Friday, February 29, 2008


First thing this morning, there was a knock on the classroom door. They were going to be painting the front of the classroom, and they wanted to know if the students could use the back entrance. I didn't see a problem with that.

This classroom had this huge panel of windows in the front from the ceiling to half way down the wall. They let a lot of light in. They also gave us a front row seat to the painters' work.

First period had no problems with them. Well, they had a few, like having to go around to the back door for a change and listening to the painters prep the area for the paint. But they got over this quickly. (These were 10th graders, so that's why the small change to their routine didn't worry me.) Then second period came in (and these were 11th graders).

A couple girls freaked out. They said that it seemed like one of the painters was watching them too closely. One girl said it looked like the painter was looking through her. To me it looked like he was examining the area and making sure everything got sanded properly.

So, I offered to close the blinds. I have never seen students move that fast. As soon as I volunteered the solution, two of them had jumped up and closed them. The girls thanked me. That solved the problem.

Well, I'm glad to be of service.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


First period I was sent to cover a middle school special ed. class. Reading. Their word of the day was "failure". I was to give an example so that they could get a grasp on what the word meant. I had trouble coming up with something right off the top of my head. Too bad that that was the harbinger for things to come.

The rest of the day I covered an 8th grade U.S. history class. But the subject turned out to be irrelevant. I had a very bad day.

The teacher had been out all week. I was the third sub. That's never a good sign. And the room looked like it had been through numerous battles. I saw about ten books missing their front covers. These were hard cover books. They were new (well, about a year old). The books looked like they had been thrown at wolves to keep them from attacking.

I spent the day trying to keep the classes from running wild. And mostly I failed.

I had one kid throw sharp objects at the ceiling. He was trying to get them to stick up there. He succeeded. I had students who would not remain seated. They tried to play with their toys. One girl's pen got stolen at least five times; she was one of the roamers, so I didn't have much sympathy for her. And that doesn't even take into account the constant pencil sharpeners or the ones who suddenly needed to find paper/pencil more than half way through the period (why they didn't think of this at the beginning, I don't know).

I sent several kids packing. I should have sent many more. And they were loud. I couldn't hear questions asked of me even when I was standing right next to the student. It's amazing that anyone got anything done (some actually did).

It was the passing period before 6th period. I was wiped out. And one girl came up to me to ask me a question. She had heard that I was strict. She wanted to know if it was true.

They were calling me strict? Awwww. How sweet.

Too bad it didn't feel like I was being strict enough.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I so dream for these days. I hope. I scheme. I look for them every day. And then it happens.

6th period prep!!!

I am a sub. I don't need to prepare. So, when I cover for a teacher who has 6th period prep, I get to go home early (while getting paid for the full day).

I saw that two teachers were not covered today, but the secretary had covered their 6th periods with other subs. I was going to get an early day. Yeah!

I got through my day (8th grade science). I packed my stuff. I left my note. Then after the bell (6th period had started) I headed for the office. The secretary was getting out my time sheet, and I was just about home free when...

The secretary got a call over her radio. The cheer squad was missing its sub. Apparently there had been a mix up. The person who was supposed to cover that didn't show or wasn't told and was now busy. The secretary looked up at me...


On the bright side--at least I got an extra period's pay.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mr. Blue Shirt

"...Although, he's wearing a green shirt today..."

The students were all excited, but not in a good way. They spotted another sub on campus--the sub they'd had the last time the teacher I was covering was out. And it became this big, long discussion.

I have met some of the other subs. I wanted this sub's name in case I had run into him before.

"He wouldn't tell us his name. He told us to call him 'teacher'."

Then they went on to list all of his quirks. Teenagers can be vicious. I tried to rein them in a bit. If they talk like that about him, what are they saying about me? I even mentioned this. However, I was assured that I was "nice" and not made fun of.

Yeah, right.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dead Battery

This happened on Friday.

After school I did my grocery shopping. I left school, drove to the store, went inside, and did my shopping. I only needed a couple things, so I was quickly on my way. I got into my car, turned the ignition, and everything went wacko.

The electrical stuff in the car turned on like it was supposed to, but when I tried to start the engine, I lost all power. Then I heard a clicking noise. Then my alarm went off.

It took way too long to get the alarm to stop sounding. I attracted the notice of the others in the parking lot. Then I tried to get the car to start again, and again I had to deal with the stupid alarm. Alarm, but nothing else.

My battery was dead.

Well, I have AAA and a cell phone, so I called for help. And I waited.

Turns out that I should have replaced my battery two years ago. Oops. Luckily, AAA now has battery service, so the driver replaced my battery then and there. That saved me from having to drive around on a Friday evening looking for an open place to install a new battery.

Now I have to reset my car stereo. Losing power wiped all of my settings.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fake Amanda

Today I covered a 7th grade world history class.

I needed a silent room. I was not getting it. So, I warned them: "I will take down the names of those who continue to talk." This only works when I cover some teachers. This was one of them.

They fought me on it for a moment. I stared down the few whose names were going to be on my list. Then one of the girls (the talkers were all girls in this group) told me to write down her name. "I'm Amanda," she said.

She offered up her name way too easily. I was suspicious. I checked the seating chart. Sure enough, Amanda sat in that seat. But she did not look like an Amanda. She did not feel like an Amanda. I was sure I was being lied to.

Twenty minutes later (I had gotten my silence, so I didn't need to make my list) two other students were exchanging words. "Amanda, I have it here." The first student was talking to a different girl, not the one who claimed to be Amanda. I knew it!

After a quick perusal of the seating chart, I figured out who the fake Amanda was. Joanna. I was pretty sure. The two girls had probably switched seats.

Then someone called to the fake Amanda, calling her Joanna. I was right.

I don't know why they do this. I don't know what they get out of it. Today? They get honorable mention in my note to their teacher.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Today I was in an 8th grade U.S. history class. The assignment was to read through a section in their textbook aloud, and to make my life easier, the teacher had name cards (each student's name is on an index card so I could randomly pick the next reader).


"Which one?"

I didn't think anything of it. I provided the last name. So, when the second Brittney came up, I automatically used her last name. But when I found a third Brittny, I started to wonder. There were four Brittanies (different spellings but the same pronunciation) one class!!!

I know, I've noted this sort of thing before. And duplicate names happen. Often. But four? That's unusual.

Though, Jasmine is a pretty popular name, too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Assume the Position

Head bowed. Hands under desk or in backpack/bag/purse/pocket. Fingers twitching. And usually something large on the desk. These are the telltale signs--a student is text messaging.

It's pretty obvious. I can spot one in seconds. Yet, they either deny that they have it or they question how I could possibly see it.

I guess they think they're being sneaky. Or they think I'm an idiot. Whatever. Cell phone use is rampant, probably because it's forbidden.

The girl this morning thought I had magical powers. "How did you know?" Oh please. It's easy to spot--when I'm looking, that is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's a Damn Lie

I was covering a high school biology class today. I overheard the following:

"They say that blood is blue in your veins because it hasn't touched the air. But when they draw it out into that tube, it isn't touching the air, yet it comes out red. Blood is never blue. I don't believe it. It's a damn lie!"

On the one hand, at least the topic was biology related. The problem (besides the obvious)? Today's assignment covered ecology and biodiversity.

Sigh. Freshmen. I guess it could have been worse. She could have been a senior.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Schoolwide TV

"Oooh, there's Jose," the girl said.

"Which Jose?" her friend asked. "There are a couple of them."

To which I had to interject, "There are several Joses on the soccer team."

"The one with the pretty eyes," the first girl replied.

That doesn't exactly narrow it down for me.

It was an exciting day at the high school. They have a TV production (and screenwriting) class, and about every quarter they produce a short television show. It is broadcast throughout the school during specific periods. Teachers have the option of showing or not showing it.

I like to see it. Unless the teacher has specifically instructed me not to show it, I do. Occasionally I get to sub for the class, and it's interesting to me to see them working on the show and then see the final product. It's amateurish but entertaining.

In the above incident, soccer team highlights were showing. It seems I can't escape those guys.

Thursday, February 14, 2008



I hate assemblies. If I know that one is coming, I will do what I can to avoid that school on that day. But many times I get blindsided by them--like today.

I wasn't the only one blindsided. Several full-time teachers were also confused. I guess the informational email went out late yesterday.

But I was discussing my general dislike of these things. They are generally loud. The students are all wound up, and I can never keep track of my class (more than half will vanish on the walk to the gym). I never know where to sit. I always feel a little out of place. And they're just not that interesting.

Today's assembly was to congratulate the winter sports teams. So, we got to listen to coaches introduce their teams. And they announced the popularity contest winners (the king and queen of the upcoming dance). Whoopee.

Today's exercise was especially painful. It took forever for the students to file into the gym. Then it took a good ten minutes before anything got started. The microphone kept cutting out, and the MC had to switch her microphone at least five times.

I overheard an assistant principal telling a teacher that the whole day was just a mess.

Figures. Mercury is retrograde (for only four more days!).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


It was the passing period between 1st and 2nd period. I was standing at the door (I like to watch the crowd).

Oh, I should mention that these were 7th graders.

James (not his real name) stumbled up to the room. He was holding a gray hoodie sweatshirt over his eyes. Two other students helped guide him up the three steps that led to the doorway, and then they helped him inside.

I tried to discern the reason for this. I asked James what he was doing. I asked the other students what was going on. I got no answers. I even told James to take the silly sweatshirt off of his face, but this was also ignored.

The two other students helped James to his seat. His chair was on the table. He took the chair off the table and put it on the floor. He had to do this one-handed as the other hand was still holding the sweatshirt over his eyes. It turned out that he had put down the wrong chair, so he had to repeat this procedure for the chair next to it.

James then sat down. He was at the back of the room, and I'm going to assume that he couldn't hear me, otherwise he was just being deliberately defiant, as I again told him to remove that sweatshirt.

I tried to catch James' eye. He let the sweatshirt slip so that one eye could see, but when I looked at him, he hid behind the student in front of him. Then he peeked out of the sweatshirt--holding the thing over his nose and mouth leaving his eyes free. And again he hid behind the student in front of him.

Then the bell rang, and I stopped paying attention while I got class started. By the time we had done the Pledge, the moment of silence, and the announcements, James had forgotten his I don't know what else to call it.

7th graders. Still very much children. Still playing silly games.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I covered a senior class today.

I think I've been subbing too long. Today's group? I met many of them in 7th grade. I remember doing battle with some in the 8th grade. I was there when they took the CAHSEE in the 10th grade. And now they're seniors.

They know me too. I know they weren't listening when I did my introduction bit (I know because many were talking over me), but when they needed to ask me a question, they asked me by name. Not, "Hey, sub." Not, "How do you say your name?" Nope. They called me by my name, pronounced correctly, and I doubt they even noticed that I had my name on the board.

It was a very strange feeling. However, it was very easy for me to leave names of misbehavers. I knew who was who, even if they were in the wrong seats.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Strange Quiet

The bell rings, and I'm faced with a class just sitting there, looking at me expectantly. The room is silent.

I wasn't quite sure what to do. Such things don't happen. A sub in the room? Chaos reigns. They don't sit there and wait for me to speak.

It's much more common for me to have to ask for the class's attention, wait, ask for attention again, and then get most of the rumbling to stop. I'm used to talking over students while explaining the assignment. I'm used to having several students later ask what they're supposed to do because they weren't listening the first time (to which I usually reply that they should have been paying attention when I explained).

This group? All rapt attention as soon as the period started. And then they got right to work!

These are the good days. These are the teachers that I always agree to sub for.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Vote

I got home from work to find two messages on the answering machine. Both political. Both for the same candidate. Yesterday I got two as well. And that just ticks me off.

I've been dutifully throwing out all the election fliers. I don't read them. I especially don't read the ones that have lots of positions on different propositions. Things that say "Voter's Guide" go into the trash fast.


Sorry. Didn't mean to yell.

I will make up my own mind. I will vote the way I wish to vote (or not vote). I will not be dictated to.

So, basically, all political persuasion is lost on me. It only angers me. It may even convince me to vote against.

Monday, February 4, 2008

No Mondays

There are no Mondays in February.

Well, the Mondays do exist. They still come between Sunday and Tuesday. But they aren't school days.

In the district I sub for (and probably others as well) the end of the semester occurs on the Friday of the week that contains January 31st. The district gives its teachers a planning day on the Monday following the end of the semester. Non-student day means that there is no need for subs. This falls on the first Monday in February.

The second Monday in February is Lincoln's Birthday. I've noticed that it has become less of a holiday in recent years. I wonder why. Well, it doesn't really matter. The district I sub for still takes it off, and that makes two three-day weekends in February.

Now, the third Monday in February is still widely celebrated: President's Day (or formerly Washington's Birthday). That makes three three-day weekends in a row.

And as for the fourth Monday in, it's not a holiday. It's a school day. So, technically, there is one Monday in February. But it happens at the end of the month. And saying "there's only one Monday in February" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Week

Today they play the Super Bowl. Tuesday is the big primary day Super Tuesday. Two "super" events in one week? Does that make this Super Week?

Just wondering.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Intelligence Test

Finals. I was covering a 12th grade AP English class.

Their final consisted of over 50 multiple choice questions and one essay. I had to make sure that I got all of the tests back after they were finished (for test security). All the tests were numbered; I just had to make sure that I went through and counted them all.

Technically, keeping the tests in order was my job, but I wanted to see if they would catch on. They were old enough. They were smart enough. But were they paying attention?

The first three students that turned in their tests did not have enough information to go on. But then I had three tests to work with: #6, 14, and 26. I laid them out sideways with their numbers clearly showing and enough space to fit the missing numbers in between. The next two students to turn in their tests? They just laid them right on top.

The next group (I'm not sure why, but they tend to finish in packs) caught on. I went over to straighten out the tests, but four of the five were put in the proper place in the number sequence. Success! Unfortunately, the next group to finish just laid their tests right on top with no notice of the numbering system.

It alternated from there. I was not saying anything to them. I was just seeing if they would catch on. Some did. Some didn't. So, I kept fixing the tests so at any one time I knew which numbered tests were still out.

Then they were all just about finished. Only three tests were still out. Test #3 finished, and he laid his test right on top of test #2 (not under as he should have). But then #23 came up to the front and placed his test between #22 and #24. And then the only test still out was test #1. Well, he couldn't screw that up, so I was done.

Yeah, I know it's silly, but imagine sitting and watching a class for two hours. A silent class. A testing group. I needed something to entertain myself.