Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I'm doing my grades tonight. They take forever. The school district computer system isn't the easiest system to navigate. You have to go through window after window after window and you can't see the entire card until you're finished. I have 25 kids. They each have about 15 things to enter on the card not including comments. Each card takes about 10 minutes. That's 250 minutes. That's more than 4 hours. Ugh.

The real problem is the grades are done now and we still have 14 days of instruction left. The kids know that the grades are done and they have no incentive to listen or care or do anything because they know they're untouchable. It will be even worse when we turn in all the textbooks next week. We'll be without any materials and still be required to teach. The kids will go apesh@t then. Why can't the school district input the grades during the week of the 12th? They can take away the books then too. The kids will have more of an incentive to work. At least the illusion of accountability will be there.

I'm just glad the whole damn thing is winding down. I'm tired and want to go on summer vacation. The pool is calling me and I need to soak in it and forget.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I just watched a story on the local news about dangers in Philadelphia elementary schools. They showed video footage of children playing in schoolyards. They were beating the sh*t out of each other - pulling hair, pummeling, punching, kicking, wrestling, and stomping. The reporter seemed surprised. The footage could have come from my school. This behavior is playing to my kids. It's all they know. I broke up two kids who were smacking the crap out of each other during recess. "Oh Mr. we just playing." Blood was pouring out of the kid's nose who told me this. The other kid had scratches and the knee torn out of his pants. WTF?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Springtime thoughts turn to gelati.

My kids are getting worse by the day. They sense the end of the school year. They think that nothing can touch them and they're mostly right. I'll never tell them that, however. My administrators have told me in no uncertain terms that I'm to pass my kids. To be honest it hardly matters. If I fail Jerry it will do him no good. All he does is roll on the floor, eat his pencils, and make curses and animal grunts. Keeping him in the same grade will do nothing. He's utterly irredeemable. He's been held back too many times anyhow. He's already ready to drive to elementary school.

My job is ridiculous. Thank God it's Spring. I just went out to get gelati. Mmm. Eighteen days left.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Enjoying the weekend

I'm sitting here on the weekend drinking a cold one and thanking God that there's only about 21 days left. I will make it. It's not going to be easy but nothing ever is at my school. Still, I will get through to the end. Right now I'm working for June. It will be here momentarily.

I hit Tony Luke's today for a roast pork Italian. Mmm that sandwich is fine. If you are ever in South Philly you should do yourself a favor and head to Tony's. Forget Pat's, Geno's, and Jim's. Forget cheesesteaks entirely. That's tourist fare. You need a pork with provalone and broccoli rabe.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Too much

I drove to work this morning and was struck with how Jacob Riis-like the hellhole neighborhood is where I work. Sometimes I drive and don't notice it at all but today I noticed everything and it made it that much more depressing. Half naked children bounding down tenement stairs into the clammy drizzle. No mother bounding out of the tumbledown place after them. Stumblebums, junkies, and pickpockets hugging the bricks, staying out of the rain. Emaciated dogs rooting through garbage in the gutter. Cars held together with chicken wire jostling for position at the stoplights. Angry looking men in pajamas, tattoos, and headwraps yelling at their women in the street. What a place. This is just a typical 8 am trip. All this to see and I have yet to take a swig of coffee or park the car.

Too much to see this morning.


On the bright side, the Phils swept the Reds! I hate the Big Red Machine!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Flu runs amok

I've been sick as a dog for the past five days. I hope that I get better soon. I think it's the flu. At least my fever has broken. It sucks when you are sick all weekend. I haven't had any downtime to relax or recharge or catch up on laundry or paperwork. My house is a mess. I have nothing to wear tomorrow and I'm still coughing up phlegm. Ah, the life of a teacher. Yeah, we have it easy.

Here's how easy it was on Friday. I'm sick as a dog in the classroom, the kids are running amok, no one is listening, I'm coughing up a lung. It's horrible. Finally it's time to leave. It's 3:09! They can leave! No one is f@%*ing listening to me! "Will you please just get in line? I just want you to line up so you can go home. Will you please do that?" It's 3:15. They're smacking each other in the head. They're eating their pencils. They're rolling on the linoleum in the pencil shavings near the trash can. No one is lining up. "Will you please for Christsakes act like human beings and show some compassion for someone else for once in your life?" No one listened or changed their behavior. Finally about 3:30 someone noticed that they could have left already. I was just watching them like it was Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. After another 5 minutes we finally got them out the door. What is wrong here? How can one teacher be with these kids for an entire year and they behave the same way throughout? Every day is the first day of the year for these kids. They have no clue.

I'm so happy the year is winding down. I just hope I can get better and finish it out on my two feet. It's a goddamn streetfight every day with these kids.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day

I have been so tired these last few days. The kids have been horrible and I just can't keep up, especially in the afternoons. I'm physically tired and mentally fried, too. I just want to get through this week and collapse. I do not care anymore. There are about 30 working days left and I can't wait to get through. I've had enough. I need to rest up and prepare for next year.

This year is in the can anyway and all the kids are going to pass. My administrators conveyed that message to us all the other day. The principal told us to think hard about those kids that we want to fail. Is it fair to saddle another teacher with that kid for another year of sixth grade? Pass them. Get them the hell out of here.

What's the point? I have a reason be tired. What's the point?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Green Tea Mango

I'm relaxing Cinco de Mayo style and eating some green tea mango ice cream from Turkey Hill. Mmm. They should sponsor this blog. Their Phillies graham slam is great too. Perhaps they want to split the sponsorship with the Yuengling brewery. Mmm. I'm going to reach for one of their products next. Enjoy the holiday and arrive alive, don't drink and drive.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Merit pay? F That!

My kids were absolutely horrible today. How do you reach kids that just don't care about anything? What do you do? You tell me?

I was reading the Philadelphia Inquirer today and there was an editorial about the 58% graduation rate in the Philadelphia high schools. The editorial mentioned that teachers who get results should get bonuses. I wonder if the writer has ever taught in the school district of Philadelphia or anywhere else? Teachers don't get to choose their classes. Teachers play the hand they're dealt. My kids care about nothing and respect nothing. They would be perfectly happy just hitting each other in the head all day or spitting spitballs and scratching themselves all day. I would end up paying for the privilege of teaching them if my pay was based on their academic progress. Thank God my pay isn't based on them! Thank God I will get another chance with another class next year. Hopefully one that isn't stocked chock full of maniacs.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Early dismissals are the bomb.

Today one of my kids was completely off the wall. This kid hasn't done any real work since we got back from spring break. Today he was crazed. He's up, he's down, he's rolling on the floor, he's on the windowsill, he's spitting water like a porpoise. Anyway, about 2 I answer the class phone. "Donald to the front desk for early dismissal." "Thank you, thank you, thank you" just flew out of my lips. I couldn't help it. A Freudian slip. I felt a little bad about saying it in front of the kids and in front of Donald but I'm human. Thank God he left out the classroom door. I probably would have thrown him out our third floor window if he would have stayed for another hour and a half.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Liberal Media?

Hopefully your world is a sunny and bright as mine has been for the past few days. I went up to NYC for the big antiwar protest on Saturday. What a day! The sun was shining, the temperature was just right, and I had a blast with at least 100,000 of my friends. What a wonderful thing it is to be in the street fighting for what you believe in. Too bad the media didn't cover it. One small picture in the NYTimes on Sunday and no mention at all in the Philly Inquirer. I guess there were more important things to cover? Wait, Rush Limbaugh and his drug bust was much more important. Liberal Media my ass.

I ran 8 miles yesterday. I haven't done that in about 20 years. I'm running the Broad Street Run this Sunday, May 7th. I hope it doesn't rain. The last time I ran the Broad Street Run was in 1984. Reagan was president. Some of my student's parents weren't born yet! Talk about weird. That is weird!

My kids were manageable today. Will wonders never cease? I was hoping many of them would be out for the big protests today. I guess none of them read the papers?

Spell check wants me to replace Limbaugh with Lumbago. Should I do it?