Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My First Photos

Okay, so I took 246 photos in less than 30 minutes and most did not come out great. I did get a few good ones.

The ever photogenic Larry

Camera shy Rita

Neighborhood flower

If you look at these in a slide show, you can see the flag moving.

Not bad considering this car was going 30 mph.

Spinning fan.


Free Orkut and My Space Sorry Graphics Glitters
Orkut Myspace Sorry Comments &

Schoolgal reprimanded me for being so hard on this guy. She reminded me of his predecessor who was featured on the front page of the Post, smiling as he talked to a reporter about overcrowding. His predecessor saw nothing wrong with kids eating lunch at 9:00 AM, taking gym outside in frigid weather or the school giving dance lessons in the hallways with music so loud no one could hear themselves think. At least this guy recognizes a problem exists and wants to do something about it.

Apologies! And, thanks Schoolgal for the reminder!

It's Here

And it was only ordered yesterday! I love it! I already took over 100 pictures.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Reflections on the June 26, 2009

The Good
1. Two teachers were assigned to every room which made giving out report cards and taking attendance easy.

2. We did not have to keep them in the room for 40 minutes.

The Bad
1. No food on the last day.
2. No formal goodbyes to all the retirees, some who gave a major part of their lives to helping students.
3. The machine that sells water was empty.
4. No one fed us for the first time ever.

The Ugly
1. Listening to APs drone on about improved regents scores when we all know how meaningless these scores really are.
2. The UFT meeting.
3. Being one of the only schools forced to stay until the end of the day.
4. Not a morsel to eat or drink.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Old broken lawn mower--going out in the trash

Same for this broken old hose.

My family is officially ready for me to go back to work. One day off and already I have a list of jobs to get done. They are rebelling. They seem to enjoy doing relaxation. Today we tackled the garage. It still doesn't look great, but at least you can walk in there now. I wish I had taken a before picture to show how improved it is.

They'll Be Better With This

My new toy.

It should be here by the end of the week.

4100 Into 2100 Does Not Go

This guy speaking in this article is obviously not a math person. Four hundred less will not do the trick.

When you bargain, you always have to start asking for the impossible and hope you can negotiate down to something agreeable to both parties. I know you have to start somewhere, but a bigger number would have been better.

Be Prepared, Not

Kids came into the regents exam with their I-pods and cell phones but forgot to bring pens, pencils, calculators and ID cards. Why? Is it because they were not emotionally, mentally or educationally ready to take these courses and sit for these exams?

One girl, during the Global Regents said, "Can you read me the instructions? I am too lazy to read them myself." I thought, maybe she cannot read. but, if she can't read, how could she possibly take this exam? She got to the essays and stopped. "I'm too tired to do all this writing. I think I did well enough on the short answers to pass." I pushed and pushed her and got her to write. I don't know if she finished or wrote anything coherent, but she wrote. Her attitude alone told me that something was seriously wrong with our education system. I have never, in over 30 years teaching, had a kid tell me they were too tired to finish an exam that meant passing or failing a year long course and was crucial to graduation.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Summer Begins

I'm embarrassed to write that in all the years I have lived in Queens, today was only my second visit to Long Island City and my first time at Socrates Sculpture Park.

All I can say about this place is WOW!!! The view of Manhattan is phenomenal and the pieces of art along the way are great. My favorite part of the art was that there were no guards around warning you not to touch. Children ran freely through the sculptures, clearly having a wonderful time.

Kids playing on a tugboat

This sign must mean something.

This vise was in an artist work area as were the next few pictures.

Arm wrestling.

We hit the park today because of an article about a Craft Makers Fair. There were three tents set up with the work of various artisans around the city. I wish I could afford to buy what they sold because there stuff was so great. At least I had a chance to view it and take a few picture.

This stool is made of recycled egg cartons.

After viewing the sculptures and the crafts we walked along the waters edge. I LOVE NY.

Park and playground area.

East River views
Fishing for striped bass. I'm told they are safe to eat but, I don't think I would try.
You really don't have to spend a lot of money (or any money) to have a good time in this city. You just have to know where to look.


Finally, we have had two days of sunshine and the sunset yesterday was magnificent.

Port Washington, NY


Zale is one tough little girl. I met her when she was in tenth grade and she scared the crap out of me in the beginning. Then I got to know her, to understand her, to see where she was coming from and where she intended to go. And my fear turned to respect and to love.

You see, Zale entered Packemin HS with deficits in English and in math. Before she even started ninth grade, she attended summer school for English. She did not want to be in that awful ramp up program for underachievers and she did not want to have to take double period English. She successfully completed the program and avoided the class. Zale did end up in a double period math class. Luckily she had a great teacher who was a strong disciplinarian with a soft spot for kids like her. This teacher was able to get Zale through her first two terms of math A successfully.

Zale went from a double period math class to a single period class. She did not have the extra class time she needed and the work was much harder. Zale was determined. The attitude I saw was just her determination to succeed and succeed she did. She successfully completed that year with me and did very well on the regents.

With eleventh grade came Math B, a much, much harder class. Zale ended up with a teacher that was good, but whose heart was not as soft. Although she passed, she did not do as well and she was not happy. Zale was determined to do better. She set her mind on getting transferred into my class and managed to succeed. She did not even mind staying an extra period because that was when the class met. During that semester, I learned that she had failed the Global regents in tenth grade and had to retake it. I heard her repeatedly say "I am not a Black statistic. I am going to pass that test." And, pass it she did.

Twelfth grade brought her to her last math regents. I couldn't do much for her as I wasn't teaching the course and wasn't free when she was. Unfortunately she did not make it in January. But Zale, determined as ever, studied on her own, came in for some tutoring and passed the exam this June. (She also passed college now math.) On Friday, when Zale picks up her diploma, it will have that gold seal on it, the seal that says it is an Advanced Regents Diploma.

High School was not easy for this girl. According to all statistics, the probability of her not making it was high. The deck was stacked against her achieving all she did. This determined little girl beat the odds. I know she will go on to be a huge success. I am glad that I was around to be a part of it. I know if I wasn't there she would have found someone else to help her through.

Congrats Zale! Knowing you has enriched my life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Math Teacher Gets Married

The Prize Fighter

I'm a fighter. Knock me down and I'll get up and keep on fighting. Punch me, I'll punch you back. Maybe I am too stupid to quit or maybe I am just stubborn, but I never give up. I might be injured badly. I might be bleeding, but I won't stop. You might be hurting me but I'll keep giving it to you back and you will not see my pain.

The Suit Free school year has come to an end and for once I am ending the year without any broken limbs and blood stained clothes. I know there were years I was the victor in our battles, but I was injured nevertheless. Right now, I keep looking for some wound I missed and I can't find it. I can't believe that I don't hurt anywhere and it feels so good. But, I am not secure. I don't trust. My antennae is always up and I am ready and willing to get back in the ring whenever necessary.

Horse S**t

An article in Newsday today explained Merryl Tisch's reasoning for moving standardized testing from the winter to May--TEACHER ACCOUNTABILITY--MORE TIME FOR TEST PREPARATION!

When the tests are given in the winter it is hard to know which teacher screwed up when the kid did not improve. This is important because everyone knows the teacher is the only factor in education.

What a crock of DOO DOO! This is just another way to play the blame game.

And more test prep time. What the school's really need is MORE LEARNING TIME!

Mr No Longer aka CL Emeritus

I should have written this post way before the last one. I can't believe I missed him. He is a worthy subject for my bitchiness.

Mr. No Longer has been our chapter leader for as long as I am at Packemin HS (1985) and for many years even before that. He is a huge over powering man who gives the appearance of knowing what is going on. In actuality, he only knows what is going on in every restaurant in NYC.

I met Mr. No Longer on my the first day at Packemin HS. He told me to see him about any problems. Now, the school I came from had a great CL who really knew answers and how to get things done so I assumed all CL's were the same (I was an excellent example of a stupid teacher back then) and went to him with a problem. His advice was awful. In fact, he went behind my back to Principal Fire and started the ball rolling to begin my reputation as a trouble maker.

After that episode, I avoided Mr. No Longer for three years. I only went to him then because I wanted to transfer to the math department (my license and my appointment was to that department from the special education department.) Mr. No Longer told me to wait and see what happened in September. By then it would have been too late. Once again, Mr. No Longer gave really bad advice. (I got lucky, the new spec ed chairman did not want me any more than the math chairman did but the math chairman got stuck with me because of my license.)

Over the years, Mr. No Longer was forced to run for CL again. Some years he ran unopposed. On the years when others went against him, he campaigned vigorously, became super useful and helpful and convinced enough of the stupids to vote for him. I'm proud to say I was never one of those stupids.

I was on the exec board with Mr. No Longer for years. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. His issues were the only ones we ever discussed. I happily gave up my position as soon as someone else wanted it. I've never been known as a shrinking violet but even I could not get a word in with him around.

Well, Mr. No Longer is retiring. But, he still has to have his finger in the pot. Maybe he is related to Suit? He might even call himself CL Emeritus. He tried (unsuccessfully) to replace himself with a clone. He declared the delegate election which he ran illegal because of a technicality and ran a new election. He must really be pissed because he could not put the people in he wanted. Now he is trying a new tactic. He is trying to turn Mr. Tie into Mr. No Longer. This won't work. Mr. Tie is a man of intelligence and integrity whose interests include things that are not related to his appetite. Things are going to change for the better.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bring On The Beer

Anyone interested, send me your e-mail and we can set up a date!

All of us bloggers have got to go out and get drunk together!

Let's plan a drinking fest in the NYC area.

He's Going Out With (out) Any Class

We had our last union meeting of the year today. Actually, it was our only union meeting of the year. Its purpose was to vote on some C-6 assignments and some comp time jobs.

The meeting was held in our school auditorium and we all learned how that poor lobster must feel as he is dunked into a pot of boiling water. But, wanting to do the right thing, we all stayed.

Mr. No Longer CL ran the meeting but he had Mr. Tie (our new CL) assist him. I felt so bad for Mr. Tie. Mr. No Longer rambled on and on and totally confused all the issues. He called for a vote but some people rightly wanted discussion. The acoustics in our auditorium are awful and trying to make sense out of anything said is nearly impossible. We did hear Mr. No Longer say that we could accept the entire slate as written, reject the entire slate as written or accept or reject individual parts. An overwhelming majority voted to accept entirely. But, this was not good enough for him. He then proceeded to read each job separately and call for individual votes. Little by little people left. I tried to hold on but after a while I too just gave up. I think there were about 10 people left at the end of the meeting. We were also supposed to vote for two teachers for the leadership committee. I don't even know if this came to be.

Our last day is the day all our retiring members and members with upcoming weddings or births get gifts. By the time Mr. No Longer got around to this, most people were no longer there.

I watched Mr. Tie while this was going on. He looked annoyed and frustrated by the fact he could do nothing to stop this fiasco. I would think Mr. No Longer did this on purpose to complicate Mr. Tie's life in September, but I doubt it. This is the way he runs everything.

Mr. Tie will have his work cut out for him in September. He will have to clean up the mess Mr. No Longer left for him today.

For Helping Her Get The Advanced Regents Diploma

And you wonder why I won't retire? (From one of the girls who came for Math B help. she got her advanced regents diploma.)