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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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