Saturday, November 3, 2018

Help is there but you have to want it

My favorite joke goes like this:

A flood is imminent. The officials go on the radio and tv and warn everyone to leave.

One man refuses and says “I believe God will save me.”

One of his friends drives out of his way during the evacuation to save the man and says “Jump in – come on!” and the man says “No, thank you. My God will save me.” So the friend drove away, shaking his head.

The water starts rising. The man goes to the top floor of his house. A neighbor in a boat comes along and says “Jump in – come on!” and the man says “No, thank you. My God will save me.” So the neighbor putters off, shaking his head.

The water continues to rise. The man moves to the roof. The authorities send a helicopter and the pilot says “Jump in – come on!” and the man says “No, thank you. My God will save me.” So the pilot flies away, shaking his head.

The water continues to rise. The house is engulfed and the man dies.

He goes to heaven and asks God “Why didn’t you save me?”

And God says “I sent a car, a boat and a helicopter.”

Help is there. You have to recognize it.

Help fell into our laps this week. A teacher with the subject knowledge who actively wants to teach in our school. Rather than call him, the principal is choosing to cover the class with Skype and a parapro.

Don’t think this will work.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How do we get away with this?

We are missing teachers this year.

Two in each of the main subjects: math, science, English, social studies.

Kids have to have 4 courses in each of these subjects, so there aren't a lot of extra classes - they are all required.

Because of the missing teachers - missing for a variety of reasons - some classes have been collapsed, pushing the student numbers higher. And some classes are being taught with subs. And some classes are being taught with teachers with interim or waived certificates. Roughly 10% do not have clear, renewable certificates.

I know they have had the option of rehiring retired teachers, but they wanted these as subs not teachers and the people chose not to do that.

How is this in the students' interests?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Document document document

Had a student today try to get in and kill a program on the school server.

I spent more than 30 minutes trying to get someone (IT) to come to my room, taking screen shots the entire time of what he was doing.

This whole thing is percolating through the ranks (up 2 levels above the principal) while they try to decide what to do with him.

He tried to tell me yeah, he looked up how to kill it but he was doing his own coding. Nope - I took screenshots of your code.

Document everything. Same thing I told a fellow teacher who is in an untenable situation.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Females lie, when it suits

Two of my students accused a male teacher of touching them inappropriately.

Then they changed it to he touched their legs.

Then they changed it to he bumped into them, walking between the desks, because their legs were out in the middle.

Not one girl, but two.

Reason: he is new to them this year and he is expecting them to work and they don't want to, so they thought they would get rid of him.

I am so disappointed in them.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


I don't believe anyone in my school reads my blog. Guess I will find out.

I co-teach in a class where they have hired a long term sub. Who has never taught. Who has had minimal math and education courses. Who hasn't even subbed that many times. And who thinks he knows everything. (And, by extension, I know nothing that could possibly be of value.

We'll call him Mortimer Snerd.

Mortimer also thinks other people can't possibly know more than he does. Like the head custodian who told him he couldn't let students eat in the room and that they had to pick up after themselves.

Mortimer pushed hard the first week to get into the grade book. He doesn't try to teach or make lessons or find worksheets (we have no books) or make the tests (or study guides) or make copies or return work. But he keeps wanting to grade the tests.

Without an answer key, he has taken it upon himself to grade all of the tests the kids took last week. Ones I was holding on to until people finished taking it. Ones I had asked him not to grade because of what I learn grading it. But his vast experience of not teaching apparently outweighs my math education degree and years of teaching. And he must be related to someone, because the Highly Ineffective Administrators are backing him up.

This year cannot end soon enough.

You know this when you run the numbers how much you get if you retire today. Next month. After Christmas. The end of this year. Hold off another year. Or a year after that.

(Actually wrote this last year. It only got worse. I didn't retire. This year is very very different, better)

The culture of the school

A parent called a kid, during class, today to tell her that an uncle had died. The kid started wailing. The parent told the teacher to deal with it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Why I teach

I am a little OCD. Just a little.

I check transcripts of seniors whenever I can, knowing the counselors do as well. Last week I determined a boy should have graduated this year but somehow they missed it. This year I did not have time to do it, well, in time. But it is the results (diploma) that matters.

Monday, July 2, 2018


I nodded off after breakfast. (Why the dog and cat think the day still starts at 5 am is beyond me. It's summer, kids!) and woke in mid daymare: I am taking a left turn in my car and another car is barrelling straight ahead and right at me!

Wonder what I am afraid of.

I have spent the last month mostly not thinking (cleaning house, sleeping, reading) to free my brain for planning the next year.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

The year is over

And the sub is gone. Most of the students graduated. And the break is here

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I am surviving the most stressful year

I am not going into all of it, but, since August I have been doing two people's jobs. There was a small window of a month where I thought the sub they had hired would actually do the job of a teacher, the job they hired her for, since she kept telling everyone she was the REAL teacher but that passed and I continue to do her job and mine.

When I comment to the administrators that I am drowning, they tell me the end is near.

Or that this is what I asked for (going back to gen ed).

PO, I know you keep telling me to shuck it and retire, but I hate going out on this note.

I am petitioning for a job in this school in another department teaching gifted students. If I get it, I will teach another couple of years. If they assign me a single co-taught class, please join me in singing "Take this job and shove it."

And I cannot tell you how freeing that is.

Yesterday, a student warned me that two assistant principals were near (I wasn't doing 100% of what I was supposed to but they were working). And I told her, what can they do? Fire me?

Wouldn't be the worst thing that happened this year.

The unseen baggage our students carry with them

We are approaching the end of the year and I am trying to get everyone to passing. While I battle a co-worker unlike any I have worked with or even heard about. (Maleficent hates me with a passion and I have no idea why. I am, however looking forward to that day when she no longer inhabits my life.)

I am getting ready for that arduous chore of calling parents for those kids who are failing, mostly because they don't come.

Some kids are special to other teachers. You know, the teacher has taken them under a wing. So I have been checking with my friends before I call.

This one was thrown out of his house by his mother and can't get to school. (No car and not on the bus route.)

That one lived with grandma but grandma died. Not sure how the kid is taking care of basic necessities - and school is not one.

This one's parents are in jail waiting for trial and possible prison.

That ones mom lost her job and he is having to work to hold everything together.

This one is behind because she was stolen by sex trafficers and got away but isn't the same anymore.

I hate just passing them but knowing the circumstances and knowing a diploma might make all the difference in life, how can you not?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Is there another room?"

Today I had an iep - and for the first time this year I had it in my room because there was no reason not to. I have had them in the Head Evaluator's room when we had an RDM (redetermination meeting) or on the main hall when I wanted to get specific teachers to come. My room is in the way back.

So a teacher came - we'll call her Ms. Teacher. She's been at the school a couple of years now.

She stood in the doorway for a bit and said she had another meeting to go to. I said it would be quick. Then she asked if we could have the meeting in another room.

I had forgotten.

In August a teacher attempted suicide in my room - then that teacher's room. Ms. Teacher had not been in the room since. I had forgotten because I had seen her on my hall, talking to another teacher.

Now, we have held class in that room every single day since THAT DAY. We have had kids in that room. I tried to get the room changed - nope. I have helped the kids deal. But we have been there every day.

And a forty year old professional doesn't want to step over the threshold.

It's been an interesting year and I will write more about it later. Much later.

Friday, March 2, 2018

How to become a teacher from a long term sub position


You've been hired as a long term sub and you want to be a full-time teacher. Congratulations! We'd love to have you - and we know it is a bunch more money - and responsibility - than subbing. So let me help you!

There are school rules. You will be asked to enforce them. The students will not want you to enforce them because they are, after all, rules. Enforce them anyway.

When you don't enforce them - you make everyone's life harder. The students, the other teachers, the administrators, even the custodians. So, enforce the rules, even if you don't like them. Even if it makes the kids not like you a little.

Your basic responsibility is to keep the kids in the room. They want to go walking around the school. There will be conflicts. Keep them in the room. When you let them out into the hall, it makes it harder for everyone else in the hall to teach.

You will be given lessons to teach. Teach them. If you don't know how to teach it (which is not the same as knowing how to do it), ask. Do not say "it was too difficult for the students so I skipped it and now I am ready to test a week earlier" because you just messed up someone else's timeline.

Some courses have end of course tests. We teach to the test because the results matter. And by that I mean we have been given percentages of what is on the test and we parse the lessons accordingly. Sometimes we teach other things that are relevant but not necessarily on the test. We don't have time, when the test is 2 months away, to play movies every day, especially when the movies are pertinent to another department and absolutely will not be on an end of course test.

I have tried to tell you all of these things, but you assume I don't have a clue, that I am old and irrelevant. Ask yourself why certain things have happened lately and ask yourself if you are making yourself valuable or not to the organization you say you want to become a part of.

If another teacher steps in and repeatedly stops "traditions" you have set in place, they may be detrimental traditions. Or you can believe the other, older, actual teacher is a party-pooper. Your choice.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

How to cheat as a group and not show your hand

I post this as a service to my students who either think I am an idiot or never got the memo about being slick.

If you intend to cheat as a group, there are certain things you should think about.

1) If you usually get grades in the 60s, and your friends as well, suddenly getting 100% will raise a red flag.

2) So, try to miss a couple of questions. This will still raise your overall grade and not seem so out of place.

3) Talk with your friends, make sure you don't all miss the same questions. Again, it raises a flag.

4) Don't tell your mother "the test was so hard, we had to." Odds are, she might tell your teacher.

5) Don't turn in 2 different tests with the same answers (the correct answers for one of the tests) on both.