Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Broken Record

Eduardo caught my attention early. By the third time he left his seat in the back far corner of the room to throw away another sheet of paper, I knew he was one I was going to have to keep an eye on. But when he asked to use the restroom, I had no problem in letting him go.

I have a pretty liberal restroom pass policy (so long as the teacher has not put the kibosh on passes by stating "no passes" in the lesson plan). I let anyone go. One at a time. Once per period. (And I write down their names.) Most students are okay with this.

Eduardo returned in good time. He went back to his seat.

Not long after this, Eduardo returned to the front seeking hand sanitizer. I looked. The teacher didn't have any.

Eduardo then asked for another restroom pass. To wash his hands. Because he had gotten pencil dust on them? Something like that. His hands looked fine to me. I offered him a tissue. But that wasn't what he wanted.

I explained that he had used his one pass for the class. It wasn't that long until the end of the period. And his hands weren't filthy. He'd be fine.

He didn't see it that way.

He proceeded to ask me to use the restroom. I said no. Then he asked again. And again. And again. It was as annoying as you'd imagine.

In the midst of this, another student approached and asked to use the restroom. I let her go.

He was incensed. How could I let her go? Well, she hadn't gone once before this.

And now I had a second reason he couldn't go. Someone else was out of the room.

Finally, he relented. He'd give me five minutes to "reconsider". Then he'd return.

Five minutes passed, and he did indeed return. This time with his "lawyer". This other student didn't say anything. I think he kind of enjoyed the show. I know the students sitting nearby were getting a kick out of it.

Eduardo started the, "Can I go?" again. After two nos, I stopped answering. He wasn't listening anyway.

Just when I thought I'd spend the rest of the period hearing the question (and Eduardo doesn't know me very well if he thought he'd actually wear me down with this), another student returned to class.

This other student had been called out of class at the beginning of the period. When Eduardo saw him, he said, "Never mind," and instantly went back to his desk.

"Oh good. You made dumb and dumber leave."

This came from a girl seated nearby. The comment was so perfect. I burst into laughter. Which startled the girl.

She asked me about how annoying the boy had been. He annoyed her and several of her seatmates. I explained that such things are just fodder for the blog, and I kind of enjoy them in the moment because of this.

I swear, some days this blog writes itself.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In It For the Money?

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements.

I recently saw some of a documentary called Smoke and Mirrors. It's a fascinating history of the tobacco industry. They knew that smoking was deadly by the 1950s, yet still they promoted it, focusing on their bottom line rather than... oh, I don't know... phasing out something that KILLS PEOPLE.

This is the sort of thing teeming with what if possibilities...

What if you (or your main character) suddenly learned your livelihood was based on a lie? Would you give up your stability to do the right thing?

I have no idea if the link to the movie will work or not. Or if it's permitted to post. If there are any issues, let me know and I'll take it down. I was looking for a different link, but all I could find was the tape on eBay (for something like $100).

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Just a Restroom Pass List

"Can I use the restroom?"

Me: "Sure. What's your name?"

"You're writing down my name? I'm in trouble?"

Me: "No. I keep a list of students who use the restroom."

I keep a list of students who leave class for any reason. Restroom passes are by far the most frequent request.

"But... but... what if Ms. S. gets mad?"

Me: "Does she let you use the restroom?"


Me: "Then you have nothing to worry about."

"But she hates me. If my name is on a list, she's going to be mad."

Me: "I do this in every class I cover..."

I don't recall my exact explanation, nor did I give the student the entire rationale. Some teachers have restroom policies that include hall pass tickets, time owed after class, and/or a specific number of out-of-class times per semester. And not every teacher remembers to put this detail in their lesson plan. So, some students try to take advantage of the loophole. With my list, teachers have the option of maintaining their policy if they choose to do so. And those that don't care ignore the list.

Me (con't): "...It's clearly marked as a 'used the restroom' list."

He moaned for a minute or two more before deciding that he needed to go more than he needed to not be on a list. (Although, the list did keep at least three students from going that day.)

7th graders! Every little thing... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014


For #ThrowbackThursday, I decided to find something from this time of year. This post is originally from September 18, 2009.

They were supposed to be watching the movie Anne Frank. Instead, they were talking, so I was walking around the room. I caught a boy with his cell phone out on his desk.

"Put it away," I said. (I was being nice. I could have just confiscated the thing.)

He mumbled some excuse and put it in his pocket. He attempted to pull it out again when he thought I wasn't looking. I informed him that if I saw it again, I was going to confiscate it.

"You can't do that!" he informed me. "You're just a sub. You can't take my cell phone."

I can't, can I? I don't have the authority? The office won't accept confiscated cell phones from a lowly sub? Silly boy. I have done this before, and the office is more than happy to take the devices off my hands. And you will give it to me, or I will get security, the principal, or both involved, and then it will get really ugly.

I said none of this. I just thought it. I thought it as I looked at the boy. I must have had a "he didn't just say that, did he?" look on my face, for the boy quickly recanted.

"I was just kidding. You won't see it again. Could I just reply to this text first?"

I didn't see that cell phone again. (I told him to reply to the text after class.)

The school has since changed their cell phone policy. Now instead of confiscating cell phones, we are to send the students to the office to have the office staff and/or principal confiscate the phone. Apparently, the whole issue has gotten ugly of late, so they've found it works better to have the argument happen in the office rather than having it take up class time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lost Ability

It's Tuesday, so it's time for my weekly random question...

I wish I had a better explanation for this one than I-was-reading-something-that-only-nominally-touched-on-this-and-the-idea-sprang-fully-formed-into-my-brain. But that's kind of what happened. Sorry.

What if humans were once all telepathic, but at some point in our history, that ability was blocked?

Friday, September 19, 2014


It was a two day assignment in the English class at the continuation high school. Thursday they were so good. On task. Making progress.

On Friday...not so much.

They were supposed to be on the computers working on their essays. Some were typing. Others (those behind) were still doing some research. But when I saw the map of California pop up...

The boy was looking for Yosemite. Why? I have no idea. He found it, and he wondered how long it would take to get there.

Well, there's an easy way to figure it out. I prompted him to open Google Maps and ask for directions from our city to Yosemite. Because that always gives an estimated time of travel. (I know I should probably just tell him to get back on task, but I like to teach them other things sometimes, too.)

Question answered, the boy did actually get back to his essay. At least, it appeared like he did.

The girl sitting next to him, however, was now on Google Maps. Looking up past places where she lived.

I had encountered Susan in class before. The other teacher explained that Susan could be easily distracted, so he made sure to isolate her a bit from the rest of the class. Then she'd be on task.

Well, Susan wasn't pleased that I was questioning her. I wasn't talking to the boy. (Because at this point he was on task and she had been off for more than ten minutes.) Why was I picking on her?

Because that's what I do. I pick on Susan. It's my reason for being.

Ah well. Perhaps Susan and I will get along the next time I see her. (Things were fine between us the last three times I saw her.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Social Media is Bad

While on jury duty, I got a call to work the next day. (Actually, I got a call to work on the day I had to report as well. Sigh.) Once we were dismissed, I made sure to accept the gig.

English class. They were working on essays on social media. They were to argue a position. They were assigned "good" or "bad".

Funnily enough, those that were assigned "good" were not happy. They said "bad" was the easier argument. Considering how much time these kids spend on their phones, I would think they would want to argue that social media is good.

Most worked diligently on their essays. (It helped that it was a buyout day. I needed to see essays before I would sign.) I had a chance to read a couple. (I offer to proofread.) They were pretty well done.

Some days are really kind of easy. Even at the continuation high school.