Monday, May 31, 2010

graduation tests

I wrote someplace on this blog (I think) about the graduation test and that at least 3 of my seniors will not be graduating because they didn't pass it. Joanne Jacobs writes about a senior in a nearby district who is an honor grad and cannot pass it.

The test isn't impossibly hard. Math covers algebra 1 and geometry and have kids in my repeater class who have passed the graduation test but not Algebra.

I think the difference is this, in a class you can hear for each assignment what is expected, you study small parts, you have things other than tests to earn grades on.

The graduation test is assessing recall of 2 years worth of material, at least 1 year after the last of it was taken.

Is that testing mastery? Memorization? What?

Pink Slip = bad?

This Child Left Behind makes the point that maybe the teachers let go are bad teachers.

In my corner of the world, they are setting a simple criterion (taught in the county fewer than 2 years) and letting everyone who qualifies go.

So, you have some teachers who have taught longer in other places, but only 2 years in a particular county, being let go. And some of those were recruited by the new county because they were so good.

Then you have others, who really need, I don't know, something. Like the one I mentioned earlier who couldn't make it to school by the time she was supposed to be here. She felt she was here by the time school started, so it wasn't that big a deal that she wasn't here 30 minutes earlier. Or that she didn't go to her duty station, or whatever.

I look at the kids I teach this year, who miss 1/3, a half, 2/3 of the time and think they deserve As - and that it's MY responsibility to make that happen. I really wonder if the students (and young teachers) aren't getting the idea that they are young and energetic and older teachers are, well, old and old fashioned and that the young don't have to follow the rules.

If there were a more precise (but necessarily more vague) criterion that you had to be an effective teacher, you would end up with a better workforce. I have no use for Funsucker for so many reasons. I think if you were dumping teachers, she is where I would start.

Maybe she feels the same about me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Law and Order Rubber Room

You can watch the Rubber Room episode here. The references to the rubber rooms start about 27 minutes in. It seems (to me) they do a credible job explaining how draconian this whole process.

Has anyone else watched it?

My plans for summer

I have one more week. I have to get my junk out of my room and home. I have to give way too many exams because of the way the schedule is done. First the seniors, then everyone else.

But no planning, just grading.

They have either done what they need to or not.

Over the summer, I need to prepare for whatever next year will bring.

* I need to review how to run groups because I think this is important. I have one of Spencer Kagan's books to read.

* I need to review classroom discipline. My biggest challenge was Funsucker because she undermined me. I have asked not to teach with her but I bet I get her anyway. SO, if any of you know books that deal with this, bring it on! I am thinking parenting books where one parent plays against the other may be effective as well. The good news is I can make her pout (and then she leaves or sits in the back for 20 minutes) and I have no problem causing this to happen.

* It is time to watch Nanny McPhee again. Hmmm?

* I really want to work on organization and grading to a standards based class. f(t) has done a great job pulling that together.

* I want to do more about sharing. If you go here I will be uploading things I have created or found along the way that might help. If you want to participate in sharing, let me know

* And books. I want to clean house, play, and read.....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Further information about our budget

Still no definitive answer, although we have had to sign our contracts, vague as they are.

It looks like the state supplement is safe (for now anyway) = since that is about 10%, it is good news (for now, anyway).

There will be a job fair to fill some few positions.

Our classes will be bigger......

Serious choices

More on choices: I ran the numbers and apparently I will only fail 2 seniors (unless of course they all have spazz attacks and fail the final, but I think they would have to work too hard to do that, so I am not really worried). Of the two, one has attendance issues. I handed her a stack of papers and said if she did it ALL she will pass. Otherwise, it sucks.

The other has taken to tracing the typed letters on assignments rather than doing anything. I have called and called and the father says oh, well.

The rest looked at their grades, gulped, and turned in the work I have been asking for. Good job, people.

One more day of seniors and then I worry about the rest.

Surviving a layoff 6, what to do while you work at finding a job

Lori Borgman has written this better than I could have.

You must watch this!

Watch this video.

Now, what are you thinking?

I am thinking (in terms of my last gripe): how can I change what I DO so that I can get THIS?

Choices - make yours count

I have been thinking alot about my students lately, in part because of that group that totally annoyed me this week by acting stupid when I had a sub.

And I realize it all comes down to choices.

Part of what I always loved about math is the decision making/problem solving that you do. The kids want me to come up with review games. I think those are so stupid. I always wanted to learn the math for the math. They want to trash my room playing trashketball.

Here are some of the decisions they have made this week:
* three of my students will not finish the year because they are in jail. Drugs, assault, theft. Three others that I have taught in the past are there as well.

* Four students had projects taken off my desk (before they were graded) the day I had the sub. I know these kids - they do their work, get good grades, don't cheat. I believe they did it. I believe someone took it. Why would you not copy it and return the original?

* Some of the seniors have taken to wandering the halls, cussing. The cussing isn't new, the wandering is. They get a note to go to A and then don't.

* I give study guides and let them see my work after I have shared it with them. (I would prefer they do it, but I only get a couple in each class who will. I need to change that next year). Boy copies mine, but not entirely, then argues with me that the way he wrote it is the way I wrote it. Why not just copy the whole thing?

* I mentioned the girl who expected me to help her with another teacher's exam - then yelled at me "If you don't help me I will fail!" to which I replied "the time to ask for help is in class during the review not during the exam."

* Another girl was threatening that she was going to argue with each of her teachers at graduation because the school was so lame.

* One girl loudly accused me of messing with her grades because the average kept going down and "I do all my work" - her grades lately have been 2 to 15 points below her average. Obviously I taught her no math that she can't see that.

* I have kids I haven't seen in class in weeks. They come to school enough to not get dropped, but they are failing me. Yes, I am documenting conversations.

I don't get it.

I can feel my anger building and then I just want to teach younger grades again. Seniors - too late.

Six Word Saturday

One more week: end in sight.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Some students have no lack of it.

Today, I had a student of mine walk in during my lunch to ask me if I would help her with her Geometry (another teacher) final. No.

Then she asked if it was true that teachers cannot fail seniors. No. Two of us were there and said that teachers have to jump through a million hoops, but, yes, you can fail seniors.

I have at lest 2 who will fail. I have a dozen more at risk. If they think I cannot fail them, well, it'll get interesting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

OK, today I like them better

The ones who were so horrible yesterday were horrible today. No apology, no acknowledgment about any errant behavior. Instead they are still fussing about the inappropriate response from the administrator.

The good kids were good, as usual.

The reality check worked - got a lot of work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I am so disappointed

I gave 2 assignments over the past 2 weeks, with more than enough time in class to do them.

Both have relevance for their life after high school.

I let them work together, even though I know some will straight copy.

I made the assignments test grades.

I have SO MANY failing my class right now because I enter zeros when I enter my grades.

This means that I will have to copy the crap again and make it available.

Did I mention that I had to leave my training and spend an hour in my class BABYSITTING THESE STUPID SENIORS because they are not capable of behaving in a reasonable manner and. Stay. In. The. Room. (To say nothing of doing an assignment that could have raised their grade.)

I am not happy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

20% off the top, please

The AJC says that the state will only play for 147 days of school.

The other 20% is to be paid by the district.

Maybe we should just build prisons and send the kiddies along.

Big question for the teachers around here: did the districts know about this when they made cuts - or are more cuts coming?

Contracts had to be in by today. Is that why the news is out now?

Funsucker - away (please)

Funsucker has been teaching the past couple of days. Rather than making it low key (knowing I had a project due last Friday and a short one tomorrow - both test grades), she made it a test grade and has been threatening them that they may not pass if they don't do it.

Excuse me? I enter grades and it ain't gonna happen.

She asked me (in class, loud, so everyone would hear) what one student was making - I said I didn't know. (I didn't feel like it was Funsucker's or the class's business)

She has been confrontational with the 4 kids she doesn't like - until I told them (when she wasn't in the room) to remember that, while she will grade this, I enter grades.

She cannot see the general ed grades.

I pray I do not have her next year.

With any luck if I do, it would be Advanced Algebra and Trig and she will be lost.

Toady was on a cell phone today. You have to love that eventually the ones you want will deliver so you can write them up.

He stayed after class to tell me he can't be wrote (sic) up again.

"Actually you can be written up - you just don't want to be."

I will call his mother and tell her about this and ask that she tell hom I will submit unless he stops talking while I am trying to teach. It is less than a week, but such a beautiful opportunity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What I know about next year - and what I am guessing

1) Classes will be larger. (Georgia voted today to take off any limit on class size) It has been 32, and there are 32 desks in my room. I do not know how we would get any more in there and move. I can barely put these in groups and move.

2) There will be more pressure to "succeed" - somehow we are going to drag these kids to do well on a test they barely care about when we cannot use grades - or anything else - as an incentive.

3) There is no book. There is no possibility of a book. Somehow we are to make copies of material available on line when there will be no money for copy paper. Gee, I wonder who pays for this?

4) They cut my pay 5% last year. They have already cut another 5%. They keep dancing around an additional 10% = but they are doing this behind closed doors and will not talk to us.

5) Discipline is going to be - interesting.

I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.
I do this because I want to.

Yeah, I keep telling myself that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Inspirational thoughts

Earlier this year my family went to see Wicked and I came away with the thought "Everyone deserves the chance to fly" which ties in so well with my educational philosophy.

We just came back from Avenue Q and I guess the inspirational thought ties to where I am right now:

"Crabby old bitches are the bedrock of our society."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Doing more with less

I am expecting much less next year: less time, less money, fewer resources, and even less motivation on the part of the students.

No, I have no idea what I will be teaching.

I am finding it to be a continual struggle to get kids to work. I mean, you read this, written by top students and you see that even among the top is the realization that their generation is willing to settle and not work.

So, I am thinking about how I will teach _____.

I will ask them to provide a notebook. Since not all can/will, I will provide report covers for those who cannot/will not (available in August for about 10 cents each). I will also provide them with a crate to store them in.

I will ask for 5 dividers. (I won't provide these)

I will ask for paper and pencils. (I will provide paper until it is gone, and golf pencils)

I will ask for graph paper (and print something like this ) (source

Each unit will be preceded with a "table of contents" listing the work they will be turning in at the end of the unit for a quiz grade. Maybe a test grade.

And they will need to keep up with warmups leading to the end of course test or graduation test.

Ok, gang, what did I leave out?

All I want for Christmas

Mamacita has posted the qualities of a good principal. Mr. Hulk has some of the qualities listed. His rousting the kids in the morning is really helpful.

But his yelling at the staff has got to quit. It has probably achieved its purpose (we avoid going to see him unless we have to) but it also means he is not getting from his staff what he could.

He is a poor shepherd of his resources.

Sometimes I post a tag of MFL - my fantasy life. This is when I am tired of reality and post things the way I wish they were. Looks like it will continue.

Six Word Saturday

Two more weeks: lots to do.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Woody Allen: "80% of success is showing up."

I wonder if they will for these last 2 weeks or if they will let the opportunity swoosh on by.

Friday, May 21, 2010

School is over in a week. When are the Seniors going to decide to come?

Probably a third of my students have lousy attendance.

It is a week before seniors start taking exams. I have a dozen or so who owe me work (projects or tests) that are keeping them from passing. They owe me these things because they do not come to class.

I cannot fathom what gives them the sense that this is a correct thing to say, but they keep asking me if they can take the test home (no) or if they really have to do the work (only if you want to pass).

I can add rigor. I appreciate rigor. But they have already checked out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You think that eventually they would learn

* I have a student who, this semester, has started missing at least one day a week - sometimes more. When she comes, she thinks I need to drop everything and deal with HER. NOW. Today she wanted a question answered. I told her I had answered it the day before and would answer it when I got the class started. So she asked Funsucker - I stopped and said that FS was busy and Late could wait. Late was steamed. Oh, well.

* Wrote a boy up for the 10th time he cut my class. Walked into the class he should have been in (he is on an enforced vacation for a while) and Toady asked where he was. Then Toady said "I know who wrote him up." I replied that I did as well. Toady got snarky "Do you like doing write ups? Do you have a quota?" Since I knew Cutter had discussed the entire episode with Toady (from Cutter's point of view), I asked a question. "If you had cut a class more than twice, and each time the teacher found you and wrote you up, is it smart to continue cutting that class?"

* Toady complained about my not providing him with some supply he felt he deserved. I said I supply paper and golf pencils. He said "So I can take as much paper as I want?" (Can we tell his mother sets no limits?) No. "But I need paper and I can't get to the store." I have him 11 more days.

* Had a girl (who cannot make it to my 1st period class) come to 3rd wanting to take a test from last week. I said - sorry, come to first.

* gave a remedial test. I let them work in groups. I had 70s.

* some of the rest just isn't funny. I need a humor transplant. Next year is beginning to look dire.

Ding Dong the Superintendent is Gone

Kathy Cox, State Superintendent (not to be confused with Cathy Cox, who used to be the secretary of state in Georgia) has quit her position rather than run again. Ms. Cox, who has not supported the teachers at all in the recent downsizings, is the one responsible for giving us our math curriculum.

This should give you an idea of what is happening in two of the Altanta area counties.

But, at least Kathy landed on her feet in Washington.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



and i have hipbones, therefore i am a snake

* Professor: Tell me what's wrong with this argument. "All vertebrates have hipbones. Snakes are vertebrates. Therefore, snakes have hipbones."
* Freshmen Girl: Snakes aren't vertebrates, everyone knows that!
* Professor: Are you sure about that, cupcake? What are they then, aliens?

(Athens is the home of the University of Georgia)

I worry about the ability of my students to do a reality check. Ever.

* One has been skipping Anatomy and has a 44 in the class. Graduation is in 2 weeks.
* One skipped my class although I have written him up for skipping 6 times already. He was passing last week. Not this week.
* One walked into another class demanding his test. That would be the one I gave last Friday. And I haven't seen him in the class he is registered for in several weeks.
* I told him he could come to class.

Although another student did look at one of my noncompoops and tell him that he was an idiot, that I (Ricochet) was trying to help him and if he would just do the work I gave him he would pass, that most teachers would have given up on him and I was trying to help - that I was even more stubborn than she was. And I am!!

Surviving a layoff 5, how to boost morale without administration's help.

A teacher in the school braved the lion's den and suggested the jeans and positive notes. The jeans met with no. The positive notes, well, it was suggested that the brave one write the notes.

Then the brave one suggested that the administration party with the peons when there are baby showers or such at school.

“Not my thing.”

(Ms. Chili, you really can't make this stuff up.)

Ok, so no joy from above.

I have kids who will not come to class but expect to pass.


I did think of something I can do that costs no money (well, very little), will have an impact, and doesn't put me out.

There are dead times in my class. I confess, I do not teach bell to bell. (Shoot me.) I am going to challenge my students to write a nice to note to some teacher who has done something nice for them. Or a counselor, a janitor, the lunch lady, the nurse, a secretary, even the administration.

We should be able to do a round of this at least once a month.

Then, stick them in mailboxes.

Some kids won't do this. It's sad when kids are gratitude-bereft, but it happens.

Monday, May 17, 2010

lack of respect or communication

We have state tests coming up for the next 4 days. Exams are the end of next week.

We (who are not testing, students and teachers) meet in 1st period for 3 hours. That means, for 4 days, I will not see second or third period. And I will see first till we all are bored beyond belief.

So we asked if the schedule could rotate. First tomorrow, then second, then third, then 1st again.

No. No explanation, just no.

And we cannot send our kids to a class where they owe work. Nope, we are not qualified to make that decision.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Surviving a Layoff 4, the ambiance in the school

If teachers (and everyone else) are taking pay cuts, there is no money for big things - or for little things.

Knowing your staff will be under stress means doing what you can to lighten the load.

Some things cannot be helped.

Teachers will still have too many classes, too many students with issues. We have no text books for the math that we teach (district decision 3 years ago that cannot be helped now). There will be no paper (except what the teachers buy) for copying.

Assuming there is any copying next year, since the school would have to pay for ink.

But, you could offer jeans days every Friday (no cost to you).

Any other suggestions for no fee morale boosters? This was all I could come up with. Anything else (soda breaks, free time) costs money.

These four posts are pretty much what I have. I will do one more.

Comments would be appreciated.

Disgusting kid in Middle School

A county near here has a community blog. Most of the posting is about the animal shelter and football, how the south shall rise again, y'know - junk stuff. But they talk more openly about their school system (both parents and teachers), so I read it.

I was absolutely disgusted to read a recent post about a middle school girl who spit in her teacher's drink (we will leave that image there and move on).

The teacher has filed with the SRO (school resource officer) and will file charges in the courthouse tomorrow. Since she is a middle schooler, she will probably be expelled to the alternative school but she will have to go to court.

And, not knowing any of the players, she probably feels/felt justified.


Remember Denise, the homeschooled child I had for a few weeks at the beginning of the semester?

The mom taught Denise Geometry first and then Algebra. The kid couldn't pass the state test for Geometry, since it is heavily algebra based. (I tried explaining that to the mother, she told me I was wrong.)

I noticed on another blog that a mother was looking for a tutor for 7th grade math (the beginning of the push in Algebra). And Denise's mom posted that she could tutor this.

Heaven help the tutee. And let the buyer beware.

Yep, teachers can be easily replaced.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Once a bully

Once upon a time there was a teacher who wanted to become an administrator. The teacher was bright enough, but interpersonal skills were not a strength.

Instead, he was an OCD type, who wanted control over everything.

He could be mean.

But he felt he could do a better job as an administrator than the ones he worked for. And his ultimate goal was to be in the district where he could control even more.

And he became an administrator.

His method of management is by control and intimidation. The teachers are always wrong. If he can humiliate them or belittle them in some way, then he has made it a teachable moment.

Do not complain about the way an AP does his job because you are obviously inept and can't judge quality work. So, rather than do what is expected of a teacher who has taught for 10 years, you are told to run everything by the administrator he can judge whether you have a clue.

Do not try to discipline these undisciplinable kids - whatever you do may harm their little egos and damage them for life.

Did I mention that most of these discussions are held at the top of his lungs, complete with insults? (I get too many calls from parents about you and I cannot defend you because you do not do even an inadequate job)

And, if he disagreed with a decision by two professionals with over 30 years of experience between them about the best way to help a student finish the year with at least some success, then obviously the best method is to send an AP to the classroom to babysit and call the offending teacher to the office for a drill sergeant reaming out, complete with spit.

The only good news in this economy is that if you don't bother him and stay below his radar he will forget that you are incompetent and you will be offered a contract. And you will join the minions who are silently building submarine files for the day the district decides they have had enough.

If he runs off the highly qualified in the meantime, well that's too bad.

[that felt good. And, no, none of the teachers were me]

Cell phones - opinions, anyone?

let them text for a few minutes during class. So what do you think?

I deal with bad language, cheating, fights, lack of ambition, dip (and spitting), lack of attendance, tardies - and cell phones. Maybe this is a solution to a part of it.

I give candy as an occasional reward. My students then cannot differentiate between an occasional treat and an entitlement for them to eat whatever whenever. Did I mention that picking up after themselves doesn't appear to be a skill they have mastered. I will not be buying candy next year. I am tired of the arguments. So, no candy.

I just envision allowing a one time, 5 minute at the beginning of class will lead to them checking all period - and let's not even talk about tests.

What do you think?

Surviving a layoff 3, think outside the box

Worst case scenerio: there are no teaching jobs.

Can you design a class (the entire curriculum and handouts)? Can you pick up material and understand it fairly quickly? Think about applying for a corporate trainer job. The students pay to be there. So, they want the material and (while some sleep) they don't tend to act up.

Maybe you can see some other skill you have that will translate to a job, even if it is a right now job rather than the right job.

Surviving a Layoff 2, finding a job

OK, let's talk about looking for a job.

First, you have just taken a major blow in the ego that has left you gasping. If you do not take care of yourself, well, some people do not survive this. But you can survive and even thrive.

1) reflect. We all hate that word, but you need to spend some time just thinking at the beginning. I am not talking about moping around the house, but you can allow yourself some of that. I tend toward depression, so I am fierce with myself that I cannot just sit on the couch, watch tv and mope more than a day or so. Besides, I get bored.

I use paper - figure out how you need to do this.
*where do I stand financially? (that's a biggie)
*are there part time jobs to tide me over?
*(good news for teachers: If they tell you in May, you generally have a paycheck until August or so)
*what do I want to do next? (that reflection is how I ended up teaching. Still a good move, just wish I had done some things differently and glad I did some of the things I did)
*How can I make myself look stronger? (more later)
*what are my strengths and weaknesses (get your friends to help you with this because you will miss most of your strengths and some of your weaknesses. This takes a lot of trust and a really good friend. Buck up and take it. THIS IS IMPORTANT.)

2) take care of yourself. Eat right. WALK (PO I admire this in you and do not do this enough), clean your house, take care of your garden. DO SOMETHING YOU CAN SEE RESULTS IN HOWEVER SMALL. See your friends. If you have no money, take them on a walk with you.

3) Be careful with your money

4) Start writing other districts and also private schools (Yes, I am assuming my audience is teachers. You may have to adapt this to you if you don't teach.) Also send letters and resumes to individual principals.

5) BEFORE SCHOOL IS OVER have your department chair or someone you trust - or several - observe you teaching and have them write the observation down. If it is your principal is out to get you, they probably will not help you get another job (read the beginning of this blog, yes, I have been there). These additional references from your peers may not completely outweigh the evil principal, but they may intrigue the next person enough that they actually see YOU. Keep many copies of these and send them along with your resume.

6) take a deep breath. Often.

7) Know that you have value even when you have no job.

8) improve your credentials. When I started the process that led me to this school, I was certified in math. I added a lot of other credentials. (Here we can do it by passing a test. I have taken and passed a lot of these in the past 3 years. I made a goal that I add at least 1 every year.) I do not plan on being limited again. I like the current number and it will stay that way for a while since it is my favorite number but I am sure I will add more.

9) understand that anything you add to your credential you may have to teach.

10) if nothing happens before the first week of school, send letters out to the principals again timed to hit about the 10-day count (we have a ten day count - that's when they add or lose staff.)

This is pretty much what I have done. When still in industry, I would make myself apply for 10 - 20 jobs every Sunday (that's when the ads came out). Teaching - it isn't the same.

I really hope this helps. If you have suggestions for me - or anyone - please pass them along.

Six Word Saturday

Character shows when times are hard.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Enough said.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Surviving a Layoff

I have been through layoffs before. In the life I had before teaching, it was a normal occurrence.

And after a couple, you began to recognize the steps.

In a lot of ways it is easier to be the one laid off. First you have the humiliation, then the anger. You are embarrassed to say goodbye. (I did get really angry at the vultures who raided all my notes while I was being talked to - I took them home and threw them away. If they had ASKED I may have given them away. The person I am now would have.) Then the fear you will never find another job. Anxiety as you search. The embarrassment of filing for unemployment. The wonder as you try to figure out what you want to do now - and then finally the joy and relief when you find a job.

If you are a survivor (meaning you still have a job), it is actually tougher.
1) the days (or in the case of school, weeks) of the walking dead. What do you say to your friends as they become introverted (as they should) about looking for a job? I am waiting a day or two and then will start making rounds to give them advice I have learned the hard way. (Hey, it's free advice, worth every penny. Don't want it? OK by me)

2) Then, the realization that your work load has increased. At school, that will translate to more duties, more classes, more students.

3) One that I haven't run into before is doing all this for less money. I know it will be 2% less. But there is another 10% hovering on the horizon that they keep hinting at and won't directly address. Hopefully they tell us that soon.

As Bette Davis said: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Please Pull Your Pants Up

I have a new favorite song and I can see me on my little corner of heaven singing "Please pull your pants up, please pull your pants up - I don't wanna see your tighty whities...."

Souless Wonders

I teach a group of souless wonders. They are led by an evil queen and they fall under her spell (we don't know why). This is the group that torments the unfortunate (see previous posts - but I don't remember what I called the evil queen. Her object of torment was Sweetie). Yesterday a fight almost happened, in large part because the evil queen and her minions were laughing.

Personally, I think they sold their souls for brains and were shortchanged.

In any case, their laughing (which was for the simple reason that they thought they were going to be entertained with a fight, they didn't care who fought) almost led two kids with too much macho and too little awareness to accommodate them.

Today, Toady wanted to know what the punishments (for the two boys) were. I ignored him. He asked which teachers weren't getting contracts. I ignored him.

Another student called me by the wrong name - then profusely apologized (because it was an accident). Of course, the evil queen and her minions started laughing as soon as the wrong name was spoken. Student said "Ricochet, it was an accident. I didn't mean disrespect." I told him I knew that. That the only disrespect was from the fools who laughed. (and, yes, I said fools)

Surprisingly, they said nothing.

Maybe they have started ignoring me as much as I ignore them.

On a good note, a student who left this class returned to ask for math help. It was so good to see her!!

Some of these kids I will miss.

(Darkling is the name I used for the evil queen and the other [main] jackal is the toady)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And it just keeps on coming

The AJC has written another blog about layoffs this one in one of the better counties outside Atlanta.

The comments - well, read it and weep. I did.

One of the teachers mentioned is a good friend. One was a teacher who taught both my children and was loved by them.


Holy Crap!

I cannot believe I have 3 more weeks of this.

* Teacher X came to me and asked that I sign a pass for a student to spend the rest of this year in X's room - she can do the work there. Teacher X is not a close firend and probably never will be - too much like me. But I'd want him on my side if I had a task to do and at my back if something was going down. The kid is one Funsucker has in her sights and she has written him up for nothing. Teacher x was livid (but not at me!). I have no problem because he is a good kid.

* Several kids have decided that it is ok to criticize everything about me - and break every rule I have - and then wonder why I am not effusive with joy to see them. Summer cannot come soon enough.

* several profanity laced fights.

I have a contract - as usual, it doesn't say anywhere on it what my pay is. But I will sign it and hope.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There is no hope

I tutored Teacher Loser's student today. I only call her that because her rationale for dumping HER student on me was that 1) I am already tutoring one of her students because the parents came to school to ask me to and 2) why should she tutor her own student when she could dump another on me?

So, we are doing geometry with circles. I haven't down this in a very long time.

Here are my questions to the student (and her answers)
What is the radius if the diameter is 12? (dumb look)

What is the relationship between a radius and a diameter? (read me the definitions from the book)

[I finally wrote on the board 2r = d and explained what it meant]

If the diameter is 12 what is the radius? (6?)

How do you find the circumference? (dumb look)

What is the formula? (Ms. Loser has it on the wall)

You get the idea. I WAS GOING OVER THE TEST FROM THE UNIT. The kid has a 12. No shit.

This is the teacher quick to accuse us of mollycoddling our students.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ricochet, will you give us the answers?

What do students do when you hand them the review for the test tomorrow? Star working? Pull the previous week's work to review and use on the review?

Sit there like a bump on a log - waiting for me to do the work?

Finally asking me "Ricochet, will you give us the answers?"

I told them I needed them to TRY. To do some work, then we would go over it.

They. Did. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So, after waiting them out for half the class, I wrote the work on the board. Not the answers, the work.

For example if the problem was: How much will you spend if you buy 3 cans of corn at 79 cents each?

I wrote: 3 X 0.79 =

And I did that for the entire review. Sometimes it was a/b if they needed to use the answer from part a and divide it by the answer from part b.

Then I gave them time to work (and they finally did). THEN I went through and we worked the review together.

What are we coming to if that is considered acceptable?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Less than a month

I will be very happy for this year to end.

Last year I had a lovely co-teacher. Sweet, but completely inept. She was a grandmotherly type, sick all the time, unable to discipline the kids (although they loved her) and didn't know the material since she had been an elementary art teacher.

What a person to stick in a low level math class.

So, to me she was a burden.

This year I have two. They know the math (for the most part). One is really sweet, but other than making one test, he does nothing to take the burden off me. He doesn't copy. He doesn't create the different things to fill in the blank. He can teach sometimes - but it's the copying, grading, write ups, phone calls, and just planning work that he doesn't do.

And then there is funsucker.

She wants to be the general ed teacher, so she does nothing for the kids on her roll. She also does none of the teacher-grunt work but creates an environment such that I am constantly running around in that class putting out fires.

One of the APs has suggested we have a meeting to talk about how she undermines discipline in the room. She doesn't realize I got my hand smacked big time for trying that (why, I have no idea, since no one who has ever taught with funsucker wants her a second time).

So I have gotten passive aggressive. Some of it is really easy. Funsucker has arranged our planning meeting so they take place 10 minutes before we start teaching for the week. So I have to have already done the planning, the copying, etc. I am working on the final now - I will not run it past her until the last minute, if then.

I change the order of things after the meeting and forget to tell her. Wow, that sounds vicious, doesn't it? Actually, what happens is I start thinking about if I do this, then this happens and I run out of stuff to do here, but if I do that, then I have more to fill up the hour. So, at the last minute I pull out that and haven't discussed it with her.

While she is teaching (and she tells me when I get to teach. Isn't that special?) she will interrupt herself to discipline this child or that. I usually intervene to talk with the kid, but while I am doing that, all hell is breaking loose.

I can discipline a class. I can manage to teach. I do not have extraneous conversations with students while she is teaching (I cannot say the same thing about her. She is not helping them, she is asking about the tv show they watched the night before, or their boyfriend, or whatever WHILE I AM TEACHING. I stop and turn around and watch her until she wraps it up and then I finish the lecture.)

And, yes, I have talked with the administration. They told me I need to get along with her and what is MY problem.

Less than a month. And I am working on ditching the passive agressive tendencies - but yelling at her will not change her and will further undermine the class.

What I NEED is administrative support. And that isn't going to happen either.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Tear apart and make it new.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I know that is a philosophy in education - to demolish something in order to rebuild it better. I have had the joy (not) of having professors of that ilk - and a youth leader almost destroyed one of my children because the leader was better at demolition than construction.

Sometimes it works. And you end up with something beautiful.

Friday, May 7, 2010

This and That

I found this really cool site which appears to allow you to create manipulatives for teaching conics. Since that may be on my plate next year, with no money, this was a good find. [and I figured out about doing pictures so I won't be so lame!!]

We are letting 15% of the faculty go in our district in order to meet payroll. You will be happy to know that we will have a new PE teacher transferring in to lead our football team. It is so wonderful to have such priorities in times of need.

I was called in and chewed out today because a student accused me of racism. This is such an easy charge to make and so hard to disprove. What annoys me the most is that thepowersthatbe know that, know me, know the charming individual making the charge - and took the side of the kid. I am trying to remain calm and I know that the kid will get his comeupance at some point.

I wish the economy was better.

Several of my bad boys brought me plants from the greenhouse. I feel loved.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


1,500 teachers in the metro area are being let go. Some through non-renewal

Why I can't write your recommendation

A student asked for a recommendation for a job in law enforcement after high school. It could even be the truth, truth not being something this student is real familiar with. (So far this year she has had a baby - who doesn't exist, cancer, a dozen siblings - who also don't exit, been accepted in college, gotten scholarships, whatever).

I had found a way to write it and not address the veracity issue.

Then she pulled an incredible stunt - multiple times, including me in one (but I don't think she knows I know) - where she violated so many moral and ethical points, threatening someone's teaching certificate with lies. Luckily, her lies are provable as lies.

So, I never gave her the recommendation I wrote.

And she never asked about it.

A couple of weeks ago she asked me to write another. In the meantime, she had pulled her phone out in class several times, loudly calling attention to the fact she had her phone out.

So, referencing the phone. I told her I couldn't write one.

Now, she acts as if I do not exist. Boy, does that ever work well for me.

Summer cannot get here soon enough.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You can't make this $%^#$%#@ up

Funsucker insists on teaching. The kids hate it and tell her so. Often. Not that I am awesome, but the usual background noise while she teaches is:
*Why do you have to teach?
*Let Ricochet teach!
*I can't understand you.
*You talk too slow.
*I don't understand

This is usually followed by them coming and asking me questions - because she refuses to work the problems out. She tells them that it looks right, that it loos like X's work, whatever - but she doesn't do the work.

I do.

I told you she got mad and pouted for 20 minutes Friday.

She cannot maintain discipline, so I usually play policeman. I am tired of doing that. So, I have been helping the kids and doing other things.

Today, she lost control and screamed (yes, screamed) at them "I don't get paid to put up with this shit." At which point, the charming HSchoolers I teach kept repeating the word SHIT (She said it, why can't I?)

I got one out in the hall to deal with this and funsucker immediately had a melt down, screaming SHUT UP at them (really effective classroom management). There was an AP in the hall listening, who wants a meeting - it will be pointless once again.

Anyhow, two kids were hauled off by the AP, I went back in the room, funsucker "took a break". As soon as she was gone I had the following discussion with the class.

There are 4 weeks left in school.
She has to teach some of this course (why? Not my choice.) When she teaches, if you don't understand, don't prolong it. Just shut up (then I apologized if that offended anyone) and let her finish. When she is done, ask me. I will be happy to reteach it.

I pointed out that I do the test review, I make sure they know it, and I grade the tests.

And I pointed out that when they yanked her chain, they made my life hard. When they make my life hard, I will be happy to reciprocate.

Then I retaught the lesson she was doing.

The other day, they all rushed the door at the end of class. From across the room I got them to sit down and wait to be dismissed.

They are not bad kids - but I hate that class. Mostly because she makes my life hard and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

She has some classes that are not mine (thank the Lord). She came to me before one asking if I had enough glue sticks for her class. I am thinking WTF didn't you plan ahead and bring your own supplies - I answered NO.

4 weeks

Monday, May 3, 2010

There are some students I just don't like.

There is no nice way to say that. There are some who, when I am not teaching them anymore, I will try to forget.

One is similar to the student Mrs. H calls MBS. He has such a lame ego that he has to talk ALL THE TIME. He belittles people around him, as if this makes himself look better. While this works in the short term, people don't appear to like him.

Today he announced that if he didn't have a ride to school, he'd walk because his "bus is full of blacks." Looking at the faces of the kids in my class (regardless of their color) gave my heart a leap of joy - because they were all appalled that he said that.

He comes from a county even more rural than ours, so the odds are the ratio of white to black is more even.

Good news, he will be out of my life soon. Just not soon enough.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Small victories

Wow, one of the boys who dropped out this year (would never come to school and was repeating most of his classes) just called asking for help solving quadratic equations.

I pointed him to as that website does a better job than most of stepping you through problems. (If you ever visited then math, this was the website you were actually seeing).

But the best part was the comment: You know Ricochet, everything I am having trouble with was all that stuff you told was important and you tried to teach it to us.

Hopefully the Internet will provide him with the interaction and instant answers that will help him learn.

Parenting 101

The AJC has a great article on parenting. It isn't stated to be about parenting. It is supposedly an article about triplets who are the valedictorian and salutatorians at their high school. But when you read what the father says about setting the expectations for his children, you realize the article is about parenting.


Six Word Saturday

To teach is to embrace reflection.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

And if you are unable to accept criticism - internal and external - and grow from it, then you need another job. If you cannot handle correction while you are teaching, then you do not need to be teaching high school. Sometimes you are the one who is wrong - you need to be able to come and say "Wow, I really blew that one - let's try again."

[See my comment for this to make sense]