Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I Love Traveling Solo

Got off the train at 34th and stopped at farmer's market and junk store.

Walked around Macy's and took random stupid pictures.

Checked out street vendors.

Stopped at Jack's, my favorite junk store.

Went to FIT to see latest fashion exhibit.

And then on to High Line to see Carol Bove's Art Walk.

More pictures here, on Facebook.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Joy In The Classroom


It was the first night of classes in the college and the first night as an adjunct for Mrs. Lin.  She was nervous.  The high school she teaches at during the day has been bombarding her with new evaluation formats, Danielson Framework and Common Core.  She expected the same stuff to happen here and when the evening supervisor introduced himself, she got nervous.

There was no need for this.  In the college, the job of the supervisor is to make things run smoothly and get involved if they don't.  He is a colleague and a friend, not out to "get" anyone and certainly not looking to rate anyone ineffective or to take away a person's job.

While I think she believed me, I know she was not ready to relax.  Her past experience overrode anything I could possibly say.  But, it will sink in and she will stop being so tense and learn to enjoy teaching again.  She'll love teaching in an environment where kids get the grades they deserve, not the grades their APs want them to have, where kids who deserve failing grades will not be given credit recovery and boot camp and passed along.  She'll find there is still joy to be found in a classroom.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

ATR and the Know Nothing Administrator


The 20 year veteran teacher, who is now an ATR goes on interview after interview.  He is an ATR because the elite program he worked in has been eliminated.  His first two years as an ATR were spent at the school that wrote the recommendations for the elite program.  Instead if bringing him back, the school hired several newbies, straight from college.

The ATR has worked in many schools, has done everything asked of him, but he can't get a permanent position.  Recently he got a call from the school that gave him the rave reviews.  He was interviewed by a 30 something AP, supervising a subject she knows nothing about, for a position in a subject she knows nothing about.  Needless to say, the ATR did not get the position.

It is sad to see how low education has sunk since I began teaching.  Experience and quality are a threat to these incompetent, know nothing administrators.  They can't help new teachers and they won't hire those who can.  Heaven help the students in their schools.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


E-mail hacked. Do not open anything from Pissedoffteacher or Rita. Sorry. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saving Sylvia

Sometime in the '60s, when open heart surgery was a fairly new procedure, Sylvia, a woman in her 30's had a successful bypass and went on to lead a wonderful life as a wife and a mother.  Twenty five years later, Sylvia once again needed heart surgery.  This time the doctors did not think her prognosis was good and hospital after hospital refused to admit her.  They did not want her death to ruin their statistics.  Fortunately, one hospital had no such concerns and accepted her as a patient.  Her family worried about the quality of care but at that point, they had no choice and admitted her for the procedure.  Fifteen years later Sylvia danced at her grandson's bar mitzvah and twenty-five years later held her daughter's hand as her son-in-law was buried.  Sylvia passed away at the ripe old age of 96.  Her heart finally gave out.

Sylvia's family thanked G-d every day that a hospital cared more about saving lives than looking good on paper.  Her family now realized the reason the hospital had a non glowing record was because they tried to save everyone.

Schools need to think like the hospital that saved Sylvia.  Think of all the kids that might be saved if everyone stops worrying about statistics.  The new school year is about to start and I can already picture the rush to cleanse classes of anyone who might not succeed, a judgement made in two weeks time.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Upcoming Elections


Do any of these politicians believe that those annoying robot calls will make a difference?

I don't care who supports Melinda Katz or Bill Thompson or anyone else.  These constant calls, interrupting meals, television and life make me hate them all. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And So It Begins

Dear teachers:

As you know I am not happy about seeing people younger and less experienced than me becoming Principals and then moving on to bigger and better things while I am stuck in this crummy department with a bunch of old decrepit teachers I can't get rid of.  I know more than any of these Principals yet they tell me what to do and what I can't do.  This year, I will show them all who the great one in this school is, and it is me.

School starts in a few days and I expect you to be ready.  Please come in day one with a list of parents you have already spoken to in anticipation of lateness, absence and poor test scores.  This year, with new evaluations in place, I will be gunning for any of you not working 24/7.  Of course there are some of you I will be going after even if you do everything I ask.  You know who you are.  I do not like you, I never will and I will do everything in my power to make you miserable in hopes of getting you to leave.

Now, as far as programs.  You know how lucky you are to have me as a supervisor.  You know I am the best in the city so don't complain to me about your hours or your classes.  I give the best classes to the teachers who come to my parties and go on vacation with.  If you are not one of those, you got what you deserve.  And, I promise I will give you all the students who probably can't pass and have trouble coming to school, so deal with it.  While I expect every teacher to have 100% passing in every class, I am not dumb enough to believe this can really happen so I fixed the programs of my friends.  Still, you better find a way to get everyone passing or I will rate you ineffective.

Now that you know what to expect, enjoy your last few days off and come back ready to work.  I am lucky to have a wonderful department like you working with me.

Best wishes.  See you soon.

The Most Wonderful AP in the City

(This letter is fiction and not based on anything or anyone in particular.  No AP would ever write a note like this.  The picture is the lake at the Boat House in Central Park.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Destroying Self Respect

I took pictures of these works of art hanging in the New World Stages.  The thing that makes these works of art amazing, at least to me, is they were done by people with special needs.
This one was done by a young woman with an eye disease who is legally blind.  A special magnifying glass helped her create this masterpiece.

This one was done by a learning disabled young man.
Both of these brilliant young people were able to shine because they were educated in an environment that nurtured their strengths.  They weren't supplied answers to test questions and passed through to make their teachers and the administration of their schools look good.
When I began teaching at Packemin, I taught math in the special education department.  I had students who couldn't make change and couldn't count and I had some who matriculated to regents geometry and trigonometry.  I taught kids of all levels and the department encouraged them at the appropriate level.  Kids who couldn't add weren't sent on to college.  No one helped them pass exams. 
Things are different now in special education classes throughout the city.  Everyone has to go to college.  The wonderful, warm, and intelligent (in their own way) students are now being given diplomas that mean nothing because they have learned nothing, and they are being sent out into a world far beyond what they are capable of succeeding in because, even the bright ones don't stand a chance if answers are being handed to them on a silver platter.  Self respect has been stripped away from their learning experience.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Incompetent Leadership


The feline colony was in need of a new office manager but none of the cats were qualified to interview and hire one.  The leader of the animal kingdom did not want to be bothered interviewing so he called Chihuahua and told her to take care of things.

Poor Chihuahua. She can barely take care of the canines in her care and has no clue as to what any of them are doing.  The good ones are a threat to her.  She knows they see through her and know how incompetent she is and little by little she has gotten rid of them.  The ones left are being pushed to leave. The ones who come in late, fill out time cards for work they did not do and worship at her feet are the ones she reveres.  She has made a mess of dog world.  If she has her way, she will make a mess of cat world too.

Someone should send Chihuahua back to the pound she crawled out of.  She is not the kind of dog anyone would want around.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

College Class Farce

High school students are given the opportunity to take college level classes in their home school.  Seems like a great idea, right?  Well, guess what, it sucks.  The people in the charge on the college level do not want anyone to fail, in fact, they don't want anyone to get under a C.  The teachers, wanting to keep their jobs are passing everyone, no matter what grade they actually earned, how often they did not come to class and how little work they produced.

This is bad on so many levels.  First, colleges are getting wind of this and are not accepting these courses and the kids are not getting the credit they were promised.  Even those that did all that was required are losing out.  Second, teachers are being forced to have no standards at all.   The kids know they will pass, no matter what and play on this for an easy grade.  Last is the long range affect this has on their college performance.  Since they got away with doing nothing in a college course they assume they can get away with the same behavior in college.  They waste time, money and valuable financial aid by failing every class. 

College level classes in the high school used to be a great thing for kids to take. Now, it is just the opposite.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Time Warner Is So Stupid It Could Be The Next Education Mayor

After Time Warner wrongly canceled my triple play, they charged my credit card over $300 for one month service.  I called and was promised a refund a month ago.  After four phone calls, I finally got credit--they put it on a card that I got rid of two years ago.  Time Warner has no trouble billing the correct card every month, I can't believe how stupid they were when it came to issuing a credit.  I now have to wait two weeks for this company to mail me a check. 

Incompetence--look it up and you will see the Time Warner logo.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Little Boy Grew Up

I got to know John really well because he was in my class 4 consecutive terms.  The first term I felt sorry for him.  He was a nice kid that didn't seem to have much on the ball when it came to academics.  I quickly recommended him for a double period the second term, figuring the extra time would compensate for his lack of ability.  This term I got to know him, and his two buddies really well.  I learned that their goals in life were to play baseball and to own a surf shop on the beach. I also saw they were bright, just unmotivated.   Math did not come into play in either of  their areas of interest.  But, in spite of this, I still adored John and often went to watch him play ball, taking my own son along to enjoy the game.  The third and fourth terms were not much different.  He muddled along, passing, but barely.

John graduated from Packemin and went on to a two year community college.  In the middle of his third year he decided he wanted to be a teacher and came back to Packemin for observations.  His professor even okayed him observing my class although history was going to be his field.  Four years after entering the two year college, he graduated.   Seven years after his high school graduation, John completed his BA, got his teaching certification and began teaching in a Queens high school.  I was so happy for him I even sent him a graduation check.  (John's mom worked with me.  She told me he framed it and hung it on his wall.)  John is now a wonderful teacher and baseball coach, loved and respected by all.

I was reminded of John's story while talking to an old friend this afternoon.  John was certainly not college ready when he graduated from Packemin or even in his first few years at college, but he ended up doing well.  Kids will become college ready when and if they are ready, and not before.  No testing needed. 

When John came back to observe me and tell me he wanted to teach in my image I was flattered.  Maybe I could have done more for him in the math department but I probably more than made up for it with inspiration, something no tests will ever measure.  I am proud of John and proud of me for what I accomplished with him and countless others.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Keeping AYP Up

I just read a horrific story about an AP who told her students not to worry about the upcoming regents exams. 

The teacher told the boy to study.  The AP told the boy not to worry.  He would be in a special room with proctors who would help him through.  She assured him he would be graduating.

In case you wonder what school and which AP, click here.

Special note to the teachers hired to proctor this young man:  Don't do it.  When the investigators come around, and they will, you will get burnt, not the AP in charge.  The AP will blame you and claim she knew nothing about the cheating that went on.  She'll be saving for a house like this and you will be on the unemployment line.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Sometimes Failing Is A Good Thing

I am not a supporter of the Common Core, I don't want kids to be given tests they have been pre -ordained to fail and I certainly don't believe teachers should be evaluated on test scores, and, that is something I must point out before anyone reads this post.

Sometimes failure is good.  It points out weaknesses and encourages the harder work necessary to achieve a goal.  Tony was a sweet young boy with an award winning personality and a smile that could melt the coldest heart.  His eighth grade math teacher fell under his spell and passed him every quarter, with decent grades and his parents were very proud of how well their son was doing in his weakest subject.  Unfortunately the math regents was not introduced to this charmer and he scored 27 out of 100.  (This was back in the days when a student actually had to know something to pass.). His parents were devastated and spoke to the teacher who assured them he was very bright and she had no idea how this had happened.  His parents asked me to tutor him so he could retake the exam in August.  I quickly realized what he knew all along,  he knew no math.  In  6 weeks he managed to bring the grade up to a 60 but he still had severe deficits in the subject.  Thankfully the high school he attended made him repeat the class.  He did well that year and went on to pass geometry and trigonometry.  Failing didn't destroy him.  It made him stronger.

I also tutored Fey, another charmer.  Luckily for her, the charm did not work her first two years.  She struggled, but succeeded.  Good grades were important to her. The third year was her down fall, as she had done service for this teacher and, no matter how badly she did on exams, she still passed the class.  Because she was passing, she never pushed herself. Her parents, seeing her grades were happy as well.  Regents time came and Ashley  failed big time.  She was crushed and had to spend her summer repeating the course.  She did learn a lesson about studying.

Maybe the results of the Common Core exam are misleading and based on some topics students have not been taught, but these exams should be an eye opener.  Exams of the past have had grades so inflated that they had no validity at all.  Years ago teachers wrote exams.  I know many who spent a week in Albany doing just this.  Teachers, not book companies, made the exams and tested what kids have been taught.

Please, don't cry over failing test grades.  Cry over the lack of education today's students are suffering with.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Common Core Scores

I keep reading about how this year's test scores are low and so many more kids are failing than ever before.  This test might be flawed, but the ones before it were flawed too.  As a former high school teacher, and a current junior college adjunct, I see kids daily who can't read and can't do math.

Let's stop worrying about the exams and start worrying about the education kids of today are not getting.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Wanna Laugh?

Mr. AP sent me multiple invitations, at different e-mail addresses to join him on LinkedLin.

And here I thought he didn't like me.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Birth Of The Education Policy Maker

Full of ideas that make no sense to anyone

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Danielson's Framework

our Administrator said, "Danielson is a way of getting rid of teachers we don't want!" The Principal said it isn't true.....who do we believe?
The above is a comment from the previous post.  Any advice on who the teacher should believe?

The administrator is an inexperienced newbie with negligible teaching experience in the subject she is in charge of.  You have to wonder why she got the job.  You have to wonder if she is doing the principal's dirty work. 

Danielson Purpose


Many years ago a Principal told me the reason APs find so many things that need improvement during an observation is to justify their existence.   A part of their review at the end of the year had to show what they did to help their teachers and to improve instruction.  He told me he knew I was a good teacher and not to worry aobut what she had written.  (The lesson was satisfactory and that was all I worried about-that and the kids understanding it.)

Things are different today.  The job of the AP is to rid the school of senior teachers and to deny tenure to as many as possible.  They can't improve education because they know little to nothing about the subjects they are in charge of.  They have minimal teaching experience,  often not in the subject they are in charge of (for example, the special ed supervisor at Packemin taught math before she got her job.)  I caught two math APs making major math mistakes and I remember an AP calculus student asking if the AP who had just observed our class knew any math.  He didn't.

Everyone is worried about he Danielson Framework, and I don't blame them.  This plan is just a way for incompetent administrators to justify getting rid of competent teachers.  The stuff in this plan is nothing new, it is stuff I did 30 years ago. 

If anyone really cared about improving education, they would start with hiring administrators who know their subjects and know a thing or two about teaching.  When I look at the admins at Packemin, I think about the teachers you would see on tv--young, pretty and clueless.

(Pictured above is an AP in training.)