Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Seven Joses

The teacher I covered yesterday and today is also the boys soccer coach. So, 6th period I was out on the field "supervising".

One of my duties is to take roll. This I delegated to two of the older boys on the team.

I was watching over them as they went through the roll yesterday. I barely noted it when they had called out for two different Joses (Jose is a popular name around here). It was at about the fifth that I started to wonder. Exactly how many Joses were on this team?

Seven. I counted.

There were 55 students on the roll sheet. That works out to nearly 13%. Nearly 13% of the soccer team is named Jose.

Oh, and I got to say three words that I never thought I'd ever say (as I avoid covering P.E. classes as much as I can): "Take a lap".

Monday, October 29, 2007

Paint Fumes

...or The Class That Wouldn't Be Distracted

It's one of those boring bookwork assignment days. Today they were to define chapter vocabulary. And this being the class of a teacher who usually gives such assignments when he's out, I expected one of those we're-going-to-sit-here-and-talk-and-do-no-work days. So, 2nd period I was very pleasantly surprised when they got to work, and they were nearly silent.

We had already started off at a deficit. 2nd period is when they do the morning announcements. So, after the students talk through that (which they did today), they usually keep on talking. But today after the announcements they got right to work. Shocker.

So, it was silent in the classroom. That's when I heard a strange sound. It sounded like someone was sandpapering. I looked around for the sound, and the students in the vicinity weren't doing anything odd. That's when I realized that what I was hearing was sandpapering.

I think I forgot to mention--they're repainting the school.

Anyway, the sandpapering continued for a bit, and then the painter opened the door. He sandpapered some more, and then he got to painting the door.

Remember: I have a room full of students (around 30 juniors and seniors), and they have an assignment. Did they budge? No. I was very surprised. They made no sound--barely even acknowledging that anything unusual was going on (in a room of 8th graders I probably would have had chaos).

I'd dodged a bullet. But then the canned food drive ambassadors came back (November--the canned food drive time of year) and they had announcements. The usual stuff: bring in cans (please!!!), competition, list of prizes of the top givers, etc. So, they finish, and I wait. And the class gets back to work!

I had no more interruptions. And the class continued to work until I instructed them to pack up.
Amazing. Sure, I get classes that work, but this group had plenty of distractions, and yet they continued to work. 4th period--no distractions, and very little work. Crazy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Time Management

"I do actually have a life!"

This was uttered a little over half-way through 5th period by a senior girl. She then went on to complain about the amount of work assigned. I tuned her out. I had no sympathy.

Up until this time, she had been entertaining her neighbors. I know this because they frequently laughed. There was too much conversation going on to have it all be assignment-related. But this was a 12th grade class. They knew what they had to do, they knew they had a test tomorrow, and they had the whole period to use to get some work done. If they decided to fritter away their time...

Though, there were other moments of entertainment.

Occasionally I'd walk the room, just to keep them honest. One boy had the decency to look chagrined, grab his book, open it, and pretend to work when I walked by his desk. Awww. A student who didn't come up with any long winded excuses. How nice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The light is just wrong. The color. The quality. It's a little disconcerting. At least today I was in a room with no windows. That helped.

Special ed, again. I seem to go through these phases. For a while I'll follow 10th grade. I'll hit the history, the English, and the science. A couple kids will accuse me of following them. Then I'll move on to another grade. So, for the moment, my theme is special ed.

Not that I mind the themes. I think they're funny. It's kind of the cyclical nature of things. If I pay attention, I can get some interesting things out of it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm sitting here checking my email and other stuff online, and I'm listening to the fire news in the background. There's a reason I've been avoiding the news. It's not very good.

I'm lucky. My area hasn't been threatened by fire. But it's still impacting me.

I've been keeping the house closed. It smells like wildfire outside. The light is weird. It's kind of hazy, though there aren't many clouds in the sky. And the sun has more of a reddish hue.

There's a dusting of ash everywhere. And the world just feels ashy.

Ah, October in Southern California.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Scenes from Special Ed.

I'm exhausted. I had two days of intensive special education. Not that I mind. It's nice to change things up now and then. But these kids needed more attention than your average class.

Yesterday a girl had a meltdown. She didn't want to do her assignment. The adult assistant in class was trying to get her to work. The girl freaks out because I was "looking at her". So, I turned my head, told her I wouldn't look at her, and shielded my eyes. For some reason that helped.

Today the math class was doing multiplication bingo. (Did I mention these were high school aged kids?) Every time I'd call out a number (i.e. 8 x 7), one boy had to look at his cheat sheet to figure out what the answer was. Even for things like 2 x 3.

Journal topic: What would you do if you could fly? One boy had issues with the topic. He couldn't fly, so it was a stupid question. It had to be explained to him to pretend that he could fly. Five minutes of discussion later, he was finally able to come up with five sentences.

I tried to make innocuous conversation. About the weather. "But I don't care about the weather." This was followed by a lecture (by the assistant) about how making small talk is something that people must do.

Special education teachers. They have to deal with these people every day. They have my utmost respect.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The first time I met this girl, the adult aide in the class told me that this student lied about absolutely everything. Most of what the girl said that day proved that the aide was giving me a good heads up. The only specific example I can offer is that the girl told me it was her birthday. Then others in the class challenged her as she had claimed it was her birthday the previous week. I guess it had to be her birthday too, as it was actually the birthday of another girl in the class.

I got to see this girl again today in 6th period. Within the first five minutes of class she had told me these things: she had no homework, she had not been at school yesterday because she was suspended, her father passed away yesterday, she was getting ready to move to Texas, and she was tired and wanted to sleep.

She doesn't like being called a liar. One of the aides had called her a liar, and she is now wary of this aide (according to the girl). My hands were kind of tied. There was no aide in the room to vet whether or not any statement was true, so all I could really do was sit there and nod. And I had to tread very carefully.

About the death of her father I expressed sympathy. She has made outrageous claims in the past, so whether or not it's true... ??? Then later she told me that this man was "like" a father to her. Ah! So the death part is true? I can't really tell.

The class was a study hall, so luckily she had lied about not having homework. She didn't feel like doing it, but we eventually found that she had work to complete. And then she told the other student in the room that she didn't have a cell phone (one was attached to her belt). Of course the other student didn't believe her, so she changed her story--she had four cell phones. (I saw two. Does she have two others? Hard to tell.)

She told so many stories that it's hard to remember them all. She found some gang bangers, took them to church, and now they're back in school. She was required to write a note of apology for the assistant principal about her suspension. She couldn't understand her science teacher. She had no homework to make up (even though she had been suspended).

I'm exhausted. It's hard to keep up, especially when I'm dealing with uncredible students.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shopping and Bags

It's Blogger's Blog Action Day. This year's topic is the environment.

Isn't it interesting how concern for the environment has become so mainstream these days? It wasn't too long ago when concerns about such topics as global warming were relegated to the "left-wing fringe". It seems to me like things reached critical mass around last Earth Day. That must have been when we got our hundredth monkey.

So, it was about April, and I was grocery shopping. I frequent my local Trader Joe's, but they don't have everything, so I must also venture out to the grocery store. Anyway, I was thinking about reusable bags.

Bags that are used once and thrown out are so wasteful, so to stop that waste, I started using bags that I can use over and over (Trader Joe's has several options). But that was only at Trader Joe's. I was still wasteful at the grocery store.

Anyway, this April day I was thinking about this waste. Being the kind of person I am, I wasn't about to use one retailer's bags at a different establishment. So, I made a "promise"--as soon as this store offered bags, I'd use them.

Same shopping trip, ten minutes later. It was time to check out. What did I find at the checkstand? A large display of reusable bags.

Well, I had made a promise, hadn't I?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Technical Difficulties


I'm not a huge fan of "Stargate: Atlantis". I greatly miss "Stargate SG-1" and still mourn its passing. Its spin-off hasn't pulled me in like the original show (the movie is a whole different topic altogether), but I still watch it. And since I have a DVR, of course I record it so that I can watch it later.

So, today I go to turn on the show, and I get nothing. Upon further investigation, I find that my recording was "partial", and the time on the recording is 0:00. All the DVR did was to put up the information that the show existed, but it recorded none of it.

Was the DVR broken? I've been having DVR problems--an error message that says my service is "not currently active" (which is curious since my programs have been recording). When I went to watch "Stargate: Atlantis", I had just finished watching two other shows that had recorded, and I had no issues with them. But then did the problem start on Friday?

So, I went through and made sure that the other Friday shows had recorded. The only other problem I found was with "Flash Gordon" (and since I'm not that into that show, no big loss). But that gave me an idea. Was it a Sci Fi Channel thing?

That's where the issue turned out to be. For some reason, the program information said that the show was on from 6:00-6:02. And since the DVR thought it recorded this first 2 minute showing, it didn't attempt to record the show later. I looked--no replays. So, I've missed the show this week with no way to go back and see it later.

Stupid &%$@! Mercury retrograde!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Cut it out, Gary Glitter."

It was 6th period. The 7th grader in the seat to my right was humming "Rock and Roll, Part 2" through his rolled up assignment. I expected a quizzical look. I got nothing. (He hadn't heard me.)

You know the song. It's the one that they play at basketball games.

Since the boy hadn't heard me, I repeated myself. "You didn't get that reference, did you?" I asked. He hadn't. Why would he? He doesn't remember the '70's. He was born in 1995!

I found out that he's in the middle school band--a trumpet player. They learn a couple songs that they play all the time. One is "Louie, Louie" (yes, that "Louie, Louie"). The other is a song they call "The Hey Song". That one would be "Rock and Roll, Part 2".

I know this because I have subbed for the band. Luckily, there was a very nice man who rehearsed the group (so I didn't end up with chaos). And that's where I learned about the band's repertoire.

Did I get the boy to stop humming? Well, no.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Surprise Ovation

I'm not working today. Sure, I was disappointed not to be called, but there are things that I need to get done, and a day off is the perfect opportunity.

So, right after I got up I turned on the TV. For background noise. Of course the TiVo was taping two things. One was a western (goodbye) and the other was a version of "Pygmalion" that I'd never seen before (not "My Fair Lady" which I have seen many times). I was curious, but not curious enough to sit and watch it.

I assumed that the movie was on Turner Classic Movies, but it turned out that I was wrong. It was on some channel that I had never heard of before. Since DirecTV adds channels from time to time (this is a good thing), I figured that it was time to go through and see what might be new.

Since there are so many channels, and many of them are channels that I never watch (sports, pay-per-view, sports, religious programming, sports, shopping channels, sports...) I have the box set up so that the only channels visible are the channels that I've designated as "favorites". This is fine for everyday, but until I know a channel exists, I can't designate it a favorite.

The last channels I "found" were Chiller and Sleuth. I went through the programming, and on Chiller I found "American Gothic", a show I loved and a show I missed when it was axed due to poor ratings (too bad, as it was a great show).

As it turned out, the channel that "Pygmalion" was on was a channel that I was familiar with. But I did find a channel that I did not know we got. Ovation.

We used to get Ovation. Then the Evil Cable Company (that's a topic for another day) discontinued the channel. Though, to be fair, it wasn't something I watched all that often. I only really liked one show.

It was an interesting show (I recommend it if you get this channel). It's about certain important developments in music. I've probably seen all of them already. But I was still so excited to find out that it's on.

So, it looks like it all came together for me today. I got the day off to discover that I needed to check my channels to discover that there was a channel that I wanted to see. Though, it would have been nice to work today.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I feel a headache coming on. And I feel a bit icky. It's my own fault. I did too much.

I had a long week, and I had a long Friday night. Then I got up early today and did a bunch of stuff. I overtaxed myself, and now I'm paying for it.

It's a bit of a shock to my system. I have all summer to do little to nothing, and then school starts. I wait. No work. Then the work starts.

It's not like a gradual work-up-to scenario. The work starts, and boom, I'm working every day.

I'm going to go and get some sleep now. I need it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hi There

It was 5th period, and the high schoolers were at lunch. My group of 8th graders were watching a video, and I was watching them to make sure that they were watching said video and not doing things that might later turn into a problem. I spent much of the period shushing them.

Then I noticed a hand in the window. And then another. I should mention that the windows are up high, probably about 5'6" above the ground. So, if a hand was in the window, someone was deliberately waving it. Then I noticed someone's face peering in.

After that, one of the hands leaned against the window, and the window tilted open. Then the whole class heard some maniacal laughter. So, I got up, went to the door, and leaned out.

"What are you doing?"

I found a gaggle of boys hovering outside. Since it was their lunch, all I wanted was for them to stop antagonizing my class. The boy who had opened the window gave a very pitiful excuse--something about his hand "accidentally" leaning (the window is up high, so I doubt that his opening of the window was in any way an accident). I shoved the window closed with a thunk (the window is high, but not that high), and I closed the door.

I watched the windows closely after that, but the boys did no more after that than discuss whatever boys discuss at lunch. Though, when one girl from my class was called to the office later, I heard them comment to her that the class was dark. Well, sure it was. We were watching a video!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Blog Under Construction

I suppose I should put a "site under construction" sign up somewhere. I'm still learning my way around this thing. I just learned how to make subscriptions possible (see the new link on the side).

Yeah, so I've been away. Lazy. I spent the weekend away from the computer. Though, the computer wasn't really that far away. It was just off.

There are things that I want to add on to this blog. I will get around to them when I find the time (and figure out what they are). Though, first on the agenda is to get a picture posted. I just have to find one that I like. The only one I really like is two years old. I can do better than that!

So, I apologize for the fairly bland look around here. It won't be permanent.