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Friday, November 20, 2015

Yodeling Pickle...

Every teacher seems to have his or her own way of getting the classroom focus back to the subject at hand. Sometimes they revert to the kindergarten clapping cadence, (clap, clap, pause, clap, clap, clap).

 Some use gentle soothing musical chimes, musical instruments, sing and repeat cues. A few can be found here on YouTube:

All of these work pretty much for the classroom teacher and sometimes work for me.

If that doesn't work, my backup attention grabber is to walk toward the "homework box" on the board with the dry-erase marker in hand to add letters to the word "HOMEWORK". It works MOST of the time to get the class back under control.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine gave me a joke gift of the "Yodeling Pickle" also works pretty good as an attention grabber.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Brain Farts...

One of the hardest things to do in the classroom is to recover after committing an unintentional brain fart (...look it up). The older I get, the more frequently I find myself susceptible to occasional lapses. I sub in so many schools and grade levels that, while I recognize most teachers by sight, I sometimes blank on hard to remember names.

I have been in Mr. White's class several times these last couple of years. You would think that a name like 'White' would be easy enough to remember right?
I mean it's even printed on the bottom of THE LESSON PLAN!

So while dictating the instructions for the next lesson...

Me:  "Ok class, listen up! Mr. Brown would like you to take out your notebooks and turn to page ...."
Kid1: Who?
Me: Who what?
Kid1: Who is Mr. Brown?
Me: Mr. Brown, your teacher.
Kid1: You mean Mr. White?

Now forgetting the teacher's name once and being reminded isn't total devastation. I'm pretty sure associating a name to a color has contributed to similar lapses so we had a little laugh about it and went on with our day until....


Later in the day, I referred to Mr. White as Mr. Brown a second time!  That set off a chorus of laughter at my lapse, deservedly so.

Me: Ok, for the rest of the day your teacher's name is now "Mr. Brown or Mr. White", whichever one I screw up. Now let's get to work.....)

For the rest of the day, I intentionally continued to use 'Mr. Brown'.

Several days later, I ran into Mr. White on the playground and he said he had a good laugh about his new "name change"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Unintended Consequences...

It was "SAFETY" day at the country club elementary school. The school distributed to all 350+ students a personal-emergency combination "whistle & signal light" key fob. The school's instruction to the kids was use them only to summon help in case of emergency.  

They were handed out to all students during the first hour of class time.

You can guess what happened. A kid with a whistle can't resist the urge to make noise. Make that 350+ kids and you would have thought that "the big one" earthquake happened during a mass kidnapping at the first recess. Even a school wide, loudspeaker broadcast instructing the kids to "knock it off" and repeated instruction what an emergency is went ignored.

I'm sure the parents picking up kids gleefully blasting whistles as they hopped into the back seat really appreciated the school's attention to the safety of their children.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

There Ought to Be a Law...Kendamas

I saw this posted in the middle school classroom I taught today. YES!!!

You can't have toy guns on campus.
You can't draw a picture of a gun in class.
You can't do "finger" guns in class or on the school grounds....but

YOU CAN fling a wooden, tennis sized ball on a string and bean someone in the head with one of these things!

More than once I've experienced a near miss when a kid lost control of his Kendama in the classroom or on the playground. 

A while back I was covering a middle-school multimedia class that had video equipment and a green room for the students to make their own commercials and display them on wall sized HD flat screens. 

The class was pretty much done near the end of the period. The lesson plan indicated that any spare time was to be used to finish any incomplete work, have quiet discussions, read or...let them play with their Kendama's.

The last option ended when one kid lost control of his and missed what must be a very expensive wall sized flat screen by no more than an inch.

Monday, September 07, 2015

When It Rains, It Pours...

While we Californians wait for the real stuff, (we're still collecting shower water in buckets to flush the toilets and water the plants). Subbing jobs, on the other hand, are coming in like rain barrels of assignments.

The year I decided I wanted to cut back to only 2-3 days a week, the district raised our daily per diem by $15 to $135/day.  

Assignment requests started BEFORE the first day of school and I'm still getting requests for assignments out into the first three months of 2016.

Last week, we were out for the evening and returned home to find ten missed calls from the automated sub system.

I was talking to one of the teachers this last week to discover what's going on. She told me that new (Common Core?) training that entire grade levels are required to take this year are happening during class time.

The school administration essentially told the teachers that they are experiencing a shortage of returning subs this year and that they (the teachers) would be responsible to arrange for their own substitute during these training periods, as the district will be too busy to handle the load.

Makes me wonder how far doubling the substitute teacher per diem might go into solving the backlog of assignments. I might even consider going in 3-4 days a week.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Year 2015-2016

The new school year started yesterday. I don't usually expect any calls for an assignment until the 2nd or 3rd week into a new school year. 

So, I was surprised that my first call for the new school year came two weeks before the 1st day of school for a 5th grade class in Sept. There were also two additional calls before the first day of school.

I'm not sure if this is an end result from last year where they had a shortage of subs and an increase of teacher mandated "common core" training days that had to be cancelled/rescheduled due to substitute teacher shortages. In any case, all the signs portend to be busy new year.

In other news, the rumor of a substitute teacher pay increase for this year came through! We get an additional $15 to make our new daily rate: $135/day

Monday, June 15, 2015

Final Tally: 2014-2015

Even though I did work the whole last week at two different schools for three different teachers, I was surprised to find the final tally of days worked during the 2014-15 school year was only 44 days.

That's about 1/2 the my usual average.

I know it wasn't for lack of opportunity, because it seemed that the phone was ringing almost every day. That two-week Hawaiian vacation in spring plus many, too many days of "I just don't feel up to it..." add up pretty fast.