Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

That is literally happening in my life.

I am doing some long overdue work on my house. Well, I am doing some, other people are doing more. As we tear off the siding we are finding a lot of rot. And other odd things (like old wasp nests and mold (not much) and a current ant colony) But we found it in time and it is being corrected.

So we have lots of OLD going out.

A close friend just got biopsy results (not good) and so we sit in limbo, waiting for doctors to come back from vacation and do the next tests so we can figure out what comes next. And that level of terror is new.

New isn't always good.

So, keep my friend in your prayers as I keep her in mine.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It is cold.

We are doing something to the house which is way overdue: residing. And replacing the decks.

It is currently cold as there are holes in the wall. (temporary) It will be better - much - when it is fixed.

The decks were unsafe. This is something we have known for years - we are now able to fix them.

What is striking me the most is, as the decks and siding are removed, the crappy construction of the original builder is being revealed. It is a miracle things haven't fallen apart.

It is similar to teaching. As you start peeling away a student's misconceptions, the faulty foundation is revealed. The difference is that the student has an obligation to help lay the foundation down.

OK - the Interview questions

(For those of us who want to play fair and don't trust ourselves not to cheat. I speak of myself as well)

My background information is that I am in my ____ year of teaching in an _____ school in the ____. I teach _________


How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?

What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?

What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?

What is the best thing about teaching?

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Then tell Teacher, I Don't Get It because it is her interview.


I read the topic of the day at Teacher, I Don't Get It and decided I would participate. I answered her questions before I read her answers - and I am glad I did. Her answers are awesome - probably better than mine.

She would like you to take these questions - answer them - and let her know you have done so. Here are mine (and I am proud of myself for not going back and "fixing" them after reading hers):

My background information is that I am in my sixth year of teaching in an suburban/rural school in the South. I teach math. I have 2 years in middle school, 2 years of freshmen in high school and am in my second year of teaching seniors.


How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?
I was surprised about how little responsibility any of the groups of kids that I teach will take in their own education. Bringing a pencil to class (or not) is just symptomatic of the larger picture. They won't stop talking when you are reviewing for a test. They won't participate in state tests that determine their future, sometime to the point of not even coming to class. And then they want do-overs.

What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?
1) That when budgets are cut, SOMEONE still has to pay for supplies (paper and pencil at minimum). I am seeing more and more teachers declaring that the someone is no longer ME.
2) The emotional toll it takes on the teacher, trying to do the right thing by everybody: the student, the administration, the colleagues, the parents, the state, the teacher.
3) How difficult it is sometimes to teach the content dictated by people who do not adequately convey their intent.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?

Testing. There is too much of it and (at least in my state) the testing is not necessarily related to the material taught. My state says that the tests come from the standards as do the classroom instruction. Then why have they had to throw out several test scores statewide? (middle grades social studies, 9th grade math to name 2 over the past five years) If everyting were meaningful, there would be no reason to throw anything out.

What is the best thing about teaching?
That lightbulb moment - that moment when the student GETS IT - whether it is a concept in math or his/her worthiness as a human being.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Same show, different day. I see myself teaching some sort of math.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This article by JD2718 is so perfect - and will be so ignored by the people who just don't get it.


I had a dream last night.

I was teaching something important. The students seemed involved. I walked around and they were working.

When I wrapped it up I noticed that first one student and then another had some report on their desk made up of pages of red construction paper. And the kids were SOOO proud of this report they had done for their English class and they wanted to share it with me.

You would think I would notice the red pages, wouldn't you?

Anyway, none of them had any idea of what I had just spent an hour talking about. And I was mad.


School starts next week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Couple of things I read today.

Bad college grades a tough record to shake or, why you need to do good all the time rather than at the last minute. The article is about someone in their late 30s, going back to school after failing out at 20, and having to overcome the bad grades. (The university I went to would do a one time do-over. In this case, it sounds like a good thing.)

Subject Matters: Science has an image problem seems to talk more about a resource issue than an image problem.

Back to my book.

Monday, December 27, 2010

For this I burned my bra?

OK, not really, but I put up with a lot of bovine soil enrichment in the fight for sort-of equality and then I read this.

I do realize that in their own Facebook pages by students refer to girls as hos and bitches. And this is both the males and the females doing the referring. I remember objecting to being called a girl. And now, they want to be referred to this way?

What progress.

I watch the blacks refer to themselves as n****s - again, what progress! It is a pregorative - and they embrace it as what you call your friends.

Yep, I could walk up to MY friends and call them hos and bitches. Not if I want to retain their friendship and respect.

I have the kids complain that they have freedom of speech. And I inform them that they don't in a government building.

How do we turn the tide back?

Monday Meme

Stolen, this week, from Mrs. Chili, again.

Time: 10:56 am. I have been up to read the funnies on line, check our route, and decide I am not going to drive through North Carolina. I hate driving in that state on a good day.

In my mug: Coffee and Tia Maria. (Hey, it isn't a travel or a school day!)

Outside my window: Snow. Just hanging around because it is COLD. 34 degrees. (I am a wuss. I live in the South)

In my belly: Coffee and a stroopwaffel. (They are honest-to-God the world's most decadent cookie!! And I found you can buy them on Amazon and not be limited to visits from Dutch friends!)

Beside me: Mr. Ricochet, reading yesterday's paper.

In the fridge: Cold cuts, fruitcake, veggie tray, champagne.

In my ears: Extreme Machines on the Military channel, talking about Harriers. (I told you Mr. Ricochet was in here.

On me: A sweatshirt and flannel jammies. I am not planning on getting dressed.

Looking forward to: The Independence Bowl. (Go Jackets!)

Grateful for: My healthy family, my precious friends, and for feeling no want. (Yep, Mrs. Chili, stole that entirely) Also for a stack of books to read that I cannot get through this year. And all these lovely blogs to read!

Happy Monday and get ready for a new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's snowing!

Since I have lived in such places as Florida, Lower Alabama. Southern California - this is not normal in my experience.

In fact, this is a first.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Improving schools

I wonder how long it will the Hulk to come up with THIS idea?

It might save his job.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, to all!!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It's Christmas!!

Mamacita writes that we should take Christmas out of our homes and into the community.

We went out today, not really needing to buy anything, as much as much as (my husband says) "we are knoshing."

And some of the coolest stuff happened. In Old Navy, a guy gave us a $15 off coupon because he wasn't spending that much (and we were) - so we gave him out $1 off coupon.

We went to Borders and ended up not buying anything because the line was awful - so gave out 33% off coupon to a guy in the line.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Only at Tech.

When UGA's players are suspended - it is for things like drunk driving. When it's Tech, it's academics.

Only at Tech.

The school is very rigorous.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"I can't balance my checkbook"

As long as saying that is acceptable, it will be difficult to teach math.

No one would think of saying "I cannot understand what is in the newspaper" or "Here, read this menu to me - I can't understand it." And I realize people do grow up illiterate, but it usually comes with great embarrassment. When someone finally learns to read, sometimes they will discuss this.

But math? Naw, it's ok to say you never got it, you can't do it, when will you ever use it?

I was outside the office of one of the APs and her him telling another math teacher how much trouble she had had in high school math. Well, honey, we knew you didn't get it when we see how you schedule our department.

Stress Generator

That could be another name for the principal.

I met a friend for lunch this week = a friend who opted not to come back this year.

We were talking about The Hulk, and the friend started talking about the sheer number f people on various forms of stress reduction: tranqs, booze,whatever.

I have gained weight the past few years. (my response to stress).

Another friend is struggling with ulcerative colitis - it is wrecking havoc with her life.

I need to find another solution to the stress (something more positive than eating) because I want to continue to teach the students I teach.

I guess tar and feathering the Hulk is out of the question.

As I have said before, he has created an environment where no one has his back.

Justice lives.

Can't Wrap This

Too funny!! Thanks, Ms, Chili!

Permanent Marker causes student to be arrested

Actually, that should read possession of permanent marker causes student to be arrested.

Apparently it bothered the the teacher that the permanent marker bled through paper to the the desk so she had the middle schooler arrested.

What a jackwagon.

Step closer, grasshopper, and let me give you some VERY useful tips.

First, Fabuloso. This stuff is awesome at cleaning desks and walls. And it smells like oranges.

Second, your handy dandy dry erase marker. (I know you all will try this - it is ok. I promise it works) Color the permanent marker with dry erase. And wipe. Sometimes you have to do it a couple of times.

Having used a permanent marker on a white board before, this is useful to know.

So, wish I could have told the jackwagon teacher before she decided to be a dipwad.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I don't know how good a friend I am

I try to be there for my friends when they need me but the jobs I pick, including teaching currently, seem to get in the way of being there.

A friend will have a biopsy on the day school starts back.

I know before I even ask that I will not be allowed to miss it, even though there are no students.

This sucks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cell phones in the classroom

I just read a comment from one of our Board members that, since the policy on cell phones will change in January, the teachers should use the cell phones as learning devices.

One more thing they expect us to incorporate on the fly with no resources.

But, being game I found an article that discussed cell phones as a learning tool.

It turns out there is an app called Math4Mobile, which has a lot of math tools built in.

I also found a program used in North Carolina, also discussed here.

So, do any of you in Blog land use phones as learning tools?

Latest Stupidity

A student sent me a link of a YouTube video he had made. From there it was possible for me to find 3 other students - and listen to some of their profound thoughts.

I assume they have never been told - or do not believe - that what goes onto the internet never really goes away.

Some of this is going to come back to haunt them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If you knew the content of the state mandated test, would you share?

If you had seen the test, would you share the kinds of questions with other teachers?

In a lot of states, the tests are released so I guess you could teach to the test. I know New York and Virginia do.

It always seemed more difficult to teach to the test than to teach the material - what do you do? "The answer to this question is C"?

But I digress.

In Georgia, we cannot see the test. We see the released questions - these are the ones that were too hard, too easy, or poorly written. In any case, they are the questions that everyone got - or no one got, so they are no longer used.

Real useful.

I know percentages. But they are not useful. "30% of this test will be Algebra."

I want to know what they think these tests are testing. Do they think they test our ability to teach? The students ability to think? The teachers ability to forecast what is on the test?

If you knew something that could help other teachers in your school so they could help their students, would you? Or would you hold it close to the vest so you look like a better teacher?

Discovering math

I know what works.

I know how to teach.

I can't teach to the test (that is a blog coming soon) even if I wanted to.


I am going to be judged on how I teach math as a discovery lesson. Refusing to answer their questions, doing student discovery groups with minimal teacher direction EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW THAT THE GROUP WITH THE MOST DIFFICULTY IN THE SUBJECT (black males) LEARN BEST IN A TRADITIONAL WAY.

Really soon, I will be replaced by a parapro.

Why do you need a certified math teacher to teach a math class when you want them to teach it to themselves without books?

John Spencer writes that if you teach the students the material, they can pass the test.

I watch the students I have struggle with this whole concept. Not of my teaching - but of my requiring them to "find" it. They want direction.


As a teacher I am balancing what they want against what the administration wants.

I know the importance of a good education.

I know how to behave in class - even if I think the teacher is a moron.

I am struggling with teaching students who do not want to be there.

I agree that discovery math works if the students want to discover.

How can it work if they use the "discovery" time to socialize? If they think they can fix a semester of not doing anything with a week or a day at the end?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Six Word Saturday

I hate when kids fail me.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I realize they are the ones failing - that I didn't fail them. I wish sometimes that I was Mr. Chips, or Dumbledore, or Jean Brodie or someone special who could inspire them - or that I could find the special button for each one.

I was cussed out yesterday for failing someone who doesn't come to school, doesn't stop talking when she is here and thinks she can pay attention to math while talking about this ho or that.

But I made the only decision possible.

I had others not come the last possible day to pass. And two that I had to fill out their failure cards before the realized I wasn't kidding.


Two weeks and we start again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Evaluate the teacher

I was told today that a kid understands math better than he ever has and he likes me the way I am because I answer questions when he asks.

I was told by a parent that I am the best thing that has happened to her son.

I was also told what I could do with myself, but I think it is physically impossible.

So, a nice balance and I am happy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remember they are kids. . .

Several people have posted lately that the kids we teach are, well, kids.

I watch them make incredible decisions as if they are unable to link cause and effect and yet they see that same cause and effect in other situations.

A boy puts off til the fifth month any effort in class where, if it were a football game, he understands that he cannot wait til the fourth quarter to play.

Another is out at least one day every week. I realized when he asked me a question on the final that he has trouble reading. (Sorry, he hasn't been here enough for me to pick it up before). He had trouble with a problem because he read CHANGE as CHARGE.

Another student who loudly proclaims that any 'disrespect' on the teacher's part is racially based. Disrepect would include failing a student who earns it.

He will make no effort to do anything that will raise his grade.

Remember the boy who told me that the grade he had earned was unacceptable? He slept during the last opportunity to raise his grade. Oh, well.

I kept telling them that they needed to DO work if they wanted to pass. "Take it seriously or take it again"

Some will be taking it again because they would come - sometimes - but sleeping isn't doing.

The ones that worked passed. The ones that didn't, didn't.


Worse than icky. No school.

Ah, what to do with a "free" day. I am current on grading - except for about 3 papers left at school.

I guess, clean house.

Icky weather

We open late today since it is exam week - and the roads are treacherous.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I have been hammering at the state test since Thanksgiving. I haven't had any tests or quizzes but I have given all kinds of grade-raising stuff - including several that could have been done over the Thanksgiving break.

1) No one did anything over break
2) One person has done all of the stuff
3) Only about a third have done something.

Tomorrow is their final and the day I should maybe see their state scores.

Today I handed out progress reports to REMIND them where their grade is sitting.

One darling said "This grade is unacceptable."

I almost told him I could live with it - because I can. I have offered so many different options. I have even worked out most of this stuff in class. I am not the one who slept in the class. I am not the one who let a month's worth of opportunity slip through my fingers.

I told him find and do some of the stuff I put out there.

Take it seriously or take it again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sitting duck

Here is an amazing story told with photographs of 2 eagles attacking a duck.

(It's ok, the duck survives)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Free tool to enhance PowerPoints

Teachers, here is a great free resources to add to your PowerPoint presentations. A simple way to make things interactive and did I mention, it is FREE too.

Merry Christmas!! God Bless us everyone!

We bought gifts for 2 kids for Clark's Christmas Kids. Here is a related article.

Could not find a telescope, but we did buy a bike for one boy and a Vtech laptop of educational games for a little girl. I hope they have a Merry Christmas!

Neal's article points out that Clark's Christmas Kids accounts for 1/2 the toys that Georgia's foster kids get for Christmas. If you choose to donate on Clark's website (first link) the money will be sent to the DFACS nearest you. (Whatever you call your Department of Family Services)

I challenge you to think of a child in foster care for this Christmas or Chanukkah (yes, we just missed it) or Kwanzaa.

Six word Saturday

The Yuletide season is upon us!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I meet a friend for breakfast, another for lunch and there is a party tonight with old friends! You have to love this time of year.

And we might get snow tomorrow or Monday!!

And only 5 more days before the semester is over!

I do not know what makes me happier.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What extrinsic methods can you use to increase intrinsic motivation?

Wow, doesn't that sound educated?

Finals are next week.

I have kids who are repeating classes.

I have shown them the grades they have and told them how to raise their grade.

I have made them write down what they have to do to raise their grade. Basically, sit down, shut up, do your work and turn it in.

So, today, as I am working through the review (because they will not work it on their own), 6 people out of 25 are listening. Two were legitimately not there. Six others didn't come. Eleven are talking.

One tore up another student's review sheet.

I guess they can repeat it again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worst Professional Development - EVER

Let's see, first I was told to go and the only useful information I got was a URL.

She read the powerpoint. When someone asked a question, she would pull up the IMPORTANT SLIDE - the one with the BOLD and HIGHLIGHTED words, point to them, and READ THEM AGAIN.


Did I mention that she read the powerpoint?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teach the ones ya got

A wise teacher (I will call him Side Squared because his name is too close)once told me that we are given, not the ones we want. Unless we are THOSE teachers at Pissed Off's school who dump the ones who don't preform, we deal with the kids we are given until they pass or leave.

I dislike some of mine, but I teach them math and try to also teach them things like pulling up their pants or taking their hats off (or listening instead of talking).

I heard a teacher say today that a student was an idiot and couldn't even solve an equation. This after the kid's mom had been complaining to me that the same teacher wouldn't talk to the mom or answer questions.

I didn't put myself in the middle but found myself there.

Well, it inspired me to teach harder and do more.....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Meme

I have never done a meme before but stole this one from Mrs. Chili because of the fruitcake question. She got it from Kwizgiver.

1. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial(the family has allergies to the real thing)

2. Do you like decorating the tree? Absolutely!! (I love the stories with each ornament)

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's day with the football games.

5. Do you like eggnog? Not really. But I have some every year. Mr. Ricochet loves it - and peppermint ice cream. (not together)

6. Ever broken a present right after opening it? No.

7 . Hardest person to buy for? Mr. Ricochet. And my mother.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My children. They want it all.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Several. My favorite is German. From my honeymoon.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. Late. (We call them Epiphany cards to cover our bases).

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A set of measuring cups from my mother in law the first year I was married. I came to understand later.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Good Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I see the RIGHT thing (so all year)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Duh.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fruit cake, rum balls, cookies, turkey, pigs in blanket Christmas morning, everything.

16. Have you ever actually eaten fruit cake? We figure there is one every year, circling the globe. When it hits our house, we eat it. Seriously, we all love it. So did our parents. I love that James Beard had one in his cookbook - or the New York Times cookbook does - with my real name, spelled right. And it is delicious also.

17. Favorite Christmas song? All of them.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We stay home for Christmas Day and travel home the next day.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Fido - no.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An angel I made.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning. When the kids were younger they were allowed to open one after the Christmas Eve service.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The commercials.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? All of them.

24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Looks like Thanksgiving dinner.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? My new computer!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Computer

I got a new computer for Christmas (yes, that isn't for 3 weeks, yes I am using it now, yes I will wrap something to put under the tree). And, yes, it is a pain in the butt moving everything, remembering passwords, etc.

Hubby is trolling the old machine to see if I got everything off so I can gift it to someone. It is still good - just too slow and too small and too old. (Except for the small, that describes me as well).

I am finding things still on this machine (like where did they put the delete key).


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear Customer Service Rep:

"No Problem" is not the same thing as "Thank You."


Georgia is ranked 24th in size in the US (about median for the states). It is about 59.5 thousand square miles and has 159 counties, 159 seperate governments (plus several cities with their own governments like Atlanta). And more than 159 school systems.

California is ranked 3rd in size in the US (Alaska and Texas are first) and has 58 counties in the 163.5 thousand square miles.

Does that not seem strange to you?


Read this and this.

Holland Reynolds, 16 years old, struggled to finish the race but finally crawled the last 2 feet. This allowed her team to win even though she herself came in dead last. She was determined to finish for her coach.

Coaches, teachers: would your students do this for you?

Would you do this for the people you work with?

And Mrs. Claus gets it done!

This is hilarious!

I want Mrs. Claus to take over my room!

Six Word Saturday

It is all up to them.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Our state test is next week.

For three classes, whether they pass the course or not depends on whether they can pass a 2 hour test. I wonder if some of them will wish they had put in more of an effort.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Internal Motivation

I should not care more than my students do about their grade.

I should not care more than my students do about the state test coming up - the one they have already failed once.

And yet . . . .

* I had one student come in for 1 day of review (he was home alone the rest of the week). He talked, joked, hit his friends the entire time he was in my class. He did not even copy information.

* I had one come into class on the last day for the last 5 minutes. (Again, absent the rest of the time). Math was not on his radar.

* One girl came in half the time. She entered late every day (apparently she is unwilling to ride the bus). One day she entered late, walked over to a girl, and stuck her breasts in the girl's face. I do not know why.

* They take the papers I put out to raise their grade - and (I don't know) eat them? In any case they never have them, never do them, but continually ask what they can do to raise their grade.

* One girl comes to another of my classes from study hall in order to raise her grade. She does no work, asks no questions, accepts no help - then sleeps. WTF? Why bother to come?

But I have been assured it is all because I do not inspire them.

They are already repeating the course. They and their parents have been told by 2 teachers in a row that attendance and effort play a part in the grade they get.

I look forward to this class being over.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I actually feel sorry for Funsucker.

The principal told her today that if she would offer her resignation, he would accept it. How completely unprofessional. She has issues, but he is an ass.

This was when she went to him because another teacher will not explain things to the kids who respond by saying "that's why everyone is failing."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Had a great meeting with the principal today!

He came to see me before school to tell me what an awesome job I am doing. He asked about coming to observe the class, but since I am preparing for end of course tests in 3 of the classes, we agreed that after the holidays would be better.

The entire exchange lifted my spirit and made the day fly. Wow!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some questions have no answers

I have a student who goes by the moniker Brooklyn, as that is where he transferred from. He never really tells us we're hicks, but I know he is from one of the huge high schools in NYC (well, Brooklyn) that Bloomberg is trying to close.

Almost as soon as he arrived, he started dating a girl who was rather naive. I have known her since I arrived at the school and she is an athlete, but never seemed to date. She could probably have gotten a scholarship to college, but she will be having Brooklyn's baby instead.

For a while he was really working then he started cutting class again. According to his grandmother, that is why he was kicked out of school in Brooklyn. When his transcript arrived, it is obvious that academics has never been a goal.

The girl is showing but they have broken up. I am not sure he will still be in school when we return from this break. His last comment to me was that he was having to "go home for court." I asked for what, he just smiled and said "big boy jail."

So, he probably will not graduate. He probably will not be involved with this child. She will probably go to college, but it will be a while down the road. He will probably go back to jail a time or two after this trip.

I am trying to stay positive.

How do you help kids make better choices?

Is some of this jackaninniness inherent?

Are we just enabling the kids to continue a horrible cycle?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Hoo Rah! Clean old fashioned hate!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Great advice to the Tech team facing Notre Dame: "I'm gonna fight til I can't fight no more. Then I'm gonna lie down and bleed a little. And then I get up and fight some more." They could do worse against Georgia.

So, what's the good word?

Game is tonight! (If you google "clean old fashioned hate" this doesn't sound, well, so hateful.)

This rivalry, this Clean Old Fashioned Hate

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Futility of the TSA

This video of Adam Savage (mythbusters) is priceless and demonstrates that this whole frisking thing is pointless.

We, or rather the TSA, is reacting to the way terrorists have acted in the past (and since the last attempt included a bomb up the nether regions, I can hardly wait to see how they react to THAT).

Profiling, while such a loaded word, is the difference between the USA's lack of success and Israel's success in making the skies safe.

When are we going to learn?

My son mentioned that Tech does a moderate frisking to eliminate taking flasks into the game - but they don't check pockets or boots, and it is still possible to get loaded during a game.

If you can get a flask into a football game, a bomb up your nether regions, well - it never pays to underestimate dedication.

As Always, George Will says it better. And so does Martin Schram. It isn't that we are against safety, but when the TSA goes after children and cancer survivors rather than profiling, forget it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What's the good word?

More than four UGA stickers on the back of a truck means the driver never graduated high school. Only at U(sic)GA. (from

And they would probably be my students.

How do you raise their own goals?

There is a website where you can see the active inmates in the county jail. I have gotten addicted to checking it out. Once someone is released, they don't show, so if you want to know if someone was arrested, you really need to check it everyday.

Which is how I know that the Powers That Be have started throwing students who fight directly in jail. A dozen have landed there - briefly - over the past few months. And maybe that is the wake up call that they need.

There is one boy in there now that I taught 3 years ago. He has been in the jail a month. When I taught him as a freshman, I remember he told me that Algebra wasn't important to his future, he was going to end up in jail anyway.

And there he is, during what should be his Senior year, fulfilling what he sees as his destiny.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oops, left something out

The previous post would make more sense, particularly the karma part, with two additional pieces of information.

Last year, when 2 of us were talking with Highmaintenance, complaining about the special ed teachers we had and how they made things difficult for us, she said that she wished she had a co-teacher because it would make her life easier. I mentioned she does not plan ahead. She is always running to the copier during class to make copies. She has tried getting Funsucker to do her copying - good luck with that.

Funsucker that I was overly picky - and now she is butting heads with Highmaintenance.

They SOOOO deserve each other.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What goes around

Sometimes you just get to sit back and watch Karma happen.

HighMaintenance is teaching with Funsucker this year and they are having problems. HM cannot plan more than a day in advance. It occurred to me yesterday when I was trying to plan with her that a) she probably thought she was being helpful even though she was contributing absolutely nothing b) she thinks I am a pain in the butt (I am) C) she feels like she has jumped through these hoops a million times already and doesn’t need to do this on any schedule other than her own. Her lack of planning is causing tremendous stress for her and for everyone around her but she is not going to change. Somehow we are supposed to aleviate the stress or sympethize with her.

She put on such a wonderful dog and pony show that the Powers That Be think she is awesomeness personified and cannot see that her students and the other teachers are suffering because she is not a team player.

I have come to see Funsucker in another light. She didn’t want to plan with me last year because she had taught the course before and knew what she was doing and wasn’t terribly interested in my input. (Hey, I can understand that. I'm not terribly interested in hers either.)

This year, she is not comfortable with the math and really wants a plan and communication and is getting neither. And the kids are suffering.

They had a meeting early last week with an administrator to discuss planning. Haven’t heard yet what was said . High Maintenance has decided that she doesn’t like the planning calendar the rest of the teachers are using for a particular math so she has modified it - radically – for her students. We may be back on the same page by the end of February. I do not know if the Powers That Be – who do not understand or remember the math – understand this.

It would be like a group of teachers agreeing to teach the book from chapter 1 to chapter 12 and another teacher deciding that it made more sense to teach all of the odd chapters followed by all of the even chapters.. You cannot plan together if you are not doing the same order. And, while we occasionally teach the same things, we are not following the same path.

I will say that Funsucker is going out of her way to get along with me this year and I am being courteous. High Maintenance is not impacting me because I interact with her as little as possible.

One more day and then a break! Won't see many kids so it will be a chance to raise their grdes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Only at Tech

It is Hate Week at Georgia Tech - that lovely week where a group of engineers play a group of violent rednecks - ok, that's the story that we're sticking to.

Only at Tech is a website usually dedicated to life at Tech. During the week before Thanksgiving it is changed to reflect U(sic)GA. Somewhat amusing - especially if there is a local rivalry like this. Let's see: Alabama vs Auburn, Mississippi vs Mississippi State, UNC vs NC State, Oklahoma vs OSU, Texas vs Texas A&M, Virginia vs Virginia Tech, Florida vs Florida State. . . gee, most of the ones I know are in the South.

What's the good word?

Waiting for help.

My favorite joke is the one about the man who lives down river of a large dam. The dam is about to break and the people down river have been ordered to leave.

The man stays.

His neighbor comes roaring up in his jeep and yells “Quick! Get in. The dam is about to go!”

No, the man says. I have prayed for help and God will save me. So the neighbor leaves.

The dam breaks, The water roars down river. The man climbs to the next floor of his house as the water rises.

Another man in a boat comes by and calls to the man, standing at a window: “Quick, get in! The water is going to continue to rise!”

No, the man says. I have prayed for help and God will save me. So the man in the boat leaves.

The man climbs out on the roof as the water rises. A helicopter comes by and they drop a ladder out the side: “Quick, grab hold and climb up! The water is going to continue to rise!”

No, the man says. I have prayed for help and God will save me. So the helicopter leaves. And the man drowns.

When he gets to heaven, he is angry. And he tells God “I prayed for help and you didn’t come!”

And God says “I sent a car, a boat and a helicopter – what did you want?”

I feel that my students are like this man. The assume (love that word) that they will pass even though I repeatedly say that they need to give me things I can grade. I reminded them over break and I feel that a fair number will do nothing.

We will see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Six Word Saturday

No Internet. I have no voice.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

The modem died on Wednesday. We called AT&T they assured us they would send another out overnight and we would have it Thursday or Friday.

Friday comes – no modem. We call again. After chewing our way up the food chain, it turns out - isn’t this amusing – they sent it out regular and it will be here Wednesday. Maybe. So, after a great deal of arguing, they agreed they would send one out overnight and it would be here Saturday. No, just kidding.

I have Internet because my husband borrowed a modem from someone. Maybe ours will come tomorrow. I will let you know.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This isn't progress either

I don't have the answer to what we do with kids who do not think the rules apply to them, but I don't think this is in society's benefit.

One of my ex students was arrested last week for robbery and battery. I wrote him up at least 3 dozen times for skipping my class last year. And obsenity. Did the lack-of-following-the-rules lead to his current location? I don't know. I do know that all of these kids who are interviewed after being arrested think they deserve another chance.

And, when given one, their decisions do not change.

Apparently they think the rules do not apply to them?

I do not take points off for late work. I told them this year that I will only grade late work (which includes anything for grade recovery) about once a month. I don't enjoy grading one of these papers, and three of this paper, and a handful of that paper. So I only make myself do it every couple of weeks.

On-time work I try to grade on-time.

They still think I should change - that a deadline is a suggestion.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

This isn't progress

When I was a senior, the valedictorian was married. And pregnant. (and the marriage had come first) But they wouldn't let her attend graduation as it "wasn't seemly".

I had a pregnant 9th grader this week ask me if I was happy she was pregnant. No, why would I be?

I know at least 3 girls who have gotten pregnant by boys who will not graduate from high school because they cannot cannot follow the rules. Some even have jail time because school rules are not the only ones they will not follow. I can't be happy for them either. At least one of the mothers is in jail for battery.

What was it I read last week? Something like 75% of black babies are born out of wedlock. The children I am describing are not all black. Incredible choices.

I guess I see why math isn't important.

"Our schools cannot do better than our culture allows them to do."

Jay Bookman writes Georgians will be left behind until education valued.

I find myself sitting and waiting for my students to stop talking about nonsense so that I can teach. They don't stop. I wonder how many I will be forced to fail. Way more than I "should" and yet, as many as I have to. This means some will not graduate. Do they really need to when they are unable and unwilling to conform to societal norms for an hour and try to learn something?

I have kids tell me to stop interrupting them. That they are working while they blather on. Can't possibly. They haven't learned how to do the work.

They disparage the teacher they had last year. They will disparage me next year.

I cannot move on to higher level work when they cannot comprehend why their grade would drop when their last test grade was a 40. Let's see, when did we teach averaging?

I am discouraged.

And then I have HighMaintenance ask me if I understand statistics. Better than my students ever will.....

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Six Word Saturday

Christmas is six weeks from today.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Somehow, I will cover the material, keep my opinions to myself, and reach as many students as possible in the four weeks of school left.....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why did I go into teaching?

1) I filled out my benefits this week. That would be the benefits my broke county is no longer paying for. I will be taking home less money than when I started teaching 5 years ago. Gotta love progress.

2) The kids will not stop talking. They do not know the material. I love this stuff but cannot get them to listen, much less do any problems.

3) We have trouble getting the kids through a class with a 15% end of course test. Starting next year, we are talking 25%.....

4) the crappy communication in my department is driving me crazy.

5) I have 6 kids in jail for fighting (3 separate fights). Morons.

6) Oh, yeah - where in this list is ANYTHING about teaching?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I have got to quit reading the paper if I want to keep my sanity

We have a math curriculum which will see its first graduation test in the spring.

When the math curriculum was first envisioned a decade ago, the idea was that there would be an end of course test at the end of several courses instead of the graduation test, since an end of course test is more timely.

The current end of course tests count 15% of the grade.

The current graduation test is high stakes. If you don't pass it you don't graduate.

Oh, we have 9 end of course tests and 5 graduation tests for them to take in high school.

They announced today that the class of 2015 will not have to take a graduation test and their end of course tests will count 25% of the grade.

Remember my first paragraph? We are rolling out a new math graduation test in March 2011 which will go away in 2015.

We are idiots.


I have a couple of repeater classes. I have made it clear that I will build in assessments that are not necessarily tests so that it is possible to pass the class even if you do not test well.

I am discouraged that this information apparently translates in teenager as "Come see me and I will do your work so you do not have to think."

I ask that they not talk while I teach.

I am discouraged that this information apparently translates in teenager as "You can be as disrespectful as you want to me because I was obviously disrespectful when I asked you to stop talking and listen to the instruction."

I assign seats because they have not learned yet how to behave in a high school classroom. They are juniors.

I am discouraged that this information apparently translates in teenager as "Oh, I didn't really mean you have to sit in this seat because you don't feel like it today." I actually told a student that I didn't care that she didn't want to sit in her assigned seat. She earned it and would have to earn her way out of it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For all my friends in New York:

Congratulations on Joel Klein retiring. I hope the next person is not so destructive to the school system.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I am blown away

The last couple of days have been rough. Most of the kids are fine. A couple of brats are making it difficult to teach one class. One earned a week of suspension. One - well, it will be a while before I do anything for that AP.

There is a third brat who has been suspended for several days. He wrote me a note apologizing for his jackaninnyness and says he finally realized I am trying to teach him and he will behave.

I can only hope and will let you know.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jack-a-ninny-ness: is it a national epidemic?

I watch the kids that are in my school make incredible decisions as if there are no consequences and everything can be overcome by saying "I'm sorry" (whether they are or not) and then they get a do-over.

I have kids who put nothing on a test and want recovery. What the heck do they think they are recovering? They didn't do anything.

I have a student who brought a weapon to school and pulled it out to show his friend - in front of the principal. Yes, he was suspended, but "it wasn't fair."

I have a kid who was college bound until she got pregnant by her drop out boyfriend of one month.

I have seniors tell me tht I can't write them up for being late to class because I didn't wanr them that they had tardies. (They can't figure out that if they arrive in my room after the bell has rung and the door is shut that they are late? The rules haven't changed since I've been here.)

They cut class and are indignant that they are written up.

And throughout this, it is my fault that they do not graduate.

This whole attitude thing is not limited to my school. There was a horrible accident last Easter morning. A BMW hit a Mercedes, forcing the Mercedes to collide with a VW. A child in the VW was killed. Two children and their parents in the Mercedes were killed. The driver of the BMW fled the scene. Ten days later the police found her. Her mother (who used to be a teacher but I bet she never gets her certificate back) helped her cover up the damage to the car by having it repaired.

So there was no evidence left on the car.

The judge and jury threw the book at both mother and daughter. (Google Aimee Michael Easter) In the case of the mother, the judge sentenced her to more time than the prosecutor asked for. The daughter got 36 years.

She is appealing. The paper asks if the sentence was fair. Fair is not a word that enters into this anywhere. How "fair" was it that a little girl on her way to church was killed? How "fair" was it that another little girl and her baby brother were killed on their way to have breakfast with the Easter Bunny?

Oh, and did I mention that Aimee has a history of speeding - probably a dozen tickets in the 6 years between when she got her license and had the accident. Did I mention the roach in her car? It had her DNA on it but, because she didn't stay at the scence, they don't know if she was smoking or not. They also don't know for sure what happened as the Mercedes burned up and Aimee repaired her car.

**deep breath**

I am tired of kids and their parents not accepting responsibility. I have been "requested" to come to a meeting about the jack-a-ninny who completely disrupted my test Friday. His mother will say that he is "overwhelmed" because he doesn't understand. He has missed 3 weeks of a block class and is late at least 1 day a week and he does no work and asks no questions. No shit he doesn't understand.

But I can't say all of that.

(I want to. I really want to.)

How does that excuse all of the crap he did before he walked out of my room? I really wish he'd just walked out to begin with.

But here comes another mama riding to the rescue. I realize his 20th birthday is looming a couple of years down the line. I know she wants him to graduate.

I want to teach.

A friend proposed something in passing that seems almost heretical: take the kids who don't want to go to class and learn, the ones who cut class and want to roam the halls, should be kicked out so that we can teach the ones who want to be there. The county proposed a night school a couple of years ago (to deal with kids like this who seem to chafe at regualr school) but it went nowhere.

What we are doing is not working.

Six Word Saturday

Different generation. Different set of rules.

I read an article about working with a staff of 20-somethings and how the manager is having to adapt because what-has-always-worked isn't. (I'd give you the link but I have no idea where I found it.) I wrote about my last test - and my write ups which have resulted in 3 requests for face to face meetings with the parents.

All I want to do is give the kids the opportunity to pass both my class (which they want) and the state test(which the school needs).

Apparently what the kids want is unfettered freedom from any societal norms (language, behavior, dress), a grade they haven't earned, and no insistance on work.

We are coming into my favorite time of year. I love the smells, the music, the froofroo (however you spell that) - but I am not enjoying it because of the stress of dealing with these people (students) ( do not like.

Add, that if they pass, I get them for another semester. (Oh, the conflict). I am being scrupulously honest as I do not want my feelings against them to be the reason for the grade.

This morning I read a brief piece on mindfulness, of being very aware of where you are and being in the moment. I want to start practicing that.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Why is the concept of being quiet during a test so difficult for HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS to understand? I cannot imagine my 4th grade self having the nerve to talk out loud during a test. I cannot imagine my third grade self asking the teaching (from the back of the room) if blahblah was the correct answer to number 2.

But these almost-adults think that is an acceptable way to behave.

What jack-a-ninnies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day - good and bad

* Lost a student because he has made a stupid decision (as teenagers do) and has been expelled.

* wrote up students for tardies and skipping class. Yep, love that. (not)

* tried to teach a class that will not stop talking. Have started teaching the 4 who are listening.

* Had a boy ask if he passes all his classes can he play sports again. I answered yes, again. So now he is done fooling around and will learn (yeah, right).

* Yesterday another class was talking about candy and talking about their favorite candy bar. I said Carmello - they brought me one today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

There has got to be a better way

There has got to be a better way to teach than this.

Remember: we want the same things

I am always amazed at how divisive politics can be. I know the political beliefs of lots of the blogs I read - if you don;t say it directly, you hint at it. Some don't.

I don't see joy in a divided government.

I think we want the same things - we just see different ways of getting there. We want our children to have a better life than we have. We want to enjoy the fruits of our labors. We want to feel safe when we leave our homes. We want to feel safe in our homes.

I want my students to learn to think, to graduate, and to be productive citizens. It bothers me when I listen to them and realize they understand the rules of jail better than the rules in class.

I know some cannot graduate because of the decisions they make every. single. day.

I hope we all can find some joy and work together.

I may need to think some more about what I want. I find I have difficulty expressing it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dum dum da dum (funeral dirge)

Tomorrow during planning I have to go to the administrator in charge of my department (a former PE teacher) and explain why I am teaching skills instead of depth. Fortunately the class behaved - although I did have to remind 3 boys that sleeping the class while an administrator is there is not smart.

I have ranted about our math program. It is the only thing I have taught but it isn't the way I was taught. I don't see anyone succeeding at it - except the teachers of the gifted and there is indication that their students aren't coming out of this with the same understanding that students did in prior years.

The administrator knows all the education buzz words but really, truly does not understand math on any level. It should make no difference whether the pieces are cohesive - or not.

This is a person who takes pride that he/she was handed a course the day before the kids came and do it well. And I just want to teach the same thing 3 years in a row to get better. My poor students.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Georgia's Math Program

In 2005, Georgia rolled out the GPS (Georgia Professional Standards) for math with 6th grade. Those students are now 11th graders. Every year they have had a math class taught by a teacher who has never taught that class before.

The first year it was 6th (math 6). The second, k-2 and 7th (math 7)we re added. The third 3-5 and 8th (math 8). The fourth year 9th (math 1 - don't ask me). The fifth 10th (math 2) and this year 11th (math 3). Next year they add the last piece, math 4.

I cannot speak about k-5. From 6th grade on, there is some data, statistics, probability every year. Math 6 is fractions, 1 step equations. Math 7 is negative numbers, 2 step equations. Math 8 is supposed to introduce 3/4 of what used to be in Algebra 1.

(They struggled with Algebra 1 so rigor is driving it down a year?)

Math 1 - the rest of Algebra 1 (except they don't know it so we end up reteaching all of Algebra 1) and some Geometry (parallel lines and triangles).

Math 2 is quadratics, radical and rational equations, absolute values, inequalities (half of Algebra 2) and circles and right angle trig from Geometry (but you can't really tie it to triangles because they can't remember that).

Math 3 is the rest of Algebra 2 because we are done with Geometry. Math 4 is trig.

(There is accelerated Math 1 - 3 with the kids taking AP Calc or AP Stat instead of the 4th year of accelerated math) So - 2 tracks.

You can't teach it the traditional way which builds on related things because we throw out a piece here and a piece there.

My county opted not to buy any books but to buy calculators instead. So we have to create our own material and we don't have enough calculators.

I am beginning to wonder if I know anything at all because it is getting harder and harder to teach this material because the average student is completely lost.

According to what we are told, this program was used successfully in Massachusetts - but Massachusetts has abandoned it for a traditional Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 system. New York and Virginia apparently had something like this and abandoned it as well. Why does Georgia not see it was abandoned when they buy into stuff like this?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bad words not spoken here.

Maybe this will convince my students that certain language is best left at home.

Yeah. Right.


Fulgurite is formed when lightening strikes sand and changes the sand into glass.

(It is not as pretty in reality as the one shown in "Sweet Home Alabama" but instead is usually hollow and gritty)

When something finally strikes my students and sets them afire, will they be as fundamentally changed?

Six Word Saturday

Brat is NOT a learning disability.

Attitude majorly affects both your grade and your teacher's willingness to assist, but just because you are unwilling to go along with the program and follow the rules doesn't mean that I have to go out of my way to make up work you will miss while sitting in time out.

Most intelligent creatures learn this before they enter kindergarten. Sorry you are a slow learner.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So glad tomorrow is Friday

The only thing better would be if TODAY were Friday.

One class (boys) kept wadding up paper and throwing it at each other. Except it wasn't trash paper when they started.

Another had 2 boys sign out to go to the bathroom - and never return.

My class-from-hell would not stop talking and so I got nothing done.

And a parent is mad at ME because another teacher wrote her darling up and I don't know why. Well, ask whoever did the write up because we aren't told.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

States as movies

Writing from here in Deliverence, I have to admit I find this funny!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

We have lost our collective minds

Or at least, some of us have.

I heard a colleague warn another to be careful about posting a particular situation on FB - so guess what was just posted on FB?

I had people in my room observing the class that is either supposed to set me up for failure - or the kids that were put in there. And I am sure I will hear how I am not going deep enough - when I cannot get the kids to grasp the surface level.

I am supposed to deal with crap in my inbox - but the server is down.

I am so tired of hearing things in my class room that are completely inappropriate and not related to what I teach. I'd write the kids up but first I have to talk to the parents - and I really don't want to tell the parents that their child said (loud enough for the entire class to hear) "You lick her butt hole?"

I am tired of kids who think the rules don't apply to them - but I really don't want to spend all my free time writing them up........

What happened to just coming and learning?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today's Comics strips

Luanne was certainly topical for today’s high school teachers:
Six AM sleepies
Nine o’clock nods
Noon nappies
Two o’clock topple
Five flop
Eleven e-wake

I know my kids do all of that and some more not shown.

But I loved Crankshaft. It was probably over the head of most people.
Hurry Up
It’s not too late
If you don’t procrastinate
You can make the women rave
Try it now
Myanmar Shave!

How many of you remember when the Burma Shave ads lined the roads and we drove slow enough to read them?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Free speech

"The employer’s needs limit what people can say on the job." Joanne Jacobs

How many jobs will it for my students to learn THIS lesson?

A way to grade that makes the state test important

I struggle with making the EOCT as important to the students as it is to me. As it is to the administration.

As long as the kids pass - even if it is with a 70, whether they pass the EOCT or not is irrelevant.


I will take their EOCT score and replace everything in the gradebook with a grade lower than that with the EOCT score.

If you have done a lot, this will be the pushing point.

If you haven't, then it may not help.

I am not announcing this in the class.

Six Word Saturday

I do more - they do less.

But if I do less, they do nothing.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

We are being told to do rigor. To move out of Bloom's level 1 to a more rigorous level of understanding. To have the students do more than regurgitate the information. And how do I do this when they cannot regurgitate or remember the skills they were to have learned in prior years? When they think they can pass a class by turning in a test with nothing on it but their name. ("I freeze up during tests." Fine. Then find some way - other than sleeping in my class - that conveys to me that you know the material and gives me something to grade. And, yes, that was the conversation I had with a student that started with me saying "I like you fine but you are going to fail this class again if you keep turning in tests with nothing on them.")

Yes, PO, not everyone should pass - or graduate from high school. I know if they cannot pass my tests, they will not pass the graduation test. Should I fail them and have them give up - or should I pass them, knowing they know little to nothing, knowing they will not graduate because they cannot pass the graduation test?

It is a new math test. Up til now, they usually fail social studies or science.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some people are just toxic and should be avoided.

But what do you do when they are your students and you have to teach them?

A student lied to me. Which is bad enough. Kind of a warning that this is someone to avoid, to not sully your personal space with. But I could teach that person.

Then the student lied about another teacher. A lie so egregious that, if believed, could cause the teacher a lot of trouble. I guess the good news is - the student has lied to many and therefore is not believed.

Still causes problems for the teacher.

Sometimes teachers should just be quiet

I was in a parent meeting with several other teachers. The issues were the student is bright, rushes through his work, isn't careful, doesn't turn things in and then wants another copy (2 or 3 or 4 times). [Don't bother to say that is unreasonable, we are to help these poor children pass with no expectation of anything approaching responsibility on their part. Talk about crippling a generation, but that is another post.]

One teacher starts reiterating the same thing [yes, that was redundant] we had all been saying and drifts into this complaint about she doesn't want to give copies because she doesn't have paper.

Did she not realize that the parents do not care who buys the paper? And that [to my way of thinking] the teacher just weakened everything we'd been saying?

The mother asked my if I was picking on him and I told her yes, but not the way the student was perceiving it. I said the bar for that class is set low for the rest of the class and that the student could easily walk over it. And that I expected more of this student than that - so, yes, I am picking on him. It isn't done to be mean but to help the student be a better mathematician. Kid was stunned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If it isn't yours, what gives you the right to take it?

I have dealt with students since I began teaching who think they have the right to take anything that they fancy. I have had my cell phone stolen, colorful pens, doodads, (we won't even discuss money), candy, whatever.

I was raised that the definition for that behavior is "theft." My students tell me I should know better than to have (fill in the blank) at the school.

Today a student left her phone on the desk. She came to me after the next class had been there to ask if I had seen her phone. Her teacher had not let her come down during the class to get her phone.

I hadn't seen the phone, but I knew who had been sitting there. Went to where the 1st boy was - he pointed to a second boy. Went to the second boy - he told me where the third boy was and told me the first boy had the phone. Went back to the classroom (since first and third boy were in the same class) and told them I needed to see them in the hall - at which point third boy hands me the phone. (

Now, he gets brownie points for giving up the phone, but whose jackaninny idea was it to take the phone in the first place? It's not like they didn't know it wasn't theirs.

I am feeling brilliant!

Which of course means this may fall completely flat.

I gave a test (average score: 32. I have to move on. The state test is looming on the horizon.

So, the recovery - that word that makes me cringe and the reason they do nothing, because they'll recover it later - will be another test. Using the same questions I have given on previous tests. But I will fill in the test - with their answers and work.

Their job is to tell me if the answer is correct (25%) and why it is or isn't (75%). "because" is not a reason.

Could work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who's on first?

I had a student stay for tutoring today. There is absolutely no way this student can pass this class (algebra 2) because the entire hour and a half went like a version of Who's On First? only not as educated or entertaining.

I am not going to bother identifying me or the student in the following. All of you are smart enough to figure out who is who. Even those of you who are not wild about math.

[I drew a 30-60-90 triangle on the board. I identified the hypotenuse, the different angles, and the relationship of the various sides. This was recovery - we spent several weeks on this.]

[The side opposite the 30 degree angle was 11. The hypotenuse is Y. The side opposite the 60 degree angle was X]

What is the value of Y?

What is opposite the 30 degree angle?
The hypotenuse?
Where do you see a two?

[I explained the example drawing again. We went through the same questions and the same answers again. I pointed to the 30 and asked what was opposite it and finally got the answer 11.]

I asked what 2 times 11 was.
[pulls out calculator - punches in numbers] 22.

Finally get him to see that Y is te hypotenuse and that the hypotenuse value is 2 * 11.

An hour and a half and we found 4 values......... With me prompting for answers.

But I am supposed to go for deeper understanding.

Do you ever have students you cannot write a recommendation for?

I was thinking about a student from last year. I had already written her recommendation but hadn't given it to her yet when she created a major brouhaha for reasons I still do not understand and started spreading lies about another teacher.

The lies could have cost the teacher her career, if anyone had believed the student, but by that time the number of lies the student had been telling were collapsing on themselves.

So, I told her I couldn't write the recommendation after all.

I have some students in my hellish class who are ok math students (they are better at math than the others in the class but they are not as great at math as they believe they are). But they are awful people. Rude, disrespectful, disruptive.

I do not believe they would ever ask for a recommendation because I do not believe they have any respect for anything I would do. But if they did, I cannot see how I could write one that was even tepid.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is a hard year

I wrote yesterday about bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon.

Life is tough all over.

I was snagged by a colleague this morning. We aren't that close - hi in the morning once a month or so. I didn't even know she had kids til this morning.

The woman was in tears. Her department is completely dysfunctional this year - backstabbing has been raised to a competitive sport. This woman has always been viewed as a star - but her own department is saying horrible things about her. And the only reason I can see is jealousy.

Why would you make your work a toxic environment?

I see this happening in more than one department.

What is wrong with people?


I am really becoming discouraged this year.

I had another decoration disappear from my room. I love teaching thieves. On the other hand, it means I don;t need to waste my money on decorations or treats - since thieves raided my treats as well. So, I can save money, because I will not buy it again.

A former student, a senior with the world ahead of her, is pregnant.

I watch kids make incredible (bad) choices and throw it all away.

I am bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am becoming my students

I set some deadlines for me this weekend - and then did nothing beyond lesson plans.

What is wrong with me?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mi casa es su casa

Somewhere along the line, that is the message the students get. I am intrigued and annoyed by the things they seem to think are my responsibility. This week:

* I put decorations up for fall - at least 3 think they are entitled to have the decorations. One asked. (I said no)

* English classes are doing a project. My students seem to think it is my responsibility to give them glue, tape, construction paper, props and time in my class to do their project. (no)

* "I haven't been to the library yet this year" "when I assign a project, we will go" (or, no)

* (from a student, not passing, while we are reviewing for a test) "Can I have paper and colored pencils? I'm bored"

I don't get it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Last year a student made a stupid choice, was arrested, and suspended from school and did not graduate. He had been accepted in college, but could go because he didn't finish high school.

He was back at high school this year, had gotten reaccepted by the college, just needed to finish high school and go on his merry way.

I was reading the list of arrests this morning and his name is on it again for theft.

What a stupid choice.

Talk about not learning the lesson.......

I had been willing to help him finish figuring he had learned his lesson. I guess he is still looking for the easy way out. With half a semester of hs to go, I am thinking he will either drop out (having spent his college tuition on bond and fines) or he will do this electronically and finally go to college.

When I saw him back at school I walked up to him and said "It is good to see you again" and he thought I was being sarcastic. I know I looked confused when I asked him why he would think that. What kind of a life must he have had when even normal remarks are perceived that way?

Six Word Saturday

Sudden darkness fills you with . . . confusion?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

We are sitting doing our usual Friday night social activity (everyone on their own computer, TV blaring) when suddenly, nada.

First reaction: how are we going to find a flashlight so we can go to the fusebox and trip the breaker.

Second: it isn't a breaker because EVERYTHING is off.

Third: hmmm, there are no lights on outside either.

We find our way to the door (someone did find a flashlight so we could find some others) and there are no light on anywhere. Got in the car - it is at least a square mile in total darkness, maybe more.

So home. Unplug everything. Call the electric company to report it. Go to bed.

Do you know it isn't exciting to read by flashlight when people aren't telling you to go to sleep.

I wonder if we will ever find out what happened?

Lights came back two hours later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What is so wrong with asking the students to do work?

* I asked them for three nights to take problems home and work them because we couldn't get far enough in class and they couldn't do the problems. They would not do them at home. I told them it will take that much longer to understand it because they need practice.

* So they asked me today if we could have a fun day. Sure, I said. Let's do math - I think that's fun.

* I had one girl work quite a long time on a project to raise her grade. And I watched her let someone else copy it. Now the second student won't learn what the first student did - but I did make a comment that I couldn't believe she would just give her work away.

* In another class a student turned in 2 projects - her own and another student's. It was amazing how the handwriting on both were identical.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some people ought not to be allowed near anything that plugs in

Some people are luddites - or too stupid to be anything except a luddite.

Highmaintenance - she who is too lazy or self centered to offer me any help at all - keeps coming up with things for me to do for her. Sometimes I can get out of it by avoiding her. Sometimes - like today when we had a teacher work day - she showed up in my room when other teachers were there and it would appear rude to tell her to pee up a rope. Although I usually don't care what people think.

Today she needed me to cut and paste things out of pdf files. And she sent me a list of pages and images she wanted copied.

How hard is it to get the right page?

I have no problem posting this. She is too stupid to find the blog.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Losing your mind? Come teach

Today I read two articles: One in the Nashville Tennessean and then another in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The detail a 15 year math teacher who lost it while teaching.

I use the term "teaching" loosely. Not that he isn't trying, but the kids are talking. As is pointed out in one of the comments, we are watching this halfway through. Something has already happened that caused the kid to turn on his phone and start recording.

I feel for this teacher. I have no feelings for the students. They know little and will now know even less.

These are much like my students. I actually had a kid today tell me I was rude for interrupting her. Let's see: I was trying to teach the same lesson I have tried to teach for the past three days and she was talking about which students are pregnant. Which topic do YOU think will be on the state test?

Then her mother hung up on me when I called to talk about grades.

I think I will schedule my breakdown. The way things are going at our school, I'll bet there is a list and a form I need to fill out.

Writing anonymously - one twist

Several of us in the blog world write anonymously. Or try to. Usually because we fear retaliation for what we might say. I know I do.

There are times that what I want to say is too identifiable to my own school. If anyone reads my blog. If anyone in my school CAN read (but that is a blog for another day).

So I have blogged on other people's blogs. And I have posted for other people. Sometimes identifying "Hey, this belongs to someone else" - and sometimes not.

It is the only solution I have - in this world where teachers lose their jobs for venting because parents get vendictive.

So, if you have something to say and can't say it at your own blog, email me - or one of the other bloggers and blog as a guest.

And let the venting begin!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


The one thing that teachers can be given, the thing money cannot buy is respect. Salaries are not now, and hopefully will never be determined by the administrators of the buildings where we work. I am totally opposed to any sort of merit pay as I know it will never be divvied up fairly. Besides, merit is a quality, hard to judge, with too many confounding variables to complicate the situation. While respect won’t pay my son’s college tuition or my monthly mortgage payment, it is something everyone needs, something that does help one do a good job.

This brings me to a story I heard recently. Mr. G was a long time teacher in an inner city school. He was hard working, well liked by his students and his peers. He always helped the young teachers in his department and many owe their success in the teaching field to him. Unfortunately, Mr. G’s health was starting to fail and he was no longer the dynamic teacher he had once been. Mr. G was not ready to put away his chalk, although teaching was becoming difficult. The principal of Mr. G’s school had a serious dilemma. He knew Mr. G could not go on the way he was. He could have “U” rated him and pushed him out of he building. Instead, he called Mr. G into his office and said, “I see the pain you are in and know that things are not easy for you. I appreciate all the work you have done for Inner City. I promise you a job for the year. I will find someone to assist you in your classes. In fact, I will not only have this person assist you, I will even relieve you of two classes and find as easier assignment for you.”

Mr. G was shocked. He couldn’t believe the principal was being so kind. He couldn’t believe the principal would actually use the school’s tight budget to help him out. Mr. G never expected to receive the help he was being offered. He could not believe the respect he was being shown.

I am a teacher at Inner City. Mr. G is a good friend of mine. The respect and the kindness the principal has offered him is something I will never forget and will always be grateful for. The principal can’t offer me a bonus or a raise for the work I do, but by treating Mr. G this way, he did more for me than any amount of money could do.

Re$pect, something we all need and deserve.

Things that roast my butt - 10/10

1) I collected supplies for the kids at our school. My children helped. I know times are tough. I took them to the Guidance Office - figuring they would know things I am not privy to. I explained why I had collected the supplies and who they were for. They handed them out at their churches.

Now it may be the same kids, but that isn't what I said. And I won't do it again.

2) Funsucker

3) We have to jump through hoops this year. And a lot of it involves paper. You know, taking something that could be meaningful and changing it into some generic form that doesn't fit everything well. So I am doing this for all 6 preps. (On paper it looks like 3 prpes, but some are block and some are not. 6 preps) Get an email from FS - she wants me to email them when I finish so she can check them over. uhuh, nope. She can come to the meeting we are supposed to have tomorrow morning and participate. Not my job to do the work so she can put her name on it.

Gee, only 3 things. I must be mellowing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Recovery begins when you show up.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Of course, I am talking grade recovery here, but it would hold true for any recovery.

A student said this week (in her truly pompous tone to another student) "the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem" to which I replied (not that I was invited into the conversation) "No, the first step is showing up."

I have kids who have missed 60% (and more) of their time in class. I have about 1/3 failing - and most have attendance issues. And let us not even speak of work ethic.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Just when I think she's gotten better

It hasn't been quite as stressful dealing with Funsucker this year. She doesn't insist on teaching, which is a plus. She does NOTHING - which may be a plus, I don't know.

I still have issues with her taking kids out for small group testing. This will probably end up with me getting yelled at again, but it is the only thing she does.

She doesn't help them. She doesn't discipline. She doesn't do the lesson plans.

Today she walked out of my room (don't know why - and this is not uncommon). A student, who didn't realize I am not as oblivious as I seem, glided out the door right behind. I waited a couple of minutes (mostly because I was dealing with another student) then went to the door - no one is in the hall. After 10 minutes, I sent a girl to the bathroom to see if she was there - nope.

Finally Funsucker comes back into the room and I asked if she had seen Gilda. "Oh, I saw her following me in the hall." Where did she go? "I don't know."


I wrote Gilda up for walking out of my class. Why would you not say something?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Really? I mean, really? Part deaux

I gave a test in one of the classes I share, using the term loosely, with Funsucker. It took her the usual 20 minutes (no, I am not exaggerating) to decide who to take. This is AFTER I said "If you went last time, go now." I thought that would speed it along.


So, she finally leaves and we start the test. Within five minutes, one of the students shows up again. "Maniac [not a special ed student] is acting up and disturbing our group."

Really, now he's disturbing my group.

"What does Funsucker want me to do?" I mean, I can't leave the bulk of the students to deal with a problem. The student looked at me.

Then I said the best thing. (I really wish Funsucker had been there to hear it. I mean, she's the one who keep saying she has more experience than me.) "She's the teacher. She needs to deal with it."

Nope, she sent him back to my room. I told him he was not going to bother the people taking a test because that would be rude.

He is never, never, never, NEVER, leaving my room again. I need to remember to tell him that tomorrow. And Funsucker.

I do not know how to speed her up so we don't waste so much time each test. I have asked her to make decisions the day before. I have made the decisions. NOTHING WORKS.

She is just a funsucker.

Monday, October 4, 2010

why would the kids feel they have to follow the rules if the teachers don't?

The concept that we are adults, doesn't register.

The idea that we have worked before and are paid to be in the building, doesn't register.

This is the reason we are asked to not pull our phones out in class. (I am not talking about when we call parents - I think we have ALL done that - I am talking about casual conversation instead of work on the pare of the teachers.)

So what do I see when I am walking back to my room after my lunch? Another teacher, eating cereal while sitting at her desk while she was teaching. Except that her lunch period was an hour earlier......

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Understanding Georgia Politics

Man, Dick Yarbrough explains Georgia Politics so much better than I can.

Here is his column (it's worth the read even if you don't live here):

According to my abacus and supplemented with some serious finger-counting, I discern there are 31 days until the general election on Nov. 2.

I don't need an abacus or fingers to tell me that the governor's race is about as inspiring as a yard rake.

On one hand, we have Democrat Roy Barnes, who made it through only one term as governor before alienating just about everybody in the state and assuring the election of Republican George E. Perdue, the noted concrete fishpond maven who has alienated just about everybody in the state too, proving that alienating voters isn't the sole province of either party.

Now, Barnes wants to make a comeback. He doesn't have to be doing this at age 62. He has enough money to live on, a great family to dote on and a house in Marietta so big that moving into the Governor's Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road would be like going into public housing.

I am no psychologist but I suspect Barnes is trying to prove that losing the election in 2002 was a fluke and that he is a better politician that the one we sent to the showers eight years ago. Plus, who wants to be known as the guy who lost to George E. Perdue? That's embarrassing.

Question: Is that reason enough to send Barnes back to the governor's office?

On the other hand, his opponent Republican Nathan Deal, of Gainesville, will never be mistaken for H&R Block. The media reported that Deal had failed to disclose business loans totaling $2.85 million as required by state elections law. He said it was an "oversight." That is completely understandable. Heck, I borrow a million here and a million there and pretty soon it all runs together and I just plain forget about it. It happens to us all.

If you recall, it wasn't too long ago that information emerged of the bankruptcy of a sporting goods store in Habersham County, belonging to his daughter and son-in-law and backed by Deal and his wife, made it appear he did not have sufficient assets to survive the financial blow.

Well, low and behold, now he says he does. He has gone back and revalued his assets - they are up - and reexamined his liabilities - they are down. Voila! He's not broke anymore.

Who said the man isn't good at details?

So, it is either reruns of the Roy Barnes Show or four years of Nathan Deal, who adroitly resigned from Congress just ahead of an ethics investigation and forgot to tell us in a close primary race with Karen Handel and Eric Johnson that he had some challenging financial issues that would no doubt have tanked his chances of winning the Republican nomination.

These are your choices to mull over for the next 31 days. Do we want to take a flyer on a guy who didn't do so well when we gave him a chance the first time but says he will do better this time? Or do we want his opponent, who doesn't seem to know a balance sheet from a bass fiddle and doesn't seem all that upset over that fact?

Where is Bobby Franklin when we need him?

Who you are

From here.

How can I get my students to see that people do not really hear what you say, or see who you are, when you pepper your sentences with profanity?

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stories in the News

You're right, we don't hear stories like the one about the football team. We haven't heard about the driver since the accident - I figure they are waiting until the trial comes up.

The school that hosted us lost a student to a hit-and-run this week. The school has been doing fundraising to pay for the funeral. Neither story (hit and run or fundraising) made the news - except briefly.

The big story is about a 15 year old and 11 year old who beat a 94 year old man with a rock (he is still in ICU) and stole $27. The boys are being raised by single mothers, the older one has been suspended from school. And this story trumps the football story.

I think we may be perpetuating the bad-kind of story.....

Try to wrap your mind around this

I have been attending high school football games since I was in high school. I've seen good games, bad games, and "why didn't I stay home" games.

And then I saw the one last night.

There aren't many high schools in our county. So, news affecting one school are generally known by the others. There was a bad/dumb accident at the beginning of this school year. A boy from another school was drinking, lost control of his car and hit a car driven by one of our boys. Everyone in the car with our students was injured except for one young passenger who was killed.

The boy (I will call him Blake) was a football player, a good student, someone no one had anything negative to say anything about, so it was very difficult for our school to deal with. Our team has not played well this year, missing Blake, but they have persevered.

Last night we were the visitors at an older school in the county, and one of our main rivals.

When the game was about to begin, the cheerleaders of the rival school brought out the banner that the team was to run through. It said "We play with angels" and was colored with our colors, our mascot, and Blake's football number.

When the rival team came on the field to run through the banner, they walked in respectfully and walked around the banner, not breaking it. The banner was then rolled up and presented to our coach.

They beat us. But that score will be forgotten long before the players and attendees forget this gesture.

I don't know the place that football holds in other places in this country. Down here, it is close to a religion. And last night was one of the finer moments of this game.

wet cement

One of my students was arrested this week and, from what I can find, his bail alone will cost his parents more than $500.

He was arrested for prowling and loitering and interfering with the police.

I couldn't help myself - I read his facebook. And there he says "I'm finaly outta jail.. Free man. I was loCCed up fo fi9htin da police. Dey kept disrespektin da fuxx outa me. Wit out dat badge they a bitch and a half!! I'm tryin 2 ckhan9e my life around but day shit juss be hard azz hell I think di55 shit iz juss in my blood real shit so ni99as juss needa quit tryin to ckhan9e me."

Obviously, an creative writer.

He had a message from a mother on his website warning him that he shouldn't store naked pictures of girls on his cell phone as he might get arrested for that.

What are people thinking?

I cannot fathom the teenagers at Rutgers who posted the video. I told my classes this week that if they are not willing to write a message in wet cement so that it will be there fo-ev-ah they ought not to post it on any social media.

I have kids all the time who tell me they have cussed out this teacher or that administrator because "they disrespected me." I point out the kid gets punished and the adult goes and gets coffee - they do not understand, as obviouslyy we are peers.

Six Word Saturday

Immortalized in film for all time.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

They are filming a movie up the road from the school.

We were on of the sets for another movie twenty years ago. This time, I don't think you'll see us at all, just the road I travel every day.

Kind of exciting.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I think (gasp) I have a handle on the seating and the lessons

This felling will soon pass.

I have all but 2 kids assigned seats (1 hardly ever comes and the other is AWOL). I am behind where I should be but had them listening today rather than doing cosmetology in my class.

The kid who hates me is due back tomorrow.

Overall - ok.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The difference between a teacher and an educator

(today's email) According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips on the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them, and the next day the girls would put them back. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done.

She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night (you can just imagine all the yawns from the little princesses).

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.

Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers.. . . and then there are educators.