much harder so they can get at least a 65. Mr. AP wrote:

It is best if you can find a way for him/her to work harder and get better grade.

Heck, if I am that powerful, I am going to use my powers to make sure every blind person works hard enough to see . I will use this power to force the cripples to throw away their wheel chairs and walkers. Maybe Mr. AP is right, I can find a way to get them all to work a little harder so they can all pass with at least a 65.

Or maybe I should just put my powers to better use and leave the education problems to the educational scientists.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Day

I was so happy to see these flowers in bloom.

A beautiful day like Saturday called for a walk.

We all went for pizza and then, instead of getting in the car, I decided to give my new sneakers a chance to break in. Being that the pizza store we went to is a little over two miles from home, I figured that even if the sneakers weren't totally comfortable, I would still be fine. And, of course I had to take pictures along the way.

The walk itself, along Hillside Ave, was kind of boring. But, when life gives you lemons, you've got to make lemonade so I decided to follow California Teacher Guy's lead and take some shadow pictures. Mine aren't as good as his, but I'll keep trying.

Not a shadow, but one of my favorite places in the whole world. One of the reasons I bought my house was its proximity to a Carvel. I cried when it closed and rejoiced when this new one opened many years later. Unfortunately, it was closed today.

And now for the shadows

IBM Smarter Math

I'm not much of a television watcher so I just saw this commercial for the first time. I had to share it, not only here, but with all my students.

This can just confirm their feelings that I have no life!


At dinner last night a friend asked me if I was planning on retiring this year. My husband jumped in and said "No. She can't sit still. Besides, there is a new principal in her school and he doesn't hate her yet."

To this my friend commented
"He must be deaf, dumb, blind and mentally incompetent."

I always tell the kids in school to be careful who they hang out with. While it might not be fair, we are often judged by the company we keep. They could learn a lot from the comment above.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Reason Why I Can't Retire

My phone rings during lunch.

Me: Hi, what's up?

Husband: Where is it?

Me: Where is what?

Husband: It, you moved it.

Me: What did I move?

Husband: It, why did you touch it?

Me: Tell me what it is and I might be able to tell you where I put it.

Husband: (getting irritated) IT!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: I still don't know what it is?

Husband: Yes, you do, it was there yesterday.

Me: Look by the chess set, it might be there. If not I'll find it when I get home. I can't look for it now.

(I hang up before he can say another word)

Check Out This One On A Teacher's Perspective Of Merit Pay


Then follow the link he has to another post on the topic.

Another Post On Why Merit Pay Is Bad

Mrs. H. speaks

We Don't Have Super Powers And Merit Pay Won't Give Us That Power Either

I'm no Anne Bancroft and neither are any of the teachers I know. We don't have super powers. We can't make learning disabled students smart. We can't engage the sleeping student the who has been awake all night listening to his parents fight. We can't force them to come to school when they would rather go to the mall and we can't get them into class when they prefer roaming the halls. We can't make them open a book and we can't make them study.

We can and do do our best to reach every student every day but sometimes our best does not work.

Mr AP says:

If you have students who are getting below 40’s on exams, please take some time to find out the reason. It is best if you can find a way for him/her to work harder and get better grade. If it is in the best interest of the student to be in another class, please take the time to get in touch with the Guidance Counselor. Maybe there is another class in which the student will function better. I don’t believe in leaving a student in a class knowing he/she has no chance to pass. It is late in the term, but it is never too late to do something to help a failing student.

It is time we try to take care of the students who are struggling. Please find a way to teach what they need to get at least a 65. If they do not come to class, you should speak to the Guidance Counselor right away. If they come, please work with them.
The guidance counselors don't know what to do with these kids. For most of them no other class exists. Every ninth grader must pass algebra, we can't get around that. And, many are already in the lowest level so there is no where for them to go. Sometimes working harder is not the answer. I know that if I work really hard, day and night, seven days a week, I will still not be able to do anything about curing cancer or ending the war in Iraq or getting jobs for all the ATRs. As far as never being too late, well, for some it is too late, especially for a math class where all the new work depends upon previous knowledge.

The above memo was from a very nicely written memo. No teacher was threatened, berated or humiliated. Unfortunately, the message here is the same as it has been in every other memo.


Grades are due Tuesday. I am in the middle of marking a geometry test I gave on Thursday. The grades are pathetic. I want to cry. I don't even feel like going back to those classes ever again. I can't come up with a way to get some of these kids to get double digit grades, let alone a 65. My first marking period geometry results are not going to be pretty. Mr. AP will not be happy.

I don't have super powers. I can't go to their homes and make them do homework. I do my best to get them to work in class, but for many that isn't enough. I can't control the cutting even though I call homes, speak to guidance and roam the halls myself looking for my students. (I only do this because I am hyper and can't sit still. I also prefer the kids in the building to most of the adults.)

I'm not Super Teacher. I'm just a mortal doing the best I can. Obama might think merit pay will make me stronger, but I disagree. All the money in the world won't give me the power I need to succeed with them all.

Stupid Teacher Needs A Psychiatrist

Twerp Boy was failing geometry, failing it with grades in the teens. Twerp Boy has to pass his classes as he wants to remain on the baseball team.

Stupid Teacher (me) opens her big mouth and asks Twerp Boy's teacher when the class meets. Stupid Teacher then says "My class meets the same period It is the repeater class. We go much slower. There is room so let's transfer him." The teacher says, "I tried. I was told no." Stupid Teacher says, "Give me his name. I'll get it done. For some reason, the guidance staff always listens to me."

Stupid Teacher goes to the guidance counselor who starts twitching the minute she walks into the office and when Stupid Teacher makes the request, the guidance counselor is more than happy to oblige. Stupid Teacher then tracks down Twerp Boy, who she has never met, and gives him the proposition. She stresses that it will not be a free ride, it will just be a softer one. Twerp Boy jumps at the opportunity.

Twerp Boy is now in Stupid Teacher's class. He is sitting in the back and doing nothing. Stupid Teacher tries to get him engaged. Twerp Boy says "Why are you bothering me? I'm not doing anything." Stupid Teacher answers "My point exactly."

Stupid Teacher and Twerp Boy go at it for a few days. They argue in class and in the halls. (Twerp Boy is always in the halls.) Then, Twerp Boy misses an exam. He claims to have been sick and promises to bring a note on Monday. Stupid Teacher just replies, "Don't bother. I'm just going to call your parents and they can vouch for you."

Twerp Boy is visibly upset. He gets to class nice and early and sits near the front. Stupid Teacher says, "I just got a phone call from your dad with the work number and a message to call anytime." Twerp Boy is not happy and starts to work harder than Stupid Teacher has seen him working . Then, he tells Stupid Teacher he needs to use the bathroom. She tries to stall him but then realizes she better let him go, it might be real. He disappears for 15 minutes and returns with some lame brain excuse about being detained by a dean. Stupid Teacher is not happy. She promises to get to dad before going home. Twerp Boy tries to give Stupid Teacher a phony phone number. Stupid Teacher is stupid, but not that stupid. Twerp Boy sends his friend to plead his case. Stupid Teacher does not buy into it.

Well, it took 5 tries and 20 minutes, but Stupid Teacher gets through to Twerp Boy's dad. Dad is thrilled she called. He promises to take care of Twerp Boy and make sure he does what he is supposed to do. Stupid Teacher goes home feeling like she accomplished something.

Stupid Teacher should learn to mind her own business. Twerp Boy was someone elses problem. Why did she have to get involved to make the problem hers? Doesn't she deal with enough dysfunctional kids? Stupid Teacher needs to get her head examined.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Might Grow Up, One Day

One of these days, I will learn to eat like an adult.
Pictured above is today's lunch.

My Next Career

One of my students told me to get a job here when I retire. He thinks it would be great for national defense.

He said I could have done more damage to Noriega in half the time than this group did.

I never thought of myself as this bad in the classroom. I hope he was kidding.