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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

F minus!…


Lesson plan excerpt for today:
“Write vocab words on whiteboard:”

  1. 1. agressive
  2. 2. desperate
  3. 3. ramnant

Spelling grade for Ms. C: 33% !!

…F minus!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Post Thanksgiving and Back to Work…


After a full week of non-work, the schools are in full swing again. The 1st day after a four day weekend seems to be a popular day for subs.

I picked up a two day (Mon/Tues) assignment for 5th grade. The other district that I haven’t worked in since last month has also been phoning non-stop since last night. Sorry guys!

One girl in today’s class was escorted to the classroom door by her mom and wanted me to be sure and “not let her get away with anything!” Her daughter Va__ was, understandably, totally embarrassed. I felt sorry her.

So of course, the only kid I had problems with today was ---- Va__!!

Va__: “I’m sick! (Not more than 10 minutes into class time)…I have to go the bathroom! (5 minutes before recess - Denied!)...Can I get a drink? (Denied!)...I have a headache! (Didn’t believe it – Denied!)...I did the assignment already! (Checked, wasn’t done)...I can’t run! (during P.E.) I have bad knees! shoes!...dress jeans! (I saw running during recess in the same shoes and pants)…I can’t walk! (to an alternate suggestion to running)”

Oh! Such whining!

I didn’t realize that the policy of “No student left behind” ended with “…Even if you have to drag them along kicking and screaming!).

In the good ole’ days, if you flunked, you stayed back and repeated the year. It usually took only one repeated year for the kid to figure out that he/she was going to spend MORE time in school this way and get on with the program.

But that was then…

Friday, November 25, 2005

Trade That Prius In On A New Hummer And Save!…

No school at all this week so we turn our attention to the news of the absurd:

If you thought you were going to save money and the planet earth by buying a electric, hybrid or a non-petroleum powered car, think again. While you might save a little piece the planet, you’re not going to save money if the Fed has its way.

From the U.S. Chamber of Congress on Future Highway and Public Transportation Financing:

“…To ensure adequate federal transportation revenues beyond 2015, the federal government can supplement current federal motor fuel taxes with an annual federal vehicle tax on hybrid and non-petroleum powered vehicles so that all passenger vehicles pay their fair share of highway use costs…”

Time to go trade in the Prius for that new Hummer and save on taxes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Well it’s Tuesday night and no assignments yet this week.
No school Thursday or Friday, so tomorrow is it or nothing for the week.

I took my book and had lunch at the local McLibrary. You can’t beat the dollar menu for a cheap lunch.

While there, two young “Moms” and their kids were occupying the booth in front of mine when I overheard the following exchange:

Mom1: “Oh, yea! We’re totally into wine, now.”
Mom2: “Really? What kind?”
Mom1: “Bottled!”

Neither mom laughed, so I don’t think she was kidding!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

MeatHead Logic…

I found the following story totally bizarre:

Excerpt from linked story titled “Rob Reiner threatens hospitals on ballot issue” at

“…Hollywood director Rob Reiner warned the California Hospital Association Friday to withdraw or rewrite a ballot proposal it's pushing for 2006, saying it threatens to snatch up to $34 million a year from needy preschoolers…Reiner, a longtime activist, championed a 1998 ballot proposal slapping a 50-cents-a-pack tax on cigarettes to fund health and education programs for children up to 5 years old, now known as First 5 California…Reiner argued the hospital proposal, which calls for a $1.50 tax on each pack of cigarettes to fund emergency rooms and other health programs, would slash First 5 funding….purchases would inevitably decline as smokers shop elsewhere for lower prices or give up the habit.”

Hey Bobby! Wasn’t that the original goal? Encourage people to STOP USING TOBACCO? It sounds bizarre to me to oppose something that motivates people in that direction!

But then this isn’t really about what’s good for the people. It’s about politicians and money. In that context the logic isn’t surprising.

When it comes to California politics, anything that threatens a money source needs to be addressed and kept “All in the Family”.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Potty Humor!…


Overheard today in the staff lunch room from a 4th grade teacher:

“...You know J--- who sits in the desk at the front of the room near my chair?

He came in, sat down and just started laughing hysterically.
So I asked him: “What’s so funny?”

J--: “I just smelled my own fart from before!!”

I just looked at him for a moment and then picked up my chair and move it across the room.

The entire class, including J---, busted loose!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quite As A Graveyard…

The last few weeks the phone has been ringing off the hook. Sometimes as many as six calls a day looking for subs to fill assignments.

The last two days was just the opposite. No calls and therefore no work from either district. The school calendars indicate that this week is for teacher/parent conferences. I wonder if that means there were no classes in session yesterday and today.

I do have a class for tomorrow, so I get at least three days this week.

This isn’t a good way to make steady income...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

101 Ways To Bug Your Teacher...


Monday and Tuesday assignments were 5th grade at different schools. Amazingly both assignment experiences were almost identical.

Both had great classes that were impressed and entertained enough with the HOMEWORK horror story that neither class had any behavior problems.

Both teachers left me incomplete lesson plans. By incomplete, I mean the book, overhead, key, manual I was to use was not anywhere to be found for the indicated activity.

“Winging it” was the order of these two days.

If last Thursdays post about the book "Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub" was an interesting discovery, at least six of the kids in today’s class had the book titled: "101 Ways To Bug Your Teacher" by Lee Wardlaw.

They said it was sold at the school book fair and sold out in the first 20 minutes.

I reviewed the book and it does indeed have a compiled list in the back of well known tactics kids do use to irritate and infuriate the hapless lone adult at the front of the classroom. This stuff won’t work for those online school teachers. There are probably other tricks to bug people in virtual classrooms.

I don’t remember the list by the numbers, but all the classics are there. In my short career in this job I think I have experienced at least a third of the list.

And for all you pregnant teachers, the author has also penned the sequel: “101 Ways to Bug Your Parents”.

No comment…

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub! …


This is one of three schools in the district that might be described as “being in the bad part of town”. Since tomorrow is Veterans Day, a school holiday, and this week I’ve only had two half day classes, I decided to tough it out and get in a full day, pay day this week. Maybe today will be an exception to the day I’m expecting.

The first page of the teacher’s lesson plan is a letter to “To: My Sub” that starts out with:
“I’ll be really honest with you…”


Letter continues:
“…These kids are really a great group, but they can get to be a handful…”

Well, so much for the hoping for an exception to expectations.

The letter goes on to describe “Isolation Island” where six desks are butted up to and right in front of the teachers desk:

“…Kids at these desks are not allowed to work in groups. They are not allowed to talk to each other or anyone else in class and no one in class is allowed to talk to them. They can only talk when answering questions from you…”

Class starts at 08:05AM and I’m suddenly very, very tired at 07:45AM.

Instead of writing my real name on the board, I write “Mr. Homework”. It’s then that I hear some voices from outside:

“His name is HOMEWORK? Really? Let me see!”

Sure enough a few pairs of eyes are peeking in the window just under poster in the classroom window. The troops are advancing on my position and I can’t call in reinforcements. I’ve done all I can do for now. I’m ready for battle!

At 08:05AM, the enemy advances to surround my position, but I fire the first salvo.

“My name is Mr. Homework” and I relate the story of the FIVE HUNDRED WORD EXTRA HOMEWORK ESSAY! I have their unwavering, riveted attention. I tell them that only two classes have ever had to do the extra essay and only three have survived the day without any letters to “HOMEWORK” on the board. I tell them, I’d like to report to their teacher that this class made it #4 with not even the single letter ‘H’ on the board!

Not a sound or a peep during this introduction to MY CLASS.

At the end, a shy, slow hand is raised to poise a question. I take a second to survey the room. It’s still dead quite as I acknowledge the questioner who asks:

“What’s your wife’s name?”

I give her an evil grin as I respond:
“Mrs. Homework!”

The kids are smart enough to know I’m kidding, so I write my real name on the board and as we begin our day. To my surprise, for the rest of the day they work really hard and whenever the whiteboard board marker is tapped on the board, they all go dead silent.

During the last period silent reading time before dismissal, one girl came up to show me her library reading selection. To my surprise the title is "Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub"

This can’t be what I think it is, can it? It HAS to be about submarines and naval tactics right? A quick look at the back cover synopsis reveals this book isn’t about any damn boats.

It’s about a substitute teacher on her first subbing day teaching in a 4th grade class. The kids decide to have a contest to see who can make her cry first.

Imagine! She’s reading an INSTRUCTION manual on how to make my day miserable. To say I was “surprised” to find this “humorous” story in an elementary school library is a bit of an understatement.

What’s next: “Tunneling and Excavation for Dummies” in the prison library?

Fortunately, these kids either hadn’t read the book or gave me a “pass” for today because I was able to end the day by telling them that they have made #4 on my list of great classes and I’ll be sure their teacher will know about it.

"Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub"
Book Description:
“Hobie Hanson knows that the sounds coming from across the hall can mean only one thing: 4A has a substitute teacher. And she's sinking fast. Hobie's certain 4B will never be so lucky. Their regular fourth grade teacher, Mr. Star, is as healthy as a horse.

The very next day, though, Mr. Star rushes out of the room -- "indisposed," the principal says -- and Hobie and his classmates hear "s-u-b". They are prepared. No stranger could possibly withstand the volley from their vast arsenal of sub sinkers…”

Card catalog description:
The boys and girls in the fourth grade devise a contest to sink their substitute teacher by making her cry.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Class Mom! …


If I haven’t been called for an assignment by 09:00am from either district, the chances are there isn’t going to be one for that day. I can then make plans accordingly for my non-teaching day.

So just when I thought it was safe to starting calling a couple of buddies to meet for lunch, the phone rings at 12:00 noon for a ½ day Kindergarten assignment starting at 11:30am. This district uses teachers for each morning and afternoon session. The teacher I was to replace today was the morning teacher turned helper for the afternoon teacher.

I got the impression that the school was more surprised than I was when I reported in. I’m guessing that the school is required to put the assignment out on the system even if they have other non-credentialed contingency plans.

The teacher, obviously, did not expect any subs available for the day and had called in two “class moms” to help out.

Since I was there and getting paid, I ended up replacing one of the “class moms” monitoring the kids doing crayon family portraits for the afternoon.

What can I say? A job is a job…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Choices! …


One of the benefits of this subbing gig is to accept or decline assignments. I can also cancel previously accepted assignments. While I haven’t done that yet, the chance to trade a half day/half pay job for a full day or a better class assignment is a good option to have.

Last night an hour after I accepted a half day job at the country club school, I got a call for a full day assignment at the school from hell in the other district.

So after weighing all the pros/cons, pluses/minuses, ups/downs it took a long millisecond to decide an extra ½ day in hell for the additional $50 just wasn’t worth it…!

I’m sure the districts frown on the practice of canceling accepted jobs. If true, it’s not serious enough to offer extra “combat pay” for the more difficult schools or higher daily rates to keep us exclusive to one district.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Two Blutos and a Popeye! …


If you could just pick and choose the students you want, then maybe 6th grade students might be tolerable.

I’m a pretty easy going guy with kids, but three boys in this class seemed determined to see how far they could push me before I cracked. Two big Bluto types and a skinny Popeye character continually tried to disrupt the class during the last part of the day.

The Mr. HOMEWORK thing kept the class on target for the first half of the day. But these three boys decided, evidentially, that after only the letter “H” was earned for the first half of the day, the possibility of the extra essay assignment was out of reach for the remainder of the day. As a result, these three characters earned “OMEWOR” during the last hour of class.

They seemed to relish the power they had over the rest of the class in determining the fate of the rest of the class in earning the extra essay assignment.

That was until, after earning “R”, I announced that, as “Mr. Homework”, I can and do sometimes reserve the right to change the rules on who might and might not be included in the extra assignment.

With that, I simply added the names of “Bluto1, Bluto2” and “Popeye” to my special hit list and announced that the extra essay will be assigned to these three and anyone else that I felt needed the extra attention.

That muted my “special guys” for the rest of the day and brightened the mood of the rest of the kids in class.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Suspended Poop! …


Despite my resolve to not accept any more assignments above grade 3 at this school, I did.

With no assignment calls this week and since I do need the $SD, I accepted this 4th grade assignment about 15 minutes before the class was due to clear the classroom door.

I barely had time to get to the school and make it to the classroom to open the door before the students started filing in. No “prep time” today!

Fourth grade boys are full of crap.

As if to prove the point, several of my boys were flying in and out of the bathroom during recess yelling things like “Gross!”, “It smells!, “Someone pooped all over the seat in there!” And then, unbelievably, they’d run BACK in with a buddy or two who hadn’t seen/smelled it yet to re-experience the fascinating event.

I, myself, declined several offers to “go see for yourself!” Unfortunately, the janitor had no such option.

Add to this a call from the office that one of my boys was being suspended for reasons they declined to disclose, simply reinforced my initial pledge to resist any more assignments above grade 3.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

All I Want For Christmas Is Two Stump Teeth...Fixed!

I think this is the first day of this school year that there have been NO calls for an assignment. I turned down an assignment yesterday because Claudette and I both had dentist appointments.

One of the reasons I started subbing, is to supplement our income to backfill the “unexpected” bills that come with age (ours, the car and the house).

Instead of adding the bills up in $US, which is very depressing, I now tend to calculate our expenses in $SD (Dollars per Subbing Day)

This week’s total:

Tires for the car: 7 $SD

Dentist bill for drilling, filling and crowning my tooth stump: 7.5 $SD

Another dentist bill for drilling, filling and crowning Claudette’s tooth stump (same tooth location): 7.5 $SD

Now, doesn’t 22 $SD sound much better than 2175.00 $US?