You have to read this first.

So I decided to pick up my virtual pen again.  That’s the announcement.

My latest ebook is “I’m a Principal’s Target, Now What” and I’ve already begun research for Version 2.0 as well begun the planning for an Educator Abuse Story ebook…I need your support to do so.  As the daughter of a hard-working nurse and construction-laborer, I know the value of hard work. In order to continue this work, I will need your support. If you can comment or re-share anything that I write or otherwise share your generosity, I am truly appreciative and will help you in return any way that I can.


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After taking care of my 3 year old, my greatest passion is my company This Teacher Speaks, LLC. We’re focused on helping schools and community-based organizations strategically develop their social media presence in ways of maximum impact.  This company was born out of the suffocating silence I felt that teachers like myself had to endure underneath the absolute, corrupt, and unethical power of those who we trust with the reigns of our career.  Right now I play an integral role in meaningful projects via my daughter company, #SocialPatois:  Shout-out to uftsolidarity.org, #uftsolidarity, #kamanient, and #thelastpews!

Can the NYC DOE terminate my license to teach?

NYC DOE can do a lot of trashy things, but they surely can not terminate your license to teach.  If you have done something egregious, I’m not talking to you.  But to teachers who have been doing their jobs all along, you are safe.

Your license was given to you by the New York State Department of Education.  So should you be in a precarious position with the NYC DOE right now, always remember, you are still free to teach in any non-DOE affiliated number of schools throughout the local area, the state, the country, and the world.

Now if you are or will be discontinued, you are able to work in any other district besides the one in which you were hired, then discontinued in.  (Do consider:  Have you been discontinued and/or terminated?  Are you non-tenured or tenured?)

The catch is, this is true for many and false for many BECAUSE it is still in the hands of the principal to create and pursue your nomination.  Should you decide to pursue another teaching position within the DOE, just tell the DOE Principal the truth about your situation…it sucks, we know, but you won’t be the first nor the last to have to reveal something you’d prefer not to or feel you shouldn’t have to.  At the end of the day it’s going to be up to the principal to push your paperwork through IF you have been discontinued.  As a discontinued teacher you are problem-coded (which I think should be ILLEGAL) and the DOE will rat you out sooner or later.  So don’t blindside the DOE Principal, just be upfront.

As for the letters you may or may not receive in the mail regarding your discontinuance:  What the DOE can DO is hire lawyers to word “discontinuance” and “termination” letters in such a way to keep you befuddled and save their rears from most lawsuits–at least somewhat.

They should call them Deterrence Letters OR Stall Letters because that’s what they are designed to do…deter you from asserting your labor rights and/or stall you from seeking proper counsel, provided that you are a good teacher that was wrongfully terminated by nincompoop(s) who no longer wanted you in their school because you advocated for students or protested unethical working conditions.  Of course the OPI or Office of Personnel Investigation ((not to be confused with the Office of Special Investigations)) will be more interested in investigating you, rather than the almighty DOE Principal.

What about the UFT?  You say.  Well what about it? I ask.  We need a stronger union that doesn’t think overturning less than 4% of U-Rating Appeal Hearings (or whatever they are calling them now) is acceptable.

What about the DOE’s OEO + Diversity Management Office, and so forth?  Well, can you please take your right hand and try to slap yourself?  Were you successful?  I hope not.  What this means is that the DOE seems rather hesitant to tell on itself.

Get serious.  Go to the real office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Filing an Article 78 is necessary in such situations where you disagree with a decision made by a NY City Agency, in this case, the NYC DOE.

I found this youtube video explained Article 78 in a nutshell.

You will also want to File a Notice of Claim if you intend to sue the city.

I wrote this ebook incorporating much more information.  There’s a handy checklist that you should use and follow.  Remember Alice in Wonderland?  Don’t be Alice following DOE Rabbit.  You will end up missing important deadlines that you will regret later on.  Assert your rights.

My go-to places for information is the www.uftsolidarity.org and www.dtoe.org websites, as well.

The Secret For All

I’ve finally figured out the Mayor’s plan to solve education problems….simply append “For All” at the end of the latest been-there-done-that initiatives.  Read the highlights:  http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/education-vision-2015-speech-highlights.page

Check out Dashlane

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If you are a teacher who loves using educational technology and social media tools, then you should try Dashlane.

Using the same password over and over again is a security issue. 

Imagine what would happen if someone discovered your most used password then used it to access your online gradebook…or worse?

What if you want to securely share a password with a collaborative team at work?  And then you change that password?  With Dashlane all you have to do is change it once for everyone.

I could go on and on.  Just try it and use my link:   https://www.dashlane.com/en/as/3bd21deb

Do you think there’s a better password tool out there?  If so, tell me about it in the comments below.

The New York Times Ponders An Emerging Teacher Shortage

One word: Touche!

Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

Motoko Rich of The New York Times wrote a feature article for today’s print edition on the looming teacher shortage and the nationwide scramble to fill available teaching positions.  Predictions of a future teacher shortage are hardly new.  Consider this Senate hearing in 1997 where the then frequently made prediction that we would need “2 million new teachers over the next 10 years” was repeated by Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts:

This chart is a good summation as to what the current conditions are. This year, K-12 enrollment reached an all-time high and will continue to rise over the next 7 years. 6,000 new public schools will be needed by the year 2006 just to maintain current class sizes. We will also need to hire 2 million teachers over the next decade to accommodate rising student enrollments and massive teacher requirements. And because of the overcrowding, schools are using trailers…

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And What Of Class Sizes?

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There should be a balance between how much time we spend developing ideas and how much time we spend developing real plans to implement these ideas.

In fact, more time should be spent on the latter.

In education, there are far too many thinkers and researchers, or at least, not enough doers.  Where are the people who say, “That’s a great idea!  So, how is that possible??”  These are what I call the “pump-the-brakes” people.  These are teachers, too.  We are always asking ourselves, “How, can we do this? Is this plausible?”

So, class size.  There’s petitions like this one, asking politicians to reduce class size.  Yay, that’s great.

So logistically speaking, are we planning on doubling classroom space across the city or hosting two classrooms in one?  Do these rules apply to gym…or art (no offense gym or art, lol.)?  Oh wait, are we going to DOUBLE the teacher workforce, too?  Or cut class time in half?  What would THIS LOOK LIKE? Exactly.

You know, the issue is a matter of support.  And sometimes people don’t realize that they are on the same side because they aren’t speaking the same language (some of you will get this statement, some of you won’t…think about it.)

Amongst special education inclusion, ESL support, and other teacher professionals, assistants, paraprofessionals, etc. we can get MORE SUPPORT IN THE CLASSROOM.   Yes we can! I’ve been in schools where this model works amazingly well.  Placing another teacher in the room and utilizing the resources the system already has in place, seems to make more sense, rather than chasing down “class size” across the board as a systemic change.  If you haven’t experienced co-teaching, try it.

Where  smaller class sizes are possible, sure, go for it. But I’ve seen large class sizes succeed with just one teacher in the room, too.  So is class size a carrot stick we need to be chasing in education right now?  (Now, I’ve also worked in schools where class size is as low as 16 or even 8.  The fact is, no matter how large or small your class is, teachers will need adequate resources to do their jobs.)  We need to focus on getting teachers and students support when needed.  This requires that individuals within school communities work together.

Perhaps the focus should be on removing the obstacles (including people and situations) that prevent individuals within school communities from working together.

Your Foil Request Summer Christmas Wishlist

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So you may have learned a lot about how to FOIL from Don’t Tread on Educators but have you ever wondered, what, exactly, does one FOIL?  (As an update to the info on the DTOE website, please be aware that by contacting Katherine Rodi by email or phone you will be forwarded back to the lovely OPI office email opiinfo@schools.nyc.gov.  The good news is, this office IS admitting to illegal “problem-codes” now instead of pretending that they don’t exist.

And don’t be mistaken, FOILing is not just for playing “gotcha” games with city agencies, there are practical reasons for FOILing records because sometimes what you need just isn’t readily available.

Anyway, visiting SIAC-DOE Records Archives will explain a bit about how NYCDOE maintains its archives.

ENJOY THIS GOODY – A retention list (also known as a subject list) of what the NYCDOE retains and FOR HOW LONG.  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RETENTION SCHEDULE.  I suggest you read this list with a pen or highlighter.

Now as you email or pen a letter to the SIAC, you can have a better idea of what you need and what to ask for when you contact the NYCDOE’s Freedom of Information Law Unit.

Good Morning Class! Let’s Have a Morning Meeting!

One of my favorite parts of teaching is relating to students.  Being able to visit schools and support students and teachers reminded me of how much I enjoy getting along with students.  I find that this is possible in calm and organized work environments and settings.  After teaching in dysfunctional settings for so long, I did not realize that I had become quite out-of-touch with this.

I enjoy the concept of the morning meeting.  It is a bit tricky to implement, however, when you have multiple classes that all start at different times throughout the day.  (Which is why I love block schedules.)  Some schools try to get around this with Homeroom periods, but let’s face it, if all students aren’t present, it sort of defeats the purpose.  Also, this usually fosters one class’s allegiance to one teacher, instead of all their teachers.

In one school I visited, every student in the grade would actually stand in the hallway at one time and say a pledge, together, as well as make announcements.  They would do this once a week on Thursdays.  I thought this was a nice way to get to the sense of school-wide community in the upper grade levels.