Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reality check

This has been floating around for a time. 
I work hard I admit it.  but some of this stuff, glance again.

"The Teacher Advancement Program, which uses both student test results and observational methods to assess teaching effectiveness, concluded that 85% of teachers were effective."

Uhm..define "effective" and 85%?
We have higher education, but I am still bothered by one stat.  Teachers are mostly lower class women with below average IQs. 

I was at a workshop once and the moderator says "look we are all diverse."  Contrary me had to point out.  "no we are not of the 50 something people, only 3 are men, the rest are women and the minorities do not represent the averages in this state".

"The national average teaching salary is $56,069 (starting teaching salary is $35,672). Teachers also usually spend a lot of money out of pocket for classroom supplies, grade papers on the weekends, and spend hours after school prepping for lessons." Okay I'll buy this.  Nurses average $66,000.  Why use nurses?  Because like teachers they need a bachelor's degree and like teachers, it is a job mostly for women.  I have a master's and make far less than the average, but I live in a rural area.  Compared to the household incomes here, I make a great deal.    Possibly a better number would be "compared to the average of the area and the cost of living."

Myth  3 
“Teaching experience doesn’t matter because anyone can teach.”

I will agree with that,  though I would counter that many things such as handling people and knowledge, you do not need to go to four years of college to learn this.

"...teachers work an average of 53 hours a week."  How many other professions work extra hours?  Salesmen?  Business people?  Realtors?

Myth 5 "Teachers are solely responsible for learning."

"According to the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching and Hillary Clinton, it takes a village to raise a child."

What?  Hillary?  Teachers are the most important factor in education.  We can and do make a difference.  I and my dedicated colleagues are swining in there every day.

"that incentivizing teachers with bonus pay based on good results, without good professional develop programs in place, does not make a notable difference in student results nor does it increase teacher motivation."

Maybe.  But I have seen other studies that say students perform better when there are incentives for teachers.  There is also this, if we pay the good teachers more, they can stay in education.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Trapped by technology

I have a smart board type thing.  The name (smart board, mimeo, promethian...) does not matter.

What does matter is last week it died.  IT cleaned the filter, replaced the bulb and it still does not work.

The people before me put the thing into the dry wipe board.  Why the blank wall on the side is beyond me.  So now I have no way to write demonstrations to my students.  Plan B is I taped bulletin board paper to the wall and used that to write on.

Thursday a bank of lights in my room dies, along with the lights in office, supply room and alcove between my classroom and another.  It had a back up projector on the blank wall so it died to.  Friday by fourth period they managed to fix it.

But this week I talked to my husband.  There is a now a shower wall board, dry wipe board on the blank wall.  I dare anybody in authority to complain.  "look the maintaince people are busy with care of the bathrooms, fixing the roof in the art room and other stuff.  I've been asking for a dry wipe there for a year.  Be grateful my husband does not bill you for time and materials."

My eighth period students were impressed by my fixing of the problem and offered to help with the installation.

"national walk in day"

Some struggling students came in for help Friday morning.  I offered to print up their grades, but a colleague was using the copier for a long term run.  I told them they could come by after my conference to pick it up.
They laughed as said they may not be in.
"really?"  teacher spidey sense is tiggling.
"Mrs. W, if everybody walks out, they can't write everybody up can they?"
"do you think Mr. Jefferson (principal) won't do that?  He was willing to send all the girls who were going to wear tights home.  Do not bluff him, he will not blink."

Later that morning, through the intercom came the principal's voice,  "I have an announcement for the students. I have been told it's national walk out day.  That is exactly what we are going to do.  At three fifteen we are all going to walk out.  Until then any student who leaves can celebrate national walk in day Monday after Thanksgiving.  You can walk in with your parents."

Sunday, November 3, 2013


When I did computer tech support, we used many codes for summarizing what the problem was.

PEBKC  problem exist between keyboard and chair, this means the customer did not know what to do or keep making the same mistake when told other wise.  It was my job to help and as long as the client followed my phone instructions we were okay.  "now, unplug and replug the computer." 

"it looks plugged in"

*sigh* "humor me please, sometimes they look plugged in, just check."

RTFM  read the flipping manual, for my clients the instructions were there.  Granted like I point out how do you do instrutions.

For my student FTFR, Follow the flipping rubric.  For lab write ups, it is the same "yes you have to write a summary, it is on the rubric posted on the walls and on the clipboards at every station.  Eleven weeks into the year and I still have students who do not follow it.  Then ask me why they lost points.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I am a veteran and have several relatives who are also.

Every now and then students talk to me about joining the military.  I have no bone to pick with them one way or another.  For many this is the only way to get out of the small rural town.  Money for college is not easily seen.  I asked her the question I ask any student who talks about joining the military.

"could you kill a person in cold blood?"

Our current enemies are not nice, or noble. They are scary, violent and evil people.  They do not respect the Geneva Convention.  Prisoners are not treated with the Red Cross in mind.

She binked.  (of course)  "no"

"Then maybe you do not need to join."

"But would I have to fight, I want to be a nurse."

Scary world 101 coming.

"you are assigned to Afghanistan.  Your unit is overrun by the Taliban.  There are wounded you are responsible for and you are the only thing between them and certain bloody, horrible death.  What do you do?"

She's thinking.  She likes the idea of travel and perked up at the thought of doing the medic, nurse, physicians assistant route.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

finding awesomeness

My colleague  who teaches choir was relating his day.  Instead of hitting the snooze he unplugged his clock.  He awoke at about 10 minutes before the first bell.  He charged into his middle school class and one of his 6th grade students was at the podium putting the class through warm ups.

I am so looking forward to teaching this child.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I have proof insanity runs in our family.

My daughter is teaching under the same non traditonal program I went through.

Though she is teaching english.  In fact she is the English department at a small rural school.

"so are you trying to save them all or is it Triage?"

"its Triage mom, there are students who will learn, even without me; there are those that mess up; then there are those that are borderline.  Those are the ones I focus on."

We spend a lot of time and effort on those that will not succeed at the loss of those who with just a little nudge will excel. Not that I will give up on any student.  I have one coming around the bend, though his buddy moved and I have no idea where he went.

for the first time

I am doing something I have never done in ten years as a teacher.

I am joining the union.

Our state insurance board has mismanaged the money, nothing criminal just inept; and we are facing a fifty percent increase in our insurance premiums.

I live in a right to work state.  Then I talked to many people and found out how many things I take from granted are because of the union.

So much for my tea party membership.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lab ventriliquism

To teach teamwork use in a lab, I have students do different jobs.  I randomly assign the groups and the students decide their jobs.  So the instructions for the first lab on the board read
"Go to your lab stations"
"Decide jobs"

"perform lab"


The jobs are coordinator
                    Quartermaster responsible for getting supplies
                    Operator actually does lab

"Mrs. W. we have a question."
"okay, Who's your coordinator?"
student who called pointed to other student
Me:  "okay, Chad what is your question?"
They realize I will only talk to the Coordinator.
First student to Chad, "ask her if this is the graduated cylinder we use?"
Chad, "is this the Graduated cylinder we use?"
Me: "have you asked your lab partners?"

*gotta love being obtuse but this is to train them how to be a team and not keep asking me for help*

One go round with a group had a student who was talking "You mean I was right?"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book of the day

Shakespeare's Star Wars

I'm driving the family nuts reading outloud.

And having my Star Wars figures act it out.

It is not bad. It is really not bad.

letters of recommendation

As a high school teacher I am asked to write letters of recommendation for students.  I have found some things over time.

1.  Have somebody proofread your letter.  It is hard for somebody to take a recommendation from somebody who does not write well.

2.  When the student asks for the letter, ask for a resume.  "Tell me what you do, remind me.  There may be something important.  Are you a cheerleader, chess club, church leader?"

3.  Be specific.  "John has excellent leadership abilities.  Every lab experiment he is the coordinator for the group."

4.  Key words.  "leadership", "teamwork", "compassion", "effort",  "hardworking", "academic excellence"

5.  Let the reader hear the student.  "in conversations with John, he has told me..."  "other students tell me John likes everybody and never says a bad word about anybody."

6.  Tell the reader what you think the student will add to the institution.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Wall street journal had an opinion article on Mainstreaming special education students.

This was a lot of conversation at the table in our house.  Anybody outside of education would be astounded by what the law is.

(this is highly, highly simplified)

There are generally two types of students who qualify, first is special education.  These are students who cannot learn as fast or as well as other students.  Say what we used to call "mentally retarded".  Johnny can't learn as well as other students.  He gets more time for tests, and limited multiple test responses (say remove "a", and on tests hard open response are removed.  A person outside would think, "hey, its not the same.  This student does not know as much as the other students"  No, but it is the law.

The other type is 504.  These are students with disabilities with learning.  Sight problems, hearing problems.  These are students who can learn, there is just something in the way.  Let us say that Jeffrey is deaf in is right ear.  I must put his seat so his left ear is toward me.  Jennifer just plan has vision problems and needs large text books and tests.  This can work.  But what happens when Jeffrey keeps moving out of that assigned seat?  I spend time getting him back into the seat.  Did Jennifer fail because she cannot see the text to read it, or because she spends all her time talking with her buddies?  Now, toss in ADD or ADHD which is physical... and a whole new thing has opened up.

There are others ESL, or others.

We can fail students who do not perform, I could and can document, "I did everything and your child did not perform."  I know of lazy special education teachers.  Many are hard working, dedicated and patient etc.  One, would about every two months send an email asking how the special education students were doing in my class and I would choke down "It is on the electronic grading, look it up yourself."

"Mary," has been in special education for a long time.  It was not notacible in the Elementary grades, but as her buddies moved on, she fell behind.  But because she's been mainstreamed for so long nobody steps forward and says, "she needs to go to lifestyle classes."  The keep going with the flow.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I need to have this shirt before the school year starts.

Earn it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"who are the people in your cell block"

Somebody beat that before me.

Sesame Street has a muppet whose father is in jail.

on one hand they say that 1 in 28 children have a parent in jail.

let's see I have about 100 students, would be about 4 students...the are one whose father got arrested
for shoplifting so my students are close.

Children are not at fault for their parents, but if I have sympathy, it is for victims.

" we'll Alex it's sad your dad is in jail. What did he do?"

"oh he tried to cap a guy who stole his stash and shot the guy's daughter."

Maybe we are confusing normal with "acceptable."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

computers and poverty

The community I live in is building a new library.  Best news is, it is right down the street from me.  Huzzah!  The millage increase is only the second tax increase I have voted for.  One reason for the new library is the need for internet.  In my small community, half the population does not have internet and uses public services.

The school I work at has a technology center for parents and students to use in the evening...awesome idea.

Then there is this...

Which says giving computers to low income families did not raise grades. 
I am curious...did the families receive any training?  What programs were on it?  How was the study and control chosen? How long was the study?  Was there monitoring of the situation?

Computer use _can_ just break down to games and looking up things and copying stuff from the web.  But also can open up a lot of things.  And it takes time.  As I told my students "read" online of any silly type is reading.

Let me plug for this...

It is out of Austin Texas  (Taylor).  They give new and rebuilt computers along with internet access to poor kids.  The computers run Linux, which is free and you can easily search for and install new programs, also for free.. (takes me less than 5 minutes to get a new program on counting a reboot)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How do I know it is summer.  It time for the 2 a day shower.  Yesterday after riding the bike and gardening, I had to shower before the doctor appointment (Lab work).  Then after the range had to shower before doing anything else.  This morning had to shower (long story) and after a day at an auction and out beating the training dummy, definitely must shower.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

reading in the bathroom

I was cleaning out the dresser holding craft stuff in the laundry room.  Afterward I was drinking water per doctor's orders and realized I was tasting soap.  After wondering if the dishwasher was acting up I realized it was the soap in one of the drawers I was experiencing.  I went and took a bath (hot baths in this household are the first treatment we have for being sick.) and going through the shelves I found a copy of _Grumbles_From_the_Grave, an editing of Heinlein's by his widow.  I do not remember where we purchased it but it looks water logged.  I sat down in the tub and read copies of his correspondence with his editors.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

There was a girl fight in my class last week.  Something that had been boiling up for a while.

Then there was this.   During a kindergarten graduation two teenage girls got into a fight at which point the adults instead of breaking it up got into the fight too.

Well what do you expect when those who are supposed to protect us do this.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

teacher survival kit

Version less than 1.0

Duct tape, preferally stylish.  For repairing.  (mostly notebooks)
Throat coat tea
Germ x
listerine tabs

Friday, May 24, 2013

run for the hills

I am very fond of the students I taught at the school I worked at until this year.  So went to graduation.

there are 4 boys there who received the nickname "four horsemen".  They were not bad kids, heck any parent would be proud of them.  Just together they are a handful.

One of them was Salutitorium.

The Apocalypse is upon us.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Snarkness rising

I have to have several days of training next year with some kind of additional training teacher school.  Me and several colleagues.  I get a letter saying, "you are accepted, here's the dates and location.  Please acknowledge..." type thing. Being a loyal pawn...employee, I send my RSVP.

Little while later email pings back.

"We are excited to have you.  "

Why?  You do not know me.  You do no know what I need or what can offer or what I want?

"If you know someone who was not selected, please encourage them to re-apply next year.  There were many qualified applicants and a limited number of spots, so the selection process was especially difficult and challenging this year."

  The only reason I signed up was because I was ordered to.  Those that applied from my school are like me.  The school wants us all to attend whether we want to or not.  I think that instead of driving the 3 hours there, spending 3 days....I'd be better if I just had some time to think and plan.

No, of course I did not send the letter.  But that is my feelings.

Now in fairness many of my co workers have gone, and think that it helps them.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I haveconstantly hungry students.

The next time I show Solyent Green I think the day of the reveal I'll have this on hand.

texas my nickels worth

We do not see what happened before.  The teacher is remaining calm, just what you need to do most times with a student so you do not escalate the situation.  Then again the desk set up is like a fort.
(I hate the idiot who puts the smart board thing behind the demo lab station in my room)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hurdle done.

I have submitted my application for national teacher certification.
Now I have to send messages to people to verify that I have a teaching degree, license and have taught for three years.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

take a chance

Years ago, there was a TV show by the creators of All in the Family.  "Good Times", it was about a poor black family in the public housing.  They were not shown on welfare or support (though I'm sure technically they were eligible for it)  The father worked, hard physical labor but not enough they could move out to a not crime ridden place.
The series was known for J.J. and his catch phrase "dynomite."
In retrospect one episode, now has struck me.  The father had a chance to go and work on the Alaska pipeline, making good money.
The family complained they would loose friends and their way of life if they moved.  And the wife objected to the husband going on his own.

I realize this was simply a sit com, but why not take a chance?  Why stay in a place with no chance of advancement, in one of the most dangerous and corrupt cities in America?  Alaska (or Texas or the Dakotas or other places...) had/has vast opportunities.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

bolt from the blue

I have students who still do not understand the basic naming of chemical compounds.  I mean how hard is it to understand "copper (II)..."  means the copper has a plus 2 charge?  Then I realized.  "They do not want to learn it."  They are perfectly content to muddle through ignorant.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Need more geeks

A while back I bought some T shirts to wear on tshirt day.  For college day I had "star trek academy engineering" shirt.  I have also a Miskantonic shirt.  In addition I have a Wonder Woman shirt with the simple "WW" logo from the Women's lib age.  A student asked me why I had a World Wrestling shirt on.

Monday, March 18, 2013 many?

The Steubenville rape case has been talked about to death.

27 coaches are being investigated....27 in a town of 18,000.  There is your first problem people, even assuming that the coaches are also teaching traditional academics.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


the Administration had a survey for the students.  One question was "what can the adults do to help students be better students.?"  A student asked for help on the last idea.

"well let me see what you have ?"

Item 4 "it is hard to get excited about learning when some teachers do not care.  Some do, *colleague*, Me, and *another colleague*.  But others just go through the motions."


(I was sure to tell my colleagues they were mentioned in this way.)

good for the goose...

Yep, every state representative, teacher, education administrator, senator, congressman and any person who makes decisions for education should have to take the standardized test.  Heck, if they fail they should loose their jobs.  Maybe then they might look and say "do high school graduates really need the knowledge these tests are about."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

This is a buret.  It is used to titrate chemicals.  It gives you great precision in the amount of chemicals added.  the part that controls the flow of chemicals is the "stopcock"  (stop that, its because you "cock" it to control or stop the flow).  The part that the chemical comes out of is the "nipple."  (Siiigh, gotta love teaching teenagers)

Sometimes the stopcock will stick.  There are a few tricks to loosen it, soaking it in warm water or soda.  There is something that will help prevent this from happening.

So the bookkeeper is gonna love my purchase order of "stopcock grease."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

decisions, decisions

For her birthday, the drama teacher wants people to wear costumes.  A few kids asked permission to go to the closet and get some costumes.

Star Wars rebel trooper outfit.  Grania O'malley outfit (pirate queen of Ireland during Queen do it right need weapons), Jedi, Viking dress...

Checked the batteries in my lightsabers, I'm ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I have to cover for some colleagues during standardized tests this week.  If the teachers do not give me work for the students I'm going to show classes. fiddler on the roof.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

soar like an eagle

When writing up lab exercises, students must report on "cause of error."  Now a mistake is not an error.  "we poured too much in..."  Well do it again.  "We made a math error..." go back and check your math. 

An error is something keeping you from getting the accepted results that no matter how careful you are, you have no control over.

such things are

Human error in making measurements, "measure twice cut once" anybody?

Two people can measure with a ruler and get close measurements but not the same...the eye can see different things.

"the chemicals may be old."  Well guys this is fine...I'm cleaning out the stuff from the last teacher and no telling how long some of those chemicals have been  in there.

Today I got a doozey of an error.

"Disfunctional lab group."  Erum...I can't argue with that.  Groups of teenagers with their drama problems.

Though I did suggest to the student part of lab groups is to help the other people.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nonsense.  One hundred fifty years people said there was no more science to discover, then quantum physics came.  Even individual discovery is possible.
Nonsense.  One hundred fifty years people said there was no more science to discover, then quantum physics came.  Even individual discovery is possible.

Friday, February 1, 2013

quote of the day

Single replacement lab.

Great, lab.  Students see all the signs of reactions.  Color change, precipitate formation, gas formed.

Simple lab, and excellent chance to develop lab skills.  Rinse everything with distilled water, keep your goggles and glove on.

Put the metals in the test tube and add solutions.

Student, "there's nothing happening."

Lab buddy, "fool, we haven't put the solution in yet."


Saturday, January 26, 2013


50 smart phone apps

Hmm, the first five is grading and attendance.  This is all computerized now, so why would I need one on my smart phone. 

Speaking for me personally, I do not want to have education apps on my smartphone.  I lobotomized my smart phone, it has a few apps, but I buy minutes for phoning and texting.  I need to get with my technlogy people and get it hooked on the wireless.  I try and the thing spits me out,  I think I'm doing it right.  I could just be a luddite.

Social networking.  After 5 minutes if I do not find what I want I give up.  It is not the lack of information, it is the overload of information.  Or 3 pages of google search which is the same thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

banks concealed carry

My husband plays bridge in the conference room of a bank after hours (some bridge players are on the Board).  They heard a noise outside.  Players asked him to go check.  Bank closed, People inside.  Could be a target for some riffraff.  Turned out to be nothing.  But the same people when over time found out husband carried asked why he felt he needed to.


A student came in and wanted a picture of her and me.  I'm good for another three months.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

get your smokey on

Had a student set off the fire extinguisher in class.  And there was no fire. I was outside having hall duty when I noticed "smoke."  After extracting a, uhm , seriously questioning the students, I had the culprit.
He was suspended.  Students asked if he were going to be expelled.  "no, we don't do that for popping a fire extinguisher, heck we don't even do that for selling drugs on campus."
One day, I am going to ask him,  "what were you thinking?"

I am the mother of a boy, I know what he was thinking.  "what happens if I ...."