Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Seven Days Remaining For ATRs...No More Looking Back

 Even though The Kinks are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I have always thought they have never truly gotten their due. If you think about it it The Kinks were at the forefront of Heavy Metal and if you look at their early seventies stuff one might even say the preceded Bowie with all that glam and glitter. 

One of my favorite albums of theirs is "Schoolboys in Disgrace." And one song from that album has some lyrics that really hit home for me, that I feel about this school year and moving forward is "No More Looking Back." 

No more looking back, No more living in the past, Yesterday's gone and that's a fact, Now there's no more looking back. Got to be hard, Yeah, look straight ahead. That s the only way it's going to be

Next year is a new chapter, a new beginning, now more than ever. Just from a personal standpoint that I was not happy with certain things this year at my school. There is now nothing I can do about it. I realize that and I accept it. There are also many positive things about the school I was at this year but sometimes it just best to ride off into the sunset. 

It's also the end of ATRs as we know it. It's going to be a brave new world out there for us. There is a lot of anxiety out there for us. We don't know where we are going or what we will be doing. It would sure be swell if the UFT would have some type of virtual meeting with us. But I understand, after listening to Mike Mulgrew at the DA today, that there are lots of other stuff going on. I know they don't have all the answers now, but sometimes just touching base show caring and acknowledging our feelings. 

But we as ATRs must look ahead and not to the past. We need to go forward. It's just easier to go forward than just spinning our wheels or looking backwards. 

In a perfect world the UFT, the ATRs, and the DOE should have worked together to find everyone a good fit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Eight Days Remaining...Working Them Angels

 Keith Olberman once commented the first time he was fired by ESPN...

"Happiness is seeing Bristol in your review mirror...."

For me, on June 25th I will feel like Keith but only using the words of ("Workin' Them Angels," Rush, 2007 "Snakes and Arrows" CD)...

Driving away to the east, and into the past/History recedes in my rear-view mirror

What a trippy year. Observation wise that is. 

I'm with three teachers, three different classes, and two grades. All were remote. When do I get observed? May 10. A informal observation. My first day with that class was May 4. So of course my informal is first thing in the morning of my fifth day with the class. 

Oh, let's not forget it was the first time I was ever observed using Danielson.

Fast forward to last Monday, June 7. I was told what I would be teaching. Something I hadn't taught in over 20 years. But my co-teacher is one of the best teachers in the school and got a lot of assistance for which I shall be eternally grateful. It was a darn good lesson. How'd I do? How is a 45 minute window supposed to rate me for the entire year? How is a 15 minute window with students I barely know a microcosm for the entire year? 

I know one teacher that started of in person, was switched around a few times, then went remote and switched around a few times more. How can this teacher be rated?

How can Danielson be used this school year? Oh yeah, observers can only rate on what they see, not what they see. Guess what? People lie. People lie big. It happens. It's systemic. 

Let's see if we are getting end of year ratings. 




Monday, June 14, 2021

Nine Days Remaining...Revolution 9

Nine days remaining. Nine days remaining. Nine days remaining. Nine days remaining. 

Get, it? A little play on Revolution 9. Haha. 

I was 16 when Jon Lennon was assassinated.  I, like many others, were told of this by Howard Cosell. I was watching the Patriots-Dolphins game that Monday night when Cosell had to seek attention and be the one to share it. 

There are many cool things about the school I am at. Please remember, I have nothing against the school. It's just believe that it is not the right fit for me. But one cool thing is they have had the "John Lennon Education Bus" visit in the past. I would love to be there if it ever returns but that doesn't seem like it would happen. 

Wouldn't it be great if we can instead of turning all our students into test taking drones look towards John Lennon and teach them how to think independently? To shower them with art and music? Let them explore more of the world than what they know? 

In my 25 years of teaching I have seen so many creative students. Whether it comes from art, music, words, or speech. How can these students break free when we stop teaching in January to prepare them for some inane test, which the last two years have shown to be irrelevant? 

How can teachers get the best out of every students with the sword of Danielson a millimeter from their throat? All we hear is differentiate, blah, blah, blah, but there is no differentiating. Our students are force fed curriculum that doesn't jibe to their current life or knowledge. We don't give the students to learn and grasp the world their way. We all just shuffle them through the same path of standardized testing just so some yutz at Tweed can feel good about themselves. 

Let's give them the John Lennon treatment. Let them be different. Think different. 

As for Revolution 9. I still don't get it, but it is different. And that's cool.  

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Three Questions for the UFT

My dad always said, "You can always ask, the worse answer you'll get is no." He was very wise. So I'm going to ask.

Having said that, I have three questions for the UFT. I am not going to editorialize or add extraneous information to the questions. I do not know if others are thinking the same as me, all I know is I am only speaking for myself. 

Question #1 (Multi-part): Now that ATRs will be placed does this mean that principals have no say? If so, is there not a chance that principals will be quick to drum up accusations, charges, false stories on ATRs? Is there any mechanism to prevent this? 

Question #2: There has yet to be an official announcement from the UFT regarding Governor Cuomo's signing a bill stating that there will be no ratings this year. Other unions in the rest of the state of notified their membership as well as a release by NYSUT. Are there any updates? 

Question #3: Are there any updates to share on being made whole financially for giving up our spring break in April 2020?

Thank you for your time.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ten Days Remaining...Say Goodbye to Hollywood

 In the September of 1981 Billy Joel released a live album of his more obscure songs, "Songs in the Attic." The release also coincided with the beginning of my senior year. That June in yearbooks across the country, and at least in Westchester County (including my HS girlfriend)chose the following quote from "Say Goodby to Hollywood..."

So many faces in and out of my life/ Some will last /Some will just be now and then/ Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes/ I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again

Its time for goodbye again to yet another school. And there have been so many teachers faces in the last 5 1/2 years I have been an ATR. 

But more importantly, there have been so many students faces. And this year that's all we saw, their faces. 

I know this remote teaching was put together at the last minute. But I have seen and heard a lot of great things. I think there are plenty of students who for the first time got to be heard in a class. There weren't the behavior problems that we have become so accustomed to. Students who have had a hard time in the past staying focused and staying still in an overcrowded classroom were finally able to have the tranquility they have so desperately wanted so they can learn. 

This year I had been with three different classes and worked with fantastic students. I enjoyed so much working with these students in small groups all day which we would never be able to do if we were in person. 

I worked with a few decent teachers and one great teacher, This great teacher worked with miracles with her students. Her students were not only sharp as whip but tech savvy as well. By the way, we are going to have a generation of really tech savvy kids. Starting with next year's third graders. 

But the students of this class responded to their teacher. They did their assignments. There were enthusiastic to learn. They grew! Emotionally and academically. This is something AARP and Danielson can't show. 

But alas, like Shane left little Joey alone I must to ride off into the sunset. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Eleven Days Left...Solsbury Hill

 Eleven days left. This hasn't been a bad school year, just really different. And strange. But let's not get into the negative. These blog posts counting down the days are about feeling good, about being happy, and about moving on. 

Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel was his goodbye to Genesis. In fact, The Crack Team researched the song more and for those who didn't know the hill is in Batheaston in Somerset, England. One day when I get to the UK I will visit this hill and feel the freedom that Peter Gabriel sung about.

Peter Gabriel said about the song...

"It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go."

And not letting go in a bad way in my opinion. It's just time to move on. And it is time to move on to my next school. Someone said I hated it there. Nope. Just not a good fit. It's like the difference between buying a suit at Barney's as opposed to Sears. 

Their are parts of the song the so resonate with me, what I am feeling now.  

Eagle flew out of the night /He was something to observe/ Came in close, I heard a voice /Standing stretching every nerve/ Had to listen had no choice I did not believe the information/ (I) just had to trust imagination /My heart going boom boom boom /"Son," he said "Grab your things, I've come to take you home.

I am ready for the trip, I am ready for to be taken by the eagle to guide me but also let me know that change is not only good but everything will be alright. That'll I'll be safe. 

And that is what we all want. To feel safe. It is a big thing for me. Just because I don't feel safe with a person or a place does not mean that I don't like that person or place, but it's just how I feel. Simple. 

For all my bluster on these pages the last 13 years I'm an introvert at heart.Yeah, I know it does not seem that way, but I am. But sometimes moving on from a school is a good thing. 

"Hey" I said "You can keep my things, they've come to take me home." 


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Twelve Days Left

Ah, today's school day is over. At lunch the perfect song came to me for today. Xanadu by Rush (Yeah, I know, but it's not going to be all Rush videos for the next two weeks).

Xanadu as on 1977's album A Farewell to Kings (By the way, Primus will be on tour starting in August playing AFTK in it's entirety). It was also on 1981's live album Exit...Stage Left. I like the song better live than the studio version. When I saw Rush in 2004 at Radio City Alex Lifeson pulled out his double neck and it was just awesome. They only play half the song in this 2004 version.

So why did I pick Xanadu? As many Rush fans know Neil Peart did not like touring. This was a long tour and the official DVD was shot in Frankfurt, Germany. Neil wanted the tour to end. That's why at 1:14 into the video you see Alex and Neil eyeball each other and both hold up two fingers. Two days to go on the tour. Or two more shows? I forget. 

Yes, I know 12 days left not 2, but I feel how Neil felt 17 years ago. 

But I went over the lyrics and some words struck me about the upcoming end of the school year. 

To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise..."

...time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view

Weary of the night
Praying for the light

Enjoy the video.... 

And for those who wish to see entire song, this is from 2015 r40 tour