Friday, March 23, 2018

Too Much Fun

The chemistry classes I covered last week fell into a rhythm. They turned in homework. I gave the lesson via Powerpoint. And then most days they had time to work on their homework for the evening.

As is usual in a high school class, many of them got right to work. I would not be surprised if some of them finished all their work in class. However, there were others...

This one group of boys over to my right were having way too much fun. Laughing. Throwing paper at each other. I approached.

"While chemistry should be fun," I told them, "I rather doubt it's the chemistry you're finding fun."

High school boys *shakes head*

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Teaching Fail

When I agreed to cover this chemistry class for a week, I did not know I would have a cold relapse. And because I knew the chemistry teacher had specifically been looking for someone who knew enough chemistry to keep the class going, I didn't want to call out that first morning. I figured I could limp through the day...

I was feeling better. I had rested the whole weekend, and I called out on Monday (bailing on day three of a three day assignment) so I had a whole three days of rest. But I wasn't quite at 100% yet. (If it had been a one day assignment, I probably would have cancelled.)

I blame the cold. That's all I'm saying.

First period was AP chemistry. The first day I covered, they had a test review. The second day, they had a test. I didn't have to attempt to "teach" them until the third day. I had plenty of time to prepare.

But did I? Of course not. I got through my day. Then after getting home, I ate dinner and pretty much immediately went to bed. (You may have noticed I was absent from blog commenting until Wednesday.)

I figured I could wing it. The teacher left his Powerpoints for the lesson. I scanned through it. I could present that.

Only, I couldn't. The chapter was on electrochemistry. And it started with redox reactions. I never really learned redox reactions. Which became apparent as we went through the lesson.

I read the slides. I paused so they could work through which element got which charge. Which was oxidation and which was reduction. I explained how the "battery" needed a salt bridge to keep the reaction going. I explained that electrons would flow through the wire...

They had questions. I managed to pull up a prior slide that showed oxidation/reduction and hoped that helped answer the question...

Yeah, the kiddos saw right through me. They knew I had no idea what I was talking about.

On the bright side, they are AP kids. They're used to studying. They can figure things out for themselves. And they had the teacher's notes.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

(The regular chemistry classes weren't as big a deal. I did actually remember enough of those sections to give those lessons.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Right Not to Protest

You may have heard that last week there was a little national walkout (#NationalWalkoutDay)...

All week I covered a chemistry class (well, Tuesday through Friday). 10 AM occurred just after the start of third period.

We had just finished correcting their homework. I looked at the clock. It was nearly 10 AM. Not enough time to start their quiz before, so I hit pause on the lesson. Whoosh. The students all got up and left...

Well, not everyone.

"I'm going to stay and do my homework."

One boy told this to his friend. The friend was urging him to go. It wasn't like he was going to miss anything as practically the whole class had gone.

They argued. But the boy didn't really want to go.

I opened my mouth to urge the boy to go. This was one of those moments where someone can stand up for what's right. As the school was supportive of the walkout, it wasn't like there was going to be any blowback for him going.

But I realized that just as the rest of the class wanted to go, he didn't. And pushing him to go when he didn't want to was as bad as keeping kiddos in class when they felt it was important to walk out.

So, I said if he wanted to stay, he could stay.

In the end, three students remained in class (out of a class of twenty). I don't know why they stayed in. It wasn't my business, really.

From the sounds of it, the majority of the school walked out. They returned shortly. And once they were all back, I gave the class their quiz. After, we went on with the rest of the lesson. (They quiz took them five minutes.)

I kind of wanted to see the walkout, so I was sad to have to remain in class. But then again, I've been working through a cold, so it was nice to sit and rest for a bit.

How did the walkouts go where you are?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Making It Up as You Go Along

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. 😉

What if while giving a talk to a room full of people, you suddenly realized you had no idea what you were talking about?

Monday, March 19, 2018


theme reveal

So, yeah, I, um... I don't know if I'm doing the A to Z Challenge this year. But as I was sick all week last week, I have no new knitting to show off... 

I kind of want to. My "theme" is business as usual. That is, I post normally, just making sure to adhere to the letter of the day. It makes for some fun shuffling when I'm trying to figure out how to make the funny thing that happened at work fit. 

But, I haven't signed up as of yet. If I do, it'll probably be towards the end of next week. If I decide I really want to do it again. 

Show of hands... How many of you are doing A to Z this year?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bad Forgery

My second day of a three day assignment in the eighth grade English class was a Friday. It was "Fun Friday". Any student who met certain requirements (namely, good grades and attendance) got dismissed to lunch 20 minutes early and admitted to a fun activity.

I had the list of students. I had their passes. I passed out the passes to the seven students in class who had earned it. And at the allotted time, I allowed them to leave.

Jesse held up a pass, said he was part of the group, and attempted to leave the class with the group. But Jesse wasn't on the list.

Why do the difficult students think they can get away with this stuff?

Jesse wasn't "bad" per se. These classes were pretty good overall, so the worst I can say for Jesse is he got out of his seat a bit too frequently. I had to take an extra moment to ask for his attention when I was giving the class instruction. But nothing out of the ordinary, especially for a sub.

But trying to sneak out of class with "the good kids"? Nope.

After the rest of the class had been dismissed for lunch, I found Jesse's "pass" on the floor. The passes were preprinted class schedules (with student ID numbers) for each student. Jesse had scratched out someone's name and printed his name in pencil above it.

I don't know what he was planning to do with that pass if he managed to get past me. No one would mistake that for an actual pass for this activity.

Eighth grade logic escapes me.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stolen Time

I used to have this small travel clock. On days when I was in a classroom where the clock didn't work or was missing, I would pull it out so I would know what time it was. (I don't wear a watch, and my phone lives in a buried part of my bag.) I need to know what time it is so I can time things like when it's time for the class to pack up their stuff.

It was day one in an eighth grade English class. They had a writing assignment, and things were going pretty smoothly. Third period was a bit of a challenge, but nothing too terrible for eighth graders.

At about three minutes until the end of the period, I noted the time via my travel clock, and then I announced to the class it was time to clean up.

They packed up, returned their books to the shelves, and generally did the get-ready-to-leave stuff.

The bell rang. As the class left, I went back to verify my travel clock's time was about right. (It's something I do frequently. If my clock is more than a couple minutes off, I'll fix it. If it's about a minute off, I remember to take that into account when I'm watching the time.)

I went back to where the clock was, only it wasn't. It was gone.

So, naturally, the next day I confronted period three about the missing clock right off the bat.

And they... were offended... by my accusations.

Offended. Them.

So, yeah, the clock is gone. And I'm sad about that. (It wasn't anything expensive, and it's probably time to replace the thing anyway, but that's not the point.)

But I'm not real happy with how they treated my announcement.

Two students "had to" step out they were so angry. At me. For accusing them of stealing my clock. (No, I didn't accuse them specifically. Because I have no idea who took it.)

Others complained that I had no right to accuse them of the theft. They weren't to blame. And they were so upset they couldn't take the scheduled quiz that day. (They took the quiz. I wasn't about to let them get away with that too.)

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at their audaciousness. At this point, please laugh.