Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do Not Talk to Aidan

It was 5th period.  We had roughly 20 minutes left of class.  The assignment was a worksheet on the order of operations (pre-algebra class).  Two students were finished and one other was finishing up at this point in the period.  

Being a middle school special ed class, I had been dealing with behavioral issues all day.  They were shootin' on each other.  During a particularly loud exchange I noticed that one student had only done three problems.  Three!  These were not long problems.  There were probably 40-odd problems (or more) on the assignment.  

I asked Aidan about how much work he had done.  He told me all about how he had not gotten any sleep the night before due to a mosquito in the house, a barking dog, and some other excuse that I've already forgotten.  He was not tired enough to put his head down on his desk and sleep.  No.  He was one of the main instigators in the class discussions.

So, I told the rest of the class: "Do not talk to Aidan".  Aidan was now off limits.  They could talk to anybody else.  Aidan had some catching up to do.

Of course, the minute you tell students not to talk to someone, that someone becomes fascinating.  But for some reason the class decided to comply.  I only got one girl (Gina) who turned to Aidan to say "hi".  The rest of the class made it into a game.  Aidan no longer existed.

Well, Aidan then had to talk just to talk.  I told the rest of the class to ignore him.  They did.  Then I noticed that Gina had done only a couple more problems than Aidan, so I told the class: "Do not talk to Gina".  

Aidan managed to do maybe three more problems.  Gina got a couple more done as well.  The rest of the class?  Only two others didn't finish.  (Even this guy finished.)

My note named names.  Aidan and Gina were singled out for doing more talking than working.  I have no idea if it'll make a difference.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Number Alignment

I just noticed something this week.  I thought I'd share.

High school is four years: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.  9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.  

This year's seniors are the class of 2009, or '09.  The juniors are the class of '10.  The sophomores--'11.  And the freshmen are of course the class of '12.  

9, 10, 11, 12.  Twice.  

It's just too bad that their year of graduation does not correspond to their grade.  But it is a cool occurrence nonetheless.  

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rant Continued

I picked up one of those telemarketer calls.  You know, the ones I was complaining about yesterday.  I got a computerized message that was not even for me.  It was for some guy I had never even heard of.  So, they've been calling my phone number so much that I remarked upon it, and it was the wrong number.

And that was the only phone call I got today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Telemarketer Rant

I have been receiving an insane number of telemarketer calls today.  (I did not work today.  I've been fighting a bug since Sunday, and I felt that I'd best rest today so that I don't get full-blown sick.)

I haven't been picking up, so it is supposition that they were telemarketers.  But the caller ID gives me phone numbers that I do not recognize.  I only pick up calls from people I know.  And every time I experimentally pick up for a number I do not recognize, there is a long pause...and I hang up because I do not want to talk to a telemarketer.

It is a waste of time to call me.  Whatever they are selling I am not buying, and no amount of hard sell is going to make me change my mind.  

Because of caller ID, I see that many of these phone numbers are repeats.  After a week of me not picking up, you'd think they'd get the hint--I'M NOT GOING TO ANSWER.  But no.  The computer keeps calling.

So, I got at least a dozen calls today.  Only three were calls that were actually for me.  I began to wonder.  Did my do-not-call registration run out?

It turns out that you can check that sort of thing.  I did.  My registration is still active.  So, what gives?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I had a choice of two assignments--either 7th grade science or ELD (English Language Development).  Both are good teachers, so I decided to go with science since I had an English class yesterday.

When I got to school, I learned that another sub had been put into the science class.  This sub had been scheduled for a teacher who was due to be out tomorrow, not today (gee, that happened to me just last week).  So, I was an extra sub.  Oh joy.

Luckily, the office had projects that needed an extra set of hands.  But first I was sent to an English class.  The sub who was there just got word of a family tragedy, and she wanted to go home.  They had another sub coming in to cover, but she hadn't gotten to school yet.  So, off I went.  

The first sub passed off the stuff (keys, computer password) to me, and she left.  Then the class' actual teacher walked in.  She was getting the lesson plans set up.  The bell rang, so the teacher started her class.  While she was busy with the students, the sub who was going to cover the class for the day walked in.  I passed off the stuff to her, and I left.  (I wonder how the teacher reacted when she turned around to find a different sub.  I didn't say goodbye.  I wasn't going to interrupt her for that.)

Back in the office, I waited for my new instructions.  Then the phone rang.  There was another assignment at the elementary school.  I don't do elementary.  So, a sub already in a class was called to go there, and I went to replace her.  

Where did I end up?  In the ELD class.  If only I had picked the other one...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I know it was cheating.  I don't care.

I was going to be in the computer lab all day with freshmen.  9th graders.  In a room with computers.  I didn't want to take any chances.  I knew that I was going to want names if anything went wrong.

The attendance program has this nifty little feature--you can see pictures of the students in the class.  I printed out these pages for each class.  And I took them with me to the computer lab.

I walked around the room with my little clipboard with sheets that had pictures of all the students.  So, of course nothing went wrong.  The classes were wonderful.  The students were on task (creating Power Point Presentations for book reports that they are going to give in about a week).  The students were even polite (mostly).  

But I felt in control, and I guess that's the whole point of having the pictures with the names.  It was a nice day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Skunk Sighting

I leave for school 'round about 6:30 AM most mornings.  I generally have other things on my mind as a means to make me move in the morning.  So, I was distracted by some thought or other as I pulled out of my garage.  I pulled up to the drive, turned on my left blinker, and made the usual glances to make sure that the street was empty before I pulled out into it.  

I looked to the right.  Then I turned to the left.  And out of the corner of my eye I spied a big, bushy black tail that had a white stripe on it.  Oh great, the skunk.

The skunk was going the other way into the bushes.  My windows were closed.  And hey, I was in a car.  So, all in all, this was the least troubling skunk encounter that I've had.  (This was the first encounter, and this was the second.)

Considering how many times I've spotted the creature, I'm pretty sure that there is a colony of them living in the area.  Oh, that's a troubling thought.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Out of Coke

They were working on acrostic poems (special ed English class).

One girl was using the word "nervous".  She needed help for the "O".  I suggested she think of a good preposition to begin the line.  They were to use more than two words for each letter, so a prepositional phrase is a good place to start.

She came up with "out".  So, I asked, "What is something that if you were out of it, it would make you nervous?  If you were out of it at school?  At home?  In the kitchen?"

Her reply: "Coca-cola."

I figured that that was good enough.  She wrote it.

Later, she showed her finished "nervous" acrostic poem to the instructional aide.  He read through it and laughed out loud at "out of Coke".  

I guess that was a better suggestion than I thought.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Distracto Boy

CAHSEE, day two.

The first time I noticed him was sometime during part one.  The boy was examining a rubber band that he was wearing on his wrist.  He looked off into the distance.  He was not working on his test.  I advised him to skip the question he was working on and go back to it later.  

The next time the boy caught my attention was when half the testers had checked out.  The boy was staring into space again.  Another proctor commented that he wasn't doing much on his test.  It started to look to me like he had ADD.  

By the time we had about 10 students in the room, I noticed that the boy was nearly done with his test.  When there were only 5 students left, the boy was on the questionnaire.  I tried yesterday's trick.  The boy claimed that someone else needed my attention.  I didn't budge.

The boy took his time answering the questionnaire.  When he finished, he needed time to "check his work".  Um, sure.

The other students still testing were actually working.  They were struggling.  So, we let the boy be.  We were going to hover over him, but not until that became necessary.  Unfortunately, it didn't, for the boy decided to be done just before the last student finished.

I would be more annoyed, but I needed something to write about today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Motivation to Finish

Today was another CAHSEE day.  It was a small group.  That's a good thing.  It means that more of them have passed the beastie and have that graduation requirement satisfied.  

It was 5th period, and we only had a handful of students left.  Mostly they were working diligently.  I made a tour of the room just to see where everyone was at.  Most had a dozen or so questions left.  One student was on the last five questions of the questionnaire.

At the end of the test is this 15 question questionnaire.  It asks things like, "How did you study for this test?" and "Did you do your best work?"  It's the easiest part of the test, and it should take only a couple minutes.

After walking the room, I returned to the student who was on his questionnaire.  He still had four questions to go.  I stood behind him.  

My job was to pick up the tests and escort the students to the front of the room after the students had finished the test.  So, when a student was nearly finished, I would wait nearby so that I could do my job.  

I watched the student.  He stared into space.  He looked about the room.  Then he answered another question.  Clearly, he was stalling for time.

Normally, I don't hover over students who are testing.  But he wasn't testing.  So, I took a chair from the table in front of him (those students had already checked out), turned it around, and sat directly in front of him.  I didn't say a word.  

The boy sat up, appeared to wake up, and he bubbled in the last question.  He was done.

Apparently, proximity does work.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I have been cold for two days.

Remember back in January when we were having that nice warm spell?  When the temperatures were into the 80's?  That lasted about two weeks, and then the weather got cool again.  Well, about two days after the weather got cool again, the heat went out at one of my schools.  They said that it would be fixed in a couple weeks.

It is now March.  Certain classrooms still don't have any heat.  

For the most part, the lack of heat hasn't been a problem.  Most of the teachers affected now have space heaters that take off the chill in the room.  But the teacher that I've been covering for the last two days does not have a space heater, and there is no heat.  Of course, these have been the two coldest days of the past couple weeks.  And that room has been cold.

How cold?  Well, I'd say that we haven't seen temperatures above 65 degrees in the room.  It's probably been colder.

I usually run pretty warm.  I can be pretty comfortable at 65 degrees.  67 degrees would be better, but at about 72 degrees I need to be in short sleeves, and I'll probably be sweating if I'm doing any sort of physical activity.  So, the cooler rooms haven't been that much of an issue.  

Yesterday I wore long sleeves.  Today I did the same.  I was fine when I had classes, for I was moving about and doing stuff.  But during my prep period I was seated, and I was freezing.  It was an unusual feeling.  

Although, on the bright side, I had no complaints about the classroom temperature.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A-Z Undefined

Today's assignment: A-Z definitions. What is that? I had no idea. I had to ask the students.

The idea: they were to take a dictionary and find one word for each letter. Then they were to define that word. So, they found a word that started with A, defined it, and then moved on to B, C, and so on. Pretty simple. They should easily finish that.

But I had middle school special ed. And the assignment was "too hard" or "boring". Therefore, they weren't going to have any of it.

First, I had to force the dictionaries on them. Then, I had to stand over them as they got out paper and a pencil. A couple times I even had to open the dictionaries to the A section (I even picked a word at random and told them to write it down).

They argued. They whined. They wrote down as little as possible.

I had one student claim to have done this assignment yesterday (he was lying). I told him to do it again. He could pick a whole new set of words. It was only after I threatened to leave his name as being uncooperative that he finally got out paper and wrote something on it (I left his name anyway).

If they had spent even half the energy working that they put into complaining and avoiding, they'd have finished in next to no time. But that would have been too easy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Idle Minds

Things have gotten really slow lately.  I haven't been working all that much.

Today I was back at the continuation high school.  They had an assignment. They deemed it too hard (probably because they had to answer more than ten questions and, gasp, they had to look for the answers in the book).  So, they found other things to occupy their time.

Someone found a book on the '70's.  So, they spent the period perusing that.  I stood over them and told them that their time would be better spent if they were to do their work, but no dice.  They had more fun debating the merits of Charo.

Friday, March 6, 2009


...was one of the words on the 10th grade spelling test.  I gave them a few minutes to cram right before the test.  I never understood why anyone would bother--you're either ready or you're not.  But I needed time to take roll and input it into the computer, so they might as well use the time to "study".  

"Does anointment have two N's?"

Thus began a discussion on the correct spelling of anointment.  One boy scratched out that second N, only to check the dictionary and find that it was spelled right the first time.  They had had enough time, so I forced the start of the test.

If I ask a class if they're ready for the beginning of the spelling test, they aren't.  But at a certain point, it is time to start the thing.  If they're not getting ready, I just kind of have to begin and hope the stragglers catch up.  

Anointment was the third word.  I read it out.

"Anointment has three N's."

Another student helpfully announced this while they were taking the test.  

They had been good up until then.  They were good after this.  I figured that if they didn't already know where the N's go, then that announcement wouldn't help.  I continued on with the test.

The boy who made the announcement is the son of a teacher at that school.  I wonder if I should go and have a talk with his parent.  Then again, I did leave a description of the incident in the note.  That should be enough.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Helicopter Student

It was 6th period.  I was covering 11th grade AP English.  They were reading and critiquing essays that they wrote previously.  It was kind of a brain-dead day for me.

Then, towards the middle to end of the period, one girl stood near the door.  As she stood there she was doing the pee-pee dance.  I didn't notice at first. Another student asked if she needed to use the bathroom.  She did.  The next question was: why don't you go?  

It was a reasonable question.  AP students.  11th graders.  I was allowing restroom passes.  All she had to do was ask, and I'd've let her go.  So, after the other student asked the question, I gave the girl a quizzical stare.

The girl explained that she was waiting for another student to finish reading her essay.  She wanted to see what comments this other girl was going to make.  
The restroom wasn't far.  She could have gone and been back before the other girl finished reading the essay.  I wasn't the only one to point this out.  I was the only one to tell her that hovering over the girl who was reading wasn't going to make her finish any quicker.  She saw my point and went to stand somewhere else.

Another student needed to use the restroom, so she went.  She got back.  Then the girl finished reading the essay.  My hovering student took back her essay, and then she went to the restroom.

Why she needed to wait?  I have no idea.  It's not like she would have missed anything.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not So Free Time

Last week I covered a science class (biology, anatomy/physiology, and environmental science) at the continuation high school.  Their assignment was to write a half page paper answering a specific question (different question for each group).  They were to use the Internet to complete their research.

Being the continuation high school, I expected a certain lack-of-work ethic. Those that did the assignment mostly copied the first website that had the right keywords in the google search.  Most weren't even close to answering the question.  Then they did what everyone else had been doing from the start of the period--they surfed the Internet.  

I watched this from the teacher's computer.  I figured it would be interesting to see what they got up to.  I thought I'd share.

First, they got onto myspace and the like.  These are actually blocked on the school's server, so they needed proxy sites like this.

Mostly, though, they played games: Crazy Taxi, this, this, and Hexa puzzle.  I was most proud to see them working on the Hexa puzzle.  It challenged them, so at least they were learning something.  Too bad they didn't devote that kind of energy to, say, doing the assignment.