Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Had a great meeting with the principal today!

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

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some questions have no answers

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

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

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

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

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

I am trying to stay positive.

How do you help kids make better choices?

Is some of this jackaninniness inherent?

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Hoo Rah! Clean old fashioned hate!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

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

So, what's the good word?

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

This rivalry, this Clean Old Fashioned Hate

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Futility of the TSA

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

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

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

When are we going to learn?

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

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What's the good word?

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

And they would probably be my students.

How do you raise their own goals?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oops, left something out

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

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

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

They SOOOO deserve each other.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What goes around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Only at Tech

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

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

What's the good word?

Waiting for help.

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

The man stays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Six Word Saturday

No Internet. I have no voice.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

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

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

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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This isn't progress either

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

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

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

Apparently they think the rules do not apply to them?

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

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

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


Saturday, November 13, 2010

This isn't progress

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

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

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

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

I guess I see why math isn't important.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am discouraged.

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

In Flanders Fields

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

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

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

Six Word Saturday

Christmas is six weeks from today.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why did I go into teaching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are idiots.


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

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

I ask that they not talk while I teach.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For all my friends in New York:

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

Monday, November 8, 2010

I am blown away

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

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

I can only hope and will let you know.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there was no evidence left on the car.

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

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

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

**deep breath**

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

But I can't say all of that.

(I want to. I really want to.)

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

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

I want to teach.

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

What we are doing is not working.

Six Word Saturday

Different generation. Different set of rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Friday, November 5, 2010


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

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

What jack-a-ninnies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day - good and bad

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

There has got to be a better way

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

Remember: we want the same things

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

I don't see joy in a divided government.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dum dum da dum (funeral dirge)

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

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

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

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