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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Twenty 3rd graders, forty shoes, one fresh dog poo; guess how many kids tracked it in the classroom after recess. One would have been more than enough, but FOUR??…

How was your day?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Privacy 101

I find that embarrassment is a pretty good deterrent to continuing distractions in the classroom. Passing notes instead of doing work is one such distraction I tolerate only at a minimal level. I warn the students that I read everything I find on notes being passed around or found on the floor. I even suggest that I might share a few of the more interesting ones out loud with the class.

“In general, if you want to keep it private, don’t do it in class.” More than a few haven’t taken me seriously.

Such was the incident in a 5th grade class last week when three girls were fighting over a tiny address book in the back of the classroom. After an ignored warning to “knock it off and put it away” I walked back and confiscated it, telling the owner she could have it back after class.

Returning to my desk at the front of the class, I made a show of opening the book, turning the pages, not really reading lists of names, addresses, Face Book handles and email addresses of classmates. Every now and again I’d make non-committal comments like: “Hmm! Interesting!, Oh, wow!” while surreptitiously watching the book owner squirm in her seat. After a minute or so, I believed that I had made my point, was ready close the book and place it in the desk drawer until the final bell.

That’s when I turned the page and saw it! The sudden shock or surprised look on my face must have registered or maybe it was something I uttered under my breath but the kid knew I had seen it.

There, entered on the next page was MY personal email address!!!

Now it was me that had that stunned, surprised and pissed all at the same time look. I didn’t want to overreact in front of the rest of the class. I simply looked at the book owner and gestured that she should approach the desk.

When she came close enough, I turned the page and pointed with a questioning look.

“Where and when did you get this?” I whispered, pointing to my email address. Her explanation was simple and direct: “From the paper on your clipboard. I saw it when you were helping me with rounding up numbers in math.”

Sure enough, I see that part of my contact information on the end of day status report has slipped just a bit beyond the bottom of lesson plan that is on top.

There wasn’t much I could do at this point but to but cross out the email address and warn the girl that I wasn’t happy that she had copied stuff that she knew she wasn’t supposed to have access to without permission.

I normally try to end blog entries with clever quips or a summation phrase but…nothing comes to mind for this one.

Still stunned and pissed I guess.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I had always assumed that the teachers I work for have no interest, inclination or time to read blogs; especially those by substitute teachers.

I say “had” because I received an email request to sub addressed, not to the published email address I leave for teachers, but to the blogger email address.

I guess it had to happen sooner or later…or had it?

The email, I later discovered, came from another substitute teacher working in the same district. She needed to locate someone to cover the last hour of a class due to an overlapping commitment elsewhere. As it turned out, I was working only a half day at a different school was able to oblige. The little extra cash for extending my lunch hour before I went home was a good deal.

I asked how she ended up with the blogger email address and it was immediately obvious. She knew my name and that I was subbing frequently at the school. Google connected the two search phrases and it provided her with the blog site. After reading a few posts, she was sure she knew she had the right guy before contacting me.

Would teachers tell me if they found the blog? Would I suddenly see a drop off in assignments? Would I be blackballed if the district took notice? Am I worried enough to stop writing or change what I write about?

The answers: I don’t know; It could happen; Possibility; …and Not really.

There are several other districts in the area I can work for if that happened.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Field Trip?

 Every now and again I get email wanting to publicize a product or school relate function on the blog. I rarely accommodate the request unless I think I think it's "cool enough".

I'll let you guys vote -- yes/no in the comments section. Is this a program any teacher would be interested enough to investigate further? 

(see the link to for further info)
I think you and your readers might be interested in a project I’m working on for Field Trips.
Did you know that the American Assoc. of school administrators predicts that the number of school districts eliminating field trips will increase by 56 percent, or more than 30,000 schools?
My client, Lunchables, recently announced a new campaign to help deserving kids go on education and inspiring field trip adventures, called “Field trips for All.” They’ll be sending 50 classrooms nationwide on unforgettable field trips. Anyone can nominate a classroom to win a field trip on through June 1!
To kick off the program, we took one lucky class of fifth graders on a field trip where they came face to face with some out-of-this-world creatures…check out this video to see what went down! I hope you’ll take a moment to nominate your classroom to win a field trip or let your readers know how they can get involved.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pancakey Wife...

Some things are just too funny NOT to post...

School Assemby Programs...

The “school assembly” is the equivalent of the “all hands meeting” in the corporate world. Everyone is required to attend; it isn’t an option. It’s also rarely of any value to the attendees and a big disruption to any actual work getting accomplished.

Come to think of it, that may have been the turning point in my previous career, when at one such meeting soliciting suggestions to boost productivity in the work place, that my pointed suggestion to schedule fewer “meaningless meetings” was not favorably received.

But that’s another story.

The school assembly seems to come in two varieties. The school sponsored rallies like spirit day, fund raisers, and school awards are pretty much choreographed, tame events. The PTA and other parent group sponsored assembly programs bring in an outside professional “performance” for the kids. These performances promote principles like character building, anti-bullying, anti-drugs, eating healthy, stranger danger…etc.

The job of the substitute teacher at these events is usually to sit on a hard metal folding chair at the side and look menacingly in the direction of anyone who is overly disruptive to others around him/her.

Every once in a while the “audience participation”, especially in the lower grades, will surprise the teachers and the actors with an unexpected response to the performance.

So it was, during a last minute switch of class assignments to 6th grade last week and no lesson plan, that the principal instructed me to take the class to the morning PTA assembly for the lower grades. His reasoning was that it would allow me 45mins to review the daily lesson plan he’d be obtaining shortly.

“Just have them sit in the back, behind the 3rd graders.”

The male and female acting duo were presenting the “Arthurian Legend” incorporating the British characters and legends of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Sword in the Stone, Templar Knights, the Holy Grail and who knows what else…

I was going over the lesson plan with only partial attention to the stage.

By the sounds of laughter from the audience, the young kids were having a great time with the story. A quick look over at my 6th graders revealed bored, mild attentiveness. Back to the plan!

A shout of “Stab her!!” interrupted my plan review.

On stage, the Templar knight with raised sword was standing over a cowering figure of the witch Morgana .

A second later, the teachers on the other side of the room suddenly came to life as two 2nd graders were on their feet, fist pumping in the air and chanting “Kill her, Kill her…” while other 2nd graders were trying to pull the pair back down into a seated position.

The teachers moved into the crowd and restored order. The play resumed with the “witch problem” taken care of “non-fatally”.

The 6th graders, previously bored to tears, were now highly entertained by the excitement.

If “kid mob” mayhem is what excites 6th graders today, maybe I could suggest the book: “Lord of the Flies” for this group?…

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Pledge...

I just wish students and even OUR OWN government knew the meaning of "Pledge of Allegiance" as well as Red did. We'd all be better off...