Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Hello, yes, its been awhile. Been really busy....family, teaching, survival.....Not too much to really write about, other than it has been a different teaching year for many teachers in my school district....especially with much greater discipline issues to deal with.

In all my years of teaching, never, never, had a student deliberately set fire to a building at my school (a metal storage container housing not-yet used workbooks and other classroom materials). Higher class sizes (I am maxed out at 35 in three of my five core classes; have five or six open seats in the other two)....and it is a much greater challenge to get this batch of students to get started, continue to work and turn in their assignments. Administration questions teachers giving homework assignments that many students will not do (and thus lower their grade in the class).

Another teacher has voice the opinion that our school and district has become more like an "inner city school/district" and all the problems that go with such places.

But, I am still plugging along....doing the best I can in our circumstances...I won't get into the bits about MORE cuts to education heading for California schools because our elected officials cannot, will not, refuse to accept the fact that El Estado de California (del Norte) has NO MONEY, that they have spent way more than they have and that there are solutions to the problem but they will not do what several committees, think tanks, etc. have suggested needs doing to get this state back on the right track.....

SO, how if your school year going?

Monday, July 04, 2011

NEA doesn't get it....or is it us teachers?

Well here it is, the Fourth of July. Independence Day for USA. I hope you all had a good 4th of July holiday.

NEA, the National Education Association, is holding their annual convention in Chicago. I read online from a couple of bloggers who are attending, that the NEA is doing two things that I really do not agree with; endorsing the re-election of President Barack Obama and raising our dues $10.00 annually for the next five years.

In my opinion, President Obama does not deserve a second term of office as President of the United States. Just sticking with my views regarding education and the Presidency, he has not done much for teachers or the students of this nation. Yes, he did get Congress to authorize bail out money to help save some teaching jobs during the 2010-11 school year (adding to the already staggering US debt!). Has he done anything regarding NCLB? Not that I'm aware of. When Senator Obama began his term as President, students were only being tested in English and Math. In far too many of our nations elementary schools, especially those with a high percentage of minority and low income students, English and Math are all those students are drilled in. Not taught, drilled, so they can hopefully do better on the TEST and demonstrate they improved when their scores are compared with the CLASS PRIOR to theirs. If so, yeah for the school, its teachers and students. If not, you teachers are not doing your job.

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. How about the hundreds of thousands of our children who are being left behind in being given the opportunity to learn history, geography, science, art, music, and physical education? Far too many students do not get the amount of instruction in those subject areas that the state department of education says they should get. But it doesn't matter, because until they reach junior high school (at least here in the Great Democrat People's Republica de California), students are never tested in history, geography, science, art, music and p.e. Does this mean Polski3 says students should be annually tested in all these subjects? Maybe. Why not? Doesn't most of the literate world test their students to determine if they will be moving on to the next educational level or sent to work in the rice paddy? Anyhow, I am against NEA endorsing President Obama for a second term. Oh, so who should the NEA endorse? How about NOBODY. How about the NEA declare that they are eager to meet and work with whomever is the next President of the United States to help their members have better pay, working conditions and benefits. Because if teachers are better paid, have better working conditions (such as not having to spend time fixing classroom desks) and benefits, they will be healthier and it will be better for the students. A healthy, happy teacher is the best person for a classroom.

As for raising my dues $10.00 annually, that is a dollar a month from my paycheck. Doesn't sound like much, but I do not agree with what NEA wants to do with my ten dollars....they want to use it for political purposes. To give to candidates and "political" organizations that do not necessarily represent my values, beliefs or politics. Here on the 4th of July, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence; the British colonists of America telling King George III that we do no longer wish to be part of his empire, no longer wish to be ruled by him or suffering from a lack of political power. We fought his soldiers to gain our independence. Two of my ancestors were part of the "patriot/rebel" forces (Peter Looney; North Carolina militia in what is now Tennessee, Samuel Gray left his farm and family to join two of his brothers and a bunch of rebel men now called the "Over Mountain Men," to go fight King George's men at a place called Kings Mountain.).

CTA (Calif. Teachers Assoc.) has a form that a member can fill out annually that diverts the portion of our dues from political action to the general fund. I plan to find out if NEA has a similar opportunity for teacher members to tell NEA that NO, I don't want you to use any of my dues money for political actions. It would be nice if we could get a rebate on that portion of our dues, but they won't do that.

I've read a number of times that the teachers unions do not really represent the views, beliefs or values of their teacher members. If you are still reading this missive, let me ask you these questions: Did you vote for your representative to the annual NEA convention? Did you express your views to your representative? If your answer is no, WHY NOT? It is apathy such as this that gives the "leadership" of CTA, NEA and other teachers unions the power that they want. YOU MUST BE INVOLVED! Don't sit back in silence! This nation would never have become the United States of America if too many of our ancestors just sat back and said, "oh well, I'll just pay King George more in taxes....or its ok to have a couple of soldiers living in my house....." GET INVOLVED. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

If NEA does indeed have a dues redirect from political action, I will post that information here in this blog.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, opinions and feelings. Have a safe summer!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

End of year activities.....

If your school is like mine, grades are due about two weeks prior to the actual end of the school year. Gotta grant time for parents, students (and administrators) to whine, beg, cajole, threaten, grovel and perform other acts of embarrassment to try to get teachers to change a few grades so that (1) student F can go through the promotion ceremony/graduate or (2) YOUR class is the only one in which student F was GIVEN a failing grade, so therefore, YOU need to fix YOUR deficiencies and CHANGE student F's final grade in YOUR CLASS to a passing grade..... Of course it doesn't matter that student F was absent too often, failed to make up any missing work, failed to turn in homework and when student F did turn in classwork, it was crap.....anyhow, What to do with the kiddies after grades have been turned in?????

Well, lots of video stuff that could be seen.....I even have some old filmstrips that I could show just so they can truly say that they experiences such antiquated technology in Polski3's class.....if my old f/s projector still works. I have been told by our tech lady that when "that bulb dies, you get no replacement!"

However, what I do plan to do, may include some of the following:

Give my students a DBQ experience. I will be teaching a bit about immigration and using a DBQ activity for some of it. Students should get an idea about why people came here, who came here and when, what they contributed to US culture and economy and how immigration is still a current, important topic for today. I'll have my students create a 6+6 (six illustrations with captions about the illustration) to help show me their learning about immigration.

Then, to compliment the Immigration DBQ activity, we'll do a "Choosing Your Way through History" story. From my copy of Walch Publishing Company's, "Choosing Your Way Through America's Past, Book 3: Adventures from 1850-1900," there is a story entitled, "Tenement Folk," you are a young German immigrant preparing to leave your crowded tenement in New York in 1889....the first page tells about life in urban tenements in the later years of the 19th century, then students must decide on what to do....in this story, do you (the student) go to Pittsburgh or Chicago? I have students write down their choices, circle their choice, then explain why they made THAT decision. Then they turn to the indicated second page of their story, read it and have another decision to make. However, before they decide, they write a short summary about what happened to them because of their decision. [ note: I love this series of historical stories; they have them for all time periods of history....check on Amazon or e-bay to find used copies ---and NO, I am not the author or receiver of anything financial....they are just a great tool to help make learning history more fun and interesting. There may be some free sample stories on the publishers website] Anyhow, they continue on through their story until it ends....endings for these stories might be good or...like in the story about the Black Death, not so good. But they love it. Each story also has some activities at the end that students can do, for example, students could write a letter home telling about their experinces as a recent immigrant to the United States, or draw a diagram of a typical 12x12 tenement apartment housing up to 20 people....showing where everyone can sleep....Then, students create a 6+6 about their story.

I will also throw in a few tips on dealing with high school.

Oh, and I'll also handout a copy of the US Constitution that I got from my local Congressman for my students. I thought it might be nice if each of them left school with their own copy of the US Constitution. (My local Congressman was happy to oblige; He's a former Social Studies teacher.)

That should get us through the next couple of weeks of this school season.

What do you do with your students the last couple of weeks? Please share with us!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creating Lasting Memories.....

Today, as per our School Board memo, is our districts "TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY." It was celebrated at our schools by our district administrators giving 31 teachers their "final notice," ".....in accordance with Education Code Sections 44949 and 44955, you are hereby notified that you will be laid off as a certificated employee of this district for the ensuring 2011-2012 school year."

Mrs Polski3 was one such recipient of this Teacher Appreciation Day notification.

You'd think these people would have a bit more empathy or a bit of common sense or humanity, or....?

But they don't. Why do such people end up as district administrators?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

State Testing

It begins for us next week. Pray for us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slice and Dice.....California Slashers at work..... District Office Rippers

Read a couple of other teacher blogs....depressing. Sounds like the same story for teachers all throughout what is supposed to be the greatest nation on earth, supposedly blessed by God..... teachers being forced to take furlough days, paying more, much more from their take home pay for health insurance expenses, higher class sizes, fewer administrators to handle discipline, less materials to teach with, no salary raises in many years......California, Nevada, Illinois, Georgia....same story.

As for the Polski3 family, my job is safe. However, Mrs Polski had her math position "eliminated" and she has been pink-slipped. Oh, and she was notified that she is one of our county's "Outstanding Math teachers" and getting an award in the near future. But come June, she's an unemployed teacher. California will have many, many unemployed teachers in June. And unlike in some recent years, no last minute rehiring of many of them because the state got some money from the Chinese or Arabs...oops, I mean the Feds.

At my school, six of our seven Language Arts teachers were pink-slipped. Those who were pink-slipped were hired since 2005. They may be replaced by "multiple subject" teachers who have an ELA (English-Language Arts) endorsement on their credential. This could foul us up because we could have a slew of "new" teachers who haven't taught that curriculum and who are now teaching junior high only because it was "THAT" or unemployment. It could also foul us up with the Feds / NCLB folks because having such an endorsement on one's credential does not mean that teacher is a "highly qualified teacher" under the rules of NCLB. I know.....my California credential also says I can teach science, but I am not "highly qualified" under NCLB unless I get a piece of paper from a university that says "Bachelor of Science degree" or take some tests.....Is there a university that grants a BS in "General Science?" Really bleek times for our Language Arts department.....

We are supposed to lose our assistant principals too.....Our district wants lots from us teachers; furlough days, no state lottery money in our paychecks, changes in contract language about evaluation and non-voluntary transfers and class size increases. Their offer? Nothing. They offer nothing in exchange. Oh, wait, I heard that they have discussed dropping all district contributions towards teacher health insurance. Administration keeps their district paid cell phones, i-pads, gasoline allowance, fully paid health insurance and unlimited supplies. I got to order four cases of photocopy paper for next year. That's it. My stash from previous "flusher" times is dwindling.....Guess I will have to teach without making any copies.

Meanwhile, our elected idiots in Sacramento cannot get over their partisan politics to do what they need to do for this state. Convicted criminals are more important than the children. Ack, I won't go there.....

So, how is life where you are? Thanks for reading this depressing blog posting. Maybe I can get a summer job at Costco or Walmart?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I heard.....and I wonder....

According to our school custodians, many of our "young men" have problems hitting their "target" in the restroom. It is said that the product they leave behind is smellier, more pungent than it should be, because our "young men" are not drinking enough water. What do you think?

I wonder if math scores would improve if our math teachers had traditional single desks for their students instead of the double desks that they must use? Why might math scores improve? Could it be that there is less messing around and more work (learning) accomplished without the distraction of another student in such close proximity? I have also heard rumor that discipline is an issue in most of our math classes. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Professional Growth?

Warning - This post will be a bit rambling.

I teach junior high school History. The subject I teach probably won't change, as I am at the tail end of my teaching career. Recently, I thought of something a bit disturbing while browsing at a bookstore with a couple of history books in my hands, "Do I need these for my teaching?"

This was a disturbing question for me. I have what I consider a nice little library of mostly history titles, mostly non-fiction. I looked at the titles, "To Kingdom Come," by Robert J. Mrazek (WWII first person accounts of a 1943 B-17 raid on Stuttgart) and Col. Robert W. Black's "Ranger Dawn: American Ranger from the Colonial Era to the Mexican War." Both are in my range of interests, one within the parameters of my current teaching assignment. But I doubt I will use or need the material for the survey history course level I teach. So why buy them?

We history teachers have been told to "stick to the standards." Yech. The California Standards for 8th grade US History are, lets just say, lacking in so many ways. We are pretty much relegated to teaching relevant vocabulary, a few names and dates, how to find such things in a very abbreviated expository text (the reading study guide that came with our big, heavy State-adopted textbook)... we're supposed to do the number the paragraphs, circle vocabulary and names followed by underlining the definition or why person Y is important....etc..etc... As long as it is standards based. NOT too interesting or exciting for most students.

So, with such a formula, is there a need to attend conferences to get new ideas? Surf the web to search out new teaching ideas? Spend one's dwindling money to buy stuff like "Dinah Zikes Big Book of U.S. History," (she is a huge proponent of "foldables")? Continue to search for ideas to make history more relevant, interesting and exciting for my students? Is there time for that, in the time allotted for class?

I have always been one to try to cram as much "interesting" stuff into my lessons as I can....I think the "little" stuff, small bits of this and that are what can help bring history alive and interesting for students with very limited exposure to this discipline. But to continue to search and spend money to add stuff to one's "toolbox" when the fact is, I probably won't be teaching this stuff ten years from now. And have been tasked with "Get them ready for the State Social Studies test" and don't worry about all the other stuff.....and use the materials we (the district) bought....

Those two books? I bought them. Used my 25% off discount for teachers (if the material is subject related to what you teach). I read for my own learning too, and my own enjoyment. Sharing it with the students is good, when you can.

But, should I change? Stop searching and just use what I have accumulated over the past 27 years? There are other things to use my time and money for.....

Anyhow, what do you think? What do you do?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Normal? Or not?

These seems to be a lack of energy among many of the teachers I know, myself included. Many say they are tired. I wonder how many of us are depressed? On the bright side, I have a job, a fairly secure job. But, out here in California, the Broke State, what is going to happen next? I have already taken a big hit in my paycheck this year due to huge increase in health insurance (about $5000), and of course, the price of groceries, gas, my basic cable tv service, etc are going up, up, up.... Pressure at school because of being in like, year seven or so of being a "failing" school.

This year, many teachers at my school are being .....hammered (?), warned (?), don't know the exact adjective for it, about "how many F's YOU are GIVING." Is it our school, or district, or county (which is #1 in the USA for unemployment), that far too many of our students won't even attempt to do anything related to school outside of the school? Vocabulary, math problems, read their AR books, review, assemble packets.....for many, they do nothing academic. Its not like they are going to work after school.....

And, I've pretty much dropped all "union" stuff....no more building rep, going to any meetings, etc. Is this depressing? Am I beginning to be a burned out teacher? Anyone else out there frustrated with the way things are at their school? You know you are busting your butt trying to teach these kids in a variety of ways and trying to make it varied and interesting, but you get next to nothing from too many of them?

I don't think I am burning out, or burned out. I don't know that teachers who are burned out keep working to get new ideas and try new things to get their students to learn the state-dictated, standards based material we are being asked to teach.

Maybe someday, the powers that be who make the decisions in education will realize that until the students do their job, the parents make sure their kids are keeping up and learning in school, that nothing they try will really work.

I know the kid whose i-pod (at least I was told it was an i-pod) I confiscated this morning had better enjoy such toys now; if the rest of his life is like the effort he makes in my class (and other classes), he won't be affording any toys like that. But, on the bright side, one of his parents has to show up at the school to get that electronic toy back. Maybe, just maybe, they'll find out something about his grades. Heaven knows they don't check his planner or respond to any tele-parent messages.

Ok. Thanks for reading this post...rant? Am I depressed? Or just frustrated? Alone in it? Or part of a big group of teachers? I hope you are doing great !

Comment if you feel like it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Its a New Year.... time to change....

Hello, yes, its been awhile. Lots to do, how about you? Polski has been busy.....family, work....you know the story. And I just haven't felt like blogging. There is enough negative crap going on without clicking into a teacher blog and seeing negative stuff, rants about all the problems teachers are experiencing, budgets being cut, layoffs, etc. I tend to be good at complaining; Mrs. Polski, knowing her husband and many members of his family, has come to believe it is inherent with the Polski family, or a least a popular hobby with us.

Anyhow....its now 2o11. One thing I am trying to focus on....no, its not a "new years resolution"....I gave up on those long ago, I am trying to focus on being more positive, less cynical, negative, gloomy, etc. I am not all that sure exactly how to do this, but trying to think about a situation for a few seconds prior to something exiting my mouth is helping. Trying to avoid the eternal pessimists at work and generally trying to be less stressed about stuff I really have no control over.....

I am even working on a teachers version of the famous "serenity prayer." I'll maybe post it if it gets to a form that seems appropriate.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Comments are welcomed!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Mas

I guess I reached some sort of breaking point. Most recently, a building rep meeting was held when the junior high schools in our district were having parent conference week. When I complained about this to our locos Madam President, her snippy and snide response was for me to "change my schedule so that I could attend the meetings!" As if I have any power to reschedule parent conference week?

Then, in a, lets call it a rules dispute, I let another teacher know that it was not a good idea to violate the school policy regarding students wandering loose on campus, being out of class without a pass. Much less interrupting other classes. The response from this teacher? A complaint to the principal that I was harassing her! F THAT!

So, I am no longer a building rep, nor political action chair for the loco. I resigned from both. I guess my help and services were not wanted anyhow; only one teacher on my campus asked me why I was resigning. And Madam President, she didn't even ask why I was resigning. What the F has she learned after attending CTA Presidents Conferences at Aslomar for the past two years????

For me, another step toward becoming an agency fee payer. This group is not worth the stress or probable administrative attention for trying to keep the admin right on our ever eroding contract.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Because its my job.....Try something different

Please note: This is sort of a rant, but there is information about teaching that some of you few remaining readers might find useful in your classrooms.

I spent two hours after school today because my students are not doing what I hope and expect them to do. On Monday, they were assigned to study and fill in a chart regarding the "Causes of the American Revolution." I kinda think that's important to know prior to learning what happened during the American Revolution and its results. So, yesterday, we spent most of each class period going over what should be on their charts; the various Acts, what each entailed and WHY THE COLONISTS WERE UPSET OVER THESE PIECES OF LEGISLATURE. Then, as an assessment, they were to create a 4x or 6+6 (4x = a list with three pictures and explanation as to why the chosen laws were a problem for the American colonists, a 6+6 is almost the same thing, but no list and you have six pictures with explanations for each). Those assessments were due by the end of class today.

Anyhow, the results were bad, even for most of these students. If I had to label what I got from 95% of them, it was "Illustrated Definitions of the various Acts of Parliament...." Very, very few had any data about how the taxes made things cost more, about trade restrictions, about justice and fairness, or even that battle cry of suffering "Taxation without Representation". Its like they learned NOTHING yesterday when we went over their charts. I saw them filling them in. [ Note: A key problem with many students is that work that is done is then put into a binder, folder, backpack or .... and NEVER read or looked at again. Even if they need it for some project. ]

So, part of my two hours after school today was spent creating an activity for next Monday (we have Vets Day off, AND Friday); ten statements expressing Colonial opposition views to the various acts of Parliament for the purpose of creating revenue to pay the expenses of the French and Indian War and then to punish certain colonies for their misbehavior. We'll see if this works. The Damn pacing guide gives us little room for reteaching or much extended time to make some of this more relevant. Anyhow.....

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you got something from it, even if it is reassurance that "MY students aren't like that," or maybe, "Damn, its not just MY students!"

Have a happy Veterans Day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Should I stay or should I go (or GO) ?

We are beginning another contentious time in our perpetual negotiations. There was a building rep meeting scheduled by our Madam President that conflicted with the Parent Conference Week for the district's two middle-level schools. Several people urged Madam President to change the date for the building rep meeting. She refused and wouldn't even consider it. "We created this calendar back in August," she said. If YOU had a problem with the date, YOU need to change YOUR schedule!" is what she almost yelled at me after I told her neither I or my building's teachers appreciated her refusal to change the date to a day when building reps from ALL THE SCHOOLS could be in attendance. It was pointed out to her that Mr. Polski3 could NOT change the district scheduled Parent Conference Week. She said nothing. She just glared at me.

Just a note about the building rep meetings; at an average meeting, maybe 2/3's of the schools have some teacher there to represent them. There are often barely enough BR's to vote on anything that needs to be approved or voted down. Usually, one of the "officers" votes as a BR. This Madam President rarely visits her schools. I think she has been to my campus once, and that was because she had to be there to accompany the state vice president who came down to try to talk to the 1/3 of the teachers at my school who have opted to be "agency fee payers," because of their disgust about the local association and the State unions stand on political issues that have no bearing on our salary, benefits or working conditions.

I could go on about how inept this bunch of union "leaders" is, but I don't have time and I don't know if blogspot has the bandwidth for it. Several people has asked me/ urged me to run for President of the local. I don't know. I waver in my thinking about trying that or becoming an agency fee payer myself. In the past ten years, no one for outside of their corrupt union clique has been elected to any local association position. When someone did garner the votes necessary, they called the election "INVALID" and did a "re-vote" which was done "properly" that time. Attempts to change this local association to make it more democratic and inclusive have led to changes in the bylaws to prevent such things as election of negotiators and security for ballot boxes (what would you think about every single ballot from one school that had the same name as a write-in candidate, written in the same hand with the same writing instrument?) I saw it myself. Oh, Madam President loves her summer week in Monterey at the Calif. Teach. Assoc. Presidents Conference and the many meetings in Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Orange County ( all close to what some believe to be good shopping and restaurants....)

What do you think? Should Polski3 run to be President of his local? Or should Polski3 save his sanity and tell the union to F-off and become an agency fee payer?

Friday, October 08, 2010


Did you have anything GOOD happen to or for you this week? Please share some good news. I have none.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

No, we can't consult a calendar.....!

Does your school have a week of minimum days for teachers to conference with parents? Does your school have district math and writing assessments? Does your school do these two things at the same time? Mine is.