A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Archive for May, 2010

Protected: 5 Reasons I Scored Badly on my Benchmark Tests (by imaginary student and based on real life)

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 30, 2010

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How can I teach you when you’re not here??

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 30, 2010

I Deleted Pictures of Students Streaming from my School to Avoid My Identification

Sure, talk to me about merit pay. About teaching effectively and meeting benchmarks.

Meanwhile I would like to speak about Philadelphia’s lack of attendance policies and their lack of effort in keeping the kids in school.

Average attendance at Philadelphia Public Schools ranges between 70-80%. I have no idea if they track the attendance by end of the day. They should.

The exodus you see in these photos happens all day long, all year long and no one lifts a finger to stop it.

I have students with records showing 527 cuts for this school year alone. Nothing done about it. Meanwhile, the public wants to hold me responsible for not meeting goals.

Not acceptable. Not acceptable at all. I’m getting damned tired of being kicked around.

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 6 Comments »

Dead Man Walking

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 15, 2010

Our superintendent got a $65,000 bonus last week. What for, you might wonder.

So does everyone in Philadelphia and its suburbs.

Apparently it is none of our business. Arlene’s contract states that she if she met certain unknown benchmarks, by a date that no one could know and  measured by data no one will ever see, she would get a big check compliments of the taxpayer.

Sweet deal, isn’t it?

Here is a letter from a teacher in our district. I am professionally in love with this man. And I also fear for his career:

Posted on Mon, May. 10, 2010

Re: “Ackerman gets $65,000 as performance bonus,” Tuesday:

Sandwiched between two prestigious houses of higher education sits the mammoth civic failure that is University City High School. Having passed the metal detectors and x-ray machines, one may glimpse the gaping holes in its asbestos-filled ceilings on the way to classrooms where teachers do not have enough books for their students. School plays are canceled because of a lack of funding. Attendance rates hover at 70 percent; proficiency rates below 10 percent. Violence is a daily occurrence. There is more than enough blame to go around: Burned-out teachers who teach via worksheets, administration officials who wall themselves off in their offices, students who lack ambition, parents who defy understanding with their lack of involvement.

It is incomprehensible to the point of insulting that the head of a district in which a University City High is sadly the norm could possibly receive a pay raise for having met all expectations for school performance. Such an act is indicative of the low bar set for public education. On behalf of our schools, children, and indeed our city, it would behoove Arlene Ackerman to demonstrate some humility, and proclaim that when all city students attend schools of which they can be proud, schools in which even elected officials would gladly enroll their children, only then will performance goals have been met.

Zachary F. Wright

Teacher, University City High School

Philadelphia

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 2 Comments »

Yes, I am wasting time and not typing lesson plans

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 9, 2010

Want to join me? ;)


SNL’s Really?!? with Seth, Amy and Tina

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The Lesson that Taught Me about my Students

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 9, 2010

I work with at-risk inner city kids. Most are on the brink of dropping out; my challenge is to engage them enough in lessons that they not only learn something, they might decide to stay in school.

When it was time to teach poetry I went to youtube to see if I could find anything worthwhile. Never did I expect to find a treasure like “Knock Knock” by Daniel Beatty:

I counted on Beatty’s spoken performance to catch the attention of poor readers; the plan was that once we listened, we would go through the written version looking for repetition, metaphors, imagery and theme.

They were completely captivated. I certainly didn’t expect to hear them say “play it again” and then once more: “play it again.” As we listened for the third time I looked out at my class and saw bodies and shoulders moving in rhythm with the poet’s cadence. They echoed some of his words.

Then came discussion. The students weren’t sure what the whole poem was about, but they understood the loss of a young child when a parent is taken away and the guilt associated with having a family member in jail.

We went over the words,
Yes, we are our fathers’ sons and daughters,
But we are not their choices.
For despite their absences,
We are still here,

More discussion. Slowly it came out that many kids in the class had personal experience with a parent or a brother or sister in jail. There was real sadness when they spoke about it, but also a strange kind of distance, as if being locked up was a part of life, something that unfortunately happened to most families.

I won’t go through all the discussion, but I was profoundly touched by the experiences they shared. Five different periods listened to the poem, discussed its meaning and told about their lives.

While they talked, I think I learned more than they did. I learned that these kids who cut school, often refused to do any work and fought and cursed like sailors also had hearts. I’m so proud that for a little while they felt close enough to me to share.

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Protected: Man the Lifeboats!

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 8, 2010

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Protected: Change your partners, skip to my Lou

Posted by aphillieteacher on May 2, 2010

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