January 28, 2009

Snowed in with the Moocher...

Days like this only magnify the dysfunctional traits of our most self destructive cellmates. Moocher, the mentally retired math teacher is being his old annoying racial slurring, self depracating, table slamming self. Watch as he moves from seat to seat...table to table...mooching food, newspapers, or whatever he can get his greasy hands on. Catch him doing a little dance every time he scores a free cookie or clips a coupon and hangs it on the wall behind him. Watch him stand over the shoulder of an unsuspecting newcomer- as his beady eyes read personal emails and private documents. Moocher knows not the meaning of boundaries and truly needs to retire for the sanity of the rest of us. I am praying that our mayor will create a retirement incentive especially for him and all of the other useless idiots the DOE is forced to keep on payroll.

January 26, 2009

Blogger NYC Educator said...

Man, I love that cartoon. It says it all. Except all the rest of the stuff that needs to be said.

January 24, 2009

Designed to Depress

Tiny room, 2 stories down below ground level. Bare concrete walls. 3 narrow unreachable windows, 25 feet above. Empty water cooler and no payphone. No visitors allowed. I am a tenured NYC school teacher with allegations made against me by a brand-spanking new Leadership Academy Principal. This is where I must report 5 days a week, 7 hours a day and you say things could be worse?

January 15, 2009

What it Looks like When an Urban Public School Teacher is Fired

Since the link doesn't seem to be working,
I have copied the article and comments. Sorry for the empty post!

What it looks like when an urban public school teacher is fired
by Elizabeth Green

Something has happened to the charter school teacher who blogs at Mildly Melancholy that almost never happens at traditional public schools: She has been forced to resign.

This teacher has been writing about her tough school year since September (without revealing the school’s name). At a non-charter school, her misery would probably have proceeded apace until June, mainly unchanged. If tensions with the administration escalated, she might have sought help from the union. But as it happened, Mildly Melancholy — who began teaching in September 2004 — got miserable and then was surprised to find she got fired. She plans to quit teaching altogether.

Her account:

I knew something bad was coming, but I didn’t want to think it was real, and I didn’t think it would happen so soon. This week has been really awful in my classroom (and across the entire grade, actually). I haven’t been a happy person at this job, and I haven’t been a very effective teacher. So it’s actually kind of a big relief.

I was pretty shaken by how fast it all happened; within an hour I finished teaching my last class, signed the letter, surrendered my laptop, and was packing up my belongings.

Here you can read her description of her first, much more optimistic days teaching, at a middle school in Queens.
Filed under: Newsroom
Posted at 9:05 am
Tags: Charter Schools, Teachers, tenure
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Schooldays January 12th, 2009 10:48 am

I found myself reading the descriptions of “her first, much more optimistic days teaching…” and was struck by the “0 comments” posting after posting after posting. One doesn’t have to read the posts carefully to see she is having some problems (3 minutes of teaching in a 45 minute class) yet “0 comments”.

Now that she has been fired, she gets comments. How ironic and sad. And unhelpful.
MildlyMelancholy January 12th, 2009 11:47 am

thanks for the links, Elizabeth. no wonder my archives have been getting so many hits! :)Schooldays, I can’t tell if you’re saying shame on me for being a bad teacher back then, or shame on readers for not trying to help? nobody was reading it back in those days! there weren’t a lot of teacher blogs five years ago; the community has really built up since then. though i’ve never claimed to be an Amazing Super Teacher, my second year (and on) was millions of miles better than my first, which is quite common among teachers. my first year was awful–one of the reasons this year felt so horrible was that it felt just like my first year, which I thought was ancient history–and i don’t try to claim otherwise. the three years after that though, my classroom was, for the most part, a pretty good place to be (for me and the students). when this school told me i had to completely change my teaching style and teacher personality (which had allowed me to become a good teacher with great management), that should have been a clue.
peter January 12th, 2009 12:05 pm

Teaching is an extremely isolating job … unfortunately in too many schools teachers complain to each other but rarely interact on a professional basis … observe a master teacher, are effectively coached by school leadership … I’ve always believed that the principal must be a master teacher, and, teach a class that is open to all staff … schools should provide teachers with constant feedback on teacher progress. That being said teaching is not for everyone … for some the learning curve is sharp, for others slower, and for some filled w/ peaks and valleys.

Leaving on your own is one thing … being fired is another … you will probably feel guilty, sad about your kids … walk along a winter beach, go to the gym … decompress, and move on … and keep writing!
Schooldays January 12th, 2009 12:51 pm

Of course I don’t think Mildly Melancholy is a bad teacher. I found it sad that few would bother to post comments. As for “nobody reading it back in those days”, have you checked blog comments recently? Blog comments on this site?

With all the best wishes for a fine future. I’m sure you will have one.
Chaz January 12th, 2009 3:39 pm

It is a pity that MM did not get due process rights. However, NYC public school teachers can and do get fired. The difference is that for tenured teachers, the DOE must prove their case in front of an independent arbitrator. It is one thing to accuse a teacher of misconduct or incometence, its another thing to prove it.

Many an innocent teacher would be fired just because an insecure or vindictive Principal wants the teacher gone due to ageism, race, religion, or advocacy.

By the way these Charter Schools are known for their high teacher turnover. That is their dirty little secret that fails to reach the media.
Smith January 12th, 2009 9:59 pm

MM, Why not try teaching in a regular public school, with a union. Having a few basic rights and a little more power on the job could make a big difference. I would also suggest trying high school. If you survived middle school this long, you’d probably be a good high school teacher, at least in terms of classroom management.
Socrates January 13th, 2009 9:50 pm

Interesting that she was fired from a school that uses “work hard, be nice,” has extended day and summer school, and exists in Brooklyn, the week before KIPP AMP unionizes. Connection?

I really hope they didn’t unionize because of this teacher. All my sympathies go out to her, but it doesn’t sound like she was doing too great a job.
Jonathan January 14th, 2009 2:43 pm

“almost never happens at traditional public schools” ….. that’s really just not correct …..

Forced resignations occur frequently in the affluent suburbs. Typically, a new teacher will be told a year before the tenure decision that it is already clear that they will not be granted tenure, and is asked to find work elsewhere. Teachers jump at the chance to transfer rather than be fired. This “churns” the workforce, leaving a core of senior teachers at a school, with a pool of first, second, and third year teachers bouncing from district to district.
….. in New York City, the same game gets played with probationers ….. threatened with a U unless the transfer …. the transfer is equivalent to getting fired …. less frequent, but still common, probationers are denied tenure…. and discontinued…. this happened recently at Bronx Science…. (the teacher ended up in Westchester, where I hope she doesn’t get “churned”)
Tillie January 14th, 2009 6:43 pm

Some people become lawyers, open restaurants, work in a corporate environment, whatever for a few years and they just aren’t that great at what they do, and they get fired and move on to other things. Why are people so worried when it happens to a teacher? I DON’T think MM should go work in a public school–why?? why not try something that she might be better at, something that would make her happier? And sure, some teachers get hassled by principals who are ageist, racist, whatever. But WAY more teachers are mediocre (or worse) and allowed to stay in the system because firing them is too cumbersome to principals who are already overwhelmed by the magnitude of their jobs. I think MM’s situation seems to be in the best interest of her and her students.
Schooldays January 15th, 2009 3:48 am

How interesting that some assume MM was a “bad” teacher. The fact that she was asked to change her teaching style may reinforce that assumption.

But is the teacher responsible for student learning? It could be that students are responsible for their own learning. If students have no self motivation nor self reliance then they are the ones who are mediocre (or worse).

Teachers should not have to be “overwhelmed by the magnitude of their jobs” when many parents (and their student children) seem to be underwhelmed by the magnitude of theirs.
Tillie January 18th, 2009 7:46 pm

I didn’t assume MM was bad–she said herself that she wasn’t very effective. I believe her–why would she lie about it? and I think teachers HAVE to be responsible for student learning. It is their job to teach students–if the students don’t learn (for whatever reason), then they’re not doing a great job and they should try something else.

Schooldays, you say that “teachers should not have to be ‘overwhelmed by the magnitude of their jobs’ when many parents (and their student children) seem to be underwhelmed by the magnitude of theirs.” I’m troubled by this–I’m not sure what you mean. Would you say doctors shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of their jobs if their patients are underwhelmed by the magnitude of theirs? Would you say that more students with more inspired parents deserve more inspired teachers? I am not sure I’m reading you right on that–just trying to make sense of it.

Definitely there are students in our city schools who are unmotivated and irresponsible. I’ve seen those students really push themselves when they are in the presence of a master teacher. I think they–like all students–deserve to be in the presence of master teachers regularly.

(This story was found at http://gothamschools.org/)

January 12, 2009

Wall to Wall Teachers

What's it like in the Rubber Room? I guess it depends on where you're coming from. For those who didn't really like teaching, were tired of writing lesson plans or never wrote them to begin with, pull up a chair, the rubber room is just the place to put your feet up. For some, it is a great relief from being pushed around by bullying administration and obnoxious students. Working on hobbies, crossword puzzles, reading newspapers and magazines, talking on the phone, catching up on sleep, socializing, eating and getting paid isn't so much of a burden compared to being in a school with an imbalanced, out of control, power crazed leadership Principal. For some teachers, there is little talk about "getting out" and returning to teaching. For many, there is an underlying hope that they never will have to return to teaching- EVER. Not only is it a dream job for the lazy, but it pays well too. Some would prefer to sit out their retirement quietly rather than face the jungle like environment that they left behind. There is a temporary feeling of relief for anyone who has been harrassed, falsely accused, injured on site or U Rated. While others are losing their jobs in this failing economy, getting paid to do nothing seems like a crime in itself.
As I have mentioned in older posts, some of the employees that one must contend with are worse than the students...There is no real way of knowing just who is sitting next to you. Lack of privacy, close quarters, bad manners, poor hygiene, bad habits and a high school mentality are commonplace. It can feel like a bad dream. Many teachers are depressed and scared. While they are going through what seems to be the worst time in their lives, there are others in the room who make the situation worse with their insensitive and callous behavior. Like most office settings, gossip runs cruel and rampant. Some teachers are just plain petty, abusive and narcissistic. There is nowhere to go when one needs refuge. There are wall to wall teachers. Because of the overwhelming atmosphere, many teachers cope by sleeping for hours on end. Others get angry, moody -or withdraw completely. The situation is so emotionally paralyzing that it spills over to their personal lives. Getting up in the morning is hard. Leaving the house, even harder. Many teachers don't even tell their spouses of the absurd situation they have been placed in. Would they even understand it?
I hear that the UFT is considering providing some type of 'stress management' for the reassigned...anyone care to comment?

Blogger Chaz said...


I couldn't have said it better about the rubber room. I suggest you and your fellow teachers do worshops that are teacher directed. Waiting for the UFT to do this is worthless.

By the way you look like you are coping better. Keep your blog going and report your experiences. Other teachers must know how the UFT has abandoned the reassigned teacher.

January 13, 2009 1:43 PM

January 8, 2009

The UFT-Always Changing Their Tune

When you are in your school, your UFT rep will give you 101 reasons why you need to attend meetings & maintain a united front to your principal. They will lead you to believe that as a dues paying member of the UFT, you are protected. Your job is secure. You are untouchable. Should you have any questions, the Union will answer them for you, guide you, advise you. You show your loyalty by showing up early for meetings. You help set up the bagels and even volunteer to make the coffee. The UFT rep will assure you that knowledge is power. Stay informed. Know the regulations. Read the contract. All that lip service is nice, until the unimaginable happens...
One thing the Union Reps never talk about is what can happen if you are accused of corporal punishment, neglect of duty, insubordination, whistle blowing or incompetence. The won't tell you how they are powerless in defending and supporting their members. They never talk about who is being targeted or bullied by the administration in your own school. They don't tell you that one day you are a teacher and the next you can be sent to the Rubber Room. They never talk about what is happening to teachers just like yourself, teachers in the NYC DOE throughout the city, every day.
Some union reps know all too well what can happen to an accused teacher. Inexcusably, there are many union reps who really don't. Others know, they just never came close enough to experience it firsthand. This new breed of principal will fix that in no time. (Many of the District reps are retired Tier 1 teachers who have no idea what it's like to work in a climate of abuse and intimidation.) Why the lack of information? Why the secrecy? Does it matter to you that your chapter leader may be so naive or ignorant about the process? It should. Especially when you are the teacher being accused and/or targeted. When you are the teacher who has false allegations made against you. When you are the teacher who has been removed from your school and deemed ineligible to teach. When you are the one who is humiliated, embarrassed, shamed and shunned by your colleagues. When you are the one who has to sit idly in the rubber room day after day with no end in sight. Don't you think that it is time we woke up and demanded answers?
The UFT is guilty of of doing nothing while our colleagues are brought up on bogus charges. They are guilty of barely objecting to the inhumane conditions at the reassignment centers. They stand by idly by while teachers are herded like cattle and treated like common criminals. By saying and doing nothing, our Union reps are doing us the greatest injustice of all. .
Once you are removed from your school and thrown into the land of, "Anything Goes", who do you turn to? There is no UFT meeting or Graduate course that could ever prepare you for what comes next. The UFT never talks about the City's Best Kept Secret, the Rubber Rooms.

Blogger Chaz said...

You hit it on the head. The UFT leaders really don't care about the reassigned teachers.

The UFT just wants those teachers to slowly die away and leave their careers behind.

January 10, 2009 11:52 AM

The Wall of Silence

Please read this...http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/01/wall-of-silence-about-nycs-rubber-rooms.html

January 2, 2009

Christmas, Under the Covers.

The Countdown to Christmas in the Rubber room was rather disturbing. Here was a group of reassigned teachers in desperate need of a holiday break and all they could do was make each other miserable. How does the true spirit of the holiday prevail over people who are mean and outright hurtful to one another? These are grown adults who claim to love their children, spouses and families but cannot find a way to allow the others around them to exist in peace? It is an understatement when I say that the drama of the holiday countdown had left me mentally and spiritually depleted.
I wasn't able to spend this holiday with my family. Instead I pulled the covers over my head and remained in bed. Two days before the holiday I received 'formal charges' from my principal via certified mail. A befitting Christmas present from an institution that I have grown to despise and fear. It had taken eight months and 3 days after I had been reassigned. I had to go to the post office to pick up the envelope on the following day. When I arrived home, another certified mail notice was waiting for me at my door. For the next three days, certified mail notices filled my mailbox. A Department of Education form of harrassment? Each document had been duplicated and sent to me four separate times, each on a consecutive day requiring another trip to the post office. By the third day, the notices for the 3020 hearing began to arrive. It was now the 26th of December. Can you believe that my principal is actually a parent? A human? I don't know whether to laugh or cry each time I open up my mailbox. Today, January 2, I received a letter from my principal's lawyer. I am still trying to work up the energy to return to the Rubber room on Monday.

Blogger Eric said...

This is what the DOE does best, send the charges during the holidays. For many of the male teachers that are accused of sexual misconduct. They receive their "probable cause" letters during December. That is when the DOE takes them offline for 60 to 90 days for a very merry Christmas.

Stay the cause and fight your charges. Don't fret. You will end up alright.

January 3, 2009 8:47 PM

Blogger Pissed Off said...

Good luck. My prayers are with you.

January 4, 2009 5:21 PM

Blogger The Bus Driver said...

jeez.. merry f-n christmas to you... hugs and stay strong!

January 12, 2009 3:49 PM