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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Don't Eat the Staples...

The assignment was for a 5th grade class. After checking in, getting the paperwork and key, the admin lady noted a name on the attendance list and told me: "Do not let him use the stapler unsupervised. He tends to eat the staples".

The teacher in the adjoining classroom repeated this warning: They think it's a form of Pica but the doctors are not sure. I had to look it up. It's an actual thing.

"He has actually swallowed some so you really have to watch him. He is not allowed to have staples or a stapler in or on his desk."

This isn't the first time I've experienced weird things kids do. Three years ago there was a kid inserting a rock up his nose to see if it would fit!

As I take roll, I take note which face and desk goes with "staple eater". As the day progresses things go pretty much without incident. I did have to quietly motion to him to not chew on his pencil or eraser.

I did let slide when he switched to the arm of his sweatshirt and later to his thumb. I was pretty sure he couldn't completely swallow either one.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Summer vacation is almost over and the new school starts next Wednesday, so I was surprised that my first call for the new school year 2016-17 school came...yesterday. 

We were at the movies when the call came, so I missed it.
Had I been at home, would I have taken it being the first day and all?

Well if I had, it might have been an interesting blog post for day #2.  Still...5 days left to see if I'll be working day #1 or not of the new school year.

(I checked the system....nothing posted as of today)

Saturday, June 04, 2016


I'm down to last few days of my 14th year subbing and at this point I'm feeling that there isn't much that I haven't

Roll call and name pronunciation is usually the first bit of unintentional humor the class gets to experience with me. Yesterday's 6th grade class was no exception.

If I have the time, I scan the roll sheet before class and try to "guess" pronunciations on the names with unusual spellings.

There is one name listed that I'm pretty sure isn't pronounced as it's written and I know that if I attempt it, it might be insulting or worse so I'm not even going to try.

As I get to that name in the roll, I just stop and look up. One girl in the back is nodding her head and gesturing to continue. In fact, the whole class is intently watching to see how I'm going to pronounce this name.

Instead I ask: "Ok, I know I'm probably wrong on this one so would someone tell me how to pronounce 'I,S,Y,S,S'. I'm pretty sure it isn't pronounced the same as a terrorist group in the nightly news."

They just stare and wait so I plow ahead. "Ok, is ISIS here?"
Nodding girl: "HERE!"

It seems I'm not the first to encounter this delicate dilemma.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lit Up...the book

"Lit Up" is the title of a book by author David Denby that someone gave me as something I might enjoy reading which as it turned out, I did.

Truth be told, English Literature was not my best subject in H.S. ...
(...French language class was my worst. The instructor graciously gave me a 'D' instead of an 'F' grade if I promised to drop her class for anything else).

Don't get me wrong, I did like to read books that interested me but not so much the "required reading list".

As a result, my summary reports assigned by the classroom instructors were poorly executed. (...The symbolism of the "Scarlet Letter" totally eluded me. I read it as a story and nothing much deeper.)

Lit Up is the account how subject of English Literature is presented at three, diversely, different high schools and how three fantastic instructors interact with students to successfully make the subject "not a drudge".  Far from it.

It's a very readable and engrossing account of real students, some with some extremely real life problems, actually getting excited reading classics like: To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby to name a few.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Sick Days?...

I don't usually check the details of my monthly pay check from the school district much beyond the number of days worked to make sure it's correct.

So I was a bit surprised to notice an entry in a column that has historically been blank since I started working as a substitute teacher. The column labeled "Sick Leave Balance" was no longer blank! Evidently a new California law went into effect starting July/2015. My job classification now requires the school district to pay for sick days.

How it is calculated, that still a bit of a mystery but as far as I can tell it looks like 1day/month of the school year....maybe.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


A busy New Year has begun. I just finished yesterday, working day 6 of the 11 days currently scheduled for January 2016.

As I passed through the teachers' lounge on the way to the restroom, there was a full bowl full of leftover New Year's (Christmas?) foil wrapped chocolates on one of the lunch tables with a handwritten note "help yourself" attached.

I picked up one, unwrapped and ate it whole before heading off to "important business".

Exiting the restroom, back through the lounge, I overheard the following snippet of conversation between two teachers, one of which was pointing at the bowl.

T1: She said she bit into one and it had little worms wriggling inside.
T2: REALLY??!!
T1: Yea, little white worms...
T2: Yuck!

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around now instantly feeling a bit queasy. "Did I hear you say someone found worms in these chocolates? I just ate one!"

T1: Oh...not these chocolates. I was talking about someone I know who bought the same brand for a birthday party last year. These are ok.

On my way back to the classroom, I tried to convince myself that the chocolate was 'ok'.  And even if?....well, worms are just another form of protein.