Friday, April 30, 2010


I'm not sure what it is about middle school that every time they see me, they have to figure out where they know me from.  They'll question me about what elementary schools I've subbed at (I avoid elementary), and then they'll list their teachers.  We usually figure out where they know me from pretty quickly.

However, I don't always remember them.

"I remember you.  You taught me to Moonwalk."

Yeah, I remember that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Bribe

For some reason, it's always $1.

Yesterday after the testing finished, I covered an 8th grade math class.  Since they had been testing all morning, and since the classes were each 25 minutes long, the assignment was a set of reflection questions about the math test they had just taken.  Simple enough.

4th period finished up their questions as quickly as the other groups had.  Then they were allowed to sit and talk until the end of the period (these were even the instructions in the lesson plan).  But 4th period got bored.  One student asked if he could take out his cell phone.

First I said no.  Then I amended my no--he could take out his cell phone if he wanted me to confiscate it.

The boy had an offer for me.  He said that if each student in class paid me $1, then could they all take out their cell phones?  He told me I'd make $40 on the deal.

I looked around the classroom.  "40 dollars?" I asked.  "There are 40 students in class?"

He amended his estimate.  I could make $30.

Again, I questioned his estimate.  I had a roll list.  Earlier I noticed how many students were in the class.  20.  And all were present.

Finally, he got up and counted heads.  Then he changed the bribe offer to $2 per student.

I thought learning to count was covered in the lower grades somewhere.  And presumably he had been with this class all year.  Now he's figuring out that he's in a class of 20?

I again turned down his offer.  The period ended soon after, and I did not see a single cell phone.

But it's always $1.  The bribe the kids offer is always $1.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Faulty Subtraction

It's testing time...

Today I was assisting the librarian proctor the state tests.  The regular proctor (a teacher) was out sick today.  I could not proctor them on my own as I have not been trained.  (Not that I mind--imagine a class on sub behavior during important tests...)

We had a group of 8th graders.  The testing session was in two parts broken up with a snack break in between.

During the first session the kiddos had to answer 36 questions.  They all finished easily with time to spare.  They took their break, returned, and then were given the instructions for the second part of the test.  They were to finish questions 37 through 71.  That's when the wails and complaints started.

"But section 2 is soooo much longer.  We'll never finish."

And they were taking the math test today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seating Chart Intelligence Test

Before the first class arrived yesterday, I stood in the front of the room and perused the seating chart.  I don't usually do this, but it seemed to me that something was wrong.  Something was.  The chart did not reflect the room.

The row on the wall to the left of me had five chairs in it.  According to the seating chart, that row should have had six chairs.  And since there were names in each of the spots, I knew something was fishy.

The first thing I did was to flip the chart over.  But no.  The front of the room said "front".  The teacher's desk was marked at the back.  So, I had it the right way round.  But it was wrong.

I didn't have any more time to figure it out as the bell then rang and the class entered.  I gave them their instructions, passed out their assignment, and then went back to trying to figure out the silly seating chart.  If I couldn't figure it out, I was going to have to call out the full roll.  40 names.  Ugh!

I'm not sure how it finally hit me, for it makes no logical sense.  The seating chart was reversed, but not front to back.  It was reversed side to side.  The mirror image.

(I went around the room and confirmed names.  I had it figured correctly.)

What should have been to my right on the seating chart was to my left, and vice versa.  So, I had to look at the left side of the seating chart and count the row on my right.  Then the row to the right of the first row on the chart was to the left of the actual row on my left.

Confused?  So was I.

And of course none of this was warned of in the lesson plans.  He must use the seating chart from the back of the room upside down.  No, that doesn't make any sense either.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Missing the Headline

Just when I thought I was going to get to go home early today...

The secretary asked me to wait through lunch just in case someone needed a sub for the last period of the day.  About two minutes before the end of lunch the secretary came to get me.  A special ed teacher needed someone to cover her class as her meeting was running long.

There were no lesson plans, but there was a writing prompt on the board: "What would you do if you had a magic wand?"  Okay, easy enough.

The class came in.  The bell rang.  I explained that their teacher was in a meeting that went long.  She was going to be back before the end of the period, but until then, we would work on the writing assignment on the board.  We talked about the topic.  They seemed to get it.  I asked them to get out paper, and the room went silent.

Well, it was silent for a bit.  Then one of the students complained that another student was sitting somewhere he was not supposed to be sitting.  The boy said that he was well within his rights to be sitting there.  An impasse.

I reminded the boy that his teacher would be back before the end of the period.  Would she mind him sitting there?  He said not.

That's when another boy asked, "Ms. G. is coming back?'

I again explained.  In meeting.  Meeting went long.  Teacher coming back during class.

And they still managed to be surprised when Ms. G. arrived.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quick Update

I haven't worked this week.  I've been ill.  Again.  (It's a bit ridiculous, I know.)

I got a call from the sub caller today.  She had assignments for me for next week.  For one of them I was requested.  She gave me the name, and I couldn't place it.

How could I be requested to sub for a teacher I don't remember?

I knew it had to be my memory, so I did a little search through my records.  Sure enough, I do remember the teacher.  I subbed a couple weeks in the room next door to her a while back.  I'm a little shocked she'd request me, though.  I didn't think she liked me all that much.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Friday?

Friday was a bit crazy.  I already mentioned the period of football.  The first part of the day I had an opportunity class.

I had no lesson plans (not a good thing), but the board was covered with assignments.  I assumed that those assignments were assignments for the week, and I directed the students to continue working.  They informed me that it was Friday, that they always watched videos on Friday, and that they were done with all their work for the week.

This sounded reasonable, but I didn't believe them.  As it turned out, my instincts were right.

It was only a couple minutes later that a neighbor teacher walked in.  She had gotten a heads-up from the teacher I was subbing for that he would be out, and she came by to make sure that things were running smoothly (all would have been better if I had written lesson plans, but never mind).  She talked to the students for a moment, and then she left.

Suddenly, the insistence that it was movie Friday disappeared.  All but three of the students found books, got out paper, and at least made a pretense of getting to work.  The other three?  They still claimed that they were all finished for the week.

About an hour later, the instructional assistant arrived (his usual schedule).  Amazingly, the last three students found that they did indeed have work to do.  Fascinating.

(By the way, they did get to watch videos on Friday, but only after having worked for two hours.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Weight Room

There were about 30 teenage boys all dressed in baggy PE shorts and T-shirts.  And "Umbrella" was on full-blast in the background.

One group was doing bench presses.  At four or five stations, boys were lifting weights while their friends were spotting them.  They'd do several repeats, and then the boys would switch positions.

A second group held the barbell behind their heads, squatting and then lifting.  They did this in a metal framework.

Then there were other various boys lifting dumbbells and walking around the room.  I saw them dropping weights on the rubberized floor.  Then they'd pick up others and place them on the barbells. But nothing stayed on the floor for long, as they were picking up after themselves.  All were busy, and they appeared to be working hard.

Today I was covering for the football coach.  It's the off-season, so the boys are doing off-season training.  I got to "supervise" the weight training (I use the quotes because the various team captains were doing the actual managing of the workout).

It was pretty easy for me.  From past experience, I know that the football coach doesn't take too kindly to his players antagonizing the sub (the words he used were "bear crawls" and "month").  So, I stood and watched.  And listened to music with a driving beat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Association?

AP Economics.  2nd period.  There were six students in class (one absent).  They were working on review (the AP test is in a couple weeks). While they were reviewing, they were having some random conversations.

Abby: "Everybody uses that word.  Not me, but everybody else.  I guess you think she's fat."

Jose: "What are you talking about?"

Abby: "You called her 'babe', like the movie Babe in the City."

(Note: she meant Babe: Pig in the City.)

Jose: "What was the first one called?"

Abby: "First one?"

Jose: "Babe in the City was a sequel."

Abby: "It was a long time ago.  I don't remember the first one."

(At this point I chimed in to tell them that the first movie was just called Babe.)

Manny: "I never saw any pig movie.  What was it about?"

Abby: "A pig was going to be eaten, but then instead he entered some race."

Yep, it was a very random conversation.  I don't know why, but for some reason the AP kids talk about the strangest things.  I'm not going to even try to attempt to recreate the apples vs. oranges debate that stemmed from a question in their review.  That one got way too weird.  Somehow bananas got involved.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Starting the Alligator Scarf

School has been back in session since Monday. Subbing jobs, however, have been scarce. It's the after-vacation lull. Things should pick up next week.

I started knitting a new scarf. This one.

I got the pattern a little while ago. I finally had some time to try it out. I grabbed some yarn from my stash and jumped in.

On Sunday I realized that I was not going to have enough yarn to finish. I'm nowhere near the end of the scarf, but I'm just about at the end of the skein. And that's when I started to panic.

I had been to the yarn store last Wednesday. I picked up stuff for another project (on hold while I wait to see the recipient and get her measurements). I saw the yarn that I am using for the alligator scarf. There was one skein left. It looked like it might be a discontinued color.

So, what were the chances that that one skein would still be there now?

Turns out that I was in luck. That skein was still there. Whew! Crisis averted.

I'll work on the alligator scarf until I get the measurements for the other project. I'll finish the scarf eventually. I'll post pictures when I'm done.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Purple Dragon Scarf

It's spring break, and I've been hibernating. Seriously. I haven't done anything interesting in days (at least, nothing that I can turn into something interesting by writing about it). Basically, I've been knitting and watching TV.

So, since I've been knitting, I thought I'd show off my latest project. I finished it a while ago, but I only just found eyes for the thing.

First of all, this is what I was working on. (I could have sworn I wrote about this before, but I can't find the post, so I must have imagined it.) And here is my version:

purple dragon scarf

Isn't he cute?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Shaker

"Is it just me, or are we having an earthquake?"

Mom looked at me like I was crazy. She was standing. She stopped walking across the room. She waited.

I was reclining on the couch. The earth was still moving. And now I was sure that it was an earthquake, but I was the only one in the room who felt it.

If it had been a small quake, the shaking would have stopped by then. But I could still feel the swaying, rolling motion. Then the rest of the family felt it.

There's nothing quite like an earthquake to give a family gathering on Easter that extra special something. The Food Network show we had been watching was making me sleepy (hence the reclining position on the couch).

So, I was not surprised at the magnitude nor the distance of the epicenter. But I think this was the first time that I felt the earthquake first. I'm usually the last to know.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Birds in the Band Room

I kinda knew it would happen. It was International Day and I was again covering middle school band.

Luckily, this year wasn't as bad as last.

I took roll, and I found a seat. I watched. And the kiddos didn't do anything too terrible. It was actually almost a peaceful day. Then someone asked if the birds were still in the room.

Uh, what?

It was a bit later that I heard the sound of a bird taking flight. It starts with a bit of a high pitch, and then there is the flutter of wings. I looked up. Sure enough, there was a pigeon flying in the band room.

The band room has a high ceiling. Really high. I'd guesstimate that it's at least 20 ft. up. There are metal beams and windows that aren't open. There are all sorts of hiding places.

I watched the bird. I wondered. How long had it been in the band room? How did it get food? Since spring break was next week, I wondered if they'd return to an awful smell. Or did the bird know of a way out?

Then the bird managed to fly into a space between the ceiling tiles and the roof, and I went back to watching the class.

I looked up occasionally after that. And later, I saw two pigeons perched on the metal beams at the top of the room. I pointed this out to the kids who were sitting right in front of me (and right under the birds). They got a little nervous. They knew what can happen to someone sitting under a bird.

The kiddos were less concerned that the birds were there. I guess they'd found a way in a couple weeks ago.

And since there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, I considered it an SEP field situation. Although, I will be curious to learn if the birds are eventually removed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Burn Out on a Song After Just One Hour

Remember my Tuesday assignment? It's come back to haunt me.

4th period was the boys choir. There were six students (all present). Of the six, one hadn't brought his CD (since they didn't know they'd be doing group work, I couldn't fault him), one managed to duck my question, and one didn't care if he did the assignment or not (he didn't think that he could get an "F" in choir).

The remaining three did work on their song. All period.

Why am I bringing this up now? Last night, I dreamed of that song. And it frightened me.

I tried to purge that song from my memory. Fifth and sixth periods helped. They had other songs to focus on. But whereas they had many working on different songs, the boys only played that one song. For about an hour. Over and over again.

I had never heard the song before. Now, I hope to never hear it again.

I just spent the last ten minutes searching for the song I'm talking about. Not having heard who it was by or the full song title, I had to make certain guesses. But I managed to find it.

Here is a link to the song.

By the end of the period, the boys were even a little sick of the chorus. But I bet they didn't wake up humming the thing (then again, maybe they did).