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Monday, March 27, 2006

Check That Tape...


Last Tuesday’s 5th grade assignments got me a direct referral for today’s 5th grade assignment. I also met the 5th grade teacher next door at lunch and she asked me for my number for a possible future assignment. Networking works!!

Today’s last lesson for the day is science:
Show video on electric current and have the students answer the three question worksheet. The tape is already queued up in the player

Since I’ve been bitten by this ploy before, I ejected the tape to make sure there was actually a tape in the machine. There was.

The day is going smoothly, the last lesson for the day is about to begin. The class gets settled, worksheets out, pencils ready, lights dimmed, TV on and player started.

I went back to the teacher’s desk to make some additions to my “substitute teacher report” so I wasn’t paying attention to the video. That was until I heard some kids commenting. “ALL Riiight!”, “Yippee!”, “Were gonna get to watch this for science?”

That’s when it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right. They were WAY happier than they should be about some science video on electricity.

Sure nuff’ I looked up and saw the opening credits to the movie “School of Rock”.

While I know that a good part of the movie DOES deal with electrified musical instruments, I had a sneaky hunch that this just might not be the video the teacher intended.

After a short interruption, the unlabeled bootleg tape was replaced with “Bill Nye, the Science Guy” video to more than a few “Awwwww’s” from the class.

Lesson learned: Beware unlabeled videos in the classroom!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dream Job...

I sure these happen to other people. You know, those disturbing dreams where you wake up exhausted and confused and not at all rested.

Ever dream about…

  • Being in grade school and forgetting where your classroom is, who your teacher is or completely blanking out on a test?

  • You’re in college and you realize that you have a final tomorrow and you don’t remember attending classes…EVER!

  • You show up for work and don’t recognize anyone or just exactly what your job is supposed to be?

It’s been several tens of years since I last experienced one of these dreams that I could remember after waking.

I had one last night.

“…I somehow was assigned to a long term substitute assignment for the rest of the year.

The kids came in for the first day, I was trying to write “Mr. HOMEWORK” on the board and I couldn’t write the letter ‘M’. I printed it with three humps instead of two, erased it, wrote it with one hump, erased it, started again and the marker smeared all over the board.

The kids are waiting.

Over and over, again and again I kept trying and could not print that letter ‘M’. Too many humps, start over, not enough humps. I give up claiming the whiteboard markers are all “broken”.

I pick up the lesson plan. It’s written on several sizes of paper, different colors and in different languages.

The class is not one room but many different rooms. I have to go room to room to teach. At lunch time I go across the street to the teacher supply store to buy some whiteboard markers but they had only used ones that cost $5 ea and I only had a dollar.

I went to the school cafeteria for lunch and discovered that they served only reheated, freeze dried, microwave, In-N-Out burgers that stuck to the plastic bag….”

What a nightmare!

Microwaved In-N-Out burgers?

Oh, the horror!…the horror!…

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hoop Hoppin Day...


I subbed for two (maybe three) different 5th grade classes today.

I arrived to what I thought was a regular 5th grade assignment to find that the teacher I was subbing for was only going to be out for an hour “observing” another rookie 5th grade teacher.

During my “hour job”, the red faced principal walks in and, without preamble, reads the class the riot act about fighting on campus! He cancels soccer, football, four-square, wall ball any other competitive recess games for an indeterminate period of time.

“Pardon the interruption” as he storms off to the class next door.

The word from the kids that two kids got into a fist fight and now all the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades are affected.

After that hour, I was moved to the rookie’s class for the rest of the day while HE went “observing” in other classes.

I just get started with this class when, half the rookie’s class leaves and switches with another class for the reading lesson.

After reading I have the intact group reassembled for one lesson before the WHOLE class leaves and are replaced by a mix of other 5th grade classes for a science video.

The last 15min of class, rookie returns to post the homework and releases me early to go home.

Whew! What a day!

Did I forget to mention that there was a rumored “earthquake drill” also scheduled?

During drill, I’m supposed to get “my” class safely out of the building and take roll to see who might be missing and still in the building.

With the mixed up “Who’s IN-OUT” day I had today, I was grateful the drill was canceled due to weather.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Perfect Storm...


Despite my preference to sub grades other than in Kindergarten, the lack of calls the previous weeks prevailed and I find myself back in Kindergarten.

Just when I thought I had seen every variation of lesson plan format, today’s plan is a three page email. Very detailed plans because I can see lots of lines and what looks like words. It’s hard to tell what the words are because it’s printed with eight point type on a printer that seems to be running out of ink.

It’s cold. It’s pouring rain. It’s Kindergarten. They are going to be inside ALL day. I can’t read the lesson plan without reading glasses and tilting it sideways under a light.

It’s my “Perfect Storm”.

(If you don’t know the reference, rent and watch the movie.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

No Pinching!...


While the blind call assignments have been pretty scarce lately, I’ve been lucky enough to get three direct assignments from different teachers lately.

Yesterdays 5th graders were building leprechaun traps and reminded me not to show up for today’s 3rd graders without something green. After last years St. Patrick’s Day assignment, I didn’t want to risk it.

Before school, all the classes were assembled in the cafeteria for an announcement from the principal.

“I know all about the tradition of pinching someone who isn’t wearing green today but...THERE WILL BE NO PINCHING ON THIS CAMPUS OR YOU WILL BE SENT HOME!...(pause for effect)…Save it for after school. Have a good day!”…

Well….That’s a school policy I can get behind instead of getting it in the behind!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Finding Trouble...


Fifth grader shows up at school wearing a shirt with “I don’t look for trouble, trouble finds me!”

She is a new transfer from another 5th grade class at the same school. Amazingly, I remembered her name from subbing her old class early in the year.

Remembering a kid’s name from a single encounter is usually a bad indication of my experience with them.

And so it is with this one. No change from the last time. This kid goes out of her way to look for trouble

A classic case of false advertising.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Second Graders Can Be So.......Childish!


Finally! After a one week Presidents Day break and two idle weeks, I was able to pick up 2nd grade assignment.

The lesson for the last class I had before this one had a section about making the “right choices” when it came to nutrition. I guess the schools are getting the kids ready for the big change over to no more junk food in school.

We had been reading a story about a family and their breakfast habits, doing a work sheet on differentiating the “good” from the “bad” stuff.

“Can anyone tell me why what we eat for breakfast is important?”

-- no hands and silence ---

“A good breakfast provides you the energy you need so you are alert and won’t poop out before lunch!”

As soon as that “p” word left my mouth, I mentally tried to snatch it back but it was too late. It was out there and the kids must have HAD that good breakfast because they were all alert enough to catch it.

Yep, the substitute teacher said the word “poop” in class and they were ALL animated with giggles and comments.

I then had to spend a few minutes explaining that **THE PHRASE** simply meant “tired out”.

Talk about “wrong choices”… Yeeessh!

So with today’s second grade class, I was paranoid (Was my three week suspension, punishment for the “poop” incident?) and on the lookout to avoid more verbal poop.

Part of today’s lesson was presenting some of the science projects the kids were making. One of the projects was on “Our Solar System” and I immediately spotted a potential verbal #2.

The planet Uranus!

Not sure what words seven year olds are familiar with, I read the description replacing the planet “Your-anus” with “Your-in-us” without a hint of their poopie, bad word, recognition radar getting a fix.

It was at the end of the presentation, during a short Q&A time when I posed the following:

“Now, which planets you can see with the naked eye?

Second graders can be SO childish….

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Santa Clara County School District to ban ALL unhealthy food!...

From the San Jose Murkey News
By Becky Bartindale
Date: March 8, 2006
Santa Clara Unified Could Ban Unhealthful Fare at All School Events


It's one thing to ban the sale of soda, candy and potato chips in school lunch lines.

But what happens when a local school district tries to outlaw selling -- or even giving away -- popular high-fat, sugar-rich foods 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on all campuses?"

Students could bring what they want from home, but only for themselves.

I can see a future headline already:

"Fourth grader arrested for possession of banned substance. Yesterday the S.C.S.D. swat team swooped down on the playground of Santa Clara Elementary and arrested known felon, street name “Johnny”, for possession of one 2 oz bag containing a creamy white substance hidden in yellow cake.

Johnny claims he wasn’t a user but was just “holding” for a “friend”.

Reports indicate usage of the drug, street name "Twinkie", has been on the rise as of late…”

More news at 11...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I KNEW Bart Simpson Was Real!...

Another idle day waiting for an assignment. A friend sent me the following to brighten my day.


The REAL Simpsons:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Too Dangerous For "Teach for America"...

And so begins the start of another week with no assignments. I DO have two classes lined up for Thursday and Friday…….NEXT week but nothing so far THIS week.

In the meantime, the eBay auction business is picking up. We have an odd collection of five items currently up and running. Anyone want twenty bronze hinges? We got’em!


As a follow up to Friday's post about problems in the upper grades in Britan, the following similar story about dangerous schools on this side of the Atlantic is making the rounds on several other EduBlogs.

Teach for America, known as the Peace Corps for struggling urban schools, has sent its teachers to the worst crime-ridden schools in the nation. But one Harlem school is too dangerous even for them.

Read the full story

Just a few excerpts:

"...The national group (TFA) pulled about 10 of its teachers from Intermediate School 172 after one of them was threatened and others were assaulted last year, the Daily News has learned."

"...Teachers said students routinely roam the halls of the W. 129th St. building, pushing their way into classrooms where they don't belong and pulling fire alarms."

English teacher George Ticoras said he had a chair hurled at him by a student and has been assaulted several times by kids."

"...It is plagued by four times the number of major crime incidents tallied at the average city middle school, and a stunning 90% of its students fail to meet math and reading standards."

Friday, March 03, 2006

From Across the Pond...

After two weeks with no sub assignments, I start to think I should change my “willing to attempt” list to include the middle and high schools.

Then I wander across news articles like the one listed below and think I’m doin’ just fine right where I am with the little kids.

Here are a few of the more memorable excerpts from the story of an undercover reporter in London working as a supply teacher. (We call them substitute teachers here…). This article is a year old, so I guess things could have improved since then.

British Undercover Sub
By Julie Henry on
Filed: 03/07/2005

“…At one school, I was calmly advised by a female colleague to lock the classroom door while I was teaching, to "protect" myself and my class from the marauding groups in the corridors.”

“…I tried to teach them but had been left with no real instructions. In the worst example of this lack of planning, I was handed a scrap of paper with "draw a picture of your favourite food" written on it - that was for a class of 14-year-olds for an entire hour.”

“…When Ofsted inspectors arrived the week after for a two-day visit, however, the school was suddenly transformed….The mystery was solved by a classroom assistant who told me in a hushed exchange in the lavatory that more than 20 of the most difficult pupils had been sent on a "day trip".

“…On my first day, I was told to "f*** off" by a 13-year-old boy. In my shocked naivety, I said: "You can't say that to me." He responded with a self-satisfied: "I just did.”

"…You can walk into any classroom at random and there isn't much learning going on because of various forms of disruption," he said. "When they tell their parents of their experiences, I'm surprised that the parents don't take action. I mean, I certainly would."

“…It is true that I had one of my best lessons at the school, behaviour was invariably good and children were learning. At this school, the behaviour balance seems to have gone to the other extreme, under the Government's banner of "zero-tolerance". Staff called pupils "total scum" after an incident of vandalism, and shouted at them to "bugger off, go home, we don't want you". In another incident, recalled by a colleague, 25 children were made to sit in the hall for three days. Just sit there, with no work.”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Where’s the Common Sense (Bi-Partisan Rant)?...

No subbing assignments since last weeks winter break so there’s plenty of time to visit the funny pages, and I don’t mean the comics, in the local paper.

From today's MurkyNews: High Hopes For Tech Agenda

“..Republicans and Democrats are competing furiously to be the party of U.S. global competitiveness, and Silicon Valley's high-tech industry couldn't be happier…”

“…President Bush proposed his own 10-year, $136 billion American Competitiveness Initiative'' last month to respond to the economic challenge from India and China. With both parties practically tripping over themselves to back legislation to increase federal basic research funding, extend a research tax credit for high-tech companies and improve math and science education…”

"...But Democrats were quick to respond. They criticized Republicans for not including increased broadband access, patent reform and more visas for high-skilled foreign workers in their competitiveness agenda..."

Haven’t these clowns (BOTH Democrat and Republican politicians) figured out that our “competitiveness” isn’t due to the lack of skill in science and math, but the willingness and ability of foreign workers to do the job for less? This is simply supply and demand economics on a global scale.

Even if $136 billion somehow successfully churned out an ample supply of eager math and science wiz kids, would they be employable if the global going rate for their services is only $25K a year?

Why don’t we just put the entire country up for bid on eBay and be done with it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Lawyers Have Finally Outlawed Recess...

Scott Elliot Dayton Daily News
Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 10:55 PM

“The world has gotten more complicated,” Benzel said. “It isn’t the informal world of the ’50s and ’60s. It’s the legalized world of 2006.”

Read the whole article here --> Tag, even running, "unsafe" at school...