Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
You can have all the money in the world, a great business, outgoing personality, liked by all, good looks and build, but you can't buy longevity.
My hear broke when I read Russ' obituary this morning. He'll never see his fortieth birthday.
(We got to know Russ from our frequent Grimaldi trips.)
Several of my former colleagues are keeping me amused by forwarding the department memos. These two lines are particularly entertaining:
7. A higher grade should not be given to a nice student while a lower grade given to a student who is not “nice” in your eyes if they have the same average.
8. Please be very conservative in giving grades. After you calculate each student’s average, please lower their average by 5 points if their exam grades are decreasing and increase the average it by 5 points if their exam grades are increasing.
I don't have to put up with this lunacy anymore. But I can still laugh at it and post it here for others to enjoy.
I don't have to put up with this lunacy anymore. But I can still laugh at it and post it here for others to enjoy.
Monday, November 28, 2011
This weekend I went over a trigonometry exam with a young man I tutor and was impressed. His math teacher is a REAL MATH TEACHER who wrote a REAL TEST!!! This teacher didn't get his exam from exam gen or some other computer generated program, he wrote the exam himself, USING PROBLEMS THAT TESTED UNDERSTANDING and gave him insight into what the students knew when he marked the test. Even the few multiple choice questions used required the students to explain how they arrived at their answers. It took the teacher a while to give back the exam because he LOOKED AT EVERY QUESTION and put corrections and comments down wherever it was appropriate.
All I kept thinking as we worked on this exam is that this man is lucky not to work for Mr. AP because, if he did, the exam in my hand would have been "U" RATED. Mr. AP believes every exam should consist primarily of multiple choice questions and partial credit should only be given to a few questions. He wants teachers to do an item analysis but actually looking at work is not something he pushes. He believes in canned programs because they print nice, are easy to make up and are similar to those found on the regents. They don't necessarily show what the student does not understand.
Hats off to this teacher. There needs to be more like him. And, he needs to model his exams for others.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
This mom did one heck of a job and watching her watch her offspring was a gift to us all.
Museum of City Of NY. (Two great exhibits in this little museum--If you love fashion, and want to see a brilliant man's work Cecil Beaton and for architecture Kevin Roche--I didn't know how many of the buildings I love were designed by this man.)
Pictured above are Metro North tracks as they emerge from the tunnel and head north through the Bronx.
Pictured above are Metro North tracks as they emerge from the tunnel and head north through the Bronx.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I knew better than to shop, but I love the store windows this time of year. That, combined with the good weather and my friend's only day off, I headed in and spent the day on Fifth Ave. (with a slight deter first to Bloomingdale's on Lex and then Barney's on Madison.) The windows at Bloomingdale's were disappointing. It seemed like no one could come up with a new idea so they just brought back ones from the past. Barney's had a tribute to Lady Gaga. Not their best, but interesting. Bergdorf's has really cool ones, they always do. You have to check out both sides of the street and see them all. Bendel's had some cool ones and if you need a bathroom stop--head in and then go down the stairs on the left. All booths are private with their own sinks. They are spotless, have plenty of supplies, even tissues and smell great. Sak's had some bubble and snow stuff which wasn't so great, maybe because I am unfamiliar with the story. Lord and Taylor's were nice, and they usually are. My favorite is always Macy's. The music piped onto the street really makes them come alive.
More pictures here--glare was not good to the camera. Wheverever you live--go out and enjoy the holiday decorations. Looking if free and great entertainment.
Friday, November 25, 2011
I don't understand the hoopla of stores opening at midnight or 4 AM.
I happened to be up early this morning so I decided to head over to Macy's (just a 5 minute trip) to use my $10 coupons. The store and the parking lot were empty.
The customers that ran out last night are home, tucked in their beds now. Was it really worthwhile for the stores to open at those ridiculous hours? Wouldn't the sales be the same at say 8 in the morning?
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanks to a Congress, who cow towed to the lobbyists, frozen pizza is now a vegetable and giving kids unlimited amounts of potatoes is a good thing.
Tuesday night's Chopped featured Sam Kass, the White House chef, along with four lunch ladies and the topic was healthy meals for school children. No surprise here, big business wins out again. Practicing and preaching are two different things. Kids don't need healthy meals as long as the frozen pizza industry is making money.
The little chihuahua was getting nervous. The older, bigger dogs were starting to bark and people were beginning to notice. She wanted to do something but, not being very smart, didn't know what, so she started hiding in her office, coming out only when absolutely necessary. (Like when she needed the fire hydrant.)
Chihuahua knew she needed help. She hired a whole bunch of little dogs to work for her, dogs who pledged eternal loyalty. They took her side and her word. They did her bidding. They kept her safe a little longer.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A former student heard it was my last day and came to visit. He is now attending a very prestigious college, taking linear algebra in pursuit of his engineering degree. (He placed out of calculus.) This student did not do well on the Packemin placement test and was put in the lowest level math class as a freshman. (He is from South America, so his placement should be no surprise to anyone.) I got to know him when he was a sophomore, saw how brilliant he was and pushed him ahead. He did trig as independent study, got a 98 on the regents and then took BC calculus and got a 5 on the exam.
This is old stuff that I have written about before. Today, as we were talking, the ninth grade teacher he had recognized him. She commented on how smart he was even back then. It struck me that she should have moved him then, but did not. Truthfully, it is not her fault. She was new and inexperienced and had no idea how exceptional he was and how she could have helped him. Still, the point is that if she had asked an experienced teacher, or had a decent supervisor, this kid would not have been held back then.
My big mouth always gets the best of me and as Mr. AP was around at the time, I loudly said, "Someone really messed up on Owen's placement." Now, anyone who knows Mr.AP knows he is
No one is perfect. But, we have to admit our mistakes before they can be corrected. If it wasn't for the AP Guidance, this kid would never have gotten where he is today. I recognized his potential and she acted.
I am off Mr. AP's mailing list, but I still see his memos. (They are so amusing various department members forward them to me. He sent out a slide show full of serene messages. Here is one of my favorites:
Life is school and we are here to learn. Problems are lessons that come and go. What has been then will serve us for the days of our lives.Too bad he hits the forward button before he reads the message.
Today is my last class at Packemin. Although I retired in June, I have been back, teaching a morning class for the community college. This was my way ease out of the high school. And, I have to say, it was the right thing for me to do.
Being back on a daily basis for the past three months showed me what I should have known all along, that I did the right thing by retiring. I still get goose bumps when kids from last year gives me a big grin, a hug or tell they wish I was their geometry teacher this year. But, people like Norm were right, I don't miss it. I think I am going to like not having to leave my warm bed on cold mornings to face the ice and snow and rain. I am not going to miss the feelings of big brother watching my every move and I am certainly not going to miss the icy cold stares from Mr. AP (Thankfully I didn't see him very often. I leave before he is probably out of bed in the morning). I won't even mention all the PD I won't miss.
I was at Packemin for almost 27 years and I walked out in June the way I walked in, alone. I'll do the same today.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Betty told me she won't be in class tomorrow-her fourth absence. She is going on vacation.
She doesn't see any problem and wants to come to two of my classes to make up the missing class next week. (Both classes meet on the same day and cover the exact same material.) She is annoyed that I won't let her.
I forgot to mention, Betty has a 40 average and is a product of a NYC high school.
Found a new blog that bears looking at. The blogger is probably a teacher at a school familiar to the readers of this blog. Those who know the school will certainly recognize the cast of characters, one in particular. Sorry, if you don't have access to Packemin you will have to find it on your own.
Monday, November 21, 2011
A good assistant principal:
1. Knows the subject he is in charge of backwards and forwards. The AP should be able to model lessons in every course the department offers and give assistance when necessary. When observing a teacher, he should be able to determine whether the material being presented is being presented correctly.
2. Promotes comradery among department members. The AP should provide an atmosphere that encourages teachers to work together, to share materials and to create together.
3. Does not take personal feelings into account when making up programs and other assignments. No teacher should be treated harshly or with privilege for any reason.
4. Does not invite only select members to dinners, parties or vacations. Some people might feel pressured to attend events they would prefer to avoid and it causes hard feelings among those excluded. It is especially harmful to the morale of the department when the invited members are always treated better than the non invited ones.
5. Treats all department members equally.
6. Can deal with parents and students without being confrontational. The AP can solve a crisis without escalating it.
I can't count the number of times I've heard a certain AP telling the department how he was the best AP in the city and how lucky we all were to be working for him. And, while I would be the first to say he wasn't the worst in the city, on a scale from one to ten, he might be a 2.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Being a good, righteous person is a part of every religion. When a person chooses to send their child to a Jewish, or a Catholic or a Protestant school they should expect their child to learn morals as well as religious and secular subjects. And this is what makes the following story so sad.
A good friend teaches at a very wealthy school on Long Island. This school caters to the devout of one of the religions mentioned above. These children have been taught that they can do whatever they want and suffer no consequences for their actions, no matter who they hurt along the way. Their parents are rich and give vast sums of money to the school. Because of this, the school makes excuses and looks away from their sometimes criminal behavior.
Last week twenty young men walked into a classroom, surrounded the teacher and began chanting. They would not let him leave. He could do nothing them and he suffered an injury before a group of teachers was able to make them stop.
The principal and the other administrator were out of the building when this happened and did not return quickly when notified of the incident. Caught on camera, there was no mistaking what happened. The teachers demanded a meeting and wanted punishment meted out. The principal tried to blame teachers for letting the boys out of their classrooms. Thankfully, they did not get away with this. The principal insisted these were good kids who made a mistake although many had histories of this sort of behavior going back years.
A punishment was delivered. A major trip planned for the weekend was supposed to be cancelled. But, when the people in charge realized how disappointed the young men would be when they missed it, they were allowed to go anyway. Instead, most were given a one day suspension. The real instigators were suspended for two days. A boy who missed the entire incident was upset because he had to be in class while his friends were home having fun.
The teacher could go to the police, but he won't. He needs the job. Many of the other teachers plan on leaving at the end of the year.
People say the public schools are rough. Many are. No one would expect this behavior in a rich, private school. Teachers here are the 99% and can easily be replaced. Poor behavior has always been tolerated here, but this is the worst it has ever been. I'm not a part of this school but hearing the story makes me ill. What have we become when behavior like this is accepted as a mere prank?
Saturday, November 19, 2011
It's Saturday afternoon.
Why am I reading resumes and personal statements?
Why am I writing recommendations and going crazy trying to figure out this new system of submitting online?
I've got to learn to say no.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington, DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.
The driver rolls down the window and asks, "What's going on?"
"Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they're asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations."
"How much is everyone giving, on average?" the driver asks.
The man replies, "Roughly a gallon."
The next class had her in her seat bright and early. Unfortunately, she had no clue as to what was going on and loudly announced she understood nothing. She expected the class to stop while she was brought up to snuff. The teacher calmly said the work had been taught the day she left early. Instead of being apologetic, she got angry and claimed she only left twenty minutes early and then gave some lame excuse. She was reprimanded for not doing the reading and the homework, her responsibility whether she was in class or not. She walked over to another student, sat down and tried to get help in the middle of the class, never caring that her voice was keeping others from learning. The teacher put a stop to that too. Again, she got angry and said, "I"m not in the mood to talk to you now." Before she was asked to leave, she sulked back to her seat and kept quiet for the rest of the class.
And then, without guilt but worrying about her grade, she sends this:
I would like to talk to you like an adult, on a professional level. I feel that sometimes you may have personal feelings towards me & it makes me feel very disrespected. Please don't get me wrong, I shouldn't have been asking for help in the middle of class, but Judy offered to guide me through a little bit until I understood it more. I am also admitting to my wrong for leaving 15 minutes before class ended but my little brother had an emergency at home so I had to get there as soon as possible. I try my hardest in this class and I never been to tutoring until I took this course & I'm truly desperate to master it. I just wanted you to know how I felt & to clarify everything via email. Thanks.
I decided I am too old and too tired to deal with this BS anymore and ignored the letter. She got the point. Last night, she was in the lab bright and early, trying to catch up. She was as sweet as possible in class and worked hard too.
Part of me doesn't even blame this student for her actions. Her high school education consisted of one entitlement class after another. If she failed, there was a credit recovery class. If that assignment took too long, the people in charge made it shorter. If it was too hard, the passing grade was lowered. She learned that she could always get her way and expects this to keep on happening. What a generation we've created. I fear for the future.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The media has finally woken up to the sham of credit recovery. Oh, the stories I could tell...I've seen kids pay others to do courses for them and I've seen teachers dedicate their own classrooms to credit recovery.
How can any intelligent person believe that a child who could not do the work for while sitting in class will be able to take the next class, take a full load of classes and then complete credit recovery for 4 additional classes at the same time is beyond me. I've seen course loads of credit recovery that alone would take at least 20 hours a week and that 20 hours is beyond the regular school day. If anyone bothered to look at the crazy assignments we hand kids, they would see what a farce this is.
And then these kids go to college and expect the same kind of treatment.
As a young teacher, the thought of retirement never crossed my mind or the mind of my friends. The word was never uttered from any of our lips. Even as we hit our 30's and 40's, we never thought about leaving the profession we loved.
Today, it is all anyone thinks about. There is no joy in living in the present so the future is what is occupying every one's mind. How sad.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
If the media saw my college students struggling with math they should have learned in high school they would have a pretty ugly picture of the great job the Education Mayor has done.
Bloomberg has lowered the level of knowledge of high school graduates to depths never before reached by humans.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
She lied about her years of service in private industry to gain salary credit. No one checked and now the company is out of business. The lying little bitch won again. One day, things will catch up to her and everyone she has hurt along the way will get the last laugh.
New York has great things to offer out of the city, as well as in.
This weekend all national parks are free so we took advantage and went to the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park. It is an absolutely magnificent"little" cottage country home and the grounds and view are to die for.
If you have never taken a tour with national park rangers you are missing out. These guys know their stuff and make history come alive.
As an added bonus we stopped at Culinary Institiute of America on the way home and toured there too. Since the trip was unplanned, we had no dinner reservations so we will just have to return.
Great weather, great trip, great state. More pictures here.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I find it interesting that the Huffington Post published this article about teacher diversity as I was mulling over the same topic for a post here.
Packemin's math department is not very diverse. Until this year, it would appear to the outsider that you needed to be Asian and have a young vagina to be hired. (This year's new hiree's don't fall into this category.) There is one African American teacher who Mr. AP proudly shows off as "a good black teacher." (She is, but why does she need this title? Her race is quite obvious.)
Ms. Thompson, also African American taught in the school many years ago. She was absolutely brilliant. She was one of the only teachers with a masters degree in pure mathematics and she was educated in Trinidad. It should be noted here that only the best of the best get to go to college in the British West Indies. Ms. Thompson was also a great teacher. She got great results and the kids loved her. She got along well with everyone in the department. With young children at home, she was happy to be at a neighborhood school.
Things went well until the advanced placement stat teacher left for the greener pastures of a Long Island school. Mr. AP wanted Ms. Thompson to give up the AB calculus class she was teaching and take over statistics. She balked. It would have been a tremendous amount of work and she did not want to give up teaching the subject she loved. Mr. AP found someone else to teach the course but never forgot.
The following year Ms. Thompson got her program, minus the AB class. She was visibly upset. To make matters worse, there were two on my program. (I want to add her that Ms. Thompson is a much better teacher than I am.) I demanded a trade be made and she got one. Things were smoothed for the year. The year after, she again got a program with no calculus and since that term I only had one class, I didn't volunteer to give it away. Ms. Thompson taught the classes she was given, but was hurt and started looking around for a new school. She found one--in a good Long Island district. She had a longer commute and wasn't happy about the distance from her children but the pay was better and so was the treatment. Packemin lost a great teacher, an African American woman who was a role model to everyone.
Mr. AP just e-mailed a slide show to the department (he took me off his e-mail list but many people are still forwarding me his gems) about serenity, and letting go of negativity and hatred. The hypocrisy of it! He is preaching to others what he cannot do himself.
(Pictured above is a tree from the grounds of Vanderbilt Mansion. The trees are old and very spread apart. As the years pass, the branches bend towards the ground and take root. From one tree, many grow and the beauty goes on and on. This is a philosophy that should be adopted by educators--spread beauty not vindictiveness.)
Friday, November 11, 2011
The kids in my 1:30 class usually start wandering in around 1:00 because they know I am always there to answer questions. Thursday, instead of math, we started talking politics and politics led to education.
A boy from New Jersey said he was happy Christi decided not to try to get the Republican presidential nomination because if he did, New Jersey High School Graduates against Christi would have been organized and he would have been its leader.
A boy from Long Island said too much money was being spent on education. I said, not too much, just being spent wrong. He then went on a long rant about the big dollars spent on technology and Smart Boards and how they did nothing to improve education. I couldn't have said it better.
Too bad kids don't make education policy.
(Picture is Catskill Mountains taken from Vanderbilt Mansion Hyde Park, NY)
Thursday, November 10, 2011
November means time for college students to drop the subjects they know they can't pass.
I spoke to Tony about dropping math. His last test grade was a 20 and he seemed kind of clueless. Tony told me he couldn't because he was dropping chemistry and he needed at least 12 credits. Although I had my doubts about his ability to pull through, I told him to give it his all, hit the learning center and if he pulled up the next two exams and did reasonably well on the final, I would pass him.
Tony didn't show up in class yesterday. I asked his friends if he was okay. They told me he dropped all his classes and moved home. He just couldn't handle the academic load.
Tony is a product of a NYC (Brooklyn, to be exact) high school. He did fairly well there and should be doing the same now. He is a boy who works in class, studies and, in other words, does all that is expected of him. Yet, he couldn't make it.
There can be lots of reasons why this young man didn't make it, but a big one is the lack of preparation he got in high school for college. He never learned the proper way to study and never had to push himself to succeed. He probably got through many courses because he is sweet and polite and a burden to no one.
Were there kids like this before Bloomberg? Of course there were. Will there always be kids who can't make it? Of course there will be. But, the number of kids like Tony is at an all time high. How many more will leave with their heads hung low before we wake up and really start educating? How many more will consider themselves failures because they have been pushed into a program they don't belong in?
Tuesdays are free days, no classes, so, in honor of PD, I decided to take advantage of the great weather and enjoy the city. I was quickly reminded of how good those random subway days were as I boarded the E train and made the decision, en route to visit the protesters at Zuccotti Park. It was surreal seeing the tents and all those people living in a small area, braving the bad weather that has occurred and will be occurring in the future. I wondered, as I walked around, which people were collecting money for the protesters and which of them were collecting for personal gains. I wondered who was out there for what they believed in and who was out for the thrill of it. I felt moved, yet disconnected . Although I am not a big banker, investment firms are making lots of money from my pension. I had no desire to hang around very long. It even felt like an invasion, taking photos, although I did take a few.
The rest of the day was spent strolling through lower Manhattan. More pictures here, on Facebook.
(Only had my little point and shoot so forgive the quality.)
Spending the day like this so beat training on a smart board that I would never get to use or looking at statistics, the only thing that matters in the world of education today. It was so much better than sitting at a meeting with Mr. AP as he continued his bashing of Mr. L, a retired teacher who is not in the best of health and I am sure he was thrilled not to have me around. He did comment about a retired teacher's negativity and I would bet dollars to donuts he was referring to me. ( I stopped him more than once during his many tirades about poor Mr. L.)