Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ants On The Carpet...


This is the first class assignment I’ve had since the 6th of January.

The teacher for this 5th grade class is evidentially very ill and in the hospital, so of course there is no lesson plan.

The office warned me that the class is a tough one. The sub yesterday left at noon telling them how horrible that class was and something to the effect: “I don’t need this…”

(Big inhale here….let it out sloooowly…..)

I met some of the kids at the door about 10m before the bell. I asked one girl how class went yesterday.

“We had a sub yesterday. She said she wasn’t feeling well and went home at lunch time. I think she just really got sick of us and made an excuse.”

I also met a couple of the regular teachers doing yard duty and introduced myself. They told me: “Yea, she’s got a noisy group this year. She’s having a tough time this year. Good luck!”

Just as the bell rang, a teacher’s aid came by and said she and the other 5th grade teacher were working up a plan for my class and should have it for me in about 15 minutes.

I had already decided that this class is going to get the full, up front “MR. HOMEWORK” routine.

The name written on the board was MR. HOMEWORK. I told them to call me MR. HOMEWORK and why. Gave them the rules and related the story of the “Class from HELL” and what happened to them. They really, really liked it!

“When I tap the whiteboard with this marker, I want it dead quiet so the only thing I can hear, is ants walking on the carpet!”

One kid raised his hand: “That’s impossible! You can’t hear ants walking…” (wait for it, wait, almost there)……”Ohhhh, Now I get it!” (Sounds of kids laughing...)

By the end of the story, roll was taken and the teacher’s aid enters a room full of thirty kids quietly reading. She looked a little confused as she handed me the plan for today.

“I’ve never seen them this quiet!” she whispered, “Even with the teacher!”

The plan is surprisingly good, the day is going good. They are responding to instruction. When the noise level starts to rise, a tap on the board brings them back into focus.

Later in the day, a parent helper arrives for reading. After getting the same four hands up to volunteer for reading the history lesson, I called on her to point out some of the good “non-volunteer” readers in the class. The kids “fake cringe” as I call on each one as “BUSTED!”

Later, the parent helper lady said she thought she had, at first, walked into the wrong room. They are usually all talking by the time she gets here.

An hour before dismissal the office called and said they’ve been hearing how well the class is doing and ask if I can be back again tomorrow.

I let the kids know that their teacher is still sick and with a really bad impression of our actor/governor, I tell them: “I Ville BEE BAACK tomorrow!”

For a day that promised to be sucky , I was feeling GREAT at the end!

(…Later that night I pummeled my racquetball partner three games straight!)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sub Lady Update---Results!...

It worked!

I just got a call from the sub lady that oversees the automated sub caller system. As promised, she snagged me a 5th grade assignment for tomorrow before entering it in the system.

A fellow sub blogger posts that an avalanche of student teachers has blanketed every available job and might be reason for the sudden shortage of work (thanks Jeff for the update!)

In the mean time, I’ve got the camera up and running and my fledgling eBay enterprise is off the ground.

Who knows? Maybe two part time jobs can equal one 9-5 fulltime job?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sub Lady Retired!…

Fourteen days and absolutely NO calls! Extremely odd!

Did the district office find my blog? Did I piss someone off? Did the teachers get a new contract that said they get paid for any unused “sub days”? Am I paranoid?

(WHO SAID THAT?.....Oh yea…That was me…)

Instead of calling the office, I paid an in person visit to try and find out that the scoop might be. I have had several friendly previous conversations with the “sub lady” so I know I could tactfully ask a few questions and get a straight answer.

Guess what? She retired! She isn’t there no more! There is a whole NEW “sub lady” running the show!

She checked the schedule and there was one “missed” call for me in the last two weeks, but other than that nothing seemed to be amiss otherwise. She assured me that I wasn’t being blackballed or anything like that.

She did put my name on a sticky post-it on the side of her monitor and said she’d be sure to give me a call the next time an unfilled position came up. It pays to be pushy!

Let’s see what next week brings…

In the mean time, I went and bought a new digital camera (Panasonic DMC-FX7) to pursue a second part-time career selling stuff for other people on eBay.

I met with my first potential client last night in the retirement community near by and they assured me that there was a TON of interest from residents that just want someone else to do the work to “unload” a lifetime of accumulated “junque”.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Floating Gold...

Well the first 25 days of the new year has yielded exactly 2.5 days of subbing work.

Maybe time to try something different?

Whale 'vomit' sparks cash bonanza
Ambergris pebbles (Pic:
Ambergris is often smoothed by the ocean (Image:
An Australian couple who picked up an odd-looking fatty lump from a quiet beach are in line for a cash windfall.

Leon Wright and his wife took home a 14.75kg lump of ambergris, found in the innards of sperm whales and used in perfumes after it has been vomited up.

Sought after because of its rarity, ambergris can float on the ocean for years before washing ashore.

Worth up to $20 a gram, Mr Wright's find on a South Australian beach could net his family US$295,000 (£165,300)

Full story here:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What Are The Odds...

January seems unusually quiet for “guest teaching” this year. Only 3 ½ assignment days so far this month. My average has usually been 3-4 assignments per week.

This leaves LOTS of time to do important stuff like going to lunch networking, opening the mail responding to important correspondence issues and looking in wallet for lunch money attending to the household finances.

So the other day I received, in the mail, a work order and credit card receipt from the auto dealership for a roadside service call (replacing dead battery) for my car. This normally wouldn’t be at all unusual except for the fact that I didn’t HAVE any roadside service for my car.

The work order listed my name, address and home phone number. The car described was the same model, color and year, but the VIN and license plate wasn’t mine. Neither was the customer business and cell number.

Ok, so the dealer has their records mixed. No biggie. After all, they aren’t asking me for any money. They just sent the work order and credit receipt to the wrong guy.

The dealership is close so I drove down to get the paperwork corrected.

Turns out this other customer and I have one other thing in common. We both have the same first and last name!

What are the odds of two guys having the same name, owning the same model, year and color car and have it serviced at the same dealership?

Time to buy another LOTTO ticket…

Jan/23 Update!! LOTTO WINNER!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Concealed Weapons...

I don't know if this is a "real video" but it still makes an eye opening point.

Concealed Weapons...


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Worthless Coins …

“What are you gonna give us?”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this from lots of the elementary school age kids in the classes I sub for.

Some teachers have treasure chests, buckets, barrels of small toys, candy, pencils, stickers, stamps, and other cheap stuff might be handed out for doing what they are already expected to do without the bribe. Even some substitute advice books suggest that we might carry cheap “rewards” for proper behavior.

While I can kinda go along with the bribe system for kinders, I have negative feelings about using it for older elementary school kids. Even then, I don’t think candy, even for kinders, is a good motivational precedent.

So when a 4th grade girl surprised me by asking a very insightful question on the lesson we were doing, I stopped the lesson and climbed down from the saddle of my “high horse” and handed her a “reward”. One genuine “Mr. HOMEWORK Worthless Coin”. (see picture).

The worthless coin in question was an arcade token from a long defunct Bullwinkle’s Pizza place in town. Stamped on the edge it says “NO CASH VALUE” and since the pizza place is no longer there, the game token is indeed worthless. I have a number of foreign coins and tokens floating at the bottom of my back pack. You never know when a five yen coin is going to come in handy here in California, USA.

By the way the other kids reacted; you would have thought I had handed out real money!

These are the same kids that showed up after the Christmas break with new iPods, cell phones, game boys and other expensive gadgets but now they ALL wanted “A Worthless Coin”.

Now when I go to that school and in that particular class, they all want to know if I have any more “worthless coins”, to which I nod knowingly and reply:

“Maybe…” Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lesson Plan Problems...


This is the third or fourth time I’ve subbed this 5th/6th combo class. On the previous assignments, the teacher left me a well organized plan, the materials I needed all laid out easily referenced and a well disciplined bunch of kids to deal with.

Today wasn’t so well organized. The only constant today was the kids. They were still the same great bunch of kids. But lesson plan wise…

Plan Problem #1: Plan called for a math test for both the 5th and 6th graders.
There were NO test papers to be found! I checked the last lesson both grades seemed to be and located a test page that MIGHT be the ones she wants. I listed the book and page numbers for both classes to use on the agenda for today.

Result: Both grades told me that they already did the test pages for practice yesterday. I had them do additional math review problems instead.

Plan Problem #2: Library checkout today!

Result: I herded the class over to the library only to find out they weren’t scheduled until next Friday. Back to the class and silent reading ensued.

Plan Problem #3: NOT on the plan. Spelling test!

The spelling test WASN”T on the plan but all the kids insisted they were supposed to have one for today. This day was bizarre enough anyway, so I thought “Why not?” One of the kids gave me his list of words they were supposed to be tested on and we did a spelling test.

Something big must have distracted Ms. M today. Very unusual.

(At least I didn’t have any English grammar lessons to deal with! Whew!!)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Short Day, Minimum Day...


I got a late morning call to take on a 6th grade class for a sick teacher. While I haven’t subbed for this teacher before, I have met him on several occasions in the school staff lunch room. He is a well seasoned instructor of over a couple dozen years, so I was a expecting a equally well disciplined classroom experience.

What I walked in on was “constant social hour”. The kids were not rowdy as some, but the general tone was a constant noise level of conversation about the same found in a popular, busy restaurant.

They were polite enough when I asked for attention, but reverted back to the “usual” conversation level after I was done talking.

Trying to teach lessons “on plan” pretty much wasn’t happening. I was thankful that Thursdays in this district are minimum days and my total time in this particular classroom was only three hours today.

I was told by other teachers that this is this teacher’s style in the classroom. I guess it must work on some level, but I didn’t see it working today.

Hopefully tomorrow in a different class and school will be a better experience…

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Can't They ALL Just Be One Flavor Verbs?...


This 4th/5th combo class is the first class of the New Year.

They couldn’t have been easier to deal with. This is the fourth time I’ve subbed this particular class and they are a great bunch of kids. No problems at all.

To make it even better, the first hour of class was “Literature Prep” given by a roving specialist. She told me I could take off for the next hour. So I took a leisurely walk down to the office to turn in the roll sheet, ambled by the staff lunch room and sampled a few New Year’s chocolate treats they had put out and had a brief pleasant chat with the school principal who came in for the same reason. All in all a very relaxing one hour break.

The only spoiler to this perfect day was when I took a look at the “grammar packet” I was to hand out as the last activity to the 5th graders.

Irregular verbs. Oh, crap! Here we go again!
Four worksheets titled:
  • Identifying regular .vs. irregular verbs
  • More irregular verbs
  • Subject verb agreements
  • More irregular verbs challenge

Do we really need to label, much less know how to categorize these things?

I guess I should be grateful the grammar gods haven’t invented even more mysterious things like “complex verbs”, “imaginary verbs” or “theoretical verbs” eh?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Guilty Pleasures…

This is the last day of the “Non-Generic Festive Holiday” vacation before tackling 4th grade tomorrow. Tomorrow promises to be rain, more rain followed by even more rain. This means I’m going to be stuck with the kids ALL day.

I better have plans in place to deal with the restless crowd. All the expert “guest teacher” advisors tell us to carry emergency plans, appropriate grade level “fun activity” work sheets and advice books with games they can play in class during rainy day sessions.

I’m not going to do any of that. I’m confidant the teacher left me some stuff. Instead, I spent the day indoors and succumbed to a guilty pleasure.

I am intrigued by stupendously bad movies so when one comes along that has a promising title, I can’t resist. I spent a couple of hours watching last night’s tivo’ed network broadcast movie "Killer Klowns From Outer Space". One of the best lines comes from a security guard: “Just what are you going to DO with those pies, boys?”

While it IS a contender for one of the worst movies I have ever seen, it comes in at distant fourth because some parts of it are actually funny.

My ALL time favorite worst movie list:

#1 pick "Eraserhead"

#2 pick "She Freak"

#3 pick from the famed bad movie director Edward D. Wood Jr. "Plan 9 From Outer Space".

If you think you have a contender, use the comments section and let me know your favorite worst movie of all time.

P.S. And if you don’t mind, please save the funniest show on FOX by signing the online petition at