Friday, December 28, 2007

Before the Break

It no longer feels like trauma.

The last week before winter break is an interesting time in the schools. The students are already mentally on their break. This is why many substitute teachers refuse to work during that week. Me? I'll take as many days as I can get.

I had a two day assignment for Wednesday and Thursday at the continuation high school. The break started on Friday, so Thursday was a "combined day". And the last day before the break.

I should explain the concept of the combined day. Students at this school are either "morning" (they attend from 8-noon) or "afternoon" (they attend from 12:15-3:15). To make a shorter day so that the teachers can get out early, they combine the morning and afternoon classes so that 2nd period and 5th period happen in the same hour, 3rd and 6th attend class together, and 4th and 7th do the same (1st period is on its own).

Since I had these groups individually on Wednesday, I got a chance to get a feel for them. Not too horrible except for periods 4 and 7. So, combining those two groups on Thursday was the worst possible thing.

I spent the period trying to keep order. I mostly failed. They were supposed to do work. On the day before a break? Besides, they didn't do any work on Wednesday. Did I think they would do anything on Thursday? Not really.

I was fighting battles all period. No, you may not write the F-word on the chalkboard (they didn't ask permission, but after writing "F" and then part of the "U" I got where they were going with it). No, you may not look at scantly clad women on the Internet (how they found a way around that particular filter I don't know). It was a long hour.

Then the bell rang. And as they made a mad dash for the door, there was a puff of dusty smoke. Oh no.

I should have realized what it was sooner. It was during my first year subbing--tough group, and then the back of the room went up in dusty smoke. "Did you guys light the trash can on fire?" They thought this was hilarious.

I propped open the door so that the smoke could clear. This attracted the attention of other teachers and the custodian. The custodian figured out what it was. Some idiot had pulled the pin out of the fire extinguisher.

Thanks, guys. Now I have to explain all this to the front office.

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