Saturday, December 13, 2014

Six word Saturday

You think I don't see cheating.

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You copied off another paper, but you think I don't see it. And that I don't see your eyes wander constantly.

You think you are getting away with something.

What you don't realize is that you - and others - have made it too difficult to hold you accountable.

When you have been given detentions - you bat your eyes at the administrators and get out of it. Or you have your mama burn up the phone lines complaining that you are being picked on.

You have been sold a bill of goods that your looks are enough. Or that "it isn't really cheating" because the Atlanta teachers are saying that and it makes the news.

Your friends have been pulled out of a real class with a real teacher to be given on line classes so you think your education should be as easy.

It is certainly as meaningful.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Headline in the AJC - Former Atlanta teacher: No one said cheating was wrong

And the sad thing is this woman probably believes that.

Today a group of students was caught cheating and had to write confessions. They probably saw nothing wrong in the behavior either.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Six Word Saturday

She is out of your league.

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I teach several classes of all boys and the dynamics are so different than class of all girls or classes with both.

You deal with the smelly things, the anger things - but I love it when they show their tender side to each other (because of course it is not puppies and kittens but barbed wire and handgrenades - with smiles and elbows).

One boy was talking about his girlfriend and what he had bought her for Christmas because he is very proud of himself and wanted to show it off.

Another has a girlfriend at another school so he finally showed us her picture - to comments of "She is our of your league."

He showed me the picture and I asked if she had vision problems - and then we both smiled and recognized the comments for what they are - ya done good and we are proud of you.

The entire conversation would have been so different in a mixed group. (And yes, I am female but I am the teacher so it doesn't count)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Six Word Saturday

I want a kinder, gentler nation.

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And, since it is the season, I want it to begin with me. Clean my own corner, put out my own Lamp - and shine.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I need a pencil (2)

I am still amazed that because you choose to teach EVERYONE seems to think it is ok that the teacher provides pencils, paper, tissue, and other supplies and that it is not unreasonable for the student to ask for binders, snacks, money.

The note on the previous post ("Here's a trick for the few trouble makers, crying to be heard, I'd place a container on my desk with pencils- and a not?- "use for class put back after" of course there will still be that one child that will find some other silly random excuse.") - really? What makes you think I haven't tried that, only to find the pencils thrown on the floor, at other students, or broken and thrown away.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Six word Saturday

"I need a pencil. What are YOU going to do about it?"

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OK, more than 6 words. And both sentences were from one person.

When did it become the teacher's responsibility to provide everything? Again, not a new rant, but the students this year are even more needy and rude, and the school is providing even less.

Again, why not. If I can spend less money knowing the slack will be picked up someplace else, why not save my money?

If the student can do nothing and know the pressure will be applied to the teacher and not to her. Why not?

If the parent can provide no support and know the teacher will pick it up. Why not?

If the school system can provide no books and promise paper for copying (but not deliver) - why not? We will punish the teacher if the students don't learn.

Looked into retirement this week. I can retire the end of this year. Or teach another 5. I just don't know. (and for God's sake do not waste your time telling me I should take my shitty attitude and quit. That is a pointless and obnoxious thing to do. I am very good at what I do and I enjoy 90% of it. It is this 10% that I cannot control that annoys me.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

AJC: Teacher Evaluations

The AJC just published an article about Georgia's teacher evaluations.

First, I hate AJC's new format. The comments are placed in alphabetical (by commenter) order so you cannot follow the conversation.

Let's see. I am going to be judged in large part by how well my students do. The longer I teach I find a larger and larger group who refuses to do any work and then are appalled that they fail the test. And what am I (the teacher) going to do to fix it? That is the cry from the administration, the parents, the students, the district, the state, the federal government.

Add to that, that this year all of my classes will take the Georgia Milestones (the new name for the new test measuring the new math course for the new teacher evaluation). That would be the Georgia Milestones that will measure the student growth on which I am to be evaluated. The same Georgia Milestones that do not count for students this year because they will not be scored in time.

And of course, since they will not count for the students, the students will put forth their best effort on the test.

Wait, if they won't come back in time for the students, how will they come back in time for the teachers?

Keep them engaged - unless I can figure out how to do all my teaching in 144 character segments via twitter, I have no idea.

I teach the shrinking minority who want to learn and encourage the others to go take online classes. I mean, if you can finish all the parts of a year long course in 2 weeks, you obviously have gotten the same thing out of it that you would in a year-long course, meeting every day, and doing the course work as required.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Six Word Saturday: tools

Tools are useless if not used.

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What is the point of my teaching you math if you refuse to lift a pencil and do any work on your own?

"Can you work this problem?"

Yes, dear, I can. Do you have any idea how to START working the problem? I mean, we have been doing this for a month and all you do is copy from the board.The test is tomorrow. Would you like for me to work that for you as well?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I have no words

Minneapolis has a new ruling.

And what do you think is going to happen to discipline when students know they cannot be suspended without permission from the state.

And we all know how fast the state moves.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Professional Development Guaranteed to Impress

Had another "let us give you tools so you can teach better" session after school Friday.

Friday. That would be Halloween.

You know. Bad traffic. Everyone trying to get home early so you are off the roads before kids on sugar highs hit the streets.

So, the tool they are going to give us comes with power points and a test bank. Since it was a class of all math teachers, naturally they used a social studies section as an example. That would be because we all know how easy it is to teach math without, you know, actually doing the math.

So the example they used was a segment on American History. One that had so many blatant errors it would have been funny if most of could not sit there and calculate in our heads how many cases of paper we could have bought instead of an incorrect product.

You know, paper to replace the books they don't want to buy because the math changes too fast.

Well, not the math but the way they want us to teach it.

But, it's ok, the presenter assured us. (The same presenter who could not answer any of our questions about what the math parts looked like.) Yes, we will be able to go into these power points and make changes.


We don't want it. We have other things that work better. But you want us to use this piece of excrement system - and we can fix it as we go along.

Did I mention that the people who decided to purchase this are certified in social studies.

(I guess they thought the math department was so one dimensional that we wouldn't notice.)

Color me underwhelmed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Six Word Saturday

There are things I don't understand.

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A teacher quit this week and will not return to the school.

I don't understand how you can make a committment to the school (and to the kids) and just walk away.

She was unwilling to adapt to the the culture of the school - felt the paperwork was beneath her and that the kids and the school should adapt to her. She would rail against these things in the meetings we attend - and irritate us all.

I see so many in my classes who apear at this point to be similar people - the world should adapt to me.

I feel like I am antiquated, with antiquated values. But, then, I like mine and that is ok.

Because I also don't understand how you can bring a child into the world and hurt it. How you can bring an animal into your heart and abandon it.

Think I will keep my values and toddle on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let's engage high school students while we teach them Common Core Elementary Math

We spent 4 hours Saturday morning learning how to do this to (I mean with) high school students.

I understand they come to high school without the requisite skills.

I understand the state has decided everyone can understand trig.

I just don't think teaching them this method instead of how to use a calculator is an effective use of my time or theirs.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Six word Saturday: more positive outlook

Look at the bright side first.

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I think I am looking at the dark side of the mirror too often.

And I know I have to remind myself of this too often.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Just make up some problems for me to work"

This is said - usually - after they have been given several worksheets of problems that they have not worked. Suddenly I am supposed to create 5 or so problems out of thin air that are appropriate and easy to work.


Then explain to me why they get offended when I say find one of the worksheets you have been given and we will work the problems out.

I am not saying I will not help them. I am saying that, with all of the problems I have already given you, I don't want to have to make up more just because you 1) don't want to open your notebook 2) didn't bring your notebook or 3) don't want to go over to the table to pick up a worksheet.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Six Word Saturday - bulletin boards

Post cellphone statistics on [the] bulletin board.

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I am so tired of cell phones.

It would be one thing if, as they think, students could multi process. But they can't.

I walked up to one student, sat beside him, and was halfway through the write up before his fellow students' comments broke through the haze and he put his phone down.

They don't pay attention, they do not do any work on their own, I am still expected to justify why their grades are so awful and then, reteach, retest, and pass them.

I know of three deaths last month that are probably attributable to cell phones. Enough already!

I found this poster, which I will put on the board. I want to put clippings of accidents as well. OK, no one reads the paper anymore. If any of you find links attributing accidents or deaths to cell phone (or other elctronic devices) usage, please email me the link. ricochet04 at


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shootings and Ebola

The news of an Ebola case in Dallas has overshadowed two school shootings today - one in North Carolina and one in Kentucky.

Thank God no one was killed.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Six Word Saturday

I want to adopt all strays.

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I know it isn't possible, but I want to.

When I see a stray dog or cat - or kid - I want to gather them up and take them home.

Today, on my way home from a place I didn't even want to go to, I saw 2 big dogs by the side of a very busy road. I stopped - with some vague plan of coaxing them into my car.

Animal control pulled in right behind me and I asked her if I could help. She allowed as how she didn't want me to get bitten (sounds like a plan) so I followed her on the shoulder as she tried to coax these dogs to come to her.

One sort of ambled away - a big black old dog. The other panicked and bolted into the road and was hit.

She managed to stop traffic and get the dog off the road before anyone else hit him but I am sure that by now he is dead.

The other dog then came to us and she put a leash on him.

By this point, a man had stopped, blocking the outside lane so we and the dogs would not get hit. (Did I say busy street? It is an interstate and the major truck route into Atlanta.) And the woman who hit the dog had stopped and joined us.

Animal control backed her truck up. The man helped lift the dying dog into the truck. The woman kept saying "We couldn't swerve." That would have caused a major, major accident and would have resulted in injury or death. Love dogs, but she is right, she couldn't swerve.

The man lifted Smelly, the big black dog into the truck. We all hugged - because it was devastating that the yellow dog couldn't trust us enough to let us help.

On the way home, I called animal control and told them that if Smelly's owner doesn't claim him, I want to adopt him. So they have my name and number.

This is so symbolic of the kids who daily throw themselves in the street rather than let us help them.

I wish I could end on a happier note. As the Animal Control officer said, through tears, you never get used to it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Teach the tool not the skill

This week I was basically told I am not there to teach math. I am there to teach CALCULATOR so the kids can get the right answer on the standardized test and the data will show growth.

NYC Educator said it better.

I look forward to the day the pendulum swings the other way. I hope it happens soon.

We have done these students such a disservice.

With a Brooklyn Accent is addressing this as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

There is a method

I find that God sends people into my life to teach me lessons I am still trying to learn: patience, giving up control, and letting go.

It is going to be an interesting year.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

six word Saturday

On the Internet? Must be true!

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My students crack me up.

One told me today that the Ku Klux Klan has a petition on the internet to allow them to purge African Americans and had gotten 2 million signatures.

So I said, they don't KNOW 2 million people.

Oh, no, they had heard it on the news (mind you, not CNN CBS or any other name you would recognize).

Oh, so it is on the Internet so it must be true. He's a French Model!

It is a hoax.

But I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Because of you I didn't quit.

I know this has been true for some students that I hold in a special place in my heart.

The boy who could have been a drop-out - that was the direction he was headed in. Currently he is being a success on so many levels in college. Or the girl who did drop out but got her GED and is also attending college.

The ones who eat at me are the ones who slip away, where I don't make a connection or a change. The student who was suspended from school the first day, the student who skipped class and ignored the state requirements so he didn't graduate. I wanted to help them also.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Six Word Saturday

It's August and still no air conditioner!

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What a weird summer.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Have not run the air conditioner!

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It has been so cool this summer that we have yet to turn on the air conditioner. So, we have saved on electricity (yes!) and had fresh air.

I am loving it! I hope August continues this trend.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Six word Saturday

Supplies are purchased. Bring it on!

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School starts this week. I think I am ready.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How big is the pie?

Some people see the pie - all that is possible - as finite, so if more people get a piece of it, there is less for me.

Others think that you can expand the pie so that if you get a piece, and the pie is bigger, I still have the same (or more).

I think it must be so scarey to be one of the former. Someone is always trying to take away from your share of the pie, even if your piece is huge.

Personally, I think there is enough for all of us, that the pie expands. I mean - think back to your childhood and the number of kinds of, say, oreos. One. Now, there are original, double stuffed, etc. etc. The possibilities are endless.

Here's to a bigger pie. And helping others get a piece of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Football recruiting by the numbers

So many of my students think they will parlay a sport into a professional career.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A tip for getting a better evaluation with TKES

As part of The Race To the Top, Georgia has decided to use TKES (Teacher Keys Effectiveness System) as a means of evaluating teachers. Here is a file that explains the whole system.

Some counties have been experimenting with this - and the whole state goes live next year.

Henry County has a file that will help you create your own file to wow your evaluator. This will also help set your expectations of what evidence you will need to provide.

Some schools are requiring portfolios as a means of evaluation. Again the Henry document is a good place to start.

A teacher I know uses the Henry file as a start, and behind each standard puts examples that prove that standard has been met.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to study for the GACE or PRAXIS

The GACE is the test (or series of tests) that teachers in Georgia have to pass to be highly qualified. The PRAXIS is used by other states.

Laurel Burdette has designed a wonderful study guide for the Praxis science test which I have stolen and adapted to several GACE tests I have taken. She deserves a lot of credit for designing something that is slap-my-head simple and useful.

If you are given the standards that will be on the test, you start with those. Then that is the framework for building your study guide.

I have found this to be very very useful!

*** edited *** SMiller suggested that Brightstorm has science videos on a variety of topics

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sometimes people are not who you want them to be.

Sometimes people are not who you think they are.

Just got a call from an ex student Steve who was in despair that one of his long term friends (and another ex student) Toby had stolen Steve's money and several other people's belongings.

I don't know what is going through Toby's mind - he didn't reach out to me and I am going to let it be for now.

I did tell Steve that we forgive people not because they deserve it but because we do.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Play the hand you are dealt

During 2012-2013 I taught a challenging student - and I use the word "taught" even though I mean that he was in my classroom. I am not bothering to reference all of the times I talked about Curtis and am not going back and reading what I wrote. His behavior was horrible.

I couldn't get any administrative backup so I had no power. I had to have him removed during almost every test I gave - which was the only backup the administration gave me.

I would write him up - and nothing ever happened.

I met a friend for lunch yesterday and we got to talking about Curtis. She said that she had put him out in the hall virtually every day because of his behavior. I know I saw him in the hall from other people's classes this past year.

He is old enough to drive and incapable of behaving in a way that allows you to teach other people while he is in the room. (and, no, there is no IEP and there is no reason for this deficiency except willfulness on his part)

And so this got me to thinking. I kept him in the room, tried to teach around him, wrote him up and got nothing - and was the least effective in his classroom as I have ever been because of his acting out.

Other teachers put him in the hall (and we are told not to do this) and taught the rest of the class. And were more effective with those students.

I believe that you play the hand you are dealt and try to do right by all of your students. In this case, I should have sacrificed Curtis for the rest of the class.

And I did try to involve his mother. She would not respond to phone calls or emails because I was the only one complaining. Right.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Writing in Math

Reasonable Doubt

Third post about the tragedy here in Marietta.

Hubby said something yesterday about finding a jury, that the media has convicted the parents on the front page and they couldn't get a jury. Actually, I do have reasonable doubt, based on two books I read probably 30 years apart. A Rip In Heaven by Jeanine Cummins tells the story of two sisters, Robin and Julie Kerry, and their cousin Tom Cummins, Jeanine's brother. The three cousins were on a bridge over the Mississippi when they were attacked by 4 young men, The girls died, Tom got away and was then arrested by the police who did not believe his story.

In The Dingo Baby Case Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty and served time because the police and community thought she responded in too cold a manner to the disappearance and assumed death of her baby, Azaria. It was Lindy's faith that Azaria had gone to a better place that led to an early calm acceptance.

So, do I think the police make mistakes? Yes. Do I think people as a whole jump to easy, wrong conclusions? Yes. Do I believe that outward appearances tell us everything? No. Could I go in and base my opinion on what they can prove? I hope so.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rush to Judgement 2

As more information comes out, some of the police reports are just damning.

The police make errors. Wrong people are convicted. We have a system of presumed innocence (which is disappearing as the media needs fresh blood and something to stir up).

I hope that the police gather enough solid evidence to convict all of the guilty parties and put them away for a really long time.

And I really hope I am not on that jury.

Six Word Saturday

Listmaker, listmaker, make me a list.

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Summer is half done. Wish my list was half marked off as well.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rush to Judgement ** updated **

I watched a movie on TC last night Lizzie Borden Took an Axe and I started thinking. From what I have read about Ms. Borden - the consensus seems to be that she was guilty and yet a jury found her not guilty. She lived out her life in Fall River, mostly shunned by society.

There is a case playing out locally - and I think nationally - right now. A father left his son in a car all day. The boy died. The father is in jail. The local papers (and the radio and CNN, which comes out of Atlanta) have all but convicted him and yet he doesn't go before a judge until Thursday. Should he ultimately be found not guilty (and I cannot presume to judge him when I know I am getting biased information), too many people have already convicted him.

Reminds me of the OJ Simpson case. It is being rehashed, people are convinced he did it. He lives out his life with that out there constantly.

Trial by jury has flaws. Other systems have more. Trial by news media seems worse.

A 12 year old has come up with an easy solution so you don't forget your child.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's not me. Trust me - it's you.

There is something rewarding - and sad - about realizing that someone you have had trouble working with has problems with other people as well.

A friend told me that Uncle Oscar told her that WE (meaning friend and Oscar) have a "failure to communicate".

No, Oscar, you do not want to make decisions that you would be held accountable for, so you speak in obtuse phrases so that the other person is accountable and you are not. Man up and be the principal.

Or is that beyond you?

Monday, June 23, 2014

It takes a big man to give a hand to someone else.

There is a throw away line at the end of this article. “I’ve written a couple of my best songs ever,” he says, “and we had the most fun making the album. We had a guy build a bar in my studio, so that didn’t hurt anything.”

You wouldn't know, reading this, that the "guy" is more than a carpenter, would you?

The pie is not of a set size. If someone else get's a piece of it, that doesn't mean you get less.

Mr. Tanner Lyrics

written by Chapin, Harry F..

Mr. tanner was a cleaner from a town in the Midwest
And of all the cleaning shops around he'd made his the best
But he also was a baritone who sang while hanging clothes
He practiced scales while pressing tails and sang at local shows
His friends and neighbors praised the voice
That poured out from his throat
They said that he should use his gift instead of cleaning coats

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul
He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole

His friends kept working on him to try music out full time
A big debut and rave reviews, a great career to climb
Finally they got to him, he would take the fling
A concert agent in New York agreed to have him sing
And there were plane tickets, phone calls, money spent to rent the hall
It took most of his savings but he gladly used them all

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul
He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole

The evening came, he took the stage, his face set in a smile
And in the half filled hall the critics sat watching on the aisle
But the concert was a blur to him, spatters of applause
He did not know how well he sang, he only heard the flaws
But the critics were concise, it only took four lines
But no one could accuse them of being over kind

Mr. Martin Tanner, baritone of Dayton, Ohio
Made his town hall debut last night
Be came well prepared, but unfortunately his presentation
Was not up to contemporary professional standards
His voice lacks the range of tonal color
Necessary to make it consistently interesting

Full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order

He came home to Dayton and was questioned by his friends
Then he smiled and just said nothing and he never sang again
Excepting very late at night when the shop was dark and closed
He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes
Music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy, it made him feel so good
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul
And he did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Where did this STUFF come from?

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It is summer and I am trying to make sense of the paper I have not thrown away - in the next month, I hope to see miracles....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What did we miss?

If you hadn't died, would I think of you now?

You are forever frozen at 17. Your potential sitting on ice. What would you have been?

I know from the impact you made on a gawky, awkward 13 year old that you would have continued to touch people.

You would have been prime for the draft. Would that have changed you?

Or would you have been in college - headed where? Business. Education. Ministry. Politics.

Instead, you are forever frozen at 17. Struck down by a drunk driver. And lost to the rest of us.

Glen, you are still missed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Looking back: what did we miss?.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

High School Graduation - what does it mean?

Georgia has high school graduation requirements that have changed 4 times since I started teaching. The class of 2014 has 5 graduation tests to pass (math, English language arts, science, social studies, and writing). The class of 2015 only has to pass writing.

Math and social studies vie for the highest failure rates, for very different reasons. Social studies is memorization - math, well, is math.

Several years ago the rules were modified to allow one of the end of course tests to substitute for the grad tests. So if you passed the 9th grade or 11th grade English end of course test, you were considered to have passed the grad test in English.

There are 2 end of course tests in each main discipline (math, English, science, social studies) which you take once and which account for 20% of your grade. (OK, if you fail the course, you retake the end of course test). And you can take the grad test in March of your Junior year, July before Senior year, September and November and March of your Senior year. So 7 opportunities to pass the 4 main graduation tests, 5 to pass writing.

Approximately 1 in 5 of this senior class was missing one or more of the graduation tests when we got to graduation.

Some of the parents took this even less well than normal (since the rule about the tests changes next year) and - after pitching fits with counselors, principals and at the district offices, several decided to host an alternative "graduation" for those people who who just need the grad test to graduate.

I have a problem with this. There is a minimum bar for graduation. I already feel like we lower it constantly, and now we have a feel good graduation ceremony that doesn't mean anything.

And - in looking at the program someone brought me, I realize that two of the people who participated had passed all of the graduation tests. They didn't pass the courses.

They didn't even meet the minimum for THIS graduation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Six word Saturday

Last week: Love those last minute parent phonecalls.
This week: and no return call: even better.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Love those last minute parent phonecalls.

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Important lesson (for all of us): don't burn bridges you may need someday.

Monday, May 12, 2014


I was straightening up the chairs today and there was a pile of paper. Picked it up, revealing a condom, not in a wrapper and (I think) not used (didn't check real closely).

Seriously? You've never heard of a trashcan?

To say nothing about how inappropriate this is in class anyway.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, pickin' on the weaker man

You can take me down
With just one single blow
But you don't know what you don't know

Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides and your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You've pointed out my flaws again as if I don't already see them
I'll walk with my head down trying to block you out 'cause I'll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again

I'll bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold
But the cycle ends right now 'cause you can't lead me down that road
And you don't know what you don't know

Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar, talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion but nobody's listening
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing

But all you are is mean

All you are is mean and a liar and pathetic and alone in life
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

But someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean, yeah
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

Someday, I'll be, living in a big ol' city
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

Six Word Saturday

You provide me with teachable moments.

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There is always something positive that you can say about someone. Being a great bad example may be it, but it is still a positive attribute. Negative exemplars work also.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Educational statistics: or how to meaningfully compare apples and bicycles.

We are supposed to give a test in the fall (before we teach the material) and give the same test again in the spring - and then see how much the students have grown. You know, this would show how "effective" the teacher is.

The teachers are not to see the tests (so we cannot teach to the test) (or adequately prepare the students to pass the test).

The test counts as 20% of their grade.

This week we found out the test we will give next week is not exactly the same as the one we gave in the fall. Actually, it is 75% longer than the one in the fall.

Yep, those statistics will be meaningful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Love being told what to do by a student

They don't understand that cheating is not just taking answers but giving answers.

They don't understand that swapping information with A so that you can help B copy answers is cheating.

They don't understand that it isn't up to them to decide who I choose to punish.

But mostly, they don't understand that they are cheating themselves from learning the math - they aren't cheating me.

So great when the cheater thinks he can dictate how I will grade the assignment.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

six word saturday

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

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I know there are ways I can improve. Very few of us can look in the mirror and state "Nope, this is as good as it gets." I also know I work hard every day to help my students learn and grow. Some years it is easier than others. I have one class which baffles me. Last year I had a class where three individuals ran havoc over me and everyone else in the classroom. If I tried to talk over them, they would talk louder. I finally just worked at getting them written up and out so I could teach the rest. This year, similar kids. Sort of. One will announce he has worked as hard as he intends to and then, like the Pied Piper, lures everyone else away. Three others do little to nothing. Their mothers will call about once a week to see how their child can make up an assignment that was a daily one - nope, not playing that game. Others come just often enough to keep their name on the books. Several come to half the classes during the week - several come just often enough they are not dropped from the roll. Is it a surprise that half the class is failing?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Six word Saturday

Mastery is not: do nothing, pass.

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Somehow we have sold the current students (not all, but the ones who struggle with passing a course because they have no idea how to behave in a class) that there will be a miracle in the last month of school and an assignment will be given to you that takes little effort on your part but results in you passing the course.

So, since they put no effort into the preceding 14 weeks, cram the last 4, they retain nothing.

In the higher level course I teach, I am having them rework the problems they miss on the test to raise the grade to just passing. Some are offended when I give it back when the rework is not complete or correct, with instructions of which ones they need to rework.

I keep giving them back anyway.

In one class, there is no miracle, there is no project already created. Since they insisted on talking about prom instead of listening to the new unit Friday, I don't see the need to create a project.

Prom is a month away.

Quick thought: find out the price of prom tickets and give them an impossible (or difficult) budget to follow.

Nah, work for me, no effort from them.

This is the class that has graduation tests to pass. Of the half who have tests to pass, 3 already cannot walk because the score on one test came back Friday and they did not pass.

They will ask for a waiver letter.

The one asked for this week should read like this:
She attended one of 12 classes we gave to help them pass this test in the fall.

She lied about having passed the fall test, so I did not give her the books I gave everyone else, notebooks they were allowed to write in and do work on their own.

I have no idea if she took advantage of the study group we set up for this as I don't teach it and she did not put my name in USATESTPREP so I could see her work.

When she struggles in trig, rather than ask me or the other 2 trig teachers for help, she asked the special ed teacher who, while certified in math, does not teach trig and he had to ask us for help before helping her.

She has the gall to ask me for a letter after cheating on my tests. When you give two versions, that is easy to see. She is not smart enough to cheat off of someone who actually knows the material.

But I will probably write one not quite so bitchy.

Although that did feel good.

These kids are going to struggle next year. Mommy can't help you then.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Random thoughts on denial

I gave what should have been a one hour test (if you had done the work prior to the test and actually knew the material). I gave them 2 hours. They got angry when I refused to give them more time - some showed up in other classes asking for more time. Don't get it.

A group who are failing another required class - who say they will do anything to pass - apparently do not include paying attention as part of anything.

I ran some numbers and realized that more than half of that group has one or more graduation test to pass - and most will not pass the tests that they just took for the 5th time. So, they will either fail my class or the graduation test (or both) and not be able to walk in graduation.......

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How many weeks in a year?

Gave a test today. The test was a fair representation of the problems we have been working, so the vocabulary was not new.

How many weeks in a year?


Are you sure it isn't 54?

Does annual mean the same as every day?

Does quarterly mean 4 times a year?

They were asked to quadruple $6000 - so he entered 6000^4.

These are on-level seniors.

The world is not ready for them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Too little too late

All year, we have written students up for infractions (cussing, walking out of class, dress code violations, you name it) and all year, nothing has happened. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So the principal asks teachers for their opinion of what is happening at the school and we tell him the kids are running it and the administrators are not backing us up.

And what happens next? Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So the state comes in to observe, comments on how there is no dress code, and now he is enforcing it. Now he is in the hall. Now he is noticing the kids when they walk past him.

Anyone want to bet how long this lasts?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Six Word Saturday

You feel entitled. I don't agree.

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I was reading articles recently about the entitled generation. How do you respond to kids who say they need more time on a test or they will fail. (They have already had 2 hours for a 1 hour test).

Or that you didn't give them a problem exactly like this so it is your fault.

Or that they are satisfied with their grade (70, which is just passing) so they don't feel they have to do a required project.

These are seniors, some about to join the military. And the NCOs in various services will have their work cut out for them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vicious cycle

I have written that I feel isolated - which makes me stand off by myself - which makes me more isolated.

I noticed this week that I am feeling unappreciated - which makes me see slights where they may not have been meant but still sting. You know, being in a professional development and having every other teacher called Mr. This or Mrs. That - and I am called by my first name (and, no, this was not a person I am friends with - someone who has been here before and everyone else has the same relationship with them).

Having a special ed teacher mention he has taught with most of the people in the room - and he named every teacher he taught with except me.

And this is a vicious cycle - I am not looking for slights but yet I am. I withdraw, and no one pursues me, and I withdraw further.

I am feeling worthless - and yet I know my sense of worth comes from inside not outside.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


This year has been the most difficult that I have had to date. Most of it is the isolation.

I have friends - more outside my department than inside but that has been true for years. I just never get a chance to see and talk with them.

We have a schedule that actively discourages the teachers from communicating - I do not think it is an accident.

We have an administration that couldn't plan an escape from a paper bag. And couldn't communicate either their situation or their desire for help.

Add - that we have been a needs improvement school long enough that administrators (rather than seeing their own lack of planning and communication) think the solution is to target and get rid of teachers.

In a situation like that, it is better to be middle of the road with middle of the road classes and keep your head down.

If you chose the harder to teach, harder to pass students, their lack of progress must be due to your ineptitude not the fact that the kid they just assigned to your class (whom you have never met) is 18 with 6 credits. (You need 23 to graduate.) And the kid is not atypical.

So if you gear your lesson to help them pick up what they are missing as well as learn new - well, you are not expecting RIGOR and you are not being a proficient teacher.

And that is isolating as well.

I will find another position. My students will get the best that I can give them.

And the administration will be as clueless next year without me as they are this year.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Six word Saturday

All good things come to (an) end.

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Last weekend - then back to school.

OR (from Facebook)

A Human’s Guide To Surviving the Twilight of the Gods

If you should see a Valkyrie, refrain from asking if you’re going to get to go to Valhalla because you did a heroic thing that one time. Trust me, it wasn’t, and Valkyries do not like being asked idiotic questions.

If you notice an oddly large wolf running loose in the company of a large snake, please stay calm, ignore it, and go about your business.

There may be earthquakes. Please follow standard earthquake safety procedures. Please do not look directly at the sky for more than a minute during the Last Battle of the Gods, as this may cause blindness, discomfort, itching, and a sense of hopelessness.

Prophecy is prophecy and cannot be tampered with—so no matter how much you want to interfere in any and all battles of the gods, refrain from doing so.

DO NOT ENGAGE ANY PERSON OR ANIMAL WITH CHARACTERISTICS THAT INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: red hair, oddly green eyes, good-looking, quick/sharp wit, suspicious behavior, etc.

Since only two humans will survive and there are about six billion of you on Midgard, your odds are not good. If your name is Lif or Lifthraser, please meet at your designated emergency area and evacuate to Mimir’s Holt ASAP. If not, please stay inside your homes and die with honor. Valhalla is very nice. We have some brochures that may be ordered at this address: Odin Box 84, Valhalla, Asgard, Nine Realms, Yggdrasil.

If legions of the undead are swarming your home, you are more than welcome to lodge a complaint with Hela, although you may not live to see any results. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weather in Georgia

Last week it was cold and icy.

This week, 70 degree weather, tshirt weather, and the daffodils are blooming.

This weekend: thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Caught in the middle

I find it hard to articulate how I feel, but these three articles come close.

High School teacher says "Don't blame me." Because of NCLB or RTTT , students are not being asked to think in depth and teachers are being forced to use multiple choice tests, so it isn't my fault they can't think.

Teacher argues we must meet the students where they are. Students come to you with holes in their education (or, worse, misunderstandings) that need to be taught before you can continue. As math teachers are we then developing the depth of mathematics that we can or simply focusing on skills?

"When are we ever going to use this?" And why don't English teachers get asked that? Her best line for me was when are football players ever going to use bear crawls, burpees, and crab walks in real life - and yet they do not question doing them in practice.

I wonder why I went into teaching. Don't get me wrong, I am a good teacher, but I don't think I am a great teacher. I cannot even figure out how to get better - I feel like I am drowning in crap that doesn't matter which keeps me (or allows me to keep myself) from digging down a layer and getting that much better.

Please do not tell me to quit. If you don't want to read this an be positive and offer positive suggestions, go someplace else, please.

I work on teaching them what they do not know - and then find other holes I hadn't even thought of.

I am tired of trying to compete with texting - but there is no solution if the students wish to text rather than learn.

I cannot imagine taking a course and then demanding a grade rather than working to earn that grade - and yet I have those kids. They will not follow directions - and then it is my fault they do not pass.

I need to change jobs. I know that - changing to a different school would help because I do not at this point believe that the culture will be changed here. I need to be coming up with a list of strengths and weaknesses and I only see weaknesses. Time to do and quit thinking about it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jordan Davis trial - "white noise"

John Spencer wrote a blog about the trial of Jordan Davis' killer which happened in Florida this past week.

The trial has been called the "loud music" trial because, according to the killer, Michael Dunn. that is what caused him to have a confrontation with a car full of people, a confrontation that resulted in him getting a gun an shooting into the car.

There is so much that is odd about the case.

1) Why if he was scared enough to shoot up a car, did this adult not tell his girlfriend or call the police?

2) In another case around here, a mother said her son died of an overdose because his friends were too afraid of recriminations to drive to a hospital. Did that come into play here? After all, these are teenagers, hence still kids.

3) Did the kids tell the police everything to begin with? In which case, why did the police not look to see if a gun had been stashed THEN rather than waiting until later. (I don't believe there was a gun - but because the police did not look THEN the defense introduced reasonable doubt).

4) If the kids left something out (for reasons that kids do not tell adults everything) do they accept responsibility for some of the outcome? If the police did not know to look for a gun, how can you hold them accountable?)

5) If the music and the kids bothered him, why didn't Dunn leave as soon as he could? He could have gotten the gas, moved his car closer to where his girlfriend was, and left.

We are developing a culture with great disrespect all around. No generation has a right to disrespect another - and yet here were two groups (Dunn and the kids) who dissed on each other. He made rude comments about their music, and the dished it back.

"Stand your ground" has been abused in both these cases. Dunn entered the space of the teenagers (not vice versa) and Zimmerman should have stayed in his car - again rather than step into someone else's space.

I think the one charge that the jury could not decide was muddied by the police not looking for a gun immediately - by the kids moving their car (who blames them for that? I would have driven to the police then), by whatever else was going on in the car at the time, by Dunn not calling the police as soon as he fired - by his actions he acted as if nothing had happened so who know what happened to other evidence.

All in all, the jury decided on what they could. Dunn will spend his life in prison. And maybe we will all get a little nicer.

My opinions are colored by the kids I teach. A large percentage end up arrested for drugs (so it colors my opinion about why the kids didn't call the cops immediately) Some of them are gang wannabees. They posture, threaten, talk big but have nothing behind the facade. Doing that to the wrong person can have disastrous consequences.

Personally, I would like to see as much talk about the black-on-black crimes, since this is a much larger cause of death. I wrote about that before.


It isn't what we do but what we fail to do that haunts us.

The list of regrets is many. The student you didn't reach. The meal you didn't take to a sick friend. The phone call and "meaningless" conversation that would have meant so much.

I resolve to be more aware. To plant my geranium firmly in my hat and smile at the world.

And make a difference.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Six Word Saturday

I love snow in the South

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By the time you are tired of it, it's gone.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Facebook makes the world smaller

My son tagged me in Facebook asking me who a certain person was, we'll call her Amy. I explained that Amy was a cousin who is associated with Big Name University. And I asked why her name came up. Well, Amy's name showed up as a recommended FB contact on his page and the contacts listed was one of his classmates at Tech - and 3 family members.

So, someone he is related to is a contact with a friend of his - six degrees of separation......

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wasted week

I have a large contingent of students who will need to pass a high stakes test at the end of March in order to graduate. Most have asked me to write a letter begging the state for a waiver, which will not happen before graduation the end of May. And I have told the students that.

So, we left school at noon Tuesday. Depending on your distance from the school and your mode of transportation, they got home sometime on Tuesday. We have not had school again this week.

They were expecting to be in school 8 hours a day in the next 3 days, so they wouldn't have planned on working (theorizing). Most of the teachers didn't expect to be out this long so didn't assign massive amounts of work.

So, don't you think at least one of these kids could have some some work on passing the high stakes test? I can see if they have been working. And they haven't.

I guess it is better to blame the state when it doesn't grant the waiver.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Long break. Hard to get started.

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We had a day and a half of school this week because of snow and ice.

So, the planning for next week is basically done. But getting them started Monday should be interesting.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Cross multiply

When I think about the problems kids these days have with math, it can be summed up with "cross multiply."

When I teach this concept (with proportions)I stress that it is two fractions with an equal sign in the middle.

Somehow, the importance of that equal sign is never learned. If you have 2 fractions with a + in the middle - or a- or a *-doesn't matter. Two fractions means cross multiply.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kids still at school

The kids from our county are home thanks to the sheriff's department. Some counties were not so lucky. The last I heard, there were still 50 kids on school buses.

It snowed here *updated

Those of you up north are probably laughing at those of down here in the snow. Wow, 2 inches of snow and the world ends. Well, ponder this.

1) we do not have much equipment to deal with this because we get a bad snow storm (at most) twice a decade.

2) so we also have no practice driving in this.

3) this area is in the piedmont - lots of hills and curves, lots with narrow roads and ditches on both sides. (and no sand or salt).

4) coming home yesterday only about 4 of the hills I go over had sand on them, And only on my side of the road. The other side was slippy slidey.

5) several school systems down here decided to hang out until 11:00 in order to count it as a full day - then (by law) had to feed the students. We have thousands of kids who never made it home and spent the night in school - or were picked up by their parents late.

6) stuff like this brings out the best and the worst in people. Some people went out of their way to use 4 wheel drive to get folks home - and some folks were ignoring traffic laws.

And this makes it sound even better.

We are being told to stay off the roads - so no school tomorrow.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Texas is dropping Algebra 2 as a requirement

Texas is moving away from everyone taking Algebra 2 to graduate. This will have ramifications for the rest of us - when people figure out that the beneficiaries of Common Core are big businesses not kids. Oy, vey - how long until we swing back to a better way of learning?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Six Word Saturday

It's too cold to do anything

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OK it's 20 but there is a reason I live in Georgia. If I wrap up so my hands are warm, I cannot even read.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Six word Saturday

Do Northerners wear blankets outside in the cold?

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Went to an early morning outside event when the temperature was a balmy 20 degrees. Pretty much all of the women there had on warm clothes, coats, and a blanket wrapped around them. Is this what our neighbors up north do under similar circumstances? Because it looked silly. (No, I had on many layers and my blanket was nice and warm and on my bed)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

She was offended by the word Negro

A potential juror and NYC teacher was offended enough by the word Negro on a form to contact the media.

This is not politically correct, but I wonder if she is equally offended by the n****r word?

What a week

We missed some of the days this past week because it was abnormally cold and 1) they were afraid of ice on the roads 2) they worried about the kids walking to school or waiting for the bus and 3) they were concerned about pipes and heat in the schools.

So, when the kids finally came back from break they were rowdy and not willing to work. I teach a lot of seniors this year and somehow someone has told them this is the best year of their life so they don't have to conform to anyone else's expectation.

Friday won the prize though. One of my students was caught spitting dip into a cup. When confronted by me, he decided he had nothing to lose, so he started whaling on the poor kid sitting next to him who was completely unprepared for this.

It took the resource officer, an AP and several of the kids to pull them apart.

While it means I will not see the perpetrator again this school year, it also means he is at risk to never graduate and there is nothing I can do to change the inevitable.

The perpetrator comes from a single parent home. He has been in trouble before. His reading and math levels are below average and he has no incentive, no internal push to change any of that.

Bill O'Reilly said recently that true poverty is caused by bad personal decisions (which several took as black people's problems are due to bad personal decisions). I see it daily. Too many of my students would rather take the easy way out (they talk about where to apply for food stamps and other government handouts) rather than put the effort into changing the path that they are on.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mish Mosh

This is Georgia, so cold here doesn't come close to COLD up north. But, yesterday it was cold enough. A group of birds sitting on an overhead wire did something and blew a transformer, killing most of the birds immediately and damaging the rest enough that they probably died last night.

I have seen a cat around the neighborhood. Actually, there are several but I know where most of them live. Yesterday afternoon I went to the car to go someplace and when I moved the car, the poor cat was dead underneath, frozen. Breaks my heart that she didn't have a home and that I didn't realize it.

I do not look forward to school tomorrow because the kids who have failed and are not continuing won't have been moved and probably won't get moved for a week. They were discipline issues before, which is why they failed. What incentive do they have to behave now?

The principal says we are to grade him on an anonymous survey that he created. Excuse my disbelief. He has been here a year and hasn't initiated a single conversation with me - and has shut down some of my questions as being off topic (they weren't). Why would I believe he cares one iota for what I think? His door may be open but his mind is closed.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Second chances - how many are too many?

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I read this over the break: How many chances do students deserve to make up work and bring up grades? and have had time to really think it through as I plan for this next semester.

I have one student doing his third attempt to get his grade to passing. He cheated on the first one, did a slap happy job on the second and is finally (when it is close to too late) actually doing what I wanted him to do in the first place - you know, on time so we don't have to do all this catch up work?

I have several others who let all of the opportunities slip through their fingers.

The district has taken away one of the tools I use to let them catch up - minimal work for me since it is a graded test on another site. Have to figure out what I can use instead.

Because, sure as God made little green apples I have kids who will put off until the last minute anything they can do to raise their grade.

In that link I put above there is a comment form a teacher: "As a teacher I always allowed students to submit missing homework—even months late and with no penalty!—provided they did twice as much as originally assigned."

That is twice as much work for me but it will probably be so worth it. I think I will start doing the planning for that now.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Going to the movies

We have something in the AJC called the Vent - and one of the vents today was "The sound is deafening in movie theaters to drown out the audience noise,people don't know how to act in public anymore."

For the price of 2 tickets I can buy the movie. Granted I have to wait 6 months or so, but I don't have to deal with rattling, talking, and the kids in front of me rocking their chairs as if they are going somewhere. And sticky floors.