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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hooky …

The one and only benefit of this subbing job is the ability NOT to accept an assignment at will.

Since Claudette had today off, I took the day off also and we went to the beach just south of Santa Cruz, CA where I promptly sunburned my legs a bright red within an hour.

It seems that “overcast and cool” with no peek of sun doesn’t do as well as Coppertone sun block.

…Must be that Karma thing again.

(Claudette says: it isn’t “Karma”, it's just plain stupid!)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bathroom Olympics …

I knew Karma was coming my way for how easy I had it with the last class. I just didn’t think it would find me so soon.

This was a 3rd grade class, short ½ day assignment (Teacher Friday afternoon getaway before the three day weekend? Hmmmm….)

The kids arrived back from lunch recess smelling blood in the water. “Ohh Boy! A sub!”

The requests drinks of water and“I gotta GO! REAL BAD!" started almost immediately and kept coming.

They just came back from lunch recess so I turned all the requests down just to get something started, but the requests didn’t stop. One boy put on a pretty convincing show of an impending flood if I didn’t relent. I finally compromised with one proviso.

“You can go if you can get back in less than two minutes.”

I have a stopwatch feature on my watch and dramatically started it hoping that the threat of being timed would eliminate any dilly-dallying outside the classroom.

Imagine my surprise when the boy boomed back into the classroom out of breath asking for his time. Stopwatch indicated 01:52s.

I’m thinking, “Ok, I guess that worked!”

New hand rose. Same request, different boy, same convincing show. He’s back in just under 01:45s

Next up is a girl who’s out and back in under 01:30s

OMG! I’ve inadvertently created the “Bathroom Olympics”

I ended the competition after one kid claimed he did his business in under 0:45s

The end of class bell didn’t come soon enough for me. These kids were a handful. As the kids filed out to start their long weekend, they all “high-fived” me in a “good-bye” salute.

It was only after the “00:45s wonder kid” left that it dawned on me that I needed some serious hand sanitizer…RIGHT NOW!

…I’m pretty slow on the uptake, aren’t I?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If They Could All Be Like This One…

Today, I subbed for Ms. G’s 4th/5th combo class. The teacher’s lesson plan had notes to “be firm” next to a list of “helpful” and “handful” kids.

With this game plan in hand, I greeted the kids with an opening announcement.

“Today, we have a 500 word essay due”.

Surprised looks! Dropped jaws! Moans of incredulity!

I went silent for five beats before looking down at the lesson plan, pretending to turn it around, then announced with a grin.

“Oops, I had it upside down. No essay. Instead, we have kickball for P.E...”

Twenty eight simultaneous sighs of relief mixed with cheers started one of the best days I’ve ever had subbing.

These kids were helpful, responsive, respectful, bright, attentive, and easy to communicate with. Their teacher should be commended for molding such a great group of kids that actually want to be in the classroom.

The day went according to plan with no hitches or glitches. I left a glowing report for Ms. G. about her class.

If ALL classes were as good as this one, I’d have nothing interesting/funny to blog about.

…And I didn’t have to sing!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Doubled Subbed Kindergarten...

The Wednesday Kinder teacher I subbed for called me at home yesterday to ask if I would sub again for her today. I usually like a few down time days between Kinder assignments but she sounded so pitiful on the phone, how could I say no?

This school has only AM/PM kindergarten classes where two teachers switch off being the primary teacher while the other acts as an aide between the morning class and the afternoon class. Today there were subs for both the AM and PM regular teachers.

This is the rare opportunity where I can observe how “I do it” against someone else’s style.

This lady was good, REAL good. The AM kids were sitting politely, raising hands, and eagerly responding to lessons. She had those AM kids under control the whole morning!

Now it’s my turn in the barrel and I’m intimidated.

My Kinder class is a calliope of voices giving me unrelated facts related to class lessons about how many dogs they have, which tooth of the day is loose and a squirmy, wiggly, can’t sit still for more than a minute bunch of wild energy.

I experienced only half of the control the AM class had this morning.

The end of day arrives and that’s when I come to find out that the AM sub-lady was a veteran 1st grade teacher at this school a few years ago and took time off to have a couple of kids. She just started back as a sub to earn a little income now that her kids are in school.

Ok I feel a little better now knowing that she is a pro.

She said I did great. She explained that, from the regular teachers’ reports, the AM class is usually better behaved than the PM class. She told me that I did much better than yesterdays sub with the same kids.

There is, evidentially, a teacher’s network at this school where they are plugged in to report back to each other on how the subs do in their classes. Freaky!

Since she’s an un-official part of that network and she had heard about my Wednesday session before I even got the school today.

So, I guess I’m doing “ok” or the sick froggy voiced Kinder teacher wouldn’t have called me at home yesterday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Seven Monsters On The Bed…

It’s back to Kindergarten today.

I finally realized why I have a sore neck and headache after doing Kinders.

They are short! The Disney dwarf sized chairs and tables aren’t made for us 200LB’ers with bad backs.

Most of the day is spend looking down at the cute little kids! It’s really rough on the neck and shoulders.

So I make it to the end of the day with some 5-10 minutes left before dismissal and the plan calls for reading a book. Finally some quite time for the throbbing headache.

The first book I take out, the kids moan saying they already read it. It’s the same for the second and third book selection. Finally, they seemed to respond to a book titled “Seven Monsters On The Bed”.

I realized that they had snookered me when after the first page; they all began singing/shouting the story at the top of their little lungs.

This story is actually the modified version of the same story known as “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed...”

I stopped after the first page but they continued with increased volume as each monster fell off to the beat of my pounding headache.

Next time they get “War and Peace”...Chapter One.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Post-it Note Lesson Plans…

I got this call for a ½ day 1st grade class the previous evening, so I was surprised when I got to the school that the teacher didn’t inform the class that morning that she wouldn’t be there for the afternoon.

Isn’t that strange? The kids were very concerned that something happened to her. I thought it was a little rude to the kids not to let them know in advance that nothing was wrong but someone else would be there in the afternoon.

It would seem a common courtesy so I wouldn’t have to explain, ten times, why she disappeared to which I had no answer.

Well, maybe she got to busy that morning generating that, hopefully, full detailed lesson plan for me.

Nope, the entire lesson plan was written one small 3”x3” post-it note.
1. Spelling test.
2. Peter Rabbit
3. Recess (1:10-1:30)
4. Finish Peter Rabbit
5. Science
6. Friday envelopes.

No details on WHAT I was supposed to do with “Peter Rabbit” or just what “Science” I was supposed to teach.

Found an additional post-it with not much more clarification:
1. Peter Rabbit: “Model for students on what to write”.
2. Science: “Stick pictures on grey board”. (She underlined “board” ??)

It sounds almost as if she did this at the last moment without checking to see it was clear to anyone except herself, doesn’t it?

I didn’t appreciate it. It made for a LONG 2.5 hours.

(She also forgot the mention that this was a 1st/2nd grade combo class, not that it made much difference)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Flat Rats and Other Stuff…

It’s been two weeks since I last subbed. That’s about enough time to get ready for today’s Kindergarten class. Real easy class and I even got an aide for half of it. Nuf’ said ‘bout that.

One of the few benefits of sub work is that you can choose NOT to work if other stuff is happening. I took these last two weeks off to host visiting friends/relatives from Long Island, attend an out of town wedding, and helping a friend clean out the flat rats in a house he finally sold.

I guess I should explain that last activity, but first some history.

My friend, Gary, inherited this house plus all the furnishings about 15-20 years ago from an elderly aunt. It’s hidden from the road by an overgrowth of trees, ivy and who knows what else. Not knowing what he wanted to do with the house and the stuff inside, he simply locked the doors and installed motion detectors and alarms to scare off any undesirables.

Because it’s about an hour drive from home, it has sometimes been months between visits to check the on the place.

One year became two, then five and the next thing you know it’s twenty years later. Earthquakes, mold, decay, termites, spiders, rats and human intruders finally took its toll on the place.

This house, at one time, had lots of furniture, glassware, at least two grand pianos, tools and a lifetime of books and letters.

I say at “one time” because over the last few years, thieves have been breaking into the house over an extended period of time and carried off most anything of value.

Why Gary didn’t sell off the furnishings long ago is another story, but the fascinating part of this story is the outright brass balls of these thieves.

They stole the mailbox …twice!

When we first discovered the break-ins to the house, we boarded up all the windows and re-secured the doors with new locks.

On a follow-up visit, we found that the thieves had sawed away the door frames around our locks and installed their own padlocks to the kitchen door for easy access!

They also installed a chain across the driveway with a “NO Trespassing” sign. I guess they were worried about competition.

They, evidentially, were having problems angling the furniture down the two flights of stairs because they sawed the stair railings away so they could drop the stuff straight down the stairwell.

Someone chipped away individual decorative tiles from the kitchen back splash.

We noticed evidence that someone had been sifting through the fireplace ash pit looking for who knows what.

The bathroom sink is missing.

Between what remaining furniture we moved to off site storage and what the thieves had already removed, the house was cleaned out of anything with remote value.

What WAS left was a mountain of trash.

Aunt Ellen was a saver. She saved everything. Evidentially she always “added” rather than “replaced” anything.

I know this because three of us spent a better part of last week filling two 20-yard dumpsters with trash that included:

  • Forty year old news papers
  • Piles of old musty/moldy clothes and bedding
  • Bags and bags of letters and junk mail
  • A mountain of broken glass.
  • A collection of eighteen mattresses and box springs.
  • Petrified birds and finally…yes
  • At least two completely flat desiccated rats.

Gary owes me…….BIG TIME!