"30 Schools In 30 Weeks"

My adventures as a Gypsy going from school To school in a futile search for a real teaching position.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A School That Appears To Be Turning It Around - School #4.

I was assigned to Newtown High School and expected it to be a terrible experience since it has a bad reputation.  However, I was pleasently suprised by the school climate. The experienced staff were friendly and the students were reasonably well behaved, if not academically engaged.  I saw few students walking the halls between classes and the Deans do a good job keeping a quiet school.  It seems that the school has downsized significantly over the last few years and the gang issues that plagued the school over the years have diminished over time. The school is also reflecting the changing demographics of the neighborhood and while still having a Hispanic majority, there has been a significant increase in the Asian population. Academically, the school still struggles but with an increasingly diverse student body and the gang-related issues no longer a major problem, there's hope that the school will improve over time.

Parking is an issue, with alternate side of the street parking, especially Monday and Tuesday.  Commuting to the school on local roads is a chore but better than the LIE or Queens Blvd.  However, its manageable if you give yourself some time to look for a parking spot.  The administration loves to give you cafeteria duty so expect it every day. 

Overall, I had a comfortable experience at the school and wouldn't mind a position there.

Grade "C"

Monday, November 17, 2014

An International School With High Teacher Turnover. - School #3

I was assigned to a small international school in Long Island City and for the week I was assigned there was treated well by the Principal.  The students come from all over the world but is majority Hispanic.  The recent immigrants who go to the school have various academic levels from high achieving to barely literate.   The students do not take Regents, except for English and are well behaved.  However, the students lack school spirit and the senior class trip was cancelled due to lack of interest.

The school suffers from high staff turnover with six new teachers hired out of fifteen on staff.  Few of the teachers are tenured and none highly experienced.  Parking is available on Van Dam Street where the Public Storage building is and is within walking distance to all the schools in the area.  However, be there by 7:30 am, otherwise its $15 parking.

My stay at International High School only lasted a week since the dysfunctional DOE tried to send me to a Middle School as a provisional appointment.  However, thanks to Michael Sill of the UFT, the provisional appointment was rescinded since I am not licensed for middle school nor do I want to teach at that level.  Instead of sending me back to the International school, I was sent to my next school who had no clue I was assigned there,  Good job DOE.

Nice school but the commute is for hell.
Grade C

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bon Voyage From This Transfer School - School #2

After being in the best high school in Queens, the next school was bound not to be as good and my next school was a transfer school and it was no piece of cake being there for the next three weeks.  The transfer school is Voyagers Preparatory Academy in Elmhurst Queens and the students call their teachers by their first name, even the Principal.  I wrote about this school last year and you can find it here.  Few things have changed in a year,  However, the Principal treated me and the other ATRs with respect and left us alone during our stay there.

The student body, like all transfer schools are overaged and under credited who have been removed from other high schools.  Some of the students came out of incarceration and have parole officers and many have truancy issues.  About 50% of the students show up on any given day.  Respect issues abound and I was called a few choice names that are not part of the male body.  In fact in one hour at the school I heard more curse words then I did in seven weeks at my first school.  Moreover, the boys dressed and act "thuggish", with hoodies and music blasting from ear phones inside the hoodies.  Underwear showing above the low lying pants is a constant look.  Cellphones seems part of the student hand and many are texting or listening to music rather than during their work, even for their regular teachers.  The students want to do as little work as possible and think simply showing up will get them a passing grade.

The staff is nice and are experienced with between five to eight years of teaching experience.  However, because of the student cohort they have, many received  low marks on the State testing component and reduced their overall grade.  Not a happy group.

The school runs a late schedule 8:30-3:15 and parking is difficult and next to impossible on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Subways are a good distance from the campus and in bad weather is a chore. 

I have not changed my opinion of this school since I last was there.  No way would I want a position there.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

All Schools Should Be Like This. - School #1.

I was assigned to Townsend Harris High School and was treated wonderfully by students, staff, and yes, even the administration. In my seven weeks at the school, I cannot recall one negative issue that would bring the school environment down.

The classes I covered were a pleasure as the students were respectful, diligent in completing their assignment, and never did a student take out their cellphone or use foul language in the classroom. Many of the students greeted me with smiles and hellos and asked me to help them when I could. This school has a nearly 100% career and college readiness score".

The staff treated me as part of the family and even the administrators asked me if I needed any accommodations to my schedule. On the day I left, they thanked me for my service and hoped to see me again.

Parking is a problem on Thursday and Friday because of alternate side of the street parking but on those days you can park on Main Street, three blocks to the West of the school.

I wish all schools were like Townsend Harris.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Grades For Each School.

These are the 29 high schools schools I was at and here is the list of schools and their grades.

Voyagers Academy.................................................F
Queens Preparatory Academy..............................D-
Thomas Edison.......................................................B+
Middle College.......................................................B+
Arts & Business.......................................................B
Robert H. Goodard..................................................B
Fredrick Douglas Academy VI................................F
Grover Cleveland.....................................................D
George Washington Carver....................................D-
Beach Channel.......................................................NG
Law & Government..................................................F
Academy of Medical Technology............................D
George Washington Carver....................................D-
Gateway to Health Sciences...................................B-
North Community......................................................F
Excelsior Preparatory.............................................D
Pathways to College................................................D
 Queens Vocational.................................................B-
Finance and Enterprise...........................................B
High School of Sciences.........................................A-
Forest Hills...............................................................A-
Richmond Hill..........................................................C-
Frank Sinatra...........................................................D
Queens Information  Research & Technology.....F
John Adams.............................................................D-
Queens Academy.....................................................D

These are my personal ratings and may or may not reflect what others would rate the schools.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A School That's Downsizing And Excessing. - School #28

I was at a large comprehensive high school that was one of the former turnaround schools that Mayor Bloomberg tried to close.  Like many of the former turnaround school, this school lost many of their higher achieving students during the 2012-13 school year after they were allowed to apply to other schools.  The result was that this school lost their entire White population and to maintain their student numbers took in many over the counter students or students that were kicked out of other schools.  This has reduced the academic achievement of the schools as the schools college readiness numbers are plunging into the single digits.

The student body include high numbers of special education and English Language Learners and there is little student involvement.  The Administration is poor, with the new Principal unapproachable and many veteran teachers being given "ineffective ratings".  The school has lost many students over the last couple of years and will see a further reduction of students next school year with 250 less students.  Therefore, the school has sent excessing letters to 20 teachers, who will be joing the ATR pool next year, unless they are young and untenured.  Adding to the school woes, many teachers are teaching out of license.

Staff morale is at rock bottom and many are resigned to do what's necessary to survive the latest purge going on by the school administration.  For many who see a glimmerr of light in the future the only light they see at the end of the tunnel is simply the headlights of an oncoming train ready to crash into the teacher.

Everyday the secretaries tried to violate the contract by either trying to give me four straight periods, a 1 to 9 schedule, or having me cover for three different teachers.  Of course I told them the contract rules and they changed it.  No key was given to me as well. Not a very welcoming place.

No way would I teach at this school.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Worst Of The Worst - School #27

This week I was in the worst school in my year of traveling through the Queens high schools.  This small school that replaced a closed large comprehensive school far,far away from most of the City has many problems.  A poorly functioning student body, few experienced teachers, and an administration that changes every year.

The student body is dysfunctional, with many of them having very poor academic skills and rejected by other schools they applied to.  The rest are over the counter students and safety transfers.  The result is an unengaged student body, a college readiness score that's almost zero, and only 8 out of 120 students who took Earth Science actually passed the Regents.  The boys dress thuggish with pants down and with their underwear showing.  They also wear their hats or hoodies on and are always disrespecting the staff.

The teachers are mostly transit and untenured and last less than three years before leaving the school for better outcomes.  Many of the rooms are not real classrooms and are not conducive for learning and the students walk the halls with little consequences.

The school has had four principals in six years and the present Principal is leaving at year's end.  The AP's cut their teeth at the school and are gone in a year or two for a better position elsewhere.

This school is truly a failing school and how they can keep this school open and close a once great school like Jamaica high school is puzzling.  No way would I take a position in this school.  I would retire first.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Talented School And A Troubled Staff - School #26

I was assigned to a school named after a famous singer and the students were only accepted by audition.  The students are highly diverse and very talented in Art, Music, and Theater.  The student body is respectful and engaged and I had a pleasant experience interacting with them.  However, I never met a more unfriendly teaching staff in my travels.  The teaching staff seem to resent the ATRs and failed to even say hello.  A school aide told me there is a high teacher turnover rate at the school as the administration is always looking to punish teachers.  She also told me that many of the teachers look at teaching as a temporary job until they get into the showbiz.

Parking is impossible and it costs $8 a day to park in the garage.  I actually took mass transit there and it took me an hour and a half to get to the school.  The school building is modern and the classrooms spacious.  However, despite the very cooperative and respectful student body many of the teachers lack classroom management skills as students walk in and out of their rooms at will.  One of the staff told me that the Chapter Leader is in the pocket of the administration and teachers refuse to confide in the person, of course this Chapter Leader never introduced herself to me or the other ATR during the week we were there.

This school has a great student body, an unfriendly teaching staff, and a "gotcha administration".  The commute is too far and there's no parking.  I wouldn't take a job there.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

A School Struggling To Survive - School #25

I was sent to a school that was once one of the "turnaround schools" and because of the poor publicity, lost most of their higher achieving students.  The school struggles academically, has seen three principals in three years, and suspension rates are highest in the City.  However, the hallways are quiet and the students, for the most part, are respectful..  Lateness is an ongoing problem as students take their time making it to class.

This school appears to be violating State instruction regulations as they have 40 minute periods but still practice a 4-1 program for Regents Science classes, meaning that there is not enough classroom instruction time during the week.  Furthermore, the school has no certified Earth Science teacher teaching the 21 classes of Earth Science and the poor Regents results reflect it.

Teacher morale is poor as they feel the effects of the unstable and ever-changing administration as well as their own frustration with the poor quality academically of the students that are accepted to the school.  Like all former "turnaround schools" they get hundreds of "over the counter students" that are a continuing disciplinary problem at the school and leads to their high suspension rates.

Parking is adequate and the staff is friendly.  However, the ISS staff is composed of "Teach for America" newbies and "Teaching Fellows" many,  who are teaching out of license and are just doing their two year stints before leaving.

The student body is mostly South Asian with a Hispanic minority.  There is a small but increasing Black component with few Eastern European students left in the school.  This school is struggling to reinvent itself but is having trouble doing it.  I would take a position there if offered because of their early schedule and quiet hallways.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Old Fashioned High School - School #24

I was in one of the few remaining large comprehensive high school and I was impressed with the atmosphere at the school.  No micromanaging administrators, the student body was respectful and diverse, while the teachers were warm and welcoming, with some notable exceptions (special education). 

The school is a throwback when high schools gave a student the whole high school experience.  Loads of electives, extracurricular activities, and flexible schedules.  The student body is engaged and appears happy.  If there was a negative, it was that the students feel that there are too many broken smartboards and some of the young teachers, especially in the special education department are unfriendly.  I did feel that as well in their teachers room.

 The school has good "college and career readiness" scores and most of the student body and teachers are proud of their school, unlike the Bloomberg small schools.

Parking is available and the front office was accommodating and friendly.  I certainly would take a position in this school if offered one.

Grade "A-"

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A School Inside A College - School #23

I was at a small specialized school that is located inside a college campus and was treated very nicely by the school administrators and the students were respectful and engaged.  In addition, the staff, made up of highly experienced teachers were warm, and welcoming.  I would tell you this was an "A" rated school but I did seer some issues.  The building is too small for the school and the students complain about the overcrowding.  There is no photocopy machine for teacher use and like all established schools their is a lack of resources as the budget has been reduced over the years.

The students are all great, mostly made up of East and South Asian students, all high achieving.  There is a smattering of Black, Hispanic, and White students as well.  The physical education facility is in another building across a busy street and the students complain about this, especially in bad weather.  Moreover, like all small schools, there are complaints about rigid schedules,  the lack of electives, and extracurricular activities.

Street parking is moderately difficult but for $5 you can park at the college's parking lot.

Experienced staff, great students, and an administration that is willing to work with you.  I would die for a job there but alas, they don't have classses in my content specialty.

Grade "A-"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Finally, A School I Would Let My Child Go To! - School #22

I finally found myself in a large comprehensive high school in Northeast Queens and was pleasantly surprised that despite the school's ongoing financial problems with the DOE, this school is what all high schools should be.

This large comprehensive high school has a very diverse student body, who show respect for their teachers and yes, even to the ATRs!  The teaching staff is highly experienced and sympathetic to our plight.  There's plenty of parking and  I was able to select my schedule. Even better, the school didn't require me to do a useless "circular six"  obligation.  The administration is "hands off" and let teachers do their job.

The school has loads of electives and extracurricular activities for the students.  Furthermore, the students can pick and choose their schedule, within limits and if a problem exist between a student and teacher an alternative program can be done to give the student a different teacher.  As you have guessed they have a high "college and career readiness" score  Many of the students are happy and proud of their school.  This is in contrast to the Bloomberg small schools with rigid curriculums and few extracurricular activities and many frustrated students who feel they made a mistake going to them. To me, the students of this school have a real high school experience.

Are there negatives at the school?  Yes, the classes are crowded, the Advanced Placement classes are single period and except for Physics, the Regents Science classes have a 4-1 schedule. In fact, with the same amount of students, the Science Department went from 34 teachers in 2008 to 23 teachers in 2013. Moreover, the school has excessed 15 to 20 teachers over the last two years due to their financial problems with the DOE.

This is a school I would be proud to send my child to and I would be ecstatic to get a position in this school.


Friday, April 4, 2014

A Good School But Getting There Is A Chore - School #21

I was sent to a small school in a college building in Western Queens and was very impressed with the school. The teaching staff is a mixtures of veteran and "newbie teachers" with a collaborative administration, a rarity in my travels this school year.

The student body is diverse with a majority Hispanic population and an increasing number of White and East Asian students coming to the school every year since its start.  The students wear professional attire and are well-behaved.  It was a pleasure to be at the school as there were no students walking the halls, or disrespecting the rules of the school.

The staff is friendly and supportive and work with the school administration to run a academically proficient school culture. This is shown by the above average "college and career readiness scores" despite being an unscreened school. Like all small schools course selection is limited and few extracurricular activities.

The downside is the late start time and the long commute by mass transit or by car in rush hour traffic that can take over an hour or more to get there from Eastern Queens. Of course there's no parking, unless you want to lay out $14 daily.  Furthermore, the school has no gym and Physical Education is given in a large room. There's no SAVE room for suspended students (they have a zero tolerance approach with regard to student misbehavior).  Instead, the students are dumped into the Dean's office for the day.  Like many schools I've been to, the Earth Science classes are taught by a non-certified teacher in the subject.

If it weren't for the late start time and commute I would consider it an "A-"  school but since this is an issue I must drop the grade a bit.  I would be happy to work there.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Location, Location, Location - School #20

I was sent to a vocational school in Western Queens and it was refreshing to be with a student body that was well behaved and respectful after my hellish experiences in Southeast Queens. Most of the students go to this school because they want to go into the trades such as plumbing, electrician, and for the girls business and cosmetology.

The school is over 90% Hispanic and while most of the students struggle academically, their engineering program attracts top-notch students who take Advanced Placement courses such as Physics, Calculus, and Statistics.  Discipline issues are few and are handled very efficiently by the Deans. Students get to class on-time and few stragglers show up late.  The Administration treated me well and accommodated my personal matters by adjusting my schedule after the first day.  The teachers were friendly and helpful and the students, for the most part, did their assigned work and gave me little problem.

The downside of this school is parking.  There is no parking in the area and if you are on late schedule, as all ATRs are, you cannot even get paid parking spaces!  The administration has a cordial but not collaborative relationship with the staff.  They suffer from the "top down mentality" that the DOE has instilled on their young principals.  Interestingly, the principal hires all "newbie teachers" for all subjects except for Math.  Apparently, she believes "newbie math teachers" are not the answer and has hired two experienced Math teachers in the last year.

I was treated well, shown respect, and allowed to go to Professional Development.  The school is very nice but don't even bother to take your car there since you cannot find parking. . If only this school was in a more accessible location with parking.  I would give the school a try if offered a position there.


Friday, March 21, 2014

No Pathway To College Here. - School #19

Well, I found myself in another school in Southeast Queens and this school shares a building with their own middle school and another middle school.  Its four stories and no elevator. The staff is fairly young with less than eight years of experience but were all quite friendly.  On the other hand, the administration is lead by another "Leadership Academy Principal" who hid in her office during the week I was there.  The hallways are narrow and crowded at the bell change and the odor from the students bathrooms into the hallways can make one gag.

The high school students are supposed to wear uniforms but few do and many of the boys display the "thuggish look" as they keep the pants down and show their underwear.  School tone is poor as administrators don't handle the discipline problem like they need to do.  Some classes are totally "out of control" while others were somewhat manageable.  The "college and career readiness" scores are abysmal in the low single figures.  Meaning few, get advanced Regents diplomas and online courses are needed for many of the students to graduate.  A new state-of-the-art-science lab was essentially destroyed in two years and is barely useable.

The teachers room has no computers, and the administration walks in whenever they feel like.  The school is 95% black and many of the students are in the halls, walking into other rooms, and are "unprepared to learn".  Teacher morale is poor, primarily due to the many requirements that the administrators pile on the staff.  Like many of the unscreened schools in Southeast Queens, the freshman class consists of "1's" and low "2's with behavioral issues and the staff has their work cut out with this grade.  The 10th grade is little better.

This school suffers from all the maladies of the other schools in Southeast Queens, lack of academic tools, little student diversity, and administrators that blame teachers for the ills of the school.  On the bright side, the school is easy to get to and parking is available with a block or two from the school. I wouldn't want a position there.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Dodging A Bullet At A Disrespectful School. - School #18

Well I lucked out as I was covering a class in my content area that already had seven teachers  since the semester started and was told they might keep me until the original teacher either returns or tells them that he's not coming back.  However, it seems the school's administration, led by another "Leadership Academy Principal" didn't bother to do the paperwork to retain me and thankfully, I'm on my way to another adventure. I feel sorry for the students as they are feeling betrayed as they have a new teacher weekly and are well behind academically .  Passing the Regents is almost impossible but "its not about the children" to these "Leadership Academy Principals".

The school, that I was in is 85% black and 10% Hispanic.  If you look at the unrealistic school progress report, the school is doing well.  However, being there I experienced, first-hand the downside of the school.  A general disrespect for authority, failure to get to their class on time despite the short distance between classes, and lack of manners by many of the students.  The freshman classes in all the schools in this Southeast Queens school campus are the worst ever.  Like all the schools in this campus, the quality of students are falling off rapidly and declining college readiness scores reflect it.  The school is no longer attracting high quality students and are forced to accept lower performing students to keep their numbers up.

At one time few special education and English Language Learners were part of the student body as the school attracted many academically achieving students as they needed.  Unfortunately,  the school can no longer count on this and the influx of Special Education students has required the school to consider self-contained classes and to add a special education teacher to the staff.

The only good thing is that the school has its own parking area and the commute wasn't terrible.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Transfer Me Outta Here! - School #17

Last week I found myself in a small transfer school that's located in a closed and decrepit Catholic school.  The school has a student population of 165 but the school's lucky if 50% of them attend.  Like all transfer schools the students have academic, behavioral, attendance, and family problems that resulted in them being "kicked out" of their previous school.  In fact, one girl told me this was her sixth school and this was her last chance. 

The Principal is your typical "Leadership Academy" graduate and requires the teachers to do lesson and unit planning and large amount of data mining.  The teachers have little time for anything else. As a "push in teacher" I saw first hand what stress the teachers experience daily with these transfer students.  The students are disinterested, distracting, and disrespectful.  Many of the students are consistantly using their cellphones, playing music, sleeping, or simply ignoring the teacher as he tries to teach a lesson to no avail.  Teaching with this student body is a disaster.

There is no teacher room or bathroom key as the bathroom is in the basement next to the cafeteria that doubles as a gym.  Furthermore, the non-profit provides guidance counselors and some of them look as old as the students they service.  Parking is difficult on Wednesday and Friday and one teacher parked almost a mile away!  The main office treated me with indifference and made me feel like an intruder but that's the life of a traveling ATR.

Thank goodness I don't work there and would actually think of retireing if I did.


Friday, February 28, 2014

A Healthy School But Watch Out For The "Gotcha" Administrators. - School #16.

The school I was at for the month of February has quite a lot going for it.  Screened and well behaved students, an experienced and friendly staff, an easy commute, and finally adequate parking.  This would be an "A" rated school if it only wasn't for the administrators.  The administrators are down right unfriendly, don't collaborate with the teachers, and use the Danielson rubric as a punitive weapon.  While as an ATR they left me alone, it was very obvious to me that they enjoyed doing a surprise walk-thru at inopportune times to try to get the teacher.  This group is the real "gotcha squad".  In fact, its on chaz's "do not apply" list.  The result is that many teachers took days off as they needed to get away from the administration and I found myself covering a class for each day I was at the school..

Except for the school administrators the screened students (mostly "3"s and some "4"s were well behaved, engaged, and cooperative.  This was the school that my field supervisor did my observation in and the students were just wonderful. The experienced staff was friendly and in the teachers' room we had many discussions and helpful advise.    Moreover, the payroll Secretary was very nice and helpful. Parking was adequate and there is no "alternate side of the street parking" in the area.

 Like all small schools the students griped about lack of good electives, after school activities, and Advanced Placement courses.  However, overall it was a great school, except for the administration.  I would take a job there but I would need to be careful of the "gotcha squad".


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sleeping And Reading - School #15

I found myself at the "fight club school" in Southeast Queens once again during Regents week since this school had my W-2.  I had a very relaxing week, as all week I either read my book or slept in the teacher's room.  They chose not to use me or the other two ATRs to proctor the exams or use us as hall monitors.  Therefore, my entire week consisted of rest and relaxation, can't beat that.

My week of doing nothing helped me realize how much stress the school's staff is under.  Unlike the ATRs the school staff had to prepare second semester unit plans, lesson plans for the next unit, and a twelve page questionnaire to be given to the Principal by Friday.  Many of the teachers complained of having three or four preps and some not being certified in the subject they were being forced to teach.  Others felt really stressed and affected their health.  They were looking to take sabbaticals to recharge their batteries, while others were thinking of resigning and leaving teaching.  It appears many of the teachers were not happy with the observation reports they received and are distrustful of the Administration they were once close with. 

Its good to be an ATR than being a teacher in this school with or without the students present.


Friday, January 24, 2014

In A School Far, Far, Away With Young White "Newbie Teachers". - School #14

Well, I found myself in the second of three small high schools in a closed comprehensive high school in Southeast Queens. This school is a 6-12 school and are required to wear uniforms.  This doesn't mean that the boys keep their pants up and don't show their underwear, they do!  Interesting how the Administration thinks that uniforms will change the behavior and academic outcomes of the students.  Maybe in the middle school it might make a difference but not in the high school.  This is a themed school but I wouldn't want any of the student body working on me if I was in need of medical care.

The school is top heavy with administration and they just hired their sixth AP, this one looks about 25 and I don't think he has ever shaved.  His job is security and doing observations.  On the other hand, the school has only one guidance counselor for the 425 students in the high school while having four teachers working as a one period guidance counselor for their circular six period.  To me that seems dangerous and is a disservice to both the four teachers and the students they work with.  These teachers don't have guidance licenses and could find themselves in trouble if their advice ends up to be harmful to the student. The school should have hired a second guidance counselor and not an Assistant Principal.  I guess the Principal doesn't want to do observations and that's more important than giving the students the support they need.

The student body is nearly 100% minority with Black students making up the majority of the population and Hispanics making up most of  the rest  Teaching them is a nearly 100% young, white, and mostly untenured teachers in their 20's.  Not a good fit if you ask me. Interestingly, the students were reasonably well behaved because  of the snow and cold and more importantly, many of the problem students didn't bother to show up to school this week since it was the end of the semester and their grades were already decided upon.  According to one teacher the school doesn't allow a grade of less than 55% since it allows the Principal to raise the student's grade to passing if the student can achieve a 65% the next semester, giving the student both credits instead of one.  Credit recovery by another name if you ask me.

Parking is adequate but traveling there is a horror.  I would not want a position in this school


Friday, January 17, 2014

Low Pants And Disrespect Equals Low Expectations - School #13

My journey seems to have me traveling in Southern Queens during the first semester of the school year as I landed in my first small school in a Campus that used to be named for a dead President.  The school doesn't have a freshman class and many of the teachers are ATRs that have been temporarily placed at the school.  What happened to the teaching staff that was there before?  It seems many left either by resignation or transfer.  In other words, the staff is simply a place holder until the school; closes three years down the road.  School morale is bad, real bad.  Interestingly, the new school that will replace this school had a tremendous shortfall of applicants for its freshman class and is worried about surviving.

The student body is over 90% Black and the Administration doesn't even bother to tell the boys to pull up their pants, take off their hats, and to stop disrespecting the staff.  Cursing and bullying is common at the school and the girls are just as bad as the boys.  In one case I saw a girl grab a boy's  privates and wouldn't let go until the boy apologized for calling her a "bitch".  Few of the students care to get good grades, "just give me my 65" is what the common statement is when asked why they don't do their school work a teacher told me. I really feel sorry for the few students that try, they stand out like little beacon of lights in an environment of darkness.  The majority of students don't seem to care and try every conceivable way to leave the classroom.

The only good thing is that there is plenty of parking around the school and is easy to get to. However, unmotivated students, a demoralized and temporary staff, an uncaring administration, and a sense of doom permeates the school and while I was treated well, I certainly wouldn't want a position there under any circumstances.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Waiting For The End - School #12

I was sent to a closing school and it has less than 60 students left.  The school is populated by senior teachers waiting for the end in June.  I was treated very well and the staff peppered me with questions about how it was to be an ATR.   During my time there I setup the Earth Science laboratory practical for the few students since they don't have an Earth Science teacher, what else is new?  The lab piratical was for students who needed the Regents to graduate.  For the most part, the students were disinterested in academics but since their all seniors, the discipline issue was not a major problem.and they were just trying to graduate by June.

I will not rate the school since its unfair to rate a school in its last year of existence.  Furthermore, the staff was told this week that their long-term Chapter Leader was terminated at his 3020-a hearing and that sapped the staff morale even further since he was well liked and protected teachers from administrative abuses and discipline. Hopefully, there will be no more closing schools after this year, or the years that follows.

GRADE "Not Applicable"

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fight Club - School #11

I was in another small school that replaced a closed comprehensive high school in Southeast Queens and am quite pleased to have survived the experience.  At one time this school was superior to the school it replaced but then the DOE stopped supplying the school with extra funding and exempting them from taking "high needs students".  Therefore, of late, the school struggles (and fails) to attract good students and has found it with a student body of only a smidgen over 300 rather than the 425 the school was built for.  The composition of the student body is 70% Black and 30% Hispanic.

The freshman and sophomore classes are populated by level "1' and low level "2" students and they run the hallways, rather than go to class, overwhelming the one dean and administration.  The Regents passing rates, never good in the first place, has plummeted last year and the teachers expect even worse results this year.  The students are disrespectful to their teachers and curse words are common even when talking to the teacher.  I don't need to tell you how they treat the ATRs.  Every day I was there a fight occurred, sometimes two and the girls are just as bad as the boys. The school is slowly unraveling and the students see it.  Many of the students appear to be "marking time" before they transfer, dropout, or end up in the juvenile justice system.

Staff morale is bad, real bad.  Many teachers privately told me that they would leave if they could while the newer teachers are seriously thinking of finding a new profession. It appears many of the teachers ended up with an "ineffective"  observation that doesn't sit well with the staff considering the student body they are working with.  There were three other ATRs at the school with me and every day we all had coverages since at least four teachers are absent on any given day during my stay there.

The only positives I found was that they had an excellent teacher room, with computers, a friendly staff, and onsite parking.

Would I take a job there if offered one.  "No way Jose"!     "D-"