Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

I have a student who apparently lies about everything in order to get attention.

I don't know how to deal with it, except to ignore her.

It's getting interesting.

Just bring your ideas to me and we can implement them


I'm going to run right in there.

Everytime I ask a question, a look passes over your face, did you know that? It is obvious that it is distasteful for you to talk to me.

I'm a great mule.

You want thoroughbreds.

You will have a team of stars who cannot work together.

Go for it.

Off with their heads! Part Trois

Constipated administrators have continued on their witch hunts. One of the poor unwashed will be allowed to be pilloried for the next year: someone watching over the shoulder, losing any perks outside of teaching, everything they do questioned. Three others were told that they will not be invited back and chose between non-renewal and resignation.

If anyone wanted to go into second guessing, they might wonder which demographic the first individual had different from the others. In fact, you might even call it discrimination.

And it is so professional to make hints at wrongdoing in a faculty meeting when you are unable to substantiate any of it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Next year

The state has said that the local districts are allowed until a month later than usual to issue contracts, because of the uncertainty and the economy.

Our district has started calling people in who will not be offered contracts so they can start looking.

It seems evil but, really, it is so humane! I see some of my colleagues with the weight off their shoulder. They thought it was coming - now they can start looking.


April 1 is the deadline for special ed paperwork (somehow that seems inappropriate). Some of the teachers are scrambling to finish, exempting themselves from the classes they are supposed to co-teach in order to finish. One even exempted himself from 4 classes for 4 days. (There is a state law that the special ed teacher has to be in the classroom for at least half the class for it to count or something. What do I know?)

But Funsucker has it all together and has been a vital part of the classroom, ensuring that the students are learning the material and doing the work.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Meme

I've never done a meme but like this one so I thought I'd try. Thanks, Ms. Chili!

1. What is your favorite sign of Spring?
Jonquils and daffodils.

2. Did you remember to spring forward on March 14? If not, how did it impact your day?
Yes - it was followed by conference week, so I was exhausted.

3. If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what vegetable would you plant in a garden this year?
Okra and beans - oh, we can grow those here if I'd just do the work.

4. If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what fruit would you plant?
Watermelon. I agree with Ms. Chili. This is great frozen, if you have never tried that, you should.

5. What is your least favorite insect?
Cockroaches. Ewwwww.

6. March 22 was World Water Day. To celebrate, here are some water questions. Do you drink bottled water? If so, what brand?
Nope. Coffee or tea or Coke.

7. Have you ever been somewhere that it was not safe to drink the local water? If so, how did you handle that?
Only my own school after flooding.

8. How many glasses of water do you drink per day?

9. March 24 is the birthday of Harry Houdini. Have you ever watched a professional magic show? Share.
Mostly the ones my son and his friends do.

10. Have you ever been a participant in a professional magic show (up on stage!)?
Yep, it's a mom thing.

11. March 24 is also the birthday of Steve McQueen and Clyde Barrow. Do you like Westerns or gangster movies? If so, what is your favorite?
Tom Selleck/Sam Elliott westerns. But I'd watch them do anything.

12. (Really random) What U.S. state that you’ve never visited would you like to visit someday?
I've lived in 7 and have been in all but about 10. I'd like to spend a summer in Alaska.

Best question of the day

"Is California North or East of here?"

I'm in Georgia.

This was a senior.

She thinks of herself as an A student and that my classes are beneath her.

I could have answered this correctly in the 5th grade.

Oh, it was sooooo hard not to be sarcastic answering this.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I hate ticketmaster.

It appears to be mutual.

Teacher of the year

They announced Teacher of the year to the entire school last week.

I didn't get it, lol. But I did have several parents write wonderful letters which were given to me. That means so much and makes such a difference in teaching, to know that someone recognizes what you do.

Mr. Hulk had a meeting after school to recognize the teacher selected and to acknowledge all of the teachers who were nominated by students and parents. Wow.

Race horses and mules

I've been thinking a lot this week about race horses and mules. Thoroughbreds are the rock stars. They are the people who walk into a room and light it up. I've known a few throughout my life. Some handle being thoroughbreds better than others - they are the true stars, the ones you are grateful to call friends, the ones who leave a hole when they are gone.

There is a young teacher in my school who is a star. Everyone who meets her wants to teach their small part because she is being groomed for better things and we want her to succeed. She isn't snotty about it, but she isn't a fool either. She can see what is happening.

Then there are the mules. Mules tend to do more than their share and will plod along doing the work. They may be smarter than the stars or not, but they are will ing to do the bulk of the work if you feed them every now and then.

There are, of course, other beasts in the stable. But it is really interesting (to me) to watch someone who is neither a star nor a mule get bent out of shape because they are not treated like a star.

Funsucker is teaching math. She wants to be a general ed teacher in another subject. It will probably never happen. She sees herself as a star. She isn't.

I, by the way, am a mule and have known this my whole life. I cannot tell you how many people recognize this and call me a jackass. It makes me proud! Seriously, I am happy to do the work. At a certain point, when I know they know I am doing it and refuse to do anything to recognize it, I find myself changing direction.

At a meeting last month, it was a teacher's birthday - the star's mentioned earlier. Now, she and her friends celebrate each other's birthdays all the time, so it was no surprise that one of them organized a birthday party for this meeting and brought the cake. Star would do it for her.

Another beast - definitely neither star nor mule, sat there fussing that it had been HER birthday the week before and NOBADY brought her a cake. Well, she doesn't do that for anyone else, either. Why was she surprised?

No one did it for mine - ut I don't recognize anyone else's either. My family remembers and that is what matters to me.

Ramblings, no real purpose. Have you stopped and thought whether you are a thoroughbred, a mule, or something else?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It must be the weather!

Funsucker just called. She made the copies for the next unit and says I can take some time Monday during class to catch up on grading, that she has it under control!

She said she had an idea for a different type of assessment for this unit and had most of it done. I wish we had discussed it beforehand, but this really takes a load of my plate.

I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, though.

Six Word Saturday

Fear of the future drains me.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

We have no idea what the budget looks like for next year. Surrounding counties are talking about 4 day weeks (a 20% decrease in pay) or have six or seven day furloughs on next year's calendar. But we haven't been told.

Contracts won't be offered until May.

The administration is targeting several of the new teachers. The teachers are not perfect, but help rather than attacks would benefit the school.

How does this level of stress help anyone?

Friday, March 26, 2010



It is that skill a lot of us strive for after we have mastered the content.

Sometimes we strive for it first.

I am trying to understand a teacher in the school who thrives on chaos. No kidding, everything is always a crisis, always demands that everyone drop everything to give her something NOW that she could have planned ahead for.

She sent a note out Thursday - after school - that we had to attend an IEP Friday after school. The only problem with that is we are doing a book study on Marzano that is required. It is by department - and my department meets last. We have to have a note from our mother if we cannot attend the one we agreed to go to. (kidding) I told her I could not attend her meeting as there was no time for me to time travel to earlier in the week to attend another department's meeting.


Funsucker spoils the test again

I have several cheaters in the class. I give multiple tests - they still try to cheat. Their latest ploy is to loudly ask Funsucker questions and, enabler that she is, she plays along. It seems to be more important to her to be liked by the students than to work effectively as a member of a team.

So, today, I noticed that during the test I have MORE people cheating because of her help! I spoke with her before the test - and after the test. She doesn't see the problem!


There is never an idea too ineffective for Georgia to emulate

Look here and here to learn about Beach High School in Savannah. The District has moved to fire the entire staff. You may reapply for your job.

It hasn't worked in Chicago. It won't work here to change the school. Oh, it will change it. It won't fix it.

BTW Here is the school.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parents - what are they thinking?

Billy was withdrawn from school yesterday.

Today he shows up in my class and I was surprised, to say the least. I sent him to the office to determine what was going on.

His dad's ex-wife had withdrawn Billy without his knowledge or desire.

There are some advantage to having students older than 18. He reenrolled.

Are you kidding me?

I have done everything I can think of to be professional in my dealings with Funsucker. I wish it was reciprocal.

* She walks around the room during tests and gives answers. Not to the special ed kids - she won't talk to them. Nope, to the three of four gen ed kids who are her pets.

* I was teaching yesterday. It is a concept the students have trouble with. In the middle of my lecture, she pipes up with (addressed to the class): Who do you think is the prettiest girl in this glass? And proceeds to have a discussion about this.

I can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We are not peers

* I caught a student cold for cheating. I copied his test and the one he copied from - then gave them the copies and kept the original. I talked to both students. The cheater said (Lord help me, this is verbatim) "Of course I cheated. I didn't know how to work the problems. What did you expect me to do?" Not turn in someone else's work. Pay attention when I go over this.

* A black kid (I do not teach him) looked at the lovelies who hang outside my classroom and loudly "It's a n****r hall!" He said this twice in case any of us missed it. I informed him I do not like that word. He swore he didn't say it.

* The enabler is a jock. I asked his coach (in his hearing) "Theoretically, what would you do if one of your jocks allowed someone to cheat off his test?" Why, that's still cheating! I would want to know! The jock wanted to know why I had done that. I explained that it was theoretical. This time. And I hadn't named the student. This time.

* Lost a student. Two months left in this year, he dropped out.

* Another student says she has major health issues. There are a few inconsistencies which may be because of her age. I hope she overcomes this.

* Report cards come out this week. I gave out progress reports. Two boys immediately started dictating what I needed to do for them so their grade will go up - nope, that's what I do when I have free time.

* Had to do a vocabulary lesson in another class. It is not a big ass rock, it is a large rock. He was not a fucking moron, he made me livid. He did not start taking his shit off, he removed his clothes. At least the boy laughed because I really didn't want to write him up. (And I had the first phrases written down.)

* A teacher called a parent yesterday and said "I am going to write him up for XYZ. I didn't see him do XYZ but I know he did." That one won't fly. I have told this teacher (new) that he is going to have to learn to laugh at the kids. He is in a pissing contest with them, and he is going to lose.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some kids can't help themselves II

* Discussion in my class that seemed to be about procuring dope - I REALLY didn't want to hear it. I pointed out that it was not smart to have that kind of discussion in front of a mandated reporter - then we discussed what a mandated reporter is.

* Student asked about ghosts and whether I believed in them. The she said :Have you ever walked into a room with no one there and said 'I know you're watching me!'? This way if the government IS watching you they'll feel guilty."

* Girl walking past my door: ". . . then he put his balls in my hand." TMI and I need a hot shower. EEEWWWWW.

* Caught a kid cheating (he doesn't know yet. Math is SOOOOOO easy to make a second test that looks like the first.) Called his mother - she called back - then denied she was his mother. Fine- I will call dad at work tomorrow.

* Bright girl who should have an A but thinks she is too good for my class and won't turn any daily work in - or stop interfering with others. I have started collecting her blank sheets, dating them, and collecting them - then entering the zero in the grade book.

* Boy (who was written up by another teacher for not being where he was supposed to be. I notified the teacher he was near my door when he was supposed to be 2 buildings away): "it's your fault. If you hadn't told my teacher, I wouldn't be in trouble." And if you'd been where you were supposed to be, I wouldn't have emailed her.

They do not understand that part of our job is enforcing school rules.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can we say IRONY

Powersthatbe sent out an email at the end of last week stating that new teachers (in the first three years of teaching) should not be left alone to fail.

How about left alone to be staked out and drawn and quartered by the powers that be? Is that ok?

I wish administrations would be graded on their ability to nurture the resources that they are given. THAT would be fun to watch!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Domain and Range lesson

I want to have my students do a graphing project - something where they will do 10 lines, tell me the line equations, and color it.

I want to introduce domain and range - but have always had trouble with this in the classes I teach.

Yesterday, I got a brilliant idea. I will give them the option of doing lines without any domain limitations (imagine 10 lines drawn on a graph, then colored like a stained glass). Then I will show them another (imagine a simple house) where I discuss domain (but not range) and the line equations.

They can do either. And they will be allowed to work in groups.

We'll see.

Off with their heads! Part Deaux

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Powersthatbe have lost their fucking minds. Actually, I think I said that they are out to get teachers, which (especially with the pressure that exists in the current environment) is SOOOOOOO counter productive.

I am lucky in that it is not I who is under attack. However, these are my friends and it is my place of business and it is screwing with my life and (if you read my blog on a regular basis) you would know this by the language I am using.

Deep breath.

There are actually a goodly number of teachers who are getting messed with. Most of what follows is true. Some is made up to protect the guilty. It is happening to more than one.

A teacher was called in to the office and basically accused of sleeping with a girl in his class. He is in a panic. He is married with a new baby,he doesn't need this, his wife doesn't need this, both were already sleep deprived and now, hello, we are investigating reports that you are a pedophile.

He was accused of hanging out where the students do, providing them with alcohol, encouraging inappropriate behavior in return for grades, punishing kids (with grades) if they don't provide him with whatever it is he is supposed to want. This is because he had the unmitigated gall to say hello to some students when he ran into them at the movies. Silly teacher. And he writes them up for violating policy. Since the kids don't like the write ups, they feel punished.

He had his wife with him at all of these hang outs - who knows if the school system will accept her word as an alibi.

He was told that they were following up on a report from the police department. He asked for a copy of the report but was told that HR could not give him a copy. When he went to the police department to get a copy of the accusation, there was no report on file. The report that HR was reading appeared to be handwritten. Yep, sounds like the police reports I've seen.

He talked to the teacher organization: they cannot do anything unless he is charged.

The administration called about half his students down and asked questions. Of course, they were not leading questions. Of course, there were no suggestions to the kids of where the administration was looking. And of course, the kids told nothing but the truth.

We will say nothing about the "of course, the students kept this quiet and didn't run around the school spreading all kinds of rumors and undermining any authority the teacher might have in his classroom." We won't mention that because we work closely with the teachers and want to support them in our school.

Horse squeeze.

The administration started asking questions about how often have you been late, etc. When asked what that had to do with the price of eggs in China, the innocent answer was "I am just pointing out your character." Powersthatbe proceeded to gunnysack every possible complaint he could think of or imagine. Yep, let's investigate and keep this professional. HE CAN"T EVEN SPELL THAT WORD! Can we say slander, slur, impugning the character, etc.

Teacher was then told not to speak of this to anyone - not to fellow teachers, students, gnomes, trolls, or anyone else. The kids are running around telling enough people and talking in enough classes that EVERYONE knows that Powersthatbe is talking to the teacher and about what.

Gee, do you supposed they'll be back?

"I'm Sorry" does not make it go away

I find it interesting that the kids seem to think if they say "I'm Sorry" - that that's all they have to do, clean slate, move on.

I make my expectations clear. Student was 20 minutes late because he wandered over to the attendance office to see if he could catch a ride and leave. He did say he was sorry. I still wrote him up. Then he kept saying "But I said I was sorry."

* He knew he was supposed to come to class.
* He knows he doesn't drive.
* He knows he didn't talk to me before heading out.
* He knows I write people up.

Another young man stole an iPhone and then shot the owner when he chased the thief down. The mother is quoted in the paper:

"He said he was sorry," Vonda Smith told the AJC after talking to her son from the Fulton County jail. "He said he didn't mean to do it."

Gee, isn't that special?

Funsucker - attack of the goofballs

We are reviewing for the graduation test. While most pass (for our school it sits at less than 10% do not pass. I have no idea if that means first time or forever.), for my students more than half end up taking math more than once. You have five chances to pass it.

So, every math teacher who teaches Juniors has to review for the test for three weeks. (Apparently most spend a week or less).

I have done these problems as warm ups this semester. I spent 2 weeks reviewing in every class. When we got to this week, since I have classes where half have already passed this but I cannot do anything else with them, I cried uncle. I split the classes in half, told the seniors to find something to do (or gave them make up work for me) and worked with just juniors.

Funsucker wanted to do the review with the juniors. Fine. We have established that it isn't a good mix to have the seniors in there when she is doing this (because she cannot maintain discipline). She took the juniors away 2 days. The last 2 days, she refused to take them and has been teaching the juniors in the room - doesn't appear real successful. I am tired of being the heavy. I do not have a problem maintaining discipline when I am the one teaching - why should I have to be the room monitor when she is teaching? If she can't do this, then let me.

Anyway, she suggested they play trasketball as a review.

First, she was late. I worked through 2 problems, showing them strategies, before she came in. I had 2 students that I have taught before come for help (they do not have a math class and want to pass).

So, she took the room and I moved to the back to work with the 2 who had come in.

In 2 hours, they worked 2 problems.

I repeat: in 2 hours, they worked 2 problems.

They worked a problem. They threw the trashketball. They worked another problem. They threw the trashketball. They did a practice shot. She told them not to throw it at each other. They threw it at each other. Chaos ensued. FOR TWO HOURS.

I worked through 5 pages of problems with the few who wanted to work.

I also wrote up 2 students who came in 20 minutes late and contacted their parents. And another who skipped. She threatened to write up several (in fact, she threatened several of them several times. Since she doesn't have access to their information and she didn't ask me for it, I know she is just threatening.)

The last thing she told the students was "what is the probability you can make this basket?"

The last thing I said, as I picked up the last trash (they did clean up most of it)"What is the probability we will ever play trashketball in here again?"

I have been calling the parents of the weakest to give them the URL for an online prep site if they want it, since their children didn't appear to take the prep seriously. Several keep repeating that the test is easy (they have not had it yet so they are going on rumor). I keep repeating that more than half had to take it more than once. They are unaware that there are several students in the room who have failed it 3 times already. Those kids are taking this review much more seriously.

On another note: a teacher came up to me Friday and said "The kids were talking and said you snitch them out if they are loitering on your corner [meaning they do not get to class]." She high fived me.

Six Word Saturday

Misuse of power - principals attacking teachers.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It has been a VERY long week for some of us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Graduation test - written by teachers

Our graduation tests start next week. Here is a version written by teachers and called Government Hinders Student Growth and Teachers (a pun on Georgia High School Graduation Test). Enjoy!

English Language Arts • Mathematics • Science • Social Studies
Directions: This test contains four questions similar to the ones asked by voters everywhere. Each question is followed by four possible answers. Read each question carefully before answering. Choose the one best answer to each question and circle your answer.

1) Please correct the following grammatically incorrect statement:
These times are tough easy solution is cut.
a. During tough times, the best solution is to sacrifice your future by cutting your investments.
b. When the going gets tough, the tough just cut out the ones who need the most.
c. During tough times, real leaders make tough decisions to ensure that the future of our state and nation are supported 100 percent, and given the best opportunity for success.
d. Rather than ask citizens to invest in their community when times are tough, leaders should look out for themselves and their own re-election efforts rather than do what’s right.

2) Your family needs to earn $40,000 a year to pay for all your bills. Your boss has decided to only pay you $35,000. Which solution is most appropriate?
a. Stop feeding your children, thus saving $5,000.
b. Stop paying your mortgage because you know your bank cares about you too much to foreclose on your home and retirement investment.
c. Find additional income by taking a second job temporarily because you have a commitment and responsibility to monetarily care for your family.
d. Close your eyes and pray for money to fall from the sky.

3) Newton’s Third Law states that: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If our leaders ask the auto industry to build the most sophisticated, technologically advanced car, better than any other nation, yet consistently cut funding to the research and development departments, what do you think will happen?
a. The car they develop will magically come out better, faster and stronger, like the $6 million man.
b. They will just come up with some new technology that will transform a beat up Chevy Nova into a Dodge Viper.
c. They will produce an inferior product that is unable to compete with the ones being produced in other nations.
d. The workers will just use their own money to buy all of the things they need and put in all of the extra time for free because they just want to make the best car possible.

4) You are building a foundation for your home. Which of the following choices demonstrates the most appropriate action?
a. Tell the contractor that although you think they are the best you just don’t think you should pay them what they are worth.
b. Tell them that you want the best possible foundation, but you want them to make it from sand and water.
c. Give them the freedom, funding and resources to do the job you hired them to do.
d. Stand in their way and block them from doing their job and blame it on your neighbor.

Failure to safeguard the children of this State could adversely affect a community’s ability to thrive.
Such practices will be reported to the general public as failure to lead and do what is right.

Off with their heads!

Periodically some suits get miffed that teachers working for them are more popular with the kids than the suits are.

Or the suits feel threatened that this teacher or that has developed a program that is recognized as superlative by the state.

While most people would view that as a reflection of outstanding leadership,you know "wow - this person is such a strong leader that he/she has encouraged/allowed/led Teacher to create the best plumbing program in the state - or lead the tiddlywinks team to beat all the other tiddlywinks teams."

But some suits apparently get threatened by things like that and become very conflicted. Now, being conflicted is apparently similar to becoming constipated - it makes you just as cranky. So you lash out and destroy the strong programs that you really need to justify your very existence.

I mean, if the kids aren't rocket scientists and barely pass the various state tests but they have the state's top tiddlywinks team it helps make you look stronger.

So, if you are a constipated, I mean conflicted suit, you just can't help yourself when you fire all the tiddlywinks coaches. (How dare they kick kids off the team for failing to come to practice! Put the kids back on the team, fire the coaches, off with their heads! That will make the team stronger!)

And the plumbing program? That teacher is entirely too popular! They must be doing something illegal with the kids for the kids to like them so much. So, let's haul all the kids in the plumbing program in and question them about whether Saintly Man (who gives the plumbing program his all) has been spending too much time with the students. Does he let them do things in class that we don't like? Maybe he lets them cuss? (Understanding that you cannot walk through the halls without it sounding like Lenny Bruce is having an argument with George Carlin and Richard Pryor.)

Yep, if I can put the fear of God (righteous indignation here) into Saintly Man, maybe I can scare him into leaving and all will be right with the school. So, when you hear Saintly Man talking about retiring - or asking some of his best kids if they would be character references should these unfounded charges go to court, well, it must make you sleep better at night.

And the other teachers? Well, it will keep them off balanced. We lop money off their paycheck, push the contracts back to the summer, chip away their free time at school and then start these witch-hunts. Don't want them being complacent. Off balance will keep them in line.

That must be how constipated, er, conflicted suits think.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's so nice for you to accommodate us in your busy schedule

It's conference week. That means long hours and stupid duties in addition to parent conferences.

One of those was meeting with rising sophomores and advising kids we do not teach on what they should take next year. Everyone had a time slot they had to fill and do this.

I showed up for mine. No Mr. Ego, who was supposed to do the same slot.

I worked for 45 minutes (out of an hour) by myself before he showed up. He said:

1) I forgot.
2) I had so many conferences it wouldn't have mattered - I couldn't have come.
3) I don't teach these kids,
4) Well, look - it's almost over.

I want to muy him a calendar = but don't want to waste my money.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some kids can't help themselves

1) Kid is wandering the hall (from my room) in search of a bathroom (hint, it is across the hall from my room) when he is apprehended by Mr. Hulk who is actually out in the hall. Kid naturally mouths off. Mr. Hulk walks said kid to my room with the admonition that he is not to leave the classroom. Ever.

2) Kid who has been out for 2 weeks suspension, cuts a class to interrupt mine.

3) Kid is asked his name. Says he doesn't have one. AP asks his name. He gives one. It alas is not his. AP knows him.

4) Kid is just back from suspension. He asks to go to the bathroom and goes to the gym instead. Since he has a reputation at this point, the coach squeals on him.

5) Kid who perennially wanders the hall insists on being outside my door, even though he KNOWS I tell whatever teacher he is supposed to be with where he is.

6) Kids cusses a blue streak outside my door. When I finally see him with an adult (so I can get his name), he is with one of his coaches who is already chastising him for poor choices. The good news in this one is that, since the coach was already there, kids had to listen to me explain why I was annoyed, that I could write him up, how his choices affect other people, AND that now I know his name.

7) Kid finds a pocketknife in his bookbag. He knows the zero tolerance policy. He tells his friends he has a knife.

8) This school enforces the moment of silence. You are to be quiet and, if you are still in the hall, you have to stop. Girl is walking past the Resource Officer when the moment of silence is called. He says stop. She keeps going and mouths off. He grabs her arm and jerks her into the lockers, but she stops. When it is over, she complains - oh the look he gave her.

9) Teacher uses her own phone to call a student's phone during class because the student cannot find it. Phone is found later. Student calls the number because a) she forgot it was the teacher's phone number during the next class because b) she is completely unable to stop using her phone c) she is stupid. Teacher writes girl up for using her phone during class. Student argues that she was at home. She unfortunately left school without signing out.

10) Mother tells her son to make good decisions, that one bad one could determine the course his life takes. The next day he is arrested for participating in a gang-initiation that consisted of beating another boy in a school bathroom.

11) Student is in detention but doesn't come to school (well, doesn't come to any classes or detention). Student is actually in school, banging on doors and running away. If I was cutting school, why would I come to school to bang on doors?

12) I won't mention all of the kids who KNOW I know their names and insist on being outside my door when they are supposed to be elsewhere.

13) Kids cut a hole in the lid of a water bottle, then squirt each other's pants with water so they look like they wet themselves.

Here's your sign.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It is conference week

Going much better than I expected. I wish the parents were my students - the grades would be higher and the work would be turned in.


I am past exhausted.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting out while the gettings good?

We have several superintendents in the area surrounding Atlanta who are suddenly announcing their retirement. As in, wow, I just figured out I can retire now instead of next year, so I will be gone by Easter.

Now, it is either a way of avoiding the budget mess, or a way of solving the budget sort of. As in, if I leave, you can hire someone who costs less.

Are any of you seeing this?

Six Word Saturday

Internet: my lifeline to the world.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Neighbors are building a fence. They cut the internet connection. No internet for 2 days.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Fire the lawyers - er, teachers!

Stolen from another source (which I will not credit) and paraphrased:

One of my old teachers told me a good student can overcome a bad teacher but it's very difficult for a good teacher to teach a poor student. If a student wants to learn, the can be taught by anyone, assuming they don't have a some great disability preventing them from learning. There are many variables teachers have no control over: poverty, home situations, student choices (like drugs, cell phone use, or staying up late) and to blame the teachers alone is to be unfair and dishonest. If the people who think it is the teachers alone who are failing in the schools, those people would have a different opinion if they spent a little time in their [teachers']shoes in the front of the classroom.

Funsucker is not a bad teacher. I hate "working' with her (and I use the term loosely) but she is the right teacher for some students. She is not playing her strong suit to insist on teaching in a general ed classroom because she doesn't teach on-level. She is slow, rigid, pedantic, methodical. And condescending.

But there have been bad teachers in my past: the one who cried and was unable to discipline the class enough to teach anyone anything; the one who drank and again couldn't discipline; the special ed teacher who showed movies in her small group class (nothing remotely related to the curriculum); the one who came in to a working department (one that had it all together and moved seamlessly), convinced that she knew it all - and then cussed her students out; the teacher who hauled the 5 kids who failed a state test to the front of the room, announced their scores to the class, and humiliated them. Most of those are no longer teaching.

More Funsucker

Last semester, the kids I taught with Funsucker would beg me to teach when she was teaching. And they wouldn't behave for her.

This semester, they started liking her (I believe I am harder - I know I teach the material faster). She still cannot maintain discipline. She doesn't have the stare - and, when I am teaching, she is running around schmoozing, trying to be their friend.

I am concerned about them. I am not their buddy.

So, we've been reviewing for the exit exam. Half the kids have already passed it - but I have made everyone do the review. After all, this is what you are expected to know and any test you take from this point on will have this material on it.

I teach how to take a multiple choice test. I talk about the math, but when the problems get to be longer, I teach how to plug the answers in to find the right one.

Ten per cent of the school fails the math test. I have no idea if that is total (since they can take it more than once) or if that is the first time. I do know that about half of the ones who have passed it took it more than once. So, I am teaching how to pass the test.

When we finish with this, I go back to teaching for understanding. But right now, I show them how to do well on a multiple choice test. And I tell them they can do it.

She teaches the math. Slowly. (Think about the difference between solving, say, a system of equations and finding out which answer makes both equations true.)

Then she tells them (every time she teaches) when she cannot get their attention:
* Some of you will not be graduating.

* Some of you will never get a diploma.

* I'm going to write you up. (She never does, so this is a stupid thing to say. I do write them up and make it VERY clear to the offender that it is written and his/her behavior will determine whether it is submitted. And I hand them a copy.)

* You (looking at the offender) will not amount to anything.

* You are all a bunch of thugs! (this actually was an endearment. Really? This is what you want these kids to aspire to?)

And of course, be quiet. Be Quiet!! BE QUIET!! BE QUIET!!

I know I am a better test taker than she is. I think I can teach them some of the ways I use to answer the questions. But her ego is tied into this and she has to teach.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I teach elementary school

I thought I taught high school. I mean these rather large humans who act like they own the world tell me they are adults. They tell me that we are peers and I cannot tell them what to do.

But, I have to walk some of them to the bathroom because they are not allowed out in the hall by themselves. Apparently they cannot find their way to the bathroom and back to class by themselves. So, the administrators have dictated that certain ones cannot go out of the classroom alone.

I had one go to the gym and shoot baskets while on a bathroom break. He kept saying he didn't til he slipped and forgot the story.

I feel like I am teaching kindergartners. These kids will not stop talking. They will not do work. I feel like I should offer them snack time, recess and nap time.


When I was their age (back in the Dark Ages) I wanted nothing more than to be treated like an adult. But it meant I acted like one as well.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Believe

I don't want to post about what I am truly thinking about - because it depresses me, so I thought I would repost about creeds.

In October, I wrote that I wanted to do a lesson about creeds.

Today Ms. Chili posted about the Urban Prep Academy in Chicago and listed theirs:

The Urban Prep Creed
We believe.
We are the young men of Urban Prep.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional-not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.
We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.
We have a future for which we are accountable.
We have a responsibility to our families, community and world.
We are our brothers’ keepers.
We believe in ourselves.
We believe in each other.
We believe in Urban Prep.

I think it is time to address this.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You can lead a horse to water

But you cannot make kids a) pay attention to a test that determines whether or not they get a diploma or b) turn anything in.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Classroom management

I was in a meeting this morning and a teacher (Sweetie) was saying that her students pull their bookbags into her way when she is walking through the aisles.

Another teacher asked her why she didn't pick up the offending bookbag and move it to some place out of the way (front of the room, back of the room, away from the kid) and write the kid up.

Sweetie said that the kids argue with her when she writes them up. She said some more things.

I know (from my students) that she cries when the kids act up. I thought, we've given her these suggestions for three years. And she keeps coming back with her victim mentality. And they keep doing mean things.

She needs to get meaner. And how in the world do you help someone do that?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Selma March 7, 1965

Today is the 45th anniversary of the walk from Selma to Montgomery and the police brutality at the bridge.

We have come so far - and not nearly far enough

John Stewart






The 6.25% solution

Apparently 6.25% is some magic number. I was reading yesterday that San Francisco intends to fire some large proportion of its employees (maybe it was even everybody, I don't remember) and then hire them back with new contracts. The new contracts would be for 37.5 hours per week instead of 40. If you do the math, that is a 6.25% reduction.

That 6.25% s the same amount DeKalb County is proposing reducing teacher salaries by for next year. Take 6.25% less or some unknown number of furlough days. That percentage (6.25%) of fewer days works out to 12. There are generally 10 extra days for teachers during the year: preplanning is 5, postplanning is about 3 and the rest are teacher work day during the year. If you took furlough days, you would still need to come in at least one day on your own or your room wouldn't be set up and your copies made for whatever you are doing the first day.

I was reading another article about Central Falls and how the district was justified in firing the teachers for refusing the reasonable request made of them: work an extra 25 minutes a day for free. Guess what? Twenty Five minutes out of 6.5 hours is - 6.25%. The comment in the article that got to me was "But the least they expect is that their teachers, making an average $72,000 to $78,000 a year, put in a full day on the job."

Really? I put in more time teaching than I ever did on any other job.

OK. The economy sucks. People are having to tighten their belts. Personally, I would rather get a little less in my paycheck and know that we all make it through to better times.

But can we stop assuming teachers are greedy slackers? And can we take 6.25% from EVERYBODY? Governor Perdue, your portion is $7,687.38. President Obama? $25,000. Just a little solidarity.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring is spring


(How do I make it pull up a comic strip?)

Sorry all you Yankees - it is beginning to feel like Spring again. No coat today.

More cuts coming

* DeKalb is saying it will offer contracts with either furlough days or paycuts. I read that to say you can come to school during planning but we won't pay for your time. The cuts are 6+%. For a 190 day contract (180 days of teaching and 10 pre and post planning days) that means 12 days of no pay.

* Fulton is saying it is cutting 1000 jobs: all parapros for grades 1-3, the band and orchestra in elementary school and (wait for it) 35 jobs at the district. There are 12000 jobs in Fulton schools, 972 are in the district office - and they can spare 35.

BTW 25 of those jobs have no people in them at this time, so they will only be reducing the amount of money by the 10 who are employed.

I wonder what our contracts will look like?

Six Word Saturday

How to you aim their wanderings?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Not all who wander are lost.
But some are pretty aimless.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How teachers talk to students

We have four teachers who were hired with stimulus money to act as liasions (among other duties) between high school departments and middle school departments. For some reason, they are all former middle school teachers.

Do you notice that middle school teachers talk differently to their students (and other teachers) than high school teachers do? We had a long discussion about that this morning. We feel that HS teachers talk to students as adults (and therefore other adults as adults). Middle grades seem to talk down to kids - and adults.

Do any of you have opinions?

Additional comment: Please note that it is not all middle school teachers who are condescending. Just the 4 that were hired to work with us. And maybe one or two others. Seriously, there are some teachers with issues who condescend to students and adults - and some fabulous teachers who treat their students as they should be treated (sentient human beings). I was skewered for what I wrote. We all exaggerate just a bit. If I read you enough to comment favorably on your blog, I obviously don't mean YOU because why would I waste my time. Seriously!

My intent was to lambast the district for hiring people who are not helping us improve.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sub for Funsucker

Funsucker was out sick today. Believe it or not, I would have rather had her than the sub I got.

Sub, now know as SYT (Sweet Young Thang), graduated from Really Old HS last year. She was married over the summer - and divorced by Thanksgiving.

She is in college (I never even asked what she was studying) and subbing to supplement her income.

Since the Seniors and Juniors know her (apparently too well), the topics of discussion that she keeps slipping into are completely inappropriate. Mr. Hulk likes having her here, since she just graduated.

She started calling the boys thugs, and asking in her little purry voice, "How many of you are thugs." OMG It went downhill from there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A little stress 2

Now Ms. HighMaintenance is upset with me because I . . . asked her next time to put the things she wanted me to copy in my mailbox to make it easier for me.

She will never bother me again, she says.

Sure she will. She won't be able to help herself.

A little stress with your coffee?

I get to school in the morning with my own list of things I had to do. I don't know about you, but I usually have a couple of things to do which is why I get there early.

I can make copies, prepare the work for the kids in detention, make sure I have the correct date on the board - little stuff that helps me get my head together to teach.

I get there today and there is an email from Ms. HighMaintenance. Could I please make 90 copies each of three handouts that were attached to the email or on her desk. Because of leaving early for the snow day, she just didn't get her copies made for her sub. And she is so stressed out.

Well, they weren't attached to the email. And her door was locked.

They finally unlocked her door. I found the things to be copied. No paper. You do know we buy our own? So I go get mine and - now there is a line at the copier.

So I wait. And wait. And wait. And finally make copies. And email her that she owes me half a ream of paper.

I would be more understanding if this was the first. Or second. Or third time this had happened.

Then Funsucker (who demanded that she be allowed to teach today) didn't want to teach today, had to do special education paperwork.

Back to school

Well, Mr. Hulk activated the automatic call last night to remind us there would probably be school. It;s a good thing, because our district isn't mentioned at all with the no school/delayed opening list this morning.

He also let the student drivers leave when he knew we were releasing early, allowing them to leave before the buses and cutting down on congestion as well as getting the kids off the roads earlier.

You have to admire him for that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

instant ap kit

These are awesome:

When submitting suggestions kindly be specific!
What kind of kite?
What lake?

Misinformed perhaps, maybe a little sloppy, sometimes a bit crude, fickle, bullheaded, even stupid, but never wrong!

They did it by eliminating all those who opposed them!

I keep forgetting!

Just remember that if you are responsible for any mistakes you will be severely punished!

What you can get someone else to do for you today!

Then you probably haven't completely understood the situation!

Which way did you come in?

Is often the least important question!

If I wanted it tomorrow, I would give it to you tomorrow!

Some by arriving. Some by leaving!


Don't you understand?

One that sounds good, and a real one!

My schedule is already full.

My work here is almost done!

While you wait!

Please do not disturb!


But, I am not sure you realize that what you heard, is not what I meant!

Nobody is going to be happy!

Bother, bewilder, tease, cajole, annoy, enrage, anger, tempt, feed, entice, or bully our teachers. They are only doing their jobs!

Is knowing all the answers!

Or get out of the way!

Try visualizing a calm, peaceful cafeteria!

I have an anti-systematic methodological disorder!


Through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. Because I am the meanest and most ornery of all principals in the valley!

Please go away!

The power of stupid people in large groups!

Just "screw up" one more time!

Means never having to take all of the blame yourself!

Probably has just thought of someone to blame it all on!

Due to a shortage of robots, teachers here are human beings and may react unpredictably if abused!

It wastes your time and it annoys the pig!

So that nobody can misunderstand, somebody will.

The principal is always right!
Rule Number 2...
If the principal is wrong, see Rule #1

A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can't we be like that wise old bird?

The objective of all school employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have answers for those problems, and move swiftly to solve those problems when called upon!

We realize, however, that when you are up to your derriere in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Another snow day (yeah!) and I am home 5 hours early

Now to catch up on grading!

It's coming down in big clumps and the side roads are slushy - wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Well, given their actions, my students won't be going . . .

Colleges outline massive cuts to help balance state budget
By Aaron Gould Sheinin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia's colleges and universities would have to lay off thousands of employees, severely limit incoming freshman classes and eliminate popular programs that extend far beyond campus confines if the state's higher education system is forced to cut nearly $600 million from its budget.

The stark reality of the proposed cuts is revealed in a series of plans the schools have submitted in advance of a hearing Wednesday before lawmakers who demanded the proposals. The General Assembly is searching for ways to fill a potential $1.1 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

According to a report prepared by the University System of Georgia, about 2,500 filled faculty and staff jobs would be eliminated at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, with the Athens school accounting for more than half. Among the most eye-popping cuts include closing UGA's statewide 4-H program and half of its county extension offices, elimination of more than 500 course sections at Georgia Tech and the closing of GSU's Brookhaven campus.

"We strongly believe that cuts of this nature, if implemented, would severely compromise our ability to provide the educated populace that is necessary for the continued success of this state," Chancellor Erroll Davis said in a letter Monday to key lawmakers. "Such a reduction would dramatically and negatively alter a university system in which the people of this state have invested so much; a reduction of this size is not in the best interest of Georgia and its future economic development."

Davis, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, last week was grilled by lawmakers in a joint House-Senate budget hearing. Unsatisfied with Davis' presentation on the impact past cuts have had, they ordered him to come back this week with detailed plans on how to cut up to $300 million above the $265 million in cuts that Gov. Sonny Perdue has already recommended for the University System. While the schools have already made most of the cuts needed to reach Perdue's mark, which they've known about for months, the additional $300 million could be devastating, Davis said.

Davis met Monday with key lawmakers and members of the Board of Regents, the University System's governing body. It was a productive meeting, said Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who chairs the House subcommittee that controls higher education spending.

"It looks like the presidents have done a credible job of taking a look at some of the things that could be the outcome if we have to go to $300 million in cuts," Ehrhart said, adding that $300 million remains a worst-case scenario.

The true number won't be known for some time because the state's economic situation is in flux. Lawmakers are still grappling with how deeply to cut the current year's state budget before turning their attention to cuts for 2011.

At last week's hearing, Davis said it would take a tuition increase of 77 percent to raise just more than half of the necessary cuts. Ehrhart said Monday that such a tuition hike is unlikely.

"You're going to see a combination of some more cuts and probably some tuition increases," he said.

There are more than 300,000 students in the University System, and Davis said more than half participate in a program that locks in their tuition for four years, meaning any increase in rates would not apply to them. But Ehrhart said that leaves about 150,000 students, and if each of them paid an extra $1,000 a year, that would raise $150 million.

Schools have been warning faculty, staff and students of what's to come. In a memo last week, Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp said the cuts, estimated at $14 million for KSU alone, would be "an immense setback, even a disaster." The university would have to cap or cut back student enrollment and eliminate some faculty and staff positions.

At the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, President Beheruz Sethna warned in a memo last week that should the school be forced to find an additional $8 million in cuts, it would require "very major cuts and changes across UWG -- very likely all or most of them being harmful ones."

But Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said Monday that cuts are coming, they will be painful and they are unavoidable.

"With the revenue shrinking the way it has, there will be considerable changes to the way state government is run, and it'll affect every single department of state government," he said.

Thousands more state employees are likely to be laid off or offered early retirement, should that become an option.

"Layoffs are part of this," he said. "The people of Georgia need to be prepared."

Deep cuts to colleges

Here's a look at how UGA and metro Atlanta schools plan to address budget cuts:

University of Georgia

Cut: $58.9 million

Positions eliminated: 1,418

Other: Reduce incoming freshman body by about a third; eliminate 4-H; reduce support for Veterinarian Medical Teaching Hospital by 66 percent

Georgia Institute of Technology

Cut: $38.07 million

Positions eliminated: 452

Other: Decrease admissions by 20 percent; eliminate 150-200 research positions; increase student-faculty ratio to 24-1

Georgia State University

Cut: $34.12 million

Positions eliminated: 622

Other: Reduce freshmen and transfers by 1,000; close Brookhaven campus; eliminate 396 course sections; close Fiscal Research Center and Capitol Hill Child Enrichment Center; eliminate Georgia Health Policy Center

Medical College of Georgia

Cut: $25.57 million

Positions eliminated: 63

Other: Accept 155 fewer students

Kennesaw State University

Cut: $14.12 million

Positions eliminated: 224

Other: Reduce freshmen and transfers by 10 percent; eliminate Center for Excellence in Teaching and select degree programs in education, business, humanities and social studies

Clayton State University

Cut: $4.19 million

Positions eliminated: 24

Other: Reduce 168 course sections

Georgia Gwinnett College

Cut: $2.66 million

Positions eliminated: 32

Other: Cap enrollment at 3,000, affecting 2,000 students; delay nursing program

Atlanta Metropolitan College

Cut: $1.37 million

Positions eliminated: 5

Other: Eliminate 38 course offerings; eliminate local match for transportation project

Georgia Perimeter College

Cut $9.92 million

Positions eliminated: 50

Other: Eliminate programs affecting 4,748 students

How do you get them to take their future seriously?

About a third are failing - but that is higher than the same time last semester.

We are trying to help them study for the exit exam (which the 11th graders take in 4 weeks) - they talk, sleep, shoot trash into baskets.

It just drains you to try to make them care.

We were discussing today: you can motivate them if they WANT something (grade, knowledge) - but when they care about nothing, how do you motivate?