Monday, January 31, 2011

Newsday Letter To Editor

Newsday again.  Link here.

One Word Explained

Actually, most of the day was not as bad as I expected.   (Notice, I didn't say it was good although I did learn a something about the online program we have been using and we were introduced to a pretty cool site where, if I had the time, I would create a class web page.)  But the last session, the one on PSAT training....

I'm not going to say the presenter wasn't interesting, because she was and she did know her stuff.  But sitting through an hour presentation on something totally irrelevant to what I teach was deadly.  It would be nice if I  had a week or so to prepare my students for the SAT, but I don't have that time luxury.  We are constantly told to make our lessons relevant to the real world.  This one part of staff development is completely irrelevant to mine.

We spent the day going from workshop to workshop.  No more than one hour was spent in each session.  I would have preferred spending time developing my expertise in one of these areas.  In the business world, days are devoted to training on new software projects.  It is only this way that the people who use them become proficient.  I was told that most people have a short attention span and the best use of the time is exposure with an option to explore more at a later time.  I am sure this is not what was meant, but I took it as being told to spend my after school time learning this.  What would most people prefer?  If most disagree, I will happily eat humble pie.

One Word


Thank goodness for technology (my iTouch.)  If the window wasn't so high I would have jumped.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow Art

One of my neighbors made an octopus snow sculpture. The pictures don't do it justice, but I put them on facebook anyway.

Hit The Road Jack

I heard prograndist Bloomberg on the news tonight moaning about teacher layoffs, how everyone with less than five years in will be gone.  He was worried about the message this sends children.  We tell them to work hard and they will accomplish it all and then we fire the "best."

Well, I have questions  for our education mayor.  What kind of message are we sending our children when we work hard, devote our lives to something,  hit the top of the pay scale and are told we are no longer any good?  Why make us get  masters degrees and then hire a person like Black, with no education experience and no higher degree to be our boss?  Why don't you just be honest and tell these kids that it doesn't matter if they work hard or any good at what they do and that once they become too expensive they will be told to hit the road.  Tell them that in the real world all that matters is money.

My Money, My Decision

I lost one of my diamond studs and have been beating myself up over this loss for two weeks.  I thought about replacing it but being cheap, I also thought about buying a pair of fakes.  My husband insisted I should at least price a real one and after much hesitation I agreed.

We stopped at a jeweler I have known for years and while the price was high, it was not as high as I expected it to be.  I still hemmed and hawed.  The jeweler looked at my husband and said, "You are the one I should be discussing price with."  And then I lost it.  "My earring, my money, or rather our money.  Why should he be the one to decide!"  It might be the 21st century but men (thankfully, not mine) have this weird idea that a purchase like this one must come from one of them.  I was tempted to walk away but I really wanted the earring and the price was good, so I said yes.  But, I made sure the man behind the counter knew it was my decision, my decision alone.

I always paid my own way.  I raised my daughter to pay her own way and I even try to impress my female students (and male ones too) of the importance of paying paying for what they want themselves.  No one can be free without financial independence.

Afraid Of Their Own Shadows

Micromanaging is the thing some supervisors insist upon doing.  These supervisors  cannot let their employees go to the bathroom without explicit permission.  When you have a supervisor like this, you have to learn to work around them, to find ways to do what you  know is right and circumvent their ever spying eyes.

After reading what I wrote, I decided to put the rest of this post here.  Apologies to those without access.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Enforcer Needed

Binky is in the lowest one-third of the school.  She has trouble reading and her IEP says she is entitled to a reader for exams.  She takes all her exams in resource room so this should not be problem.  Binky's resource teacher claims Binky doesn't want to use this exam modification so no one reads to her.

Binky is a very agreeable young woman.  If the exams were automatically read to her, she would not object.  I know she would do better.  I don't understand why this doesn't happen.  What is the point of test modifications if they aren't enforced?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Walls

I don't know if I ever saw snow this high!  A few more pics on facebook.

I Want To Barf

I just looked at PD schedule for Monday:

One hour of learning to use a program I've learned to use so well I can do it in my sleep.

One hour of technology.

One hour of regents analysis. (This will provide good blog material.)

One hour of PSAT training.

If not for the UFT luncheon, I feel I would be struck with a deadly virus on Monday and need the day off.

Just Stating A Fact

Appeased or being used?

I'm not complaining.  It is my decision.

Be Specific

Ms. Sweetie wanted to give Jimmy a zero on the exam because he was talking and she told the class she would give zeroes to anyone who talked.  Being new, Ms. Sweetie decided to ask her AP for approval.

AP:  Did you tell Jimmy you would give him a zero if he talked?

Ms. Sweetie:  I told the whole class.

AP: But, did you specifically tell Jimmy?  Did you use his name?

Ms. Sweetie:  No, I told the entire class several times.

AP:  That is not good enough.  Jimmy's mother will claim he did not hear you.  You cannot give him the zero.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Too lazy to go out for dinner.  Here is my beautiful and delicious potato fritatta.  Cooking takes too long and then the product is gone too quickly.  Pictures remind my husband that I do cook, sometimes.

Snow Day

Snow day--time to take my camera for a walk.

This Porridge is Just Right

I just entered grades.

If I passed too many, my exams were too easy.

If I passed too few, my exams were too hard or I did not do a very good job of teaching and must rethink what I do.

Am I like Goldilocks and did I finally find the number that fit just right?

Where The Money Is Going

Principal's win bonuses for perfomance but, these scores might not be on the up and up.  These two are being withheld, at least for the minute.  How many others are just as corrupt?
Department of Education officials said bonuses were being withheld for principals under investigation for wrongdoing at two schools, Theatre Arts Production Company HS in The Bronx and PS 184 Shuang Wen elementary school in lower Manhattan
Read the rest of the story in the NY Post

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worrying Gene

Once a mom, always a mom.  Your child can be 5 months or 50 years and he or she will still be a mom.

My daughter did not answer her phone tonight and I know the weather in her city is awful.  I called and called and finally got her boyfriend who answered with "Don't worry, she is with me."

I can sleep tonight.

Worried Chihuahua

I don't like it when you guys talk.

Will We Or Won't We?

Ice is pouring from the skies.  Will New York City school children and teachers be expected to risk life and limb in pursuit of an education tomorrow only to spend the entire day watching movies in an auditorium?  Possible fatalities will help reduce class size.

I Really Love Ice Cream Too, But...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Modern School: Black Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to White School—...

Modern School: Black Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to White School—...: "Kelly Williams-Bolar of Ohio was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on three year’s probation for sending her kids to a school distr..."

Not An Option

Due to health issues, the math teacher most of my algebra students had last year left before the semester was over.  A full time replacement was never hired and the kids lost out big time. 

While many of these kids are not exactly stellar students, they know they were cheated out of their education last year and harbor resentment towards the teacher they feel deserted them.  Even the boy who takes credit for causing her to leave resents her and blames her for the loss of his education last year.  (Her leaving had to do with the way administration handled the problem and had nothing to do with the boy.)

I sometimes think about leaving too.  I know all I have to do is fill out some paper work at TRS and I can be gone in a heartbeat but then I think about these kids.  Being deserted by two teachers two years in a row will not have a positive effect on their education and, more importantly, their self-esteem and their future values. I can’t leave when they have a regents to pass in June.  

I just got an e-mail from one, asking about the midwinter review I posted online so they can have some practice this week and I have a bunch coming in on Friday for extra practice.  I won't let these kids down, no matter how crazy they drive me or how upset anything else gets me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Instilling Fear

Jose did not show up for the second half of the midterm today so while the kids were working I called his mom.  When she answered "hola" I said "se habla ingles?" and she said "un poquito."  I then used my high school Spanish to tell her Jose was not in class and was missing the exam.  I don't know if the call will make a difference with him, but I knew it shook up the rest of the class when I heard "Now I am afraid."  "This is nothing", I said. "Wait until you hear my Chinese and Korean."

Not Too Racist

If I could find a Black or Hispanic Male who knows this, I would hire him.

He Started


I love my instant starter on a day like today. Car will be all toasty by the time I go outside.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stop School Closing

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27 4:30 - 6:30

Teachbad's Principal Training Summit

Thanks to Mr. Teachbad

Principal Bully

It seems incompetent, mean spirited, evil principals aren't limited to life in NYC. They are in schools all over the place.  I am about to relay a story from a blogging buddy from a state far away.  We often post for each other.  It is the best way to share our stories and keep our anonymity

Mary (a colleague) came  to my room basically to relay a threat from Principal Bully because she CARES. She said they were going to put me on a personal development plan. She said Bully will not fire me.  So far he has said nothing to the department chair.

Friday Principal Bully called me to ridicule me some more for no other reason than  he can.  He was trying to make me cry or leave but neither will work. I started taking some courses for additional certification and I will not leave until I am ready to do so.

I do not value anything about Bully and he cannot scare me right now.  I have math, science and special ed on my certificate.  He can't fire me.

Princess was called tor his office last month.  I don't know what happened but she left the school during the day, has not been back and has no plan as to when she will be back.  She is on leave (no one has been told why).  The department chair has talked to her briefly  She left no lesson plans and has no intention of sending any in.

The department chair and I spent an hour and a half Friday after school looking for worksheets in Princess' room.  She has the MOST RETARDED GRADING SYSTEM EVER.  This is going to sound so wrong because it is. She assigns worksheets. The students get 100 if they do it and 0 if they don't (but Princess loses papers all the time). These are recorded  informally and have no weight. Every 12 or so, she averages the mark and assigns it as a test grade.

We continued looking for worksheets so we could help kids who failed her 1st semester class pass.  I've had some of these kids and I know they do the work.   One boy's parents met me to get 8 worksheets, which he will turn in to me by Friday to grade.  This will raise his grade to an 84.  I couldn't find enough worksheets to raise his grade to an A. (read that sentence a couple of times.  I knew what I was looking for and I COULDN'T FIND THEM.)

We found between 1/.3 and 1/2 of the worksheets we needed.

There were stacks of folders all over the room  in no order.  There was a condom wrapper also.   I am NOT alerting the principal to that.  He can find his own stuff.

I know Principal Bully and Princess spoke about this grading system several times.   My guess is this was the blow up.   Princess failed all/most of her special ed students so they were removed from her class.

Now, let me get to the most important part of this rambling.  Friday Principal Bully told me I was the worst teacher in the math department.  Think about it - I am worse than Princess and the teacher who talks to the board  (more about him in another post.)  If he believes this he is dumber than I thought,.

I was going to write a letter to a member of the Department Of Education but my mechanic told he me this member is a friend of Bully. This is a small town so I trust him

I have to decide whether I want to go talk to the the people in charge of our school district. About 1/3 of the math department may leave unless they get rid of him.  But I do not know if they (district) care.

I am okay, he is an ASS, Princess deserves the treatment she got and my student will be okay.


This helped solidify the decision.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Getting Away With It All

Fined $7500 for ruining careers.  NYC--We are in deep trouble.

and for commentary:  Chaz School Daze and JD2718

Old and Bad Are Not The Same

There is lots of talk about getting rid of last in first out in an effort to protect the "best".  Why isn't anyone pointing out that some of the best teachers are the ones that are teaching the longest?  Experience counts. I worked for a principal years ago who refused to release his old time teachers because he wanted the best in his school.  My young colleagues, no matter how motivated and good they are just don't have the expertise that comes with years of practice.

Would Cathie Black want a first year doctor performing open heart surgery on her or would she prefer the 20-year veteran? 

Wake up New Yorkers.  Don't get suckered into this "get rid of senior teacher mentality."  You want the best for your children.  They want to save money.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Favorite Teacher Contest

I love my teacher
My Favorite Teacher Contest at Barnes and Noble--tell your students to enter.

No Solution

Problem Boy has been transferred to a nearby high school.  Packemin now has one less student to bring its statistics down.  Changing his environment will not help Problem Boy with the problems he has. I'm not sure there is anything anybody could do to help him.  

Closing school and firing teachers doesn't do anything to help kids like Problem Boy either.

Uniformity Impossible

empty head
No matter how hard anyone tries, it is impossible for an exam to be secure when the same or a similar exam is given different periods all day long.  It is impossible to count the number of times kids have walked into my classroom and asked me how to do questions that are on the exam they are about to take.

I understand the need for some sort of uniformity in grading and testing but giving the same exam over a 12 period span of time is ludicrous and to insist this exam count more than any other exam is even more ridiculous.

The college solves this problem by giving every teacher a broad outline and sample questions to follow and then allows them to create their own exam, an exam that must be approved by the department.  Yes, it involves more work but it is a more valid exam. 

Math, as far as I know, is the only department in the school that insists on giving the same exam all day long.  The math teachers are bright and competent.  Surely they are capable of making up their own exam for their own students.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Help Available

Ditzy comes from a good home.  He has two parents who love him, provide for his every need and desire and, at the same time, provide discipline when needed.  They value education, encourage studying and are behind his teachers all the way.  In spite of this, no teacher wants Ditzy in their class and no students want to be in the same room with him ever.

Ditzy is one of the more challenging students at Packemin.  Just saying his name, brings a frown to almost every face in hearing range.  He is late to every class and disruptive when he finally arrives.

Ditzy needs help and he needs it now.  I am afraid he will do something really stupid and end up in jail (if something wore doesn't happen to him first.)  He is not a bad kid, just a kid that does things that aren't so good. I have serious doubts about his ability to differentiate between what he should be doing and what he actually does.

Ditzy's guidance counselor has spoken to him about grades, summer school and night school but those things won't help him with his real problems.  The counselor knows this but is not sure, short of recommending him for some sort of ISS placement, what else she can do to help him.  The school system has no plan in place for kids like him.  The ed deformers can fire all the teachers in the system, but kids like Ditzy aer not going to make it unless some real changes are made.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Evil Mrs. Applebee

Mrs. Applebee wanted to thank the people who worked for her by treating them to lunch last week.  Mrs. Applebee said she wanted everyone to come but bought food that several, because of dietary reasons, could not eat.  (She was very aware of the special needs of her invited guests.)  

Tim is one of the employees on a restricted diet.  Mrs. Applebee, who never speaks to this man passed him in the hall, stopped in her tracks and said, "Were you able to find anything to eat?"  When the man said, "No" Mrs. Applebee said, "Sorry."  I don't know if Tim saw the smile on her lips and the laughter in her eyes when she said that word, but I did.  Both of them continued walking in opposite directions.

I've been to many parties and luncheons in the past and the host or hostess always went out of his/her way to make sure every guest would be provided for.  Not one ever displayed the look I saw on Mrs. Applebee's face.    To add to her delight, Mrs. Applebee e-mailed everyone who worked for her with the message "I hope you all enjoyed the lunch I provided for you."