Latest Entries »

Why do you want to work in a high needs school and what challenges do you anticipate facing and what specific strategies would you use to overcome these strategies?
and skills needed to help grown students into strong, educated young adults,

I think that I would be facing significant challenges such as low literacy ability, students who are behind grade level in many different areas, high absentee rates and lack of student motivation. I would tackle these problems by tailoring lessons that built upon students prior knowledge, teach students specific strategies such as ANSWER (for test taking) and the Frayer Model (to build vocabulary) and use project-based learning to assess skills learned. I also believe that students learn best from each other and so I would use cooperative grouping in class. I would build up students’ efficacy to handle rigorous standards based work, I have.a wealth of strategies in my toolkit that I would use to help students and would research to find others. I collaborate with my colleagues to further assess the needs of my student,

What is one ambitious goal that you set or would set for your students?  What steps did you take to meet those goals and how did you know it was met?
One ambitious goal that I set for my students was to get them to improve their writing on a CUNY college placement exam. i think that it was an important goal because I believe that for most students that it is important that they are college-minded and are preparing for college level course work. It was also important for my career-minded students because college placement writing tests are also the type of writing and discussions that they would mostly likely perform on applications for their careers,

The specific steps that I took towards this goal were that first I gave students a baseline assessment of their writing skills so that I could determine what types of lessons that students would need towards our goals and then I gave students a reading assessment since reading and writing are hand in hand with each other. With that data collected, I analyzed it to determine what types of readings I could bring in for students. I determined that a remedial college writing class would be the best way to approach the course, and I researched and adapted lessons to my students abilities. I designed lessons that often had a reading and writing component that offered students the opportunity to expand their vocabulary and knowledge of society, I also worked with students on building their metacognition of how they were reading and responding to the prompts. I tested students with college prompts over the course and gave them them feedback on their progress. Eventually, we reached the point for the final summative assessments and I’m glad to say that I could see actual growth by students. I could also that several had employed some of the strategies we used and extensively worked on improving use of in class. 


No money? No fun?

Kids banned from school carnival for not paying

The above link goes to a NYPOST story about a school in Queens and controversy revolving around a school carnival.   Students were told to bring $10 dollars or if they didn’t then they wouldn’t be allowed to participate.  Those who didn’t participate sat in the auditorium while the sounds of fun drifted in from outside.  

The principal insists that it’s only fair if students who did not pay did not participate.  She ignored the children socio-emotional needs by seperating them from others.  Over $10.  The school made a profit of maybe of 2-3 thousand dollars.  Sure, the profit margin would be cut.  And it could be asked if the families of the non-participants really didn’t have the money.  But these are still very young children.  As one girl asked “am I being punished.” Doesn’t it feel like she is  kind of possibly being punished for something that should have been open to every student?

What’s more heartbreaking is the student that says “my parent doesn’t love me.”  Because instead of school being a place of respite, a place where it feels as if someone cares for you, it now potentially carries that same feeling as home does for them.  Younger students internalize so much-and this situation could be so damaging. Add to that feeling the image of toy stuffed animals that others kids who went brought back.  Free gifts because they went.

I don’t understand why the school budget doesn’t actually allow for the moving up and graduation ceremonies , but would the school disallow anyone to come if they couldn’t pay if thete was a fee there?  This ceremony should have been after hours, not during the school day when it became clear that a large body of kids would be excluded.  

This principal’s policy seems harmful if not petty.  I had a personal story I wanted to use but I’ll save it for another time. This just feels wrong.


Mr. S.  Math

Mr. S,

Today was maybe 45% productive.  First off,  7th period was the worst of the day.  Bianka and Alex are two of the most nasty and despicable students I’ve ever met in my five year history and I’m certified special ed/ELA 7 to 12 grade.  

She told me to ” get the ______ out of her face.”   She also told me to ” suck her ______.”  She also ruined the extra worksheets.

Alex is just an asshole, literally speaking.  He showed no respect and even I, a thick-skinned person substitute, became aggravated by his nasty and biting remarks.  He also ruined several of the other students papers by writing on them, he threw things around the room, he acted like he had the basic behavior of a toddler.  Good luck with turning him into a productive human being, I don’t know if that’s possible.  

Most of the other kids I need a review of perpendicular lines most students got questions 1, 3, 4 and 6  wrong and that’s if they made it up 6.   I say this because most students sat around and did nothing unless I came to their desks and worked out the problems with them step-by-step.  

I hope kids are just taking advantage of the substitute  situation.  

Good luck from your guest teacher,

Chester Kent.

i’ve decided to switch things up. Everyday that I sub, I’m going to post the note I leave to that teacher here.    Some will be funny, some vile, some will make you think I’m crazy.

The first one will come today,

It’s not the teacher’s fault that your son or daughter is failing. It’s not the school’s fault! It’s not a lack of teacher training or a lack of strong teacher evaluation system! It’s your fault</strong. It’s your child’s fault too.

At the end of the school week and when the attendance sheet looks like this-

That blaming teachers becomes a disappointment. Teachers can’t teach your child ifyour child isn’t there.

Think about it and look at the image again.


Sadly, this attendance sheet isn’t the worse I’ve seen. But on Tuesday, half the class wasn’t even in class. That lesson introduced or that skill practiced that day didn’t get learned.

It is asinine to blame the teacher for a student’s inability to do something when the student didn’t do the most basic thing that they could do, which is, show up.

The above sheets were for a class with special needs classified. There were less students so the teacher can hopefully give more support. But how can a person be taughtor supportedif students don’t show up.

This was supposed to be brief. Sigh.

When I hear stories about how teachers make calls home at 7 am to make sure kids come to school that day, I think what the hell? The things that sometimes go into lesson planning? The hours grading and making assessments and wondering how to grow students up to being confidant and capable adults….what of a teacher had to make a wake up call for every student they teach or worry about?

The system is rigged.

[Chester Arthur Kent]


I want to do a longer post on my reaction of reading what X-Men comic book writer, Brian Michael Bendis. Soon. I also promise a more substantial and quasi-comprehensive discussion/update about my life. Soonish, really.

But this thing Bendis said

Bendis said in an interview

“…. all that she went through was heart wrenching, and you’ve got to look at it as — either you can be a victim or you can pick yourself up and go, “All right, I’m going to try to live my life differently.” For some people, happiness is a true challenge, because they’re depressed or they’re wired that way, but it’s hard to smile.

One of my kids, she did something wrong and I go, “Why did you–? Be good, and you’ll get so much fun stuff!” She says, “It’s so hard!” I point out that it’s easier to be good — but I do see that for her it’s hard. There are people where doing the right this is a hard thing, or doing what will make them happy is a hard thing. This is a hard thing for [Laura], let’s see what she can do with it. “

It resonates with me. Tears on my face. It’s just beautifully put. I feel that way often. I want to sound not discouraged but I am. To do the things that would make me happy, I can’t do-despite my best efforts. And substitute teaching is not a real substitute to teaching. And the harder thing I want; it would make me happier but I just can’t make it happen it seems. But that starts getting into the intricacies of my situation which I promised to quasi do later.

But I hope use can be made of Bendis’s words nonetheless.

-Chester A. Kent

Discovery end date set

This is a quick update on what is happening with Noel Estevees- the 8th grade student who stabbed a classmate after school last month. Young Mr, Esteves is being held at a youth detention facility. Last month his lawyer was able to to get the state from charging him as an adult. In the article, then say that Esteves had a different, more tamed look- which can only help his case as he appears younger and more in control. Perhaps at the youth facility he is getting some mental health services to help him deal with all of this.

This is such a sad case because it does show significant failures in the system. The bullying epidemic is thrust in everyone’s face and actually does appear to be more than just something cooked up by the media. There was clearly ongoing tension that all attempts to mitigate failed. But school safety failed. What is their actual purpose? Nobody noticed that Esteves had that huge knife with him? I imagine that one of the kids are school must have seen him brandish it at one point during the day. And so did the trusted adults and teachers fail by not being available so that a student could confide what they saw? Or was it the “snitches get stitches” garbage being espoused by kids and young adults that dissuaded any potential reach or contact? Seriously, everyone thinks it’s brave to allow these things to potentially happen until it’s their friend or family member shot.

And what about the red tape that failed to get Esteves out of there? His father did the right thing- he went and said my son doesn’t feel safe here, please get him out. There are how many unscreened schools? If a kid doesn’t feel safe, he doesn’t feel safe. Let them go before they start arming themselves.

I have more to say but this is all just digression but if Tim Crump (the deceased student) was suspended- then why was he anywhere near school grounds. If I remember correctly, he was supposed to be at an alternate middle school. But clearly, he was looking for trouble. I worked at a high school that had school safety officers look each morning at photos of suspended students just in case someone who is not supposed to be on those grounds was.

And so the discovery portion of Noel Esteves case will come to an end tomorrow. And then a trial date will be set. And arguments for his case are argued, I hope people pay attention to a few of the things I thought about and put those issues on trial too.

-Chester Kent

Writing Word Problems

Writing Word Problems

Math Blog

I thought that was an interesting post regarding how different wording in an question prompt will illicit different quality responses from students. It makes sense that a variation of the wording will make students think about answering in terms of what they a think the question is asking. That’s a truism common to all life right? I like how the blogger illustrates this by giving multiple interpretations of the same question. I think this sort of thing is exactly why they testing industry exists and needs to be examined even more. What’s the point of having students pass a test that was testing the wrong thing. Anyway, that is all. I just found it to be a nice thing to read on a Saturday morning.


A little humor on a June Night

I found this list pretty humorous. The one about the thin line between a numerator and denominator particularly hilarious.


hilarity shall ensue. 20 intelligent jokes

[Chester Kent]


Admission Policy Troubles aren’t new

Admission Policy Troubles Aren’t New

When I was in high school, one of my classmates younger sister was denied admission, and her family sued the school for racial discrimination saying that the policy gave an unfair advantage to minority students.   There were established quotas and they said that Elizabeth outperformed the minorities on the list and should have been admitted.   The suit was settled and City Honors changed   from a single exam to more criteria based assessment.   I’m not sure what the racial make up of the school is like but as a minority there, I know that we were definitely in the minority, especially when compared to the next ranked high school, Hutch-Tech.  I somewhat remember that the next year class looked conspicuously caucasian and that in the back of my mind I had this nagging feeling that some person would come out to question my right to be there.  I wonder if Elizabeth has any minority friends from her high school class.   Imagine her in a class where all the minorities students know that she feels that she should have displaced any one of them.   (Elizabeth lives here in New York City as well.  I ran into her at Target.   She teachers people with disabilities, and I think that awesome.)

I can see why her family would bring the lawsuit up.  City Honors is a public school. It offers higher level classes and in comparison to many schools nationwide it is a beacon of light.   When I think about the class environment or the way I would like to teach, I think of my experiences there.  I had a right to be and it takes a lot of gumption to challenge admission standards from the Zagare’s perspective. I think that the quotas that had been mandated by state law served a purpose so that you don’t end up with a lily-white school.  It’s proven that economic advantages or disadvantages tie into performance in school. In a city such as Buffalo where race and poverty are almost married to each other, nothing good could come of pretending that race isn’t a factor.  Unfortunately, the school decided that race shouldn’t be a determining factor, and that other criteria should also be established.   Which is ok, I think that there should be criteria, but there should be a quota.   As is impossible as it seems, there could be a chance that not enough minorities met that criteria and then you end up with a school population that thought it is supposedly the best and the brightest the city has to offer, it looks nothing representatively like what the city population looks like.   And it should look like the best and brightest of all the city, not just a segment of the city.

Or else you end up  the mess that we have here at the Specialized High Schools here in NYC.

Right now the admission policy for the New York City Specialized High School is being challenged as unfair.  It’s being argued that depending on one test score simply discriminates against minorities.  Newsday reports “Mulgrew said many minority students now excluded from Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and five other specialized high schools deserve to be there. Only about two dozen African-Americans and Latinos were among the more than 3,000 students admitted to Specialized High Schools this year, while they represent about 70 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school students.” Which is appalling- the numbers speak for themselves.  It simply is ridiculous.   Is it something wrong with the test and the way it’s written?   Are there reasons why African-American and Latino students aren’t performing well enough on it?  Do they need more support or strategies for test taking?  Are enough just not applying?  

Read the facts again- this time from the New York Times –

The numbers disclosed by the Education Department showed that of the 28,000 students citywide who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 5,701 of them were offered seats. Although 70 percent of the city’s public school students are black and Hispanic, blacks were offered 5 percent of the overall seats and Hispanics 7 percent — the same as a year ago. Asians were offered 53 percent of the seats, compared with 50 percent a year ago; whites were offered 26 percent of seats, compared with 24 percent a year ago.”

As unpopular as it sounds- maybe quotas should be applied to the specialized High School.  Maybe the Specialized schools should be considered Magnet programs.  Researcher Marcy Crouch reports that  “ voluntary-magnet programs to be successful at reaching racial integration goals and maintaining those proportions. As more cities throughout the United States implement magnet programs not only will students of all races benefit from superior educational opportunities, they will also experience voluntary racial integration which will hopefully provide a solid foundation of open-mindedness for living in this multi-racial country.” The gifted and talented should have a place to go, but again, I think that publicly funded schools should at least honor the public.  I think what sucks is that no minority has filed a lawsuit for discrimination.  I would be highly interested in seeing the arguments for why the specialized schools should remain as exclusive as they are.   At the very least, portfolio  assessments and other criteria must be considered.   Or else call those schools, private schools and let them fend for themselves.

-Chester Kent