Alan Sitomer's Blog – September 2009 Archive (19)

The Custodian and the Ditcher

Here's a little true tale I'll call The custodian and the ditcher.



Walking back to class during my planning period I just spied a student being read the riot act... by the school's custodian. It was an African American man speaking to an African American teen telling him about how "he needed to get to class, grab onto this chance for school" while giving him a heads up as to how there are just a whole "mess of people that want to simply turn kids like him into little… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 30, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

Is it okay to feel GOOD?

Is it okay to feel good? Is it okay to be FIRED UP? Do we spend enough time genuinely recognizing the joy that is the teaching profession?



I mean I just got done with an IMMENSE amount of work. Papers, lesson plans, a trip to Jacksonville, Florida where I did a student assembly for a few hundred at-risk middle school kids about the value of school, education and making good choices (a total HOME-RUN, btw... I mean kids are kids are kids and anyone who doesn't think so,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 29, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Living in a land where incarceration is a bigger need than schooling.

Turns out the jails in Los Angeles will not have to endure financial cuts. And to the average citizen, I am sure that brings a sigh of relief.



But our schools of course, aren't so lucky.



To read this article is to see that in the prisons,"the department has managed to find $25 million in additional savings and… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 28, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Look Before You Merit Pay Leap

Here's a quote from a major new study about merit pay:



Overall, our results consistently indicate that the increased focus on individual teacher performance caused a sizable and statistically significant decline in student achievement.



Read it again. It's a bold accusation. "...increased focus on individual teacher performance caused a sizable and statistically significant decline in student achievement."



That's right, a… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 22, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Pimp Me Out!!

Being that I work in a place that the ad world absolutely covets -- I mean my campus is Madison Avenue's dream turf, right? -- and I am in a place that most definitely needs an influx of cash, well, why not take advantage of my own unique ability to reach young consumers.



That's right... PIMP ME OUT!!!



I am talking about full frontal teacher marketing here. Really, why not turn me into an English teacher that looks like a NASCAR driver?



I could sport… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 21, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Tragedy in Philadelphia: No Love for the Libraries (a.k.a. Saving short term cash by expanding long-term ignorance)

The City of Philadelphia is closing all -- that's right ALL -- of its public libraries. Click here and GULP!



Actually, it seems the city got a stay of execution... click here to read about the reprieve.



Either way...

--Is this not a metaphor for what plagues our… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 19, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

The "Uhm, Hey... Dude" Name Game

Let's face it, I am at a HUGE disadvantage when it comes to names.



First off, there are about a ba-zillion new ones I need to learn. This always takes a lot of effort and a few weeks. Kids, they have about 6-10 new names they must learn at school at the start of a new year -- the names of their new teachers. Me, I have scores and scores and scores of them I must learn.



It's a challenge every year... learn all the names as fast as you can. However,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 16, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

New Car Used Car Salespeople

I just scored a new car this past weekend -- had to do it. (Hey, I live in L.A., the land of cars and when it's time, it's time). But what is so remarkable, is that the salesperson lied to me and I still bought the car from him.



And not just one salesperson lied to me -- at ever dealership I visited, I was lied to. No matter make, type, design or whatever, I've just experienced firsthand how it's an industry filled with people who believe that they are allowed to tell their… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 15, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Is it just me or...

Is it just me, or does everyone else, when getting ready to attend a faculty or department meeting, prepare themselves for these stellar events by figuring out what they are going to read just in case the meeting devolves into a complete waste of time?



Is it just me, or does everyone else think that all these face piercings that kids today wear look like they really hurt when initially installed?



Is it just me, or does everyone else think that student desks… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 14, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

It's harder to have a bad attitude...

I think it's hard to be a teacher with a bad attitude... at least I think it's harder to be a teacher with a bad attitude than it is to be a teacher with a good attitude. And yet, why does it seem as though a whole buncha folks in our profession choose to have such a cynical outlook on their school/job/profession/kids/lives? (And yes, I do believe attitude is a choice. Read some Viktor… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 12, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

September 11

I was in my classroom when the second plane hit the World Trade Center in 2001. I heard about the first plane as I drove into work, turned on the tv in my room and then watched the second plane hit.



And that day, all we did in my class was watch the news and talk. I remember telling my kids, "You just saw the world change." I didn't know how, I didn't know in which way, shape or manner, but I did know that right then, our world had changed.



And it… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 11, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

We don't have enough______________________!

So the school year is a few weeks in now and we just had one of those big, long English department meetings. You know the kind, where people gripe, complain, moan, go off topic and stray into conversations about how they are the best educational practitioners ever and back in 1981 I was doing this and blah, blah, blah.



Put it this way, if you do not know what type of meeting I am talking about, consider yourself blessed. We have good peeps on our staff and we are all… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 10, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

You have the right to refuse to apply your rights because it is your right to do so! (Right?)

So the Marxists didn't take over, the commies didn't infiltrate, the youth of this nation weren't indoctrinated unwittingly into an irreversible cult of personality and North Korea's heinous government regime didn't supplant our own now that Obama has addressed the kids of this nation with a "you should to do well in school" speech.



But ooh, we were so close to imperialistic calamity, were we not?



Obama talked about hard work. Obama talked about personal… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 9, 2009 at 6:00am — No Comments

As we all know, gerunds save lives.

A few weeks ago I talked about H.R. 1895 and The Stand Up Act in regards to providing more strict guidleines for teen drivers.



It just smacked of complete common sense. Well, banning txting and driving is next up. This seems, to me, to be another one that just elevates itself to the level of NO-BRAINER.



See, when I click on this article and see a picture… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 8, 2009 at 3:03pm — No Comments

Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Obama wants to address the school-kids of this nation and, whodda thunk it, there's controversy surrounding the idea of such an address to our nation's youngsters.



Now, obviously, (or maybe not, so I'll say it here) I am of the opinion that a well-spoken President addressing our nation's kids in a "you can do it" tone now that it's back-to-school season is good for the kids, good for the schools, and good for the good ol' U. S. of A.



So I wonder, is it just me,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 7, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

Yo, before you open your mouth, open a book, huh?

People who work in schools moan and moan all the time about how "the kids don't read" but you know what... the people who are moaning aren't really reading either. At least they're not, in large part, doing the professional reading necessary (IMHO) to stay up to date with what's going on the world of literacy and language arts.



I've got administrators screaming about how we need to make "data-driven decisions in the English Department" but these folks aren't reading what I… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 4, 2009 at 9:58pm — 2 Comments

Pregnant Freshman Icebreaker Activities

So it's the first day of class this week -- I am teaching ALL freshman this year in an attempt to try and get a whole host of kids off to a good high school start with the ambition that a good leap out of the gate will help carry enough positive momentum for them to really see things through and graduate. (And graduation rate is a percentage we'd really LOVE to improve 'round these parts. Seems 50/50 isn't quite what the state is hoping for in terms of odds.)



So my little… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 3, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Am I loopy for thinking looping is a good idea?

Meeting all my students is always a great thing. I truly enjoy it every year. But there's a part of me that knows deep down that if I had looped and stayed with my kids from last year for a back-to-back year of teaching the same kids for another academic turn, I would be spectacularly more efficient to start the school year.



I'd know names, proclivities, dispositions and so on. And they'd know me. We'd cut so much of the "learning curve" out -- the one that took me many… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 2, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

H.R. 1895: it's the thing I never knew which I now know I want to support.

I'd never heard of H.R. 1895 until very recently. Now that I have heard about it though, I wonder who in their right mind is not going to want to support this thing.



H.R. 1895 is also known as The Stand Up Act. Here's what it's all about:



The Safe Teen And Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act would establish minimum standards for state graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, which are proven to significantly reduce death and injury among young… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on September 1, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

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