Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not All Students Are Created Equally

I covered two classes in the college on Thursday.  The subject was the same and the students had similar prerequisites to get into the class.  On paper, the exact same students were in each class.  Notice the emphasis on the word paper.

The first class greeted me with, "Wow, he's out.  We have a free day."  I told them that wasn't true.  I was there to teach and would do the lesson the teacher left.  The kids sat down, took out their homework assignment, asked questions and then enthusiastically participated in the lesson.  The class ended at 5:50 and they were willing to stay and have me do some more with them but, as I had another class, I had to leave.  They all thanked me and said they hoped to have a class with me in the future.  I felt so good and was hyped for next class.

The second class greeted me with "Wow, she's out. We can go home."  Again, I said I was there to teach and would do the lesson the teacher left.  They grudgingly walked in and sat down.  Three left as soon as they signed an attendance sheet.  I made sure everyone knew their names were crossed out.  I asked if there were any homework questions to go over.  They said the teacher never gives homework which I knew was not true.  I began teaching and another one got up to leave so another name got crossed off.  Several students participated orally, three took notes but most had their faces glued to their cell phones.  A girl got up after 30 minutes, announced, "I'm Bridgette, cross me off the list" and walked out.  A boy walked in after 45 minutes, announced he usually cuts and has no idea what should be going on in class, stayed 15 minutes and left.  They told me they were going to have a quiz on Tuesday. I said I would review if they told me what was going to be on it.  One girl knew.  The others were clueless.  I'm surprised they even knew there was going to be a test.  They just wanted to leave.  A boy said "It's only a quiz, it doesn't count for much."  I ended up letting them go 15 minutes early.  It wasn't worth the effort holding them any longer.

Two classes, one teacher, successful in one and an utter failure in the other. If it had been a high school class and an administrator had stuck his nose in that second class, I would be history.  Thankfully that is not the case in the college.  No one looks over your shoulder constantly.  They hire people they have faith in and know are good at their jobs.  They know the classes are mixed bags and sometimes you get a rotten bunch.  The teacher is not held accountable for the behavior, attitude and eventual failure of the kids in their classes. 

When I first started teaching I worked for an AP that knew teachers couldn't perform the miracles we are expected to perform today.  Our school was rough and our stats weren't good.  She knew we did the best we could with the kids we had to work with. It is time to go back to thinking like this AP thought.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mathematician and Mega Millions

There is a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of winning tonight's Mega Millions.  My daughter, my little mathematician has me convinced that buying one is the same as buying 500.  The probability of winning either way is close to zero.  At the last minute I broke down and bought a second ticket.  Maybe she will be wrong and tomorrow I will be too busy celebrating to post!

If They Only Had A Heart

Why do admins love walking into classrooms, computer in hand on half days and days before or after holidays or on the day of parent teacher conferences when teachers have plenty of stuff to be concerned about?

I asked the above question at a consultation meeting between the union and the administration.  The Principal seemed to think it was the way to tell which teachers were working and which teachers weren't.  I disagreed then and I disagree now.

Admins should walk around and see what is going on, but, they can see this from the hallways.  After all, all the rooms have windows for them to look through.  And, if there is a problem, or something going on that doesn't look right, they should make an appearance.  A good administrator should be able to tell what is going on without resorting to the grand entrance with the electronic gadget in hand, unless of course, the goal is to make the teacher uncomfortable.  In that case, the administrator has been successful.  In addition, if visits occur often, why is this one day so necessary?

It is rough being a teacher. No one likes being observed, ever but everyone knows it is a necessary part of the job.  I just can't understand what is accomplished when these observations are done on the most difficult days of the term.  What happened to compassion and heart?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My First Attempt At Black And White

Also learning how to add text and layering.

The Kids Appreciate What The Administration Does Not

I know Mr. AP is glad to have me gone and I know he has zero appreciation for the work I did, but the kids I helped still value what I did for them.  He even said, in this memo, that the school's rating had nothing to do with kids in the upper classes.  The implication being, the only ones that counted were the bottom ones who moved up, even when they knew nothing.  (If you can get through his atrocious grammar you will see what I mean.)

The following statement, from Facebook, was written by a girl I taught last year, a girl who only got into the class when I suggested we create the extra class that gave me a ton of extra work.  Bob was also in that class and also would not have had the opportunity if not for me.

everytime i don't do well on a piece of calculus work, you have no idea, i feel like i'm letting you down. i just wanted to let you know that you still inspire me to do well. hope everything is well with you, xxxbaby! 
            (bob wanted me to tell you that he got an A in calc last semester)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Student

In my old age, I am once again a student, taking courses at the UFT with lots of others retired teachers.  I'm trying my hand at Photoshop and, while the teacher is excellent, I fear his TDR would not be good based on my scores.  I am defintely a slow learner.

Today we learned how to work in black and white.  I was so proud of  myself.  I got rid fo the colors on this little cutie and then got her eyes green and her nose pink.  

 I also learned to work with text and fix the colors. 
I had a great black and white image of the above but forgot to save it.  Oh well, I'll try again next week.

Everyone who told me there was life outside of work was absolutely correct.  I'm starting to really enjoy not working.

Restoring Faith

Covering a pre-calculus class has restored my faith in community college students, a faith I never really lost but one that has been shoved to the back of my mind after two months with the remedial group.

The class began at 8:00 AM.  When I arrived at 7:45 there were already 4 students clustered outside, going over notes and studying.  As soon as I opened the door, others began trickling in and as they turned pages in their books, questions began.  These questions were not random, they were specific, making it obvious a lot of studying had gone on.  Every student had writing equipment and working calculators.

I glanced at the exams as they were handed in.  I won't say they were all good because they weren't.  But, the students were.  Many stopped to find out how to do problems they couldn't do on the exam.  They were genuinely interested and were grateful for the knowledge they would be able to use on their final exam.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tricks Are For Kids (Who We Don't Want To Learn)

"Teachers who are teaching the math are the ones with low passing percentages.  You have to teach them tricks.  These kids are not going to be mathematicians."
The above comment was made at a recent department conference by the person in charge.

No wonder the kids come into college not prepared for anything.  Look at what their teachers are being forced  to do.   Who would imagine that actually teaching math is what is causing all the problems in education today.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Five classes plus a full time job leaves no time for studying, especially when having a social life is important.  These kids tell me they are in a hurry to graduate.  They don't get it.  I tried explaining that it is better to take six years and make it to the end than to try to do it all and eventually give up.

I give up.  They'll learn the hard way when no degree comes their way.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Farce Exposed

The Post finally printed an op ed piece that got it right.  Improved graduation rates are nothing to be proud of.  The majority of students getting diplomas today are not ready for college or career.

My remedial class in the college started with 28 students.  We are down to 20.  Out of he 20, six own books and seven hand in homework.  Many come in late and leave early.  Attendance is atrocious.  They don't know multiplication tables and tell me they" don't do fractions or decimals."  They certainly don't study.  The last test I gave had grades ranging from 0 to 71 and 0 was not even an outlier.  The majority of the grades were below 50.  It is impossible to remediate in 4 months topics that should have been studied and learned in 12 years.  It is impossible to get through to kids who see no reason to ever open a book.

The college is trying to help these kids through a special mentoring program.  They are offered extra help and counselors.  At a recent pizza lunch, the students were asked how many hours a week outside of class were spent on school work.  The majority answered two to three hours.  Homework interefered with jobs, televison, Facebook and friends.  Most are taking 12 credits, some more.  The "freak" of this group admitted to studying eight hours had close to a 4.0 index.  The mentors tried to explain why studying worked.  The students either didn't get it or didn't care.  They survived elementary school, middle school and high school without doing any work and saw no reason to start now.  Most will be gone as soon as their financial aid is used up.

This editorial in the Post is only a small start, but it is a start.  If it is truly the goal of the government to keep our country strong, something has got to give.  We did better as a nation when not everyone was pushed into college.  Even drop outs did better than the kids we are turning out today.  At least they knew they didn't get something for nothing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Which Hurts Ears The Most?

1.  The sound of a dentist drill.

2. Scratching fingers on a chalk board.

3.  A car alarm that won't stop in the middle of the night.

4.  A chihuahau's barking.

I know my answer, what is yours?

Another Good One Leaves The System

Jan worked really hard with her seventh graders.  She was lucky. They were a bright, motivated group and their test scores went through the roof.  Her TDR was extremely high.  Her principal was very pleased.

Because Jan did such a great job with these kids, the Principal had her follow them to the eighth grade where their success continued.  These kids hit the ceiling in seventh grade so there was no room for improvement on their eight grade scores and Jan's TDR gave her a zero.

Jan wasn't concerned.  She had already been accepted at a very prestigious college and was going to pursue a PHD.  Her principal told her that was a wise decision.  The a TDR of zero there was no way he could grant her the tenure she deserved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Cheapskate

The office was making a baby shower for the boss' wife.  Wanting to keep the cost low, the young woman in charge decided to order sandwiches, chips and soft drinks.  Everyone picked their own meal.  The $9 collected paid for food and office decorations.

Jim sent an e-mail to the woman in charge telling her he would buy his own sandwich from the same place because he could get it for less than $9.00.  She rolled her eyes and told him that wasn't the right thing to do.  One guy defended Jim, saying Jim might have financial problems.  No one else in the office agreed.

Jim's sandwich and drink will probably cost him at least $8.00.  (The office is getting a big discount.)  Most could agree if Jim said he didn't like the food, or if he was on a diet.  Others who didn't want to eat contributed towards the party anyway.  One man, who wouldn't even be in the office gave money.

Before this incident the woman wanted to introduce Jim to a single friend of hers.  She has since reconsidered.  What kind of boyfriend would a person who thinks like this make?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Great Idea

I used to threaten my truant students with this, thinking it was only fiction.  Many believed.

And now, it is being done.  I am ahead of my time.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No One Wants Teacher Retention

It is interesting to note that the city is now looking for a way to retain experienced teachers, offering loan repayment for those in the top of their classes.   People need to look at this closely.  The teachers they want to keep are still the newbies, the ones with only a few years service.  There is still that unwritten policy to cleanse the schools of those over 50, earning top salary.

Everyone on top can deny this as much as they want, but those of us who have been in this position know it is true.  While defended to a point, my former AP was allowed to create working conditions that did only one thing, encouraged senior teachers to pack up and get out.

Mrs. J was one such teacher.  She filed a grievance concerning her program and won   She wanted a more even program with higher level classes.  In the spirit of the contract she was given two high level classes, two bottom classes and a middle class.  This program was much worse than the original so she won and lost at the same time.  The AP also wanted to give her an AP calculus class to teach, a class he knew she wasn't qualified to teach because he knew she would work day and night to master the material and burn herself out.  He didn't care about the kids he would be hurting.  He only cared about  trying to get her to leave.

Ms. K was reprimanded severely because the kids in her class broke a window shade on a day she was not in school.  She was told that if she had trained them properly this would not have happened.  Term after term, this experienced teacher was also given the lowest level kids to teach.  She was told, in the spirit of rotation, the pre-calculus classes she had previously taught would be taught by someone else but the rotation only effected her, not the young person who got to teach them.

Mr. K was criticized for failing too many the second marking period even though his end results were the highest in the department. 

And, while I don't consider myself the best teacher around, I know I was a good one and I know how to relate and handle difficult kids.  Yet, every term my program grew worse and worse.  Each term I was hit with classes I had never taught before.  I was never permitted to teach a full sequence of Math B and never got to teach trigonometry although I asked every term, wanting the experience before I left.  It was only a little back door maneuvering that allowed me to keep the AP calculus class my last year, a class I am sure would have been taken from me if I stayed.  The AP who helped me keep it asked me, on the side, how I would handle the year coming up as she knew as well as I did something was in the works to get me to leave.

Maybe all schools and all administrators are not like the one described, but there are enough around to know senior, experienced teachers are not wanted.  The city, with its severe budget crisis, will end up paying money for loans and then get rid of the people who hung around when they start earning too much and get smart enough to question policies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Cars

I have to break down and replace my '99 Pathfinder.  It is full of rust, the low gas light hasn't worked in years and the spedometer and odometer gave out a month ago.  I still want to keep it going but now it isn't always driving so great.

So far we looked at Rav 4  (Toyota gave us $50 to test drive it), Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda CRV.  I wasn't crazy about the Rav 4 so it is down to the other two.  Both have similarities and big differences. (The CRV doesn't come in bright red.)   I have to decide carefully.  The car after this one is my husband's pick (we alternate choosing new vehicles) and with the length of time we keep cars, this could very well be my last one.

I hate dealing with car dealers and I hate making decisions.  I wish my old one could be repaired.  I don't mind the rust, or the radio volume that doesn't adjust all the time.  I don't like change and changing what I drive is a big decision.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Benefit Of Not Working

A Groupon combined with good weather produced a great overnight get away in Atlantic City.

Not being gamblers, we didn't even lose anything.

Pictures on Facebook.

The Last Sabbatical

Sabbaticals will soon be a thing of the past.  The last group of teachers eligible to take them are doing so now, as I write.   The city, in its infinite wisdom, had micromanaged every step of the way.

I've been told teachers could only get approved for courses at one of three colleges.  Two are on Long Island and Queens.  These are expensive, private schools.  Tuition is undesirable for all and location is awful for many.  The other, a city college is located in the most inconvenient borough of all--Staten Island. 

In addition to the restrictive locations, course study was also severely restricted.  Instead of courses in mathematics, English literature, history or anything remotely connected to the areas people teach, everyone is taking a course in data analysis and writing across the curriculum.  Taking courses that would actually improve teaching were not permitted.

It seems the city did everything possible to make sabbaticals as difficult as possible.  No consideration of people or children was even considered.  Taking the sabbatical to improve teacher quality is non existent with these courses that will not help anyone in the classroom.

On the plus side, these courses only meet one day a week so the teachers have plenty of free time to play.   This is how the city will justify doing away with sabbaticals.  Sabbaticals like these will not help education at all.

I've just been told that there are sabbatical people in other locations, taking real courses.  I hope the friend who told me this is wrong.  Maybe she was just scared into believing it and followed protocol in hope of not being denied.

Monday, March 19, 2012


The girl woman was distraught.  She has been the sole care taker of her mom for years.  Mom has Parkinson's and is getting worse every day.  Insurance pays for an aid to help mom several hours a day, but that is not enough.  The woman works and goes to school and wants to do it all. 

In her culture, children take care of their parents.  They don't use nursing homes and keep outside care to a minimum.  But, in her culture there is usually an extended family to help.  The mom has no one but her daughter. 

The woman has no life outside of school and work.  Every waking moment is spent caring for mom or worrying about her.  Mom wants to go back to her country of birth to live out her final days.  The woman doesn't want this to happen.  She would miss her mom too much and the financial strain of going to visit twice a year would kill her. She would have to take on an extra job to pay for the aid that insurance now covers. 

Many of us have tried to convince the woman that a good nursing care facility might be best for both of them.  The mom would have round the clock care, and the daughter could visit often and still have a life.  The daughter is conflicted and depressed and barely functioning.

The daughter is in my night class.  She is a hard worker and bright but doesn't know if she will be able to finish out the semester.  Last  term depression caused her to take a leave of absence.

There are lots of  people with situations similar to that of the daughter.  When she began her story, others chimed in with similar ones.  I don't have answers but now a greater understanding of why so many of my students can't succeed.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just In

Pictured above is a building on a man made island, near the Verrazano Bridge that was used to house immigrants passing through Ellis Island but unfit for American soil.  They sat here until passage could be arranged home.

Presently the island is inhabited by harbor seals and other wild life.  The DOE plans to send teams of ATRs here to rebuild the building which will then be used as the new rubber room for teachers whose scores are not quite good enough. 

I Made A Difference

No matter what a certain individual thinks, I know I did a good job when I see a picture like the above posted on Facebook, dedicated to me.

This individual can say all the negative things he wants, spread all the mean nasty lies he wants, but the truth will live on.  He has never and will never make a lasting, important contribution to any one's life.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Torment Continues With No End In Sight

Blame Others

When the shit hits the fan and it is brought to light that the kids only passed because they were given answers during the exam, who will be blamed?  The AP who came up with this system and coerced encouraged the teachers to do this.  I think not.  The administrator will throw the staff under the bus, blaming them for everything and walk away smelling like a rose.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rude Awakening

I asked Brian, a student in my college class if he was a cutter in high school.  He gave me a little smile and asked how I knew.  I told him years of experience.  It is obvious from the work he does when he is in class that he is a very bright young man.  It is also obvious that he has major holes in his knowledge and the only thing he knows is the stuff he picks up when he shows up.  Studying and homework are things foreign to him.   His attendance in my class is not as good as it should be either.

I didn't lecture him about studying or showing up.  He's heard that 100's of times before.  I reminded him that college, unlike high school, costs lots of money.  Of course his answer was "It doesn't cost anything. I get financial aid."  I then told him that financial aid was his money and if he wasn't careful he would use it all up before he got started on his real education.  I told him the story of a girl who was now in debt up to her eye balls paying for the education that her financial aid should have paid for.

He was polite and agreed and I wish I could say he got it, but I am sure he didn't.  I'm afraid this year will be a washout for him.  He's in for a rude awakening when he finds college grading and high school grading are not the same.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


From the latest memo, sent out March 14.

Happy Pi day! We will celebrate e day on 2/17/18 (if I am still working here).

Oh, I am sure lots of people have stuff to say about his still working at Packemin.  I won't comment about it here.  While e day only occurs once in a life time and pi day happens every year, I can understand why its celebration is more important but you'd think a math department could celebrate both.  In all my years at Packemin, I never remember any special activitives on March 14.

            Please do not issue a passing grade to students whose average is below 65 or those who has more than 5 cuts or unexcused absences from February 1, 2012. A grade of 60 might be more appropriate. Bear in mind that you can always raise the grade of a student if they begin to do what is right, yet, you will have a very hard time to lower their grades later.  I have many of these students and I tell them that I would consider giving them a passing grade in June iff the pass the Final exam and the Regents exam.

If you can raise a grade, why can't you lower one?  Shouldn't kids get the grade they earned? Why should kids keep working and studying just to be considered for a passing grade?

            If you have students who missed one exam, please do not count it against them if they were absence was legitimate and they passed the other exam.  For the students who have a failing average who miss exam(s), please give them their average and let them know you will calculate their final average without the missing grade, provided they pass the Regents exam and/or final exam in June and attended class regularly.

This last sentence needs interpretation.  Why work only on the promise of consideration of a passing grade?

No wonder the kids are confused about what is expected of them.  

Into The Shredder

My husband, a product of the private sector, keeps insisting teachers should not be exempt from evaluations (the stuff the media is hyping teachers want) as everyone gets evaluated.  I've tried zillions of times to explain that it is not an exemption from evaluations we want, it is a valid evaluation. 

He doesn't get the invalidity of using test scores because he doesn't know how invalid they are.  He doesn't get stacking classes because he has never had to deal with an administrator who does this year after year.  And, he has seen me take the lowest kids in the school term after term, get many to pass and still have the worst statistics and he thinks this is valid because the schools will know the population I worked with.
He claims teachers haven't come up with a better system than the one being offered, but he is wrong there too.  Years ago, when Principals and Assistant Principals were real master teachers they could judge who was good and who wasn't.  Now, most of these people wouldn't know a good teacher if they feel on one.  They mistake noise for group work and chalk and talk, often necessary, for non student involvement.  My first AP was one of the nastiest, most hated people in the school.  But, she knew how to teach and she rarely went after someone who was good.  She is the one that taught me and countless others how to teach.  Data wasn't her motivator, learning was.  My husband claims that private industry has lots of newbies and incompetents in charge too.  It is the wave of the future.  I don't understand why, instead of trying to change this, he wants to see it accepted and spread around. 

Perhaps he is right and it is too late to go back and get people who actually know something to be in charge.  But, it is not too late to change the evaluation system.  If it was up to me, I would survey parents and children and find out what they think of their teachers.  Good surveys could be worded in a way to get honest answers.  When the majority come out good, or bad, that should say something.  Administrators should also have a say.  I would even go so far as to let security guards and school aides chime in.  They often know more about what is going on than the people in charge.  There should also be peer evaluations.  Put all these together and you will get a well rounded picture of teacher.   And then, the evaluation could be made.

No system is perfect.  Every industry has people in it that don't belong.  My husband is wrong.  Teachers want and need evaluations.  The evaluations are what make us better.  They point out or strengths and our weakness and show us the areas we need to improve upon.  Showing me test scores does nothing.  They can't tell me where I feel short, only that I might have.

Cuomo is doing the public a major disservice pushing his agenda as it will do nothing to help the children of New York State.  Spending Democratic Party contributions to air his harmful commercials is wrong.  Contributions were not meant for this and these commercials should stop.  I just got a letter asking for my donation.  It went straight into the shredder.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sleeping Through An Exam

The boy showed up, almost on time for his exam in the 8:00 AM.  At first he attacked each problem, and put down precise answers to every question.  But then, I noticed his eyes starting to close.  Several times he jerked himself awake and continued working.  He even asked permission to go the the bathroom to wash his face.  It was no help.  He barely finished in the allotted time.

As he slept, I wondered why he was so tired.  Was he just tired from staying up all night on Facebook or with his girl friend?  Had he worked all night, slaving away at some low paying job to help his family pay the rent and buy food?  More kids do this than anyone would like to believe.  I am guessing from his accent, he is a fairly recent arrival in this country.

I covered the class for an absent teacher so I will never learn his true story.  I feel for him but rest a little easier knowing his teacher will not be held accountable for his grade and no one would write her up if they saw him sleeping at his desk.  In college, teachers are not held accountable for things they cannot control.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Concern For The Child

The girl was not doing well in her self contained special education class.  The supervisor decided to change the child's IEP and put her in an ICT class.  "After all", the supervisor was overheard saying, "if we have to have her here we might as well get more money for her.  She can't pass any class so what difference does it make."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lunch With Friends

Teachers in a big high school only get to know people they have common lunch or prep periods with.  There are so many great people working within inches of each other we never get to know.

Now that many of us have retired, we are rectifying the situation.  What started out as a small group having lunch has expanded to a group of 17 meeting once a month.  We are finding so many new friends, friends with common interests, people we never knew existed.

Sorry guys, we only opened the lunch to women.  Any Packemin retirees are welcome to join.  E-mail me if you are interested.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Proud Criminal

The pride she feels in her accomplishment is equivalent to the pride a bank robber feels when he counts his loot.

Both profited on the labors of others.  Both have ill gotten gains.  The bandit can spend his money but must hide his face.  If he is caught, he will be put away for many years.  She, on the other hand walks around like a proud peacock, strutting her feathers.  She is congratulated for pulling a fast one.  She cheated and lied.  She forced others to do the dirty work for her.  

She is no better than the bandit, in fact she is a lot worse.  To get this bonus she hurt many. Kids have been given a false sense of accomplishment.  The value of the diploma has been diminished.  And the sad thing is, no one cares.

One day she will be stopped.  Her tears will flow but they won't save her.  The people who helped her along the way will be too busy saving themselves.  It will be too late to help those who have been hurt but at least others will be saved.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Show Time

Packemin is having its Quality Review next week and I am sure everyone is nervous.  I was one of the people the Brits visited.  Even I, a veteran teacher who knew the QR had no affect on me personally was concerned.  It turned out great.  Relax, read my account if you are interested.  It is posted here for all to view.  

Relax an do what you do every day.  The teachers and students at Packemin are great.  If the QR people don't notice this, they don't want to see the truth and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Good luck to all.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Trying Doesn't Cut It For This Girl

What do you say to a student who sits in a remedial college class night after night, moaning that the work is too hard.

The girl tries but can't do more than copy the material from the board.  She is allowed to use a calculator but I have to remind her constantly to use it.

She sends me e-mails all the time about the class, letting me know she cares but she can't write a coherent sentence and I very often can't even understand what she is writing about.

She reminds me of the non-diploma bound special education kids I knew at Packemin.  Her IQ can't be much higher.  I wonder why she is sitting in a college class, wasting money and her time, frustrating the hell out of her.

The high school she went to probably encouraged her to attend college.  They probably got points added on to their evaluations because she has gone on to higher education.  Instead of points, they should be fined and punished for letting this girl believe she can have a future that involves academics.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Chihuahua On Crack

No commentary needed here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Do you remember the days when your mom cleaned the house extra good, made a special dinner and dressed you in your finest outfits because company was coming?  She polished silverware and took out the best china too.  All this was stuff she never did, but the visitors had to be impressed.  She also wanted it all to appear to be everyday occurrences.

The people that trained your mom must have also trained school administrators because they are preparing the same way.  All the best stuff is being put out.  Necessary lessons that can't be finished are being put on hold, much like the dirty laundry that didn't get done but got shoved under the bed.  Rooms that haven't been decorated in years are now being spiffed up.

Memo_032 is just a little reminder for all of what needs to be done.

We will go through with Quality Review next week.  You are allowed to give exams on our exam days.  Please make sure you teach lessons that can be finished.  Please make sure you do what you regularly do, which is to walk around instead of standing or sitting in the front.  Please also engage in bell-to-bell instruction. Please decorate the classroom for both the Q.R. and Parent-Teacher Conference day/evening.

And while we are on the topic of mom, remember all that nagging she used to do and does continues to do..  It irritated you then and it irritates you still.  Now, not only do you get to hear mom's nagging, you get to read it in department memos.

We have all received a ladder of referral from the Principal.  Please pay attention to the following:
 Some teachers ask their students to put their cell phone away when they see one.  When students refuse to do it, they then ask for the phone.  I have been around for quite a while and I have not met a single student who will give me their cell phone after they refuse to put it away.  If you choose to ask the students to put the cell phone away, you should deal with the consequences when they fail to do so.  Calling for a dean is not the solution.  I have stated this many times before that when you see a cell phone, you should ask for it.  When a student refuses to give it to you, you can then call for a dean because it is no longer a classroom management issue.  The student is breaking school rules and being insubordinate at the same time.  I really do not wish to discuss it any further because there is no point.  Please just do what I ask you to do and I will support you.  In addition, please only call for security when there is imminent danger.  For other issues, please call and ask for a dean.

Creating A Best Seller

Okay boys and girls, show time is approaching.  Go get your best outfits ready, shine your shoes, hit the hair dressers and the nail salons.  Tidy up your rooms and hang up your best decorations.  Appearances count.  You've got to convince those observers that you are the best.  Since they don't know the difference between good and bad anyway the face you show is all that will matter.

Put a pretty cover on the book and you will be a best seller.  No one will care about what is inside.  They never do.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Chihuahua Picture

The little chihuahau was getting nervous.  The older, bigger dogs were staring to bark and people were starting to notice.  She new she had 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)

Set Up For Failure

The remedial class that started out with so much promise is promising no more.

Attendance is abysmal.  They are only allowed four absences and many have two or more already.  Telling time is a skill they also lack as they think nothing of walking in at 7 for a class that started at 6:10.

Only about 6 bothered to buy the text book.

They don't go to the lab to do homework from the school books.

They don't hand in test corrections.

And, they think they will pull through and pass.

These kids are so used to being passed through and being able to make up everything (or at least get credit for nothing) at the last minute they can't conceive of anything be different in college from high school.

Here we don't call parents and we don't give fourth and fifth and hundredth chances.  Our jobs don't depend on their passing.  In fact, we can lose our jobs if we pass them when they know nothing.

I've been trying to convince them of the errors of their ways.  Hopefully they will learn before it is too late..

Monday, March 05, 2012

Joke On Them

I always thought it would be fun to prepare a totally bogus calculus lesson, go over it with kids and have them practice giving bogus answers and then invite the Principal in to observe.  The Principal would probably have no understanding of what was being taught but would be so impressed by the kids enthusiasm, participation and engagement she would write up the lesson as one superior to any she had ever seen.  Imagine her embarrassment when someone reading the write up caught all the errors. 

We had a Principal many years ago who would have observed a calculus class like the one mentioned.  But, before doing the write up, he would go to the AP of the department and check the facts.  The AP in those days was a real mathematician and nothing got past her.  None of those administrators are around anymore.  The Principal would be in deep doodoo having to rely on a cabinet member for help.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Shtupping The Boss

The miserable little bitch stopped being so mean and ornery all the time.  The kids who always ran away from her shrill voice and her uncontrollable shrieks lingered longer as these awful sounds came out less frequently i.  She even smiled once in a while.  She still did evil things, but not as often as she used to do them.

Everyone was enjoying the partial peace but wondered what brought it about.  And then it was discovered that the miserable little bitch had a new boy friend and was getting some on a regular basis.  Sex was working.  Now the people wondered how long the boy friend would stick around.  They hoped it would take forever for him to discover the woman he was really with.  They needed him keeping her happy.

New Way To Waste Money

I just heard about a new assistant principal position-- DATA SPECIALIST.

In this day and age when there is so little money available for students, when classes and services are being cut left and right, where academic administrators are not being replaced, big money is being spent on a DATA SPECIALIST, a person who will sit in an office and sift through papers and numbers finding ways to make things come out in a way to benefit the school.

Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics."  I never thought I would see the day when education was replaced by these phony numbers and the people who supposedly care about kids are leading the way.

Topic Of Next Department Meeting

New Teacher Retirement Plan

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Advice You Should Not Be Seeking From A Columnist

 What is this world coming to when a mom has to turn to Amy to ask if her daughter belongs in college?

And, doesn't she understand that the child will be just as unprepared no matter what her ACT or SATs show.

She needs to save her money and find something her child is really interested in and capable of doing.

Reply To All Finally Shared

Reply to All posted here.
Posting it on this blog would have been too evil.

I will share another part of memo_024

 I would also like to inform you that there were many factors as to why we were at 93.1 percentile on the list of winning schools, put together by my union. In our school’s progress report, one major judging factor was how effective we were at helping the bottom students “move up”. In other words, having top scores and many students taking upper-level classes were not the reason why we were up there. That also explains why most specialized high schools did not do “well” because they do not have weak or low level students to begin with.  Therefore, if you taught ME41/42/43/44, ME21/22, MG21/R/MG22/R, MR21/R/MR22/R and you had above department average passing percentage on the Regents exam, I would like to particularly thank you.
 I had two ME 43/44 classes with kids who came in totally unprepared but I got them through.  I almost wish now I hadn't because those 50 kids failing would certainly have given the school a lower grade. (Of course I could never let kids fail.)


There are twenty-two seniors who must pass the Integrated Algebra Regents exam in June in order to meet the graduation requirement for math.  A class will be put together just for them four days a week (Monday through Thursday).  We can make it period 9, 10 or 11 so that it will fit into your day. You will be compensated at per-session rate and it is pensionable.  If you are interested, please let me know.  It will start next week or so. I understand many of the math teachers are taking classes after school and that prevents them from taking the job.
It seems to me teaching a sixth class should involve more than per-session.  The four day week probably skirts this requirement.  Still, it seems like quite a bit of work for this little money.

Before agreeing to teach this, ask:
1.  What happens if the kids don't show up?
2.  Will I be required to call parents and track them down?
3.  Will I be compensated for the time it takes to call parents and track them down?
4.  How will I be affected if they don't pass?

I've taught these at risk kids before.  It takes a special talent to get through to them because they don't see things the way others do.  The late logs, the no hat rule, the homework policy, the attendance requirement don't work with this group.  To teach them successfully, you need to break almost every rule, something that young, inexperienced teachers have been trained not to do.  Being successful with kids like this is an art, something it takes years to master. You have to be able to relate to these kids.  Traditional methods have not worked int he past and will not work now.

Several years ago I taught a double period class of seniors who had not passed one math class since freshman year.  It was a class I volunteered to teach as teachers weren't being rated by statistics back then. I got 27 out of 29 through.  It took all the effort I could muster to keep these kids going.  As a per-session class, this would have been impossible.  Unfortunately, the kids in that group, while passing the regents never learned math.  I see them still, years later, floundering around the community college campus, their biggest nemesis--MATH.

Mr. AP wrote in a previous memo that it job is to move these kids ahead,  It is not moving them ahead that counts but moving them out.  These administrators want to keep their bonuses coming.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Losing Face

It must be really hard running a department when the people you are in charge of have absolutely no respect for you.  And, when you have done something really stupid, like, for example, sending a private, evil e-mail to the entire department, you show your twisted mind to everyone.

It is truly amazing what passes for an administrator in today's world.  But, when stats are good, humanity and intelligence are often overlooked.  No one wants to realize the good stats have nothing to do with the vindictive devil in charge

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Last Of The Big Spenders

This AP got a $6000 bonus based on the work of the teachers in the department.  To reward them for this hard work she is treating them all to pizza, pizza she orders from a place that gives the school a big discount.

I hope these teachers appreciate the high esteem she has for them.

One Size Fits All Not Applicable In Teaching

Being a big fan of NYC Ed, I never miss a post.  I've especially been enjoying the latest two on classroom discipline even though I am no longer part of that scene and thought I would add my own two cents here.

I, like Ms. Eyre, am not very big.  And, when I first started teaching I was 20 years old, the same age as some of my students.  To say I was terrified would be an understatement.  I quickly realized that the kids liked me and I used that to my advantage.  For example, hats were always a problem.  I explained that I didn't agree much with the hat rule but I had to follow it or I would get in trouble.  The kids removed hats to keep me safe.  The same was true with cell phones.

When I started teaching at Packemin, the Principal walked in to a computer class of extremely difficult EH (emotionally handicapped) boys.  Although I had taught for 8 years, I had zero experience with special education students like these kids and almost no computer knowledge.  The lesson was not great but the write up was fantastic.  The Principal at that time was a really smart guy and was impressed.  The kids immediately stopped acting up and started participating as soon as he entered the room.  He knew these kids well and recognized they were doing it to make me look good.  From experience, he knew they did not care about how they looked.  He was impressed by their response to me and knew I would eventually get them to where they were supposed to be.

The kids know that when an administrator walks in the room it is the teacher they are looking at, not them.  I've seen kids who normally do next to nothing perk up to put on that little show as soon as someone in a suit enters the room.  I had a girl almost in tears because her head was down when the Principal visited.  She told me she was sick and was sorry if she got me in trouble.  She wanted to go down and explain but I told her it was not necessary.

Every teacher needs his or her own style to maintain discipline in the classroom.  I know some of the things I did were a little unorthodox, but they worked.  My kids learned and did well on regents exams.  They performed well during observations.  There is no one size fits all.  Trying to find one will not benefit anyone and will not help learning.