The Day Before The First Day Of School Is What I Miss Least About Teaching, And This Video Of Principal Mary Pierangeli Reading MCAS Bar Graph Scores Is Why


Five years ago today I was getting ready for the first day of my 9th year of school at Shepherd Hill. A lot of teachers like the first day, but I hated it. I liked school after about three weeks, when I knew all the kid’s names, I knew what kind of students they were, I knew what to expect, I saw their true colors begin to come out (everyone’s nice the first week), and they got used to me as a teacher. I was a hardo teacher, and my class certainly wasn’t easy. Read my book and I explain my educational philosophy more in depth.

But the bottom line is that it took some kids a couple weeks to get used to a teacher that wasn’t going to let them squeak by without doing anything.

And this is why I hated the first day – because it was really awkward. I had a freshman homeroom, and every single freshmen is petrified to be the first one to speak. You try to make small talk with them, but for the most part they have no interest in it because they’re nervous as shit, and they’re often uninteresting human beings with very little to talk about. Then I’d have my junior classes, and you have to do these ice breakers, and hand out the syllabus, and just really dreadful stuff. I loved history, I loved teaching it, and I was ready to get started right away. You don’t do that during the first week, which is why I hated it so much.

But the only thing worse than the first day was professional development days. Kids loved PD days because it was a day off for them, but every single teacher I’ve ever talked to all agreed that they’d rather be teaching kids than sitting through PD. First of all, the name is misleading because you don’t develop professionally at all. You just go to a bunch of meetings where the people with the least amount of personality (administration) guided you through a Power Point presentation about MCAS results from the previous year. Finding ways to slightly improve the percentage of kids in the proficient category is pretty much the only thing your crotch fruit’s school cares about. Do they tell you how to improve them? Nope. You can figure that one out on your own. Just understand that your evaluation depends on a bunch of 15 year olds who you have no control over 99% of the day.

Five years ago at what would turn out to be my final PD day I decided to record a presentation from Principal Mary Pierangeli, the first villain in the hit book I Am Turtleboy, because she was so, so, so terrible. This woman didn’t have an ounce of personality to her, and I have no idea how she ever taught kids before becoming a principal. People like her become principals because they’re not good teachers, but they are good at reading graphs out loud. Here’s some of those videos of teachers being forced to sit through a Power Point presentation on the previous year’s MCAS results. Keep in mind, I taught history, which was not an MCAS subject. Art, physical education, and foreign language teachers were all in the same boat. None of this had anything to do with over 50% of people in the room. This is what big government and a colossal waste of taxpayer resources looks like in action.

“The other thing they look at is participation. Participation needs to be around 95%. So, this is all of the points we were awarded. Last year we had 400 this year we had 400, what is the difference? The answer is 100 points that we did not get. So we are at 66 and last year we were at 71 and we have work to do but we’re close.” 

Kill me now.

“We’re very close at bringing this up to the next level, so it’s very doable for us to get them up there. Let’s look at biology. Seventy two students or 28% of students scored advanced, but the state had 30%. And again, we need to get that up. 141 students or 56% scored proficient. The state had 43%. And actually I’m going to go to the next slide because there are two sets of scores, and I can’t figure out the exactly (inaudible). There are scores for science and technology, and there are scores for biology. We take the biology…..”

So the four people in the room who teach biology need to get their shit together. Only 28% of Shepherd Hill kids were advance in bio, compared to 30% of kids in the state. Obviously those four teachers needed to find a way to train kids to do slightly better on a multiple choice test that they’d take in May. This is what education looks like.

“We had some that were advanced that went down to proficient. And our needs improvement stayed the same at 4% and our failing stayed the same at 2%. So 98% of the students that passed the test at first attempt. And only 4 that could not. We had 94% that scored proficient or higher (inaudible). Look at this, in that 256-258 score we have 56 students. All they need is one or two more questions answered correctly and they’re in advanced. So we’re not that far off. We’re just about there. So that’s the data we need to look at.”

Keep in mind, the 2% of kids who failed the test amounted to a total of 5 kids. These were more than likely the kids who lived near Webster, got suspended a lot, didn’t read, didn’t study, didn’t do their homework, and could care less about the MCAS. As a teacher you have absolutely no control over their ability to improve because it’s really up to the student and the student’s parents to make sure their kid stops fucking around in class. If they don’t listen in class or study for tests they’re not going to pass. Yet teachers are somehow responsible when they fail because the only thing principals care about is bar graphs.

One thing I learned as a teacher is that if I looked out into the classroom and I saw bored, uninvolved faces, I needed to switch up what I was doing or I was going to lose them. High school administrators don’t have this ability. There isn’t a single person in that crowd that was actually paying attention to a word she was saying. They were all there because they had to be there to get paid. The sad part is that these days really could’ve been used for teachers to collaborate, share lesson plans, talk about strategies and stuff that worked for them. Ya know things that could actually help kids learn. But instead we sat and listened to Mary Pierangeli read bar graphs to us for hours on end while I thought about all the ways I could kill myself.


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23 Comment(s)
  • FedUp
    October 30, 2019 at 11:06 am

    So very spot on. Going to a PD right now…pray for me.

  • Peter Dautel
    Don Key Punch
    August 30, 2019 at 10:45 am

    As in instructor in the military, I loved the fact you had the class engaged, as basically if they didn’t pay attention, they or someone else would likely get seriously hurt or killed. When the offer was made upon my retirement to lateral over under the ‘Troops to Teachers’ program, I realized I’d be subjugated to this kind of mental torture and said “nah.”

    So glad I did after seeing this waterboarding! God bless those in education that have to put up with this kind of crap!

  • Nee Chi
    August 28, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Education has become a sham. The electricity is starting to flicker. Who’s going to be smart enough AND willing to work hard enough to keep the lights on??

  • Silencio Dogood
    August 28, 2019 at 2:20 am

    They didn’t teach Hardo at my school, is it kinda like Evolution? In any event, their loss is the shell’s gain.

  • Luke Fondleberg
    August 27, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Don’t forget the Equity/Diversity training.

    The wife finally agrees: the only color which matters is Green.

  • randiguy2006
    A Parent
    August 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    So glad you aren’t a teacher anymore. Our kids are safer away from your negativity.

    • A Person Telling You To F Off
      August 27, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      Yet here you are reading his blog. Shut the fuck up and I pray for your poor kid. Go back to a Liz Warren rally where other slobs like you congregate

    • Correct your name please
      August 27, 2019 at 6:16 pm

      -signed a Bad Parent

    • Betty Ford
      August 27, 2019 at 7:04 pm

      Oh good God, fuck off “A Parent”. TB is dead on.

      Heaven forbid the electorate had the ability to cut a school budget. Instead we get a bunch of deadweight overhead, such as Administrative days ad nauseum and staff psychotherapists and four guidance counselors for every kid, get to know your trans neighbor classes, and all sorts of useless shit. Because the budget is going up, and it has to be spent. TB is pointing out one way.

      The Education fraud is probably the biggest cancer in our country.

  • Uncle Kraft
    August 27, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Calling yourself uncle your better off not being a teacher you sound like a Jewish diddler.

  • Mr Hand
    August 27, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Teachers have been held back by politicians and race baiters. Look what they tried to pull in Worcester and Malden. Hire more people to appease the morons and not the most qualified and you get what you have now

  • Rehoboth Infidel
    August 27, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Principals are burned out teachers or counselors who want a higher salary. They are middle management hacks, and if they play their cards right they can be become upper management hacks and become directors of SPED or literacy.

    You do more to educate with your filthy blog than you could have in the hellscape that is public education. Throw in the SJW teachers, regular drunk hacks, and fall back career people and you understand why teachers get a bad rap. It almost makes you feel bad for the good ones, who undoubtedly leave out of sheer frustration. Keep in mind incoming SAT scores for education majors are typically among the lowest for all declared majors, and rampant grade inflation in teacher training programs keeps idiots in the college classroom for the easy bucks.

    • Sal the Sinnick
      August 27, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      You mean education majors at Fitchburg State didn’t opt out of attending MIT to study bio engineering? You mean the MA degrees that are now “required” to teach aren’t as worthless as a white boy on a basketball court?

    • In the front lines
      August 27, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      I agree that anyone can be a teacher these days. There is such a shortage of teachers that there are programs now where you can become a teacher in a “transition to teaching program” . They are in the classroom WHILE they are working their degrees. It wasn’t like that when I was in school! In my college, they wouldn’t even let you into the teacher education program unless you had at 3.80 grade point average! I had friends that wanted to be teachers and couldn’t get into the program. Standards have fallen!! shows!

      • Hugh-Bo Mont
        August 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm

        You must be as old as me. LOL Who remembers “film strips”?

        • I’m just an old broad, Hugh
          August 28, 2019 at 8:29 pm

          Hugh, When I started teaching I showed filmstrips with the little cassette that beeped every time I needed to advance the strip. I also had to use a mimeograph machine with the purple print that all the high school kids loved to smell. We couldn’t use the fancy “copier” because it was too expensive! Gasp!! They even had corporal punishment. This huge dude art teacher (and football coach) had the paddle and was in charge of the punishment. No one wanted to be sent to see Mr. Green. Yeah, I’m old!! I’m still teaching and it is a nightmare!! Parents baby their kids, no one wants homework because they need “family time”. Family? I’d say 75% of the parents could be featured on the TB blog!! Unfortunately, when you have done this so long, there are few alternatives for work. Who would hire me at my age for a career change? So I keep plugging away and trying to get those kids that “don’t give a crap” to raise their test scores. Because just like in the clips in this article, it’s all about the tests.

  • Whittier the Poet
    August 27, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    These useless “Professional Development” days, about 1.5 – 2 a month per school year, are the reason kids have to start school before Labor Day these days. Thanks a fuckin’ lot, you dopey “educators,” for developing a system of metrics to gauge success that only a douchebag like Robert McNamara could love.

  • A teacher in the front lines
    August 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    So true!! I actually found Turtleboy because of your connection to teaching, and your book. It has continued to get worse since you left the classroom. Why does a teacher get evaluated on the performance of the kids, when half of them don’t give a crap. Elementary kids spend their nights and weekends playing Fort Night. They never pick up a book. For the 3-4 decent kids in my class of 27 fifth graders, I actually felt sorrow. They are sitting there trying to learn while Damien (of course that was his real name) is saying F-you to my face and his buddy is crawling around on the floor. The principal’s reaction? She told me I didn’t know how to “connect” with kids. As a veteran teacher, the truth was I was connecting with kids before she was born. Parents these days do nothing but worry if their baby Johnny or Susie is “being bullied”! Sure! Because someone doesn’t want to hang out with you, that is being “bullied”! One of the most overused words in schools. After you’ve done it 30 some years, what other occupations are there? Two masters degree and I could probably stand in line for government cheese if I wanted! We actually deserve hazardous duty pay!!

    • Speak To Your Peers And Tell Them To Wake Up
      August 27, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      Tell your teachers association and unions to stop blindly supporting any asshole with a D next to their names and you will have the ability back to discipline the shitheads and be able to teach. Stop trying to include every new fad like BLT123 and teach real American history and how to form a sentence

    • ncfoothillbilly
      August 27, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Watch some Colin Flaherty vids about the ‘unruly’ keedz…holy shite, its unreal how terrible kids are today. We used to get a beating for far less when I was a kid.

  • dowen0895
    Dick Scratcher
    August 27, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    As a former FE teacher in the UK, I can confirm the same shit happens here.

    The principals/heads only care about achievement rather than actual learning and days like this are just fucking torture.

    The system is fucked.

    • Dick Scratcher
      August 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      Just kidding, I’ve never had a job.

      • dowen0895
        Dick Scratcher
        August 27, 2019 at 6:48 pm

        Off you fuck, soft lad.
        At least you’ve been honest about your employment status.


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