Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bottom of the Barrel

We were called into a faculty meeting today and told that we are in the bottom 10% (or smaller) of the state academically.

A district official stood up and told us that the students from our high school are treated as if they are dummies because they attend/graduate from our school, because we rank so low.

We were told about this grant and that grant that we can go after.

Doesn't it begin with the students? And how can we change them from the learned helplessness that they live with?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

There are so many things we talk about when we discuss how to teach the students better. There are a few we don't discuss. Like how to inspire kids who have no interest in learning. Or how you teach someone who doesn't have basic elementary school arithmetic knowledge. Like multiplication facts.

Or how you mitigate poverty. Or deal with kids who have no father.

Atta boy (or girl)

A friend used to say that one atta boy wiped out a mess of aw shits - and one aw shit could wipe out a mess of atta boys.

But the atta boys were better.

Today I got an atta girl and an aw shit. The aw shit is weighing on my mind.

The atta girl was a parent going to the principal and telling him what a difference I am making in her daughter's life.

The aw shit was a phone call from a parent where she reamed me out for untruths her son told her.

Yep, atta boys are better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh, yeah

Yeah, I've had days like this. Not today, but there have been days.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I see a disconnect in the way I view the world and what others view. In the news today Jamie Hood, who kidnapped a man and the killed a policeman this week, said that he shot the policeman so they didn't kill him. And he regretted killing the policeman. But no comment on the illegal act (kidnapping) that he did that started the whole mess.

And Brian Nichols, who broke out of jail and killed 4 people, says that it was a protest against a racist system. He was in jail for raping a girlfriend and, I believe, attempting to kill her.

I have students who do not follow directions given to them by multiple adults (as in multiple adults tell them the same thing) and then say we didn't tell them or they didn't know.

Why is this so hard?

Today's email: Pet Diaries


Excerpt from a Dog's Diary........

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpt from a Cat's Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity....

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Six Word Saturday - beginning

Poised at the point of beginning.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It's Spring - the Earth is renewing itself - my azaleas are blooming, the daffodils are almost spent, the forsythia is coming into play. Dogwoods will bloom soon.

There are good changes about to happen at the school - and I see an upbeat in the morale even though nothing has really changed yet.

We are in the wrap-up-the-semester and get-ready-for-end-of-test time.

I am having to restart a project because the dirtbag who was supposed to do X didn't. But it really will work out better.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

13 Illegal Aliens Try to cross into the US

13 illegal aliens try to cross into the US dressed as US Marines. They were stopped by a Border Patrol agent who thought they looked hinky. He asked one question which they couldn't answer and proved they were not who they purported to be.

What was the question?

I told my husband this story. He thought it was a joke. But it is in the Homeland Security Today, and The NY Daily News, and The Daily Mail, and San Diego County's North County News.

The question: When is the Marine Corps' birthday?

Semper Fi!!

Of course, the BIG question now is WHY were they being smuggled in and how many others have been smuggled in.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bloomberg South

I cannot find the news blip I heard on the way to work this morning. This is most of it. However there was this one other little quote that is missing. That is where Mayor Reed says he wants to take over the Atlanta (APS) school board because what Mayor Bloomberg did in New York worked so well.

Thought I would tall all of you New York teachers that it worked well - Mayor Reed said so.

Here is what he wants to do to the fire department and police department. Mayor Reed, that is. It gets hard to tell who is who.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Dear news media

Remember back in '50s and early '60s, when we set off something like 900 atomic bombs in Nevada? And how we just let the fallout blow wherever and it landed all over the eastern US? And how it wiped out life as we know it and all that was left from Colorado to the Atlantic were six-legged rats battling two-headed cockroaches in the glowing ruins?

Yeah. Exactly. So shut up with the panic already.

Thanks Greg for saying

Not to make light of the current situation in Japan, nor to minimize its significance -- but this does serve as a needed voice of sanity in the midst of all the hand-wringing and dire predictions we have been getting in the last week.

But then again, "All is well" doesn't sell nearly as well as "It's the end of the world as we know it."

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I try to get the talkers to stop. Their reply is always (ALWAYS) "I am not the only one talking." OK, but you are talking and the only person you can control is you.

I graded papers. I realize this is such a shock, but the talkers score lower than the non-talkers.

The talkers drew pretty pictures on my algebra 2 test - completely irrelevant, but interesting. They made comments about being bored on a test they cannot finish.

My responsibility is to let go. I am getting angry with them for failing and that is pointless. They are making choices that they are old enough to make.

I looked up the grades of the 0nes I failed last semester, the ones who made choices that made that the obvious outcome. Most are failing the same course for the third time. And they are failing for 3 different teachers. And they are failing with a grade lower than they had for me at the same point.

Except for one. The one that was the hardest for me to fail. He almost passed the state test but he did nothing, nada, zip in my class. Failing him was the best thing for him as once again he is earning As in math - in other words, he is choosing to work.

I want to reply to every comment the students make - I need to learn to smile and move on rather than try to dazzle them with logic. They do not want to be dazzled. They want a verbal argument.

I want them to chose to work.

Six Word Saturday

Basic manners are not really basic.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

And common courtesy isn't common.

By the time I teach students, I expect that they have learned certain things.

They haven't.

They announce, loudly, while I am teaching "I am out of paper." 1) that is a statement not a question and 2) I have already told you where I put things for your use. I try (and am not always successful) to not be sarcastic in my replay.

OK, you are failing two classes, back to back. Do you really think that showing up late to mine because you are trying to fix the other grade is excused when you tell me (not ask me) "I was in social studies."

Mr. Administrator: I have a planning period and an email. You could have asked me to come see you rather than chasing the kids out of my room so you could chew me out. I realize you don't read your email - the rest of us do. (And, yes, the kids could figure it out.)

It was a long week and the next two will be as well. I am tired and cranky as are you. That is why manners were invented.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why am I teaching?

On the one hand, I reached a student today and his mother appreciated what I have done to work with him. I have kids come back and tell me how I taught them math and they love me for it.

And then I have a class where, in order to teach, I am reduced to writing notes on the overhead and asking them to copy because they cannot stop talking and I cannot hear them nor they me.

I have been insulted by their parents - and called petty, vindictive, unable to be objective, a bitch - and worse.

Maybe the issue is I do not know how to handle a large class. Maybe the issue is I cannot handle 5 preps. Maybe the issue is I never feel organized.

I am appreciated - but, dang, the Illegitimi sure grind you down

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Greater love

Meet Anaiah Rucker.

She is 9 years old.

A month ago, she pushed her little sister out of the way of a truck, saving the kindergartner. In return, she lost a kidney and her left leg.

She is 9 years old.

She has a long way to go to fully recover. Donations to help the family can be made to the Anaiah Rucker fund at the United Bank of Madison, 256 N Main St., Madison, GA 30650

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It isn't what they don't know - it is what they know that isn't so.

It isn't what they don't know - it is what they know that isn't so.

I gave them a problem today that was something like 20(x-3)(x + 3)/(x^2 - 3) - except it wasn't factored.

And they tried to cancel the x^2 from the numerator with the one in the denominator. I kept telling they they couldn't do it - and they argued. (Why would I tell them no? I think I know more math than they do)

Finally I did (5 + 3)/(5 + 4) and showed how you couldn't cancel the 5 and did 3*5/4*5 and showed how you could.

Lord, I am worried about these Juniors - because that is basic.

I am struggling with myself

My lesser self is appearing to win the battle today. I have dealt with several ^&*$%^ parents who are just downright vicious when I am trying to get their little darlings to pass. Add that a class I really wanted to teach - and spent my own time and money preparing for - is being given to someone who doesn't really want it. When he asked for resources I told him I was happy for his success but wasn't willing to share this material, although I will share other things at other times.

And I feel small.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More on Pi - or not Pi - Day

A couple of articles on Pi on Pi Day. First, is Pi under attack? and why we should use Tau [2 pi] instead of Pi.

Happy Pi Day!!

Happy Pi Day!!

Hope your life is well rounded today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Goal of this blog - and the necessity I have to keep it.

My intent for this blog when I started was to find out if I was a voice in the wilderness or one of many. I found it was the latter.

I really need to start another, not connected with this one, that will allow me to post professional, relate-to-math-and-teaching posts. I need it for something that I am pursuing. But I need this one for my sanity.

Whenever I get the OMG IT'S MATH blog started, I will let those of you mathies on here know. You know, a blog like Kate Nowak's and some of the other blogs that focus on the teaching.

In the meantime, let's talk perfection.

I realized yesterday - as I tried to start something for the 573rd time - that I am stuck, frozen, welded to not beginning. And it dawned on me (probably not for the first time) that it is because it won't be perfect. I am struggling with notes for the class on the math that we are doing - and I have no problem writing them on the board. I freeze when it comes to typing them or writing them in a notebook.

I have got to find a way to settle for the good-for-now (even though we all struggle with perfection) so that I can get through this backlog.

Anger in my dreams

My personal life was tough last week. Nothing like Japan, and I feel guilty saying it, but I live in me and not in Japan.

I dreamt last night that a student asked for work to raise her grade. I gave it to her and then explained the work. Then she said (in a tone several are adopting this year) "Well, as long as you realize this is YOUR fault...." and I lost it and chewed her out.

The students in 1.5 classes do not stop talking, will not write anything down (even when I say "write this down"), will not practice the work by doing classwork. And they are not passing.

I am revoltingly predictable. If you copy the notes and review, work the problems and ask questions, there are no surprises on the tests.

Otherwise - well, it is Algebra 2 and not easy.

The dream continued - or segued - into one with another teacher. (The art teacher was teaching a cooking class and my desk was in the same room, and there were a bunch of naked Barbies on the desk.....) but the important part was that the kids were just as clueless and disrespectful.


I accepted needs improvement on my evaluation last week because I am tired of telling them the same things and didn't want the sarcastic putdowns I would get. The NIs should have been seen for what they were - the failure of Funsicker to do anything approaching a professional job. Apparently, this year she is not trying to take over my class, just screw me over.

I don't mind being dinged for things that are my fault. It pisses me off to accept things that are not.

But, I think it just means I have the NIs and I am done with being evaluated by him, - and that tradeoff I can live with.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The earthquake in Japan is frightening and devastating. It is hundreds of times worse than the one in Haiti a year ago.

But, given the difference in the two cultures, does anyone want to guess which will be rebuilt first?

Some of it has to do with with wealth, granted. Japan is wealthier than Haiti but has no more resources - except for its people.

My uncle was in Japan after WW2 and has told of women hauling rocks in baskets and the people rebuilding the roads by hand.

I predict that Japan will recover from this earthquake while Haiti is still struggling.

It comes down to culture.

How do we teach the culture and work ethic that the Japanese have to our students? Think of what they could do, where they could go.

I pray for the Japanese but I know they will overcome this.

I pray for the Haitians, I don't think they will.


About this point in each semester I make predictions about who I think will fail.

It usually has less to do with the current grade than the current attitude.

Sometimes I can see how to change that, sometimes not.

I have a group in one class that feed on each other. There is no place to move them, so I predict a mass drowning.

Which leads me to another discussion. It appears in this school that there is a culture that leads the kids to make dumb decisions. They would rather stuff socks in their bras (for the predictable laugh) than prepare for a standardized test that will determine whether they graduate.

I have no idea how to change that culture.

I am not good at classroom management in situations like this and add a large class - forget it.

This summer I will have some time to rethink and retrain myself. Any suggestions?

Please share.

Six Word Saturday

Real friends don't add to pain.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,

Hopped in my car yesterday, actually early, and headed home with plans of how to maximize the weekend.

I got about 3 miles from the school when NO JOY and the car floomped. So I pulled off to the side and called AAA. I do not know why it takes them FOR EV ER but it takes them longer when you are off the beaten path. And it was cold.

I was still on the phone with them when a car pulled up behind me - one of my teacher friends. Most teacher friends (as opposed to teacher acquaintances) are people you see a couple of times a week and would like to get to know but you don't really know and probably never will. They are friend-potential.

But Cyndi stopped and (even when I told her she didn't have to stay) stayed. We talked for the 2 hours it took for the tow truck to come. She followed me to the garage where I left my car and then we went to dinner (I paid) while I waited for Mr. Ricochet to come and get me.

And we talked. And talked. And talked. It was so much fun!! I would have liked it more if I wasn't facing the fix-my-car fee that I am, but that is unavoidable.

And I am so grateful that Cyndi stayed because my phone died and I would have been sunk without hers!

I think she is no longer friend-potential but friend!

Contrast that with someone I knve known for decades who got jealous (after seeing me as audience and red-headed-step-child from the beginning - now I have something to make her jealous and it is not a pretty sight). We used to be close - that boat sailed a long time ago. She thought I should quit working and be a stay-at-home mom (which was never my goal). I salute those who can, but that was never me. I tried explaining that and finally annoyed her when I asked what she DID all day. Yes, she had three boys, but they were in school and she hires her housekeeper.

Anyhow, she threw a temporary monkey wrench because she can. My friend (and, yes, you are not a potential friend either) PO will understand my desire to plot revenge - although my husband keeps putting the kibosh on most of them (most, not all). (you might find this interesting.)

My waking thought these days is: karma is a bitch and so am I.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting the uglies

It's that time of year, with major testing breathing down our necks, the kids coming down with a case of the stupids, and the pressure that everyone seems to be feeling this year. I am noticing that people are coming down with the uglies.

There is rampant jealousy - people who could very comfortably live in their own skin because they are really happy with where they are in life, cannot help themselves when someone appears to have more. You buy a dress that really flatters you - but someone gets THE KILLER HAIRCUT - that haircut which was JUST MADE for the person wearing it - and you start having the uglies.

Or your friend, after years of barely making it - lucks out in some regard (meets the right guy, gets a better job, whatever) and, instead of being happy for your friend, you are overcome with the uglies and try to screw it up.

Or, you are a teacher that the students really like - and you are more concerned with running to the administrator and tattling on one of your co-workers, thinking it will place you in a better light. Nope - you look like someone overcome with the uglies.

God, I hope the uglies aren't contagious!


I am trying to clean up the vocabulary of the students I teach.

Mostly because it is unseemly if a woman of a certain age looks at you and lets fly with %^&#%$^*&^$%!

I think I will start teaching Shakepeare.

Any of you English majors feel free to add to my vocabulary so I can change the world, or clean up my little corner.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Georgia does it again (SMH)

I read this todayGeorgia is cutting the time for instructors at the Technical Colleges.

And this at a time that we are encouraging students to use the technical colleges instead of high school AND college. (The ones that do well in high school can do joint enrollment and the technical colleges are cheaper than the universities) And we are cutting the state scholarship.

Wow, let's say more about Georgia's focus on education.

Saw in another blog: Georgia. First in bank closures. Last in education.

Question authority

"Question authority" was one of the things I remember learning as I was growing up. I read the consequences of not questioning when I read about the Eichman trial, My Lai, Watergate, others.

I try to teach that as I teach math. Just because I say something is true, if I cannot defend it, do you believe it?

In other words, think for yourself.

I have more trouble with this than with anything else.

I sometimes feel like I am teaching lemmings.

Apparently others feel the same.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Turning, turning, turning through the years
Minutes into hours and the hours into years.
Nothing changes. Nothing ever can
Round about the roundabout and back where you began.
Round and round and back where you began!
Les Miserables

Six Word Saturday

Queen of Denial - living in Delusion.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

I wonder if I see myself - my limits, my failures - as clearly as I think I do.

I watch students and teachers say, and do, things that clearly show they do not see themselves.

I talked with a girl earlier this week who is catapulting to the nowhere and warned her that the Powers That Be were growing tired of her antics. It wasn't one class later that she was cussing out a teacher and on her way home - again.

I had been telling her that she needs to be in class to learn. Her behavior was her choice and the consequences are her consequences.

Funsucker and Highmaintenance are doing a wonderful dance that seems more highly scripted as time goes on, as each fully expects the other to change. HM expected she would get an assistant to kowtow to her and do HM's work. FS expected she would have the same. It would be a match made in heaven if each would do the work assigned to them - but each one figures that is what the OTHER is for.

They complain to everyone. Since we have the same complaints about each, we're just watching the dance.

But the Queen takes the cake. We have no teaching unions in Georgia - at least not in this part of Georgia. Even if we did, I think Queen has set herself beyond their purview. She violated one of the basics about being a teacher - but cannot help herself as continues to careen around.

It would be as if a bookkeeper embezzled money and came in late on the day the embezzlement was discovered - and then figured all the hoorah was over the tardy and not the embezzlement. (Any more specific and I would give the game away).

Queen tries to pull us into her web - er, the game, and we don't want any part of it. The sad thing is, I believe that she believes it is all about the tardy, when that is the minor piece of the discussion.

So, my goal is to see myself more clearly, to provide a shining example so the students can aspire to this as well. And to improve.

Lest I be concerned that denial is merely an educational activity, Dan Rather can always be counted on to provide comic relief and to prove he is King of Denial.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Students overreact.

Students overreact - and it is the teacher's fault.

I asked a young man to take a test today. It was given a week ago on a day he chose not to come. He has been in my class several days since the original test date.

When I was in school, when my children were in school, if you missed a test, it was up to you to schedule the test, usually within a day of being out, on your own time (before or after school).

Young man was unhappy. He wasn't ready. I made him take it anyway.

We have crippled these kids.

In the link above, the teacher rattled a desk to get the student's attention - the student called 911, and the teacher is on paid leave......