Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If Only It Were So


My New Job

Started today.

Back Online

Got home yesterday to no cable, phone or Internet.  Although I am addicted, I saw what others were going through and said "No complaints.  I'll just wait it out."  I suppose a line came down while crews were cutting down fallen trees.  We're back!!!!  I wish everyone would be restored as quickly as we were.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The hurricane gave me a chance to purge.  I got rid of old lesson plans and calculus worksheets I will never need again.  Five garbage bags later.  It's great to purge.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back In The Saddle

I was sorry I decided to go back to work.  Planning a lesson is not fun.  And then, when I had to turn down a trip to wine country because I had to work I really got pissed at myself.

In spite of all this, when the phone rang asking me to do a coverage today before my class, I immediately said yes and then kicked myself again as I had to put away my Nook and head out the door to class. But, when I walked out of the door with that familiar bag thrown over my shoulder, my mood changed.  Instead of a weight, I felt wings.  I walked into a class of primarily freshman, remedial math students who were eager to start their college career.To have an attentive group listening to me and to watch the expression of a woman who finally got it was wonderful.  My only regret was that I would not be with that particular group again.

After a quick dinner with my husband, I went back to teach my own class.Two and a half hours later, I walked out, exhausted, wondering how I ever managed to teach nights after working full days and feeling great, looking forward to my next classes on Wednesday, two at my new school and one here.

Good News

The plastic palm tree in my neighborhood did not lose a plastic leaf or even one yellow coconut during the hurricane.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last Minute Request

If you know you are going to need help ask far in advance.  More here.

Hurricane 2011

My immediate neighborhood got lucky.  We do have downed tree,, a couple of houses without cable or phones but for the most part the damage is minimal.  I saw a tree on that just touched the top of the car it landed on and branches that brushed the windows of the houses they landed on.  I'm standing on top of the raised side walk, raised by the roots of a humongous toppled tree.  The guy who usually parks here was so happy he opted to park far away from any trees last night.

Good Ones

A few gems from Mrs. Chili:
Stop trying to make everyone into an academic genius!
The reason for some of the posts on this blog.  
Don't take crap because you are afraid of repercussions.

Hope everyone on the eastern coast weathers the storm safely.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


For every trip away, I need a special day in my own city.  Yesterday, we hit the Museum Of Modern Art.  I'm not usually wild about that particular museum because, no matter how hard I try, I just don't get some of the art, like this one,
Which looks like an old sink to me, or this exhibit
which is a set of curtains, walking through a maze and listening sounds of city.

The exhibit that made it worthwhile was Talk To Me, an interactive exhibit that explores the relationships between people and things.  For example, this slingshot allows the user to type a message and then shoot it at a building.
Of course there are several other exhibits I think I would have enjoyed but museums have to be enjoyed in limited doses.  More pictures on Facebook.


On Thursday, I heard:

"We know the kids in your classes are a mixed bag.  Remember, math is sequential and they won't do well in the next course if they don't know the course they are taking now.  We don't judge you on passing statistics so don't pass them unless they deserve to pass."

Enough Already

The phone didn't have to ring at 6:30 asking me to volunteer at a shelter.  I've  said NO at least 10 times. 
(Picture 42nd St)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meeting Baskets

Fun in Times Square but ol until the middle of September!

Cuter Than A Chihuahau

And probably smarter too!

Eight Down

Four retired.
One resigned.
One voluntary transfer.
One forced transfer.
One on child care leave.

Eight down.  He's closer to the department he always wanted.  Too bad it is not the one that is good for the kids.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Some more germany pics here on Facebook.

Some Observations

The college I have been adjuncting with for years had a meeting today. 

A young girl who was deemed "unacceptable" to teach in the math department at Packemin is going into her second semester there.  This young woman is a Packemin graduate, did her college work in one of the most prestigious institutes in the city and student taught at Packemin.  The college thinks she is great.

We broke into rooms to discuss course specific topics.  The room I was in had 24 people.  Last term Mr. AP said he would hire a math teacher from a certain ethnic group if there were good ones available.  The room I was in had 6 quality people and the other room had several more.  It's interesting that the college can find these people but he can't.

Five people at the college are former or current Packemin teachers.  All are well liked and respected in the college.  I wish I could say the same about the high school.  More here.

(picture--window in Jewish Museum Berlin)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My New Job

It was love at first sight.  I knew, driving up, before I even set foot on campus that this was a place I wanted to work.  And then, when I learned more about the school, the administration, the other staff members and the students, I knew I was in the right place.

Even the long, orientation day was not so bad.  They fed us well.  Pictured above is the view outside the window during the talks.  The school hot shots talked to us, not at us.  Everyone was engaging while explaining the different programs.  The president of the school walked around meeting each and every new teacher.

I wasn't ready to retire.  I just couldn't take the BS that went with working in a high school anymore.  I was depressed about leaving, not willing to spend my days playing bridge and going to lunch.  The place I will now be working is ranked in the top 20 by many respected institutions.  One place even has it ranked # 6. I'm respected and appreciated and look forward to beginning classes next week.

Got A Chuckle From This

From Facebook:

i feel so brain dead.. i haven't done any academic work all summer, other than computing change, but still. i'm so tempted to just pick up a pencil and do some calculus. lol, weird i know.

(This poor girl is earning a living by walking around with a 25 kg (55 lb) sausage grill attached to her body.  I don't eat meat, but I insisted my husband buy one from her.  At $2.25. she needed to sell quite a few to make a living, especially with the price of things in Germany.)

Proud Of Myself

I accidentally deleted most of my Berlin pictures--over 500!  I was so disappointed.  And then I thought about spies and how they can recover anything from deleted files, so I searched and found a program to restore my photos.  I got them all back!!!!

(Above from a graffiti wall in East Berlin.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flowers From Munich Garden

We also found a great beer garden here.  More pictures here, on Facebook.


I don't know how they do it--no speed limits, very light traffic and extremely polite drivers.  I could get used to the autobahn.  I loved being able to do 150 k/h (close to 100 m/h) and not worry about getting a ticket!

Dancing Away Responsibility

The little chihuahua danced her feet off, she was so happy.  She had screwed up big time, was about to get in serious trouble but, at the last minute found a poodle to blame. 

The poodle was innocent.  In fact, the poodle not only always did the right thing, but went above and beyond his job requirements.  The poodle was at first confused, but his keen brain and reputation saved him.  The uproar the chihuahua started made the authorities overlook her guilt and the incident was swept under the rug.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Lots of beer, but not in Rudesheim, wine country.  (There was beer here too, but we stuck to local specialty.)

The vineyards are beautful and this town is ancient.  More pictures on Facebook, here..

Standardized Testing

A comment over at Chaz's blog called for standardized testing in every subject as to determine where kids are really learning. I wonder if this person really understands how little standardized tests show.

Last year, 27 out of 29 students passed the algebra regents in one of my classes and 26 out of 31 passed in the other.  These results were great looking at the entire picture, considering the students knew nothing when they came into the third term of a four term class in September.  (The teacher they had the previous year went out on sick leave mid semester and a new teacher was never put in her place.)  A standardized tests made these kids look successful, and in some sense of the word they were.  But, and it is a big but, these kids still know no math.  They are not prepared to go on to the next level.  And, the worst part is, they will expect to pass the next levels by doing the same level of nothingness.  In this case, the standardized test did more harm than good.

On the flip side of the coin, there are kids who just don't do well on standardized tests.  They are extremely bright, know the material inside and out, but just cannot make the connection between their brain and their hand.  The correct answers just never make it to paper.  Over the years I have seen many of these kids struggle through school and then go on to be big successes in college and in career.

My AP believes in standardized final exams.  He believes kids who can't pass them should not pass the class.  Unfortunately, the standard exams in my department are a joke.  One teacher makes up an exam for everyone in a particular course.  While there is supposed to be input from others, there often isn't any.  Many of the teachers just use old exams instead of writing new ones or use computer generated examples that the kids have been working on all year long.  The same exam (or an extremely close version) is given periods 4 - 12 and many of the students go into the exams knowing the answers before they have even looked at the questions, not an effective evaluation at all.  On the other side, there are honest kids who don't do this.  There are kids that are so overwhelmed with 5 or more exams in a 3 day period and just can't think straight.  These kids don't do well.  Should they be penalized for failing this standardized exam?

I'm not advocating doing away with standardized testing, I'm just saying they are not the end all and while they should be looked at, their results should not have the final say on anything.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Give Him A Round Of Applause

Many of my friends are ATRs.  They are all good, experienced teachers who are without classrooms through no fault of their own.  Everyday, I become more and more disillusioned with the system.  These people not only can't get jobs, they can't even get interviews.  Even the ones with licenses in shortage areas are beating their heads against the wall.

The whole thing should not make sense to anyone.  These teachers are getting PAID!!!!!!!  They should be in a CLASSROOM!!!  They want to be in a CLASSROOM!!!   Bloomberg and company don't want them around and are willing to pay out billions trying to make them go away.  THEY AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE!!!  Money is being used to hurt teachers instead of being used to help children.

Let's hear it for the education mayor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rothenberg Pics

The jet lag is awful.  I guess it is age.  I never used to have such a bad reaction. 

The name "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" means, in German, "Red fortress above the Tauber". This is so because the town is located on a plateau overlooking the Tauber river. As to the name "Rothenburg", some say it comes from the German words Rot (Red) and Burg(burgh, medieval fortified town), referring to the red colour of the roofs of the houses which overlook the river.   (from Wikipedia)

I'm too tired to think and write, but not to post some pictures.  If you want, check them out here, on Facebook.  I'll be putting up more as I go through them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The red roofs of Ruedersheim.

Before Boarding

The rain finally stopped. It figures. We are going home today. At the airport, using thei wireless. Should be in my own house by 1:00 PM. In spite of the weather it was a great trip. The Germans are fantastic. There are talking about the horrors of the holocaust as a way to keep it from ever happening again. Seeing the remnants of the wall, history I lived through is something I will never forget. Pictures and stories in the upcoming weeks.

Enjoy your last few days of summer to those not back yet and to those working I wish you all a stress free year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little Mouse--Chapter 9

Little Mouse's boss had it with her.  She was always getting into something with the small mice she was in charge of.  They always caused her problems and in turn made his life hard.  They constantly ran from her to his office, complaining of some outlandish comment she made in their presence.  Mice parents had his phone ringing off the hook. 

Boss knew he had to get rid of Little Mouse.  Little Mouse had worked in his building for many years and until recently she was pretty good at her job but this last year was just too much.  He tried sending her to another place to work, hoping the change in environment would help her go back to the way she was and solve his problem at the same time.  Unfortunately, Little Mouse's contract would not allow him to do this and she did not leave.

This incident scared Little Mouse.  She did not want to lose her job.  She threw herself into her job and once again became a teacher Boss could work with.  He still did not like her but, in spite of her efforts to look young, he knew she was aging (you can't hide that sagging chin and the wrinkles around the eyes) and would soon leave on her own accord.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Humping Chihuahua

The little chihuahua has to do something to get her way.  She is not smart enough to do things on her own.  She will hump her way to the top.  That is the only way she will get there, or anywhere.

(Post dedicated to the poor working men and women of summer school.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Where Did The Love Go?

A colleague recently reminded me of my friendship with this guy, of how together we used to piss Principal Suit off at faculty meetings together, how we talked about fun things and school related things, both on and off the record.  He would ask my advice and listen respectfully, not always doing as I suggested but giving  my responses careful consideration and I never minded when my words were ignored.

I often spoke to him about inequities in programming and how unfair it was that certain teachers only taught the best classes and taught the same prep over and over.  He told me they were retiring soon and he wanted their last years to be memorable.  He promised me the same thing when my time came.  My time has long passed and he has kept his promise.  My last years have been memorable, just not memorable the way I would have liked them to be.

I don't understand how things changed so drastically.  How does collegiality, respect and camaraderie turn to hatred?  Why have years of friendship and respect ended with such bitterness?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another NY Surprise

Okay, I am in Germany but I am still posting NYC pictures.  Walking down Madison, I found these neat sculptures around the store fronts.  More and close ups here.

If It Is Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

Mainz today, another city tomorrow and then Berlin.  I can't keep track, but it is all good.  Mainz is wine country and we found a great wine house to sample from.

This hotel has a computer available in business center too so I will have access at least until Saturday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hello From Heidelberg

Germany is wonderful.  The people are great.  It is hard to come to terms with the atrocities their ancestors did and the monsters who called themselves monsters. 

Until today, we have had rain and cold weather.  No Internet either.  I am too cheap to pay for it.This hotel has a business center that has allowed me to check e mail and post a little.

Forgive the typos.  German keyboards are not the same as American ones.  I will have tons of great pictures to post when I get home.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Little Mouse-Chapter 8

At one point in her life, Little Mouse was over weight.  She hated looking at the extra blubber around her middle and decided to do something about it.  She said she was dieting but some of her friends were sure she was Anorexic.  She just did not look healthy to him.  No mouse of her age should be as thin as she was.  They never saw her eat.  Other friends thought she was Bulimic.  They would notice her binging on all kinds of fattening foods and then wait while she spent long periods of time in the bathroom.  Both groups of friends tried talking to her.  Her words fell on deaf ears.  She thought she looked great.  She didn't see the loose skin bagging around her arms and legs.

Along with her strange eating habits, Little Mouse became a fanatic exerciser.  She ran, roller bladed and biked every day.  In fact, she spent so many hours working out she forgot she had friends and family to spend time with.  Rodent relations got angry and stopped speaking to her.  When Little Mouse had a bad bike accident, no one was around to take her to the hospital and she had to go alone.

Little Mouse was becoming a very, sad little mouse.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Experience Needed

I met Mark on the subway last week. He is a former student, a very bright young man who just graduated from college and had spent his last semester student teaching in one of the better schools in Queens.  Mark and I spent a long ride catching up and he told me tales of his student teaching days. 

Mark was very disappointed with student teaching.  His mentor teacher was a twenty five year old woman who had only been in the classroom for three years.  And, while the mentor had many good skills, it was obvious to Mark that the mentor was still in need of a mentoring and could not teach him the things he needed to learn. 

Mark told me he was thrilled when he got his student teaching assignment.  He was assigned to the high school he had graduated from and he knew there were many good teachers to help him.  Unfortunately, most of those teachers had left by the time Mark began.  The few that were left, the AP decided were not good enough to teach a new teacher and  Mark ended up with the newbie.

Aside from not learning how to teach, Mark felt he was turned into a glorified servant for his mentor.  He got little to no help with lessons.  He was given full responsibility for one class and asked to do work for some of the other ones.  He had a miserable, unproductive year.

Mark is now looking for a teaching job, something that will not be easy to come by.  He knows that and is willing to wait.  he just wishes his education had him better prepared for the future he hopes to one day face.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Walking across 42nd St, I passed the Bowery Savings Bank, built in 1923.  What an amazing building!  Pictures here on Facebook.  No need to leave NY (or to even spend any money) to see some really great sites.


I find it amazing that this nothing post, written over a year ago has generated 100 comments

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Bryant Park

Getting off the subway with open eyes is something else.  You never know what wonders you will encounter even if you have been on the same street hundreds of times before.

Not having much time, I decided to get off today and 42nd and 6th--right near Bryant Park.  In the winter, the lawn is an ice rink and around Christmas, there is a beautiful tree here.

People mill around, buying food, playing cards, using the free wifi, sleeping, all under the watchful eyes of William Earl Dodge. .

The best part of this park is the "reading room" provided by HSBC. There are books, magazines, a children's section and even a reading room coordinator.  There are tables with big umbrellas and the atmosphere is delightful.  
There is even a working water fountain and a spotless bathroom.

Got my camera back.  It was an expensive lesson in being careful.  More pictures here, on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Little Mouse--Chapter 7

Little Mouse is always crying poverty. She is always complaining everything costs too much money. When a collection is made for a new baby or a celebration, she contributes but bitches like you wouldn't believe. You'd think she just gave up her last dollar and would now be getting her next meal from the dump behind her house.

In spite of her constant complaints, Little Mouse is rolling in money.  She lives in a fancy house in an upscale part of town.  Only the best is good enough and her house is furnished in a very upscale mode.  Since she doesn't like to part with a dime, she has her breeding partner do all construction and renovations. Unfortunately, he sometimes messes up and she does not handle this very well.  Her ranting can be heard all over the city.

Little Mouse works multiple jobs to pay for the life style she can easily afford.  She works nights and weekends and full time during the day.  Her coffers are actually running over.  Little Mouse's friends are tired of hearing her non stop whining.  They've stopped hanging out with her.

Monday, August 01, 2011


Imagine, hugging a chihuahua .