Monday, September 29, 2008


Sometimes the students just don't have that great a grasp on reality (although, neither do I, but that's a topic for another day...). I was at the continuation high school (again) in the basic math class. Barely anyone was doing any work. Well, at least the conversation was interesting.

There was this one student. He was complaining about how short he was credit-wise. Perhaps I should explain this a bit...

The main difference between the traditional high school and the continuation high school is how the students acquire credits. In the traditional high school, if the student gets a "D" or above, he/she gets the 5 credits for the semester. At the continuation high school, the students get credits for what work they turn in. So, if they do no work for a semester, they get no credits. If they do a lot of work, they can get 5 (or sometimes more) credits.

The student who was likely a senior (he was 17) had less than half the credits he needed to graduate. He was nowhere close to graduating. And he spent the period doing no work. Hmmm...

Anyway, the student talked about how he was planning on getting his GED instead. He was grumbling about how he wasn't getting credits fast enough.

And then the conversation got interesting. He told me that he wanted a job where he didn't have to work weekends. I explained that retail jobs and food service jobs were all going to require weekend work.

I'm sure that there's a job out there that would work for him. I don't want to be a downer. But he's not exactly inspiring confidence in his future.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Not Needed

I got up at 6 AM. Got dressed. Had some breakfast. And then I drove to the school. A usual morning.

I was not expected. The teacher that I was scheduled to sub for had not left lesson plans (and this teacher always leaves lesson plans). I knew what was coming.

This is one of my biggest fears any day that I sub. The dreaded "Sub? What sub? I don't need a sub." I was sent in error.

This has happened to me quite a bit. If I find no lesson plans from a teacher, I don't assume that the teacher neglected to leave them. I assume that the teacher is going to show up any minute and be startled by my being in his/her room. A couple times the teacher did show up to tell me the lesson plans since he/she was going to be on campus (chaperoning a field trip, going to an on campus meeting, or carpooling to a meeting with teachers), but that's the exception rather than the rule.

I called the sub caller. She got her dates mixed up. I wasn't needed, so I went home. (And I was so rattled that I left with classroom keys. I turned around and went back to return them.)

I suppose if I wasn't so paranoid about this, it would happen less frequently. It's just one of those things. People make mistakes. I get caught in the middle of them.

(Oh, and Mercury is retrograde, so this sort of thing is to be expected.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Favor

"Ms. A., you've known me since I was 12..." the student began.

True statement. I covered his class for six weeks back when he was a 7th grader (he's now a senior). He was one of the difficult ones. But, I barely had time to acknowledge that his statement was correct before he continued...

"...So, could you do me a favor?"

I heard warning bells. What could he want?

"Would you write us a good note, even if we're bad today?"

I relaxed.

"Um, no," I said.

Sometimes I just don't get students. Do they really think that I would falsify my note to their teacher so they could spend today playing? This teacher rewards the good classes and punishes the bad, so while I can't blame him for asking, there is no way that I would lose that particular tool that I had to keep them in line. Especially not at the top of the period.

So, the class got to work, and they worked silently for the period. After the student's question, I was sure that I would have had a harder time than that. I guess they were just seeing how much they could get away with. Maybe?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Markers Redux

This morning I was at the mercy of the early morning wake up call. I lucked out and got a good assignment. Art.

It was 4th period. They were making portfolios--that is, they were decorating the folder that would contain all of their work for the school year. They started this yesterday, and they were to finish it up today. Most were less than half way finished, so they had plenty to do.

I walked the room, and then I sat. The girls in front of me discussed various topics (their piercings, dying their hair, one was allergic to chocolate, etc.). Nothing that required my attention, so I sat and watched the class.

Then I saw it.

Most of the classes used computers (digital art). So, 2/3rds of the class was filled with computer desks and Apple computers. The other 1/3rd of the class had three tables put together to make one long conference-type table. All the students in 4th period were gathered around this.

So, when the boys at the other end of the table had connected all the markers end to end so that it was long enough to reach to the front, it was a very long chain. Longer than the class that got the markers to reach from the floor to the ceiling. Impressive, sure. But unlike that earlier class, this group had work to do.

I went to find the builders. I looked at their portfolios. They weren't getting that much done, and it was nearly the end of the period.

I told the teacher about this in the note. So, when he asks them tomorrow about why they didn't finish their portfolios, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Comedy of Errors

Friday I got home from work to find the electricians working in the kitchen. Lots of progress was made. But of course they had to come back for something. The pendant lights we had bought (even though they were the same pendant lights) had a slight difference, so they had to be replaced. (Oh, and they had the wrong light bulbs for the overhead lights again.)

Then the painters came. We are deciding on a paint color. From the paint chips, we narrowed it down to four possibilities. The painters came by to put up squares so that we could see them on the wall.

The colors are in the purple family, but very pale. So, when the painter put up something that looked sea green/blue, I was puzzled. We did not pick that color. We wanted colors 6259, 6266, 6546, and 6553. Two of the colors were correct; two were not.

So, the painters got out their notes. Sure enough, the numbers were written down correctly, but the twos looked like sevens (really, I saw it myself). So, instead of 6259, they got 6759. Big difference.

They put up the two correct colors and then they left. I spent the next half hour laughing. It was pretty funny.

They're coming back tomorrow with the right colors (fingers crossed).

You'd think that Mercury was already retrograde with these kinds of mistakes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rock, Paper, Scissors Test

Today I covered special ed. Fourth period was the "monitoring" class, which meant that any students who needed to take a test in a resource room did it with me watching. I figured that since it's Friday, there would be a lot of students taking tests. Nope. Just one.

"Which amendment has to do with being able to try a civil case in front of a jury?"

Yeah, nice try. I told the student that he'd have to figure it out on his own. It was a test, after all. So, then he asked me what grade he would get if he got 7 wrong out of 25 total. He figured that was an acceptable grade, so then he went about guessing on those seven that he did not know.

How do you guess when you have four choices? First he asked for a coin. When I told him that I did not have one, he came up with another way to guess: rock-paper-scissors.

I'm not sure how he reasoned it. Something about I was a/b and he was c/d. So, we played. I threw scissors; he threw paper. So, then I was a and he was b and we played again. Sorry, I forget who "won". He did this for three different questions.

Should I have helped him guess? I've been thinking about this. He would have made random guesses with or without my help, and it's not like I was steering him in any particular direction (I didn't even look at the test). I was kind of like a Magic 8 Ball here or a random number generator.

It didn't matter for long. He figured out a way to eliminate answers (which is much better than random guessing). He got some scratch paper, and he managed to finish the rest of the test on his own.

I wonder what grade he'll get.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Making Progress

I have been promising and promising to post new pics of the kitchen, so it's about time I do it (if you don't remember where this started, look here).

Here's the same kitchen as before, only now the plastic has been removed from the cabinets...

Then the granite counter tops went in...

And then the back splash tile went up (along with the microwave)...

The only difference now is the under cabinet lighting which doesn't look all that great when photographed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Drinking Game

The electricians came back today. The kitchen has been without light since they first came the first time. Since the backsplash tile is mostly in, it was time to get the electricity flowing again.

They worked for a little over two hours (they didn't arrive until about 2 PM). They installed under cabinet lighting. They got the plugs installed. And the microwave, which had to be bolted into place yesterday so that the tile guy could tile around it, now has power so we can use it.

But, the overhead lights? Well, they had the wrong bulbs, so they could not finish that.

Today it occurred to me that I've got a drinking game here (if I was into that sort of thing). Every time a workman tells me that "we'll have to come back and finish that" or "we forgot/broke/got the wrong thing, so we'll have to bring that back next time", take a drink. This has happened so many times...

Overall, this has been a good experience. The workmen are all very professional. They all clean up after themselves before they leave. The kitchen is beautiful so far (pictures, I know, I promise, soon). But things like this never do go completely smoothly.

Well, we're in the home stretch. The plumber is supposed to come tomorrow to hook up the sink. The microwave is installed. It's getting there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Know-It-All Teens

I have subbed for this particular teacher many times before (recently this time and that time), so I know that the newspapers in the office are hers. I grab them without really thinking about it anymore. I got to the classroom, put the papers down, and then I read the lesson plan. "Current events presentation preparation." I had everything they needed.

It wasn't even ten minutes into the period when a student accused me of failing to get today's newspapers. Um, they're right over there. Then I looked. All the papers had been taken. The student said that there had to be more in the office.

Arguing with a teenager is a pointless exercise. No matter what I say, the teen has an argument for it. We could spend a half hour debating the color of the desks, and I would not be able to convince the teen to even agree to disagree. So, I avoid these "discussions" whenever possible.

I told the student that I had picked up all the papers. She wanted to check the office. I knew that she'd need the proof of her own eyes, so I let her go "retrieve" the "rest" of the papers.

The student returned with no papers. She told me that the office ladies had said that I had already picked them up. (See, I was right!) She was still doubtful, but she had no other recourse, so she took her seat and stopped complaining.

They think I lie to them. They think I don't know anything. Such is what a sub gets to deal with every day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

That New Kitchen Smell

It's been a little while since I updated on the kitchen progress. No progress to report. Well, that's not exactly true. The last pictures I posted had half-done cabinets. Not so much anymore.

Things came to a dead stop while we were waiting for the granite. Now we're waiting on the backsplash tile. Turns out that it's going to take a little time to get the tile that we liked. But "a little while" means maybe a week more. And by "the tile that we liked" I mean the sparkly bits that'll make the backsplash shine. The rest of the tile is in now. It's due to go up tomorrow.

What I've noticed is how the house smells now. There's a faint odor of cut wood and half-dried paint. There's the lingering of the burning smell from when they cut into the granite for the faucet. There's the glue they used to tack down the granite. The old sink was leaking, so that smell is gone. And it all just smells... It smells like a new kitchen.

I'll post update pictures in a day or so. We're coming in on the end of this thing!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This Week's Quiz

It's that time of the week again. AOL News Quiz time. I did better this week than I've done in a while. I got 12 right! For me, that's fantastic.

I guess I was paying attention this week. Either that, or I'm getting a bit better at guessing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Scenes from Biology

I finally got a 5:45 AM wake up call. Yeah, I think. So, I had a day at the continuation high school. I don't have any good full-blog stories, but I have a couple scenes to share.

The first bell hadn't rung yet, but I had the door open, so various students were ambling in and out. One boy sees me and comments, "Mr. P's not here today? Do we have a sub?" He asked me. He asked me if they were having a sub today. I was too stunned to come up with an appropriate sarcastic remark.

It was Thursday at the continuation high school, and that means one thing--buyouts. So, at the start of the period, I told them that they would have to complete today's assignment before I would consider signing their buyouts. Two boys crumpled up their buyouts then and there. Hey, I wasn't asking for much, just for them to complete the day's assignment. They weren't willing to do a little work to get tomorrow off?

Today they were to write two paragraphs about whatever biology topic the teacher had left. This had most of them working on the classroom's computers. So, from time to time I'd roam the room. As I was passing behind this girl, the boy next to her poked her. She had her cell phone out, and the website on her computer was nowhere near the assignment. She hit the boy back. "Why did you do that?" she asked. "Because I'm right behind you," I replied. She then had the decency to put away her cell phone.

Teenagers. They can be so much fun sometimes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Color Test

I've been spending way too much time on the Internet lately. Today someone posted a link to a color test. So, I figured, why not?

Before you click on the link and try it yourself, make sure you have some time to devote to it. The first time I didn't take my time and I ended up with a 16. Kind of a poor showing, so I went back and tried it again. The second time I got a 4. I'm gunning for a 0 (the high score). Not right now, though.

Here's the link.

I'd love some comments with your scores.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Wait

School started last week. It's a touch too early for teacher inservices, so I get to wait for that wonderful early morning wake up call. I haven't gotten one yet. But I will soon.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

She Asked What?

Since the kitchen has been down, we've been going out to eat a lot. It's easier than trying to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Tonight we ended up at Chili's.

I was fighting off a headache, so I was a bit more cranky than usual. Unfortunately, we got seated right behind a group of girls who were out to have a good time. Loudly.

Chili's is normally loud. These girls were louder. And they were cackling like they had had a bit too much to drink. When they laughed, they just had to hit the back of their seat which was right up against my seat. It was worse than the day I was at Ruby's behind the young child who would not sit still. (At least in that case I could forgive the child for not knowing any better.)

Because our tables were back to back, we had the same server. After he had brought us our drinks, he went to take their order.

I guess the girls thought he was cute. They were very obviously flirting. They asked if the server was married. He was. Then they asked his age and how long he'd been married. These questions were getting more and more personal. And then one of the girls came out with this impertinence:

"Have you cheated on her yet?"

Seriously. They asked that. My jaw just about hit the table. (I was so astonished I did not hear how he responded. I hope he gave them a very rude answer.)

Some people. I mean, really.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekly News Quiz

I don't know why I bother. I'm paying attention, really. But somehow I manage to do poorly on these things.

So, here's the link to this week's AOL news quiz. I got 8 correct. I bet you can do better than me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kitchen Cabinets

It's been a little while since I last updated on the kitchen's progress. (And in case you need to remember where this project started, the pics are here.) I've been taking pictures of the progress. I just didn't upload them to the computer until today.

This is what it looked like as the cabinets were installed...

And here are the cabinets are all (well, mostly) complete. The plastic is up to protect them while the walls were being painted...

And here's a shot of the just-installed floor...

So, progress is being made. Now we're just waiting for the granite.