Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Who's Right?

The father wants the daughter to change her class. He wants her in a class with a teacher who is nice and gives exams his child can pass.  The daughter wants to stay with her current teacher.  She doesn't like him, but knows he is a good teacher and knows that by staying with him she will pass the regents (and subsequently the class) in the end.  She knows she is learning even though her grades don't show it.  Last year she had a teacher who babied her and she learned nothing.

I understand the father wants only the best for his child.  In this case, does father really know best?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dehumanization New Administrative Requirement


The AP is constantly beating up on one of the teachers in his department.  Even if his criticism is on target, it comes out of his mouth and anyone in its path feels like they have been hit by an 18 wheeler.  The teacher has been so emotionally destroyed that it is impossible to take in anything the AP says.

Administrators are supposedly in place to help teachers.  I don't know when dehumanization became a licensing requirement.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Consider The Students


I get why the college had to make up the days missed due to the hurricane and, using weekends might have been the best way to do this, but, no one bothered to think about the students who attend these classes.

Teachers had a choice.  They could have assigned extra work, or extended other classes until the time was made up if they did not want to extend the semester.  The students had to do whatever their teacher decided.  Many junior college students work weekends and cannot take off.  Bosses don't want to understand the need to be in school when it is one week before Christmas and cash registers need to be manned.  Nursing home supervisors need their patients to be taken care of.  Students have weddings and other events to attend, events that cannot be canceled and have been in the works for months.

I was one of the teachers that decided to hold class on the weekend.  Giving extra work or extending classes seemed like a waste of time to me.  But, now that I did it, I don't know if I chose wisely. While most of my students attended, I had several who could just not be there.  They lost out by missing some new material taught and general review.

I don't know if there is a better way to make up the time, but if this ever happens again, the kids must be taken into account and I will survey the students before making my decision.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ladley Ladle

My daughter loves to cook.  (She doesn't get this love from me.)  Soups and chili are some of her passions and her boyfriend bought her a really big pot to use for these creations.  Now she has been on a mission to find a big ladle, or a "ladley ladle" as she calls it.  The handle had to be long and the bowl deep and large.  Up until now she has had no success finding one.

Over the weekend I came up with the idea of trying a restaurant supply store.  I hit the jackpot.  They had ladles almost as big as my child.  I think I found her the perfect one (pictured on the left next to a normal ladle.)  The bowl holds eight ounces and the handle is long enough to hit the bottom of the deepest pots.

We'll see her in Texas for a wedding next week.  I am packing it now so I won't forget to bring it for her.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

34th St Lights Baltimore, Maryland

34th St--little row houses with the best lights ever!!  You would not believe the stuff crammed into this one block (and a few adjacent ) area.  If you are ever in Baltimore this time of year, go and visit.  It is worth bucking the crowds.

Being a beer lover, I was especially fond of this:

But who can resist a tree made of records or hub caps:

More photos here

Chinese Man Explained

It must be hard to adjust when a person emigrates to one country from another.  Cultures and customs are different.  While it is possible to hold on to some traditions, others must be left behind.

I was thinking about all of this while reading Sun Flower and The Secret Fan, by Lisa See, which takes place in nineteenth century China.  It is the story of two young girls.  (I won't go into all of that now, except to say it is a wonderful book.)  Women are nothing in that era.  They are taught to obey their fathers, obey their husbands and then obey their sons.  Not only was the male figure the dominant one, the oldest male ruled the roost and everyone kowtowed to him.

A Chinese male who has been raised in an environment like that, a place that has not evolved much from the nineteenth century might still have these values.  And, if he happens to have a position of authority, or a job that puts him in control, he will expect others, particularly women to obey him blindly.  He might even think of himself as a father figure.  These even might account for the preponderance of young female Asians hired to work for him.

This idea of the male elder being everything goes totally against the American way of life.  Culture or no culture, a revolution is needed to take a man like this down.  Fortunately, there are not too many of these old time thinkers around. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Four Season's
 Four Season's

Rockefeller Center--My all time favorite

Friday, December 21, 2012

Teacher Value


Letters, like the ones below are what keep me in the classroom.  This teacher, gets lots of these letters too.  Too bad her administration doesn't value her half as much as her students do.

Hey professor, its  John Smit again. I just wanted to write to you to say
thank you. Thank you for being so understanding during my time of hardship and
being so supportive. You are a truly caring and kind hearted person, that I'm
very thankful for. I feel that your positive attitude and faith in me was what
helped me improve in your class and bring my grades up. So I just wanted to
really say thank you and it was my pleasure to be a student of yours.

How are you Professor.POd I really appreciate your time and effort you give
to your students. Giving opportunities to everyone in class is a memory that won't
be forgotten. Thank you very much for telling me where I am and how well I have
to do on the final, I am going to work harder than I did before.

Hi Professor,

I just wanted to say thank you for everything, I had a great time in your class. Every class that we had together was very interesting. I learned a lot. Just wanted to ask you something if you can pull up my grades for this term up until now, just so i can calculate and confirm my transfer application. Thank you professor once again. I also would like to apologize for skipping some parts of the class, as i had wrote on my last test that we took yesterday, i regret leaving. You are a great professor and i really respect you, and because of that i would like to apologize. The relation between a teacher and a student is like no other relation. Please accept my apology, and keep the grudges away from your heart about me. I would say you were the best out of all my classes this semester. Hope we can keep in touch. Thank you again, and hope you have a great vacation and hope you and your family have great success and all the best for the future. My prayers will always be with you. Take Care

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Teacher Abuse


She is a good teacher.  She knows how to get the material across to her students.  She is caring and goes the extra mile necessary to help them succeed.  She gives many hours of her free time tutoring.  She spends lots of money buying them treats to reward good work and to encourage them.  Parents love her because of the extra effort she puts into helping their children. 

Her AP does not appreciate her.  He looks finds fault with everything she does.  He both publicly and privately goes out of his way to humiliate her.   He dislikes her for some personal reason and there is nothing she can do to change this.  He is making her life a living hell.  This AP is lucky I'm not around.  I would know exactly how to not only stand down, but ti buckle under.

I'm not saying this teacher is perfect, no one is.  The AP has been caught in many missteps, both administratively and in his subject matter.  This teacher gets good results and cares.  She inspires.  The school should be thrilled to have a teacher of this caliber and should not be pushing her out the door.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Good Advice

People who run the schools ought to follow this advice.
Thanks to Diane for sharing this.

Lion King


A little bit of rain will never stop me when I am determined to go somewhere.  Last Sunday was the last day the Lion King's exhibit of costumes and masks was going to be open.  I just put on my waterproof jacket, packed my camera in its special weather proof bag and headed down to 42nd and 6th to get an up close and personal look at the masks and costumes from one of my all time favorite plays.  For anyone who missed, pictures are posted here, on Facebook.

The Only Good Response Is To Repost

I am in total agreement with Fred Klonsky.  The only response is to repost this as often as possible.  Ms. Ravitch isn't putting down others.  She is saying a union and tenure does not destroy a teacher's love and dedication to the students. 

The only good response I can think of to Teach for America marketing VP David Rosenberg’s demand that Diane Ravitch take down her “reprehensible” post called “The Hero Teachers of Newtown” is to repost it.

December 19, 2012


Diane Ravitch’s Blog

This much is clear: the teachers and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School reacted with astonishing courage to the unthinkable, the terrifying intrusion of a man intent on murdering them and their students. With no thought of their own safety, they defended their children..

Everyone of them is a hero, those who died and those who survived.

Six of them died protecting the children.

We don’t know the names of the survivors, but we know who made the ultimate sacrifice. For their courage and selflessness, they are heroes of American education.

The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 52, ran towards the intruder to try to stop him. They both were killed.

The killer went in search of defenseless babies and teachers. The teachers heard the gunfire, tried to hide their children, hid them in closets and cabinets.

Vicki Soto, 27, put herself between the killer and her children. He killed her. Somehow some of them escaped. Six ran to a nearby house. They told the surprised homeowner,, “We can’t go back to our school. Our teacher is dead. We don’t have a teacher.”

Anne Marie Murphy, 52, was a special education teacher who was devoted to the children she taught. When her body was found, little Dylan Hockley was in her arms.

Rachel D’Avino was a new teacher, who was getting her doctorate in special education. She was a behavioral analyst. Her boyfriend planned to ask her to marry him during the Christmas holiday. Like the other teachers, she died shielding students.

Lauren Rousseau, 30, had joined the faculty in November. She was thrilled. All her life, her mother later said, she wanted to be a teacher.

Every one of the teachers was a career educator. Every one was doing exactly what she wanted to do. They’ve worked in a school that was not obsessed with testing but with the needs of children. This we know: the staff at Sandy Hook loved their students. They put their students first, even before their own lives.

Oh, and one other thing, all these dedicated teachers belonged to a union. The senior teachers had tenure, despite the fact that “reformers” (led by ConnCAN, StudentsFirst, and hedge fund managers) did their best last spring to diminish their tenure and to tie their evaluations to test scores. Governor Malloy said, memorably, to his shame, that teachers get tenure just for showing up. No one at Sandy Hook was just “showing up.”

Governor Dannell Malloy has led the effort in his state to expand charter schools and high-stakes testing. He appointed a state commissioner of education who co-founded a charter chain. He said, memorably, that he didn’t care how much test prep there was so long as scores go up. Sandy Hook is not that kind of school.

Let us hope Governor Malloy learned something these past few days about the role of public schools in their communities.

Newtown does not need a charter school. What it needs now is healing. Not competition, not division, but a community coming together to help one another. Together. Not competing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Make Education Real


Schools spend so much time on test prep and this causes them to lose sight of what education should be all about.  There is no time for trips, trips that might actually make kids appreciate what they are learning because they will see first hand where those skills can be applied and that the jobs they want require the knowledge that they now deem useless.

Today I stopped at the museum at  FIT to see an exhibit on Technology and Fashion.  I've taught many kids who were interested in pursuing a career in the fashion world and could not understand how math or science would help.  If only they had access to something like this, they would see how others used the skills they are scoffing at learning to become important in the fields they love.

Schools are so consumed with evaluating students and with teaching them to bubble in the correct response, activities like trips to see real life applications do not exist.  It's sad.  So many kids will never reach their full potential because they are being stifled in the classroom.

(Picture taken in front of Flat Iron Building.   Everyone could take a free picture with winter scene.  I love the city this time of year.)

Monday, December 17, 2012



This time of year I get nostalgic for Packemin.  I miss the holiday assemblies, the music and the spirit involved.  (I admit, I bitched about the messed up schedule while I was there.)  I miss watching the kids walk into classes with gifts for their friends and gifts they have gotten from them.  I miss their cards and their little gifts but mostly I miss their words that reinforced my reasons for being in the classroom.

I don't miss the math department parties but I do miss the little shindigs in the Principal's office.  (Even the one when Suit whispered to another AP  to come back later when the real food would be served.)  I liked the joviality and the chance chit chat with people I didn't normally have a chance to associate with.

Today I proctored my first final.  I said goodbye to a great group of kids knowing most I will probably never see again.  At Packemin that only happened at graduation.

(Christmas tree--Four Season's Hotel 57th St.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Michelle Rhee Never Misses an Opportunity To Explo...

SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Michelle Rhee Never Misses an Opportunity To Explo...: The news trickled throughout my school yesterday at the horrors that had befallen the students, the teachers, the parents, and the community...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Eighth Night

Always make sure I leave a good selection of colors for the last night.  Tomorrow the wax gets cleaned and the menorah goes away until next year.

I'm thinking of all those poor babies in Connecticut who didn't make it to the last night and to Christmas.  These lights are for them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Glory Be--It is Not The Teacher's Fault


Tonight and tomorrow night are make up classes for the days we missed due to the hurricane.  Today, I had full classes and expect full classes tomorrow.  Is it because I am a good teacher?  NO!!  I got lucky this term and got great classes, full of kids who want to do well.  Both of these groups do homework, study and ask good questions.  They take advantage of the math lab and go for extra help when needed.  They showed up tonight because school is important to them. It's not me, it's them.

The college understands that our classes are mixed bags and the results we get are no indication of our ability to engage and teach.  No one will walk around the building talking about a veteran teacher who only got 92% to pass while a new one got them all to pass.  They don't want shenanigans with grades.  They only want the ones who deserve to move on moving on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Party For All

Yesterday, the math department at the college had its annual holiday party.  All the food served was kosher and there was lots of vegetarian options.  Everyone was welcome, The people in charge thanked everyone for all their hard work and for coming.  The atmosphere was warm and friendly.

At Packemin's math department party, kids who worked hard for the department were excluded from the party.  Teachers were made to feel unwanted.  Nothing like that happened at this event.  It was great and one of the reasons I am happy here, away from there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Holidays

(Origami Tree--Museum Of Natural History)

Count the number of "ifs"

December 6, 2012

There will be Algebra Regents tutoring on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 am.  Please apply if you are available to work on Saturday(s). Please encourage your students to attend tutoring if they are signed up to retake the algebra Regents exam.

CUNY does not consider a student College-Ready unless s/he scored 80 or higher on at least one of the Math Regents exams in high school.  Therefore, students who are currently taking Algebra II & Trigonometry and scored lower than 80 on MXRE or MXRG have been notified to retake the Integrated Algebra Regents exam.  If you are teaching MRF42/QT2, it is likely that more of your students have been notified to retake the Integrated Algebra Regents exam.  Please encourage them to take it and ask them to attend the free Saturday tutoring.

In calculating the grades for this quarter, I included the 1st quarter if it helps a student. In mathematics, the work gets harder and harder. I do not wish to give too many N’s to discourage my students. Remember, I am teaching MEF81QC. My students do not speak English and they do not know a lot of math either, some even have problems speaking Chinese.

There are basically three scenarios I can think of - a student’s grades have been dropping from the 80’s down to the high 60’s or lower; a student’s grades have gone from the 50’s up to the 70’s or higher and a student’s grades remain basically the same. Counting the previous quarter(s) might help some students. I would not pass anyone who has not passed any exams during this quarter.  If you have any questions, please contact me before you submit your grades. Do not assume.

If you have students who have been absent more than four times this quarter, please contact their parents and set up a meeting with me. I would like to speak to them so as to improve the attendance rate in your class. If you cannot reach the parent, please let me know right away. I will try to reach them for you. We have very high passing percentages and the only way to maintain it is to get every student to attend his/her math class.

 If you wish to have any students removed from your class, please call me before you call the Dean’s Office.  And if you have any students removed from your class, you must contact and speak to the parent. And if this is not the first offense, you must also ask the parent to come in for a conference.

If you have any questions about Skedula, Mr. LoBone will be here on 12/11 from periods 5 – 8. A light lunch will be provided. I have the sign-up sheet. Please come in and sign up just so we know how much food to order.

I would like to see your exams before you give it to your classes if you are teaching MEF, MGF and MRF classes. I have not seen the exams of some teachers. Please do not give unit exams just so all students are prepared for the mid-term, final and the Regents exam.

I plan to keep our department’s tradition by ordering Chinese food to celebrate the holiday seasons.  I would like to have the celebration on Thursday, December 20, 2012. If you have any objections, please let me know. I would like to ask people to chip in for soda, desserts, etc.  Once again, the food should get here about 11:30 am or so.

Thank you very much and have a great weekend.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not The Easy Way


Life would have been easier if I could have shut my eyes and just taught my classes.  Teaching was always the easy part.  I got good results and I got along great with the kids and their parents.  I even got along with the administration.  If only I could have left well enough alone.

I have never been the kind of person who can sit back and just accept things that are not right.  I've spoken up to school superintendents, principals and assistant principals.  I've expressed my opinions in newspapers.  I am not a shrinking violet.

Even with my mouth, I never had a problem until Principal Suit came to town.  He could not take any kind of criticism.  Whenever he wrote me a letter, I wrote one back.  Mr. AP asked me to stop, but I couldn't.  When his address to Arista contained remarks that were hurtful to kids not in the honor society, I spoke up (privately, in his office)  He was not happy.  And, when one of my students was assaulted outside the trailer, I really bitched and threatened to go to the newspapers.  He again must have imposed on Mr. AP to get me to shut up and when he did not succeed, he must have started taking out his frustration on poor Mr. AP because that was the beginning of my troubles.

I think back on my last few years at Packemin.  They could have been easy.  All senior teachers before me had great programs with classes they had taught many times before.  If only I just kept my mouth closed, put on blinders and taught.  But, that is not me.  I have no regrets and would do the same thing again if I had the opportunity to start over. 

I look back at my life at Packemin with pride in what I accomplished, not only in the classroom, but outside as well.  I know many of my actions made things better for others.  I wish I could say I left others behind to carry on.  I'm not sure this is so.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Electric Holiday

Minnie Mouse fantasizes herself walking down the runway as a Parisian model.  Barney's on Madison has a great video.  It is in the window, in a theater on the ninth floor and online.  Definitely worth seeing.  More pictures and a link to the video on Facebook

 So many fun free things to do in NYC.

Doesn't Deserve Any Help


College classes end this week.  Classes are scheduled to meet Friday and Saturday to make up days lost to Sandy. The final exam is Monday and I haven't finished the curriculum.  I also want to review.  One of my classes meets from 3 to 5 which I know is a problem for one of my students who is an orthodox Jew.   

I came up with an alternative plan for this student.  I figured he could attend another teacher's class on a day that didn't interfere with his sabbath.  I asked him weeks ago for his schedule so I could find classes that worked.  He didn't respond.  I reminded him.  Again, I got nothing.  He missed classes last week.  He has not handed in a homework and he is repeating the class.  In fact, it is the only class he needs to graduate.

His test grades are passing but I have no problem not passing him.  And, he better not use religion as an excuse.  He had the opportunity to do something and blew it.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Enjoying Life


In my quest to do as much new stuff as possible, I signed up to test products for Good Housekeeping.  Oh, don't worry about ill side effects.  Everything I am testing is already on the market. Good Housekeeping, similar to Consumer's, rates these items and its the rating on their web sites and in their magazine.  I even purchased a hand held vacuum cleaner because real people like me found it to be excellent at what it was supposed to do.

Soon after registering, I got a questionnaire to  fill out and then a request that I set up an appointment to test an anti aging cream.  I figured, why not?  Any anti aging stuff I try can't hurt.  So, on a Thursday morning I made my way down to Good Housekeeping headquarters to begin.

The Hearst Building is ultra secure.  To gain entry I had to go to a desk, present a picture ID and given them the name and extension of the person I had to see.  I then passed by another guard and was shown to the elevator to the 29th floor.  I have never met such a warm, friendly group of security people.  They made me feel like I was going to visit family.  When the elevator opened on the 29th floor I was met by the woman I was assigned to.  First she had me sit in a room to adjust my body temperature.  She then tested the elasticity (or no elasticity) of my face and then took pictures of my face from all angles.  To say the camera showed every flaw would be an understatement.  Let's just say the witch from Hansel and Gretel was not as scary as these images.  I was then given the test cream and an eye serum and told to help myself to some products from their goodie drawers.  I go back in 4 weeks to see if eye product worked and 8 weeks for the cream.

On the way out I stopped their photo galleries.  One covered Popular Mechanics and the other Diane Vreeland from Harper's Bazaar.  Both were great.  Unfortunately they are only open to people who are in the building already and you can't just walk off the street and enter.

While in the area, I got to see

Bloomingdale's Windows
Central Park
Mckenzie-Childs (57th between 5th and 6th)

Public Walkway Sculpture between 56th and 57th near 5th Ave
Rockefeller Center tree

Train Exhibit at Grand Central

More pics at another time.  I can't bring myself to put them up until I go through them all. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Contradictory Information


The Principal says quarterly grades are not to be averaged cumulatively.  The  AP sends out a memo telling teachers to average the first and second quarter if it helps the students.  So who do the teachers listen to, their immediate supervisor, or the head of the whole school?

The AP also says not to pass kids who haven't passed an exam this quarter but he is worried about giving out too many N's as his students know little math, little English and barely speak their native language and he doesn't want to discourage them with poor grades. He writes that he intends to count everything.

I feel sorry for the teachers in this school and this department.  Following either policy makes them insubordinate to someone.  The AP who causes all the problems seems to be covered in Teflon.  Nothing sticks.  He gets away with it all.  Or maybe I am just misinterpreting.  Maybe I am the one who needs help.  I wonder if the Principal read his latest memo.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Giving Up The Weekend


My college pre calculus class is 2.5 hours.  It is a loooong class.  Sometimes it is hard to keep going until the bitter end.  After a whole day of classes, or classes after a full day of work, the brain just gives out.  But, on we plug.  I always tell my classes I don't want to end up on the front page of the NY Post as the teacher who does not teach.  Besides, I wouldn't feel right taking money for nothing and letting them go early would be doing just that.

We have to make up the time we missed due to Sandy.  One option is to extend each class 15 minutes until the time is made up.  I can't bring myself to do it that way.  We'd be in the room but nothing would get done. 

Guess I don't need that extra weekend anyway. We'll be in class next weekend.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Data Driven Education

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

My good friend NYC Educator has been posting quite a bit about junk science being used to evaluate teachers, how meaningless it is and how harmful it is to the careers of good teachers.  He just wrote about Skedula, the newest in the line of how to waste valuable money that can better be used to improve education and the Dilbert like person presenting the workshop.

I wonder if NYC Ed is making this stuff up.  When he got to the part of DDC (data driven classroom), I laughed so hard I had tears running down my eyes.  He should be writing this cartoon, or a similar one about education today.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Old Man And The Child Teacher

The minute he laid eyes on the young teacher he knew he wanted to get to know her better.  He knew he was old enough to be her father, but that was what made her so much more desirable to him. (Story continued here.)

Monday, December 03, 2012

Learn The Difference Between Your Ass and Your Elbow Before You Ruin Schools

The test I took to get my teaching license was strenuous.  There was a written part that involved math, education theory and several essays.  After passing the written test I was called back for an oral exam, an exam that had me answering questions fired at me from three different administrators.  It was not fun, but I passed.

When I started, administrators were master teachers.  They taught at least ten years and then went through rigorous education and testing to get their license.  And, then they really had to past muster to get a job.  They weren't all good, but they knew their stuff.

Now things are different.  A woman decides she doesn't like working in the world of business.  She quickly takes a few education courses, bats her pretty eyes and gets a teaching job.  The administrator who hired her got his administration degree at Mickey Mouse University.  The woman has trouble passing the licensing exam but manages to squeak by (with lots of tutoring) on test two.  She works several years and decides teaching is not for her.  She can't handle the kids and wants to start bossing others around.  She goes to Mickey Mouse University and gets her administration degree, following in the foot steps of the one who hired her.  She knows she can't be in charge of the department she is licensed in (her knowledge of the subject is limited) so she gets a job supervising another field.

Administrators then knew why kids didn't pass and they knew it wasn't the teacher's fault.

There is talk of raising the bar for teaching certification but really, all that is necessary is to go back to the way things were.  Make sure the teachers coming up are actually qualiified, and not E4E iditots.  Most important, make sure the people being put in charge know the difference between their ass and their elbows.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

It's The Best Time Of Year To Be A New Yorker

 From Rockefeller Center
 Rockefeller Center
 The tree
 The star
The tree before it is lit

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Central Park South

Getting to enjoy a view like this-retirement is grand.