Friday, January 31, 2014

When Exams Are Administered Honestly

What happens when the school is being watched and the AP cannot assign proctors who will give out answers while reading exams?  What happens when the marking is done on a honest system?  Students get the grade they earned. Many fail. In fact, almost none pass. The poor AP will not do well on annual progress reports and might actually be held accountable for the immorality of the past.

One can only hope.  Too bad the real losers in all of this are the students.  They've always been given the answers so passing was guaranteed.  I hope the shock was not too much for their systems.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Teaching: It Is In My Blood

I was sorry I agreed to work this term.  I thought I had enough but couldn't morally back out at the last minute.  I picked up my books and headed for my class in the bowels of the library building. But, a funny thing happened when I walked in.  My trepidation disappeared.  Outside a young woman was waiting for me who wanted to transfer to my class  There was a student who I could not pass last year who voluntarily took my class again.  The class began and the magic I always felt when I stood in front of a class took hold of me.  I was thrilled to be back.

I still hate having to run out in the dark and the cold but all that is forgotten at the first glimpse of my students.  I never want to give this up.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Letter To Editor

Letter: Wrong to suggest reducing pensions

A stock image of a pile of money.
Photo credit: iStock | A stock image of a pile of money.
I became a New York City high school teacher after college for many reasons, one of which was the great pension that came with the job ["A bid to stop pensions from going bust," Opinion, Jan. 22].
While I have no complaints about my salary, my paycheck did not earn me big homes, new cars every few years or expensive vacations -- many of the things others my age had, although my degrees and extra courses well surpassed theirs.
I was never taken out to fancy restaurants and did not accumulate frequent flier points while an employer paid the charge card bill. Yes, these perks in the private sector were paid for by businesses, not the public, but the costs were most definitely passed down to consumers, including many civil service employees.
My pension is one I worked for and earned. My salary contributed toward it. It is money I earned years ago and am only now reaping. I am sick of people saying civil service workers are getting a free ride. Our sweat made others' lives better. We are only getting what we worked for.
Linda Silverman, Bellerose Manor

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taking Care

Dotting the i's and crossing the t's.  Being investigated is scary stuff.  But, will doing right this term be enough to cover for the wrongs of the past?  Only time will tell.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cheating Teachers

It worked.  The AP chose the new teachers to proctor exams, the ones who will readily supply answers to the students they are reading exams to.

I pity the teachers.  They are not smart enough to know what they are dong is wrong and how it does nothing to help the students.  They are not strong enough to stand up to a self serving incompetent supervisor.

The supervisor is patting herself on the back. Her statistics will be good and she will take credit for the improvement unless of course they get caught.  Then she will disavow any knowledge of the cheating.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Believing Made A Difference

While Ray was never one of the worst students I ever taught, he was pretty close to the bottom of my 7th period geometry class.  He loved being the class clown, arriving late to class and doing as little as possible.  But, I saw something in Ray.  I knew the face he presented was masking something better and I pushed and pushed and he passed the class and the regents.

I remember Ray's mom sitting with the very young guidance counselor who really had no words of encouragement for her.  I stopped in, spoke to them all and got a hug from mom when I left.  The counselor even thanked me for helping him out.  I don't remember what I said but I am glad it helped.  Ray graduated Packemin and I just saw Hunter College graduation pictures of him on Facebook.  He told me he never forgot the recommendation I wrote that helped him turn his life around.

Ray was a "loser" In high school who thankfully did not take the easy way out with Mickey Mouse courses.  He persevered.  Thankfully there were no credit recovery, online courses and boot camp so he had to learn.  Tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks when he wrote he wanted to take me to lunch to thank me for believing in him and pushing him to a Bachelor's degree.  I am proud I made a difference in this young man's life.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Double Standards: AP vs Teacher

The snow was falling and the roads were getting treacherous.  Many teachers wanted to combine classes so those who lived far could get an early start home.  The AP bugged her eyes and shrieked:

At 1:00 PM, when she thought no one was looking, the AP who lives locally left for home.  APs don't have the same rules as staff.  Her message was loud and clear:


The next day one of the teachers arrived late.  This teacher was loudly berated in front of the staff and students.  The teacher apologized and said parking was difficult.  The AP told her she should have left earlier.  The teacher replied:


She then turned and walked away.  She did not see the bulging eyes of the speechless administrator behind her.  Hopefully the Principal will hear about this and remind the AP she should be setting an example, not sneaking out and she should be thanking those who braved the roads instead of humiliating them.  Hopefully he is a man of decency.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Auditors Are Coming

The little Chihuahua was scared.  He got rid of a bunch of dog bones that were still good to chew on and the pound auditors were asking questions.  Money was tight in the pound and they wanted answers as to why these chewies were discarded if they still could be used.

Little Chihuahua didn't know what to do.  He quickly went to the pantry and started sorting out everything that was left  He knew he had to fill the big empty spot.  He prayed the auditors would not know about the new dog biscuit contract and worried they would find out about the perks he was given when he signed it.  

On top of everything else, this was the year he was due to get tenure and guaranteed job security and things were not going his way.  He had worked hard, getting others to work for him and to take the blame when things did not go well, and now all that scheming and planning might be for naught.

Little Chihuahua stopped roaming the halls and yapping at everyone.  He sat behind his desk and worried.  Wrinkles grew on his face and his hair slowly turned white.

(Story is a work of fiction, based on stuff I have read in the newspaper and stories from many different work places around the country.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So Schools Are Open

Parents can keep kids home,  teachers can use sick days.

Everyone should think of themselves and do what feels right.

Kids don't need perfect attendance and this is a perfect use for one of those 10 sick days.

I used to love going in on days like today.  Public transportation got me there in less than 30 minutes and I enjoyed spending time with the few kids who braved the weather to get in.  But, at the same time, I resented the admins who made a big deal about those of us who showed up.  We did what felt right for us.  No judgements of any kind needed.  I remember hating the Principal who smugly stood outside greeting those souls who made it in.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Messages From My Students

On this snowy day I am sitting at home appreciating the fact there is no where I have to be.  I started rummaging through an old box of cards.  I found cards from dear friends and relatives, many passed away years ago. I also found heart warming ones from former students, some I remember, but many I have forgotten.

Here are a few, typed because my scanner is not working on this computer:

To Mrs. POd,
Hi!  Well I felt you deserved at least this much from me to show you how much I appreciate you and how much I really do need you to keep me in line because if you didn't help me or wouldn't help me, I don't know how I would make it through school.
Love always, Kelly!!

Dear Mrs. POd,
You are a great Math teacher.  You have a very nice and caring heart.  Thank you so much for making me feel smart.  To tell you the truth when I first came in to your class I was very surprised to know that you thought I was smart.  I couldn't believe it.  I didn't want you to know that I was dumb so I tried to get really good grades on my tests.  You are the first person who ever told me that I am smart.  Thank you.  You make learning Math fun and exiting.  Also thank you for teaching me how to use the graphic calculator.
Thank you for being there!  Have a Happy New Year.

Thank you for your concern and your help in Functional Analysis.  You make learning math fun and interesting.  And you're right, it is the "circle of math."

Dear Mrs. POd.
I just wanted to say a quick "thank you!" for all of your patience, guidance, support and understanding with me this term.  You are someone I will always be grateful to.  After graduation, I'll make sure I come to visit you, if you don't hit the lottery! You not only helped me out, but you helped out Rob for me-and I just wanted to tell you how much it all means to me.  Thanks from the bottom of my heart.  I love you, Kompel
P.S.  It's not your fault if anyone fails the regents-you did your best!  If they fail, it's because they deserve it-always remember that. 

Danielson and Common core don't measure the most important things we do for your students.  I am glad I am gone before I had to worry about those things.  I am sure my students would have suffered.

(I wish I was waiting for the plane above to take me some place warm right now.  This picture is from my Aruba trip.  We were lucky enough to be there during the last cold wave.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Dogs Are Organizing

The little Chihuahua knew her staff was unhappy. They resented her constant yapping. They knew the louder she barked, the more insecure she was feeling.  Even the newest pup on the staff knew more about the job than she did and she was threatened by her inability to do her job well. Making noise and bugging her eyes were the only things she did well.

Anyway, little Chihuahua got wind of the many of the secret meetings the dogs were holding.  She feared, as she should, they were plotting to get rid of her.  They had the evidence and just needed a way to present it effectively. She knew she had to do something to protect her lucrative position.

Currrently Little Chihuahua is searching for a way to stop these meetings.  At the very least, she is looking for a little pup to infiltrate for her and give her inside information on all that is going on in them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Regents week is approaching.  Teachers:




When the investigators come around, and they will come, your AP will claim no knowledge of what you have done.  Your AP will sacrifice you to protect him or herself.  Chris Christie claims no knowledge of what his staffers did when it came to traffic jams in Fort Lee.  Top officials got fired or were forced to quit.   Twenty three Houston schools are being investigated for grades on standardized tests that seem out of whack.

Someone is bound to notice kids who never passed are suddenly acing exams.  Don't sacrifice your career for an AP or Principal who care nothing about education.

Monday, January 13, 2014

School Administrators On The Take? I Wonder...

I always believed books were sacred and almost never toss them in the trash.  When I have books I don't want, I try to find someone who wants them.  This is why, when I heard what a certain AP did with school books, I was very upset.

This administrator decided five year old books, books used to teach very low functioning students were no longer needed. Without consulting any of the teachers that could possibly using these books, this AP ordered them to be thrown away.  (Pictured above is the dumpster withe the books.). One of the teachers was upset.  The teacher wanted to use them in a reading class.  At the very least, the teacher wanted the books to be donated to another school.  The AP insisted it was not permissible to send books to another facility, but I know the math department has done that for years so while I don't really know the legality of the situation, I find it hard to believe books cannot be shared, especially within the DOE and the especially in the same school district.  I do believe tossing DOE materials is against the rules.  I remember book rooms stuffed with books that had not been used for 20 years because the school was not permitted to trash them.  (Hopefully this administrator will be audited and have to explain what happened to these books.)

The reading program replacing these books in an online program.  Licenses must be purchased for each student and not every student needing it has access to the program.  It is possible these kids won't have any reading this semester.

My gut feeling (I have no real evidence, so no accusation) is that someone is making big $$$ by tossing books in favor of purchasing a program like this.  The AP in charge cares nothing about education students.  The principal who is allowing this is just as corrupt.  I don't understand how the school system has come to this.  How people who went into education to help kids have turned into people who don't give a damn about them, to people who only care about the dollar.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Being Remembered

I woke  up this morning to find my Facebook page full of birthday greetings from former students.  (No longer working I don't see any issues with friending them.). It felt so good to be remembered by kids who haven't seen me in years.

Kids-the one thing I miss about teaching high school.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sometime Bad Teachers Can Serve A Purpose

In a book I am reading a group of women are discussing the best teachers they had.  It got me thinking about my teachers and I realized that some of the teachers that helped me the most were not good teachers, or even nice people.

Mr. L, my 12th grade calculus teacher was an evil, evil man.  He intimated the class, making everyone afraid to ask questions.  He humiliated students who could not do the work.  He opened all the windows on freezing cold days.  I remember the knots in my stomach as I went to class ever day.

Mr L taught me to be self reliant.  I needed help and found ways to get that help that did not depend on him. He forced me to spend extra time studying and I learned well and learned to appreciate the beauty of math because of the time I spent with it.

Mr. L's greatest gift to me can be seen in my classroom.  I vowed to be the exact opposite of him.  I encourage my students to ask questions on everything and tell them the only stupid questions are the ones that go unasked.  I never open windows if my students are cold and, the one time I only had two different classrooms, I brought in a fan during a heat spell.

I wouldn't wish a teacher like Mr. L on anyone, but, for me, he was all right, even if I did not know it when I sat, sick, in his class,

Friday, January 03, 2014


I read a Facebook post by a young teacher several days ago about the friends she had made at work, friends that have become family.  I know what she means.  I have met, and stayed in contact with some of the best people ever at the schools Iin which I have worked.

My young Facebook buddy teaches at a small elementary school and has gotten to know everyone in the building.  This doesn't happen in a large school.  Often the friends you make are the ones you share a lunch or a prep period with.  There are so many you never even know are in the building.

When I retired, I started going out to lunch with several friends from the school.  These friends invited others and before anyone turned around our monthly lunch mailing is at 35 and still growing.  (Not everyone makes every lunch.)  The best part of the lunch is the opportunity we have all had to make new friends and to get to know people we only passed in the halls and nodded quick hellos to.

Our group meets once a month at a great little Greek place centrally located for most.  The owners are nice and really take good care of us.  We even get to use a separate little area in the back.

As the new year begins, I want to give thanks to the miracle that led me to enter and love the teaching profession and for now giving me a whole lot of new friends to love and spend time with.

(More snow pictures here, on Facebook)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Take The Day Off

Several years ago I remember that the decision to close schools was made after many teachers had already left home.  I remember one teacher who bundled up her young child and drove in from Long Island and was pissed that she endangered herself and her child for nothing.  I remember thinking the teacher was an idiot.  How could any parent in their right mind expose their offspring to dangerous road conditions for a job.  Teachers have ten sick days a year.  Intelligent teachers use one for a heavy snow storm.

When I bought my house I settled for a small one in the city, on a major, (actually two major) bus routes.  With inclement weather, I crossed the street and took public transportation.  If the bus wasn't running, I turned around and went home.  I liked my life and my cars too much to endanger them going to work, especially on a day when no real teaching took place.

I just read a Facebook comment from a wise woman who wrote:  "I'm just taking the day and not dealing with it."  My sentiments exactly.  Call the registry and turn off your alarm.  When you wake up, you can go shovel your walks and clean your cars.  And, be glad you have the options of using a sick day.  My husband was never allowed to call in sick on days like tomorrow.  He worked for Con Ed and there were no excuses tolerated for not being on the job.  Many others have the same type of job.  Teachers, be happy you can use your days.