Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quote of the Week: 5/23-5/27

We're talking about stocks in my personal wealth management class this week and I have to say, the kids like this shit. The ability to do your own research and "bet" on something you believe in really resonates with them. Especially since they now know they're earning jack shit from their savings accounts. Inflation also pisses them off.

Anyway, as I was trying to drill home the idea of dividends, I kept getting interrupted by students asking thoughtful questions. These were great questions, so I answered each one with a lot of detail. So at one point, Arturo, who is a very promising student, blurts out this gem:
"Alright, y'all stop bein' rude and askin' all these questions. Seriously, we're trying to get through a lesson here and I need to know all of this shit. [Pause] Haha, no just kidding, ask. But, let's get through the lesson too..."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mo' Tests, Mo' Problems

Against any form of logic, New York City education officials are apparently thinking about forcing New York students to take more standardized tests. According to this NYT article, the sole purpose of these new tests will be to determine teacher effectiveness.

So if I'm a New York State student, I have to take and pass five Regents exams to graduate. If I want to go to college, I have to take the SAT. If I want to go to college and not take remedial courses, I have to take and pass more Regents. And if this new initiative goes through, I have to take eight more standardized tests.

I feel so bad for the children growing up in this country right now. School has gone from a place that is supposed to help you grow and develop as a productive member of society to a year-long test prep session.

Why even have high school? Why not just one big exam that tests everything you ever need to know in high school?

Oh wait, that's the GED.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Night and Good Luck

It's raining today. It's also May. To say we experienced some extremely shitty attendance would be an understatement. 

In fact, I think today set some sort of record. I co-teach my 5th period class with a first-year math teacher. That means for that specific period, there are two teachers in one room. Two teachers. One room. And no, it's not a "special education" class. It's a regular Algebra class that just happens to have two teachers. An amazing opportunity for students to receive instruction in multiple ways and receive one-on-one support.

Exhibit A below shows the attendance for 5th period today. I've blocked out all the names obviously.

Exhibit A: 5th period attendance
What you are seeing is correct: exactly one student was present today. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This student also happens to be a student whose attendance is quite terrible. In fact, when this student is here, he usually skips his classes and strolls the school's hallways, or tries to play in the gym every single period.

Exhibit B below is a picture I took of the shared classroom during 5th period.

Exhibit B: Student taking advantage of one-on-one time.
"I ain't doing work today. But I got suspended the last time I cut this class, so Imma just go to sleep."

"Absolutely not, why don't we try to get you caught up with the rest of the class? You're failing because you haven't turned anything in, nor have you showed up for any of the tests." I suggested.

"No. I ain't doing anything. I'm sleeping. Good night."

Good night and good luck.

Regents Add Test Results to Teacher Evaluations

To quote one of my colleagues, "This is what happens when people who never work in schools make policy on education." Read the New York Times article here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Table Manners

Today, a student of mine commented, "Mista, what were your parents like? I bet they made you eat at the table with manners, and force you into conversation. No wonder you sound so much like white people."

My mother and I are eating dinner in the kitchen. The TV is on: I'm watching The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and thinking how fucking cool it would be if I had a magical flute that could awaken a giant green mechanized dragon and do my bidding. My mother is sitting next to me, lost in thought and drinking her tea, as always. I'm eating homemade pasta with marinara sauce. The baby monitor is on next to me.

My younger brother is asleep in his crib upstairs. I was nine when he was born, so I took care of him as often as I played with him.

Suddenly, my mom and I hear the garage door open from the kitchen. It's my dad.

It's also Saturday evening.

There's only one place he could be coming back from on a Saturday evening: the liquor store. In fact, he probably started his conversation with Jack Daniels early in the parking lot and has now driven home drunk. Of course, I could be wrong. I'm only ten.

"Oh. I see. Mother and son sitting together. How nice," my father slurs as he stumbles in. I was right.

"Do you want something to eat?" my mother asks innocently.

"No, bitch. I'd never eat anything cooked with your hands you motherfucking cunt. How dare you fucking even use the food in this house?"

"Hey... It's Saturday night, why don't we put on a movie downstairs in the family room? With the surround sound and everything?" my mother deflects.

On TV, I'm hoping the Green Ranger can slay this monster down. In life, I'm worried my dad's voice will wake my brother up, so I bring my food upstairs to my room and turn on my own TV, but keep the volume low. I wonder if I'll be sleeping tonight. I also check to make sure my door's lock works: it was just replaced after being broken.

"You motherfucker, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE BITCH!" I hear something shatter, and suddenly the baby monitor comes alive. I bring my brother to my room and close the door enough so I can peek and scope out the battle scene: it sounds like someone broke a glass. I can hear my mom pleading to let us rest tonight. The vase on top of the cabinet next to the microwave is missing. Bingo.

I turn around and hold my brother in my arms. But really I'm just covering his ears. This will be over soon little buddy. He's bound to pass out. Then we can pretend nothing happened tomorrow.

I hear a loud THUD and then screaming. My name. My mom.

I put my brother down and run downstairs to see my dad choking my mom. Everything is in slow motion, but I remember jumping on top of his back and swinging away, punching as hard as I can on his neck, ears, shoulders, whatever I can find.

My mom breaks away with my dad's attention drawn. He swings me off by flipping me over his back.

After what seemed to be a few seconds, I realize I had been on the ground for ten minutes blacked out. I had landed on my head.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lost in Translation

Attendance on Friday is usually atrocious. As a result, it is extremely difficult to introduce new material, as I usually have to then re-introduce it the following Monday. Most teachers at my school utilize Friday as a review day, a catch-up day or provide students with in-class time to work on larger assignments.

A colleague of mine decided to use his class time on such a Friday to get students to work on their writing assignment using laptops. Two students, Jamil and Antoine, decided they weren't going to work on their assignment. Jamil, whose attendance is pretty impressive, shockingly still fails most of his classes. Antoine's attendance is terrible, and when he does come to school, he's usually stoned out of his mind. Seriously, this guy has the potential to be very successful starring in anti-drug commercials. Anyway, Jamil and Antoine put on some music on their laptops and begin to plan their evening. My dear colleague decided to type up this gem of a conversation. Here's the transcript, in full. Enjoy.  

"We need to do dat again, but everyone needs to have a dime. We need mo' den four blunts for thirty people," Jamil says.

"Yo, why dis shit still not workin, n*gga?" Antoine asks.

"Yo deadass do my n*gga," Jamil replies.

"N*ggas was dum high. No funny shit."

"We always have bud, but now we don't got da crib."

"You can't depend on Carlos. Cuz Carlos some lowkey n*gga."

"You know me, I woulda been up there with like, a dime."

"Carlos be wylin'."

"Wassup wit after skool do n*gga?"

"You got da crib? I'm sposed to be cuffin lata. Word. I'm sposed to be cuffin lata, I'm tryina think."

"Dat bitch can wait," Jamil says.

"I always got time for the homies." Antoine replies.

"I'm bout to sell this game... Red Dead Redemption."

"That's a pothead move. Sell a game for sum weed."

"That n*gga said a dolla and some change, my n*gga [inaudible, unintelligible] my n*gga, my n*gga..."

"Two blunts for four of us? We not gonna get high right."

[Jamil puts on some really bad rap music and starts moving his arms around and closes his eyes.] 

"This is fire Mista: 'shorty go hard. one cheek, two cheek'."

[Antoine gets up and walks to the door.]

"Ay yo. You better don't have my name in dat," Antoine says. 

[With his friend Antoine gone, Jamil sits and stares at the computer with a slack jaw, bobbing his head up and down.]

Monday, May 2, 2011

Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Sadly, I think I've come to the point now where an e-mail like the one below doesn't faze me anymore.
Hey Folks,
I received a phone call from Justin's mother, she was informing us that Justin got arrested yesterday. Hopefully he will be back in school by Monday. Justin will bring documentation from the court. 
School Aide