Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Farina Needs To Do

Instead of raising the graduation rates of NYC high schoolers, Farina and De Blasio should improve education.  What good is a 70% graduation rate if the majority of the graduates can barely read, write and do arithmetic?  What does a 70% graduation rate mean when the majority of college freshman must take remedial classes and many do not make it through?

If Farina and De Blasio are really serious about improving education in the city, the graduation rate will fall and only those who have earned the diploma and are ready to go on to college or careers will be getting them.  They will do away with phony online courses, boot camps and administrators who brow beat their teachers into giving answers during exams.

I predict this won't happen over night (or at all.)  This country is too hung up on numbers and no one will stop to look at what the lower statistic means in terms of a real education.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Blame Game

I'm tired of reading about retired UFT members voting and giving the election to UNITY.  Sure we are allowed to vote and many follow the "party line."   No one has a problem collecting our dues.  There are issues that still affect us.  But, our votes count less and let's face it, most retirees have no idea what they have done with the ballot by the time some one reminds them to vote and very few even bother with the election.  Our biggest concerns are trying to get into the Photoshop or Tai Chi classes and getting a good parking spot while attending them and not getting closed out of desirable walking tours.

The real problem with the union is apathy among teachers.  When I was still teaching, many had no idea who Mulgrew was, what UNITY, NEW ACTION, or ICE stood for or even what the election was for.  They were too lazy to walk to the first floor to cast a vote for chapter chairman and no one wanted to sit on the executive board at the school.  Some were afraid of displeasing the Principal, and in return receiving a bad write up or a terrible program.  One guy asked what sitting on the committee would do for him and he only agreed if it would get him released from his building assignment.  When something was not going right, they stuck their heads under the covers in hopes of admins not finding them.  They never stood up for what they knew were contractual rights.

If MORE is serious about gaining control of the union, they have got to reach the teachers on the job and get them to care and to vote.  They also need to reach out to retirees, to let them know what is going on in schools today, let them know the things they fought and went on strike for are being taken away.  They need to gain a foothold in UFT retiree centers and spread their message loud and clear.

I know people like NYC Educator and South Bronx mean well, but this blame game has got to stop.  It is non productive.  It does nothing to get people who will make a difference in power.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Chihuahua with Grinch Genes

A major holiday was approaching.  The Collie, the Rottweiler, and the Alley Cat had nice little parties for those who worked for them.  They brought in lots of good things to eat and filled their offices with cheer.  They knew they could not have had a successful year without the help of these workers and they wanted to show appreciation.  The workers in return thanked their supervisors and promised to do an even better job in the coming year.  The office was a place of mutual respect and admiration and because of this performance was always at its peak.

There was one office that had no holiday cheer this year.  The Chihuahua refused to recognize those who gave so much to keep her in her position.  There was no food, not even water and a few Kibbles and Bits.  There were no cards or e-mails. The Chihuahua just sat behind her desk scowling and making sure no one tried to have any sort of celebration or left early.

As the little dogs in her department left for the day, Chihuahua got up to give them a final message.

"Rest up my little ones for when you return, the real work begins.  I have lots more ideas to keep this department on top and you better be ready to carry them out.  If not, I have the power to make your lives miserable and I will not hesitate to use it.  Remember your lives and your careers depend entirely on me.  Now, hand over the gifts you bought me and get out of here."

NYC Christmas Photos

I love NYC all the time, but especially this time of year.  Nothing beats walking around to see the windows and the other sites.  If you are interested, more pictures here, on Facebook.
Time Warner Building--Columbus Circle

BTW--if you go, save money and eat in the tap room in the back of Whole Foods.  Lots of good beer, different than usual varieties and great food with many vegetarian choices.  

Winter beers are my favorite.  This one might have been the best I ever had and, believe me, I have had many.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas

 Light show on Sak's
Rockefeller Center Tree
 30 Rock
Rockefeller Center

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Gift

A friend shared this letter with me today.  It is beautiful.  It is the best gift a teacher could every get or want. This teacher was especially touched because her former supervisor was always putting her down, telling her what an awful teacher she was and how the kids did not like her.  We all need validation.  I was so happy she got hers I promised to share it here.

Ms. X,
I don’t know why it occurred to me to look for you on online now.
I have been thinking of you time to time but never imagined I could find you on world wide web.
I remembered your first name but have forgotten your last name so I couldn’t look for you until yesterday when I looked into my high school year book.
I was your student in late 80s and you knew me as Syo Lee
I’m not sure you will remember me by my name since you probably met many Korean students with similar names.
I was a shy student and spoke very little English.
You were my favorite teacher because you were gentle and kind.
You gave me a cookie once and I think it was Hamentashen now that I think of it.
You helped me to believe in me and not be afraid to show others what I am capable of.
Your gentle encouragement to come up and solve a problem felt that I was welcomed.
Your smile, gosh I still remember your big eyes and beautiful smile, made me feel like you believed I could do it.
Math wasn’t just a subject.
It was a language that let me talk to the world where people spoke different languages.
My peers respected me and interested to get to know me because I was good at Math.
That led me to enjoy my high school years in a foreign world that I just arrived.
You have done many mitzvoth. Thank you.
Looks like you are teaching in college now. Wonderful.
I am glad they have you as their math teacher.
I have become a hospital chaplain.
I recently moved from NYC to Dallas.
I used to serve as a director at a hospital in Manhattan.
I wish I thought of this back then.  I would have enjoyed seeing you once again.
It would be nice for us to reconnect.
I look forward to hear from you.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dennis Walcott College Office

I've been thinking and maybe I have been wrong.  Since Walcott became chancellor so many kids have walked through those college office doors, kids who never would have done so before.  True, they could barely read and write.  They knew no arithmetic.  They took bogus on line classes, had friends complete computer assignments and got rewarded with parties for just showing up.  They believed everyone owed them and that all they had to do was breathe to graduate, but they did graduate and go on to college.  Under Walcott, colleges are filled with remedial classes, more than ever before.  Few graduate, but hey, he was not a college chancellor so that as not his responsibility.

Under Walcott the college office has been turned into a joke.  Even bright kids are not prepared for university study because high school does nothing.  To get everyone to pass, courses were watered down to nothing.  Kids did not learn study and thinking skills.  Passing was a snap, no studying was required.  I know so many who flunked courses their freshman year because of this lack of preparedness (and don't forget the ones who failed because they had no business being in college in the first place.)

Then again, there could also be a Dennis Walcott Trailer Park of Education.  There is mold, faulty bathrooms, leaky ceilings and plenty of other unsavory conditions.  He also excelled in keeping up the quality of the education environment.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jeff Spielvogel College Office

I just heard about something very disturbing.  It seems the college office at a large neighborhood school is being named after Walcott, a man who did nothing but puts his lips to Bloomberg's rear and lower the standards of NYC high school graduates.  Oh wait, he did more.  He instituted policies that drove experienced, excellent teachers form the classroom, put young incompetents in charge and insisted proven innocent teachers were sex perverts.

Many years ago the college office had a fantastic counselor, Jeff Spielvogel.  He was the only college counselor and worked long hours advising and helping students.  He also ran AP exams, was in charge of graduation and ARISTA and I am sure lots more that only he and his staff knew about.

Jeff Spielvogel did more for this school than Walcott but he wasn't a politician.  No one would gain politically for naming the office after him.  And, that is sad.  The truly great ones go unnoticed.

Walcott is a graduate of that school, but that does not mean it needs to honor him and, if the people in charge of the naming have any morals, they will reconsider this and name the office for a person who honored it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Last Night

I am watching my class take their final.  Out of the 28 students I started with, 21 are present.  (This is a great statistic.)  Out of the 21, I am sure 21 will pass the exam.  I am hoping a few do well enough to pass the class.  There will be at least 8 A's.

It is fantastic to have a class like this, but it is even better to work in an environment that judges me on me, not their scores.  The college knows our classes are mixed bags, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  They respect the teachers they hire and have confidence in their doing a good job.

In addition to no judgement, the college also knows that everyone has their own style, and, as long as it works they leave the teachers alone.  No one comes in for 5 minutes and rates us ineffective because there are no groups, or every student is not speaking at least once, or the lesson was teacher dominated.  They also listen to the students and, while one complaint means nothing, they will investigate multiple complaints and see what is really going on in the class.

I don't know what my class will be like next term, but I look forward to meeting a whole new crop of students and doing my best to help them like math and be a success.  Right now, I can't wait for my month off.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not Just A Jewish Voice, A Human Voice

My Rabbi handed this out at this week's service.  I can't understand why anyone would object to background checks unless, of course, they have something to hide.

Blood Upon Our House
Gun control should be the Jewish cause of our time.
Tue, 02/26/2013

Erica Brown
Erica Brown
“You shall not bring blood upon your house.” (Deuteronomy 24:8)
One morning a few weeks ago, my husband walked into our bedroom and said, “There’s been a shooting at University of Maryland.” Not yet knowing the details but knowing one fact — our daughter is a student there — I did what every parent would do. I closed my eyes, held my breath and called her cellphone. She answered. I breathed. She had just heard the news and was about to call to let us know she was OK.
But all is not OK — not OK on the UMD campus, where there have been five gun-related incidents around campus in the past three weeks – and not OK in this country where the gun control issue has been reduced to a matter of partisan politics and incivility. We can’t even talk about it. The “loaded” debates are blinding us to the stark reality: too many people with mental illness and criminal records have access to guns. The UMD graduate student shot and killed one student, wounded another and killed himself. Next to his body police found a bag containing a fully-loaded, semi-automatic Uzi, several rounds of ammunition, a machete and a baseball bat.
Jewish law forbids the selling of weapons to those suspected of using them for criminal ends: “One should not sell them either weapons or accessories of weapons, nor should one grind any weapon for them, nor may one sell them stocks, chains or ropes... (BT Avoda Zara 15b). But we don’t have to go that far. The Talmud admonishes us not to keep a bad dog or a broken ladder at home because these can accidentally endanger family or visitors. In the Talmud, a hole in a public space must be covered lest anyone come close and trip into it as a result. We must put a parapet around a flat roof in case someone comes too near the edge and falls off. Precautions focus our attention on the issue of safety in the home. A gun is an object that kills. It does not belong in a house.
You can counter this by marshaling the Talmudic permission to kill someone who is pursuing you in murder. In Exodus 22:1, we even grant permission to strike a thief dead who is discovered breaking into one’s home; the murderer is blameless. Since the thief would likely kill the homeowner to escape being found, the homeowner acted in self-defense. This is true for American law as well.
But if we go down this road, we have to imagine a world where everyone — even children — have to be armed to stop someone else who is armed. It’s not only about owning a gun. It’s about knowing how to use it expertly and having it at precisely the moment when bedlam strikes. “Ain l’davar sof,” we say in Hebrew. To this, there is no end. And in this new universe of added security with a gun in every hand becoming a new American mantra like Hoover’s chicken in every pot, everyone is a potential suspect. Is this the world we want?
Contrast this to a Talmudic passage about Shabbat (BT Shabbat 63a). One “must not go out with a sword, bow, shield, or spear.” The sacredness of Shabbat cannot be marred by any instrument of violence. One sage counters that these implements are merely decorative. But others disagree citing the famous verse from Isaiah: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-knives…” If Shabbat is truly holy to us then aspire to the vision of Isaiah. Put the weapons away. Many have the custom — as our family does — not to make a blessing on challah in the presence of the knife blade. Blessings and knives just don’t go together.
Gun control should be the Jewish cause of our time. Our children should inherit a world where they feel safe enough to walk on a college quad without fear. They should feel safe enough to go to elementary school. But we are simply not outraged. We have come to accept murder rampages as a reality of everyday American life. If we believe that every legal mandate and mitzvah must be put aside to preserve life, then we are not fighting hard enough. We have not internalized the most basic Jewish impulse — that we are created in God’s image and must preserve and sustain the godliness in all of humanity. We cannot stand by the blood of our brothers and sisters. Check Leviticus 19:16.
I write this not because I am a Democrat or a Republican, an NRA member or a pacifist. I write this because I am a mother, and I am a proud American, and I am a committed Jew. And I cannot bear to see any more blood upon our house.
Erica Brown is scholar-in-residence at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Her column appears the first week of the month.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Feeling Nostalgic

I helped a sick friend administer the final exam to her class this week.  She is a good teacher, well liked.  As her students filed out, many said goodbye and told her to feel better, but some just handed in their papers and walked out.  It is the same in most college classes, an empty feeling as the students leave that last day.

This is one of the things I don't like about teaching college.  I grow to like my students in the short time they are with me, and I know most feel the same about me but, when that last day comes, it is goodbye forever. There is almost no way to know what happens after they walk out that door.

I miss the little mementos I used to get from my high school students.  No matter how ugly, or small, they all sit where I can see them and they make me smile as I gaze upon them often.  Now that I no longer work in the high school, I have many as my Facebook friends and know how they are getting on.

I will never forget the face of the girl who handed me the candelabra pictured above.  It is probably one of the ugliest things I have ever seen.  She was so happy with her gift.  She said she spent a long time finding me a perfect one.  And, I guess it is perfect, because I look at it and think about her all the time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Letter From A Student

Below is a paraphrase of an actual letter sent to a friend of mine.  This student attends a very expensive four year college.

Dear Professor:
I am writing to you today to let you know I will not be taking the final exam tomorrow.  As you know, I haven't been in class more than three times this semester, but this has not been my fault.  You requested medical documentation and I gave my doctor permission to talk to you.  Please call him at 516 -XXX-XXXX.  I would have been ready for the final if you e-mailed me the chapters I had to study.  As for the homework I owe you, they have been scanned and are attached.  I know they were due the last day of class, but that is too bad.  There are only 12 attached so it should not be a problem for you to download them and then mark them all.
Let me know when I can take this exam and what I should study. I don't know what I did with the syllabus you handed out and since I haven't been in class, I don't know what has been covered.   Please don't schedule it before 10:00 AM or after 2:00 PM.  Also, Mondays and Fridays are not good days for me.
Thank you.  I plan on applying to medical school and really need an A in this class.  My dean will be speaking to you.

Sincerely yours,

Biggest Loser in College Today
(Pictured above it the Yeti from Sak's holiday window.) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Central Park Arsenal

On one of my annual trips to see the mangificent store windows, I read about an exhibit of home made wreaths in the Central Park Arsenal.  I didn't even know this place existed, so I had to go and see.

The Arsenal is a magnificent old building which now houses offices and an art gallery.  If you have a chance, go check it out, you won't be sorry.

More pictures here, on Facebook.  (More window pictures in a few days)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Effective Teaching

Last Tuesday was rate your professor night at the college.  As I handed out forms, I told my students to be honest and offer constructive comments on the form.  The administration looks at them and uses them when it comes to rehiring adjuncts and to advancing careers.  The school doesn't give grades away, but it is, and always has been, students first and if a teacher continually gets all negative comments that teacher is checked out.

I know most of my students like me.  I can tell by attendance, by their work habits and by their questions and by the relaxed and happy manner in the classroom.  There are always students lingering after class, happily walking me to my car, chatting all the way.

Last Tuesday, as I left, a quiet young man stayed behind.  He said he told his friend to take my class next term.  His reason, "she doesn't let you leave until you understand perfectly." This comment made my night.  No Danielson is needed to tell me I am effective.

Friday, December 06, 2013

A Product Of Bloomberg Education

Four exams were given.
Talia scored less than 40 on the two she took.  Two she missed and requested a makeup on one.  The request was made after the exam was returned so it was easy to say no.  She has handed in three homework assignments,both late.

Talia believes she can pass the class.  She attends college on Fantasy Island.  Talia is a recent NYC graduate, part of the legacy Bloomberg is so proud of.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Heart--An Important Ingredient For Success

I spent Thanksgiving in heaven, in the ME Hotel in Cancun.  I call the place because anything and everything is done to make the guests happy.  Okay, they could have done a little better with the weather (a little more sun but no rain) but it did not rain so I guess they did fine.  No one got painful sunburns.  The property and the rooms were beautiful.  The food and the drinks were plentiful, never ending and really good.  But, lots of hotels can boast of the same things.  The thing that makes ME really special is the staff.  These wonderful people make everyone feel like a guest in a home rather than a customer in a resort.  Every request is filled promptly, some even before the words come out.  Always there is a smile.  Everyone, gardeners, maintenance staff, maids, waiters, concierge and management do everything humanly possible to make the stay a delight.

Jonathan, one of the managers told us the staff is hired because of heart.  Anyone can learn to fix a toilet or make a drink but heart is something a person must be born with.

AnHeart is something teachers are born with too.  Any college grad should be able to master the material taught in an elementary, middle or high school, but teaching is so much more than that.  When I look back at cards and letters I have received, when I run into former students and their parents, I know I made a difference in countless lives.  They might not remember a test score or the quadratic equation, but they will remember how they felt about themselves in my class and how they mastered material they didn't think they could learn.

Today's teachers don't have time for heart.  They are too worried about test scores and statistics. Heart is not a measurable statistic.  It has no place in the classroom today.

More pictures here, on Facebook.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 1980

Thirty three years ago today, I got the best gift in the world-my beautiful and brilliant daughter.  I also met a wonderful friend who delivered the same day.  I am blessed to have them all in my life.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Six Principals

Principal One never left her office on the first floor.  No one ever saw her do anything and, as new teachers, we all wondered what purpose, if any she served.  I was in the school with her 7 years and never spoke a single word to her, and maybe saw her 5 times in total.  She never even ran faculty conferences.

I only worked with Principal Two a few months.  He was a jovial guy who got along great with teachers.  In fact, he worked with the union rep to try to get rid of an awful AP.  The only contact I had with him was when I needed his permission to transfer and he refused to give it.  (I was caught in a political struggle between him and the awful AP.)

Principal Three was a very bright man who loved to hang out with tough boys from south Queens.  He walked the halls constantly and all the kids knew him well.  While I wasn't a fan, I respected his intelligence and cringed when he observed because I knew he knew a good lesson and a good teacher when he saw one.  One of the problems with him was the blatant favoritism he showed some of the staff.

Principal Four barely left her office.  I, along with others, believed she spent her days searching for another job.  She swore she would be there forever but as soon as she got an offer, she left.

Principal Five ran the school like he ran the summer camps he was in charge of.  He wanted all the classrooms set up in a horse shoe as that was the current trend.  He played annoying music between classes and loved the sound of his own voice over the PA system.  He loved being the center of attention so much he even made us sit through pictures of his summer vacation during a faculty conference.  He hated any kind of criticism and expected everyone to be subservient to him.

From reading this, you can imagine I didn't have any great expectations from Principal Six.  I figured he would either be another pompous ass full of ideas that were not educationally sound, someone who became an administrator because he didn't want to be in the classroom or someone who hid out in his office in front of the big screen television all day.

The first time I saw Principal Six he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and I believe I wrote he was so young he still had his mother's milk on his breath.  Imagine my embarrassment when he came up to me and asked if I was taking pictures for my blog.  He had been reading it for quite a while.  So now, he knew me and knew the disdain I had for administrators.  Over the years, I gradually started talking to him and came to respect some of his decisions.  Believe me, there were many I didn't agree with and I let him know.  I found he was someone I could talk to.  He even helped me deal with Mr. AP (although he did nothing lasting and I am still pissed at a grievance he denied.)

Principal Six has moved on to a new job.  He hopes to be able to make education better for kids today.  I wish him well, not only for him, but for the kids of NYC.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Staying Away

After many years of work, several of the dogs decided to retire.  They were tired.  They had worked their tails off for too many years.  At first they didn't mind.  They knew the work they were doing benefited many young pups and because of this work many went on to lead successful, productive lives.  The last few years were very stressful.  Somehow a chihuahua was put in charge, a snappy little know nothing animal who was closer to a rat than a canine.  The chihuahua yapped orders and made decisions that not only helped no one but hurt the pups she was in charge of.

Most of the dogs in the group were sad to see these colleagues leave.  They were a valuable group that could not easily be replaced.  The dogs decided to throw a party to honor the retirees.  The party was announced weeks in advance so everyone would be able to free their calendar and attend.  Several days before the party the chihuahua announced she could not attend.  Everyone believed chihuahua stayed away because she is not nice.  She does not like the retirees and is greatly intimidated by their intelligence.  Many thought her non attendance was deliberate. It was definitely a sign of disrespect, especially since their hard work is what got her to keep her job.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chihuahua's Lesson

It is June.  The pups must pass a paper training test in order to move on.  One little guy continually fails.  He just can't remember to go where he is supposed to go and he wets and defecates all over the place.  The chihuahua is not happy about this as the failing pup will hurt her statistics and keep her from moving ahead in the world.  But, chihuahua is not overly concerned.  She knows the little guy will have a chance to repeat the test in August.  

The little guy tries to master his paper training, but he just can't succeed.  In truth, he doesn't work that hard at it as he is easily distracted.  The chihuahua is not concerned.  She has found a way to get him to pass.  She has found a proctor who will put the little guy on his wee wee pad, sprinkle it with some urine and excrement and then quickly whisk him away, far away so he has no time to mess anywhere else.  The powers that be will be happy.  The little guy will pass.  He will now go out into the world and shit on anyone and everyone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mix It Up

When I first started teaching, I taught the bottom levels.  I taught kids who couldn't make change and couldn't count past 100.  I found ways to engage them and break the math into steps they could understand. I didn't succeed with all, but I know many made progress.

After many years, I moved up in the world of education.  I gradually got to teach classes that were on track and even spent many years teaching AP calculus.  My years of teaching the lowest level helped me reach the brightest kids.  My years of teaching remediation had taught me that what was obvious to me was not obvious to them.  What interested me did not interest them.  I learned to break down difficult material for advanced students the same way I did for my strugglers.

While teaching advanced classes, I still had repeaters and slow learners in my other classes.  Teaching the top helped me raise the level I taught these difficult kids, the kids who repeatedly failed and who did not care for math or any school subjects. They needed to be taught on a level that showed I respected their intelligence and their ability to learn.

To be a good teacher one must teach all levels at some point in her career and should even go back and teach courses out of the norm to keep the brain alive and productive.  A good teacher must realize that there are students with many different learning levels. A teacher who never teaches an honor class might start to believe a mediocre student is brilliant while a teacher who only teaches the top might not have enough respect for the poor child who struggles with calculus.

Most teachers have 5 classes in a NYC high school.  Although I often had classes that were a challenge, I am glad I had them.  These classes made me a better teacher for the advanced classes.  The advanced classes motivated me to find higher levels to reach everyone.  Everyone should teach a mix.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Just In Time For The Holidays

Just in time for the holidays, a major toy company announced a brand new video game:


The goal of the game is to graduate as many students as possible.  The quality of education or the caliber of the graduates is inconsequential.  Numbers are all that count.  At the end of the game, the administrator with the best statistics will be given a pat on the bag, receive a bonus check for $10,000 and be Time Magazine's person of the year, complete with picture on the cover.

The player will assume the persona of a 30 something year old  teacher who has taken a few weekend and online courses and is now running a department in a public high school.  The teacher has barely taught any subject and may never have taught the subject he or she is supervising.  The qualifications for this job are  an ability to turn on a computer and type.  Having a heart and a brain is discouraged.  Having a nasty and mean streak is required.  Players can choose avatars with names like Ms. Nasty Pants, Mr. You All Suck, Mrs. I've Got Balls and Dr. I Am Going To Destroy You All.

The player will be given an office, a computer, an I-pad and a pair of sneakers to roam the halls of their schools to search out the teachers who will be most willing to go along with their unscrupulous plans.  The teacher must be willing to forgo any ideals about providing real educations and be willing to falsify credits, complete assignments for their students, supply answers to standardized tests while the tests are being taken and to change answers if necessary during the exam and while it is being graded.  The teacher must also sign a blood oath to never reveal doing this.  They must also squeal on any teacher who insists on doing the old fashion thing called teaching.

Special bonus points are given to players who assume the persona of special education administrators.  The job here will be to take students, some of whom have IQ's of 70 or less and convince the world they have passed regents exams and have earned high school diplomas.  To take this position, you must think and act like the ancient Romans who threw gladiators and others to the lions for sport as this is what will happen to students in your charge.  They will all graduate and go on to a college they have zero chance of succeeding in and will not be prepared for any jobs.

At the end of the game, players who have met and exceeded their school's AYP will get accolades and receive all the prizes mentioned above.  They will then qualify for such jobs as school principal, superintendent, chancellor and presidential cabinet member in charge of education.

There will be a rush for these popular games so put in your order early to be sure you won't be left out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Caring Equals Success

When I walked into my Thursday evening class, I saw several students still working on an exam.  The teacher, who always vacates the room by 5:45 was still there at 6.  I told him I didn't mind if the students stayed and finished and told him I would leave the exams in his mail box.  He thanked me and said something I always felt.  "I teach kids math.  I know these kids have issues I never faced when I went to school-jobs and families.  They are out too often and have difficult times studying and doing homework.  I want them to succeed and am willing to do all to help.  I expect homework, but I accept it late.  I give them every chance but I don't give them anything for free."

I never spoke to this man except for a quick hello or goodbye before.  I realized at that minute I found a kindred spirit, someone who shared my values and feelings about education.

I know why the students I meet love the school so much.  While there are teachers than don't think like this guy, many of us do.  We might not ask the exact right questions in the exact right form, we might not get every student to speak in every class and at times, we might not use the best motivational question, but we have what it takes to get the kids to pass--we care.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Success Letter

 I got the following letter today from a student.  Statistically, she would count as a failure.  Read the letter.  I know I was a success.  Thankfully, the college does not only look at numbers.
Hi Professor 
You know what..it was my pleasure to be in your class but I am gonna drop it. I just cannot do it. I have been at the hospital all day with one of the  developmentally disabled individuals I work with all day because of a self injurious behavior.  I will start fresh next semester because for one this job is consuming me and I have not been focused due to the constant headache for little pay. My first priority is to transfer to a site closer to home (Westchester) so that I will be less stressed, followed by transferring to a school closer to me such as Lehman.  Thank you for your flexibility and little life lessons you have offered me. You're a wonderful teacher. I will find out withdrawal date so I can bring you the slip to sign. Hopefully by next semester I will have a better job and be in a new school closer to home.-June 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another Funeral

I worked with John at Packemin and now see him at the college.  When I saw him last week, I commented on not seeing him for a while.  He answered that his dad had been sick.  Tuesday he told me his dad was home. Thursday I gave him the information I had about home hospice.  Yesterday I got an e-mail saying his dad passed away.

I don't want to go to another funeral, especially one for a dad.  The memory of my dad's grave is still too fresh in my mind, but I am going anyway.  The love and support I got from people I worked with, people who I didn't even think liked me or thought about me was amazing and helpful and I want to do the same for John.

An orphan, whether at 6 or 60 hurts.  (Of course the younger you are the worse it is, no comparison.) If my presence even helps for a few minutes, I will be happy I went.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Billy Crystal

I saw Billy Crystal on Broadway Wednesday evening.  I knew my dad would have hated for me to waste the tickets and not go.  It would have hurt him to see $324 go in the trash.

The show was funny and sad.  It did exactly what it was supposed to do.  I know exactly how he felt when he said after his father died he went through life pushing a giant boulder in front of him.  I have rocks around my neck.  Oh, and his mom's passing, her stroke, was my dad's tumor.

I'm glad I went.  I wish I could reach out and thank him for the way he made me feel.

(Pictured is dad and his mom.  Photo chosen in honor of his service in WW II)

Friday, November 08, 2013

Home Town Tourist

I got off the subway this morning at 57th and 6th because there is nothing like a good walk in Manhattan to make me feel good.  As I walked towards my destination I overheard a fellow New Yorker look up and then say to his friend, "I feel like a tourist."

I knew exactly how he felt.  My destination was 49th and 5th.  I could have used a closer stop.  He and I had a brief conversation about the wonders of NYC and how I never got tired of playing tourist here.  I then left him to use the bathroom in the The Peninsula  Hotel, on 55th and 5th.  (I only pee in the best places.)

This is a picture of the Rockefeller Christmas tree being raised by a crane.  I've seen it decorated and being decorated but this was the first time I actually got to see them raising it.

My friends and I don't remember American flags around the tree.  I looked back at some old pictures and found this from 2008.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A New Kind Of Mentoring

The inexperienced no nothing AP is mentoring the young teacher who has had enough of the classroom and wants to move on to a position in administration.  Here is a copy of the letter the AP wrote her to cement their relationship.

Dear Young One, 
I was once a newbie like you.  After only a few years I too decided I wanted to be an administrator.  I could not see myself standing in front of a classroom and dealing with problem students for the rest of my career. Tough kids make me cry and they scare me quite a bit.  Now I can assign those kids to the teachers I don't like and hide out in my office whenever there is a problem.  I make sure I program myself for classes that require no work and I have even dismissed classes early.  I am in charge.  Who is going to tell on me? Besides, I love giving orders to others, especially those older and who think they are wiser than me.
Don't worry about not knowing much about a subject you are in charge of.  Look at me.  I knew nothing when I began this job and still know next to nothing.  I never make a decision and pawn work off on others. When I don't have an answer, I stare and get nasty to all around.  I can teach you to do all this and more.  I can help you get bonuses.
Young one, know this.  While I am mentoring you, you will be my slave.  You will do everything I tell you to do, including cleaning my house and babysitting my child.  You will write my observations and order my supplies.  Never forget I own you.  But, when it is all over, you will be able to own someone else.
Life is good when you are young and beautiful and know a little about technology.  Knowledge about anything else is totally irrelevant.
Sincerely yours,
Know Nothing and Proud of it Administrator 


Monday, November 04, 2013

New Blog

Blogging helped me cope with the emotions of teaching.  It was(and still is)  a way of getting it all out.  When my mom was dying, I started writing about all the things I was feeling.  For me, it was therapeutic.  I am now dealing with my dad's passing and trying to come to terms with all we went through these last six years when it was primarily just me and him, particularly these last few months as I watched his health steadily decline. 

Actually, I take that back.  I have been caring for my parents for years, worrying about how things would go since my mom was diagnosed with mylofibrosis about 5 years before she died.  It is strange not to be worrying about my parents anymore.  My fingers still itch to dial their phone and tell them about my latest bargain or to get a weather report from my dad.  I've started a new blog, I Miss My Dad.  I want to be able to write what I am feeling, share what I have learned about end life care and just vent.  The new blog will spare many from reading my sad tales.

I still plan to write here.  I have a few chihuahua stories to tell and lots of stories about Packemin and other schools.  No more Mr. AP stuff.  He came to my dad's funeral and to thank him I promise to never post anything that might make him look bad.

I would like to thank all my blogging buddies for their support and friendship. It is amazing how much the words of all you great people have helped.  And, I truly understand if you don't want to read the new blog.  I am mostly writing it for me.  I am selfish that way.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Park Ave Public Art

Trying to lift my funk, I took myself to Cold Water Creek to use the $25 coupon I got in mail yesterday.  I managed to score a $70 sweater for $8.  And, with the rain gone, I took a walk down Park Ave to the MOMA.  The public art along the way is wonderful.  Sorry, only so so pictures.  I didn't bring my good camera because of the rain.

More pics here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cleaning and Remembering Dad

We've begun the process of clearing out my dad's house.  It is both physically and emotionally draining.  No one would believe how much can be collected while living in the same place for almost 45 years.  And, who knows how much he brought with him from a former apartment.  In addition to normal stuff, dad believed in keeping records.  He had copies of every letter he ever wrote, including the envelopes he mailed them in, every bill he ever paid, including copies of checks he wrote and papers galore documenting every person he ever spoke to, including the time of day.

Dad's coffee pot is pictured above.  He started every day with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, freshly brewed a night or two before and reheated.  He liked it to be ready in the morning.  Since he stopped working 30 years ago, I never caught on to why he had no time to make it when he got up, and he never caught on to why I refused to drink it.  The inside of the pot is quite black.  I bought him a new one several years ago.  It is sitting in the kitchen where he put it when I handed it to him.

Dad labeled everything. My husband got a charge out of this free Radio Shack battery he got in 1986.  I believe he would have tried to use it if he knew where it was.

The one thing this has taught me is that when I finish with his house, I better start on my own.  I don't want my children to have to spend months cleaning out my stuff, stuff they won't understand why I saved either.