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Friday, April 28, 2006

What I Forgot (Part II)...

In a previous post about subbing in Kinders classes, I posted a list about “What I Forgot...

After spending the last two consecutive days in the same 1st grade class, here’s Part II about what I forgot:

1. First graders are just “old” Kindergarteners.

… ‘nuff said

My mantra for both days goes something like this:


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Day of Silence...

Now that I’m activated again, the second favored district is calling. Half day Tuesday this week as a roving sub and a two day 1st grade assignment today and tomorrow.

Turns out I missed “Silence for the Substitute Teacher Day” yesterday (Wed/26). All the kids were celebrating with a "Day of Silence" for us poor mistreated substitute teachers and I missed it.

What a day that would have been. Serene, tranquil, relaxing, peaceful with no 1st graders bursting with the latest news about who called who “stupid” or asking for the fifth time the same question: “What do I do now?”.

What’s that you say? It wasn’t a celebration? It was some kind of student "Protest"? I don’t believe it!

I’m going to stick with “Silence for the Substitute Teacher Day” while quoting the famous MythBuster Adam Savage:

“I reject your reality and substitute my own…”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Easy Quiz?...

I found the following fun "quiz" over on the discussion board. I think it might come in handy during some rainy day recess...

(No cheating now. Answer first, THEN you can Google for the answers...)

(Passing requires 4 correct answers)

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Inactive Status...

I was complaining earlier this year about the “Silence of the Calls” situation with both of the school districts I’m signed up with. No assignments for almost all of January and several weeks with only one or two calls. Then things started picking up with my favored district.

I let the other district slide, but still wondered why there were absolutely NO call assignments at all for the last four months. Am I on somebody’s s--- list over there? Did the district office discover this blog and not like some entries? (The letter post was about a school in this district).

With today being the last day of EASTER break and some time on my hands, I went to the district office to find out what’s what. To my surprise they had me and about 400 other subs on the “inactive/restricted status” list.

It seems that they installed a new computer that invalidated all our “California Emergency Substitute Teaching Permits” status. They’re working on the problem. I’m now wondering when they discovered the problem and how long they have been working to fix it. Three months? Nahhh….

The substitute coordinator re-checked all my credentials and “reinstated” my status as a substitute in good standing. Sure enough, by the time I returned home, the substitute system called with a couple of jobs for me.

Ahh! The wonders of technology! Good luck to the other 399 subs out there!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

One More Reason To Drive A "Beater" Saturn To School...


Third-grader suspended for taking teacher's van

An 8-year-old boy swiped his teacher's car keys and took her minivan for a joyride, cruising safely home and into the record books as the city's youngest auto thief, police said.

The third-grader told officers he ``just wanted to drive around for a while'' when he left James Marshall School on Monday, officer Michael Amarillas said.

``This is the smallest child you can ever imagine,'' said teacher Caren Brady, who noticed her vehicle missing a couple hours after school. ``I don't think this kid is 4 feet tall. He's tiny; he's the tiniest kid in the class.''

The boy, whose identity was not released, was suspended, Brady said. Nothing was damaged and no one was hurt, and police said they wouldn't charge him with a crime.

From Mercury News wire services

educationwonk found an expanded story with video!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

They All Look Alike...

The schools are out for Easter break (Yea, yea….I know it’s officially “Spring Break” but I don’t have to be all PC, do I?).

Life is good if I can forget that yesterday I depleted the bank accounts to send it all to the state and federal governments to waste on more government pork. No school means no pay this week. It also means no interesting classroom observations and/or shenanigans to relate here.

Or so I thought…

Warm spring weather has finally arrived. I took a walk down to the neighborhood McLibrary to satisfy my diet coke habit for an hour or so and read the latest techno thriller that Tom Clancy takes credit for but didn’t actually write.

I’m settled in, inhaling my fourth free refill, catching up on the latest plotline of the “Netforce” when I’m distracted by a couple of boys across the restaurant pointing, waving and calling out “Hi! Mr. Homework!!”

While they do look familiar, I haven’t a clue what their names are, what grade or even what school they are from.

I’ve been “sighted” out of class by random students. I respond with a friendly wave and a generic “Hi guys!” response.

Sad but true but out of the classroom context they all look alike to me…

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Substitute Teacher Report...

As part of my job, I leave a preprinted one page report for the teacher that summarizes the day I spent with his/her class. It has only four main sections and my contact information if the teacher requires additional information. (I adapted this form format from another substitute teacher I met online...)

The first section is an area to list any assignments we didn’t complete for one reason or another.

The second section list the overall classroom behavior report. It’s a simple check rating indicating:

  • Class was excellent! (Super day for me. Kudos to whoever is responsible for these kids!…)

  • Class was well behaved (Sooo-kay day, no real problems, no letters on the board…)

  • Overall class behaved (We got through in one piece, maybe only a couple letters on the board.)

  • Overall class was challenging (Ouch!…see following comments)

I very rarely give the “challenging” rating, but I do when it’s warranted.

The last section is for any additional information the teacher needs to know about (i.e. Student absences, notes and notices that came in, who had to leave early, etc.)

To date, I have not had any teacher contact me about the report information. Until this last week, I have had no feedback if this information was useful to the teacher or not.

It just so happened that I was having lunch in the teachers lounge with two (T1 and T2) fifth grade teachers that I had subbed for, the previous week.

Of all the information on the reports I left for them, they both dwelt on the “Behavior” section the most.

(Preface: a large number of the elementary school classes use a marble jar to accumulate credits toward some end of the year party or privilege. Good class performance “adds” marbles; poor class performance “subtracts” marbles…)

T1: I read them the report you left about their behavior:
“Lesssee…..Class was well behaved for the first part of the day…OK! Ten marbles in the jar…Oh,oh!.. it also says: Class kinda lost it right toward the end of the day….Hhuummm….Ouch! FIFTEEN MARBLES OUT!)”

T2: Yea, I had a talk with my group too.
Look here, look here. It’s checked ‘Overall class behaved’. That’s the second from the BOTTOM rating! T1’s class had a BETTER rating than you guys! Next time I want a higher rating OR ELSE!”

It’s good to know it works if the teachers care about it…

(Any guest teachers wishing a copy of my report for modification can use the email address in the blogger profile to request it. It’s a single page in MS/Word 97-2002 format)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kindergarten Caught!...


This is the last school day for this sixth grade class before the Easter week break.

It’s pretty much a “do nothing” day as evidenced by the major items on the lesson plan.

  • Silent Reading
  • P.E.
  • Watching the movie “Finding Nemo” for their science lesson about sea life.
  • Extra recess at the end of the day
The easiest question I had to answer from one kid today was “Can you draw a piranha…real quick?” to which my answer was “No…”

It’s the kind of day that doesn’t provide much in the way of interesting BLOG material to share until….

Toward the end of the day a messenger arrives with citations issued to two of the boys in my class. Citations are issued for anything from youthful school yard mayhem all the way down to chewing gum on campus.

My two sixth grade clowns were caught stealing “Easter eggs” from the Kindergarteners Easter egg hunt.

Me: “Well guys, any comments?”
Egg thieves: “No….”

Me: “Do you think your teacher is going to be disappointed about this?”
Egg thieves: “Yes….”

Me: “Do you think your parents are going to be disappointed about this?”
Egg thief #1: “Yes…”
Egg thief #2: “I dunno…”

That last response stunned me more than the actual crime!

I related this exchange to another sixth grade teacher. He said that what he knows of the second kids’ parents, he wasn’t surprised…

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Think they should add this to the Calif. High School exit exam?

FWIW, only ten multiple choice questions and get your instant political label:
The World's Smallest Political Quiz

My label seems to be "Centrist":

Isn't that the same as "undecided"?

I don't know... Maybe... Maybe not...

I can't decide...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Might Be Measles!...


With today’s class, I now have subbed in all the of the 5th grade classrooms in this school.

Spring break starts next week but you wouldn’t know it by the weather. It’s mid-April and it’s STILL raining here in Calif. Today is no exception.

Expecting another rainy day session indoors, I was glad to see a break in the cloud layer just as I took the class to the cafeteria for lunch. The kids were finally going to get outdoors to let some of that pent up energy dissipate.

Toward the end of MY lunch, the school PA system makes an general announcement to “…ALL teachers please return to class. Recess cancelled due to rain!”

I opened the door to the teachers lounge and see that is, indeed, raining. Not just normal rain, rain. All I see is tons and tons of unending, waving sheets of HARD RAIN and HAIL.

My classroom is in the outer most building…on the end…facing away from the main buildings.

I will have to travel the longest route possible from the teachers lounge to my classroom. There is no covered walkway to reach my classroom. I have no umbrella or rain gear. I have the only key to the locked classroom in my pocket.


By the time I arrive, I’m soaked. Thirty kids huddled in front of the door are soaked, cold and getting soggier.

Trying to restore some sort of order is impossible. Several kids don’t want to “sit” because “everything’s” wet. I turn up the heat in the classroom and after a while there is a distinct odor of wet animal in the air.

While I’m squishing back and forth in my shoes wondering how I’m supposed to restore some sort of classroom order, one girl starts complaining to me about another girl making fun of the rash on her arms.

I take a look from a distance. Both her arms are dotted with pin prick sized red dots. I asked her about the rash and how long she’s had it. She said she has had it for a couple of days and it is a reaction to a medication she is taking.

Relieved, that she seems to have been diagnosed, I give the other girl a “knock it off” look and take a step to return to the front of the room.

That’s when “rash girl” says with a grin: ”…or it might be some kind of measles.”

Lord save me from wet, smelly, diseased 5th graders.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Snack? What Snack?...


The sub line seems to have gone silent again. The only assignment calls I’ve been getting lately are pre-arranged, direct assignments from teachers. That’s really great for the ego but there aren’t enough of them yet to fill out a decent monthly paycheck.

I checked the sub line at 06:30am to “nothing available” and promptly went back to sleep figuring it’s another non-work day.

The phone rang again at 07:30am. I’m half asleep.

While I’m getting used to being woken in the early morning hours, I also expect the call to be the canned announcement: “This is the E-------- School District calling for…..”

Instead, I hear “Good Morning Mr. Homework. Are you available to sub for me today?”

Now I’m used to the kids calling me Mr. Homework, but this is the first time a TEACHER has called and addressed me with that AKA. Especially, surprising, it’s from a teacher I haven’t subbed for before. I have subbed for a couple of her buddies so I guess the moniker is spreading.

I arrived at the school a little late. The teacher was in the classroom, clearly suffering from some kind of virus. She just completed the lesson plan, laid out all the books, and warned me, repeatedly, that her kids are really “social”.

“They can’t be quiet for more than 5 minutes at time and you’ll need to crack down on them ALL day”.

Then she surprised me by apologizing for not leaving me a “snack” as this was so last minute.

I must have had SOME kind of a dumb look on my face because she asked: “Don’t the teachers you sub for leave you a treat or a snack for subbing for them?”

Now THIS is a new development.

I’m happy if the teacher leaves me a good lesson plan! Now I discover that other subs get snacks? In the two years I’ve been doing subbing, this is the first inkling that there might be extra bonuses to the job.

Good to know! What else have I been missing?

(BTW, her kids reacted great to the Mr. Homework treatment. The HOMEWORK story is entertaining and they all worked together not to get any letters on the board the entire day)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three Class Update...

Last Thursday, Friday I had 4-5 combo classes at different schools and today I had 6th grade at yet another school.

Three class update:
Item 1:
Rain, rain, every day rain! Come ON! This is supposed to be spring in California. Enough already! P.E. in the classroom just doesn’t appeal to me or anyone else.

Item 2:
Mr. Homework worthless coin (WC) student exchange rate between kids:
1 WC = $1US (5th grader! I couldn’t believe it…)
1 WC = 1 juice drink (6th grade)
1 WC = 5 candy mints.

Item 3:
Friday, March 31 I posted the following on the board for one of the 4/5 combos:

“The special California Statewide Fourth and Fifth Grade Only Mandatory All Day Test will be held tomorrow (Saturday morning April 1, 2006).

Test starts at 06:37am and lasts until 11:53pm. No lunch or bathroom breaks and purple pens only. Don’t be late and be sure to bring your parents as they have to take the test also…”

Some of the kids complained about being made to take school tests on Saturday.

(The other kids had a laugh before letting them in on them in on what I thought was an obvious April Fool’s Day joke…)

Item 4:
Sixth graders can’t be trusted….with anything!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Outsourced and Offshored again?

I got into this substitute teacher racket because of outsourcing and offshoring and now it might happen again if they decide that virtual substitute teachers can replace us.

From the BBC News:
'Virtual' teachers could enter classroom

Oh wait the story date is Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 13:52 GMT. Must be Microsoft OS/Windows based. Nothing to worry about.

CTL-ALT-DEL, reboot, class dismissed!

(Picked this story out on Dave Barry's blog)