Sunday, June 9, 2013

Chapter 42: Observing the Observer 2

Chapter Forty-Two: "U" 2

Response to “U” Observation – FOR FILE (797789)
Jonathan Levin H.S. for Media and Communications (09x414)

Pre-observation date:    NONE
Observation Date:    May 1, 2013
Post-observation date:    NONE

Principal:    Nasib Hoxha
Assistant Principal:    Erica Clarke
Teacher:    David Haverstock

It’s impossible to determine the intentions of a dishonest person.  Add incompetence to dishonesty and the very task of determining meaning becomes fruitless and pointless.  Yet this is the task I face in responding to the numerous fallacies, distortions and outright lies contained in the observation report to which this is a response.  An “observation” of a 9th grade English class was made on May 1, 2013.  If by "observation" is meant "a person in the employ of the DOE was present in the room," I will grant that this took place.  But this was less an educational visit than a trip through the looking glass or through a portal into some bizarre Twilight Zone dimension where times, places and facts are as fluid as shifting sands in a hurricane.  Since, as I said, I have no way of gauging the intentions of the observer, I’ll simply guess and I’ll keep it simple for the most part: incompetence or fabrication.  You be the judge.

I’ll attach the observation report itself here so that you won’t think I’m making this up.

May 1, 2013 Observation Report

Note that this document claims that a pre-observation meeting took place on Jan. 7, 2013 during period 3.  No such meeting took place.  I did not meet with Ms. Clarke on that date. 1

I did, in fact, refuse to meet with Ms. Clarke on March 20, April 3 and April 15, 2013.  Each request was for a meeting during my “prep” period and each time I refused to give up my prep period for such a meeting as I have a right to do under the UFT contract. 2

Ms. Clarke did enter my classroom on May 1, 2013 unannounced.  Calling it an observation, however, stretches credibility.  Ms. Clarke has no expertise, experience, background or credential to observe and evaluate an English teacher.  Giving her the title “Assistant Principal of Supervision” does not change this fact.  A thorn by any other name ....

I do not concede that the D.O.E. has the right to allow unqualified persons to supervise and evaluate teachers out of their field of expertise.  This would seem self-evident.

I went into this issue at length in my response to an earlier observation, one in which Ms. Clarke observed several imaginary students in my classroom.  That class was rated unsatisfactory on the basis - I can only speculate - that I wasn’t reaching these imaginary students.  A full discussion of this can be found at:

Observation of Imaginary Classroom

Next Ms. Clarke claims that I was a “no show” at a meeting scheduled for my prep period again on May 14, 2013.  This is true.  I refused to meet with her on that day.  She omits the fact that this meeting was originally scheduled for May 6:

May 6, 2013 “Post-observation” Meeting

I would note several remarkable aspects of this document.

It is scheduled to take place in B41, a classroom and not an office.
It is described first as a “post” observation and then as a “pre” observation conference.
It calls for lesson plans for a class taught a decade ago in 2003.
It claims observation dates of both May 1 and May 2

Since these are typos and clerical errors, we might give the benefit of the doubt to either Ms. Clarke or her personal secretary. 3

In fact, however, I decided to show up for this meeting.  I wanted to get on with the process of being U-rated for a second time as I had no doubt that this was the administration’s plan of action against me.  When I appeared at the door of Ms. Clarke’s office, room B47 and not B41, at the appointed time, I was informed that Ms. Clarke had been unexpectedly “called downtown” for some sort of emergency.  Her secretary, Miss Reyes informed me of this.  Although Ms. Clarke has her own secretary, no notice was given to me that this meeting had been abruptly cancelled.

Also omitted from that list of dates at the top of the observation report is the rescheduling of this May 6 meeting for May 8.

May 8, 2013 “Post-observation” Meeting

Notice my hand-written notes on this version of the same memo about events just described.  Note, too, the continued confusion about whether this is a “pre” or “post” observation meeting and all the rest of the typos contained in the previous invitation to give up my prep.  This time, having been unceremoniously stood up on May 6, I declined to attend and accorded Ms. Clarke the same level of professional courtesy that she had accorded me 2 days earlier, i.e., I ignored this memo.

May 14, 2013 “Post-observation” Meeting

Maybe you think I include this final May 14 document purely for my own amusement since it contains the same errors and typos as the previous documents, showing a continued inability or refusal to do even a cursory bit of proof-reading before submitting documents for public view.  You’re right, of course.  It’s pretty funny.  Just as Ms. Clarke never bothered to check to see if there was a “Daisy” on my roster and didn’t know, as she ought to have known, that there was no Daisy in the school, she and / or her secretary simply keep repeating the same mistakes time after time.  Isn’t there a famous definition of “insanity” along these lines?

But to get to the actual observation report, it takes Ms.Clarke only 5 words into this dubious document on my teaching to contradict herself.  “On Friday January 11, 2013 ....”  This is puzzling since she might have noticed that a few lines above she had already claimed that this very meeting took place on Jan. 7.  I’ve said that there was no meeting on Jan. 7 so it won’t come as a surprise to discover that neither did I meet with Ms. Clarke on Jan. 11.

At this point Ms. Clarke has named 2 different dates for this pre-observation meeting.  I met with her on neither of these days.  I would suggest that Ms. Clarke is so confused as to render anything she might say about any meeting entirely untrustworthy.  Perhaps she met with others on those dates and confused them with me but speculation only further muddies the waters.  I have no idea what meeting Ms. Clarke is talking about.

However I did meet with Ms. Clarke on Jan. 10, 2013.  It really isn’t so difficult to figure out the date of a meeting - especially when you call that meeting yourself.  Perhaps she will recognize her own memo - no guarantees.

Jan. 10, 2013 “Pre-observation” Meeting  4

Note that this meeting was not scheduled for my 3rd period prep but rather during my 6th period “professional” period, and I attended. 5

Note, too, that I was expected to bring my goals (#4) to this meeting, though I’d submitted them several times before this date.  Teachers were all told by Principal Hoxha that we would have 2 goals for the year - one concerning student attendance and one concerning “scholarship”, the DOE euphemism for the number of students passing our classes.  We were further told that our goals were to be SMART goals.  For a discussion of the PR scam known as SMART goals, see Chapter 11 of my memoir, My Life As an NYC Teacher:

Chap. 11: Pterodactyl

These goals, of course, were not ours but his.  I compromised and gave him one of his goals, although I made the attendance goal more realistic, but insisted on having one of my goals be my own.  This didn’t seem unreasonable.  I think at least one of a teacher’s own goals ought to actually be his/her own.  I present, then, my 2 goals.  Guess which is my “own”.

Goals  6

Adding good cheer to a classroom is not, of course, a SMART goal. 7

I attended this Jan. 10, 2013 “professional” period meeting in the office correctly identified this time as B47.  I discussed this meeting in detail and posted it on line months ago and pointed out the differences between this meeting and a real “pre” observation meeting.

Jan. 10, 2013 Meeting

Describing it as a “pre” observation meeting is more than a stretch.

In any case, this meeting took place nearly 4 months before Ms. Clarke returned to my classroom on May 1.  There must be a statute of limitations on these things!

I would submit that the inaccuracies and absurdities at this point are already so great as to render this entire document useless.  Ms. Clarke has already demonstrated:

       1.    an ability to make up non-existent meetings.
       2.    an inability to distinguish between a “pre” and “post” observation meeting.
       3.    an inability to keep simple records.
       4.    an ability to observe imaginary classroom settings and people them with phantoms.
       5.    an inability to do simple fact checking.
       6.    an inability to identify the “gradual release” model right before her eyes.
       7.    an inability to correlate a date in one line of a document with another date in the same document though separated by merely a few lines.
       8.   an inability to place a meeting in the correct room.
       9.   an inability to date an event within a decade of its occurrence.
       10.  an inability to distinguish a good ELA lesson from a bad one.

There is a great more to be said about this ridiculous document, however, so I’ll continue, if only for my own amusement.   It’s good to keep a sense of humor even when someone is attempting to destroy your professional reputation and career.

First, there is the reference to “our CUNY partner Sara Gribetz”.  This is found on page 1 as recommendation “d”.  There was no attempt to schedule a meeting between Ms. Gribetz and me on Dec. 19.

Line “d” further states that meetings were to proceed “beginning December 19, 2012”.  There was no attempt to schedule further meetings between me and Ms. Gribetz.
VERDICT: DAMNED FABRICATION (to paraphrase Mr. Clemens)

The only time I saw Ms. Gribetz at the school was on Jan. 8, 2013 when she observed me while teaching the same ninth grade class, B50A, for which I’d been rated “unsatisfactory”.  Afterwards Ms. Gribetz declared my teaching to be exemplary.  Unlike Ms. Clarke, Ms. Gribetz has a background in English teaching as well as a credential for making such evaluations.

Lines “f” and “g” of the recommendations on page 1 refer to the “gradual release” teaching model.  As discussed at length in documents already cited, Ms. Clarke, in fact, observed the “gradual release” model in both lessons observed, that of Oct. 16, 2012 and the one to which this is a response, May 1, 2013.  I might have called her failure to recognize the gradual release model on Oct. 16, 2012 incompetence, knowing that Ms. Clarke has so little experience in ELA classrooms.  However, since I explained in my previous response and in person during that Jan. 10, 2013 meeting how the gradual release model looks outside of a math classroom, she ought to know by now what it looks like in an English classroom.

One final point or two concerning the recommendations: the 7 "recommendations" on page 1, lines "a" through "g", are the same recommendations given to me as a result of the "U" rating I received on Dec. 7, 2012 for the class observed on Oct. 16, 2012.  As you can see by comparing the list on page 1 to the same list on page 3, it's clear the observer was fixated on the "gradual release" teaching model.  The recommendations are identical - copied and pasted from.the report on that imaginary class peopled by phantom students to page 1 of this report to page 3 of this report.  This list of copied and pasted recommendations makes up more than one-third of this total 2 and one-half page document.

The observer might claim that since she had not seen the gradual release model on Oct. 16, 2012 and since there was no attempt to train me in that model, she had no choice but to make the same recommendations after the observation on May 1, 2013.  That certainly simplified her role in this observation process.  Of course, playing a role in a sham is always eaiser than doing real work.

Interestingly, the exact same 7 recommendations were included in another observation report - cut and pasted again.  This was a report on another "Unsatisfactory" lesson, this one taught by a 10th grade English teacher.  Evidently, for Ms. Clarke, one lesson fits all.  I need not add that the "gradual release" model was also in full view in that 10th grade class though the observer was unable to recognize it.  There will also be no need to add that the "observation report" given to that 10th grade teacher - I've seen it - is as riddled with inaccuracies, factual errors and outright lies as those under discussion in these pages.

The description of the class observed on May 1, 2013 begins near the top of page 2.  Unlike the observation “technique” used during the Oct. 16, 2012 visit, Ms. Clarke did not use the catch as catch can “write-everything-said” down technique.  I can only wonder where that technique originated.  Do they teach it at the principal’s academy?  Maybe she learned it from a fly-by-night on-line assistant principal course.

In any case, paragraphs in this report are peppered with what are claimed to be direct quotes.  Given Ms. Clarke’s history of inaccuracy as well as this very document, riddled as I’ve shown with inaccuracies and contradictions, I would merely suggest that all “direct” quotes are suspect.  I’ll pick one example from the long paragraph at the center of the page where a student named Louis is quoted as saying, “Because you love to write poem.”  The only Louis in this class is a native English speaker and would never had uttered this.

If Daisy, John and Diane were present on Oct. 16, 2012, then they must have been present on May 1, 2013.  (See “Observation of Imaginary Classroom” above.)  Insofar as their names were never on the roster, they therefore could not have been removed.  I would note that Ms. Clarke fails to observe them in class during this visit.

There is, indeed, however, a student named “Stephanie” in B50A, the room under discussion.  Ms. Clarke describes an interaction between Stephanie and me in the first full paragraph on page 2 as follows.

A student walked out of the classroom.
       “Where are you going?  What are you doing?  Get in here and sit down!” I called out.
       “What do you mean by asking me what I am doing?" Stephanie shouted.  “I have to use the bathroom.”
       “Then take the hall pass,” I replied and turned to focus on the projector.

Since only 4 paragraphs, less than one page, are devoted to a description of this class, I assume that this interaction was included for some purpose.  Again, it is impossible to determine the intentions of a dishonest person.  Therefore I won’t speculate on why Ms. Clarke put this into her report on this class and my teaching but I’m glad she did because it will be a reminder for all time of this wonderful child.  Although there is no way for Ms. Clarke to know it because she has no way of differentiating between real and imaginary students, “Stephanie” is one of the highest performing students I have encountered in nearly 9 years of teaching at JLHS.  Stephanie not only works hard; she works ahead and helps other students with work and does this entirely voluntarily.  She is highly respected by me and by every one of her classmates.

Taken out of context, what may appear to be an antagonistic relationship is, in fact, the opposite.  As luck would have it, the exchange as described here encapsulates to some extent the actual relationship I have developed with this student over the course of the year.  Teachers, of course, develop individual relationships with every student in their classes.  Left out of this description is the sly grin that Stephanie would have given me having elicited from me a mock seriousness as she returned for the hall pass - a red and black shoe box made (for humorous effect) to look something like a briefcase.  Left out, too, would be the exaggerated tone of my voice in shouting, “Get in here and sit down!” which I might well have said but would have said in a tone that by this time was recognized for what it is - good humor.  (See the document “Goals” above.)  A simple exclamation point does not do justice to my tone of voice.  Neither Stephanie nor I would have had any doubt that she would be back in class very quickly and would be the first done with the work.  I don’t remember this particular exchange at all but such interactions happen daily between Stephanie and me.  They are part of what make classroom teaching a joy.  Ms. Clarke in apparently attempting to portray an adversarial relationship between me and a student inadvertently described a very energetic and respectful one.

As a postscript to the “Stephanie” story: the banana that Stephanie is later observed eating was provided by me.  In spite of the rule against eating in class, I often take in 4 - 6 bananas at 8:40 a.m. when this class begins.  As Ms. Clarke arrived (by her own admission) at 8:43 a.m., 3 minutes after the start of class, she would have missed my entrance with bananas.  As noted also, nearly half of this class commonly arrives late to this 2nd period class, some without breakfast.  These bananas disappear very quickly.  Stephanie is generally in charge of distribution and always keeps one for herself.

Most damning of all are the few observations that Ms. Clarke does make about the teaching / learning experience that went on during this class period - damning not to me but to her, the observer.   Notice that even Ms. Clarke saw that I asked Louis to make up an example of repetition and gave him credit for his contribution to the class by putting his initials next to his example.  She quotes me as saying, “Make up another example,” and I may actually have said something to this effect.  End rhyme had been studied in an earlier class; this day they were focused on repetition, alliteration, simile and metaphor.

While the observer primarily makes note of side conversations, a paper airplane and such, she also was kind enough to list in the box on the right all of the examples of literary techniques created by students during the “guided practice” portion of the gradual release model that she was observing.  These were examples dreamed up by the students.  I give them credit by putting their initials next to their examples.  Ms. Clarke was kind enough to make note of most of that.

Since nowhere did it say “guided practice portion of the gradual release model”, however, Ms. Clarke was unable to recognize it as such.

At least, I assume that she did not recognize this as “guided practice” since on page 3 she makes the same recommendations for improving my teaching, which include lines “f” and “g” again regarding “gradual release”.  If, in fact, she did recognize this part of the lesson as “guided practice” as she ought to have done and yet can still tell me to implement “guided practice” in my lessons, then I will have to draw a different conclusion.

Neither did she recognize the “independent practice” part of the gradual release model, though she made note of it going on in the classroom.  Near the bottom of page 2 she says that I projected “Dreams” by Langston Hughes on the screen.  Most students had this short poem already copied verbatim into their folders so that they could highlight the literary techniques discussed during “guided practice”.  According to Ms. Clarke’s observations, this is what I instructed them to do at 9:14 a.m.  She says that I “asked them to identify where they saw alliterations [sic], repetitions [sic], and rhymes in the poem.”  This is precisely the independent work I had them do, each on page 43 of their own folders where they had copied “Dreams”.  They needed to come up with a method for highlighting the different literary techniques by color coding, underlining or in some other way.

Guided practice and independent work are the 2 cornerstones of the “gradual release” model of teaching as indicated in the chart that again accompanied this observation report.  Ms. Clarke either failed to recognize them, in which case:

Or she refused to admit that they were present in my lesson, in which case:

As I said in response to the Oct. 16, 2012 observation report, I cannot implement something that is already in place.  Yet this is what I have been instructed to do in lines “f” and “g” of the recommendations.

I would emphasize one other thing about the lesson under discussion.  It was highly student-centered.  I asked students to make up examples of each literary technique and then to identify them in the Hughes poem in their own handwriting.  In spite of the interruptions of 8 students entering the class late throughout the period, this work was accomplished by most.  The gradual release model moves from a teacher-centered activity to student-centered activities.  Ms. Clarke observed this process during the 40 minutes she spent in the room but there were also much larger examples of the gradual release taking place.  The folder system that I use is an example.  It has to be taught.  Students have to learn it and they had by the time she arrived even on Oct. 16, 2012.  This is just one of many other examples of the gradual release model at work before Ms. Clarke’s eyes but one she could not recognize or identify.

Finally, on page 3 and listed as #1 under recommendations, Ms. Clarke states, “You did not provide me with your lesson plan.”

Immediately following that “observed” class, I sent this email to Ms. Clarke:

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 9:59 AM
Atached [sic] see Gradual Release Lesson Plan for day of observation in B50A 2nd period, May 1, 2013
cc: Barbara Hull

I suspected that Ms. Clarke would claim not to have received this email so I cc’d our union delegate, Ms. Hull.  I attached some of the lessons I was conducting with that class concerning literary techniques in poetry.  These lessons were all dictated by Prentice Hall / Pearson.  Here they are. 

Lesson Plan

The numbers 40 - 45 refer to pages in student folders that I direct them to create.  This is part of the folder system that I teach.  In this way I can direct students to page 43 of their folders, for example.  Everyone can then turn to page 43 and have their own version of “Dreams” on that page with their own method for highlighting as instructed.  Folder Page 45 was dedicated to original rhymes, which I had them compose daily during this poetry unit.

Page 10 is where students collect vocabulary words in their folders.  Page 2 is a “table of contents” for the student folder so that students can organize their work.  I referred to both of these pages during the class observed although Ms. Clarke failed to note that.  She must have been too busy jotting down the fact that I gave the students 2 minutes at the end of class (9:27) to finish copying some history notes left over from first period before their third period Spanish teacher came in, as Ms. Clarke notes he did at 9:30, and erased them.

Since I never had a “post” observation meeting with Ms. Clarke to review the May 1, 2013 lesson, I didn’t collect the student work requested.  I did photocopy student work from the Oct. 16, 2012 observation, however, since I attended that post-observation conference on Dec. 7, 2012.  It was at that meeting that Ms. Clarke directed me NOT to to teach students to support MC answers with references to text.  I’m not kidding!  An assistant principal supervising ELA teachers ordered me to have students circle multiple choice answers and nothing else on MC tests.  Here are the notes I made from that Dec. 7, 2012 meeting.

Dec. 7, 2012 “Post-observation” Notes

I was also directed to ask only questions found in the margins of the Prentice Hall Teachers Edition of the literature anthologies in class.  I was not to come up with any questions on my own.

Be that as it may, I include here samples of student work generated during the Oct. 16, 2012 “unsatisfactory” lesson.  Need I say that in spite of Ms. Clarke’s directive, I have not stopped asking students to support their answers with text.

Student Work

Note that on the first page of the first paper the student wrote as the “aim”: “How do I use text to support MC answers.”  The 3 students sampled here include the same “Stephanie” who belligerently walked out of the class on May 1, 2013, according to Ms. Clarke’s description of the event, and then was later seen wandering the classroom eating a banana.  (She earned extra credit on this story - note the score of her essay.)  Although Ms.Clarke attempted to portray her as misbehaving on May 1, 2013, she has been one of the best behaved students from the first day of class in Sept. 2012 and will continue to be throughout her high school and college career.

The photocopies of this work, including Stephanie’s, were made months ago.  Unfortunately the photocopy of her test was very light but her annotations would be very similar to the other tests since they were still in the “guided practice” phase of these lessons when Ms. Clarke failed to observe that during that Oct. 16, 2012 observation.  Of course, the purpose of using text to support MC answers is at least two-fold at this early 9th grade stage: first it clarifies the students thinking and analysis of the literature.  Second, it gives the student grist for the essay writing to come, which can be seen near the end of the “student work” document.

Finally when it became clear that Ms. Clarke was not happy with my performance with these students, I decided to take a quick survey and get the students opinion of my teaching.  It’s admittedly non-specific and unscientific, although I got responses from most of the 20 regularly attending students.

Student Survey

I searched for Daisy, Diane and John but they were nowhere to be seen.

As I’ve said repeatedly throughout my blog, the only honest way to evaluate a teacher is through the expert observation of a qualified supervisor.  Teachers should be evaluated on their teaching and nothing else.  They should not be evaluated on the performance of someone else, including students.  Teachers are responsible for teaching; students are responsible for learning.  The newly agreed-upon teacher evaluation system wherein a teacher’s performance is judged by up to 40% on the performance of someone else is as honest as a three-dollar bill.

Nevertheless student surveys can be helpful, especially to the teacher him/herself and if given without coercion.  In this particular case I would deem this student survey of far greater value than the opinion of the unqualified supervisor.

(I love my new portable scanner.  It makes it so easy to preserve the evidence of this perverse travesty and show it to real school administrators and supervisors.  They always get a good laugh out of this stuff - after they stop shaking their heads in disbelief.)

To conclude, I’ve now been rated “unsatisfactory” twice during the 2012-13 school year by a person with no credential or qualification to make this judgement.  The documentation used to make these evaluations is so shoddy and riddled with errors, typos, misquotes, inaccuracies, implausible scenarios, absurdities, fabrications, contradictions, impossibilities and outright lies that it would be laughable were it not for the detrimental effect it is having on my reputation and career.

I might further conclude with a note to the “education reform” mayor, the one who feels that the best use of the ATR pool, a monster of his own creation, is to randomly move these valuable teachers weekly from one school to another where their talents are entirely wasted.  I don’t feel that this would be a digression from the current discussion because the placement of unqualified people in positions of authority in NYC public schools is in large part a result of his transparently self-serving agenda for the privatization of education and the shattering of the UFT.  So here goes ....

Dear Mr. Bloomberg,
I thought you’d like to know something about your misguided desire to run the public school system like a fast food corporation with each school a franchise run by a little bureaucrat with more knowledge of grills and deep friers than teaching strategies, teachers treated like minimum wage unskilled labor, and students nothing more than generic burgers and fries.  Given your crusade against fast food and obesity, I hope you appreciate the analogy.


If you sent one of your “executives” to a meeting and that “executive” reported back to you as Ms. Clarke has reported back to her bureaucratic boss, Mr. Hoxha, with a report riddled with errors, inaccuracies and absurdities and that cited people who not only were not present at that meeting, but WHO DO NOT EXIST, I wonder what your reaction would be, Mr. Bloomberg.  I wonder, Mr. Bloomberg, if you would keep this “executive” on the payroll at over $100,000 a year according to , as Mr. Hoxha has done.  I wonder, in fact, if you would keep on the payroll Mr. Hoxha himself for allowing such a person to remain on the job for a decade or more.
Good luck in the future.  Say hello to Cathie and tell her we miss her.
An NYC Teacher

And a final note to the principal who has allowed Ms. Clarke to enter classrooms, “observe”, evaluate performance and have a considerable impact on a teacher’s reputation and career.

Dear Mr. Hoxha,
Are you familiar with the term “embarrassment”?
Yours, etc., etc.

As I said the last time: a negative times a negative equals a positive.
An unsatisfactory observation BY MS.CLARKE that rates a lesson “unsatisfactory” = an excellent lesson.
I’m tempted to sign my name “Franz Kafka” again but must resist that urge.

Signed:   ______________        Date:  ______________

1 This was the date that the faculty was gathered together 5th and 6th periods and given the news for the first time that the school would be phased out.  Superintendent Staple sat there along with the administration of the school while a DOE guy named Dennis delivered the news.  Perhaps Ms. Clarke confused this disheartening meeting with my “pre-observation” meeting.  Perhaps she had a pre-observation meeting that day with another teacher and thought it was I.  The possibilities, obviously, are endless.

2 I have filed 4 grievances this year so far concerning the involuntary assignment of duties during prep and professional periods.

3 I don’t know how many A.P.’s of “Supervision” have their own secretaries.  I don’t even know if this is a legitimate title, given that it seems to be a generic catch-all enabling Ms. Clarke to do whatever she wants to teachers in all disciplines.  The A.P.O. of JLHS does not have his own secretary nor does the A.P. of both Security and Special Education (one person).  Yet even with a secretarial staff, Ms. Clarke cannot produce a brief memo that is not riddled with errors of all sorts.  Swiss cheese has fewer holes.

4 Looking at this memo it occurs to me that maybe Ms. Clarke confused the writing of this memo to me on Jan. 7, 2013 with the pre-observation meeting that she claimed took place on that very date, a meeting as fanciful as the nonexistent Daisy, Diane and John supposed to be observed in room B50A.  As I said, the possibilities are endless.

5 No professional duties were assigned at JLHS for the school year 2012-13 and there was no SBO in the spring of 2012.

6 As of June 4, 2013 as I write this response, I have achieved my first goal.  I have missed 6 days during the 2012-13 school year.  If I’ve achieved goal number 2, of course, depends on the sense of humor of the person making that determination.  Senses of humor in bureaucracies tend to be in short supply.  Perhaps the tone of this response, especially given the dire circumstances - a 2nd unsatisfactory observation in a single year - hints at how successfully I achieved goal number two.

7 I submit as evidence that this second goal is a serious one and not just a whimsical spoof of the ridiculous concept of the SMART goal Therapy Dog Tails, a cartoon I launched with my partner on April 1, 2013 even as my teaching was being discredited.  Find it at .

NOTE:  This document can be found as chapter 42 of my blog at  My Life As an NYC Teacher.


Post Script June 12, 2013

As discussed above, Ms. Clarke went to some lenghs to describe an antagonistic, dysfunctional relationship between the student "Stephanie" and me.  In doing so she either misread (incompetence) or misreported (fabrication) a very positive, highly functional relationship, one based on mutual respect, understanding and good humor.  If further proof of this were needed, I submit excerpts from a letter from this same student addressed to me and received on this day as "Stephanie" and others in B50A sit for their algebra Regents exam.  I'll quote her letter without correction.

Dear Mr. Haverstock,

... My ninth grade year was amazing, and you were my favorite teacher and always will be ....  I seen you as a father who I have much love for telling me whats right and whats wrong ....  Thank you for seeing that I was a independent hardworking student ....  Even tho I was very demanding and stuff you understood me very well .... 

Stephanie :)  You'll be the reason I go to Harvard.

Letter from Stephanie

As I've pointed out repeatedly in this memoir, one of the problems in the Bloomberg reform schools is that they are frequently run by unqualified people.  Ms. Clarke is a case in point.  Another problem is that many administrators in the "new" small schools either have little or no experience in the classroom or have been out of the classroom for so long that they don't remember - if they ever knew - what it is like to have real relationships with young people.  Ms. Clarke may be another case in point.  Or maybe she's just lying.  Again.


  1. This is a great example of the incompetence surrounding us as individuals under the bloomterd school system. How funny you were able to find all those "typos" on the memos from 2003 to wrong room numbers, omg, as they say you cant make this stuff up. Anyway, I hope you are able to use this evidence to enforce you will on these pieces of garbage they call themselves people

  2. cant you bring up some sort of charges against this obviously incompetent asst principal and have her removed..the principal there hoxba needs to have an asst principal who knows what the heck is going on.....i cant believe you actually had to deal with the woman \and keep your composure because this is grounds for action and you have the evidence. YOu know, on a NYC parking ticket if you have these type of typos on the ticket the judge just throws the ticket out.

  3. Mr. Haverstock, the bloomterd days are almost over. I'v e had my share of this bull shit also and paid the price in the ATR pool traveling from school to school each and every week wasting my enormous talent working with kids. Anyhow, with Gods will, the new mayor will hopefully turn back the draconian policies this old cruddy back ass mayor and all his phoneys at tweed have instilled on us... Good luck to you and remember its going to get better

    1. Interestingly enough there was a column in the NY Post over the weekend about the fact that although hundreds of schools have been deemed "failures" and closed, not a single principal has been rated "incompetent" or whatever it is that principals get rated. Of course, they probably get bonuses for closing schools! Our principal went out of his way to cooperate with them by providing bogus data and other things that I'll be blogging about. So I sent an email to the reporter, Susan Edelman, hoping to draw some attention to a level of incompetence that would make the Marx Bros. blush. Thanks for paying attention. I've been excessed with a U rating now. I'll attempt to use it to my advantage but I'm not holding my breath for a white (or black) mayor in shining armor to come riding to our rescue.

  4. bloomterd is a piece of shit

  5. Just accidentally ran across your post. How did things work out? Did you get a U for the 2013-14 school year? Are you still in the teaching profession? I hope things worked out ok for you.

    1. Yes, I was rated "U" that year and excessed. Jonathan Levin was closing but Hoxha the principal had to leave himself with just one ELA teacher in order to excess me with that "U". It was malicious. Erica Clarke was incompetent. Take a look at the observation where she had me talking to imaginary students. You can see that in Chap. 35 of this blog; Observing the Observer. Even the arbitrator at my appeals hearing wondered how an A.P. could base an observation on watching students who didn't exist.
      I spent the next year at TAPCo where I was rated "effective" by the principal and then one last year as an ATR where I was deemed "ineffective". I wrote up those 2 absurd observations by someone named Falzone in chapters 82 and 86. If you google "charlotte danielson husband" you'll get the best chapter that I wrote - the Danielson Rubric for the Highly Effective Husband.
      Fortunately I was able to retire with enough pension to allow me to live in Spain, which is where I went to detox from my experience in the DOE. If you are a teacher, I hope you are lucky enough to work with some of the good, caring, competent people in the system. I know there are many.

  6. Hope you have a great retirement! I am working in the DOE and, at the moment, have a great supervisor. I have at least a few more years until I can retire.