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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ah Ville Bee BAACK!...

It turns out that final day and a half of the current assignment WAS too good to be true for the 3rd graders.

Friday ended with “HOME----”

Monday noon ended with “HOMEWOR-”

Friday night I got a call from a previous employer to do a couple weeks of consulting work. Since the pay is more than 4 times what subbing pays, it would be foolish to turn it down. Besides, I think I do this better than subbing.

I probably won’t be posting until I complete the programming assignment. “Industry” work isn’t quite as entertaining as the “public sector”. (Those are just two of the new lingo phrases I picked up at the schools).

So here’s “THANKS!” to all who have offered good advice and comments. And a bigger blogger “THANKS!” to all those who have enjoyed my “sub-teacher” adventures up to this point.

As our governator would say "Ah Ville Bee BAACK!”...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It IS Green!...

I was almost out the door, resigned to another workless day this week when the sub-line called at 09:00am for a 3rd grade assignment. The catch is that it was a 2 ½ day assignment for the rest of today, tomorrow and a half day Monday.

The fact that they were calling an hour after the start of class today usually means the teacher suddenly had to leave. But suddenly leave for the next four and a half days?

Anyway, I get to the school at 9:30am to find three very detailed lesson plans laid out on the desk labeled “Thurs”, “Fri” and “Monday”. Not something one would expect from a teacher who suddenly took ill.

Well, the story goes that this teacher had scheduled this time off, let her kids know there would be a sub for the duration, said goodbye to her friends and fellow teachers and flew out of town Wednesday night to attend a wedding.

But she FORGOT to inform the office or the sub line of the need to get someone for her class.

Thursday 08:00am, the kids show up and no one is there to teach.

What a day this is promises to be. The top of the lesson plan indicated that I should be firm with the kids and hand out “referrals” as needed. Referrals are the classroom equivalent of traffic speeding tickets in the real world.

Taking heed of the teachers warning, I explain the extra essay “HOMEWORK” deal.

I also told them that every class I taught had at least some letters. “No one has broken the record of not getting any letters at all and only one class has ever gotten ALL the letters”.

They seemed enthused to try and be the first class to beat the record. The morning went well and I sent them off to recess without even an “H” on the board.

One of the boys came in after recess complaining that he had to go to the nurse because he had bruises on his arm. I had him roll up his sleeve to show me.

Sure enough, his whole left arm from elbow to shoulder had red bruises.

I asked him how that happened. He said that all the girls spent the whole recess chasing him around the field and pinching him because he wasn’t wearing green for St. Patty’s day.

I loudly commented that the only reason the girls pinched him so much really meant that the girls really, really liked him. That got the expected response from kids this age of “Ehhhheeewwww!” I was hoping that would save the kid from further torment at the lunch recess.

I gave him the universal, cure-all wet paper towel and had him go back to his seat.

Near the end of the day, the kid with the pinch welts raises his hand and announces quite loudly, “Mr. Perry? You aren’t wearing any green either!”

A couple of the boys in the front row slowly and start walking toward me with evil little grins.

“Back to your seats!” I say while pointing to my teal blue shirt while claiming than, in reality, “kind of GREEN counts!”

BTW, the class made it the whole day without any “HOMEWORK” letters. I told them that they had achieved a new record and they cheered.

I also told them that two days in a row would be an even BIGGER accomplishment. Am I expecting too much?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Testing, testing, testing...

No calls this week, so no "school" postings. Instead I've been playing around with Google's Picasa photo organizer and blog posting tool.

Colors of Kauai Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005


Son and daughter-in-law produced and directed the latest addition to the family line Sunday afternoon. A baby girl who has yet to be named. I'll brain them if they name her Duchess!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Royal Pain...

The winter rains have finally taken a break only to be replaced with early summer.

It’s only 08:00am and it’s already mid-70’s when I opened the door to a blast of heat in my 3rd grade classroom. The heater is on full and the temperature must have been charging past 80F.

This should be a simple enough situation to deal with. I’ll just switch it off and leave the door open or switch it to A/C till class starts. I discover that there are NO controls on the thermostat! No off switch, no temperature adjustment knob, nothing!

I called the office asking how I turn off the heater and she told me that a technician has to do it and will be sent out.

With the door propped open, I begin the search for my detailed lesson plan.

There isn’t one. Damn! Suckered again!

There ARE two notes from another sub that had this class Tuesday and Wednesday. Her notes seemed to indicate she encountered the same situation but forged ahead listing the assignments and homework SHE had them do. This sub is obviously a seasoned, experienced ex-teacher who knows what to do on a “no-plan” day.

Unfortunately, I’m still too raw and inexperienced to duplicate the process. I NEED crib notes! Had this been indicated on the sub caller’s “additional info”, I would probably have passed on this class.

I DID find a teacher “general plan” for the month that indicated a spelling test and a math work sheet scheduled for today. Nothing else was marked on the plan for today. I added “silent reading” and “journal writing” fill out a pretty sparse day.

The kids arrive and promptly notify me that I have “something” on my back. In attempting to figure out what I had backed into, another kid points and says, “It’s on the front of your shirt too!”

I’m sweating through my shirt at 08:30am. Damn that heater! When’s that tech coming!

As if on cue, the guy arrives and plugs his laptop computer into a data port on the bottom of the high tech thermostat to turn the heater off and the A/C on.

“Isn’t that a little overly complicated for a simple thermostat control?” I ask. He looks at me and comments “Yep...” as he exits out the door.

During attendance I come to the name “Duchess” (this is a public blog so this is not her actual “parent should be shot” name but a close enough equivalent). She’s the cute blond hair, blue eyed, freckled faced kid standing on her chair furiously waving her hand announcing “HERE!” in response.

I can already tell it’s gonna be one of those days.

I go through the “HOMEWORK” rule even though I already know it’s a bluff. This is the last day of a short week and with a minimal lesson plan, I can’t fault the kids for this one.

Duchess is coloring her nails with crayons.

The morning goes pretty good. Silent reading and journal writing is going well.

Duchess can’t seem to find a book to read and she seems to have “lost” her journal.

I grab a random book from the class library and sit with her to see if she can’t or won’t do the work. She effortlessly reads the two whole pages I selected at random so I know it’s not “can’t”.

I spend 50% of the rest of my time till the first recess just trying to get her to stay in one place and at least pretend to write a journal entry on note paper.

After recess we spend time on the spelling test.

Duchess can’t seem to remember the word to be spelled at any given moment. Pencil broke, needs another. Got a new pencil but lost her spelling paper.

Math assignment is pretty much the same. While most of the rest of the kids can read the board for the page numbers in the math book, Duchess doesn’t seem to know what page she’s supposed to do. When I point to the board, she can’t seem to find her math book. When I hand her the book from the pile of books on her desk, her pencil is broken again.

The rest of the day ends pretty much the same.

The hard life of a royal pain…

Monday, March 07, 2005

You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get...

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “A Class is like a box of Choc-lits. You never know what you’re gonna git.”

I was called at 10:30am for this assignment today!

This was a half day assignment starting at 11:15am. I arrived at the office to discover that six more subs were on their way for the afternoon. Some kind of teachers meeting scheduled for the rest of the afternoon. Didn’t this used to happen after school or at the tail end of the short day?

Oh, well! I arrived at the classroom during that last part of a well behaved pre-algebra math class. Students quietly checking their work while taking turns doing problems on the overhead.

The teacher stays while I review the afternoon lesson plan.

It’s going to be a pretty simple and straightforward afternoon. Lunch, silent reading, finish up with a science lesson on earthquakes and dismiss. The teacher exits the room.

…and the class PAR-TAY erupts!

WHOA! I’ve never seen such a quick transition. I get them quiet enough to describe the extra “HOMEWORK” essay procedure that I hadn’t expected to use today but evidentially needed.

In the next two and half hours of class, not including lunch time, they had amassed “HOMEWOR-“. In addition, I had four names on the board including one girl with three check marks next to her name.

Let’s go back to 1st grade…

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Classroom Medicinal Cure-All...

I finally got a class of 1st graders after an extended holiday. The office said that seven teachers were out for the day at a seminar.

This school is one built during the “new age” when the open classroom was the new “in” thing in classroom design. This, unfortunately, allowed me and the kids in my class to periodically glance out across the common corridor into the other 1st grade class being handled by another sub-for-the-day.

Judging from all the yelling, kids wrestling on the floor and a lot of general loud commotion going on over there, I got the luck of the draw with my generally polite group of 18 kids.

Things were so bad over there that I saw the sub send his kids off to lunch 5 minutes early. This frustrated my kids because they knew that they had the same lunch hour. It took a lot of convincing that they were NOT late for lunch.

One of the nice things about the internet is the wealth of information and advice available from “those who have gone before”.

I’m still gullible, but learning, when a kid has medical complaints from a “bumped elbow” to “suspected Ebola”, so my usual response was to write a slip and sent them to the health office.

I started to learn from the “resolution comments” from the office at various schools that I needed to be more selective on which cases I sent down.

So, when I was faced with the only minor medical situation I had to deal with today, I was prepared to handle a case of “my eye feels itchy” with the universal classroom medicinal cure-all.

A wet paper towel…

It was from another teacher blog where I learned about it. A wet paper towel, reportedly, should cure about 90% of all kid in classroom ailments. (Thanks Jinny!)

After a 10 minute application, the kid was well enough to be goofing around when he should have been working.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Still No Calls...

Well, we’ve reached mid week after the holiday and still no sub calls.

Instead, I spent the day online trading my loser dud mutual funds and replacing them with some high risk oil tanker stocks that seem to be promising some eye popping dividends.

Yahoo sent me a Baskin Robbins coupon for a free ice cream cone.

So with the trading done and the sun finally out, I bought a $3 lunch off the dollar menu at Wendy’s and topped it off with some ice cream for dessert.

Tomorrow, I’ll undoubtedly discover the oil tankers sank, my cholesterol level hit a new high and the “free” cone actually cost me $2 in gas to drive down there and back.

I think I’ll call the sub line now to see if anything is available for tomorrow…

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I Had A Dream...

The schools have been back in session this week, but evidentially all the teachers are well rested because there have been no calls.

No, the title of this post isn’t to imply a continuation of Black History month. No memorable speech to be archived in the history books.

But I’ve been having this recurring dream the last couple of nights.

I’m evidentially in a college classroom. I’m apparently a student. I don’t know how I got there or what I’m doing there. Worse, I have no idea what the class is about.

I see classmates passing homework to the end of the rows. I look at some of the papers going passed. They look like “charts” of some kind.

Of course, I don’t have any homework to turn in and the instructor is asking me if I care to complete mine before the end of class.

All I can do is stare at the instructor, who I don’t recognize, and wonder “What’s he talking about?”

I think I’ve seen this same expression on the faces of some of the students I’ve subbed!

I remember some dreams in I had in school where I realized I hadn’t shown up for a class all year just before the final. I’ve heard other people tell of dreams where they showed up for class naked.

Freaky how the subconscious works.

Well, at least I’m not naked in this one…