Friday, June 25, 2021

Riding Into the Sunset Of the 2020-2021 School Year

 0.0 days left. It's done. It's over. Finis. Shabbat Shalom. Peace out! I'm outta here! Yippee Kai Yay! Whoo-Ooh!

The school year is over, it is done, it is what it is. Nothing to be se here. Nothing to do. Time to ride out of town. Like Shane and the Man With No Name, my job is done. Time to move on.

Auf Wiedersehen 

Au revoir


Do widzenia 


And happy trails to the 2020-21 school year as I ride off into the sunset...

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Looks Like ATRs to Remain in DOE Purgatory (ONE DAY REMAINING!!)

 One day to go!

Oh, the death of the ATR pool was greatly exaggerated. That according to the Post and everyone's favorite bastion of education reporting, Chalkbeat

The plan was originally if you were placed in a school the entire year and and received either an effective or highly effect MOTP you were to be automatically placed in said school. And something about not facing discipline.

But think about it. With all the craziness of this year, with not enough teachers at the beginning of the year, or through the year, an ATR was a godsend to the principals. They needed bodies.And ATRs provided the bodies. ATRs were seen basically as useful idiots. 

But now with the supposed grand reopening of school in September the ATRs are not needed. In particular, ATRs who have been naughty and don't make wads of cash. Oh, and those ATRs with institutional knowledge. 

Why would a principal want an ATR like that in their building? We gave up our seniority transfer in 2005 because principals want control. Sometime in the last ten years, I forget, ATRs were going to be forced place and the principals and their union were up in arms. Why should things be any different this time? 

And of course nothing changes with the Post and Chalkbeat bashing ATRs. 

From the Post...

And now teachers assigned to this pool, including some who really shouldn’t be teaching at all, will be given positions back in front of classrooms.

And from Chalkbeat (Christina Vega) using six year old data...

About one in five scored one of the bottom three rankings, according to data from the 2015-16 school year, the most recent the education department has shared publicly.  

But let's give her credit where credit is due. She did get one thing correct...

Teachers in the pool also tend to be more senior, and therefore earn higher salaries, creating a disincentive for principals to hire them. 

It would have been swell if Ms Vega bothered to spend some time speaking to ATRs. But I would guess that would be to difficult. 

Fixing the ATR problem is easy. Read it right here. It can be fixed. 

Being an ATR is like being in purgatory, actually Jewish purgatory. We are not wicked. Nor or we righteous. We are good people as well as teachers who have made mistakes. And learned from mistakes. 

...whose virtues and sins counterbalance one another shall go down to Gehenna and float up and down until they rise purified; for of them it is said: 'I will bring the third part into the fire and refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried'


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The DOE Screws Teachers Yet Again and Mulgrew Is Silent (TWO MORE DAYS!!!!!!)

 Two days left! 

This blog post was to be about how it is still up in the air whether or not we are getting end of the year ratings. Before press time The Crack Team received the following in an email from an SBSB groupie. 

 The DOE has decided to issue final teacher ratings for this school year. In mid-June, the state Legislature approved a waiver for school districts regarding the Annual Performance Review for the 2020-21 school year, but it recently amended the legislation to give individual school districts the choice whether to rate teachers. The DOE decided to proceed with teacher evaluations because most of the principals had already completed their work. All observations should have been completed by June 11.

We here at SBSB are confused. We could have sworn Mulgrew implied he would fight like hell if we were to get rated. At June 14 exec board meeting Mulgrew sayeth...

Working on DOE APPR. Called City Hall. We have a pretty good agreement, but this can't just sit. On the table with DOE and need them to decide which way to go. Most principals have submitted evaluations already. Assuming since work is done, they want to move forward. We are in pretty good shape with no one being harmed.
And a week before at the June 7 exec board meeting Mulgrew regaled with...

We are expecting teacher evaluation to be waived again. Not passed yet. Thanks to everyone for staying on top of issues. 

But it's over. Even though the bill Governor Cuomo did not give districts a choice!!!!!

But not to worry folks! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. At the June 21 exec board meeting Mulgrew rolled up his sleeves and shared with the world...

DOE decided to do APPR. Above 95% HE or E before MOSL even kicks in. We will go after anyone who doesn't do this correctly. 

Them's fighting words! We know now that Mulgrew has our backs. Again. 

Just wondering why the Oneonta School District isn't giving end of year ratings. Nor is North Rockland. Or Mount Vernon. Horseheads isn't.  

But we as UFT members shouldn't be upset or disappointed Remember. We have a seat at the table. That is what matters. Our seat is at the kiddie table. Where the only attention we get is from the old auntie with the Bozo eyebrows and the Double H bosom who has a cigarette dangling from her mouth. She just stops by to squeeze our cheeks. 

That's how the DOE sees the UFT and the rank and file.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What's the Plan for September? (3 Days Remaining!! Whoo-hoo!)

 Three days left!! Whoopee! On Friday, I am going back to the videos. But rest assured two great songs by two great all time bands (Not Rush!) for the last day of school.

On to bigger and better things. 

We're not at herd immunity in neither New York State nor New York City. September is right around the corner. De Blasio has sworn that there will be in person schooling only. 

Still, what if?

What if there is a good percentage of the parents that still refuse to send their children to buildings? Approximately 750k students have been remote this year. If only half of those students return (350k) that is still a sizable number of students not in buildings. Do you force these parents to send their children to school? Will the UFT back up these parents?

Hey, I understand the fear parents would have. But there are no answers to ,"What if?" for these parents now. Heck, my son wanted to take me to the Nets game Saturday night and I was having some qualms about being in an arena of 20k people. 

What happens if there is a spike come October? What is the plan then? Just remember on 9/11 how fast parents came to schools to take their children out. What does the DOE plan to do?

And with the lack of a plan what is the plan if there ever is a big remote cohort to teach the students? I know Mulgrew mentioned wanting some type of agreement with the DOE regarding remote teaching. This remains to be seen. 

Are schools still going to have the three foot rule? Must students be vaccinated to come to school? What about parents? To enter school must they be vaccinated as well? I know at my son's college and all SUNY campuses students must be vaccinated.

What about in school testing? Will that still be done?

It's time the UFT in conjunction with the DOE share worst case scenario, or rather, any and all plans for the safe return to school buildings come September 2021.

Monday, June 21, 2021

EXCLUSIVE! UFT Members to be Made Whole For Spring Break (And....4 Days Left!!!)

 Four more days left.

But, I digress 

The Crack Team has been on top of the whereabouts of monies owed teachers due to spring break 2020 being ripped away from us. However, The Crack Team are very impatient group and they decided not to wait till July 1 but rather they took matters into their own hands. They traveled 6 weeks ahead in time Yes, you read that right. Using a proprietary time travel method that was create in SBSB labs, The Crack Team has returned with the MOA. Exclusive to this blog only, it will be known what our union agreed to. 

1. Full restitution will be made to each and every UFT member. 

2. Full restoration will be made only to  UFT members who have been in service since January 1, 2010.

3. Full restitution will be made in 10 payments stretching over 14 years. Each payment will also have a deduction of 10% to allay the costs incurred by the DOE and the City.

4. An across the board $20 payment will be immediately paid to each and every eligible teacher. Then full payments in 2024, 2027, 2029, 2031-2036. 

5. To make up those who quit, were terminated or died and lost out on their retro checks such members will enjoy full restitution this time. It is only if you retire you won't be made whole.

6. Each teacher will receive two coupons, each 15% off, for Denny's.

Now, in the report from The Crack Team states that the city originally just offered the coupons for Denny's. Mulgrew was thisclose to agreeing, but he had to be talked out of it. However, when everything else was agreed upon, he still held out for the Denny's coupons. For those of you who are fans of Denny's remember this; Mulgrew had your back. 

The Crack Team found that those who retire not being eligible for restitution was just a judgement call.   However, off the record, The Crack Team was told by someone deep inside the UFT for retirees to just fake their own deaths and they will still collect. 

The Crack Team though did overhear the UFT discussing this deal and overheard...

"We made a great deal. It could have been worse. At least we had a seat at the table."

Maybe Spock is wrong? Can the space- time continuum can be changed?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Next for the ATRs?...Oh, 5 DAYS LEFT!!!

Five days left! We are in the home stretch. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Praise be. 

So ATRs are going to be teachers again. That's nice. But there are some issues. 

As for me I have been an ATR since December 2015. That 6 1/2 years. What training have I had on the latest reading, writing, and math curricula? It's more or less been some perfunctory gesture of administration, mostly on Monday afternoons. The big training, being sent somewhere on PD days or huddling with someone from Teacher's College, well never happened for me. And I am sure there are other ATRs in the same boat. 

Even if we have had sufficient training, when have we had the time to utilize such training? We aren't in a position long enough nor even a school long enough. We are not up on the latest year to year. We aren't even in the same school year to year. 

I used to pay for my son every winter for catching lessons. It helped because he was able to utilize what he was taught. But if he played right field would those catching lessons help him? Or if he played right field and had to catch a game, would he not be rusty or not acclimated to what he had been taught? 

It's the old, use it or lose it approach. 

But we will hear, "You have the same rights as every teacher in the school for PD." I have in the past asked to be included in specific PD's.  However, I was told, "We can only afford X amount of teachers to attend the PD," or something to that effect. And, if we cause a ruckus about not being able to participate then we get targeted. ATRs do there job and they do it they best that they can under really complex conditions. But, ATRs want to stay below the radar. It's a fact. 

Now, about this "forced placement." I understand, it's in the contract, the DOE can do it. But just because something can be happen, doesn't mean it should be happen. 

It's funny, since when does the DOE believe in the sanctity of the contract? Time after time the DOE picks and chooses what it will and will not honor in the contract, so why can't the UFT use this to ATRs advantage?

This announcement a few weeks ago didn't happen in a vacuum. And it didn't happen without the UFT knowing about it beforehand. Can't  the DOE in conjunction with the UFT work with each teacher (Say those who have been ATRs for five plus years) and together to find a good fit for the school and the ATR. It would be a win win situation. Everyone is happy, every gets something. 

Instead, ATRs are thrown blindly back into society without any say or possibly eroded skills. This is like after doing 45 years in prison. You leave with a suit and $25 and told, "Good luck, you're own your own, deal with it." ATRs don't even get to fill out a preference sheet! We can have a life long first grade teacher thrown into teaching 6th grade math. Does that make sense?

Oh let's not forget the old, "Well, you are a common branch teacher. You have a license which means you can teach 6th grade math even though you have taught 1st grade for 20 years." Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, that's true. But when I decided to have my shoulder replaced, I went to a shoulder specialist, not a proctologist. Yes, both are licensed medical doctors under the State of New York, but only one has the experience and ability to replace my shoulder. Same with attorneys. 

And how will principals feel upon being forced an ATR they had no say about invading their building? Particularly mature teachers with many years in the system making a lot of money with institutional knowledge? How fast will ATRs be written up for failing to put the toilet seat down in the co-ed staff restroom?

What is the mechanism that will prevent undue harassment upon ATRs in schools they are not wanted? One, of course, is taking advantage of what the open market offers, but we know how well open market works (Sarcasm).

It sure would be swell if the UFT can have some type of meeting for ATRs before this big change takes place. There are many, many questions to be answered.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fun With Danielson Observation. (And a Blog Post Without a Video or Lyrics or Forced Metaphors and There are 6 Days Remaining)

 OK, I heard it and I will stop. No more videos. No more lyrics. No more forced allegories. But the days will still be counted down! 

The Crack Team heard you and I apologize. We hear at SBSB wish to thank those that filled took the time to share what they thought of the blogging the last few weeks. 

So today's topic? The continuing fallacy of Danielson. We were told this is good. That administration will be more accountable. But, and this is why Danielson is so easy to get around for certain administrators. People do and will lie. Pathologically. 

My lesson, which the top teacher in the school assisted me with, was reading Spoon by Amy Krause Rosenthal. Better, it was direct from Into Reading right smack off the DOE's website. The objective was...

Demonstrate understanding of key ideas and details in a text by asking and answering questions. 

So far, so good. 

I got ineffective for strand 3c for, ready for this? That after asking a question and getting my responses in return I would model and show in the text how one found the answer.

It was noted...

"For example, when the students struggled to provide an answer, the teacher encouraged them to go back and lift the text."

I give up. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  Is this not what I stated in the lesson plan. Is this not what I have heard for years about drilling the students to go back in the text to help them? /facepalm

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 




Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Thirteen Days Left

 I am in a darn good mood today. I just found officially that there will be no ratings for this year! Have a look here. And, best of all. There are 13 days left for me in at my school. 

So I am going to switch gears. No more snarky sarcastic posts. I am going to have some fun. How so? Music! Actually music videos that for me represent the last 13 days of this wacky, different, never before seen 2020-2021 school year. 

Of course we need an intro and ho better than Gob Bluth to start us off. 

The Final Countdown

Thank you Gob for the introduction. 

Next up Prime Mover by Rush. 

I love this verse with a passion. We leave our school every June only to come back in September. But we don't return. We are continuing our journey.

From the point of entry /Until the candle is burned/The point of departure/Is not to return/Anything can happen