Friday, July 20, 2018

Cutting her Losses

I was taking roll by seating chart.

"Where's Sarah?"

A girl raised her hand. She was sitting three seats behind and three seats over from where she should have been. But, was the seating chart accurate or had she been recently moved? I decided I wasn't in the mood to fight the battle.

I updated the seating chart and continued checking for missing students.

"Where's Angel?"

No one replied.

I knew Brian was absent; I remember him. By my head count, everyone else should have been there.

"Okay, so Brian and Angel are absent..."

No one corrected me. This is usually where someone chimes in with "I'm over here" so they don't get marked absent. Especially during summer school where they only get three before being dropped from the class.

Sarah had moved to sit beside a boy. I removed the phone they had been giggling over. The giggling continued. As the boy was in his assigned seat, it was the girl who needed to move.

I directed her to a seat at the front of the room (near where her assigned seat was). She agreed with no fuss. She packed up her stuff. Then she walked out of the room.

Um, I wasn't kicking her out. Just adjusting her seat.

Okay. Fine. It's summer school. She's absent. I noted this and wrote a note to the teacher about Sarah.

The rest of the class went smoothly. As I collected work from them at the end of the period, I glanced to make sure their names were on their papers.

That was when I saw "Sarah" at the top of a paper.

And suddenly I understood. "Sarah" was Angel. (Sarah was in her proper seat. But because Angel wasn't in hers, the whole row was in question, hence why I called Sarah's name even though she was where she was supposed to be.)

I guess Angel wasn't thinking through the whole lying-about-her-name thing. And she hadn't conferred with Sarah about swapping names. (It must have been the boy. Apparently she couldn't resist getting a chance to flirt with him.)

So, when I asked her to move, Angel must have figured she had nothing to lose by just leaving. She was already marked absent.

Although, why Sarah didn't speak up...

Once I discovered my mistake, it was easy enough to fix Sarah so she was marked present and change my note to reflect the correct name. And all it needed was one more tweak where I mentioned that Angel had lied about her name.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Worst Case Scenario

English 10, first semester. They had a "character worksheet" to do for half an hour. For the remaining hour and a half, they had a story to read and questions to answer.

Only, it turned out, the story assignment was going to be thwarted by technology.

The schools are getting more and more high tech. The English department has an online textbook called StudySync. They can read stories (or have the stories read to them), watch videos (that go along with the stories), and answer questions (with fun drag and drop capabilities) online. It's a nifty system. I've seen it in use many times.

But on this day it was gone.

Cue panicking sub.

I only discovered the problem when a student called me over. He had logged in to the system, but his student screen was blank. I tried my usual troubleshooting tricks (restart the system), but to no avail.

Time to call for help...

In the end, I got the summer school principal involved. She pulled in the librarian and another English teacher who also uses the system. And from there they pulled in district resources.

It turned out that they had "flushed" the system for summer. And they'd need to repopulate the database. But these were not things that they could do for the sub for the day.

Deep sigh.

But I had two more blocks of students. And there was no way I was giving them an hour and a half of "free time".

I made up something for them to do. I had them pair up and create a dialog. That's where my writer brain went. I don't think they appreciated my writer brain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Quick and Dirty Scare

Sometimes I'm lazy. I'll do a quick head count of the students in a class. I'll note that that number matches the number of students on my roster. That means they're all present. Right? Roll done.

I call it my "quick and dirty" roll call.

However, there are a couple of circumstances that could muck this up. If I had a "visitor", I would still be missing a student. And for summer school, there's one other small issue...

It was the last block of the day. (The day is comprised of three two-hour blocks.) English 10, second semester. 17 bodies in the room. 17 names on the roll. We were good to go.

About an hour in, we were to read a story. The teacher had left index cards with student names, so I didn't have to find volunteers. (Getting volunteers to read... It's torture. I love index cards.)

I was about half way through the stack of cards when I called "Fiona".

"She's not here."

Oh crap! That meant that someone in the class had been dropped and didn't realize it. (They're dropped from class on their third absence.) And as we were in the middle of something, I wasn't about to stop and call roll.

Luckily, there were only 17 students, and the story was way longer than 17 paragraphs.

I finished the cards. "Did anybody not get a chance to read?"

A girl raised her hand...

We finished up the story. I went back to the roll. I looked for Fiona. She wasn't listed.

Wait. So my roll was okay after all?

I asked the girl who had raised her hand about why she didn't have a card.

Except she did.

At the beginning of class they were to respond to a quote. As I had called on her (via the cards) for that, I had put her card into the "read" pile. (She already participated in class.)

Whew. My "quick and dirty" was accurate. This time. But with a bit of a scare.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fine Tuning

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've been a bit klutzy lately. Losing my balance and swaying (not falling). Running into doorways. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a bit more so. But what if it isn't me...

What if the world makes little shifts in matter around us? Nothing we'd notice, necessarily. Just occasional adjustments that only effect those in motion at that moment.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Updating Listings

Last week I decided to update a bunch of photos for my shop. (In an effort to get more views, I'm following some advice I saw online and listing different colors of items separately. It'll take a while to get it all done.)

I pulled out a few things...

...and by the time I was finished, I had 279 photos.

Doing the listings takes a bit of time as well. So far, I've listed the orange and pink flip flop keychain...

 Flip Flop Keychain Sandal Zipper Charm in Orange and Pink

...a neon yellow lip balm holder...

 Keyfob Lip Balm Cozy in Neon Yellow

...and a gray lip balm holder.

 Lip Balm Holder in Gray

(If you click on the pictures, it'll take you to those listings on Etsy.)

What I'm working on this week is more jellyfish. Yeah, there'll be pictures when there's something to show.

Friday, July 13, 2018


The week of the 4th of July was a holiday week for the summer school. This incident happened two weeks ago...

Ninth grade English. They were writing a 300-word story.

As there was no seating chart, I took roll the "reverse" way. That is, I walked around the room, asked each student their name, and then marked them present on the class roster.

The office had given me updated rosters when I arrived.

Summer school has a strict attendance policy. They can be absent twice. On the third absence, they are dropped from the class.

I got to the end of the room. The boy gave me his name. It was not on the roster...

"Does that mean I can leave?"

Me: "Have you been absent three times?"

He had.

Oh, he was so excited. It was like he had won the raffle. "I'm done." He was packed up and out the door so fast.

Of course, he had enrolled in the class because he needed English 9 credits, which he'll have to make up at some point. So, not really a victory.

But that was one less student in the class.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bad Neighbors

There's this family that lives in my complex. They arrived in the spring. And they are the very worst neighbors.

They are obnoxious. They roam the sidewalks as if they own the place. They make a mess. And if I want to pass by them, they give me ugly stares and hiss at me. Yup, the father likes to hiss.

Yes, I'm shaming them on the internet. Here's what they look like:

I've never meant them any harm. But if I come close...

They gather around, ready for a fight. See the kiddo just chillin' on the sidewalk. Just sitting there. My complex houses lots of people, and they like to walk their dogs. But these neighbors object to that sort of activity.

It's so bad, if we see them in our path, we turn around and go around the long way. It's easier than a confrontation. There's no telling how violent they might get.

Yet, somehow the ducks, turtles, and lizards seem to have figured out how to live amongst them. I wonder if they give them as wide a berth as we do.

I hope they leave soon. It'd be nice to take a stroll outside without worrying about running in to them.