Posts Tagged ‘Career’

November 11, 2012

A funny post by a teacher quite sick of the same old questions.

A Teacher Spits on a Student and I Lay Blame on the Student

February 21, 2012

Teachers that spit on their students should be punished accordingly. It is unprofessional, unhygienic and completely unacceptable behaviour. But there is more to the story of maths teacher David Pecoraro, who was caught on camera spitting at a boy and has since been relegated to administrative duties as a result of his moment of madness.

The video shows clearly a teacher pushed to the edge of sanity. A student trying to attach his used gum on the teachers rear is rightly put in his place by the teacher. Teachers, especially male teachers, are extremely sensitive with the dangers of being accused of inappropriate behaviour. Students that purposely touch a male teacher’s backside are putting that teacher in a very uncomfortable position.

The video also shows the lack of respect he was getting from his other students. As he screams “I want to teach you maths”, we see a student sleeping and others laughing and goading the defiant, foul-mouthed, gum chewing student.

A teacher was secretly filmed on a cell phone struggling with a male student before appearing to spit in the boy’s face.

David Pecoraro, a high school math teacher, is now working in ‘administration’, after the footage was uploaded to YouTube.

Pecoraro, who taught at Beach Channel High School in Queens, New York, has a row with the student for a few minutes before the confrontation turns physical.

Pecoraro is being investigated on allegations of corporal punishment.

The teacher, who has been in the profession for 19 years, can be heard saying in the clip: ‘You can’t make contact with me, that’s illegal.’

He then tries to explain a math problem to the student who is ignoring the lesson and covering his head with a jacket.

At one point, the student, whose identity isn’t revealed, appears to try to hit the teacher.

Pecoraro then tells the teenager: ‘You’re going to go to jail, you don’t touch me… I want to teach you math.’

The altercation is witnessed by a few other students in the class – along with one boy in front of the camera who is asleep with his head on the desk.

The row continues until the teacher appears to spit at the student who then spits back at him.

The grainy film cuts out after Pecoraro can be seen dragging the student out of his seat.

As bad a this teacher’s actions was, the behaviour of the class was absolutely deplorable. This video should be enough to implicate at least two students with some fairly serious breaches of protocol. First there was the student who should be expelled for inappropriate touching and insubordinate behaviour. Then there is the student who filmed the incident. I don’t care how juicy the footage is, any student filming class and uploading the footage on YouTube deserves to be punished.

Instead, I fear that the only person punished was the one who wanted nothing more than the ability to do his job without being touched, mocked or harassed. If those two other students got off without punishment, it reinforces their despicable behaviour, and allows them to continue their bloodsport.

I pity the replacement maths teacher. I fear they are mere fodder for the next potential YouTube hit.


The Boss From Hell

November 2, 2011

For those of you that think your boss is bad:

A BULLYING school head has been banned from the job for life – but can still teach.

Debbie Collinson intimidated and swore at teachers and even gave pupils “Coke and doughnuts” in exchange for information about staff.

She also told teachers to falsely improve attendance records and test scores.

Collinson, head at Harrow Gate Primary School, in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, was found guilty of ­professional misconduct.

Tribunal chairwoman Dr Barbara Hibbert told the Birmingham hearing: “It is simply unacceptable to manage a school in the manner in which she did, whatever the motivation.”

Collinson, who is in her late 40s, is no longer at Harrow Gate. It is it not known if she teaches elsewhere.

If your boss can match or better Ms. Collinson, I’d love it if you could share it.

The Trouble With Professional Development

July 2, 2011

I am so tired of going to long and diabolically boring PD’s that do nothing to advance my skills and leave me deeply frustrated.  I just read a brilliant article about the ineffectiveness of some professional development and how it misses an important opportunity.

The way we provide professional learning experiences and support our nation’s teachers is a running source of debate and, unfortunately, disappointment. Policymakers grumble at the costs. Teachers complain they don’t get what they need while parents and the public wait for our schools to get it right for our students.

…  Another federally funded report found that even after two years of targeting more than 100 7th grade math teachers in 12 districts with professional development, there was no measurable impact on teacher knowledge or student achievement. Even the researchers sounded a bit surprised, noting that the programs did everything the existing research says is effective.

Though I’m not familiar with the specifics of these professional development approaches, I’m not too surprised that they didn’t lead to improved student achievement. It is far too easy for professional development to miss the mark – even if it follows the research.

As the former director of professional development in New York City schools and someone who has devoted most of my professional life to leading teacher professional development, I can tell you that what teachers need to improve their craft is rarely what they receive from professional development.

This is not a slam on professional development per se, though teachers typically do not have enough input in determining what professional development they need, who delivers it and when they get it. And the stakes are about to get higher as states phase in higher common core standards that will ask more of teachers and students.

Much of the professional development teachers are required to attend is attached to textbook adoptions, mandates, or scripted programs that promise results that are rarely delivered.

To read the full article, please follow this link.


In Honour of Teacher Appreciation Week

May 6, 2011

To commemorate Teacher Appreciation Week, Tamara Duncan and the editors of Patch wrote a wonderful piece about the “teachers whose influence left an indelible mark on our lives.”

Stern voice, a warm heart

“One very influential teacher in my life was one of my high school and junior high English teachers. Gerri Clifton. She is now an instructional coach at Hazelwood West High School. She was a teacher when I attended the school. Being a person of color, at that time it was her and one other teacher of color at the school and she really bonded with all of her students.

“Mrs. Clifton was like a second mom at school. She made sure you were on your schoolwork. If there were a scholarship or some type of program she felt would benefit you, she would stay on you to apply. She also sponsored an after-school club, Cultural Awareness. It’s always important to have a person you feel can mentor you and in high school, Mrs. Clifton was that person for me. I see her now and she talks to me like I’m that same 15-year-old in class. Believe me, she wasn’t afraid to tell you to sit your behind down, pay attention and do your work!” Candace Jarrett, editor, Hazelwood Patch 

Empowerment through music

“Mr. Doug Carmichael introduced me and dozens of other students to the magnificence, versatility and depth of jazz. He did so by example. Mr. Carmichael made the music cool. He played a killer saxophone. He played along with the ensembles at Niwot High School in Colorado, demonstrating techniques and showing us how to pull off a solo. He pushed us to be our best, and he made us laugh. 

“Outside of the classroom, Mr. Carmichael took time out of his schedule to help students such as myself get better at our craft. He played alongside us, walked us through musical exercises and reviewed hapless efforts to transcribe music onto paper after hearing it performed on CD by the likes of Dexter Gordon. He invited us to jam with him and his trio at local cafes and restaurants. Some might say the birth of the cool happened decades ago. For myself and many other students, it happened when Mr. Carmichael empowered us to become performers in our own right.” -Nate Birt, editor, Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch

Lost in a sea of English

Ms. Pena, my first grade teacher in Houston, Texas, was a phenomenal person. I had recently moved to the states from South America and knew only three English words: watermelon, napkin and handkerchief. At that time there were no special classes for Spanish speakers and I was lost in a sea of English. Ms Pena was a ray of light in a confusing world. She made me feel welcomed, accepted and bright. She worked with me to learn English and clearly all her hard work paid off since years later, I’m a journalist.

I also tip my hat to Ms. Lewis, who taught history/social studies at Miami Palmetto High School. She made history fun and accessible and she was a wonderful, caring human being. She also registered me to vote and instilled a lifelong curiosity about politics. Oh, and can’t forget my son’s teachers at University City Children’s Center who help me co-parent him everyday, and are so very patient with him. Thank you teachers. You are heroes! 
-Myra Lopez, editor, University City Patch

Sharing her time, her home, her dog

I had an art teacher who lived next door to me in North St. Louis as a child. I felt lucky because she had time to spend with me when her second husband died and she had no children. But she did have a sweet little dachshund dog who I adopted as my own, since my mom wouldn’t let us have a dog. Mrs. Harnett didn’t teach in my school district or school—Twillman Elementary, so she wasn’t grading me, and that was even better. I was pretty shy.

We did all kinds of art on her patio under an oldstyle metal awning, sitting on a glider, with her little dog at our feet. It was hot Missouri summers, but cool under that awning. We drank ice water all summer while we did art. There were all kinds of art supplies in her kitchen, not much food. She also taught me to knit and crochet on rainy days, for some reason. I was game for all of it.

I drew a picture of her dachshund with passion, and later won a prize.

I grew up and moved away, but returned once to show her my design portfolio after college. She was very elderly then, and perhaps didn’t quite see how she had changed my life as she looked at my ‘snazzy’ magazine design and posters for off-off (OFF) Broadway plays. I won’t forget how she leaned over my right shoulder, showing me how to use that trove of art supplies, and waking up the right side of my brain.
-Jean Whitney, editor, Sunset Hills-Crestwood Patch

A pat on the back and a solid foundation

Without Roger Carlson, my late college journalism professor, I wouldn’t be where I am today. His experience and enthusiasm about the field is what sparked my interest in journalism, and he helped me build a solid foundation and a skill set that I still use today.

Coming from the “old school” days of journalism, he was never afraid to “tell you like it was,” but at the same time, was always quick with a pat on the back for a job well done. He shared in our triumphs and tribulations and his door was always open, even after we graduated.

He also served as advisor on the student newspaper and with his guidance, we were able to take The Forum to one of the top student newspapers in the state. Plus, he made learning fun by taking us to student newspaper conventions in New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., not to mention the numerous parties he hosted for The Forum.

He created a real “team” environment, from which many friendships were born and memories made. Many of us still keep in touch today – 20 years later – and still reminisce about our time together. That just underscores the fact that while he may be gone, he lives on in each and every one of us, and I know he’s looking down from heaven and smiling on us. 
– Sheri Gassaway, associate editor, St. Louis Patch

Challenged and busy

I was lucky, even in the very rural area of Illinois where I grew up, to have some truly remarkable teachers. There were no enrichment classes in my school, but my teachers kept me challenged and busy. Mrs. Clay let my best friend and I perform puppet plays for the class; Mrs. Allen encouraged me to create a fifth grade newspaper; Mrs. Green asked for my latest comic strip creations; Mrs. Farney entered my writing in a contest; in high school, Mr. Allen introduced me to the wonders of Shakespeare and then convinced me that majoring in drama might not be the best strategic career move (he was right!). They created an environment where I always wanted to give 100 percent—and love every minute of it.
-Tamara Duncan, editor, Lake Saint Louis Patch.

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

Why Teachers Want Out of the Profession

April 6, 2011

It’s such a tragedy to read that nearly two-thirds of teachers want to quit. I love the profession, and recommend it to anyone that has an interest in teaching, but it is clear that no matter how wonderful this vocation is, the support and welfare of teachers is, more often than not, missing from the equation.

Unlike what some may think, teachers aren’t leaving because of the money (even though we clearly don’t make very much).  A recent survey spell it out:

Centre for Marketing Schools director Dr Linda Vining said the survey confirmed the “deeper issues” of concern to teachers.

They included a lack of communication between staff and principals, and feeling undervalued and not being consulted.

“Teachers are feeling steamrollered . . . they are feeling that things are happening too quickly,” Dr Vining said.

“Through my research comes a sense they feel they are not valued members of the team – they are simply there to work and for many of them that’s not fulfilling.”

The findings are a sad indication of why so many teachers are unhappy:

  • SIXTY per cent of teachers said the school’s direction was not clearly communicated.
  • FIFTY-ONE per cent did not feel part of a close-knit school community.
  • FIFTY-FOUR per cent said communication between staff and management was poor.
  • TWENTY-SEVEN per cent said the school principal was not approachable.

The tragedy of this situation is that teachers are leaving for reasons which should be easily rectifiable. They are not leaving because they don’t enjoy teaching, aren’t happy in a classroom or find that they are not up to the day-to-day demands of the profession. They are leaving because they are feeling unappreciated, ignored, not properly consulted and have difficulties with colleagues.

These issues should be able to be addressed and corrected, so that teachers can enjoy the same kinds of working conditions as I do. The fact that they aren’t is a strong condemnation on the way schools and administrators operate. They are often inflexible, unaccommodating and cold.

And this is supposed to be the warm, friendly and caring environment for our children?

The Heroic Life of a Selfless Teacher

March 4, 2011

If there is something one can get out of the absolutely tragic story of a teacher who drowns in trying to rescue his students, it is the selflessness of teachers, heroically displayed by maths and science teacher Paul Simpson.

A schoolteacher has drowned in an apparent attempt to save his students from a rip at the notorious Bells Beach.

The man, believed to be aged in his 30s, died yesterday while supervising a group of Year 11 and 12 students from Shelford Girls Grammar, in Melbourne’s east.

The girls, aged about 15 years, had been snorkelling at 4.30pm when wild surf and a rip tide turned conditions dangerous.

The group of 19 students and three adults had been walking in knee- to waist-deep water on a reef when a wave knocked them off their feet and into deeper water, Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said.

Police said it was believed the teacher had been trying to rescue the girls before he drowned.

Paramedics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him on the shore of the surf beach near Torquay, 105km southeast of Melbourne.

Several teenagers had to be rescued from the water. One received treatment for an asthma attack. Others had minor injuries.

The distressed students, who were in shock, had to be helped to make their way back up the beach to a car park to be taken back to their camp at Torquay.

The teacher is question works at a school within walking distance of my home.  His bravery and unflinching desperation to rescue his students shows us what sacrifices a brilliant teacher can make for the safety and security of his students.  I extend my condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and students.  May his brief but meaningful life inspire others to strive to make selfless decisions whilst looking out for others.

If you have some time I encourage you to read tributes written by his former students on a special Facebook page dedicated to the memory of this incredible person.

The Christmas Film That Inspired Me To Become a Teacher

December 26, 2010


Ok. Confession time. The above picture is highly misleading.

I was in the first year of an Arts degree, and like many teenagers, wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do.  I hadn’t even given teaching a moments thought.  Too many bad memories from my own school days to give teaching a single speck of consideration.  But then one night I happened to watch the Jimmy Stewart classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and within hours that all changed.

The movie portrayed a character on the edge of his tether who attempts suicide when he realises he is worth more dead than alive.  Enter an angel named Clarence who shows him how he, without even realising it, touched the lives of the people around him.  Everyone wants to leave the world having achieved something – having made the lives of others more enjoyable and secure.  I started thinking about what I could do to make a contribution to society and in what area is there a need for someone with my limited talents.  Within two hours I went from never coming close to considering teaching to having the burning desire to teach.  This desire kept intensifying throughout the rest of my Arts degree and the Teaching degree that followed.  My passion has never cooled.  Actually, I love teaching more every day.

I’m interested to find out what inspired you to become a teacher.  Was it due to a brilliant teacher you had growing up?  Was it out of a love for a subject like Maths or Music?  Did you just want to offer the next generations something better than you had growing up?

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link. Thankfully, he has nothing to do with the utter disaster that is Christmas with the Kranks.

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