advice

June 12, 2007

Another teacher popped into my room 6th period today. “Hey, you got a second? These two [juniors] are freaking out over the Global Regents and they’d like some help. I told them you could fix them up. Thanks!”

Jesus Christ. You want some advice? Come for help and tutoring before the day before the test! Find a teacher who can help you and stay after school! Buy a review book! Go to Regentsprep.org and spend some of your X-Box time there! Stop expecting a miracle!

A lot of people have been finding this page lately searching for “June 2007 Global Regents” and such. I’ll give you the same advice I gave those two students today (oh my god start studying WEEKS before the test, not HOURS):

  • Don’t leave the room until you’ve at least tried every part of the test. Most kids fail because they leave one of the essays blank.
  • Go through the multiple choice twice. First, do the questions you know. Then write your essays. Spend the remaining time on the hard multiple choice questions; that way you won’t waste time on a question you don’t know the answer to.
  • Bring water. It’ll be hot as hell tomorrow.
  • Come early to the test and bring your flashcards. The test always starts late. Why not study for those ten minutes while you’re waiting?
  • Plan out your essay before you write it. Make sure you read EVERY BULLET POINT in the directions.
  • Look for key words. If the question says “Rome” the correct answer will say “laws” or “legal system” somewhere.
  • Eliminate multiple choice answers that are wrong.
  • The answer to map and graph questions is always in the map key or the title. READ IT.
  • For the love of god, when you’re retaking this test in August, START STUDYING IN JUNE.
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the end

May 7, 2007

Wow, I had no intention of not posting for… two weeks? A week and a half? A long time, anyway. Things have just been out of control around here in lots of ways I’m not really allowed to talk about right now, and between sleeping, planning, getting ready for the Regents (oh, god) and various visitors, it never even occured to me I had a blog.

Hi, blog.

We are, indeed, in crunch time for the Global Regents; there are approximately 26 class days left until June 13th, 1:15 PM, when it’ll be My Kids Vs. The Regents, and we all know who usually wins that fight. (I say “approximately” because no two calendars around here show the same number of days left.) I’ve devised a cunning system to trick them into studying, and so far it’s working pretty well. I think I might take pictures and show y’all tomorrow. I am mildly inordinately proud of the fact that so far it’s working.

This is supposed to be the easy time of year, when we’re sailing to the end. In reality, everyone is exhausted, the heat is still on in my classroom, the kids are grumpy, I’m grumpy, and it feels like June 13th, 1:15 PM is simultaneously going to happen THIS SECOND or never.

It’s 5:38, and I’m seriously considering heading for bed. I love this job!


things I learned today

January 25, 2007

The best part of grading the Regents is all the fun and interesting information I get from the students’s essays.

“In the midst of WWI Hitler was aboard. Hitler was a German and sought to see that Jews were bad. That Jews were to blame for everything that was going wrong. The only reason why the violation stopped was because the Europeans heard what they were doing and were going to put a stop to it and next thing you know Hitler and his people disappeared.”

“Hitler killed the Jews because they wanted to trade with China despite the Mongols in Kiev which makes the Jews want to go to Europe and there was predestination in Switzerland.”

“Jews in Europe were blamed by the Roman Empire for spreading the Black Death in WWII.”

“Many people in Europe died and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to jail.”


get your head in the game

January 24, 2007

I’ve been having insomnia for a week or so; I don’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 AM and while I’m lying there not sleeping my brain plays the soundtrack to Disney’s High School Musical over and over again. (Don’t ask.) It’s partially stress, and it’s partially just something that happens to me every now and then, but I’m grateful not to be teaching this week, because when I’m tired I’m a terrible teacher. Some people can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but I can’t; any time I have less than 8 I snap and grump at people, and when I get mad I cry. Nothing stops a classroom cold like a teacher who suddenly starts to sob “WHY won’t you STOP TALKING?”

My students were good about coming in to take a mock Regent today. Had it been the real test, about half of them would have passed. I’ll know for sure after a few hundred more hours of grading. It’s about what I expected. First I have to grade all the real tests. Today I “learned” from the DBQs that every year Chinese students lead a parade in France to honor the French Revolution. (Other exciting things I have “learned” include Hitler’s role as leader of the Jews, and his liberal use of “pizza ovens.”)


Goals

January 23, 2007

The students are gone, and we’re just grading Regents. For some reason the grading on this year’s Global is really harsh, and out of 70 kids taking the test we only have 5 in range to pass after scoring the multiple choice questions. Last year only one student passed in January. I don’t know what we’re going to tell our seniors who have taken it 6 times and still aren’t on the road to passing.

One of my co-workers just looked at another teacher’s notebook and said “What is that? Is it a teaching journal?” and everyone laughed. “Sometimes I wish I could do that; I wish I could reflect on teaching and take something more away from it than just anger or frustration.”

I was very quiet, because that’s sort of why I’m blogging here. Some of it is for my records; some of it is to get help from other teachers, or UFT members, who know more than I do. But a lot of it is just to think about what I did today, and what I want to remember tomorrow.


cultural literacy

January 3, 2007

I had an interesting discussion today with my 10th graders. I’m having them take a mock Regents exam in January, to be better prepared for the real one in June (and so I can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses). The school had a passing rate last year of around 14% for this test, so it’s a Big Deal. I emphasize a lot with them that it’s not impossible, and that they just have to try, but they’re understandably nervous. A 65 on this test is the gateway to graduation for many of them, and it’s also a big stretch.

One of my higher-ability students raised her hand and asked “Miss, why do we talk about the Regents being so hard here? At other schools, they act like it’s easy.” It was a good question, and everyone seemed interested, so I took some time out of my lesson plan to talk about cultural literacy, and what it means for these kids.

For example, the phrase “The end justifies the means” shows up on the Regents 9 years out of 10. I know what it means because my parents talked to me about it, and I knew who Machiavelli was, or at least knew that “machiavellian” meant scheming. (And I knew the word ‘scheming.’ Yesterday the 9th graders struggled with ‘tremendously.’) My students, whose parents mostly don’t speak English, or didn’t go to college, don’t have that advantage. My students have jobs, or little brothers and sisters to watch after school, and they don’t sit around discussing current events and reading the newspaper with anyone after dinner. My parents had a gigantic dictionary in the living room, and sometimes I’d flip through it and quiz them on long words.

I explained that the starting line is different for them, than it was for me, but it’s not because I’m smarter. And then we talked a little bit about the racist attitudes of what you “should know” inherent in standardized testing.

Depressing? Enlightening? It depends, I suppose, on what they ultimately take away from the discussion.