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Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Grades Are In…

…my blog got C+ (78%) according to (see the column to the left just after the Carnival of Education)

The testing was rigged! It’s not my fault! My ISP is too slow! My dog ate my keyboard! I demand a recount! I think I saw some “hanging chads”! Two more points…PLEASE!!! I’ll give you candy!!!

If I knew there was gonna be a final exam, I might have studied harder! TWO more points and I coulda gotta a “B”

(I hope this isn’t gonna affect my permanent record. That would be embarrassing.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Closed Till March 31...

--Easter Break---

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What’s a Crapper?…

Because I substitute in all grades from Kinder to 6th, I rarely notice repetition in worksheets of a specific lesson from one year to the next.

There is one, though that seems to come up every spring with 5th graders. It’s the reading comprehension worksheet that is a companion to the book “Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis.

This book seems to be a popular one for many of the 5th grades in the district. The main character is a kid named Bud (not “Buddy”) a 10-year-old orphan on the run from abusive foster homes and Hoovervilles in 1930s Michigan. The authentic Mid-American 30’s era dialog is laced with colloquialisms and slang that most of the 5th graders haven’t heard before.

The planned reading lesson is to have the kids read aloud the next couple of chapters in the book and then work on that section of the worksheet. The kids are supposed to look up and write the definitions of various words found in those chapters. The only reason I recognize this particular worksheet it that I get asked the same identical question several times each time this particular worksheet is used.

“What’s a “crapper”? It isn’t in the dictionary!”

They are right. The sanitized classroom dictionaries do not list rude, vulgar, or potentially “bad words” for young minds to dwell over. A mistake in my opinion but what the hell, I’m just a substitute teacher.

The first time this situation came up a couple years ago, I simply told them the answer: “It’s American slang for toilet”.

Last year I entertained the thought of having them look up definitions on classroom computers but previous experience, especially with the word “crapper”, suggested this might not be the best idea. I surely didn’t need the distraction of seeing something like “Uncle Bogger’s Bumper Dumper” on the computer screens when the school principal might pop in at any moment.

So last Friday afternoon, I responded to question by asking the class:

Me: This word is not in the class dictionaries because it is a slang term for something. How many syllables are there in the word “CRAPPER”?
Class: Two!

Me: …and what is the first syllable?
Class: (mostly silence and a lot a giggling”)

Me: That’s right. It’s where is that stuff is supposed to “GO”! Now where is that?
Kid near the back row: A toilet?

Me: You got it! Crapper is slang for “a toilet”

This way I don’t have to answer the usual follow up question: Why does Bud call it a “crapper”?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parent Volunteers…

I’m still recovering from the “five week coughing crud” that’s been making the rounds. This is week #4 for me so I’m pretty much over it except for the remnant “froggy voice”.

I felt able enough to take last Friday’s 3rd grade assignment at one of the country club schools for a teacher I’ve worked for before but who’s rarely sick.

Twenty great 3rd graders AND a class aide!

Now I’ve had a class aides on other rare occasions but they were usually assigned to handle one of the “special” kids to see that they didn’t set the classroom on fire or spike a ballpoint through the ear of the kid next to them. Except for this school, I’ve never had an aide whose job was to help the teacher.

She collected, collated and corrected the daily output of quizzes, spelling tests and worksheets the teacher assigned for the day. If I had any questions as where I might find books or materials on the lesson plan, she usually had the answers. It was great!

At the break, I remarked how unusual it was to find that I had someone like her to assist in class. I discovered that she started out as a parent volunteer at the school when her kids were attending. Her kids are now in college and H.S. but she still wanted to be involved with the school.

She said that at one time the school had 700 kids and a list of over 1000 parent volunteers.

The school eventually had so many parents that wanted to volunteer time that it was becoming a distraction during the school day. The school started limiting parent participation on campus but encouraged some of the more “responsible” parents to get certified and stay on as paid teacher aides.

Compare this school to the one I was at yesterday for 5th grade.

One of the teachers in the teachers lounge was worried about getting six parent volunteer chaperones for a field trip to a museum downtown.

The schools are within five miles of each other.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Spring is synonymous with puberty...

March/2008 Stupid News...

From Yahoo News: Student sues after being awakened in class by a teacher

DANBURY, Conn. - Danbury officials have been notified they are being sued by a student who was awakened in class by a teacher who made a loud noise.

Documents filed with the Town Clerk, a prelude to a lawsuit, claim that a sleeping student suffered hearing damage when his teacher woke him up by slamming her hand down on the boy's desk in December.

Attorney Alan Barry says 15-year-old Vinicios Robacher suffered pain and "very severe injuries to his left eardrum" when teacher Melissa Nadeau abruptly slammed the palm of her hand on his desk on Dec. 4.


From Yahoo news: Conn. student suspended for buying candy

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Contraband candy has led to big trouble for an eighth-grade honors student in Michael Sheridan was stripped of his title as class vice president, barred from attending an honors student dinner and suspended for a day after buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate.

School spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo says the New Haven school system banned candy sales in 2003 as part of a districtwide school wellness policy.

Michael's suspension has been reduced from three days to one, but he has not been reinstated as class vice president. Superintendent Reginald Mayo said Wednesday that the principal was just trying to keep students safe, but that he would review the decision to suspend Michael.

Michael says that he didn't realize his candy purchase was against the rules, but he did notice that the student selling the Skittles on Feb. 26 was being secretive

Well, I told you so...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I can honestly say that I can’t remember a single time I had a substitute teacher when I attended grade school. I know there must have been a few times where our regular teacher wasn’t there and someone else was in front of the class. I simply don’t remember any.

It may have been so long ago that I “forgot” due to the onset of early Alzheimer’s (aka: “Old Timers”) disease. I don’t remember.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that I went to a Catholic school where all the teachers dressed alike, in long black and white dresses with a ship’s prow shaped habit that hid all but “the face”. I simply don’t remember any “substitute nun”.

Most of the kids I substitute for don’t remember my real name but there are some who call out “Hi, Mr. Homework” when I arrive on campus. If I’ve been in the class more than twice, I can usually “recognize the face” and more likely than not can’t place the name to go with it.

So it was last week, on the way out to my 5th grade classroom, that I was confronted by a friendly pint sized boy asking: “Are you a substitute?”

Me: Well, yes I am.
Kid: Are you Mr. Homework?

Me: Well, some kids call me that. What’s your name?
Kid: (He tells me but I forgot now. See how bad I am?...)

Me: What grade are you in?
Kid: I’m in 1st grade and I know all about you. You write letters on the board when the kids are bad and give them lots of homework, huh!

Me: Well sometimes... How did you know?
(…Since I haven’t subbed any class under 2nd grade at this school, I’m wondering where this kid is getting his information.)

Kid: My sister is in 4th grade and told me all about you. Are you coming to my class?
Me: Not today.

Kid: Awww! She said you were fun. I wish we had a substitute today.
Me: “Well, maybe next time…”, as I continue out to my classroom.

I wonder how long it’ll take for the memory of “Mr. Homework” to fade. I’m guessing not much longer than June 13, 2008…the last day of school this year.

Substitutes aren’t meant to be memorable.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Illegal Homeschoolers…

“A California court has ruled that several children in one home school family must be enrolled in a public school or "legally qualified" private school, and must attend, sending ripples of shock into the nation's homeschooling advocates as the family reviews its options for appeal…”

This from the article by Bob Unruh in WorldNetDaily:

Judge orders homeschoolers into government education

“…the case brought against Phillip and Mary Long over the education being provided to two of their eight children. They are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court, because they have homeschooled all of their children, the oldest now 29, because of various anti-Christian influences in California's public schools.”

When I first saw the title, I naturally assumed the kids in question were being neglected and not being taught how to read, write, spell and “figure sums”. The court was just looking out for the interest of this family’s kids. Not so…

According to the appeals court:

“…the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting.


So this has NOTHING to do with the actual “education” or quality of education being provided the kids? Instead this is just a blatant attack on a family because they might not include all the “diversity”, “healthy choice”, “political correctness” crap that passes for “enriched education” in the public schools?

It looks like the two kids in question must be the youngest and are being instructed by the parents to the same standards they taught their other six children. The fact is the kids ARE getting educated!

Not according to the court:

“…judges ruled in the case involving the Longs the family failed to demonstrate "that mother has a teaching credential such that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor,"

The fact that six other children in their family were successfully educated doesn’t carry any influence?

Not having a credential doesn’t mean you can’t teach. Hell, I don’t have a teaching credential and the public schools allow me, a substitute teacher, to teach your kids for a solid month before they have to replace me with a “real” teacher or, what sometimes happens, another un-credentialed substitute.

As for getting a straight answer from the DOE as to why they seem to be trying to eliminate homeschooling?

“…For years the government school establishment has been lying to parents about the law. Just this week, a Los Angeles Unified school district employee lied to a mother who wanted to homeschool, telling her you must have a license, you must be credentialed and you must follow all the state curriculum. That's three lies in one sentence."

It doesn’t look like you’d get any real kind straight answer from those in charge.

If this becomes a legal precedent, then watch for other school districts to use the ruling as a weapon to force all homeschooling families to abandon their rights as parents.

Barking Seal...

My last couple of weeks so far:

Monday: Sick, constant cough

Tuesday: Sick, louder more frequent constant cough

Wednesday: Sick, barking seal cough, yellow phlegm

Thursday: Sick, barking seal cough, bloody yellow phlegm

Friday: Sick, no improvement, no sleep

Sat: "Called the doctor and the doctor said: No more monkeys..." (Delirious)

Sun: Sick but improving, barking seal cough pretty much only at night.

Monday: Got RX from the Dr.
Hi-Test cough syrup w/cocaine (codeine? eh! toe-may-toe/ taa-maa-toe)

Tuesday: sleep, barking seal, sleep, barking seal, sleep...

?? What day is it now ??