Friday, November 30, 2012

Poor Decision


A close family friend is getting married and the entire family is making the trip to Texas to witness the event.  Not wanting my kids to spend money means we are shelling out for six plane tickets, three hotel rooms and two cars  (Actually, the kids will pay for their own car.)  It will all be worth it to have everyone together for a weekend at this special event.

The hotel offers a special wedding rate of $99 a night.  Not bad, but Travelocity is offering the same room and including breakfast and parking for $68 a night.  (Hotel wants $16 a night to park.)  I called the hotel, told them of the deal on Travelocity and asked them to match it.  They said they couldn't.  Fine.  I cancelled that reservation and booked us all with the cheaper rate, saving around $400.

I can't figure out why the hotel couldn't match the deal.  They will only get a portion of the $68 I am paying to Travelocity.  They had to know I'd jump at the bargain.  Most people will.  No wonder business are in trouble.

(Picture from Bloomingdale's.  More here.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advice To New Teachers Or How To Beat An Ogre

Some administrators are quite overbearing with their demands and, even when you know the correct thing to do you are afraid to do it because of repercussions from your supervisor.  Here is one little tip, something to use to get over a difficult AP.

It was never easy to change a grade once it was given.  Administrators don't always agree with the reasons for the change.  They have a way of making teachers feel stupid for changing the grade.  They never make mistakes and teachers shouldn't either.  And, if a mistake is made, it never should be admitted.  But, I learned early on that it was easy to get the grade changed without letting the person in charge know it is being changed.  All anyone needs  to do is go to a friendly guidance counselor or someone who works in the program office.  One little click and the grade is changed and the AP will never be any wiser.

Micro managers need to be managed.  Hope this advice helps.  I thought it was necessary to share after reading this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ah, What The Hell

Here's the memo:

November 26, 2012

 Welcome back from the well-deserved break. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

 Today is the deadline for submission for grade changes for the last marking period. Last week, I sent everyone an email regarding how to change a grade. Please make sure I get the grade change email before 4:00 pm this afternoon.

Grade changes should only be done if you made a mistake. Please do not adjust a grade up or down because a student requested it. And every time you change a grade, you are basically admitting that you made a mistake. All mistakes should be corrected as soon as possible. But if it is not a mistake, please leave the grade the way it is.

Because CUNY changed their criteria in terms of College Readiness, we have to change our plan as well. It used to be that a student scores over 80 on MXRE, MXRG or MXTR and score a 75 or higher on the English Regents, then the student is college ready. If a student scored an 80 or higher on MXRE and 75 or higher on the English Regents ad does not sit for MXRG and MXRT, the student is College-Ready as well. We all know the latter is not true. So, they have changed it so that if a student passes all three math Regents and score a 75 or higher on the English Regents, then the student is College Ready. 

So, instead of notifying all seniors in MRF41 who are passing, we will have to notify those who are border-line passing to retake MXRE in January with the hope that they will score 80 or higher. I will be working on the file and I might need your input if you are teaching MRF41 and its variations.

I urge everyone teaching MEF41 and MEF81 to make sure there are calculators in your classroom on a daily basis. We need to teach them how to use it and the best way is for them to use it in class everyday. I do not have any issues if you are able to convince all your students to buy their own. I have a few boxes available for you. We are required by NYSED to provide a graphing calculator for students to use. Unfortunately, it is not up to us because “We want to teach them responsibility.” or “They should know better than coming to their math class without a calculator!”

 We are looking for a few math teachers to do mediation. It  will be a per-seesion activity and please apply!

Thank you and have a great week!

College Readiness and an AP's Point of View


CUNY has changed their criteria for what makes a student college ready.  They realize kids are coming in after graduating from high school and passing regents knowing nothing and the failure rate is abysmal.  The high school now knows it must do something about this as part of its ratings will be how college ready their graduates are. 

Instead of changing the way kids are taught, kids with grades below the CUNY cutoff will be encouraged to retake the exam.  And the point scrubbers will be busy finding those extra points to get them over the mark.  Will they be ready?  No!!!!  Will the school look good on paper?  You better bet it will. Who will be the biggest losers?  The kids of course, they still won't be ready to do college work.

(Post based on a department memo not posted her because it is just too confusing for anyone to understand.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Magic Formulas

My kids attended one of the top elementary schools in the city.  There was not one teacher in the school any parent dreaded having their child in a class with.  There was a teacher whose sole job was physical education.  There were reading and math specialists.  There were community volunteers.  The Principal knew every child and parent by name, as did the security guards.  One guard even told me my daughter was trading her pastrami sandwiches for cheese doodles

This school was also one of the lowest rated schools in district 26.  It was a small school, only two classes per grade and a combination 5-6 grade class.  (This was the last year the school had a sixth grade.)  There were ESL students and special education students enrolled.  When standardized testing came around, all kids were included.  Anyone who knows anything about statistics would realize that these students, the ones who should not be taking the exams, were lowering the all around scores.  (A test with 10 questions has each worth 10 points while one with 100 has each worth only 1.)  My son, a bright boy who scored in the 97th percentile in math could barely score 45 percent on reading until 4th grade.  He too wold have brought the numbers down.

I don't know what is going on with that school today.  I don't know if it has grown in size or if the population has changed.  I do know that by today's standards it would have been ranked low and I would have looked for another school for my children.  Since they both got an outstanding education there, I am glad that did not happen.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Diamond or Glass?


Dahlia wants to transfer to a four year university.  Too bad she failed the first test, missed the second one, does little to no homework and has to be told to put her phone away constantly.  So, when she came up in the beginning of class and asked me to fill out a recommendation, I told her to sit down and ask again at the end.  I saw no reason to embarrass her in front of everyone with what I had to say.  She said okay and took her seat.  As I walked around helping the students, I noticed Dahlia trying to hide her phone.  All I did was look at her and then look away.  She put the phone away and began working and left without getting her form filled out.

Dilbert also wants to transfer.  And, while he got off to a slow start, he quickly realized the error of his ways and turned himself around.  He has not missed a homework assignment and scored in the high 90's on last exam.  His recommendation got filled out immediately.

Too bad there as so many Dahlia's and so few Dilbert's around.  Hopefully Dahlia will see the error of her ways and end up where she wants to be.  She is bright.  She needs to learn how to use her intelligence the right way.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stars Up Above

I really am a cheap date.  I must have spent 30 minutes just watching the stars change color in the Time Warner building on Columbus Circle.  In fact, I loved it so much I went back a second time.  they weren't as pretty during the day.  These were taken with my little point and shoot.
If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and then go see Discovering Columbus, which has been extended until December 2.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

UFT retiree programs are not making up the day missed due to the storm even though the teachers those courses desperately need the help they offer.  Too bad Mugrew won't follow that example.

I took some picture's of Macy's Christmas windows last week. I managed to improve one a little to this:

And this week's lesson got it to this:

But, as you can see, I still need work.  More Macy's windows here, on Facebook.

Thanksgiving Turkey Song 2008 Gloria Gobbler - Gloria Gaynor "You Can't ...

 We are eating leftover mac and cheese.

Importance Of Understanding Proportions

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Motto To Live By

(M) Share this image if you agree. Thanks to @[402328243146306:274:Labor Think] for sharing it with us.

Posted on the @[177486166274:274:Being Liberal] fan page.

Principals have no control over paychecks but they do control treatment of their staff.

You think they would follow something like this.

Great Feeling

There is a big difference between teaching kids who have a background and need some review and relearning and those who have no background and never knew anything to begin with.

It is impossible to teach a year's work in 4 months to those in the latter group.  I have a class full of the former ones.  There are lots of home works, good questions and A's.  I love my class so much I almost feel guilty accepting a pay check.

(picture from Macy's, Herald Square)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Put On Gloves and Fight Back


I don't understand why union employees with job security take some of the crap they do from supervisors. 

An English chairman years ago brought grown women to tears when she walked in the room.  They had tenure and she didn't,  but they still cowered in her presence.  The only ones she left alone were the ones who fought back.  She never hassled the teacher who corrected her grammar on every memo and she left the men alone.

Another AP did everything in his power to get certain teachers to leave. One fought back by writing a letter to the superintendent outlining all he had done.  He backed off and never bothered her again.  Another went to the Principal constantly and, while the Principal didn't care much about her, he did not want to be bothered with nonsense.  Something must have happened because the AP backed off and stopped bothering the teacher.
My advice to anyone being harassed unfairly is to fight back.  If the administration is out to get you, they won't leave you alone just because you are being quiet and trying to blend into the background.  Once you've been targeted, they will keep going after you.  The only way to get them to stop is to find a bigger issue and go after them.  Show your claws and sharpen your teeth.  It's your only hope of surviving.
(Picture--Macy's Herald Square)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Honey Works

The college is having us make up days missed because of Sandy.  It means working days we don't usually work and even coming in weekends.

A colleague I worked with at Packemin works with me at the college.  Her feelings about these make up days and mine are pretty much the same.  We both love our time at this school.  We are treated with respect and treated well.  We don't mind doing the extra days, even if it means weekends. 

It is easier to catch bees with honey than vinegar.  Too bad this lesson is one missing in the administration school courses taken by most of the administrators I came in contact with when I taught high school.

(Picture of dancing girl getting some repairs in Macy's window.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Leisure Time

I got up early and started planning my day so I could hit all the holiday windows. And then it hit me.  I don't have to see them all in one day.  I could take my time and enjoy my day.  There would be many other days to see the sights.  So, instead of running east to west and back again, I decided to begint he day with a leisurely walk along the High Line.  It was nice to walk without the crowds and the fall colors were beautiful.

So, I started my journey by taking the E train to 14th and 8th and then walking over to !0th to start the High Line walk right from the beginning.  From there I headed across 34th to see Macy's windows and then up to 38th for Lord and Taylor.  I made the error of then going to Grand Central to visit train exibit and subway museum (I was 5 days early so I will have to go back).  From there I hiked to 49th and Broadway and got tickets to see Book Of Mormon and then hit the subway at 51st and 8th.

Here are a few High Line pictures. The others still need some work I'll post a complete set after I see the rest of window displays. 

 Artwork of mirrors and tin
 Avenue School--where rich kids go

Hotel with X rated views.  I only saw a housekeeper making beds.

Friday, November 16, 2012

After The Storm

Giant trees snapped in half.  No wonder there was such devastation everywhere. 

Took a walk on Cross Island Parkway last weekend.  More pictures here.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Has Got To Be Taught In High School

My class of freshman are pretty good kids.  They do homework, ask questions and get to class on time.  They don't pack up to leave until I tell them the class is over and most are passing, quite a few are running A's. 

Notice I said most are passing.  There are several who haven't made the transition from high school to college.  They are used to sliding along and then doing a bunch of extra credit at the end to bring up their grades.  They are used to make up exams and make up home works.  They expect their lowest grades to be dropped.  They are used to an environment where passing means jumping over a bar barely above ground level.  They don't understand work starts day 1 and assignments have due dates that are not negotiable.

The ones not passing have caught on to what college is like.  I hope they have enough time and enough of a work ethic to recoup and make it through, but I have my doubts.  It is almost impossible to make up and learn 2.5 months of work in 4 weeks.   All the chances in the world won't get these kids high enough grades on the next exams to squeak through.  Hopefully, they will realize that hard work right from the start is what is needed to succeed in college and get next term off to a better start.

High schools need to do their part to prepare students for college.  They need to start treating seniors like real students and make them earn that diploma, make them take responsibility for their actions.  Maybe then, they would come to college prepared.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Compassion Not A Requirement


A girl in my evening class told us her professor told them it was time to get over hurricane losses.  He lost his home and his car and he's still at work.  They should all do the same.  He is accepting no excuses for late work.

I'm glad this guy is able to go on with his life as if nothing happened.  Not everyone can do the same.  He might have resources that allow him to stay in a hotel, he might have family or friends to put him up.  His insurance will pay for a rental car until they give him the money to buy a new one.  Many of his students are not so lucky. 

I don't care what degrees this guy has, or how smart he is, he has no business being in the classroom.  He might know his subject but he knows nothing about compassion.  He must have been asleep when humanity was passed out the day he was born.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crazy Psycho Bitch

Read it here.  Sorry for those who don't have access.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Humiliation, The Way To Run A Department


I never understood why some administrators think demeaning and demoralizing people is a way to make them perform better. 

Mr. Talented is a good, kind teacher.  He works hours on his lessons and is always surrounded by students who come for extra help.  Because of his success with difficult students, the ones who present the biggest challenges are often put in his class.

Mr. Talent doesn't do what he does for any special rewards but he also doesn't expect to be constantly put in the spotlight because his statistics are not as good as others in his department.  Yet, this is exactly what happens every time his department meets.  Oh, his supervisor tries to be slick.  He never mentions Mr. Talent by name but his description of the man leaves little to the imagination.  There really is nothing more Mr. Talent can do.  If his supervisor bothered to look at the academic history of the students in Mr.Talent's classes, he would see that Mr. Talent has succeeded where others have failed.  But, this time of statistical evaluation takes work and ability, something the supervisor is unable and unwilling to do.  He prefers humiliating the Mr. Talent and hopes this humiliation will force him to leave.  What the supervisor fails to realize is that many of these kids will keep on failing and one of the best teachers will no longer around to succeed with others.

It is a wonder how this supervisor got his job and manages to keep it.  Many years ago I taught in a school with a difficult AP.  The Principal held her accountable when good teachers left or transferred.  But then, principals cared about education.  Now, it is just a numbers game.  And, the way this supervisor behaves, he is doing his best to keep the numbers up.  So what if the best leave.  Teachers are dispensable.  There will always be a new one around to pick of the slack and take the blame.

(Picture was taken on path by Cross Island Parkway.  Trees are snapped like twigs.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

This is my dad.  He was a medic during WW II.  He served on the front lines of Germany and France.  Often he had to amputate legs and arms and do all sorts of other stuff to save lives.

During the Battle of the Bulge, he had to take off his medic helmet and pick up a rifle to hold Germans off until back up forces showed up in the morning.

My dad never liked to talk about his war experiences and only started after I saw Saving Private Ryan and asked him tons of questions.  Now, he doesn't stop talking.

Veteran's Day honors my dad and all the veterans.  Thank you.

Election 2012 and The Moral Majority

It's all starting to make sense now. - vince



Times are tough but do we humans have to make it harder for others?

Someone stole the paper guy's car in the middle of his route?

Where's compassion?  These guys work so hard for so little money.

Makes me want to hurt someone.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good Housekeeping



The UFT offer most wonderful trips for retired teachers.  The problem is so many people want to take them, they fill up quickly and more often than not, you get closed out.  A smart retiree realized we didn't need these organized trips to take visit the sites and she arranged our tour of the Good Housekeeping Labs on 57th and 8th.  The Hearst Building, where they are housed is the first green building in NYC.  It is built on top of original. The view from the 29th floor, where labs are located was spectacular.  Above pictures were taken there.


(Sorry for the poor quality of these pics, I only had my little point and shoot camera with me.)
This tour is free, but reservations are needed.  It is given Fridays at 10 and 11:30 and lasts a little over an hour.  The view alone is worth the trip, but the tour was great.  I never realized all that went into the Good House Keeping Seal and now I know it really means quality.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Teachers Don't Understand Him

Supervisor to teacher:  "I speak English, you don't understand it.  I speak  XXX  (real language not mentioned here), you don't understand it.  Even my 4 year old son understands what I say."

Teacher to others in the department:  Do you understand what this supervisor is saying?

Other teachers: "No.   He only speaks gibberish"

The four year old understands because he has been brought up by this person  and has been listening to this gibberish since birth.

Just put some snow storm pictures on Facebook.  Check them out here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Classes Resume

Monday was my first night back at the college.  (Classes resumed Friday.)  I was pleasantly surprised when only two students from my first class were out.  The kids came in with homework and enthusiastically embraced the new lesson.  One girl apologized for plugging in her cell phone (first time I ever heard that).  She said she lives in Howard Beach and her house is in pretty bad shape and there is no electricity.  She looked slightly shell shocked but was right on her game as far as the class was concerned.  Another boy nervously questioned me about what I thought would happen as he didn’t have an outline due in another class.  He said it was done, but he had no electric in his house and couldn’t get it printed.  I sure hope he has an understanding professor.

My evening class, a higher level class, had much lower attendance, but it was still more than I expected.  I got a frantic e-mail from a student stuck in Far Rockaway with no way to get to the school.  I told her to relax and take care of herself and her family first.  The work could be made up.

This term I lucked out with both classes.  It is great to teach kids who want to learn.

(Time Warner is still out.  Don't understand why there isn't even a mention of it in the news or in Newsday.  Posting from Photoshop class.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voter Fraud?

Living in another state, this young man changed his address to become a legal voter where he resides.      
His parents saw his name on the roster they voted on this morning.  I wonder how many other people are registered in two (or more) places at once?

Monday, November 05, 2012

This Principal Is a Mensch

He told his teachers that getting to school Friday shouldn’t be a priority.

He told them the official starting time was 10:00 AM, but those coming in should get there whenever they could.

He told them to bring their children.

He held a short meeting and then sent them to “lunch” and told the new ones to ask the veteran ones what that meant.
I just met a woman who visited the school at 1:00.  She said it was a ghost town.
The school system needs more Principals like this one.
Ghost Buster buildings behind Central Park.  View from roof of Met.
Central Park
Central Park
The giant crane causing all problems on 57th St.
Greek head--Posterized with Photoshop

 Friday I took advantage of free subway and bus rides to visit the Met.  I am grateful transportation was up and running but the 30 minute trip took 2 hours and the line getting on the train going home wrapped around 63rd St.  Smart me thought of taking the express bus and got home in no time.  Anyway, I think I will avoid Manhattan for until things are back to normal.  I did get to see the Geodome exhibit, which closed Sunday so it was all good.  Above are a few pictures.   

Still no Internet at home, but with the losses others have suffered, this is nothing.  Right now, I am at work on a school computer.  

Hope everyone is safe.