Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Last night after I wrote my piece about the flamingos and Kindergarten I decided to check out Stat Counter to see how many hits, visits, pages views, etc... there have been to my blog. It had been a while and was just curious.

My eyes almost burst out of my eyes when I saw the total. Now mind you, this was about 10:30 PM or so. There were about 4,000 pages views as of that time, about 450 visits. I was surprised. I have seen big numbers but never like this and usually the numbers spike when I am linked or I write something that hits home, but usually linked.

I tried to ascertain who linked me. No one did. But I did come across something else. Only the last five visitors appeared on the page, and one of them had the near maximum views allowed, about 495. Upon further investigation the name if the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is Lightower Fiber Networks with the IP (Internet Protocol address) of out of New York. (Click to enlarge)

I know of Lightower. Lightower does business with the DOE and the city (Item #13). So what is the deal?

At first I kind of figured that someone is burning the midnight oil at Tweed printing out my entire blog. Check this out, this is just in the last 2 minutes or so (Click to enlarge);

This is what it was like last night at 10:30 and when I checked at 3 AM. It could not be someone printing at 3 AM. Even if someone were to be printing the blog at that hour, or any hour, that person would not be going from each post to each post. There are much simpler ways to do it. I was starting to think it was a DNS or DOS attack or some kind of malevolent hijinks (If anyone wishes to share their idea please do!).

So this morning around 9 AM I contact Lightower tech support and open up a ticket. I was told they would look into it.

I called back around noon and found out where this "attack" was emanating from. I was told the "City of New York Law Department," or as we know it, the Corp Counsel. Oh, and I was told they are investigating it and sent an email to the IT person and have yet to hear back. And they kept on trying and still heard diddly(Click to enlarge):

So something weird is going on. I am still in touch with Lightower and was told if this problem is persisting for another 24 hours that that IP address will be disabled. 

What I am wondering, is if this is an attack, does this rise to the level of criminal conduct? And also, who is behind this? 

At least it is being "looked into" as of now and wonder where this will lead. But something does stink.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Flamingos Are Not Friends of Kindergartners

So how is my ATRing going? Not bad, but the bloom is a bit off the flower.

I have been on the same school in District 10 for the last week and a half. I know the school well from my District 10 days. My first paid teaching gig as a sub was there back in June of 1995. I sent thirty 5th graders to the closet at once to get their stuff at the end of the day. Whoops!

But it has been uneventful. My first day there, on December 14th, I covered a 3/4 bridge class. I was lucky. The teacher had not left any lesson plans but there were two great paras in the class with me and without them I would have been lost.

I had this same class on the 16th and in between covered a 4th grade class for the day. The 4th grade class was awesome as well. Again, no lesson plans, but 3 students stayed with me during my 1st period period prep to show me where there are. In fact the principal walked in when they students were working independently during Math and looked around and left.

I clustered Thursday and covered another 4th grade ICT class (Alone) Friday. Another awesome para and another great class.

So last week I was in the class where there actually is a vacancy. It's a Kindergarten ICT class with no general ed teacher. The first day was good. It was a field trip to the Swedish Cottage in Central Park to see a marionette show. By the time we got back it was lunch and then prep and the day basically over. Not so much Tuesday and Wednesday.

The teacher is very good but she just can't, or just won't, remember my name. I am referred to as the "other teacher." I try to help out as best I can, but I am basically on my own more or less. It is kind of an awkward situation, but I am putting my best foot forward.

On Wednesday the teacher had a meeting with one of the AP's to discuss her observation and left me to teach her lesson plan. Now mind you this is an ICT K class. The title of the lesson was;
"Understanding Information in Fiction and Nonfiction Story Elements--Non-Fiction Writing"

The teaching point (Which goes up on the board);
"Students will identify information found in the table of contents page by citing evidence"

Can someone please explain to me the purpose of a teaching point for 5 year olds?

I am in no way blaming the teacher for this, in fact she is an awesome teacher and I am sure this directive comes from above, but WTF?

And more WTF. Why in K are we teaching them not only informational reading (I know, I know) but on top of that, "table of contents," "glossary," and that bold words mean the information is important.

The name of the book is "Flamingos Our Feathered Friends". But I read the book to them remind them to pay attention to the questions on the page and the bold words so they know this book is telling them about flamingos.

Check out some of the bold words that are in the glossary;
Guess which two words I learned on that day. The same two words a five year old will not retain. By the way, did you know that flamingos are born grey?

This just seems too much for K students. Even tropical weather is too much especially when I have no idea if they have previous knowledge of it.

The independent work was for the students to go back to the tables, find an informational book and point out some features of informational texts to one another at their tables. It was differentiated that the middle group will identify topics, and the lowest group will identify the difference between non-fiction and fiction.

Again, this is not an indictment of the teacher, but rather the dunderheads that force fed us the Common Core crud. What happened to the days of KWL charts, then reading the book to the class, and just having fun. Any non-fiction book can be informational, no? I read the Billy Martin biography a few months ago, it was full of information.

K students arr sponges. They will soak up everything. We must stop making them grow up too fast.

Oh, one more thing. A student was very thoughtful and brought me, as well as his teacher and the para, a box of chocolate on Wednesday

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Death of a Teacher's Baby Touches Us All

I can't believe it's been 12 days since I have last posted. So much to shared about my latest ATR
posting but that will have to wait. Something else has been gnawing within my brain.

As we all read in the papers this week, a horrible, horrible thing happened in the Bronx. A sick deranged "human being" not only choked his 2 month old son to death, but then drove the lifeless body to Brewster NY rented a hotel room and buried the baby in the woods off Route 22.

The reason this is being shared on these pages is that the mother of the baby is a NYCDOE teacher.

The father, who has lived up to his sordid past, choked the baby because the baby would not stop crying and, according to some reports, the mother was giving more attention to. 

After burying the baby, the proud father turned to the mother and reportedly said,
"If you’re going to become a liability, I’m going to kill you, too.”
Obviously, not a loving relationship, but definitely, an abusive one that the mother and teacher was forced to live in.

How was this case cracked? Eventually the mother could not take it no more and attempted suicide by swallowing pills. Not only her method to choose to deal with the death of her baby, but seemingly, the only way out of an abusive relationship. She a psychiatrist at the New York Hospital in White Plains shared what was told and contacted the police.

Remember, this is what we know, what is being reported. What we don't know is the life that went on behind the closed doors of the mother and her psycho boyfriend.

That being said, some of what I have read on some social media sites from teachers has me a bit unnerved. There are those calling the mother just as culpable for not contacting authorities immediately to calling for the mother to be arrested as well, or the normal, "I will never let myself be in abusive relationship..." This is not needed nor warranted.

It is natural to be angry. It is natural to put yourself into the mother's position and say what you will or will not do. But let's be real. No one will ever know what they will do in any situation unless they are in that situation. To blame the mother, to find fault with her is easy. To support her, to help her, is the hard part. Now mind you, I can only comment on the information that has been made public. But as have now I will support this mother through whatever method I so desire and this should be the same of anyone. Use prayer, good thoughts, etc... This is a tragedy and the mother is a victim, a different type of victim, as well. She is going through hell and will for the rest of her life.

Having said that, I am concerned with more hell being dumped on her by our good friends at the NYC DOE and SCI.

This woman does not need to be subjected to any of the poking and prodding of SCI. Not now, not ever. If they need to find out what happened, contact NYPD and read their reports. The mother has not been charged with a crime, so why should the snoops be out in full force?

Who knows if the mother will ever want to, or can, teach again? The worst thing for the DOE to do will be to investigate her and send her to sit in the Rubber Room for months.

The best thing for the DOE to do is pay her in full, cover her psychiatric expenses in full, for however long it takes. When she is ready to be back in the classroom, send her make to her old school, at her old position, if she wants it. If not, find a position other than an ATR for her.

And, the UFT can be more involved and this is a bone of contention for me.

The UFT can do more to help its members that are in distress. Yes, the UFT has MAP, but until this year (Because it is an election year?) I have never saw flyers in any buildings. I have no idea how effective this program is, but reading it the big problem I have is that one has to go to 50 Broadway to take advantage of it. In the case of mental health the mountain must come to Mohammad, not the other way around. The UFT needs and must be more proactive when it comes to members in distress. This mother was clearly in distress both before and after the death of her baby.

We as teachers must support one another when there is distress in our colleague's lives. This teacher, this mother, is going through the worst imaginable thing a mother can go through. To throw invective language from the safety of a computer screen will serve no purpose. Be upset, be disappointment, be angry, but show a modicum of some support.

God knows, if the shoe were to be on the other foot.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Second Week of My Adventures in ATR Land

On Monday it hit me. Hit me hard like Dorothy in so many ways.

I had a feeling I am no longer in District 7. I have a feeling that I am no longer a teacher. I have a feeling that I am now nothing but an ATR.

That last sentence really was a reality check after what for me was a pretty good re-introduction into the Wonderful World of the NYCDOE.

On Monday I walked in several minutes early and was told to get my schedule from the AP. I walked to her office and she asked me to wait. I sat down at the conference table and what happened? The principal walked in along with the AP and my heart skipped a beat. It literally did. I have become so per-conditioned to whenever I am in an administrator's office that I must have done something wrong that I become some Pavlovian teacher when I see to admins talking. After about 2 seconds I realized the two were talking about some mundane school stuff. WHEW!

So I got the schedule and all it I had to do for the day was to "support" teachers in their classrooms. Nothing more, nothing less. It was at that point where my new reality hit me and I was nothing but an overpaid para.

But I couldn't wallow in it. I walked into each class that day with the attitude what can I do, how can I help, and dove in feet first. I was not going to be reactive, but proactive. The teachers were (or so they seemed) appreciative of my help as well as just being there. In each of the three classes I was with that day I sat with one of the more challenging students of each class and somehow, someway, made a difference for that student for about an hour. But I still wanted to teach.

I got my wish on Tuesday.

Like Ted Williams taking off for 4 years during WW II I came back swinging. Three classes in a row Tuesday morning, and it seemed like I hit a dinger in each one.

The students were engaged (I hate tooting my horn), the lessons were to the point, flowed well. I was rusty. I think I spent a wee bit too much time on the mini lesson and perhaps my introduction. But the students (4/5 bridge, 2nd Grade, and K) were well behaved. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the school atmosphere, maybe it was the District 11 magic, or who knows. But it felt good.

The next day, Wednesday, more of what I did Tuesday but a Kindergarten teacher that stayed in the room while I was teaching asked me if I was retired. I said no, not yet, told her I am an ATR and I asked her to as why she asked if I was retired.

She said that I knew what I was doing, the kids loved my lesson, the kids were focused, and my management was very good. She said she gets people in their with no lessons, no plan, no nothing and that sometimes she has to find something for them to do. It felt good.

Thursday and Friday was back to what I was doing Monday. It was neat hearing the kids calling out "Hey Zucker!" as I walked by, or the little ones saying good-bye as I left the classroom.

Each teacher, as well as the AP,  was gracious and courteous to me and me to them. Hey, I know, this can be an anomaly, each school is different. But for one week, my first week back, I needed this school and was hoping to be there longer or at least up until the break.

Sadly, I am to report to another school tomorrow morning in District 10. In fact it is my step-mother's old school where she retired as an AP in 2001. Irony, huh?

I know I should be in 7, but I am closer to home. The parking at the school this past week was fantastic and it won't be as good this week, but it is a school I am familiar with. Worst part is not being able to go into my old haunts of Mount Vernon for breakfast or lunch.

I am going to do what I can and stand tall and stand proud. I will stand for all ATR's while I can and will actually make chicken salad out of a chicken s**t situation.  No one can defeat you unless you allow them to. It is not futile on to resist, but we need to learn how to resist. Sometimes a smile can be our best weapon.

I know I am going to have some cruddy days, but it will not be because of me.

Friday, December 4, 2015

My First Day ATR De-Briefing, Travelogue , and Other Mundane Stuff

I didn't sleep very well last night. Got up a lot, thought I had not slept when in fact I had, and made a few trips to the bathroom. I hope that was due to the copious amounts of water I had consumed before bed and not to any underlying prostate issues.

I had awoken for the final time about 5:45 AM (In fact my usual time. My son has to catch his bus at 7 AM) and instead of dilly dallying around in bed I got up, woke my son in a most obnoxious way (banging on his door with my wedding ring) and popped in the shower.

I then shaved, using Edge shaving gel and a Gillete Fusion razor. I had a bout a week's worth of beard to get rid of and was sad that for the first time in 30 months I no longer can go a week or two without shaving.

I had my clothes all laid out for me, but there was a hitch. I couldn't find a black sock to the pair I had planned to wear. I looked all over and it did not help that I had yet to put in my contacts and the room was still dark but for a little light on the nightstand (I HATE light in the morning!). Eventually I found the AWOL sock and had completed getting myself clothed.

I had printed out some lesson plans last night and bought some supplies at Staples (Sorry! There is no other place to go around here!). I needed something to carry all this stuff. I did not have a briefcase nor a backpack. What was I to do?

My son came through. He offered me his Yankees Draw String Bag that he got at Draw String Bag Night at the Stadium a few years ago. I would enter the school in style.

I finished all I had to do and said goodbye to my wife and son as well as Sparkles. I was off.

I didn't have to be at school until 8:15 which gave me plenty of time. I whizzed through White Plains and got onto the Bronx River Parkway. My destination was Mount Vernon and Gramatan Bagels.

There was a reason for Gramatan Bagels. I wanted a whole wheat bagel with Nova spread. They really pile it on the bagel there and it was close enough that I could take my time. relax, eat, drink my coffee and read the paper.

At about 7:45 I decided it was time to get going. The school is right over the line from Mount Vernon and I figured I would be there by eight. I went down Gramatan Ave, turned right onto Linclon, then to 1st Ave and down until I got to 241st St and then down a bit. Was there before 8. The best part, are you ready for this??? There was plenty, an overabundance of street parking! I had no problem finding a spot.

I got out of car and took a deep breath. I adjusted the pleats on my skirt (Gotcha! Only joking). I took a deep breath and walked towards the school then up the steps where I was greeted by the school safety agent who was very nice. I signed in and went up to the office.

I checked in with the payroll secretary and she gave me my time card and I punched in. She then asked me to wait outside for the AP.

I was sitting there praying that the AP would forget about me and not see me until noon. But it didn't happen. It was just a ten minute wait.

The payroll secretary escorted me to her office and she was very gracious and kind. She said have a seat while she figured out my schedule. Oh, oh! What was I to get?

Three classes for the day, two periods each class, going in and supporting the classroom teacher.

I had a 1st grade class, then prep, then 2nd grade, then lunch, and finally, 1st grade again. The teachers were quite friendly towards me and did not take it as I was intruding on their space. In each class I assisted with scoring some tests and working one on one with a few students. I soon realized how much I had missed this.

The day ended and I went upstairs to punch out. On the way to the office I met the principal and thanked her as she welcomed me to the school.

It was not that bad a day.

Oh, before I forget, there is another ATR at the school. We got to talking during our prep in the teacher's lounge and I asked him if he knows or has heard of Portelos.

He looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and asked, "Who is that?"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's Over. I am Back!

It's over.

The suspension ends today. Ironically, the day my mother would have turned 85 years old.

I go back tomorrow (as an ATR), to a school in District 11 (I have been put there provisionally) which I really don't mind. It is much closer to home, won't have to deal with traffic on the Deegan or the Bronx River Parkway. Just drive into Mount Vernon and cross over into the Bronx a few blocks. Perfect.

I quit the job I had on Tuesday. Felt great working with adults that act like adults for the first time in over 20 years. No backstabbing, no whining, no tattling, just true camaraderie and a healthy work atmosphere.

One of the best things of the job I had is I lost about 5 pounds and got kind of buff. I dare anyone to punch me in the gut.

I have not taught in a class since June of 2013. That's almost 30 months. Shouldn't there be some kind of easing back into society? Though I guess it is better to just jump in feet first.

It's like I am being released from jail, or more like a half-way house. I got sentenced to 30 months, but go released after 23 and sent to the half-way house to finish the rest of my sentence. But the ex-cons get a suit, a bus pass, and a $10, I got jack.

But I feel like I am on parole. I have to check in with a parole officer and if I mess up I am in violation and can easily be sent back from whence I came.

There's this part of me that wants to go full Corporal Klinger. Show up tomorrow wearing a skirt, blouse, heels, make-up, and a push up bra. Something flashy, yet tasteful. Ladies, being that it is December should I go with or without nylons? If anyone has any fashion tips, please share.

I am going in tomorrow and any subsequent day henceforth without a chip on my shoulder. I just can't survive or get by with an attitude like that. It won't do me or anyone else any good.

I want to keep to myself, interact with myself, act professionally, do my job, and keep a smile on my face. Once bitten, twice shy.

But, I will ask for the key to the men's room and seek out the CL.

I really wish I knew what I would be doing in the school tomorrow. Am I a cluster? A classroom teacher? Lunch duty? Office duty? Or will they put me in a closet? I am not taking any chances. I have printed out a lesson from "Share My Lesson" for each grade.

I feel like Detective John Kimble on my first day.

I think I'll use my Austrian accent for the first few days.