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Friday, December 17, 2004

After This I Deserve Two Weeks Off…..

This should have been a day off.

I figured that all the teachers would have wanted to say goodbye to their kids on the final day before the Christmas break and I was all set to sleep in and take this Friday off. That was until the phone jarred me awake at 06:30am.

The job was a Kindergarten class and I agreed to take it as I thought it should be a short easy day. There are usually two teachers or at least a parent helper for Kindergarten classes. There might be a little holiday party and/or an early dismissal.

The first thing the office told me when I got there was to wash my hands often as there was some kind of stomach bug going around the school.

The lesson plan indicated the kids were supposed to give a morning performance in the cafeteria, art project after lunch and an afternoon party. This was going to be a full day class and there are no other partner Kinder teachers or parent helpers signed up to help.

So much for my grand assumptions.

At the bell, I gathered my 18 little kinders and march them off to their classroom. All the kids were hyped up. Last day of school, their parents were gonna come hear them sing, they were promised a party, etc, etc, etc.

So I wasn’t surprised to see four of the boys hit the classroom and begin rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically. I had heard about “rollers” but this was my first encounter with any. I got them to stop by telling them there would be no party if they didn’t behave.

I had barely completed the attendance sheet when I was called to bring them down for their performance in the cafeteria. The person in charge told me where to stage them and asked where their teacher Mrs. “G“ was. Told her I didn’t know what her ailment was and I didn’t know just what they were supposed to do here. Fortunately one of the other Kindergarten teachers stepped up and said she’d lead them in their song. That was more than fine by me since I don’t do no singing stuff.

After the performance I took them back to class and handed out the planned art project. All they really wanted to do was the party as they all kept asking about it.

One tough cookie seemed to delight in kicking her table mate. I moved her to another desk to work only to find that she returned to continue making herself a pest. She would also sneak out the door to the bathroom without telling me.

Telling her that she had to ask first and go with another girl fell on deaf ears. This turned out to be an all day process trying to keep her in class and not tormenting the rest of the class.

After lunch, they were supposed to quietly watch a movie while I set up their party.

Instead I had to deal with a kid’s bloody nose (Thanks to whom ever suggested that I carry disposable plastic gloves on this job), while “tough cookie” continued tormenting some of her girl classmates.

Where oh where are some of those camera toting parents I saw at the performance this morning? No where! That’s where!

After I got the bleeder squared away and the video going, I located the party supplies which consisted of two gallons of apple juice, a bag chips and forty sugar cookies. Great idea! Add lots of sugar to an already hyped up group of 5 year olds.

I put out only one cookie per kid and turned the rest of them into the office at the end of the day for “disposal”. They pretty much finished off all the chips and juice and several announced that this was “The best’est party” they ever had.

They must have some really dull parties….

The teacher had presents for each kid and I handed them out as they left the room for the day. I held “tough cookie’s” gift for last and had a conversation about behaving in class, not hitting other kids, asking for permission to leave the classroom to go potty and doing what the teacher says.

I don’t think it made a dent as the kid continually interrupted with “but I want my present now….”; “Can I get my present now?….”; “I’m supposed to have my present now….”, “Gimme my present…”

I finally gave up and sent her off with the rest of her class.

After handing them off to their parents, I asked another teacher about “tough cookie”. She indicated that all the teachers knew all about her and my experience was no different than Mrs. “G”s.

I can’t imagine what a class with two or more like this one would be like, but I do know that I’d probably not want to experience it.

I’m REALLY going to enjoy these next two weeks off without that early morning call.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Too Much Time!!!

Two days till the end of school for this year and I figure there shouldn’t be much for these kids to do.

This 3rd grade teacher’s lesson plan bared this out.

This was the day they were supposed to complete their mid-year assessment test. I found out from another teacher that this was to go into their permanent record.

I always thought that the accursed “permanent record” threat was a myth! Now I know…

Lesson plan for Thursday…

Allotted 01:15:00 test time for mid-year assessment test. – Kids finished it in about 30 minutes.

Allotted 01:00:00 Writing – You gotta be kidding. Way too much for 3rd graders.

Allotted 00:45:00 SSR – Again, you gotta be kidding. Way too much for sustained reading.

Allotted 01:00:00 Math – Kids finished off these 20 questions in less than 30 minutes

And then ….00: 30:00 of “whatever…” - End of the day of “Do what you want. PE, games, etc

The only activity I would have liked more time for was………..Lunch!

I let them play several rounds of a game that the kids assured me was a quiet activity. I had different kids run the “Thumbs Up 7-UP” game, because I thought it would be interesting to see how they react when given a leadership role.


…. Maybe it was because I don’t know the rules or how to play the game.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I arrived at this school only to see “No Homework Week” posted on the board in this 6th grade class. This was obviously going to be a problem for my classroom discipline technique. I couldn’t very well threaten them with extra homework in a “no homework” week, now could I?

So I reverted to the guess the sub’s previous job title exercise.

We had a few new innovative guesses like: Ice Cream Dude and Mr. Clean guy (This only makes sense if you know I’m bald)

Once again, the technique worked like a charm. They were great kids and the only real noisy outburst was at the end of class when I revealed the “final answer”.

The teacher next door came in a few minutes after class wanting to know what happened in our class at the end of the day.

I just told her that they were happy that school was out.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Art Class…..

This was the shortest sub job yet. I was called to the country club school at 11:30am and met with the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) art teacher.

I was supposed to teach one class art for an hour while she went to the dentist. She assured me that I didn’t have to know how to draw. That’s good because I couldn’t draw a crooked line in an earthquake!

She gives me the quick nickel tour and all the handouts I need and then tells me: “Ok, you do the next 4th grade class for an hour and you’re done! Have fun!!” as she exits to make her dentist appointment.

The teacher then introduced me to the kids and went to her desk to do “stuff” for the next hour.

Things were progressing pretty well. The kids were drawing the “human form”, “a flag on a flag pole” and a “cartoon guy peeking out of a hole in the ground” all according to the instructional handouts. Every once in a while a kid would walk up to show me his work.

Obviously some students have more talent than others, but I made positive comments about all of them. So when one kid came up with a picture of what looked like a space cat from a Japanese comic book, I told him “it was very very good, but it wasn’t one of the drawings we were supposed to practice. Can I see one of those?”

The kid got this horrified look on his face, ran over to the trash can, crumpled up his drawing, tossed it in, went to the corner of the room and refused to speak to me.

I must have had a panicked look on my face because the teacher motioned to me that she’d take care of it and for me to continue.

The teacher later told me that the kid was autistic and did not react very well to ANY kind of negative or perceived criticism.

Thanks for the heads up warning……too late.

Friday, December 10, 2004

K through 6th....

Thursday I was subbing the 6th grade class in a school I hadn’t been to before.
Friday I was back at the country club school doing Kindergarten.

Talk about transitions and similarities!

Both days were spent trying to keep control of the class.
Both days spent part of the time watching a video!
Both days, the students were supposed to write something based on what they saw in the video.

Some students from both classes produced the exact same amount of zero work even with prompting.

Friday, I had to stoop DOWN to get eye level with one little guy to find out why he was crying (..I didn’t call on him to be one of the three people allowed in the playhouse).

Thursday, I had to look UP at about 10% of these pre-teen monsters.

There’s usually at least one “character” in each class that requires more attention than the rest. This 6th grade class had three.

We had the mustachioed Latino wannabe gang banger. He has a special desk wedged between the teacher’s desk in the corner and a short wall which isolates him from the rest of the class. And he’s proud of it. He’s evidentially an instigator of disruptive behavior.

Then we have Jabba the Hut boss man who, evidentially, decided that he wanted his desk in the front corner of the room with his own special “captains’ chair” so he could look out over the rest of the class. I could never get a good reason why the teacher would allow this, but I’m only in-n-out here for the day.

Lastly, we have the “lawyer”.

My explanation of the “HOMEWORK” process was interrogated by a series of possible loopholes that might apply:

“What if the final bell rings during writing of the final “K. Does that count”?
“Can I get the entire class extra homework by mouthing off?”
“If we get to the “K”, can we negotiate additional letters like an “S”?
“I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for you to give us extra homework.”
“How much would the extra homework, if given, count toward our final grade?”
“Is our teacher Ms. S going to make sure we even did it?”
“Are you going to be here tomorrow if Ms. S is still sick?”
…and on…and on….and on...

This guy sounded a lot like sweathog “Vinnie Barbarino” from the old show “Welcome Back Kotter”

Compare this to Friday’s kinder kids quietly doing their artistic interpretation of Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night.

One more week then two weeks off!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Herding Cats…..

Just when I think that I’m starting to know how to handle classroom kids, along comes this group of 1st graders. Maybe it was the rainy day, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Christmas season, the phase of the moon or maybe it was me. Who knows?

The “HOMEWORK” trick didn’t work this time. As soon as I got them to quiet down, the commotion level started up again.

It was a continual procession of requests for drinks of water, bathroom breaks and so many defective pencils that somehow could not remain sharpened for 3 minutes at a time that I lost count.

Turn your back for one second and they’d sneak out to the common area to search their backpacks for snacks and water or out the back door to the playground heading for the alternate bathroom.

It was like trying to herd 19 very active cats. (If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean.)

It was a VERY tiring day.

I did manage to funnel them through the day’s lesson plan assignments, but it was clear most of them were somewhere else today. I’m not sure what actual learning they accomplished today.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Very Short Day

I was called at 8:45am for this K-1st combo class that started at 08:00am. It was 09:15am by the time I got to the school and into the classroom for what was supposed to be a full day. It was actually a partial half day. The principal of the school was teaching it.

Twenty minutes to finish what they were doing in “math centers”, 20 minute recess, 45 minutes reading them a story followed by coloring worksheet and then lunch/dismissal at 11:30am.

Two hours work for half a days pay. Best hourly rate so far.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I Should Have Seen This One Coming…..

I found out that the teacher for this 4th -5th combo class specifically requested me to sub her class. This is a little odd since I didn’t recognize her name and a check of my logs showed that this is would be the first time I’d be doing her class.

It turns out that I had subbed in the class next door to this one, as mentioned in my Nov-01-2004 blog entry. Quote: “….The last half hour of class was spent mostly trying to keep the noise to be less than the noise in the next classroom of 4-5 combo kids… “

This was the noisy combo class!

I now remember meeting this teacher on my way out after class a month ago. I now recall her saying something like: “I’ll have to have you try my class sometime….”

I forgot all about it!

Her sub plan did say they were a noisy group and that I’d have to stay on task and keep them busy. Wow…….Most of the lesson plans I’ve come across so far say stuff like “It’s a good class, very helpful, shouldn’t be any problems, etc…”

Some of these 5th grade kids that switch classes for Math were in my Nov 1st-2nd class. Evidentially, they were the ones that asked their teacher to have me as their sub! About ten of these kids remembered me from last month.

With the teachers advisory about how “social” (teacher speak for “noisy”) these kids are, I decided to explain the “blue magic marker and HOMEWORK” rule first thing. I told them that the record for the fewest letters accumulated by ANY class I subbed, so far, was only “HO...”

The morning lessons started pretty good. They were all watching whenever I walked toward the white board with the blue marker in hand.

Each time, I’d hear a chorus of SSSSHHHH….’s and the noise level dropped to zero. I’m thinking “this IS going to work!”

By recess, they had only “HOM…” on the board and I felt confidant this was going to be an “ok” day.

After recess, came the MATH assignment. This is when some of the students from the Nov/1 class and this one switch rooms.

This is the hardest part of doing a combo class.

I assigned a test for the 5th graders to start on, while going over the homework for the 4th graders. This, necessarily, required my split attention.

That’s when it happened.

There was a commotion at one of the 5th graders desks. Chairs were knocked over, a girl ran out of the room, and several others were grabbing at books and papers.

I missed whatever had happened.

I went after the girl who was crying in the hallway outside the room and quickly found out that the boy across from her had squirted her with a modified water bottle squirt gun and gotten her, the desk, chairs, floor and a couple of by-standers wet.

I confronted the “squirt-gun” kid. He had a ton of excuses why she started/deserved it. “… during recess,she…last year,she…yesterday.she....etc”

I sent him off to the principles office. He was crying that he didn’t want his parents to find out.

This was the first time I’ve had to send a kid to the office for discipline. I guess it was just a matter of time.

It took quite a while to regain control of the class. We were now up to “HOMEW..” by lunch time.

After lunch we had started on the next assignment when I noticed a kid at the water sink in the back of the room taking a long time for what I thought was a supposed to be a short drink.

I walked over to see that he was running water over both arms that were covered in some sort of red rash and broken skin!

He said it was a “spider bite” he got a few days ago. I’m thinking more like spider monkey bite from the movie “Outbreak” staring Dustin Hoffman!

I sent him off the health office right away with a note. He was back five minutes later, packing up his books saying his parents were on their way to pick him up.

If the next people through that door were wearing a white moon suits and oxygen tanks, I’m outta here for good!

Of course THIS interruption also took a while to regain control of the class.

We were up to “HOMEWOR...” with over 30 minutes to go.

I told the class “Not looking so good at this point in time…” and posted “Do 300 word essay on: Why Our Class Is Noisy” on the white board just below “HOMEWOR…”

I have come to realize that that final “K” is where I will lose all control. As soon as it is awarded, I have no bargaining power to work with. It’s a done deal and there is nothing for the kids to lose from that point on.

So I work that last half hour dramatically threatening the “FINAL LETTER” until the only noise I hear in class is “SSSSSSHHHHHHH” from all the kids every time a voice louder than a whisper is heard.

All except one who is on her knees, hands in mock prayer, silently mouthing the words “Please, please, please…..”

Finally the dismissal bell rings and all that pent up suppressed “socializing” is released in a loud roar.

I’m done for today….. No final “K”.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

In Home Recovery Day (IHR)

Maybe it’s the season, the weather or the lunar cycle, but this 1st grade class was mostly about “Keep it quiet and sit down, please”.

These kids seemed to be short on attention span because it was only one or two minute lulls between the noise level hurricanes.

I was dragging by the end of the day.

The other 1st grade teacher came over at the end and told me my class I was subbing for was less rowdy than hers. I can only imagine. She said it seemed to be in all the classes during this time of year.

She said she was taking the day off tomorrow for something called “in service seminar”. I was thinking I should take the day off tomorrow for “in home recovery”. Sounds good!

I went to a Dr’s appt later in the afternoon only to return home to find 8 new messages on the answering machine! All were automated call assignments from the same school about a sub job. The same school I was at today.

I guess I’m not going to get that “IHR” day after all.

At least it's not the same 1st grade class.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I had a great day with this 5th grade class. No discipline problems other than getting them quite down a few times.

I have found that the magic marker “HOMEWORK” technique a 6th grade teacher showed me (See the Saturday, October 30, 2004 blog entry) REALLY, REALLY works!

The magic marker tapping on the white board, indicating another letter was close to being appended to the partial word that would eventually spell “HOMEWORK” was more than enough to quell this crowd.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the class next door.

This school was built during the previous “new age” method where teaching in an “open” space without walls was felt to be an enriching environment for learning.

When the schools finally realized that this didn’t work AT ALL, temporary walls were added between the classes, but they left pass-through ways between all four of the classrooms in this pod. This means you can hear the classes on both sides if the other class gets a little rowdy.

Within the first 10 minutes while taking attendance, I heard this teacher next door screeching at her class to settle down and be quite. I had to stop the attendance until she was finished.

I must have had a puzzled look on my face because a kid in the front row said “She always screams like that. Every Day!” The outbursts from next door reoccurred several times during the day.

(Note to self. Find out which class that is and append it to my “Never In My Lifetime Sub List”)

With each teacher tirade next door, the kids in my class would snicker, giggle and laugh.

I would then have to tap the whiteboard with the marker and like magic, my kids would quiet down.

Late in the day when I felt they were ignoring the warning signs, I finally printed the first “H” on the board.

You should have heard the stifled cry’s of dismay.

This was the only letter I had to print for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

See Habble Es Pan Oly – Part Dos….

I got a call for the same bilingual 2nd grade class I had on the 15th.

I figured this would work out “ok” since I had a good experience last time. But, it seems that familiarity breeds “Hey! We know this guy and he isn’t fierce anymore!”

It was almost like a complete different bunch of kids but I knew they weren’t because they remembered my name from the last time.

It was a constant battle to keep the noise level down enough to finish the day.

During the lunch break, some of the other teachers were complaining about how wound up all the kids were the day before the long holiday.

I hope that was the case because I’d hate to see what a third round with these guys would be like.

Maybe, I’ll avoid assignments for this class until I’m desperate for work. This is also reinforcing my reluctance to take on any “long term” sub jobs for any one class.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Clean Sweep….

This was another no-warning bilingual 2nd grade class. Also a very late morning call. Teacher sounded like she was at deaths door when I got there.

My wife is a fan of a show called “Clean Sweep” where the focus of the show is to locate the house with the most accumulated stuff to de-stuff and re-organize it back to a somewhat human habitat.

This teacher’s desk would be a good candidate for this show.

I knew there was a desk under this mountain of papers, books, bags, cans, boxes and everything else because there was an office chair in front of it. The chair hole, if that’s what the space where your legs were supposed to go when sitting at a desk, was filled and overflowing out beyond the desk with more stuff. Piles of more stuff blocked all the desk drawers.

As a sub, I’m encouraged to leave a note letting the teacher know how my day went. I stood there at the end of the day with my note in hand just wondering where on this “Data Stuff Mountain”, I should leave it.

I decided to leave it on the seat of the chair at the bottom the mountain and left the building.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Nine Little Birds on a Wire….

Every once in a while something surprising happens and you just have to applaud. That’s what happened in this Kindergarten class today.

The teacher left me some notes on a few songs on CD the kids like to hear during their class. The kids were getting a little restless during an “art” project so I queued up the songs she had indicated and went back to the “teachers chair” in front of the class.

Some of the kids sang along with the first song and the “fidgets” settled somewhat. The second song had about half the class singing along with the tune while coloring nicely.

The surprise was at the start of the third song about something dealing with “nine little birds on a wire”. One of the littlest girls got up and announced in a loud voice, “Come on girls let’s go!”

I thought they were about to make a break for the door or something.

Instead, six or seven of the little girls all lined up in front of me and began singing and line dancing to the song. They were so small but all arms, legs and hands were all in sync to this very energetic hula like performance. Toward the end, even some of the boys joined in.

I was so surprised and they were so cute, I had to applaud at the end. I was tempted to play the song again just to see it one more time.

Friday, November 19, 2004


I was the sub for the long term sub for this 1st grade class. Evidentially, there have been a number of sub’s working this class. From the comments I heard from other teachers, I think the long term sub is due to return to short term sub assignments.

During the break, one of the other 1st grade teachers came to the teachers lounge and handed everyone an “Exposure Notice”. Evidentially one of her kids left after an hour into the lessons with a diagnosis of contagious “Hand, Foot and Mouth” disease (coxsackie virus). Great…I guess this is what they mean by occupational hazard.

The name sounds like that scary “mad cow” stuff. While I’m sure this isn’t anything in the same league, I can’t help visualizing 15-20 kids whirling around the classroom, spewing saliva then collapsing in big heap.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Last Minute 4th Grade Assignment

There is nothing of unusal interest to say about this last minute assignment. The kids are kids if a little noisier than some.

This class includes a couple of 9 year old wannabe hard cases probably headed to JUVI in the future. It's still too soon to make that call.
(just my non-expert, one shot experience, personal observation)

Besides, what do I know? These two just might end up politicians or priests for all I know.

As of today, they are just two disruptive elements that make my job twice as hard. I shudder to think what a group of five or more like these kids in one class can do to a substitute teacher.

I’m not at all confident I could handle it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

See Habble Es Pan Oly??

I arrived at this school early Tuesday morning to sub for a 2nd grade class. The office secretary took one look me and said “You DO know this is a bilingual class, right? Do you speak Spanish?”

I said something like: “Ahhh, that would be..No!. That wasn’t indicated under special notes from the teacher”. At the same time I’m thinking “OOOHHHH….SH*T!!!!”

She hesitated a little before saying: “Oh, I’m sure you’ll do fine”. (Did I hear a little chuckle as I left the office?)

I get the room key and head off to the classroom. In the window of the classroom are a few signs that looked like “Welcome to Ms. S’s class”. At least that’s what I thought it said because I CAN’T READ SPANISH!!! NOT A GOOD SIGN HERE!!! “OOOHHHH….DOUBLE SH*T!!!!”

Entering the classroom, I notice that all the signage and posters on the walls around the classroom are “ALL SPANISH!!” I’m feeling overly warm now and my leg starts twitching.

There is a nice older lady writing on a pad at the teachers’ desk and we introduce ourselves. She is the teacher in the room next door. SHE is writing this teachers lesson plan ON THE FLY!!. OMG!! AN ALL SPANISH CLASS AND NO LESSON PLAN!!!. I am in REAL DEEP DOO-DOO HERE! “OOOHHHH….TRIPLE SH*T!!!!”

She asked me if I was bilingual and could read and write Spanish. (I’m about to bolt out the door at this point, but I stick with it.). I guess I look like I’m a mono-lingual type of guy, of which I AM!!

Reacting to my negative response, she starts crossing some things she just wrote on the lesson plan. I guessed she’s revising the schedule to adjust to this Anglo sub sacrifice that’s about to happen.

I pick up the math book that’s open for today’s lesson. All the instructions are in Spanish. I browse the kids “fun” reading books the kids can use during silent reading time. At least half of these are in English, the rest are, of course, in Spanish.

This nice lady teacher from next door then tells me that she and another teacher will drop in when they can to see how it’s going. She then addresses the 22 kids waiting at the door to explain where their regular teacher was, who I was and informs them that I don’t speak any Spanish.

If that bit of news fazed them, it didn’t show.

With a little trepidation we began out day together with a “Good morning, children!” and I get back a chorus of “Good morning, Mr. Perry”’s

What I discover, is, that ALL these 7 yr olds are truly bilingual enough to deal with me in English and can help each other out when I had a few problems communicating with some of the newer kids.

They are really a bunch of great kids! What a surprise!

While, their reading and writing skills aren’t at the usual level of an all English class, their verbal skills are great in both languages.

I did have teacher visitors, and even the principal at one point, check in from time to time. I could honestly tell them that things were going great.

When reading a lesson story to them in English, I’d stop a few times and ask them a few questions to make sure they understood ok. Occasionally, I’d ask how to say some of the things we were reading about, like lizard, turtle and mouse in Spanish. They got a kick out of my remedial Spanish pronunciations.

When I returned the room key to the office, the secretary asked “How did it go?”

With a self-satisfied smug, I told her “Great!”

…and it WAS!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Kindergarten Week

Well this week seems to be ALL Kindergarten. Monday and today in two different districts and got a call for Friday at the country club school for a half day.

With Thursday a holiday, that only leaves tomorrow a mystery as of tonight.

Kids art for me tends more toward the abstract (i.e. let the kids' draw what they want) where as “real” Kindergarten teachers tend more toward the traditional.

If the teachers plan calls for “draw a picture of the student of the week”, I tell’em have at it!! If their student portraits look like green globs of Swiss cheese on toothpicks, who am I to judge? I’m no art critic! I can’t even draw a crooked line!

The “real” Kindergarten teachers, on the other hand, are very “hands on” in their control of art technique.

“Draw an oval for the head, and then add eyes”. “No Billy, the eyes aren’t even. Start over, please”, Tarique, the hair isn’t supposed to be orange. Change it to brown, please”. “No, No, Allie, the trees are supposed to have leaves, go do it right”

What happened to free expression? No self-respecting “painter” would allow this suppression of artist freedom!!!

At least that’s the way our city fathers justified their expenditure of $500,000 for a supposed sculpture of the Aztec Snake God “Queztalcoatl”. It’s constructed of what looks like three huge blobs of black concrete stacked one on top of the other. The locals have nicknamed it the “pile of dinosaur poop” which is exactly what it looks like.

I found this link for your review: Quetzy

I vote to have a real Kindergarten teacher on the art approval commission for any future acquisitions by our fair city!!!!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Middle Wife

Received in an email

(By an Anonymous second grade teacher)

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness. Usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch and stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant.

"This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday."

"First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord."

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement. "Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, oh, oh!'" Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. "She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!'" Now the kid was doing this hysterical duck walk, holding her back and groaning.

"My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man."

"They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this." Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall. "And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!". This kid has her legs spread and her little hands are miming water flowing away. It was too much!

"Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push, and breathe, breathe.' They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff they all said was from Mom's play-center, so there must be a lot of stuff inside there."

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it's show-and-tell-day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another Erica comes along.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Down and out for the count...

It isn’t that I am short on opportunities to sub these last two days of this week. The phone has been ringing off the hook day and night for all three of the school districts.

I have had a sore throat and a colorful yellow phlegmy cough since Wednesday afternoon. I decided I received enough from the schools this week.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Politics In Kindergarten...

Back to the country club school.

It’s the day after the election and all I heard this morning from the kids in my class was “Kerry, Bush this….”, “Bush, Kerry that…”.

Whooo, Whee. Thank God it’s finally over.

It’s a little disconcerting to hear all this from 5 year olds in the two Kindergarten classes I had, when at least half of them are still struggling to make it all the way through writing the alphabet.

I don’t think I even KNEW there was a president when I was 5 and in Kindergarten!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

ADD or Class Clowns?

Assignment: Day 2 of the same 5th Grade

Today went pretty much like yesterday only an hour shorter. Short day on Tuesdays.

The “other” teacher came in after class. Evidentially, two teachers switch off teaching this class. She had just come back from her Mediterranean cruise vacation and was scheduled for tomorrow’s class.

She asked me how I did with the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) kids. I must have looked a little surprised because I didn’t realize that the same “challenging” students described by the first teacher were also the ADD students indicated by her partner.

Funny. I wouldn’t have labeled any of these kids with what I thought was a serious disorder like ADD.

If this is what ADD is, then I know a few guys that we used to know as “class clowns” that would have qualified.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Challenging ...

Assignment: 5th Grade Frozen District (35 kids)

I got a late morning call for this one. Teacher threw her back out and could hardly stand, but was in the classroom doing the lesson plan for me.

Most of her running conversation for me was about the “challenging” students in the class. Of course they were assigned the front row seats nearest the teacher’s chair.

In case you haven’t guessed, “challenging” isn’t a good thing. I began to wonder just how the teacher threw her back out or had it thrown for her by a “challenging” student.

The last half hour of class was spent mostly trying to keep the noise to be less than the noise in the next classroom of 4-5 combo kids. I figured a tie counts as a win.

The end of day bell rang and I sit back with a sigh of relief and I’m almost outta here!


Just as I’m leaving, the office called to say the teacher wouldn’t be in tomorrow either and they wanted me to come back tomorrow. I only agreed if the teacher came back to do a second day lesson plan.

I just hope she’s there tomorrow!.......

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Last Tursdays Assignment: 6th Grade Frozen District (30 kids)

The power of the pen is quite the experience. Well in this case it’s the power of the whiteboard marker pen.

I arrived at this school and was told the sick teacher came in specifically to do the lesson plan for me and that I could meet with her in the classroom. Thank you Lord!

Ms. S was completing the lesson plan when I met her. She was deleting a couple items of work she felt she had to monitor and was substituting SSR intervals. SSR is teacher lingo for Sustained Silent Reading. This is where the kids are supposed to read anything they want as long as it’s done SILENTLY.

She had three entries in the lesson plan where SSR was prescribed.

I queried her about her procedures for classroom discipline (each class and teacher does it slightly differently), and she pointed to the word “HOME” at middle of the whiteboard.

She then explained that if she felt she wasn’t getting the cooperation she felt was warranted, she would add another letter until the word “HOMEWORK” was complete.

The class would then be assigned some horrendous homework project that she had planned for such occasions.

After she left, I had about 20 mins to review the plan for a day that concluded with, of course, SSR.

The kids arrived and attendance was taken. I asked them about the funny partial word at the top of the board and they verified that they knew what “HOMEWORK” meant.

I picked up a blue marker pen and twisted the cap which made a distinctive “skrittching” sound and asked them if I should practice my spelling of the word “WORK” a couple to times “just in case”.

The response was a lot of “No’s”

First half of the day was a dream. The first SSR was, indeed, silent. Not a sound other than the occasional cough. Great!

I’m thinking good thoughts about this class. The plan is actually going according to plan. Math, literature, homework correction were complete and done.

The second SSR in the plan occurred just before lunch. The natives were getting a little restless. I gather they didn’t get this much SSR in the normal daily routine.

All I had to do was go to the board and “skritch” the marker top and a wave of silence spread across the room. Amazing! When a couple of kids in the back were still “bapping” at each other, I popped the cap ALL THE WAY OFF the marker and held it up for all to see.

The “bappers”, informed by their neighbors, suddenly became model students and the SSR returned to “silence”.

The cap went back on and the marker returned to the tray just below the unmodified word “HOME” at the top of the board. This only had to be repeated a couple of additional times.

Ahhhh….the power of the (marker) pen.

The afternoon assignments, again, were accomplished according the plan when we came to the last SSR of the day. Thirty minutes of “complete unfinished work, homework if you want to start or SSR”.

Ten minutes into it, they’d had enough, the noise level steadily rose, kids started to wander around the room re-sharpening already perfectly sharpened pencils, tapping those newly sharpened pencils on tables, rolling and dropping stuff on the floor and other undesired noisy activities.

The magic marker pen had lost its power. Appending additional letters to “HOMEWO” had only a temporary effect.

So I fell back to my, now popular, “Guess the sub’s previous job” exercise. I emphasized that this had to be done orderly and quietly otherwise I’d just erase all the guesses and call it a day.

They all wanted to participate. I guess this beats SSR any day. I allowed them all one guess each and wrote them on the board.

So watching the clock to have the climax occur just before the end of day bell, I would walk in the front of the classroom and surreptitiously erase one of the guesses.

I would hear whispers. “Look! He erased one! What was it?”

When my back was turned, I could see out of the corner of my eye one or more kids approach the board to read the faint tracing of what I erased. This continued as the time passed. Sometimes I’d even erase 2-3 at a time.

With 3 minutes to go till the bell, the choices are down to “Retired Cop” and “Computer programmer”. I had the kids all come up and split into two groups and “vote” with each group choosing their choice for the “correct” answer.

There is a LOT of noise and animated excitement at this point, but there is also only two minutes left so I felt it was a good trade off.

At this point I turn around and there at the back of the classroom sitting in an empty student chair is……………..THE PRINCIPAL OF THE SCHOOL.


Recovering, I explained to THE PRINCIPAL what was happening and added that it was kinda, sorta related to an election year civic lesson. Yea, that’s the ticket! (I don’t think she bought it).

I asked the kids if THE PRINCIPAL could have a vote and they agreed. THE PRINCIPAL said she didn’t have any facts to vote on so she asked the “retired cop” group what make them think I was a cop?

One kid said, “Well when he went by Henry’s desk during SSR, he said ‘You have the right to remain silent, and I think you should exercise it’. That sounded like a cop to me”

She then asked the smaller group “Why a computer programmer”. The response was that it "..was so different than all the other guesses, it must be it”

Glancing at the clock, I then told THE PRINCIPAL she had about 30 seconds to choose. She picked the majority vote saying, “Against my initial intuition, I’ll go with cop”

With a dramatic flourish, I then took the eraser poised it above “computer programmer” and as the bell rang, I quickly erased “Cop”.

The kids exploded!

I turned and looked to the back of the room where “THE PRINCIPAL” was applauding and smiling.

I talked to her after the class and explained about the kids getting restless and she told me she understood perfectly. Her comment: “Whatever works”


I then erased “WO” from the word “HOMEWO” and left the building.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Yesterdays assignment: Back to Kindergarten (20 kids).

This job was pretty easy even though a good half of the kids did not speak English as a first language. I was subbing ½ of a K-team with Mr. H. This class even has a long term aid and an ESL language aid to help out.

Four people for 20 kids really does lighten the work day.

The difference in language and reading skills in different schools in the same district was demonstrated in this class.

Mr. H. explained that most if not all of these kids in this class did not have the benefit of the pre-school experience.

I would say that at least 25% of these kids did not speak English. Fortunately, Mr. H is bilingual in Spanish and at least one of the kids can translate for the newest immigrant from Vietnam.

This was their first experience with the “school routine” and it was definitely evident compared to the “country club” Kindergarten.

Mr. H said the Vietnamese boy is picking up Spanish AND English pretty fast from his classmates.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

No Plan...

Yesterdays Assignment: 4th grade (30 students) local country club school.

Tuesday, 4th grade assignment, stormy weather like last Tuesday and NO LESSON PLAN. OMG! It’s deja vu all over again from a week ago!!!

I called the office to ask if there is a special place the lesson plan might be located, wishing like hell this wasn’t going to be a repeat of last Tue.

The office called the teacher at home and hooked us up. She said the “general plan” was in the plan date book and that the kids all knew what/when to do stuff.

With crossed fingers and a little prayer, I met the incoming class at the door.

Sure enough, I was more of a “conductor” instead of a “teacher”. One kid took the role, a second did the homework check and 2-3 of the girls guided me to the location of the teacher’s books for the lessons to be done.

The work day pretty much petered out about 45 mins before the end of class and the noise level started to get out of hand.

I decided to try the “guess my old job” exercise that worked so well with last weeks 6th grade class.

Surprisingly they all got into it with the pretty much the same list as the 6th grade. One kid floored me with “I think you worked for Applied Materials, am I right?”


I couldn’t figure out how this kid knew where I had worked, so I asked her how she came to that conclusion.

She had spotted the logo on the pen in my shirt pocket with the stylized company logo of an “A” on the clip. These country club kids are pretty sharp to spot that logo AND know the company name it goes with it.

She then rattled off several names of people she knew that, evidentially, work for her Dad and sell stuff to Applied.

Gotta stay on my toes around these kids.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Dodge Ball..

Yesterdays Monday Assignment: 1st grade (20 students) Frozen district school

Walked into this classroom and was visually assaulted by “STUFF” on every square inch of wall and floor space. It looked like a teacher supply store exploded and left this classroom crater.

I had to maneuver through the maze of stuff to find the teachers desk behind a wall of cardboard file drawers. It’s obvious this is her retreat from the kids. She certainly can’t teach from this corner kingdom retreat.

Hand written lesson plan and well behaved kids (mostly), had the day going pretty well till late afternoon P.E. that called for “dodge ball”. This game in the other district is banned.

I now know why.

The game, at least as 1st graders do it, is mostly taking the ball and run away from all the other kids trying to take it away from you while all of them scream “It’s MINE”.

A half hour of this is more than enough.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Combo Class...

Assignment: 1st-2nd combo. ½ day afternoon class

After last Tuesday, this was a welcome respite. The kids were enthusiastic, well behaved, and polite. This allowed me to function with the minimum of classroom control required.

Almost makes up for Tues. .............Not quite, but almost.

Met a teacher that taught my daughter when she was Elementary school.
I forgot to show her, her former student’s new baby. I bet that would have made her feel old.

P.S. Every job should have a recess…….

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

No Control...

Assignment: Tuesday 4th grade (32 students) in the south county district late morning call.

Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Ms. R’s 4th grade class. What do these three have in common? They were all bombs of large magnitude.

After Monday’s success, I was looking forward to today’s assignment.

I arrived at the school an hour after the start of class, was handed the teachers lesson plan that she phoned in that morning. Very sketchy and short on details. Not a good sign but I felt after yesterday’s success, I could handle this class.

I even got a break in that it was class picture day (0.5 hour) and Native American Indian Assembly presentation (1.0 hours) and a 40 minute lunch break. This six hour class was down to about 3 hours worth of actual class assignments.

These were the LONGEST THREE HOURS I’ve ever spent.

From the minute I walked in to the minute after I left, I had NO control whatsoever with these kids. Constant talking, throwing things, upset seats. You name it, they were doing it.

They didn’t seem to mind the “consequences”.

I took away “table points” until they were all in the negative and had at least 4 names on the board.

I let them know that I was supposed to write a report about the class progress for their teacher. I asked THEM what they think I should tell their teacher. At least some were honest enough to say they’d probably get an “F” for the day.

I take back the “I think I got this job down…” comment from yesterday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Consequences List...

Yesterdays Assignment: 6th grade students (27 students) in the newest district.

This is the “top end” of my risk taking in the sub business. Everyone had been telling me that this would probably be the toughest job to deal with because these guys are “almost junior high”.

I wasn’t too reassured when the top item on the lesson plan was the “Consequences List”

Five levels of discipline starting with “name on the board” to “Principal’s office”

What am I getting myself into?

I decided the “Kindergarten” friendly grandpa persona wouldn’t work with this age kids. I decided the straight forward no nonsense approach should be the order of the day.

To my surprise (and relief) this worked pretty well. They were under control for most of the day. One of the kids was asking me what job I had before being a sub. “I bet you were a teacher”.

I let it slide and completed most of the teacher’s lesson plan. We had a few minutes left when some of the kids started pestering me for the “What I did before…” answer.

I thought it would be more interesting to see what they “thought I was” rather than simply telling them.

I had them guess what my old job was before teaching them and the list was interesting to see how they saw me.

The guess list:
Military (2 guesses Army, Navy)
FBI/CIA (2 guesses)
School Principal

I told them that one of these guesses was right and I’d erase the wrong answers one at a time to reveal the right answer just before the end bell was supposed to ring.

There were moans and gasps of mock dismay as I erased each guess until it got down to “School Principal” and “Computers”

Since this was an election year and “voting in class” seemed to be the order of the day, I had them “vote” for which job they think I did.

School Principal – 21 votes
Computers – 6 votes

I think I got this job down………….

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Friday’s ½ day job turned out to be the easiest day yet.

I didn’t even have to teach as my “job” for the day was to assist the afternoon Kindergarten teacher with whatever she needed doing for her class.

Now in my previous Hi-Tech job, I very often would have to generate programming specifications, test plans, proposals and other documents using the latest Hi-Tech tools comprising thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment.

The process would take anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks of cut and paste editing from various accessible sources. The end result would be viewed by probably fewer than a dozen people.

My Friday assignment was also a cut and paste project using tools worth, maybe, less than $5. One pair of blunt nosed scissors, Elmer’s all purpose white paste and 20 sheets of construction paper dominated my 3 hour project.

The end result would probably be viewed by 50 to 100 people if you count all the kids, parents and possibility Grandparents.

Puts things into perspective, don’t ya think?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I heard from the “frozen district” office that my prints checked out and I’m ready to sub for them as well as the two I’m working with already.

Tonight I got called from that one AND the south county district to sub for tomorrow.

How about that? All week nothing doing and all of a sudden I have my choice of 3. Well I already accepted the ½ day job offered for tomorrow two days ago so that’s where I’ll go.

When it rains, it pours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No sub jobs this week till Friday so I thought I'd post this little story that someone sent me:

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington recently was faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom.

That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Every night the maintenance man would remove them and the next day the girls would put them back. Several memos were posted about this.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done.

She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man.

She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

Moral of the story!!

(There are teachers, and then there are educators.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Back to Kindergarten.

Back to the same school and class I had my first sub job at last month.
Wow. Most of the kids actually remembered my name. I'm impressed.

No problems with bathroom breaks. These kids only ask when they actually need to go.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to respond to some of the comments from readers of my blog.

“…No bathroom or water breaks until recess or after-school, are you crazy??? You could get in a lot of trouble for this if one of the students had an accident!..... It's actually against the law where I am to deny them that right…..”

Crazy? No, I don’t think so. Alright, I’m open to changing it from a “rule” to a “guideline”.

I consulted a few other teachers about their handling this situation and this is what they do.

This is in reference to 3rd graders and it did seem to cut down on the traffic in and out of the classroom.

Also, if it really is an obvious situation, I’d certainly make exceptions to the rule. It’s just that I don’t buy the story that groups of five kids all have the urge at the same moment.

Now “bathroom as a legal right” is an interesting concept. I’ll have to look that one up.

“…Offering them money to finish an assignment??? I have never heard of such a thing…. it's inappropriate.”

Point taken. I guess they learn the “work for money” lesson much later in life.

“….And the fact that you lied to the students...that's not the role model you want to be.”

Lie is such a strong adjective. They at least learned that not all problems in life have an answer.

“….I wouldn't be surprised if you begin to have problems with parents if you continue to run a classroom like this when you sub….”

I have a fast car……

Thursday, October 07, 2004

No assignments for today. For the benefit of those who have asked the specifics on “how my area” assigns subs, I offer the following:

I got a call from the “frozen district” office to come in for, yet again, another set of finger prints so I can get enrolled in their automated subbing system for their district. I guess they burned through their existing stash of available sub’s and are willing to sign on a few more.

All the district offices, of which there are several, in this county seem to be using the same automated “sub notification” system. Once registered, you are assigned a unique pin number for each district you wish to sub for.

Teachers can request a specific sub if they have the pin or phone number of their favored sub. If not, they can post the job with a short description of assignment on the automated system for any sub willing to pick it up.

Sub’s can call any time during the day or night and listen and accept any available assignments. Evidentially prime time for subs to call is about 05:00pm for the next day's assignments.

The system will begin calling the sub list at 07:00pm the previous night till about 10:30pm and start up again at 05:00am to about 10:00am or until all the jobs are assigned.

As a sub, you have the option of accepting or rejecting the assignment. Once rejected, you can’t change your mind. The system will not call you twice for the same assignment.

The latest I’ve been auto-called was 09:30am for a 08:30am assignment the same day.

I got a call directly from the local school up the road to sub tomorrow’s Kindergarten. This is the first direct call I’ve had from a school. I’m subbing for the teacher I worked with on my first sub job.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Half day 1st grade...

Today was supposed to be an easy day. The regular teacher needed a sub for just the morning half because she was supposed to monitor a neighboring class next door.

I was half way to the school when I realized I forgot my watch. Not a biggie. All the classrooms had clocks and the schools had bells or sirens for recess and lunch calls.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the classroom at 07:50am was that the clock was stuck at 09:00.

This should have been a forewarning of how this half-a-day was going to progress.

The teacher’s lesson plan was annotated with her own private acronyms. The line item “SW complete BAT assignment” had me searching every book and pile of papers on the desk looking for something labeled “BAT” or with a title that might be the “BAT assignment”. I didn’t even try to find out what “SW” meant.

The teacher arrived shortly thereafter to translate this entry to mean: “Student Will complete the assignment on what they learned about bats yesterday”.

This prompted a further review by the teacher to do some additional translations of her lesson plan that evidentially her “usual sub” was trained to handle.

With the teacher in the next room and an ear cocked to hear what’s happening in my class, the day progressed to recess time. The teacher had to let me know what time that was because this school also had no bells for recess or lunch time breaks.

This school’s yard duty comes with a clipboard with yellow and pink citations to hand out for various infractions of the school yard rules.

The yellow citations are for misdemeanor offenses by kids who call other kids names like “loser”, “poo-poo head” or don’t share the balls etc.

The pink citations are for the BIGGIE felony crimes like: “issuing ethnic slurs”, using the “F-word and others in the same league”, fist fighting, etc and ……………chewing gum.

I guess the janitor unions at this school have a lot of influence.

So with my clipboard festooned with yellow and pink citations I wander the blacktop looking for evidence of wrong doing.

One little girl came up to me with a crushed plastic bottle. I pointed to the trash barrel and she left.

The second time it was a boy with a handful of papers and trash. Weird but again I pointed to the trash barrel.

I started wondering if I was supposed to exam the trash CSI style to uncover evidence for issuance of a pink or yellow citation.

The third kid clued me in that I was supposed to hand out a “green” ticket for good citizenship for each piece of trash properly disposed of.

I had no green tickets. I did offer either a yellow or pink one but got no takers.

The other yard duty person festooned with clip board, whistle and a watch was about to leave for her break before the end of recess when she noted I was short two of the required yard duty items.

In addition to a watch to know when recess is over, I also needed a whistle to command the little tikes back to the classroom. Without these, the students, evidentially would get to have the “Never ending recess of their dreams” if left to me to perform this task.
She took pity on me by saying she’d be back to call them in after her break.

(This is turning out to be the longest four hours of my life)

The post recess day progressed to lunchtime where in I escorted them to the cafeteria and bid them farewell.

Note to self: Get a watch and whistle. You never know when you’re gonna need them.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Day 2 of the 2-day assignment to the 3rd grade...

Day 2 of the 2-day assignment to the 3rd grade.

Well, they had my number this time. Since this was their second experience with me, they were pretty loose and knew I wasn't as fierce as I look. Their regular teacher would be back tomorrow.

The first order of business was the new bathroom rule.

“No bathroom or water breaks until recess or lunch”.

That got a lot of groans and “Ohh! Mannn”s but it seemed to work. Only one kid tested the rule before the rest of them gave up and didn’t try. I had them all repeat it twice to re-enforce the rule.

Much more work for them to do on Mondays than on Fridays. I made a mistake by finishing the work to be done for the morning session about 15 minutes before lunch.

Telling them to “read quietly” didn’t work.

I then asked them if they would like to try a “logic puzzle”.

That perked them up I think basically because I don’t think they had one of these before. I even upped the interest factor by offering anyone who could solve the puzzle a cash prize of $10/ea

Boy, you should have seen the rapt attention THAT statement got. Lot’s of questions like..”You really gonna give us $10 in REAL money if we get it right?”

The puzzle itself is too hard to diagram here, but to suffice it to say, I wasn’t in any danger of laying out any hard cash. They worked like little ants lunching on a fat bug and none of them coming up with a successful solution.

I guess it was a little mean, but I was desperate! I also promised to tell them the secret of the puzzle after lunch.

After lunch, I had to come clean and tell them the puzzle was not solvable and then showed them the simple secret of why it wasn’t.

One kid said he was going to show it to his Dad to try and finagle $5 from him to make up for the “trick” I had played on them.

Post lunch progress went pretty well until the lesson plan got to an item called “Voting basics”. I guess this being in the news lately; it’s got some lesson value.

I asked them if they knew who was running for president next month. I got some interesting answers that included “Jim Carrey .vs. George Washington!!”

The lesson included a part where I was supposed to write a question that they could vote on by holding up a “YES” or “NO” card. We’d then tally the votes and see if the result.

Things like:

“Shall we have coffee instead of milk for lunch?” got voted down by a resounding vote. A vote on a question that included “Ice cream” got a lot of favorable response.

The last and final vote for, “Do we like Mr. Perry for a sub?” got a close 7-5 positive response. The other 6 abstainer’s chickened out.

I should mention at this point that I had NO control of the class or the noise level. They were shouting voting slogans and running around drawing “Vote for Me” signs. Nothing I did could get about half of the class under control.

Surprisingly, there were two or three of the girls actually trying to help the situation by starting my “Count to five trick” to get the class quiet and complaining to the rowdies that they “..wouldn’t be doing this if Ms. N was here!”

Thankfully it came time for P.E. at the end of the day and I turned them all loose.

P.E was finally over and the class day ended. I was beat, tired and wondering how I could have avoided that last “control failure”.

I was also thinking to myself that the assignment was now over and I could go home to a nice cold diet Pepsi and then crash, when one of the girls came up and surprised me with a hug before going off for her ride home.

I guess it wasn’t a total loss.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Movin' up in the big leagues. Got called to do a 2-day (Friday and Monday) sub for 3rd grade. After the 1st-2nd combo fiasco, I was a little skeptical that I could handle older kids.

The office didn't seem to know the teacher called in "sick" for both Fri AND the following Monday. Must be the Vegas weekend flu. These kids seemed a little too happy to see a "sub" in the classroom.

Eighteen kids with what must be the tiniest bladders ever. During the morning session they constantly danced with crossed legs claiming "I gotta go BAD". I began to suspect I was being scammed after saying "Not now" where upon they then starting asking for drinks of water.

Note to self: "New rule for Monday, NO bathroom or water breaks till recess or after school."

Other than that things went pretty well. Monday might be another story


Thursday, September 30, 2004

Got called at 8:30am to do a 7:30am Kindergarten in the South County area this morning.

I returned the call to the office to say I could'nt get there until 09:00am if they still wanted me.
"Sure, no problem" was the response.

I had 20 little munchkins. All really pretty good kids. Didn't lose any of them this time.

Even had the "THE PRINCIPAL" of the school drop in to see how things were going. I guess I was doing "ok" because he didn't fire me. I guess he hadn't heard about my losing 4 kids at the last school down the road where I was last Thurs.

The teacher I was subbing for showed up for the last 15 mins of the class. I let her take over the last activity of the day. She has a much better command of the kids than I do. This was an easy day for a change.

So........I get to "work" an hour and a half after the start of the school day, work 3 1/2 hours (till 12:30am) for "full day credit" and my employer actually says "Thank you so much!!" when I leave.

You know, I could get used to this job if it wasn't for the low pay and the uncertain work schedual.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Well, this part-time subbing job is proving to be a little hit-n-miss.

I was called yesterday to sub for a 1/2 day 4th grade class only to have the teacher cancel when I got there. She had to change her Dr's appt to today. Asked if I could do the sub job for the next day.

Got a call from the school 2hrs before I was supposed to show up today saying she's canceling out again.

It's not really a big deal but it's also a good thing I didn't get any other full time sub calls this morning that I would have had to turn down because I was already committed to this one.

Oh, well. Might be a good day to list more stuff on eBay.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I got called to a late Thurs morning assignment in the south county school district to sub for a grade 1-2 combo class. Nineteen kids and no aid to help out.

Best I can say is that I survived.

Some of these kids are MUCH larger (physically) than the kindergarten kids. Two of the bruisers in this class must have topped 100lbs each. Of course, these were the kids that gave me the most problems too.

I also had a kid with the spiderman underwear. The only reason I knew was that he was so skinny, his pants kept falling down at recess.

The girls seems to give the most cooperation and attention. The boys on the other hand, quickly learned they could push the limits when they thought I wasn't looking.

I had a moment of panic after recess when only 15 kids lined up to go back to class. I LOST 4 KIDS?

Of course 2 of them were the "bruiser brothers". I mentioned this to another teacher and she said not to worry that "..They will eventually show up".

I can see my defense attorney arguing at the trial now. "But judge, the other teacher said it was 'ok' to lose a few kids at school......."

They did eventually show up, thankfully and I did finish the day without losing anymore.

(This day was so stressful, that I turned down a Kindergarten assignment for Friday so I could recover.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Marginally Attached To The Economy...

Economy data point update:

I attempted to register as a teaching sub in an additional district yesterday.

I say "Attempted", because they said they could only "hold" my application. It seems that they have a freeze on registering new subs due to the volume of applications.

Turns out that I'm not the only one that thought this might be a way to get off the "Marginally attached to the economy" list.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I taught my very first substitute teaching job yesterday. I was assigned to teach 14 Kindergarteners at the school just about a 1/2 mile up the road from where we live. Kinda scary going in the very FIRST time, but after all how bad could it be? Right?.

When I arrived at the school and said I was there for the Kindergarten class, I got a few curious looks. Even more with weird little smiles added after they found out that this was the first I was subbing for ANY class. I got the feeling that they knew something I didn't.

It was a split team teaching Kindergarten where the morning class lady and the afternoon class lady overlap and help each other out.

I was subbing for the afternoon lady so I got "trained" while watching how she did it in the morning while helping her out. Then she let me fly solo for the afternoon class. She would have normally left eariler but I guess she felt sorry for me and stayed for the whole time to keep an eye on things (and probably me).

They were all pretty good kids and eager to please. Only a few stubborn little guys but not too much. Don't think I damaged any of them too much. My teaching "coach" said I did pretty good for the first and with a Kindergarten class. Whoo Hoo! I didn't flunk!

I only have to do this three more times before I break even for all the govt' required fees for licensing, TB tests and finger printing just to be qualified to do this.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lots of stuff happening this week.

Our first Grandchild (girl named Paige) was born Monday morning so most of the week was doing "baby prep" stuff for the parents.

Got my first sub-teaching job for tomorrow morning in a Kindergarten class. This should be interesting. If I'm alive tomorrow, I'll be posting the experience here.

Friday, September 03, 2004

My New Life as a Substitute Teacher

One year and 5 months ago (May/2003), my old job as a computer programmer ended. Contrary to management’s promises, the entire department was outsourced to India.

A combination of a lack of manual skills in construction, house painting or professional athletics in any form had me facing the classic dilemma: “What can I do for income if there are no computer programming jobs available?”

Well, that might be a little too strong a statement. There ARE jobs but at this point I don’t want to relocate out of the area and I don’t speak the language to where my old job migrated (India).

So with the mindset that it might be another year or more before the job market in my field returns to the previous levels where everyone is employed, I began my search for something else to do.

Almost every teacher I know said the same thing. “You are really good with kids, why not substitute teach?” Well, I can readily think of a few reasons “why not” like “Do I have any qualifications to do this?”

Don’t teachers have to have advanced degrees in everything from child development to combat battle tactics to do their job?

Well it turns out that while an actual teacher needs all that stuff, a “Credentialed Substitute Teacher” needs only:
1. A college degree
2. A passing score on the state mandated California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).
3. TB immunization test.
4. Fingerprints and criminal background check through the state of Calif.

So with all the required test and paperwork firmly in hand I apply for my “Substitute Teacher Credential” and submit my application to three of the local school districts near home.

The following is my journal of “My life as a Substitute Teacher”.

Entry: 03-Sept-2004 - Stop, Abort, Reboot…..

Got my first assignment call this morning at 8:30am to report at 8:15am at a local Elementary school if I want it.

I had just rolled out of bed, hadn’t showered or shaved yet and I’m already 15 minutes late for the start of class!! I had to decline the assignment because it would be at least an hour before I got there.

Great start on my new career, eh? I guess I need to start rolling out of bed at 6:00am and be ready for that next call.
Well, my personal economy is still sucky. The news reports an improved movement in the unemployment rate so I thought I'd check to see if I'm still alive. You see it's been 1 yr and 5 months since the layoff.

Good news! According to the govt, I'm not unemployed!! ??? I'm just "marginally attached".

From:"...Persons Not in the Labor Force

(Household Survey Data)

The number of persons who were marginally attached to the labor force was
1.6 million in August, about the same as a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals wanted and were available to work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted
as unemployed, however, because they did not actively search for work in the
4 weeks preceding the survey. There were 534,000 discouraged workers in
August, also about the same as a year earlier. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, were not currently looking for work specifically
because they believed no jobs were available for them. The other 1.1 million
marginally attached had not searched for work for reasons such as school or
family responsibilities. (See table A-13.)....."

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Well the daughter is about 3 months from delivery of our granddaughter. She and SIL have a name but won't tell us what it is. So I've started to call her "Penelope Moonflower" for the time being.

Has a ring to it. Sounds kinda 60'ish hippie don't ya think? I'll have to be careful not to use it after she's born or the daughter will brain me.

The May vacation in Kaua'i was really nice and relaxing. Relaxing in that we couldn't really spend too much on tours and stuff. We just cruised around the island in our $15/day crap-mobile with the broken trunk lock (broken-locked) and the flappin' bumpers. But what the hey, it got us to, fro, up and down the beach.

Saw a big turtle Cruis'in the beach at Piopu. Got to swim along side for a while.

Bye for now. The following are pics from Kauai-2004


Wailua River

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Man-Oh-Man! What to write on the first blog. Not much, I guess. Testing, testing,testing