Tuesday, November 30, 2010


At the beginning of the period, Madison came up to me and asked if I could sit with her at her table.  (I've got another story associated with that art class two weeks ago.)  Since it was a class of 30+ seventh graders, I knew that that would be a bad idea.  I told Madison no, as I needed to keep my eye on the whole class.

Madison was special ed.  It wasn't immediately apparent, but when I had covered the class the previous week, Madison had had a one-on-one aide that sat with her.  Her behavior over the two days I covered the class confirmed why she needed the aide in class.

The aide did not show up on the Tuesday, and she was only in class briefly on the Wednesday.  I got to handle Madison all on my own.

I already mentioned the boys.  They were at a table next to Madison's, but it was a different table.  When Madison complained that the boys were discussing horror movies (because this scared her), I told her not to listen to them.  She had turned around in her chair so that she could participate in their discussion, ignoring her table-mates.

Madison was more interested in getting offended by the boys' discussion.

As I could do nothing else short of sending Madison from class (the room was full so there was no place I could move her to), I continued to circulate through the room.  I got called back by Madison's table-mates.  She was throwing colored pencils at them.

Madison held onto a gold pencil, refusing to give it up (I took all the pencils away from the table).  Eventually, she relented, but she sure didn't want to.

The next day, the gold pencil became the bone of contention.  One of Madison's table-mates was using it.  She wanted it.  I explained that she could have it once the boy was finished with it.  But that wasn't good enough.  She had to have it right then.

The other girl at Madison's table found a gold pencil from another table's stash.  They were used to her, I guess.  They were also sick of having to deal with her.

I wrote a whole page about Madison in my note to the teacher.  I have a feeling that none of her behavior was unusual.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finished Scarves

Back in September, I posted pictures of my scarves in progress.  I never did get around to posting the finished product.

First up was the lacy scarf...


...which gave me so much trouble.  Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph all that well.  But, I was able to finish it with minimal mistakes.  After getting about a third of the way through it, I figured out how to read where I was in the row, and the scarf suddenly got a whole lot easier.

The other scarf...

diamond scarf finished

...turned out to be one of my favorites.  Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, and once I got the hang of the pattern, it went pretty smoothly.  I finished it at the beginning of this month (the lacy scarf was finished about a week later).

And now I'm again in the position of being between projects.  (This is a bad thing.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decor

I've been waiting for the right time to post this...

Our Neighbors outhouse while remodeling 2009

This photo was taken by my father last year.  His neighbor was remodeling during the Christmas season.  Like how he decorated?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The End of the World

Last week, I covered an art class on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The last two periods were high school classes.  The first three were middle school.

The first group of the day were 7th graders.  They were a loud group.  7th graders can't regulate their volume.  They're either silent or rock concert.  There is no in between.

I tried to keep circulating, but I found that most of the time I ended up at the front of the room.  I was trying to keep peace between two tables.  One table spent most of the time talking about horrible and gross things.  This bothered a girl at another table, but she's a whole post of her own.

The boys started talking about horror movies.  I told them that zombies, if real, wouldn't ever take over.  Then they moved on.  They ended up talking about the end of the world.  The whole 2012 thing has gotten way too much publicity, and the kiddos are scared.

As always, I attempted to talk them off the ledge.  I tried explaining that the end of the world has been predicted so many times that there's no need to believe in it now.

William wasn't buying it.  He had a dream where the moon blew up and...  Here's where my understanding gets foggy.  There was something about how the moon blowing up led to the Earth falling and an ice apocalypse or us being pushed into the sun.    It made no sense.

So, I attempted to explain some things about gravity.  I explained that the Earth was falling, right at this moment, through space.  Just as the sun is.  Just as the whole solar system is.  Just as the whole Milky Way galaxy is.  And gravity keeps us attached to the planet Earth.

William kept coming up with doomsday scenarios, and I kept explaining them away.  Maybe after 8th grade science, some of his fears will be dispelled.  I hope so.

Then again, it could have just been random talk to pass the time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Bull Moose

This week the district is closed.  I needed it after last week.  Because of the Harry Potter preview showing Tuesday night, I never mentioned my assignments on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Well, I can't let that pass...  

Tuesday and Wednesday I covered an art class.  Fifth period was a beginning high school art class.  They were working on an interesting thing called a Doodle Noodle.  They made a large scribble on the page, and then in the loops and whatnot, they were to add designs.  I so wish I had a picture of this, for it's hard to describe, but it was an interesting project.  

They were talking and working.  I wasn't paying much attention until I heard one table start a strange story.  

Annie was explaining how she dyed a pool of water.  She added the salt dye to the pool, and then she "Mitched" it up.  

She misspoke.  She meant "mixed".  Instead of admitting that she misspoke, she acted as if she meant to say "Mitched".  

Annie explained that she held Mitch by the legs and used him to stir the dye.  He held out his hands, so she only had to rotate him, kind of like a helicopter motion.  But then since Mitch was underwater, she had to make sure to get him air so that he wouldn't drown.  

The story got more complex from there.  By the time I got over to that table several minutes later, Mitch had died in the pool.  He had been killed by some bull moose.  I don't know how the bull moose got into the picture.  Annie explained, but I couldn't follow the logic.  

Annie had drawn the bull moose.  It was the "doodle" of the Doodle Noodle she was working on.  The dyed-blue pool was the eye, and the nose was red.  

I guess you had to be there.  

The next day, Annie's table asked her about Mitch.  Annie took the drawing home to show her family.  There was an accident with the stove.  Mitch, the bull moose, and the drawing were no more.  

Sometimes they talk utter nonsense.  I don't much care, so long as they got their work done.  (They did.)  

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm So Honored

Thank you JEFritz for the lovely award...

She's got a great blog called Still Writing...  Check it out.

The rules are to acknowledge the giver and pass it on.  So, I award this to...

1. KauaiMark's Just a Substitute Teacher...  He's got some great subbing stories.  He's so much braver than me.  He actually teaches elementary students.

2. Eric's Welcome to My Mind.  Mostly because he's one day older than me, and I miss him since he moved away.

3. Emily's Spinning Threads.  Just because.

And an honorable mention to Heather's My Demon Spirits in hopes that she'll get back to it and post again.  (Seriously Heather, you don't have to post all the time.  Once in a while is okay.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Balloon Explanation

Yesterday I was back at the continuation high school.  I was surprised to get called.  It was a short day before a break.  These are the sorts of days that very few teachers miss.

I ran into the teacher I subbed for on Monday.  (I saw her on Thursday, but as it had been Turkey Day, we didn't get a chance to talk.)  She got my note, and she wanted to relate a story about the balloon incident.

It was some time ago.  Somehow, they obtained a blown up balloon.  It was near the end of the period, they were done with their work for the day, and they started volleyball-ing this balloon.  The entire class was entranced, and they kept the balloon floating in the air.  The room was silent as they were all fixated on this one task.

Ms. W. allowed it.  Once.

So, they were telling the truth, sort of.  They stretched that inch into a mile.  Silly teens.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Wonky Turkey Day

It's that time of year again.  Today was Turkey Day at the continuation high school.

The administration puts on a school-wide movie to entertain the students while we wait to be called.  The TV in the classroom has to be hooked up to the in-school "network" for us to be able to see it.  When I finished showing 1st period a video in the VCR, I had to switch the cable so that instead of connecting to the VCR, it connected to the in-school "network".

It's harder to explain than to do.  When the teacher told me that he was going to send over the school's tech guy to do it, I told him that I could manage.  I did.  Unfortunately, there was some interference in the picture.

The students were annoyed by this (we could see the movie, it just wasn't completely clear).  They wanted it fixed, so I called the office.

I told them: "The picture is a bit wonky.  Could someone come and take a look?"

Michelle thought my word choice funny.  She had never heard the word "wonky" before.  She wondered if it was a real word.

I was startled.  She'd never heard "wonky" before?  I understand when these students haven't heard long academic words before, but "wonky"?

I spelled the word for her.  Told her that it was indeed a real word.  She took my word for it.

The tech guy did come, and rather quickly too.  However, the problem righted itself just before he got to class, so he wasn't needed.

(This wasn't my first Turkey Day.  I blogged about previous years here and here.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Early Harry Potter Showing

I think it was Sunday, although it might have been this past Saturday.  My father called to invite me to go with him to see Harry Potter.  On Tuesday.

Well, yeah.

My father gets into preview shows all the time, and he's seen everything from Due Date to The Blind Side before they open.  Since his wife wasn't interested in this movie, my dad invited me.

We got there in good time, not so early as to be the first in line, but early enough so that we weren't at the back of that line.  We waited.  As Dad has been to many of these things, he noticed that things weren't running as smoothly as they usually do.  He told me that the ones running the show clearly weren't the A team.

Once we got into the theater, we got some inadvertent pre-show entertainment.  The lady in charge of crowd control was a little too eager enforcing "the rules".

We first noticed this when she got into a "I'm going to have to call security" argument with a gentleman on the other side of the theater.  She wanted him to move towards the center of the aisle so as to allow as many people in as possible.  "No empty seats!"

The couple in front of us enjoyed this a little too much.  They already had popcorn.  The man had some great biting remarks.  The woman's only objection was that the crowd control chick might hear.  The couple next to us knew why: "No seat for you!"

The lady on crowd control was a bit of a snob as well.  There was a section cordoned off for "VIPs".  When some "VIPs" with yellow tickets arrived, she was audibly relieved.  She was tired of dealing with "the masses".

Part of me can understand the crowd control chick's perspective.  I deal with unruly students who don't want to follow the rules all the time.  But the woman of the couple sitting next to us was also a teacher, and she thought the crowd control chick was a bit over the top.  She thought that CCC could have been a lot more polite.

The show started a bit late.  The "VIPs" didn't fill their section.  CCC moved the couple in front of us to the VIP section.  (If she had only heard the things they said about her!)

As for the movie, it was fantastic, of course.  Dark.  Emotional.  The action sequences were a bit frenetic, so much so that it was hard to discern what was happening on screen.  I could tell that they intended for it to be 3D as certain scenes flew in our faces.

I was curious as to where they'd divide the movies.  So as to not give spoilers, all I'll say is that the movie ends in chapter 24.  It kind of left us hanging, except for the fact that I read the book, so I do know how it ends.

I'm going to see it again on Friday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Balloon in Class

It was 4th period yesterday.  World history.  We read through the section of the chapter that was assigned.  Then they were supposed to define all the key terms.

"Could you write that up on the board so I don't forget?"

This wasn't the sort of assignment that one has trouble remembering, but it was an easy enough thing to do.  I should have realized that it was a set up.

As soon as my back was turned, I heard it.  Once I faced the class again, I saw it.  They were batting a gold-colored balloon around the room.

"But Ms. W. always lets us!"

Um, right, sure.

I retrieved the balloon.  I made sure that it was completely out of the way.  They had work to do, I reminded them.  They should get to it.

I would have never known where the balloon came from, except then the student pulled out another one (this time it was dark blue).  I heard him blowing it up.  I put a stop to that.

Why was he bringing balloons to school?  He told me that he found them in his pocket.  They were left over from a baby shower (I think he said his sister's).

At the end of the period, he retrieved the blown-up balloon, and the game resumed.  (It was the end of the period, so I let it slide.)  The student acted like he wanted to keep the balloon, yet it was still in the room after all the students had exited.  I made sure it wasn't around to tempt 5th period.

I had been warned about this group.  (By the way, these were all juniors and seniors, all over the age of 16.)  I wonder how entertained their teacher will be by the balloon story.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keeping Track of the Readers

I finally knew about an assignment in advance.  7th grade core (that's the same group for two periods--one period of English and one period of world history).  I've subbed for this teacher before, so I knew what to expect--squirrelly, squirmy kids.  I was kind of dreading it. 

However, my phone rang this morning.  The sub caller wanted to switch me to the continuation high school (naturally).  I was saved!

The assignment for the world geography classes was to read a section out of the textbook together.  I was also instructed to take down names of readers as they got credit for reading aloud in class.   It was a pretty standard assignment, and things went smoothly. 

This made me think of another day when I had a similar assignment.  It was a home ec. class.  We were supposed to read out of the book, and students who read got credit for reading.  I took down the names of readers as instructed. 

I ran into the teacher a couple days after this.  What surprised me was how grateful she was that I took down the names of readers.  I was just following the lesson plan.  It made me wonder.  Were there other subs out there who didn't take down reader names?  Why would they not follow the lesson plan? 

What surprises me the most today is how many of the students' names I do know.  (If I'm not sure, I ask.) 

It's been a rather uneventful day so far.  That's good.  Although, I hear the next group is supposed to be the worst group. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Should Explain...

I've never been much of a talker.  I tend to listen.  I learn all sorts of interesting stuff that way.

I'm also not much of a commenter.  If I find I have something to contribute, I will, but most of the time I feel like my comment isn't really needed.  Others have said similar and phrased it better.

Since Theresa's Halloween Haunting, I'm following a few more blogs.  I actually read them.  But I don't comment much.  I realized that I may not be alone in this.

I love Blogger's reactions options.  I thought they were a great idea the first time I saw them.  I added the usual comments.  Now I've added a new one.

I've added a "Hi!" reaction.  I hope that those of you who stop by will consider clicking on it.  And if you have any other good reaction ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greatest Hits

"Today is Monday and Friday all rolled into one."

A student in first period said this.  He was commenting that they all had yesterday off in honor of Veteran's Day but had to come back to school today.  I thought it rather clever.  It was that kind of day.

This week has been very slow.  Today was my only day subbing.  Many teachers took today off.  So did quite a few students.  One class had a third of the students absent.

Certain themes keep repeating.

In third period, a student started singing a song.  He was two notes in when I recognized it and asked him to stop.  When asked why, I explained.  He was kind enough to refrain, sort of.  Two other students asked which song, and so he had to hum a bit.  Then those students hummed a bit.  But it was over fairly quickly, and I didn't have to hear the thing again.

Then in fourth or fifth period (those classes kind of ran together in my head) we had a bee visitation.  Only one student freaked out and ran from the room.  This was a much larger class than the last time, but I had much calmer students.  Somehow, the football player managed to shoo it outside.

I mention the football player, as his team made CIF.  All day he's been asked who they're playing in the game next week.  He doesn't know yet, not until games are played this weekend, but he's sick of the question.  So, he started answering with random teams.  Ol' Miss.  LSU.  The Vikings.

They asked me (in third period) what age of students I prefer.  Since they were seniors, I said seniors.  Then I qualified, telling them that I like seniors until the spring, when they can smell graduation.  A couple of them claimed that they started counting down to graduation in September, but have since stopped.  My point was made.

It was a strange day.  But I'm glad I got to work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

She Asked What?

I'm not sure why, but this post has been on my mind.  Since I have nothing of interest to say today, I'm presenting another repost Tuesday.  The following was first posted on September 7, 2008.  

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.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Crazy Day

I kind of knew it was coming.  When I got the call this morning, I had a feeling that was subbing for a roving teacher.  Turned out I was right.

Several teachers at this one high school don't have their own classrooms.  They must share.  For three periods, they have a "home room".  For the other two, they take over the room of a teacher who has his/her prep that period.  (This is much better than in previous years when these teachers had to travel for every period, but that's another post.)

I went in search of lesson plans.

First, I went to the teacher's first room.  The teacher in there said that he hadn't left lesson plans there.  Also, he told me it was an assembly day.  Oh, great.

Then, I went to the teacher's "home room" where he teaches 4th, 5th, and 6th periods.  No lesson plans there, either.  I found videos, but nothing else.

So, I went back to the secretary.  I asked her if she had gotten the lesson plans emailed.  No.  But she called the department chair, and he had them.  So, I had to trudge to the back far corner of the school to retrieve the plans from him.  (This school is rather large.  I worked up a good sweat walking all over the campus.)

The videos were the lesson plan, so I went back to the teacher's "home room" to get the video I'd need.  1st period had started by now, so I walked in on another teacher's class.  I hate doing that, but I made sure my interruption was as quick as could be.  (They were just getting started, so I didn't actually bother the class.  That made me feel a whole lot better.)

1st period was the prep, so I went back to the teacher's lounge to cool off and relax for a bit.  Once I got 2nd period started, I thought I had had my excitement for the day.  I was dreading the assembly, but other than that...

It was nearly the end of the period when we had the earthquake.  It was pretty mild--a jolt and that was about it--but it was enough to get the mostly freshman class riled up.  (It wasn't like they were really watching the video anyway, but I had been dealing with that.)  They didn't call for an evacuation, and most of the students and teachers we asked later hadn't felt the thing.

It was a relief to get to the assembly.  Really.

The assembly was the typical fall sports deal, with the extra added bonus of them retiring the jersey/number of a former student who made it to the NFL.  It was one of the better assemblies that I've attended, even if the gym was as hot as an oven.  (We're having unseasonably warm temperatures.  It got into the 80s today, but that was a relief as it was hotter yesterday and the day before.)

Then all I had to deal with was wound up students on an assembly Friday with a video as the lesson plan.  I was grateful to work, but boy, am I grateful that this day is over!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Again?

It was 5th period yesterday.  I had just finished helping a student with a problem.  I noticed that the three boys sitting behind her didn't have books or work out, and it didn't look like they were going to start any time soon.  It was time to lay on the guilt trip that never works.

That's when I saw the boy at the end of the row using his cell phone.

I'm too nice.  I know I am.  Instead of confiscating his cell phone, I gave him a warning.  I told him if I saw him with his cell phone again, I would confiscate it.

Later in the period, the girl needed my help again.  (She was working on algebra word problems.)  I glanced at the boy.  He had his hands below his desk in "the position".

I didn't want to get into it with him again.  I pretended I didn't see...until he took the cell phone out from under his desk.  He was clearly texting.

I went over to him to confiscate it.  He cried foul.  ("I didn't see you there.")

He didn't want to give up his cell phone.  I warned him that this would result in a referral.  He told me he was turning his cell phone off as he finished the text that had gotten him caught in the first place.  (As if I don't know that it only takes him hitting one button to turn the thing off.)  Then he reluctantly turned it over.

I had enough time to hide the cell phone under some papers on the teacher's desk before it was time to clean up.  The bell rang, the class filed out, and the boy came up to me to talk me into giving him his cell phone back.

I guess I'm too nice.  He seemed to think he'd succeed.  It was a good thing the phone was hidden, or else I'm sure he would have picked it up and left the room.  As it was, he tried every trick he could think of from bribery ("I'll give you a dollar") to begging ("But I need it after school") to the old broken record trick.  He even asked for that referral instead.

He spent the entire five minute passing period trying to wheedle the phone back.  When the bell rang, I asked if he had a 6th period.  He said he did.  I told him he'd better get to class.  He asked me for a note excusing him from being late.  (I refused.)

I did have 6th period off, so I immediately went to the office and turned in the offending phone.  I wasn't terribly surprised when the boy returned just before 7th period.

I explained that I had turned his phone in to the office.  He said it wasn't there.  Who did I turn it in to?  Where was it now?  I was lying.  It wasn't there.  I had to still have it.  Couldn't I just give it back to him now?

I didn't know what else to say.  If he didn't believe the truth...

He warned the incoming class that I was a terrible person, and that they should guard their cell phones.

I didn't have another cell phone problem in 7th period.  I didn't think I would.  The last student I confiscated a cell phone from was in class.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Meant to Do That

Today's temps are supposed to get into the high 80s to low 90s.  It was a cool night and cool morning, so I left the classroom door open for 1st and 2nd periods.  At the beginning of 3rd period, I could feel the heat starting, so I turned on the air conditioner. 

I barely walked away when a student turned the a/c off. 

I turned around and turned the a/c back on. 

"Why did you do that?" 

She asked me that.  I told her I was warm.  She said that she was warm, too.  I didn't understand why she'd turn the a/c off then.  She said that she wanted to stay warm. 

I'm the teacher.  I win this battle.  If I want the a/c on, it stays on. 

I have to be the one to decide this.  No matter what, there are some students who will not be pleased.  Even when I try to be nice and not keep the room at the temperature that is comfortable for me (I generally run warm, so comfortable for me tends to be cold for most of the girls), I get complaints. 

Besides, I'm the one in the room all day. 

It was so much easier when the classrooms didn't have their own thermostats.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Deadline Is Looming

For some strange reason, I'm not getting called to work on Mondays.  I'm not sure what it is.  Maybe the teachers are all rested up after the weekend.  Then again, the day might just be slow enough that only the laid off teachers work.

That's okay.  I have a newly finished knitting project to brag about.

I'm chipping away at my Christmas knitting.  I hope to have it all done this month.  I had hoped to have it done by the end of summer, by the end of September, by Halloween...  I might actually finish it by the end of this month, though.  It's better than in previous years.  There have been years when I'm only now just getting started.

I was stuck when coming up with something to knit my newest nephew (he's 6 months old), so I asked his parents.  His mom suggested a soft blanket for him to cuddle.

I went online looking for patterns.  Then I saw this one.  I had already bought the yarn called for in the pattern, so I had my project.

I finished it yesterday...

for Griffin

I'm not so sure about the face.  I don't know much embroidery.  This was my best attempt.

I feel like the finish line is in sight.  I've only got two projects left to go and then I'm done.  And those projects are near to done.  I might actually have some time in December to knit just for me.  What a luxury!