Dec 6, 2010
Dec 5, 2010
I have a problem with that last one though. When I first asked myself that question it came out so naturally. And now I am a little disappointed that it did. It should never be "Am I doing enough?" It should be "Am I doing everything I can?"
I know I could be doing more.
Nov 30, 2010
Nov 18, 2010
Oct 29, 2010
I think that is pretty freakin' cool.
Oct 24, 2010
Year One - I came in after a teacher had left, so already it was a given that I was appreciated. In addition, many students were Juniors and Seniors and our humor stayed at the same level. They were accustomed to 'the other' math teachers who're typically older and old school. Mr. G was refreshing.Year Two - My first batch I taught from start to finish, and the establishing coolness wasn't as easy without the assist. The coolness was there, don't take me wrong. I'm the coolest teacher out there. But, just... not THAT cool.Year Three - My first full load of freshmen, where humor is somewhere completely different. Some even consider freshmen a completely different race from human being. The defenses are high when you're in your first year of high school. The adjustment was a difficult one. Again, still cool... but not THAT cool.
Oct 21, 2010
I have a conference set up with his parents and the principal on Monday.
I am worried for this kid.
Oct 20, 2010
He is EXPLOSIVE. The class walks on egg shells around him.
And here is my dilemma. Why should we have to do that? I have analyzed this situation many times hoping to find an explanation for his behavior. How convenient would that be if I could link his behavior to turmoil at home... but that is not the case. Here is what I know: His parents don't hate him, I don't hate him, and his classmates don't hate him. There is something within this kid that is raging, and I don't know why.
But there are 27 other kids in the class. Kids who are going through their own battles. And they are still genuinely trying to help him. I am trying to help him. But he doesn't see it as help. He sees it as an attack. And he attacks back.
I will keep trying to help you. I promise I won't give up on you. But I will not sweep 27 kids under the rug, for you.
Oct 1, 2010
Sep 30, 2010
Sep 28, 2010
Sep 24, 2010
Sep 21, 2010
"I want you to write me a letter. In this letter, you can say whatever you want. You can tell me a story, you can tell me about yourself, you can say 'whattup dawg' like I'm an old friend. You can tell me: Mr. G, I'll be honest with you I hate math and I hate homework - so don't expect much from me... At the very least, I want you to answer the five questions listed on the prompt. I want at least a page. Other that, tell me whatever. It's your chance to tell me whatever you feel you need to tell me as we begin this school year."
Sep 19, 2010
Sep 18, 2010
Aug 26, 2010
He has committed and demanded double digit gains on our test scores each year for the next six years. And as I looked around the room, everyone looked inspired. I have never seen my faculty so unified. I hope we can mantain the enthusiasm throughout the school year!
Aug 12, 2010
PRESS RELEASE August 12, 2010
Assembly Appropriations Committee
The student-centered initiative designed to streamline the transfer process can be implemented by the community colleges in record time and available to students by fall 2011
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As community college students prepare to head back to school for the fall semester, the California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations today in a unanimous vote approved the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, Senate Bill 1440. If the initiative passes the Legislature and is signed into law, community college students seeking to transfer to a California State University will have a streamlined process by fall 2011 that will save them time and money while generating resources for the two systems of higher education to serve more students.
The important bill, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), is strongly supported by the California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott and California State University Chancellor Charles Reed.
“Students attending our colleges often express concerns about the complex and confusing transfer process,” said Chancellor Scott. “This transfer initiative will put an end to the confusion and serve as a student passport to the California State University system.”
Currently, each of the 112 locally governed community colleges sets its own requirements for graduation and each CSU campus determines its own prerequisites for accepting community college transfer students. The requirements and prerequisites vary by campus and can also change each year. Senate Bill 1440 charges the two systems with establishing a set process that guarantees community college transfer students with a 2.0 GPA admission to a CSU campus at junior status while also granting them an associate degree.
California students and taxpayers will benefit from transfer reform. Many transfer students take up to a full year of classes beyond the semester units required for a bachelor’s degree. These extra units cost the public millions of dollars. By standardizing the transfer process, students can take fewer classes at the community colleges and CSU thus increasing efficiency in both systems.
During the hearing the California Department of Finance estimated the transfer efficiencies will generate approximately $75 million annually in cost savings for the California Community Colleges and $85 million for the CSU. The funds would be used to provide access to roughly 40,000 additional community college students and nearly 14,000 CSU students each year.
To date the bill has not seen opposition in the Legislature. It was approved by the California State Senate on June 1 in a 35-0 vote and by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on June 22 in a 9-0 vote. Next the bill will head to the Assembly and Senate floors where it will be heard before August 31 and is expected to go to the governor’s desk to sign into law in September.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.9 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training, a basic skills education and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.
Aug 3, 2010
Jul 18, 2010
One of the big questions I think our administrators (district and state) are missing is
"how do we utilize and network the talents of our faculty and staff to develop professionally and to develop communities?"
This may seem a bit silly, but my inspiration was an episode of "Deadliest Warrior." They had pitted the GSG9 against the SWAT team. One of the differences between these groups that resonated with me was related to specialization. The GSG9 had a minimum bar of performance their soldiers were required to learn and then they could specialize. The SWAT team members were equally trained and if one member had been killed, then any teammate could take that person's place. Now this seems a bit of an exaggeration compared to our experiences as teachers, but I find this to be a pretty big question. Should a school systematically train different teachers and staff in different specializations? Specializations could be in the topics of technology or literacy or mentoring teachers. Or should the schools train teachers equally to be prepared for the untimely exit of teachers?
I like the idea of specialization better. There is so much to master and learn about in this profession. Seems that we should share the intellectual workload. But the SWAT team did win that episode.
Jun 30, 2010
Spring 07: Last semester of collegeSummer 07: OTF Summer InstituteFall 07 to Spring 08: First Year of TeachingSummer 08: Algebra Academy Summer SchoolFall 08 to Spring 09: Second Year of TeachingSummer 09: Volunteering AbroadFall 09 to Spring 10: Third Year of Teaching
May 3, 2010
Please guide me to be an instrument of your love and peace. Help me to understand the fact that my students are just children, and they still have a lot to learn. Help me to teach them which is the better choice to make when they're faced with right or wrong decisions.
I don't want to be the one to cause them to fear or hate themselves or others. I want to be the one who inspires them to love one another as you love us, and to forgive as you forgive us.
This work is difficult, and I think the reason you chose me to do this work is because you know that it's something that I would eventually be able to handle. I hope that I'm learning how to be a better teacher. Please grant me the strength to practice patience and kindness when it comes to my students and helping them to be not only better learners but also better people.
You are my stronghold. Through your Word I find joy in hope, patience in suffering, and perseverance in faith. Rather than seeking to understand, help me to seek how to be best understood. May all my life, my words and my actions be a testament of your perfection and your unconditional love.
Also, please watch over my students. When I can't be there for them, or when they're being tempted by evil, please send your Holy Spirit to guide and protect them.
P.S. I just confiscated a notebook from one of my students who was "taking notes" while he was supposed to be reading. After his 3rd warning for not reading, I took his notebook away. On the cover it says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5. Oh, the irony.
May 2, 2010
May 1, 2010
Apr 28, 2010
Apr 27, 2010
Student 1: "Achooo!" (Loud sneeze)
Other Students: ::look up, distracted briefly::
Student 2: "Uh uh. Nope. Hell nah."
Me: "Uh, you're supposed to say 'bless you'"
Student 2: "Nope."
Me: "Bless you student 1."
Other Students: ::smile::
Apr 14, 2010
I observe a dull saw and a tired tired human spirit so I ask him, "Well, why don't you take a break to sharpen that saw?"
"There's no time," he says, "there's no time. I gotta saw them into logs."
I've been caught in a routine that's kept my head above water. I'm hanging on til the end, but I've lost the strength that was my momentum months ago. Nothings changed, but my saws become dull. It's time to take a step back.
Don't count down the days; make the days count.
Apr 3, 2010
I chose to look at NCLB - bad choice because since I'm interested, I'm gonna get dragged into tangents such as policy debates, letters to the editor, angry blog posts, etc. I rehashed this Google Reader share from my buddy on Bill Maher and John Legend's take. My thoughts follow.
Just got in a good viewing of this since I've been reading herra stuff on the subject. Funny how the final line is "In the battle to reform schools, whose side are you on—Maher's or Legend's?"
This ending line is indicative of how people have been framing the issue - that it's one-dimensional, that there is a black and white, that there is a silver bullet. Nah uh.
I appreciate some things that Maher says, but he is a pundit with a myopic, white male, middle class view of the situation. The Ledge acknowledges the good points and nuances with some situational information. In the end though, he's not a teacher. He's a singer, albeit a good one who does an amazing throwback to the days of Motown. Damn, I love tangents like Mr. G. Anyhow, the views aren't at odds.
In short - it's a much more complicated issue and requires buy-in across disciplines and institutions outside of Education. Also, it requires a paradigm shift to make education a true value - no more lip service.
In shorter - we're f*cked.
Ok, time to get back to my homework.
Mar 17, 2010
In one speech: "I enjoy being a teacher because my life's become simple. Each day I know what I want from my kids. Each year I know what I'd like us to accomplish. And in this profession, I know my ultimate goal."
I'm fresh off a meeting w/ my entire staff - a room full of teachers. We come together to discuss the progress of our school and a plan for it's future. The entire 100 was sectioned off into 5 groups and I was put in charge of one. And though the agenda was dropped on me so late, I did my best to encourage fruitful discussion between those teachers in my group. Push-back from the veteran's is expected by now when I'm put into these types of situations, but fruitful discussion was still had.
I share the same sentiment: I feel purpose in this profession. And when I feel purpose, things become simple. The powers that drives great teaching are multi-faceted and the lives that drive my students are even more so - complexities upon complexities. But I do know my ultimate goal and this is a goal I am invested in.
I want my students to succeed. All of them. I want this school to improve. I want this district to improve. I want all these kids to get the education they deserve. All that mumbo jumbo about closing the achievement gap is mumbo jumbo I dedicate myself to.
Thus, what I felt so strongly only a month or so ago feels difficult to do. Jumping ship to another district. Uprooting myself to a new place because, really, I'm too young to be here too long.
A part of me wants to stay and see this purpose through. Teaching, you've got a hold on me.
Mar 12, 2010
Mar 4, 2010
Feb 28, 2010
Feb 4, 2010
Student A: ::Shakes body with ruler in hand as if he's having a seizure::
Student B: ::Tapping ruler on desk::
Student C: ::Whistling::
Student D: ::Grabs student B's pencil to play keep away::
Student B: ::Stops taping ruler to retrieve pencil::
Me, thinking to self: "I can't believe I have to live through 5 periods worth of freshmen doin' this type of thing every day." So I voice: "Man, you freshmen got so much energy. I can't match it everyday."
Student C: "Yeah, it's like we in kindergarten."
Me: "Yeah, I agree.... cept, the thing about kindergarteners... at least they're cute."
Student D, directing comment to Student C: "OoooooOooo, Mr. G just called you UGLY!"
In response, Student C: "Yeah, you too."
Feb 1, 2010
1. Old school veterans who absolutely have to preface anything they say w/ "You know, I've been teaching for 15, 20, 25+ years, and... [insert comment here]"
-You're a wily vet and I respect that. But do you really have to say it every time?
-[Or maybe I'm just jealous cus my 2.5 pales in comparison to theirs.]
2. Presenters w/ text-heavy or animation-heavy powerpoint slides.
-Today's professional development crew presented slide after slide that looked a lil' something like:
-Quick message for you: Just b/c you're using powerpoint does not make your presentation more effective and professional. Your audience is silenced not b/c we are enthused over your amazing new methods but rather b/c we are bored to death.
-I heart this comedian for speaking some truth.
3. The phrase "research-based."
-Not only that, said powerpoint users appended the word "research-based" to virtually every sentence. "And, you know, all of this is research-based!" Congratulations on whatever research article you read, but we educators don't get automatic edu-turned-ons just cus you're droppin' that word.
... Sorry, but had to get that out...
Jan 29, 2010
This ain't just any school in the Bronx.
Anyway, they looooved it! I can't believe I pulled this off in an English Language Arts classroom. So for all you non-math teachers, have valiant faith that this game will surely have students furiously thinking and working in order to beat your amazing score, no matter what class you teach.
However, I found that you actually have to be decent if you want to play class vs. teacher. In addition, more often than not, you may be accused of cheating if you're wearing high heels while playing this game. I had to take my heels off and switch into my flats, and then they accused me of cheating because I was wearing flats (?!).
Fortunately, with my 9-in-a-row 3-pointers, I have now been dubbed "Ms. Kobe" by my students. Seriously. It was unwarranted, but I secretly love it.
I also discovered that a few of my students who were born and raised in NYC are actually big fans of the Lakers. I asked them if they were band-wagoners (a term we learned during our persuasive writing unit), loving the team only after their 2008-2009 championship. Jose said, "No! I've loved them my whole life!" Makes me shed a tear of happiness and pride.
Jan 20, 2010
Jan 19, 2010
Anyway, I decided to include a weather update during our daily dose of randimosity today. Immediately, negative responses were abound similar to the type we hear at the news of an upcoming test, almost as if I controlled the weather. So, to counter:
"Hey, Mr. G. You're such a great teacher for giving us weather updates IN class!"
"Thanks class. I'm just trying to look out."
Stay dry, California!
Today the power is out on campus which is why I'm blogging. I knew there was an 80% chance that classes would be canceled because my co-worker, who lives in campus housing, called around 5:45 am and told me that there was no power in his building. He even took the time to drive the perimeter to check on the college (there was no power in most buildings either). Despite this, our small community relations staff, from our director to our student assistants, were working from 6:00 am on to communicate with each other and provide our students, faculty, and staff with updates. As I made my way up to campus today at 6:30 am, the police department and public safety were there to inform students who did not get the emergency e-mail or text about the closure. A couple of our students who work in outreach were also out and about trying to help fellow students out--talk about dedication. As their supervisor, I had to send them home (if you saw the weather conditions, you would too).
As of early Tuesday morning, it looks like the first day of class will be postponed until tomorrow. Until then, I'll work from home. I can't wait to be back bright and early, rain or shine--surrounded by individuals who are passionate about serving students. I love my job.
Jan 15, 2010
Although my school does not offer computer or technology classes (this REALLY saddens me), I've been working with an amazing friend and curriculum writer to bring financial literacy within the four walls of my English Language Arts classroom. Let me tell you. I knew my kids were bright, creative, motivated, and passionate. BUT MAN. I've now got to the gumption to say, "My kids are brighter, more creative, more motivated, more passionate, smarter, and will be more successful than yours." Hmph, take that prep school punks.
Allow me to bring you some very cute anecdotes from this week:
N: "Ms. S, what happens if I get hurt before I'm 65? Do I get my Medicare money?"me: "No."N: "Aww that's MESSED UP! I'm going to college so I can get a job that covers my health insurance."
Z: "I like gross pay."
E: "That was fun! I'd rather be an employer, even if I have to hand out paychecks and make sure all the bills are paid on time. I'd rather call the shots."
J: "It's important to know the components of your paycheck so you know where all your money is going. What if they did a miscalculation?! They'd be stealing all your hard-earned money!"
L: "Net pay is the money you get to keep after all the deductions are made. So if you originally had $2800, then your net pay would be about $2000, because you have to pay federal income tax, social security, state tax and medicare."
Now tell me, could you give me all that at the age of 11? Highly. Doubt. It.
When people work together, we can make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream fly even further than he ever could have imagined. People who came from the projects, with parents working 2 or 3 jobs, English barely spoken at home, and no hot water until 3 in the morning, working alongside or even above people who came from 6-figure household incomes, private schools, and fancy zip codes. That's my dream. It feels good to make it come true a little.
Have a happy weekend in memory of our dear hero, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dreams :)
Jan 6, 2010
The trouble now is committing myself to that process of evolution. I admit, there are days where I don't think about teaching AT ALL the moment I step off campus until I step back on. All that's required is opening up those digital files I toiled over in years past and, BAM, a lesson plan is in my hands.
It's a beautiful thing, I know. But, it's a trap. The last thing I want is to become a robot teacher who rehashes the same ol' plan year after year. I want evolution.
It happens, it does. (The x & y-intercept lesson I taught last year pales in comparison to the one I did this time around.) But, not all the time. The process is fueled by motivation, and it's difficult to maintain that motivation when you tend to your non-teacher self's non-teacher needs. Why spend any time at all on my planning when I don't need to? Why better myself when I don't need to?
How do I stay motivated?
Thus, I wonder what other teachers do to keep up their process of evolution, hop on supteach, and blog about. What do y'all do? How do you stay motivated?
Jan 4, 2010
I understand this is the first day after a long break, and on the first day after a long break, we gotta re-adjust. We're not used to sitting in class for 6 hours a day listening to teachers, doing work, studying. We're not used to waking up early. We forget how to enter class the right way or how to just raise your hand. But as your teacher, it's my duty to remind you what we need to do. You know what I expect. So be patient with the process. We'll get back in the routine before you know it.
I tell 'em...
I also understand we can forget a lot over 2 weeks time. But, re-learning something is always easier than learning it the first time around. So, you might look at this problem and be angry with yourself b/c you know you know how to do it, but you forgot the steps. It'll come back. Trust me. But you gotta put in the effort, you gotta put in the work, and you can't get frustrated. So be patient with the process. It'll all come back before you know it.
More than anything, I say these things for myself.
Welcome back, Teachers.