Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"what to pay the babysitter"

Someone posted this article about what to pay the babysitter on Facebook. What I find most interesting are some of the comments basically saying babysitters are entitled to minimum wage.

I ran into that same idea when I used a babysitter (and my children are in their 20s). But these same children who insisted on minimum wage did nothing extra (including cleaning up their own mess in the kitchen) and were not dependable. If someone offered them more at the last minute, good luck with having someone show up.

Now, a decade and a half later, I know of adults earning $10 an hour (less than the babysitters wanted) doing more involved work - and I know of others who have gone through several jobs because they "aren't being paid what they are worth."

Supply and demand says they are. Or, they are being paid what someone else feels that they are worth.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmahanakwanzika

I went shopping today at a large chain. When we were checking out, the clerk wished us Merry Christmas and then, in obvious distress, started apologizing and wished us Happy Holidays.

We celebrate Christmas (and Easter and Sundays) but wish me Happy Hanukkah before you wish me Happy Holidays.

His reaction says this comes from above.

Bah, humbug!!

Six Word Saturday

Two weeks is not enough time.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I am finally sleeping until 7:30 - but I am still falling asleep during the day.

I have cleaned small parts of my house and chunked out most of what I am doing the month of January - and further for some of the classes.

I am avoiding rooms in my house that are calling to me. If I could tame them, I would have a richer life.


A book is calling louder that the rooms.

Friday, December 27, 2013


This is my 1500th post.

I have posted about happy things, sad things, things that made me angry.

I have met good friends and read things that helped make me a better person.

So, happy 1500th post to me!!

I need to toughen up

I absolutely hate failing students. OK, I really hate it when they are willing to fail my class. I keep giving opportunities and yet there are some students who want to do no work and still pass.

And that happens in the real world where?

I have given one student another opportunity - that he is not doing and the clock is ticking.

That makes it easier on me to leave his grade where it is.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas Eve

The tree is up - carols are playing on the stereo. The presents are wrapped (but there are few surprises). Dinner is planned for tomorrow. Just waiting to find out if the kids are coming home tonight or tomorrow. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Things I wish I could teach my students

There are real life things that students need to be taught but - well, I don't think there is any way to learn these except at the school of hard knocks.

If you are going to want something from me there are all kinds of ways to ask for it that will probably result in you getting it. Disrupting my class, insulting me, complaining to the administrators that I don't grade things correctly when, really, you cheated off of someone else, talking while I am teaching, complaining to your neighbor rather than just asking . . . . . well, these are probably not going to get you what you want.

It is possible to act in a manner that is so completely horrible that there is nothing - including time - that will erase that memory.

If you are failing, refuse to do my work in my class (and instead do other classwork while I am explaining how to do whatever), don't want to waste your time doing an optional project, or do a half-assed job at the grade recovery work you are given with time to complete - if you do all of those things, do not ask me for things to raise your grade at the last minute.

If you have been caught cheating, accept the consequences. Do not try to justify it.

Do not break the supplies I bring in and expect I will buy more

I will think about this - I am sure there is more.

Blog List

I was looking at my blog list (because I added two more blogs to it) and I realized that, while I should probably clean it up, I won't. There are blogs that haven't updated in years but - if the writers decide to come back I would like to know that they had and what they had to say.

These blogs and their writers have gotten me through some tough times in this journey of teaching. (Just thought today that in the past 3.5 years there have been 18 administrators filling 5 roles. Bit of a turnover, each set is worse than the ones before, it is hurting morale, not helping the school - but it is what it is. We won't talk about teacher turnover.)

Sometimes I even go back to the dead blogs and read old posts.

There are writers I miss (like 3 standard deviations to the left who is apparently gone for good) and several I have become better friends with off our blogs.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Six Word Saturday

I am truly blessed this year!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

As a parent, I had my children take small gifts to their teachers all through school. (even to the teachers I was not fond of, because I knew they worked hard and were trying to do the right thing for my children)

I have gotten used to not getting presents in this school. The number on free and reduced lunch is a large percentage of the school, I teach a course most of my students hate, I don't want to play and be their friend - I want them to learn and apply the math - so I am mean. Just ask them.

I have received small things over the years that meant much: notes, small candies, hugs. Just a few each year.

This year - I got notes, cookies, lotion, (no gift from POS for which I am truly grateful). WOW. Merry Christmas, one and all!

This sounds like I am whining - actually,no. I just don't expect anything. I have some who love me and some where we both are grateful when the year ends.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why you keep your head down

Dear Asswipe.

Or I should say, dear School Board Asswipe.

I came to you with concerns that have legal ramifications. Ramifications that have been headlines in the local papers for the past 3 years.

I explained why I did not go to my administration.

So you can imagine how absolutely thrilled I was to hear that you had shared those concerns - and my name - with those same administrators.[that was of course in sarcasm font]

Three things.

I will be a cold day in hell before I ever come to you again.

I am sharing this information with everyone I remotely care about.

I will be talking to my professional organization since I cannot have a professional conversation with you.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Student Gifts

Pissed Off Teacher wrote about the joy of student gifts. Several years ago a student gave me a Starbucks card valued at $5. He took great pride in giving this to me and explained to me in detail how I could redeem it for coffee. It was obvious from his demeanor and the explanation that he had never given a gift like that before. And I valued it. I kept the gift card after it was empty and I hang it on my tree every year and think of that student.

The school I teach in is not one where there are a lot of gifts. I get some every now and then, but it is not the norm in the school so it is usually a pleasant surprise. I keep the "I like you" notes and I take pictures when they write them on my board to savor later.

There is another side of student gifts.

I have a student this year I cannot stand. Actually no one who has ever had her can stand her. She seems polite enough but there isn't a day that goes by where she doesn't threaten or insult me. While I recognize that is what they are (threats and insults) they are worded in such a way as to make it extremely difficult to write up. In other words, our administration wouldn't recognize them for what they are and would take the student's word that she didn't say that over mine.

Ask me how I know.

This student will graduate, probably not succeed until she decides that the world is not going to adapt to her, and drop out of my awareness.


A week ago this student started hinting that she was going to give me a gift card.

Now I don't want to be rude, but I do not want anything from this student except seeing her hind end exiting my door for the last time. The previously mentioned card (first paragraph) has brought me great joy for the past 4 years, at least once a month, sometimes more often, remembering the student and the giving.

If the current student gave me a card - let's say a $100 gift card - it would be the equivalent of a larger pile of shit.

I hope it was talk and the student will not do anything. But, on the off chance she does, I have finally figured out what I would do.

In another class a boy mentioned he was having a horrible week. He mentioned all of the things that had happened to his friends that week. And. Oh by the way. My mother says she is going to kick me out of the house and I am not sure what I am going to do.

Pointed boy to the appropriate counselors for help. Thinking about him on the way home, and thinking about POS, I decided it POS does bring in a gift I will regift it to someone for whom the gift will not have baggage. And that way, I can be grateful for the gift. And someone else might feel a little better.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Six (or seven) Word Saturday

You can teach an old dog new tricks

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reality Check

I want to know where I can get a reality check. I think I am doing ok, it's my students.

When did it become normal to disrupt a class (which is telling you that you are being a douchebag) during review for a final - and then insist that you were ONLY stretching. (No, douchebag, you are laying over the desk behind you, touching the person behind you who WAS working.)

When 14 people in a class tell you that you are acting in an immature fashion (ok, they worded it differently) because you and a friend are playing Marco Polo during the same review, grow up.

No, honey, it is NOT acceptable to whisper and giggle during a standardized test - and you need to concern yourself with what you are doing, not with what someone else is doing.

Gee, you got thrown out of an exam because you were loudly messing in your backpack? Sure threatening the teacher when you return endears you to everyone.

My son has recounted some of these stories to his friends at Georgia Tech over the years. Until this year, they assumed I taught low level special ed students. What is considered the normal behavior by too many of my students, my normal (I use that term loosely), average kids in this school is not the norm in schools within a 20 mile radius.

And then I see former students post that some air headed move has cost them a job and sadly, I am not surprised.

I want to change the culture in my little corner of the world - and I am not succeeding.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Parent needs to understand teacher limitations

I cannot sit with your son and make him work in a 55 minute class with 31 other students. I can ask him if he has questions but if he will not write something down or give me an answer when I ask where he doesn't understand, then - well, there are 31 other students in the class that I can help.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Six Word Saturday

The truth will out - tests are coming.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I have tried as many ways as I can to teach material. It's called differentiation - but I would do it even if that wasn't this year's buzz word.

I have trouble teaching you the material, darling, if you insist on doing someone else's homework during the instruction (something that was assigned a month ago and you just decided to do), insist on reading a novel during the practice, and refuse to lift a pencil to help yourself. I can know everything (I don't) but if you won't DO something, you will walk out of here just as obtuse as you walked in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Since Thanksgiving and Chanukkah fall on the same day for the first time in like forever, there have been some interesting recipes. I love the idea of sweet potato latkes and pumpkin kugel.

You never did math in high school

Good article on what high school math is and is not.

Monday, November 25, 2013

17 things rich people do

This list came from the San Francisco Chronicle

They eat less junk food
70 percent of the wealthy eat less than 200 calories of junk food a day, and 97 percent of poor individuals eat more than 300 calories of junk food a day.

They gamble less
Just 23 percent of wealthy people gamble and 52 percent of poor people gamble.

They keep planners
About 81 percent of wealthy persons keep a to-do list and 19 percent of the poor keep planners.

They exercise
About 76 percent of the wealthy perform aerobic exercise about four days a week and 23 percent of poor people do the same

They don't just read
About 63 percent of the wealthy listen to audio books while commuting to work and 5 percent of poor people do the same.

They make their children read
About 63 percent of the wealthy make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month and 3 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They make their children volunteer
About 70 percent of the wealthy make their children volunteer at least 10 hours a month and 3 percent of poor individuals do the same with their children.

They read to get smarter
About 88 percent of wealthy individuals read at least 30 minutes a day for education or career reasons and 2 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They don't speak their mind
Only 6 percent of wealthy people speak their minds while 69 percent of poor individuals say what they think.

They get up early
About 44 percent of wealthy people wake up three hours before they have to go to work compared to 3 percent of poor individuals.

They network
About 79 percent of wealthy persons network at least five hours every month while 16 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They don't watch reality TV
About 6 percent of wealthy individuals watch reality TV while 78 percent of poor individuals do watch it.

They only watch a little TV
About 67 percent of wealthy individuals watch a maximum of one hour of TV a day and 23 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They think good habits mean opportunities
About 84 percent of wealthy people think having good habits means more opportunity luck while 4 percent of poor individuals believe the same.

They think bad habits lead to bad luck
About 76 percent of wealthy people believe having bad habits means detrimental luck and 9 percent of poor individuals feel the same.

They believe in life-long education
About 86 percent of wealthy people believe in life-long educational self improvement and 5 percent of poor individuals feel the same.

They read a lot
About 86 percent of wealthy people love to read and 26 percent of poor people love to read.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Punishments and Rewards

This week several kids decided to make my life difficult in a way I would prefer not to detail.

It left me feeling worthless and run over even when I felt it was not true.

I went to school the next day and did my best, really not feeling that I could do anything - or that I even did anything worth doing.

This is not a school where gifts are frequent. In fact, in the previous 6 years, I may have gotten five small presents, mostly homemade, at Christmas.

Friday, one student came by to give me a thank you note for teaching her and two others gave me bath oil. They were thanked - and I will write notes - but they will never know how valuable those gifts were to me and how perfect the timing was.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Six Word Saturday

You can't pass on what I know.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

OK it's seven words. It is still true.

UPDATE: just reread that and it could be taken two ways. First, feel free to pass on (share) what I know. But you will not pass if you do not learn some of what I know. My knowledge will not result in you passing unless you work to grow.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Future All Star Negotiator

On the way home I stopped at the local grocery store. A mother was carrying her young daughter into the store and I heard the following conversation.

Mom: You can't have a cat.
Girl: But Suzy has a cat.
Mom: Suzy is 10. She got the kitty when she was 9.
Girl: Can I get a kitty when I turn 4?
Mom: No, you can't have a cat.
Girl: Can I have Sebastian?
Mom: No, he belongs to Dawn.
Girl: But I like him.
Mom: No, he belongs to Dawn.

It was so sweet. The mom kept her cool - it was all said in conversational tones. And the girl was negotiating not whining.

She is going to be a handful when she gets older.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The inmates are running the asylum but savor this thought

The inmates are running the asylum but savor this thought God loves you - even when the world is melting (or maybe that is when he loves you the most)

On level seniors want a recipe card math course - one where every step is written out by me and they do not have to think or practice. And the administration sees nothing wrong with their request.

It's sad. I used to really like math.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pictionary with Geometry

Lsquared posted a thoughtful comment on my last post. As i do, I went to see if she/he has a blog (no) but I did see a pointer to this blog. I like the idea of pictionary with geometry. Have to think how, if I can use this with trig.

Out of touch 2

I wrote about feeling out of touch earlier this school year.

I walked into a room this week to talk with a teacher I rarely see. It was the end of the day and another teacher was talking about one of her students. Apparently the student lives with his father and father's girlfriend. And father's ex-girlfriend lives there also because she cannot afford to move out. And the night before the ex-girlfriend was in a fight with the dad, throwing and breaking things.

The first teacher said "How can we expect kids to learn under these circumstance? They live in chaos, they don't eat right. They get no parental support." And the second teacher comment that her description sounded like second teacher's homelife growing up. She said she didn't do well in school or care at that point.

And I feel out of touch.

I think education is a key to open the door to escape your circumstances.

I grew up comfortably middle class. I started working at 16 and haven't stopped but I was raised with that as an expectation - as well as that I would get an education and keep learning.

I work hard to break down the math into bite-size pieces. I link it to what they are supposed to have learned before. I reteach what they are supposed to have already learned. I ask that they 1) not talk while I am teaching and 2) practice the math in class. I give up on assigning homework - very few do it and it is just another fight.
I am teaching Algebra 2 and Precalculus. How do you learn this without doing something?

Instead they gripe that I don't teach, I have to give them something to raise their grade (the grade they earned because they work the problems for the first time on a test).

Okay - they have a lousy homelife. Their parents belittle them, kick them out, set bad examples and give no structure. So, you pack my classes to the brim with people who have already failed the course, set it on block (so we do 2 hours a day for a semester instead of 1 hour a day for a year), give me no resources except what I can find for myself, do not give me common planning so we can share the load, expect me to teach to a test that by law I cannot see and yet counts for a quarter of their grade - and then wonder why this is a struggle every day.

Maybe I am not the one out of touch.

Note: I just looked in the gradebook for something else and noticed a student I hadn't seen all week is marked as transferred. I have lost 19 kids in 2 classes and 2 others have announced they are dropping out - they just haven't yet. I am not liking this year.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Different perceptions about "the woman who raised that monster"

Suzy DeYoung, a woman who lives in Newton, CT, has an insightful article about perception. If we see Adam Lanza as a monster - we let him off the hook for his actions. If we see him as mentally ill - and take a lesson from the behavior he exhibited before the attack, we might save someone else.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Six Word Saturday: Zombies

Zombies are coming! The end's near!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It is getting close to Thanksgiving.

I am trying to wrap up the semester by the time we leave for break so that I can spend the time we come back (when they have their high stakes testing) preparing them for the test.

I have told these students at least once a week that I prepare them for the tests, I provide ways for them to raise their grade, and that I have no intention this year of turning myself inside out at the last minute so that they can pass when they have done nothing this semester.

I have a lot of repeater classes. A wise teacher told me last year thst there is a reason they are repeaters.

No kidding.

Dear student:

If you are on your phone while I am going over something I tell you that you will see again on a test, it is your choice.

If you choose to be absent when a test is scheduled, it is your choice. (If you are spending it in school detention because you refuse to get to class on time or drop certain words from your vocabulary, it is your choice.)

If you decide to sleep in my class or talk about sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll while I am teaching, this does not make me a lousy teacher. This makes you a lousy student. And it is your choice.

I have done what I need to do. There is no magic ring that will allow you to do one tiny thing and pass. I just hope I do not have to try to teach you the same things again.

And that is my choice.

So, now I start calling parents and emailing the same assignments I have been handing out for 3 and a half months.

And I know I am not alone. Math Teacher Mambo describes a Calculus student doing exactly the same thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You can't fix stupid, the administrator version

I was selling tickets for an event at our theater this week - you know one of those extra duties as assigned things they stick in your contract.

A group of parents were there to volunteer - parents that we see at the school all of the time because there is not much parent involvement. There has always been a list we work off of so that a parent gives us a name and we let them in if their name is on the list.

New administration didn't like the idea of a list so instead a certain number of tickets (determined by the admin) are given to the teacher in charge to dole out to the parents. Well, these parents had not gotten their tickets because the teacher in charge hadn't picked them up and we were told to tell the parents to buy a ticket so they could volunteer.


So the parents asked to speak the admin who dithered around and blamed the teacher for not getting the tickets. Dithered some more. Talked to another AP. Dithered some more. The principal came by. I explained the issue. He never acknowledged the parents. He talked to the AP. Wandered over and talked to somebody else (totally unrelated to this) and walked back past me and never acknowledged the parents.

Did I mention there is not a lot of parental involvement in this school?

AP comes back, sighs deeply and says he will go get more tickets from the office and disappears for about 10 minutes. While the parents wait.

Then he carefully hands out the tickets and leaves.

There were several solutions that were so much better. Wonder if we will see those parents volunteering again.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Six Word Saturday

An extra hour this weekend - reward!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Data inflation.

We are being asked to rate ourselves and rate the group we do planning with. I rated myself - about 70% because I know where we could do better. I am not perfect and I see my flaws.

A group I know that is very dysfunctional rated itself in the 80s. I would have rated them in the 50s-60s.

I probably underrate myself. I hate this part of any evaluation - I rate myself in a way that seems fair. Others overrate themselves - and then I look bad.

And there is no feedback.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Words they cannot read

I was the adult in the room and had to help some high school students with vocabulary on an activity they were doing. They could not read (or know the definition of) fatigue, nausea, meningitis, drowsy, dyslexia.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gotta Love Silver Linings

I was walking through the halls and a former student called my name. I stopped and she proudly showed me her t-shirt: I am surrounded by idiots. I knew you'd love this she said (and I did!). We laughed, hugged - and that was so totally worth it!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I wrote a long gripe

I wrote a long gripe yesterday - completely dissatisfied with teaching. I taught a lesson in a way I don't normally - but it was introducing a topic completely foreign to the kids. Of course, I was observed and of course it was a long lecture giving a huge overview of what was coming. And of course the observers hated it.

The kids didn't.

The ones who have had me before thanked me for doing it that way and putting the new vocabulary in context. They knew I would guide them through understanding. And they trust me.

I don't know how to prepare a lesson (I have 4 preps) to teach the topic to a wide range of students (in both ability and interest) and then be able to switch to a dog and pony show because an admin with a PE degree (who sends an email to the entire county with a noun instead of a verb) cannot grasp the level of math the state says all students must learn.

"If I don't understand it, the students don't understand it."

You undervalue them and think I have to dumb it down more. I think they have the ability to reach a higher rung if it is offered to them.

So, my big question this week is how do I learn to switch gears when they walk in and give the admins a dog and pony show so I can go back to teaching when they leave?

Oh, and I am tired of the disrespect from admins, peers, students. I find - once again - that I start to email a life preserver to someone, say chuck it, and delete the email. I have a mental list of seniors who are going to need recommendations and I find I am mentally crossing names off every day. I love some of them. I wouldn't give you 2 cents for the rest of them.

Six Word Saturday

Looking forward to better times ahead.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Crappy week. Let's leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Can't help you if you don't want it

Shaking my head.

About 20% of the senior class is missing a graduation test that would allow them to graduate in 7 months. A fair percentage of those are in math.

There are only two more opportunities to take (and pass) the test before graduation.

We were running workshops to help them cram for the next round of tests. It is free - they just have to come.

Less than a handful showed up.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Twenty three years

Twenty three years ago I lost you. My favorite time of year was no longer the same.

I don't think about you every day anymore - but I still think about you often and wonder who you would have been if you had been allowed to stay.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Six Word Saturday - Stupidity and arrogance at work

Wiggle it. Just a little bit.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

A Boy Scout leader decides to take it upon himself to save the world by destroying a rock formation in Utah. Thereby showing that sometimes stupidity is not outgrown as one ages but not matures.

Hall, who also is a scoutmaster from Highland, said some of their Scouts were jumping on the structures and they noticed a large boulder atop one of them was loose.So, he has teenagers jumping on rock formations and he is concerned about safety? That alone bothers me on so many levels. They go on to say "One more rock falling to the ground is not going to destroy the beauty of the park. Eventually, the erosion brings all of them down." Feel free to destroy something that is inevitable. Wow.

Cell Phones again have a play in this as he would not have been caught if he and his friends could have resisted filming it and posting it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cell Phone abuse and more

An article about an incident during a high school lunch appeared in the AJC this week.

You should read the article. Basically, 2 kids behaved inappropriately, other students blocked the view of their behavior, and then, of course, video taped the behavior and broadcast it.

What I love is the parents' response: "where are the teachers?"

OK, for my lunch duty: 1 teacher - the others quit coming a couple of weeks ago. No administrators. 2 janitors (old enough to retire). 5 doors. 367 students.

Yep, I am going to notice everything and stop it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More cell phone vent

This is a continuation of my post from Saturday.

My son would text me while I was teaching which meant he was in class. But his grades were good, he understood the material, did well on the AP exams and is currently in a good university.

I don't have a problem with the ones who can balance the phone and school (I have some favorites this year who see to have a lot of selfies from my class - but they are understanding the material enough to explain it to others).

My problem is with the ones who say the class is boring but they cannot work any of the problems. They blame me for not teaching them but they are putting in no effort in the class and much effort on the phone. They never look at the board during explanations - and never look up from the phone during class.

I have a problem with the students who confuse copying my work off the board with understanding it.

I can see that we will be forced to use more and more technology over the next few years - how do we teach the kids to be able to learn with all of the distractions technology brings?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Six word Saturday

Cell phones continue to be problematic.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Passengers on a train in SF failed to see the danger another passenger presented when he continued to play with his gun until he finally shot and killed one of the people on the train.

Likewise the students in the school (not all of them, just enough for it to be a problem) think their phones arenot interfering with their education. But as long as students fell it is NOT a problem and fight any attempt to rein in the behavior, it will be a problem.

There are some parents who see the entire issue (and I thank God for them every day) and cancel their children's phones when the grades go down.

And some kids have the wherewithall to not let cell phones interfere.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Six Word Saturday

On time communication is the BOMB!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I don't know, telling me at 2 that the system is going to be rebooted at 1:20 and anything you do will be lost - or telling me on Friday that Wednesday (2 days before) was a critical day - kind of loses something.

Do you suppose we could try communicating BEFORE the fact? It helps people plan. Just a thought.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Babies having babies

There is normally one girl every year with a baby - either here or on the way.

I have fewer students than I have most years, and I have 3 pregnancies and one just-turned-16-who-is-still-immature with a 3 month old.

Most of the ones this year are putting in NO EFFORT to pass.

Do not get it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Out of touch

A student was talking about a highly respected teacher at our school. I know the kids really like this teacher - but I don't see that she adds to the profession. By that. I mean I do not see her offering information that helps people new to the profession or even new to the school.

This sounds petty - and I really don't mean it that way. She is in another department and in the 10 years we have worked in the same school, we have had little contact. We haven't had the same duty, we don't work on the same committees, we haven't had the same planning periods. We have shared the same lunch, but she is loud and I prefer quieter conversation.

I have heard rumors from special ed teachers and other teachers who work in that department, just an undercurrent that things aren't perceived the same way by adults that I respect as they are by the teenagers in her class.

A student was talking today (thinking it was riotously funny) that she requires a password to return from the bathroom. The password this year is Dripping Anus. Ok, it something else, equally classy.

I am not appalled. But I would not be "thrilled" to have a child in her room. It seems so completely unprofessional. When you add that in the twelve years of her teaching AP classes she has never had anything above a 2.

Results speak. I think she is fun - that doesn't translate as a GOOD teacher. And the teenagers in the school will probably never see that.

In another conversation this week, another math teacher was lamenting that her students (seniors) cannot skips steps in their head. If you are doing the Pythagorean theorem. a squared plus b squared equals c squared. So you know a = 6 and b = 8, you get c = 10. Her students screamed at her "You can't skip the steps. a squared is 36, b squared is 64. 36 + 64 = 100. The square root of 100 is 10."

And the teacher's comment was to shake her head and say the kids have no idea how behind they really are.

We are a needs improvement school. The culture needs to change. When you have teachers like the first one - a teacher held up as a paragon, how do you fix it?

Yeah, I am out of touch. (Thank you, I take it as a complement.) I would not have a child I love in this class - and yet I know I am working to change things.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Saturday's post, take 2.

'I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.' (from a Persian Sufi story)

I was upset with one of my children and was in a real snit because I had my feelings hurt.

Then I talked with a friend whose daughter is having an abortion tomorrow.

I am pro-choice but I am grateful I never had to make that choice.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Keeping a secret? Clean up yourself.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

What level of passive aggressiveness is it, to move out and leave most of your stuff behind? And to treat valuables and trash in exactly the same manner. But, if you want to keep a secret, do not leave information behind for your parents to pack up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

six word saturday

Grading is easier with your effort.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It is so much easier to grade work where the students are trying and (while making errors) have put effort into doing a good job. It is difficult to grade something where half the papers have their name on it and nothing else and the rest has answers like (0,0) r = 4 to the question "write the equation of a circle with a center at the origin and a radius of 4."

Do you give that any points? Were they sitting in class while we hammered this over and over? I am supposed to up the rigor but the results are worse with a test of increased rigor.

Oy vey!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I rewrote an email today. One that our email system decided to lose for me yesterday. And I made a decision.

Since we have such crappy unpredictable a creative communication system, I will type the email into Word first and the copy it into the email system so that I do not have to write it multiple times.

This is supposed to be an improvement.

I have software systems on my computer that I cannot access because they ghosted the machines when school started and haven't fixed yet. They would make my life easier and aid in my teaching, oh well.

Because we getting a boatload of money from the federal government (or all of you taxpayers) we have spent a boatload on technology. That doesn't work. That does us no good.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Six Word Saturday

List the consequences? Then use them.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

You go to the expense of publishing the "rules" and consequences for students - like using profanity at a teacher. So why to you lessen the punishment because the student complains to you?

When you create a hostile work environment for the teachers, where the students feel free to call their teachers whatever they want, learning will not take place.

I believe your days are numbered.

This is early in the year for teachers to be making other plans. And yet we are.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I am not Superman

I know my students have issues.

I think our percentage of free and reduced lunch is about 50%. Our graduation rate is between 60% and 70%.

I listened to a student tell me about his horrible home life and I finally told him that I will do everything I can to help him graduate. And I told him that I cannot do a thing to fix his home life. But, I can do everything I can to help him graduate. And if he works with me, he can graduate and change his home life. I pray for the ones like this.

He wants it. He is working for it. His life outside of school is an anchor pulling him down. If he can stay strong, "keep his eye on the prize" - there is hope. Please, Lord, give him the strength. And help me help him escape.

Welcome to Georgia education

The Urban dictionary has both of these definitions for irregardless (as well as a few with profanity).

Used by people who ignorantly mean to say regardless. According to webster, it is a word, but since the prefix "ir" and the suffx (sic) "less" both mean "not or with" they cancel each other out, so what you end up with is regard. When you use this to try to say you don't care about something, you end up saying that you do. Of course everyone knows what you mean to say and only a pompous,rude asshole (sic) will correct you.

A word used by uneducated people intending to sound intelligent. Often, the defendant will use this word in court in an attempt to impress the judge and jury. Educated people notice and those who use this word instantly identify themselves to educated people as being uneducated. Educated people rarely correct them because it helps educated people more easily identify them if they are well groomed.

So, it gives me such joy to copy something from one of the frameworks provided by the state when it says ""Angles are called coterminal if they are in standard position and share the same terminal side irregardless [emphasis mine] of the direction of rotation." [page 5, https://www.georgiastandards.org/Frameworks/GSO Frameworks/Math IV unit 4 SE.pdf]

The students knew it was the wrong word. Why didn't the educators who wrote the book we are supposed to use?

Six Word Saturday

Sometimes, success comes in small packages

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I had an old student return to the school and me this week. He was as happy as I was, so this is a good thing. He will add (positively) to the class he is joining.

I ran into another student at the store. The student made some incredibly dumb choices, choices that he is still paying for in the school the district will let him attend. He told me he will be back in January, hope he gets me as a teacher again. He told me that the teachers at the current school "don't care about me the way you do. I finally understand how much you cared, especially when you would take me out in the hall and chew me out." Big step, so there is still hope.

And another student finally jumped through all of the state's hoops and will receive her diploma. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How do I make you see . . . ?

..... that when I ask you to not eat in my room and you do because the rule "isn't that important" - that you are being disrespectful? ..... that when I leave work with a sub it is my attempt to do SOMETHING to raise your grade? ..... that I can teach but you will not learn without participating - and in math that means working problems? ..... that a test is not something you can look at, do nothing to prepare for - than after the fact get tutoring and "fix" your answers? Tests are announced and reviewed for in order to allow you time to, I don't know, prepare?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Learning new things keeps me young!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I have a new (to me) class this year - and am having to come up with a new approach on one I have taught for several years. I love this!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Six Word Saturday

These kids make me laugh - finally!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

The kids this year are night and day compared to last year. I hear myself laughing during the class that was my nadir last year.

Having a good time teaching!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Six Word Saturday

New year, new place, fresh start.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

One of the offspring has fled the coop. Life is good.

Spent the day moving furniture - I lifted and toted but I am not cleaning or arranging - that is for the new tenant.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Students start soon

Six Word Saturday

New year, new set of rules.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

If you were in a business that overhauled everything every year, there would be no surprise that the company didn't do well.

New school year, and what is happening around here?

The state is not going to participate in the Common Core testing because the price is too high - so they will create their own. Isn't that why they sold us on revamping the curriculum after 8 years - again - that we would be common with the rest of the country? And isn't that why we spent taxpayer money, to implement the Common Core?

We have been working on unit plans and collaborative planning (changing formats every year with the assurance that we will yse the NEW format in the future.....). Now we are going to PLCs - professional learning committees. With the assurance that everyone will pull their weight. Meetings eating up the little the planning time we have (and that would be great if you have course, not so much if the planning is for a course you have taught multiple times and you have new course that you do not have common planning for that you have never taught. And no free planning period to work on.

Repeat with me: I will think positive thoughts. I will think positive thoughts. I will think positive thoughts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

On line learning

San Jose State has decided to curtail its online classes for a while while it determines why three of the classes (remedial math, Algebra 1, basic statistics) have such large failure rates.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I am really enjoying this book

This is a combination travelogue of a 40ish editor who doesn't DO outside things, a history of Hiram Bingham III (the Yale professor who discovered Machu Picchu, and a history of the Incas at the time of the Spanish invasion. The author is following the trail (and notes) of Bingham's 1911 trip. I am really enjoying it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Very Random Thoughts

I feel like my thoughts are like a ball in an arcade game - skipping all over the place.

A student sent me a link that he has new "music" coming out. I am touched that he would think of me but, really, I have sampled his "music" in the past and I am never going to purchase any or listen to it more than in passing. It is everything I hate about hip hop and rap: 80% of the words (or more) consist of words and ideas (like demeaning women) that I do not condone.

I gather people are either irate or gleeful about the Zimmerman verdict. There were no winners. But - if we are going to trust this system to exonerate those we fill should be freed or punish those we feel should be punished, we have to trust when it gives a verdict we do not care for. The state did not prove its case, instead its witnesses proved the case the defense had laid out. I am afraid that people who are not intimately involved in this case but have inserted themselves into the case will take the law into their own hands and lynching will return.

Do we have no people with common sense anymore? Several people saw these names before they ended up on tv. Could no one see they were wrong? (“Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow”) Apparently not. Those were the names read on TV as the crew of the plan that crash landed at SFO.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sometimes I think my priorities are screwed up but . . . . .

Who would grab their bags before they grabbed their kids after a plane crash?

Mine are adults and I would make sure they were off the plane before I even thought about bags.

Luckily for everyone involved, the fire was slow to start. It will be interesting to see if any of the 182 injuries were due to this thoughtless behavior.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Math Resources from Georgia Virtual School

I found a lot of resources at Georgia Virtual Schools in math here.

There are notes and shared assessments for math 1 (algebra 1, some geometry, and probability), math 2 (first half algebra 2, some geometry, and statistics), math 3 (second half algebra 2 and statistics), and math 4 (analytic algebra and trig). There is also Common Core Algebra 1 and Calculus.

In addition there is Language Arts (high school English subjects); Science (Anatomy and Physiology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Forensic Science, Oceanography, Physical Science, and several AP courses); Social Studies (American Government, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, World Geography, World History, AP European History, AP Government Comparative, AP World History, US History); World Language(Spanish, French and German); CTAE/Electives (various); and Middle School (math, English, and Science).

That is a lot of free material.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Setting priorities - not up to me.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I have control issues.

I want to be looking at the students I will be teaching, going through the data we are supposed to be looking at.

You know - while there is no pressure. While the weather is cooperating. (Not much else you can do while it rains- since that interferes with doing things outside or watching tv.

But, since they won't assign students to my classes, my priorities have to be redone.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

First pass of data

They want us to analyze students. The ones I have so far have passed (on average) 3 classes out of every 4. If I separate the on-level class from the repeater class, on level averages 90% pass rate, repeaters 65%.

What a surprise

They have started populating the on-line gradebook with students. I am not obsessing because I know everything is subject to change (they were still changing mine last year 3 weeks into the schoolyear - and changed it some more later. What a mess!!).

I am running fairly consistently with a 15% error rate. You know, kids in classes they have already passed, kids in classes where they haven't passed the pre-requisites, kids in classes they can't take. You know . . .

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How do I teach them to be adults when they will not let go of mommy?

This article says it all.

I am Aliyah Shell

My facebook is filling up with students and former students making comments in support of Trayvon Martin - that he was a good student, that he was active in his church, etc. I know very little about Trayvon except that I think the gun escalated whatever was happening that night. The only person who really knows is Zimmerman.

I believe in the judicial process so he is innocent until proven guilty.

So, before the defense has started, before the prosecution has finished, a group of people are inciting riots, saying they are going to riot if the trial doesn't go the way they think it should. (I particularly loved the comment from one person that he had a list of stores where his riot would start. Huh?)

I delete these from FB - it is inappropriate.

I want to comment (if I could without starting an argument) that I could take this more seriously if we knew why Trayvon had been suspended for 10 days. In my school, that is usually the step before a tribunal and expulsion.

I could take it more seriously if there were the same outrage over the death of Aliyah Shell (here and here).

I could take it more seriously if there were the same outrage over the death of Antonio Santiago and the relatives who tried to cover up for the shooter.

I think Trayvon gets more press because the teenagers identify with him. But I think they should look at the other shootings and think.

When I was in high school we had to collect 50 articles about traffic accidents and write about the cause of each. (This was the year before most of us got our licenses). Maybe we should require kids to collect articles about shootings involving teenagers and analyze them. Doubt it would be possible.

I don't think this has anything to do with race and everything to do with priorities, rational thinking, consequences. I have no idea how to word it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Went to the dentist and had a conversation about how much technology has changed in the xxx years I have been going to this dentist. As we waited for the computer to recover from its blue screen of death. As we were doing xrays. That we gor to redo because the computer burped.
However I do love the technology and the dentist makes going to the dentist more than tolerable.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Listed more than I can do.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Plowing through my to-do list - and taking some rot-my-brain time. Without the latter, I never really have a chance to see the entire picture.

I am halfway through my summer. I haven't accomplished half of my list.

Oh, well. I get done what I get done. And I will be as ready as I can be in the fall - which starts in mid-summer . . .

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Does anyone have experience with an AB block?

It's another year and we will do another experiment. I am looking to talk with someone about how you teach to an AB block.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Six Word Saturday

East or west. Home is best.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I have been traveling with a group. I am so glad to be home.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Out with the Old - organizing today.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Learning that I can't fix everything.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I had problems with a group of students - a half dozen willing to throw everyone under the bus in order to get attention. There is no way that I know of to combat that. If someone is willing to act out during an exam - how do you appeal to anything within them to stop the behavior?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Courage of Teachers

LZ Granderson wrote an editorial entitled The Courage of Teachers on CNN.COM. The editorial is about the teachers in Moore, Oklahoma, and has a great couple of lines:
So yes, it is fiscally responsible for a community to talk about loss of tax revenue and budget deficits. But we ought to be careful not to vilify this profession while doing so. Teachers are not glorified babysitters with summers off. Their profession fuels all others, and on a normal day that is amazing enough in and of itself.

But on a day that's not so normal, we hope and pray that they are willing to do much more. And time and time again, in the face of terrible tragedies, we have learned that many of them do.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Six Word Saturday

(This year) I lost my sense of humor.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Graduation was today and there was about 2 hours of just waiting around time. We had to be there but there was nothing for most of us to do.

Two of my hellions (nemesises - is that a WORD?, banes of my existence) kept bothering me. They wanted their grade. I wasn't going to give it to them. They asked me a dozen times each, they asked other teachers to look in the system (it wasn't there - I saved them for last), they asked teachers they didn't know to ask me. Everyone said no. Ricochet does not have to tell you.

They weren't doing this together (beats me why) but would come to me separately to ask. One started by calling the office and demanding that THEY make me tell. (The staff laughed) It wasn't constant but it was persistent.

They even called their mommies to come to school and make me tell.

Two moms said (basically) "Are you nuts? Leave Ricochet alone and come home." (Uh, students had already been sent home and only these piranhas were still circling the halls.

The third one came to the school at quitting time. Somehow I missed her. (Wasn't hiding, wasn't looking for her either)

I repeat. It is not a sign of maturity if you call mommy when you don't get your way.

My point?

This year I lost my sense of humor. The ability to laugh at them. As we stood around twiddling our thumbs, another victim, teacher of theirs explained you only have to be more annoying and then they lose it.

One can't stand it if you write anything down. I have written my grocery list when he was annoying me (in initials so he thinks I am writing in code.) She wrote down every protestation that came out of his mouth, especially when he started getting angry, and laughed.

I forgot to laugh.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My rights, your rights, our rights - and where are we headed?

A million years ago, as a new parent with a toddler, I went to a church class on parenting. Don't remember a whole lot about it, except for the issue of rights.

This was the late 1980s. The person leading the class started talking about rights. About how in the 1950s and 1960s the fight was for Civil Rights - ok, that fight started a lot earlier and lasted for a long time. (And isn't over.)

Then came the fight for women's rights (employment, sex, abortion - all those parts of the women's rights).

Then, right on the heels of that, gay rights. (Again - not done).

So, the children who grew up in the 1980s have that as a history: seeing all of these groups fight for their rights. The person leading this group, talking about my toddler and the other toddlers, said we should prepare ourselves for the idea that these children will grow up demanding their rights - without understanding what it means to the groups that came before them.

And we are there. I have kids tell me they have rights - the right to go to the restroom whenever they want (even when we both know it isn't the bathroom but wandering the halls that they want.) Or they have the right to text whoever, whenever. Or they have the right to be entertained in class. ("You need to make games, We need a fun project to do. When will I ever use this? Find something more relevant. You need to address my learning style.")

And no where in the discussion is responsibility. I can't do a project if you do not have the skills to do the project. When I do a game, only some participate.

And the talking. You cannot hear what is said if you are talking. And the responsibility for passing - why is it mine, not yours?

There is an upsurge now in talks about more vocational training and less of a push toward college. And there is an upsurge in the talk about increased length of adolescence.

But we can hand off things - until the people we are handing them to accept the responsibility - where do we end up?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Calling mommy isn't sign of maturity.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Do not try to tell me that you are my most mature student when you pick up your phone and call mommy to complain about every slight.

On a side note, does this article show that our priorities are skewed?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jeff Bliss

I am sure by now you have all seen the video of Jeff Bliss as he lectures his teacher about how he is not engaged and she shouldn't hand out packets. of work.

We have not heard the teacher's side, but every parent around here is chiming in (again) with the idea that the horrible, lazy teachers need to be fired.

We don't know a whole lot about either side except that Jeff had dropped out and then returned to school and is older than the other members of the class. His mother is a teacher.

It may not be a huge leap that Jeff is gifted and under-preforms and hence is bored. We do know that he has already found public school not his cup of tea (he dropped out).

So, why is he getting all this press? Is it dump on teachers again?

I am really doubting myself this year. I have a group who regularly threaten me and disrupt the class. I can spend most of the class teaching - preparing them for the state tests and for the math ahead - only to have a group start yelling that I am not teaching THEM, I am not teaching. I am too old. I am evil - or hateful - or whatever.

They badger me if they disagree with a decision.

They threaten to go to the school board (oh, please - would you?).

Georgia is going to start basing a part of the teacher evaluation on student surveys. Do you believe you get an adequate evaluation of my ability by listening to the opinions of this group?

Do you think you get an idea of what I can teach looking at their test scores when they are willing to throw a temper tantrum during a test? Or they fall asleep during the state test, wake up, and answer B to every question? (Do your students tell you that if you don't know the answer you should answer B? Mine do. Wonder where they heard that. Probably the same place where they were told that x = 1. So 3x^3 + 2x^2 + 5 = 10.)

The video gives me more questions than answers. Personally I think Jeff Bliss is a jerk who should be in time out.

Algebra 2 not required?

Michigan is taking itself out of the they-must-take-algebra-2 track.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Six Word Saturday - early

When they bother you - think iron.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

And what is the symbol for iron? Fe. For forget 'em. (or words to that effect.)

How did these kids get the idea that whining, threatening, insulting will get you what you want? I told them that it is the fastest way for me to dig in my heels and get to Hell-No - and stay there. And right beyond Hell-No is I'll-be-blessed-if-I-ever-change-it-to-passing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talking at students

I sometimes (sometimes?) think students don't listen, regardless of how many times you repeat something that is important. That you TELL them is important.

Georgia changed its math curriculum AGAIN this year. So the decision was made to put the students who failed the (old) 9th grade math into the (new) 9th grade math. This way, if they didn't succeed at some later point, there will be a class for them to take. The old classes are phasing out. The 9th grade class is gone. The 10th grade class will be over by Christmas etc.

But Georgia is phasing it in the way it did the GPS classes. 9th grade this year. 10th grade in fall 2013. 11th grade in fall 2014. 12th in fall 2015.

So, these repeaters cannot take a course over the summer and catch up to their friends. There will be a 10th grade class in the fall - not an 11th grade course. (well, the 11th grade class will be the old program, and they are not compatible. Confused yet?)

We told them this almost every day the beginning of school, several times a month since - and I had the same discussion today.

What I really liked was when the kid enunciated each word carefully and used air quotes because I was too stupid to understand what he wanted.

I finally got him to understand that the 10th grade class will not be available this summer and the 11th grade class will not be available in the fall (whether you use air quotes or not).


He could double up in social studies or English and then have room for the math his Senior year.

(He could always listen to what I am saying the first dozen times.)

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Don't you hate it when you know what the the right thing is. And you know, just as strongly, that if you do the right thing, it just makes everyone's life harder?

I have a student, I will call her the Bad Seed. She is awful. Well, she may be ok. I will never know because her behavior poisons everything around her.

I love being lectured by her that I am incapable of managing a classroom when she is unable to be quiet and learn. I have written her up and she disappears for a day (maybe) and comes back worse.

She talks over me, threatens my job, interrupts tests, I cannot possibly give you an idea of what it is like to teach with her in the room.

She treats all of her teachers this way.

When I look at it objectively I think she has a learning disorder and she is attempting to cover it by being an asshole.

If I suggest she be tested, I know people will go along. I know if anyone looks at her and the results and her behavior it isn't a big leap that this child needs to be in special ed.

Here's the rub. She is incorrigible now. Under special education, there are real limitations on how much time the child can be given for out of class punishment.

Do I do what is right for this child at the expense of every other child in the classroom? Or do I leave this one behind?

One of the largest counties is backpeddling on Common Core

Cobb County, on of Georgia's largest counties, is now backpeddling on Common Core

I think we rushed into things because the resources aren't there but this is nuts.

But then I am still figuring out how a school says it wants rigor when it refuses to remove disruptive students from a class and allows students who are failing a majority of their classes to participate in a field day.

But I must be the one with delusions.

Six Word Saturday

May the Fourth be with you!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interesting event

I had something interesting happen on the way home. I was behind a truck with one of thoes "in memory of" decals on the back window. (Do they do that anywhere but the South?)

It said "In memory of my sister Georgine Corrigan who was on Flight 93. September 11, 2001"

I've never seen one of those.

Lots to think about.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Read this blog!!

Well, read Kiss My Iss. This is a special ed teacher - um, someplace. She talks about the Regents, so she must be a Yankee - but her days sound like mine - and several others that i read.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Six word Saturday

Rain. Screened porch. Coffee. My time.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

We have reached that time of the year when students, who have not had the time or the inclination to do even simple assignments to raise their grades, who have not bothered to try to do the work on their own so they do not know the material, suddenly want me to invent several more assignments so that they can raise their grade 1 or 2 grades.

They have been given things like this - things that were due in January, in February, in March - that they are suddenly rushing to do. I mean, they are suddenly rushing to bring them to me so that I can do them. And they are expecting to receive the same grade they would have had they turned it in on time.

All I can say is, isn't that fascinating?

Now where is that book I've been reading? And pour me another cup of coffee while you're up.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


From the blog Dear Ally .

You're On Your Own

Ultimately, no greater responsibility exists than that which falls on each individual climber - whether he or she is an expedition leader, guide, Sherpa, or paying client. Too much has been written, said, filmed, and photographed for anyone going to Mount Everest not to be fully aware of the risks of climbing to 29,035 feet. Only a fool would put complete faith in someone else to guarantee their safety, or bail them out of trouble if a problem arises, though certainly the mountain continues to attract its share of fools.

I have been reading a lot about Everest lately. That quotation is from page 250 of Dark Summit by Nick Heil. I just finished Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and Left for Dead by Beck Wethers. I had read the latter two a couple of years ago but felt the need to read them again.

I read that quote from Heil and think how much it applies to education. Change a few words but not the intent and you have
Ultimately, no greater responsibility exists than that which falls on each individual consumer of education - whether he or she is an student, teacher, administrator, or parent. Too much has been written, said, filmed, and photographed for anyone going to public education not to be fully aware of the risks of relying on the school/district/state/federal government. Only a fool would put complete faith in someone else to guarantee their education or learning, though certainly the system continues to attract its share of fools.

I tell my students it is their education and they are responsible - I have learned as much from horrid teachers as good ones - sometimes more because I had to work a lot harder to pull the information out of the stratosphere. If you are an active learner you will learn. If you are waiting for someone to deliver it to you, make it "relevant", make it fun - you will be left behind.

Think about my post from a day ro so ago. I do not remember which of the head honchos at the school told me to be where I was, but I remembered the thought, the quote. I made ot part of who I am. Was he a good teacher? How do you measure that. I was with him for what, an hour? He said a lot of things. I remember one sound bite. Does that make him effective?

Six Word Saturday

How can I take this seriously?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

This week we took all kinds of state mandated tests. These are the tests which, in a few years, will comprise part of the evaluations that teachers endure every year. Don't get me wrong. Teachers should be evaluated because we consider this to be an important profession. I think.

I had one 2 year old pitch a fit. I'm mistaken - she was 16. The fit however was exactly like that of a 2 year old. This took place in the middle of one of these tests (complete with her throwing herself on the floor) because I asked her to put up her phone. Remember: DURING the test. She was removed by an administrator - who chastised me for interrupting the test.

He talked to her and sent her back. This is not the first such behavior from this child and, without consequences, will not be the last.

In another class a clique wrote IDK on every short answer question. Again, no consequences for them. Oops - wait. I had to write a list of students recommended for an honor the school bestows. I had to remove several names based on the behavior on the test.

In third class a group drew remarkable pictures with the scantrons.

We also have to take them in for surveys, which will also count toward our evaluations. The darlings (the ones who misbehave and are willing to throw everyone's education away for the sake of attention, good or bad) have threatened me since day one with the idea tha they will get me fired. Yep, expecting rave reviews.

Education is important. We only truly own what we carry in our heads (and hearts). I will keep on keeping on, but I cannot take this seriously. We are one of a handful of schools piloting this project in Georgia. It is a joke. Just not a funny one.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Be Where You Are

A million years ago I attended a Jesuit university that specialized in a particular program geared for people in the workplace but also had full time college students in it. Our orientation consisted of one of the men in charge (President, Chancellor, Provost, Dean - I don't remember) talking to us about the program, the expectations, our role. He said (paraphrased): "Half of you have jobs. Half of you have families. When you are at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home. When you are at school, be at school."

I have thought about that a lot this past year. My students are failing (or not earning the grade they think they deserve) because they aren't here. They are physically in my room, they are not here.

I was teaching today and a student interrupted my lesson (new material. State test coming up in a month) to ask when I was going to grade something he hasn't turned in yet but intends to turn in next week.

He hasn't done it. He hasn't turned it in. But when am I going to grade it? How do you answer that?

They talk, sleep, text, do homework for other classes, read novels. I believe that you learn math by doing math. I do math. They are not there. They take a test and bomb it. Somehow it is up to me to come up with something to fix it. They were in class when I taught the material. They were in class when I asked them to do work. They were in class when I reviewed the material for a study guide I created by going over what was taught. (remember doing that?) They were in class when I asked if there were any questions.

I am not a teacher. I am the little red hen.

I have them tell me I am sarcastic or snippy when I answer "is that related to what we are doing?" when they interrupt a lesson to ask some off the wall question. How do they expect to learn?

Maybe they don't.

I have a couple of kids in one class who are very polite but told me on day one they do not want to be in school but have to be. One gave a long speech one day about about how we call it a free education but he isn't free to reject it and stay home.

I believe that group infects the other group. But there is a lot more. And I do not know how to fix it. I don't know how to teach them when you are in math class, be in math class. When you are at school, be at school. When you are with someone you want to be with, be with that person. Stop living in the past (how do I fix this test) and future (what are we doing next week) and live in the now.

I read an article about college readiness which said that "89 percent of high school teachers think their students are 'well' or 'very well' prepared for college in their subject" - well, I am part of the 11 percent. I have a handful every year who will have to work but they will be ok. They listen when I tell them what they will need to do to succeed. The ones I described above? Who aren't here - well, I periodically remind them that they will be competing in life (colleges, jobs, whatever) against people who have not had the path leveled.

I know there are other places that lower the bar - but we are the limbo kings.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can't make this up

@ A student spit into the trashcan. I asked him to not spit in my room. He said"I didn't spit in your room. I spit in the trashcan." I said, again. Do mot spit in my room. He told me it was normal behavior. No. It. Is. Not.

@ Another student failed a test (because she threw it on the floor and did NADA). I gave her a packet she could do on her own time to raise her grade and start teaching about transformations. She raises her hand. "How do you find the first quartile?" Honey, you are failing my class because you are never focused on what is happening in class.

@ Another student was lamenting that her grade was low but it is ok, she'll just do something to raise her grade. Newsflash: you didn't do the last activity I did to raise grades and I am not really planning on doing more.

@ A boy told me I needed to do projects. That was the reason they are not doing well, because I don't do any projects. So I asked him the reason for a project. "They're more funner." No, the purpose is to allow you to use the knowledge you have gained. (But since they refuse to learn anything, there is no knowledge to display.)

@ A girl who has passed three years of math with a 70, and never higher, wants to take AP Statistics. Since she does not take advantage of opportunities to DO math in my class, I won't be giving a recommendation.

@ A boy brought a test to me and asked if I would help him with one of the questions. No.

@ I have taught repeatedly that probability is between 0 and 1. So a student added a bunch of probabilities and came up with 1.3. Looking at her calculator, she had entered .5 instead of .05. I told her the answer was wrong but the calculator had done exactly what she asked it to do.

@ A boy asked me if I could shoot someone. Oh, don't tempt me.

And that was just today.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Rip In Heaven

I just finished reading A Rip In Heaven. Part of what struck me was how many of my students are like the main players in this true story: both the victims and the perpetrators. I read the reasons for the behaviors - and have no more answers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Six Word Saturday

More than 80% done. What next?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

I keep trying to come up with the gimmick - the THING that will be the aha, that will make the difference in students learning.

I haven't found it.

I find all kinds of things that should work, and don't. Creating a workbook, interactive notebooks, notes, a website. Detailed teaching.

These are things that would have made me happy. They don't do a thing for the kids.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The new culture **edited**

I have had some time the past couple of weeks to really reflect on this year's teaching (not up to my standards) and trying to figure out why. And the best I can come up with is that I have students in every single class who are not there to learn. And while it has always been true (that there are students who choose to not learn), this is the first year that I have felt like they are a pack and I am the prey.

Now, I don't back down and I don't give in, but they sure feel like a circling pack of wolves. "We got Mrs. So-and-so fired last year. (they did not) You need to be careful."

It is a hostile work environment.

I am not the only one they are doing this to. The administration has been told. They think we are making too much of this. Writing up the behavior does no good.

Why is no one recognizing how behavior like that adversely affects the learning environment?

On a positive note, I have some outstanding students as well this year - they tend to get left behind. They are learning and growing and will leave the predators behind within a year or so.

edited to add this:

I get so tired about hearing about the plight of teachers. Granted, teachers work hard and have guidelines to follow and heaven knows that dealing with parents and administrators can be a nightmare. BUT, these things are known before they choose to go into teaching, it's no huge surprise to anyone and if it is, then maybe you haven't done your homework. Anyone going into the teaching profession has to do it because they want to, to make a difference. If you're looking to be appreciated and to get rich, it's probably not going to happen.

A lot of people with important and very needed jobs are unappreciated and in their opinion, underpaid. Teachers aren't in this boat alone. If you don't want to be a teacher, then don't be one. But don't complain after you get there, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

Read that last sentence again: "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it." Why is this tolerated? Get the kids out who are making it dangerous and teaching would be everything we want it to be.

Monday, April 8, 2013

No Place On Earth

No Place On Earth and the movie about the discovery of the caves where 38 people survived the Holocaust - sound interesting. I think I will order the book (since I have no idea how to see the movie until the sell it) but I think I will read about Everest first.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Books that I have just finished reading

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Beautiful day. It will be OK.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Mutuality: give respect to get respect.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

This seems to be a missing concept.

I love how I am rude if I reprimand a student (gently) to stop interrupting me while I am talking (to the class) - but the student feels justified in speaking what they want when they want.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

six word Saturday

Actions have consequences - like or not.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

This week, a lot of the students are taking the easy route. They are failing to show up at sports practices - and then are surprised that they cannot play the game. They feel they are prepared so the coach has a stupid rule.

Or they show up 20 minutes into the game and have to sit on the bench - and that isn't fair either.

Or they refuse to do any work in a class and want the failing grade changed to a passing grade before report cards come out - whether the teacher has time or not. (And we all know who has to come up with same extra work.)

Interesting week.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Let me give you a clue

Let me give you a clue, honey, because it is obvious you do not have one. After you spend a class period refusing to work, wasting the teacher's supplies, slandering the teacher by saying all sorts of accusations that are not true (not directed to the teacher but making a point to say it loud enough that everyone knows you said it and the teacher heard it), and refusing to follow the classroom rules, I would suggest that asking the same teacher to loan you money will not get you the answer you want.

As a teacher, I should try to teach you the error of your ways, but I am learning this year that you really do not think you did anything wrong. Instead you think I am not being fair.

How many days til summer?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Common Core - finally a voice of sanity

Indiana is putting the brakes on Common Core until they can do some cost analysis and effectiveness analysis. As ineffective as NCLB has been, you would have thought that people would have been more cautious the next time.

Six Word Saturday

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

This week has been a learning week.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Do we want to implement rigor?

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

We say we do - but, do we really? Here, if you make it rigorous - go for the depth - the students complain, dig in their heels, their parents complain to the school, and more work is added to the teacher and the student is off the hook.

A very dear friend (who is a master teacher and the mentor who helped me decide I wouldn't destroy kids if I went into teaching) is known for being rigorous. It has caused her problems in a couple of schools because other teachers are easier. Not as good, you don't learn as much, but they are easier.

She was hired by the private school she is in now because of her talents and her penchant for rigor - and given free rein. For a year - then the parents complained about their darlings' grades and how hard it was - and she was asked to tone it down.

This bothered her until her daughter (a college professor who, again, followed her mother's lead) told her to look at this way: teaching allows her time with her grandchildren and brings in a decent paycheck. Stop looking at teaching as a calling and look at it as a job. Do your time, resent every second of your own time you spend on schoolwork (so cut that short) and relish the parts of your life that you have control over.

And I see the loss to the future that our instant gratification society has done to itself. And I do not think the future is better for it.