Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2011


Monday, April 19, 2010 More Journals Oh, please read them all.  They are fantastic. The best April fools day thing I can think of is im going to call my mom after school and tell her i got arested.  I think She might have a heart attack.  Thats my fools and all I got. If my parents came to school with me I would be so embarrased.  Because they might say to run faster in P.E. and in history say Oooo Ooo pick Carl.  And for lunch they will say get fruit and something to drink and that would be really embarrasing.  At science It would be like torture because they would always ask questions.  At math I would hate because my parents would make me pay attention to the math teaacher.  I would be having bad dreams for the rest of my life.  But if I had to go to school with my parents when they were little kids that would be a hole diffrent story. If my parents came to school everyday it wouldn't be good.  I would probably be more good, and be a better student.


Or: How to Make a Teenage Boy Like Chemistry Me: OK, so you nee to draw CH4. Him: I hate this. This is boring. Why do I have to do this? Me: Well, you know what CH4 is, right? Him: No. Why would I know? Me: Well, it's in something you think is funny. Him: [puzzled look] Me: Farts. Him: Farts? [laughs] Farts. Repeat last line for the next 20 minutes. Five years ago: Subject/Verb Agreement                         Car Thieves and Bad Neighborhoods

Making Connections

Monday, March 27, 2006 Sad. As if we needed reminding that we're in the ghetto: My student's uncle was killed this Saturday. In broad daylight, as they say. Right by his house, less than a mile from our school. Apparently he owed someone money. This is the 33rd homicide this year in Oakland, when last year at this time, there were 14. Great. We're on a record-breaking pace. Oakland's not a very big city - 33 homicides by now is a LOT. Or maybe it just feels like more when I know the kids affected. The story we're reading right now in our reading curriculum is called Four Dollars and Fifty Cents . It is the story of a cowboy who, in an attempt to evade the debt collectors, plays dead, gets taken to the graveyard, gets caught, scares a bunch of robbers away and gets an reward. The reading program is big on "making connections" - finding bits of the stories that are like events in their own lives, characters that are like people they kn

One Teacher's Rambling: Why the Tests Matter

This is a guest blog graciously written by Nealey, who is a secondary school teacher.  She brings up some excellent points.  None of us want the standardized tests to matter, but the fact is that they do in many ways. I hope she'll write more posts in the future! Parents: Don’t tell your children that the standardized tests don’t matter. Standardized tests do matter, but unfortunately the system is flawed.   One of the problems with the tests is that s tudents are not held accountable for their test scores.   In an ideal world, all students would do their best because of the intrinsic value in doing one’s best.  If every student actually did their best then the tests might be a valuable way to judge teachers, schools, and educational programs.  However, we don't live in an ideal world. During testing, some student try their best, other students half-heartedly try, and some students don't try at all.  I have seen students bubble in patterns, bubble in all one letter a

Big Brothers Big Sisters Needs You

Especially if you are a man in the Bay Area.  They have hundreds (literally) of little boys on the waiting list and no one to match them with.  Most of these kids don't have dads in their lives and really could use a male mentor.  Take a look here and see if you can help.  If you have any questions, ask me - I've been doing this for about 9 months now and I love it. One year ago: My Kids Four years ago: Principals: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Five years ago: Tired .                         The Winter of Our Discontent

Heart Brooking

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 It Brook My Heart "Amani" came to school today in an even more belligerent mood than normal. I asked what was wrong and she said that it was all my fault, I just hate her and there's nothing she can do right. I'm out to get her. OK. Deep breath. "Amani, what's really the matter?" "You never listen to me, you hate me, you like everyone else better than me." One more time. "Sweetheart, what's bothering you?" She comes back with a note: "My mom told me that most of the time she don't even wanna be here with me and it brook my heart." It brook my heart too. Her mom's overwhelmed, she's taking it out on her, but Amani doesn't know that. She idolizes her mom. She doesn't know how hard it is to be a single mom and how her mom's reacting (badly) to stress. And there's nothing I can say to make it better. No wonder she acts crazy. Negative attention

What Kids Need: To Be Wanted

This is a tiny bit cheating.  I realized that what I was about to write was already covered in two posts from five years ago, so I'm just going to copy and paste.  I hope you enjoy. I really, really, can't overemphasize how important this is, not just for individual kids but for (and this sounds dramatic) the future of our society.  Really. Saturday, March 18, 2006 Needing To Be Wanted I was watching Law and Order SVU (or more accurately, I was in the room while Law and Order was being watched and trying to ignore it), and one of the characters was a brutal murderous member of some horrible prison gang who showed no remorse for anything he had done and continued to make threats to kill people. Anyway, I was trying to not watch that and the realization came to me suddenly: This man was a little kid once - innocent and lovable - and this is how he's turned out. (Yes, I realize Law and Order is fiction, but unfortunately there are an infinite number of real

At Least I'm Not Dealing With This

I've had a fairly frustrating situation with one of my tutoring clients recently.  However, I came across this old post and had to be glad that I'm not dealing with THIS anymore: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 Suspension Form I suspended a kid today - let's call her "Alexis" - and these are the reasons I gave on her suspension form: Erasing the lesson on the board Ripping up the list of who hadn't done their homework Giving another kid a wet willy Taking pencils away from kids and taunting them as the kids tried to get them back Taking things off my desk Putting Purell on kids' heads Taking stickers off my desk, sticking them on her crotch, and dancing around thrusting her pelvis out Screaming Refusing to go to the office Threatening to "slap the f--- out of" another kid A lot of other threats that ended with "with your ugly old self" I think there might have been more.  She wouldn't leave when the assistant principa

One-Fifth of Their Teachers

The district I used to work for has issued layoff notices to over 20% of their full-time staff .  That is 538 full-time positions out of 2469.  A total of 657 people got notices, since not everyone is full-time. My question: Don't they know they will have students next year?  I can understand budget cuts, but this leads to the same cycle every year.  A commenter on the blog linked above put it well: Last year the lay off of teachers at Oakland Tech was excessive-without concern for projected enrollment.  When the school year began we were short a number of teachers, due to enrollment numbers. The consequence for the school staff-custodial, clerical, certificated, administrative-and students and their families was truly severe. Our administration had to struggle even as school was opening to find replacements for core courses such as English, Mathematics. Many classrooms exceeded 40+ students-waiting to be balanced by the refunding of positions cut just months before. Pe


Although the name of this school always makes me want to call the school next to it "Commodities," it has come very very very far since it started.  All but one teacher got a layoff notice. There's a video here .  Two years ago: More Education News Four years ago: From Mystery to Medicine

Like There Aren't Enough Problems in the District...

... on e of the schools was broken into and vandalized .  This is not a school where the PTA can jump in and help out, and they need help, badly.  If you feel like helping, there are currently two ways: Donors Choose Directly to the school Four years ago: Over-Praising the Children                          Stephanie's Opportunity!

The Trouble with Unions

I've had several people ask me the same basic question about the previous post.   Some variation of this (which I just copied and pasted from the latest email from a friend): I thought it was typically part of the agreements that school districts have with the teachers' unions that required the "last hired, first fired" approach to layoffs.  Is that true?  If so, is it not expected that the layoffs would hit a brand new school like Futures?  Why should I think something different should happen?  Is this not what the teachers have negotiated with the schools? Excellent question.  I answered, but then I ran  my answer by an anonymous teacher friend who helped me edit.  Here is our answer: this part mostly from me, augmented by anonymous friend: You're correct that typically unions have policies of last hired, first fired. The union in this district is no different. In practice, because this is a highly segregated district, teachers with more tenure mov

Victims of the Budget: You Can Help

An email from a teacher at the school I used to work at: I apologize for the mass e-mail, but I wanted to get in touch with you about something that is currently very close to my heart.  I have spoken with many of you about the situation that is unfolding at my school, but I'll just summarize for those of you who haven't had the full story.  Our school is in danger of being dismantled and all the gains we have made in the last four years are in danger of being lost as ALL but one of our classroom teachers will receive lay off notices on March 15th.  This is unfairly affecting communities like ours in traditionally 'hard to staff' schools serving low income communities of color.  We are making a video to document this struggle and advocate for our cause and we need YOUR help!  Please visit our site at make a donation and support us in raising awareness and telling our story. Here is a shortened vers


People keep asking me if I want to go back to the classroom.  I do, in many ways.  I very much want to.  But not full-time.  I really like not being completely exhausted. Thursday, March 04, 2010 Part-Time Teaching The things I like better about part-time teaching (over full-time) By the time I start to get frustrated with the kids, my time with them is over. I can put up with a lot more for 103 minutes than for 6 1/2 hours. I have less planning to do. I have less work to take home. I don't have to go to staff meetings. This way, I can stay out of school politics. Since I'm not at staff meetings, I can claim ignorance when convenient.   I spend less money on copies and supplies. I am less tired (although still tired). I am less stressed out. I am a better teacher because I am less tired and less stressed out. The things I do not like better about part-time teaching. I get paid less.  Yeah, that's pretty much it. One year ago: Part-time Teaching


I have never been laid off from a school.  Apparently I am one of the only ones.  This year, this district is pink slipping over 500 teachers.  I'm going to have a guest post by a teacher soon who is getting one of these letters. The pattern I've seen in this district, every single year has been this: 1. March: Panic about budget, lay off all the teachers they can. 2. March - August: refuse to answer questions about if jobs will be available 3. August: start complaining that there aren't any teachers and there are too many vacancies.  You'd think someone would learn. Layoffs .  More layoffs . Four years ago: School Closings                         They Have a Dream Four years ago: Loyalty and Authority, Part II.  And Attachment                         Kids are Strange

He Smells Like Junk

That's a description of a student's dog.  Really. Wednesday, March 01, 2006 My Sister is Brown Like Me "My sister is Brown like me. She is nice sometimes. She was in my teacher's class last year. She has short and kind of short hair. She smells like soap. She helps grandma clean up the house, because she likes cleaning up the house. I love my sister. My grandma loves my sister. I do too. My sister is the best. THE END" No, I didn't write this, and my sister is not, in fact, brown. This is one girl's descriptive writing assignment. I was going to write more about the loyalty and authority but I'm kind of overwhelmed right now (I can't keep up with my own paperwork and mess, let alone the paperwork and mess of 20 children) so I thought I'd share the kids' descriptive writing. The assignment was to pick something and describe it, using as many senses as possible. The things the kids picked to describe ranged from people (by