Not only do we get to go on these amazing Expeditions as mentioned yesterday, but we also hear about them from our principal to get an idea of what is going on across the school. The fact that some students went to the Met, some went to Massachusetts, and elsewhere is an amazing feat. I am so glad that my principal celebrates this learning as it should be!
Four times per semester our students go out and visit fieldwork sites across the NYC area (and sometimes further!) or we bring in experts to answer questions and present on their knowledge. As part of the US government class that we have we visited the New York Historical Society and toured through their exhibit on presidential campaigning. While it was short trip and we had some logistical bumps along the way, some students really got some interesting information out of it.
Tuesday was the first test of the year for my Geometry students. They sat and persisted quite profoundly. There were a few questions here and there that were of a technical nature and one student joking with me to tell her an answer. All students completed the test and turned it in. I really look forward to grading it and seeing how they did!
Armed with that information, my colleague and I will go back over misunderstood material and give them some kind of opportunity to demonstrate mastery again.
StayIt was two years ago on October 6, 2014 that the School Reform Commission (SRC) unilaterally cancelled the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' (PFT) contract. Since then teachers' salaries have been frozen, without any wage increase for inflation or any step increase for added years of service. An employee who made $54,000 back then is making the same wage now, despite inflation of 1.5% since that time. Luckily, in August of 2016 the State Supreme Court of PA ruled in favor of the PFT in stating that the SRC was not allowed to cancel their contract. The outcome of that decision is still pending.
But what exactly is the effect on the school system as a whole? There are a lot of folks who say that schools will be better if unions are busted and removed from their positions of power. Unfortunately, teacher vacancies are still extremely high and it has had a severe impact on the student population. So much so that the SRC is offering a bridge program for incoming 9th graders who didn't get the support they needed from 8th grade teachers since they weren't certified!
Additionally, there is the enormous problem of substitute teachers. Last year there was an ongoing battle with the company Source4Teachers who was contracted by the SRC to provide replacements when certified teachers were sick (or if there was no certified teacher). While they claimed they would have very high fill rates (80%+) in the end they never breached more than half. Now the SRC has contracted with another company, Kelly Services, to do the same job while paying the same rate as when the District ran substitutes themselves.
There is obviously too much tumult in Philadelphia right now to be a high quality teacher. As much as it pains me to say it, if you are reading this and considering working in Philadelphia schools, you probably shouldn't. Not only is your salary going to go nowhere fast but the SRC is also going to be reconstituted with two new members, adding to the turmoil. Stay away for now.
Sometimes our students like to get really artistic and represent us with drawings. This is a drawing of my co-worker Adam, posted with his permission. I'd say they got the basics correct (beard, glasses) but maybe not so good with the colors. In case you are wondering, he often uses the protocol "Waterfall" to get students quiet (they are supposed to respond with a round of shhhhhh.... get it?).
Sometimes my students like to be comical in what they do during class. This is one of those times where a student took a photo of my colleague Alex and then held it to the board as if he was writing on it. They thought it was hilarious. I thought it'd be funny to take a photo of the photo. This is what we had in the end.
As I am the new Chapter Leader at my school I have been attending the monthly Chapter Leader meetings for District 15, where we are located. It is a chance to learn about new Union issues taking places across the NYC Department of Education as well as connect with other union officials in my District and more. Our District Representative brings important information and answers really specific questions for us to learn and grow in our roles. They happen during the school day from 1-3pm so I am covered by my coworkers to allow me to attend this meeting.
I think this is one of the more important parts of the Union process so we can develop these relationships and help each other out when necessary.
I realized I am late in posting but keep in mind the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah just took place and there is a lot to do for preparation!
Because of that I am sort of cheating with this posting. I didn't take it on September 30 but it is something teachers must deal with day after day: coverages. If a teacher is absent and there is not enough work to warrant an official substitute (or teachers are amenable to helping students in a way that a traditional sub could not) we are offered the chance to cover another classroom and get paid for it. Each teacher must do one coverage for free each semester but after that you can get paid for them - around $37 for the period. It's not the best money but it is just compensation for something that can be difficult. Luckily, I knew most of the students in the room so it was not so bad that day.
I am a math teacher in the New York Department of Education. I infuse technology and real-world problems into my curriculum in order to prepare my students for the future. I would love for people across the country to recognize we teachers can't do it alone. If you don't believe me, come visit my classroom!