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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Documented Incompetence...

 I majored in and received a BA degree in Mathematics.

I took advanced courses in Algebra, Calculus, Differential Equations, Statistics, Probability Theory, etc while contemplating a possible career as a math teacher. Instead, a couple computer-programming courses changed my course toward a 30yr career as software engineer in Silicon Valley.

Jump to present day 4th grade class. Despite my eventual career change, I am still fully equipped to handle even the toughest problem any 4th grade math book could throw at me. Therefore, when one of the kids approached for some help, I knew I could navigate and guide him to the proper result.

The word problem involved patrons at a movie theater with four multiple-choice answers. Should not be any problem AT ALL for a substitute teacher with such impressive credentials. I even had the TE (Teacher's Edition) with the correct answer indicated!

However, even though I read and reread the problem at least three times there seemed to be some additional data missing to satisfy for any of the four possible answer choices.

This isn't the first time I've come across incorrect or confusing word choice problems in classroom math books. I explained to the class that there seemed to be some kind of error with problem #4 and to go ahead and skip it.

"Your teacher will deal with it on Monday...."

My end of day status report included a statement that math problem #4 on page xx seems to need more information to solve it. I made a copy of the page and brought it home to show Claudette.

Claudette, who also has a BA in Math (with a better GPA), took one look at it and says:

So? The answer is 'C', right? Subtract the number of people attending the afternoon show from the number attending the evening show and you get answer 'C', right? I take back the page. I re-read the problem and it is obviously correct. The indicated answer is indeed the one marked on the TE page.

I must have had some kind of brain fart in class to not "see" the obvious! AND I made it worse in that I left written evidence of my incompetence by documenting it as part of my end of day note for the teacher!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Down and Out...

It's been literally years (since 2008 in fact) since I had to turn down an assignment due to sickness. I'm not counting occasional "mental health" days needed to recoup after particularly brutal assignments.

I was supposed to work assignments on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Sunday night at 08:00pm, still battling a weekend long, ragged cough with yellow expectorant production at its peak, I knew I was not going to make it into class.

I called the sub line and cancelled Monday's class. Reason given: Illness.

At 09:15pm the sub line calls with an assignment for a different teacher on Monday at the same school!

Obviously, the substitute call system software  isn't logically designed.

If it were, turning down an assignment for "illness" would obviously mean that NO ASSIGNMENTS FOR MONDAY should be offered to "Mr. Sickly Sub"!

Well, that's not how this software works because at 05:30am, 05:45am and 06:00am the next morning the system was offering last minute Monday assignments.

Not feeling much better by Monday afternoon, I called and cancelled my Tuesday assignment. In addition, I accessed another part of the system and made myself "not available" for Tuesday. The double redundancy seemed to work, as there were no early Tuesday morning phone calls.

Now as to where I got this little bug, I have my...suspicions.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bird Watching Field Trip!

It is always wise to check the additional notes attached to automated substitute teacher job assignments. Had I missed it, I would have been out wandering the San Francisco Bay marsh and salt ponds, bird watching in slacks and good shoes yesterday.

Fortunately, I did read the attachment that said I would be accompanying two 4th grade classes with another teacher and several adult parent volunteers.

"As there is no shade, wear hat and appropriate clothing"

It was really a fun interesting afternoon. The only downside was the one-hour, hard seat bus ride up and back with sixty excited ( and germy? ) kids getting out of school for the day. The bus ride might be the reason the teacher decided to do something else yesterday.

I just hope I don't catch something from being on that bus for two hours.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Up His Nose...

It's usually not a good sign when you see a group of 5th grade boys surrounding a kid in the middle of the playground.

As I approached the group, I heard snatches of comments coming from the group:

"How'd  he do it?"
"It's almost out!"
"He really got it up there!"
"Here, maybe he can use this stick to get it out"

Me: What's going on guys?
Kid: He put a rock up his nose!
Me: What?
Kid: Yea! He said he's done it before!

The circle opened to reveal "rock sniffer" bent over at the waist gingerly picking at the left nostril.

Sure enough, I could just see the pointed tip of the rock peeking out. It wasn't a smooth, rounded pebble but from what I could see what looked like a small jagged chip of sidewalk concrete.

As to WHY he put a rock up his nose, his response was: "I wanted to see if it could fit."

The kid wasn't panicked or crying, but his nose looked red and tender as he continued his attempts to reposition the rock for a smoother exit. I wasn't going to wait and see.

"Come on, Dude we're going to the office now and get some help!"

Before we got more than a couple steps, he managed to extract the rock. He was holding it up proudly so his friends could see it. It was his next comment that made me wonder how this kid was going to survive his childhood.

"I wonder if it will fit on the other side?"

(At this point I took his rock away.)

Relating the incident in the teacher's lounge, one of the teachers who heard the name said: "Yep, I could have guessed."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Took the day off today...

Took my 4yr old grandson to MCD's for lunch today. They have a three story play structure inside. Before letting him jet off to play, we reviewed the rules if he's out of sight for a while:

Me: When I say "MARCO", what do YOU say?
Sean: (Index finger tapping chin as he thinks)...then shouts: "SCUTARO!"

works for me!
...diehard SF Giants fans