Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shop Handmade

Christmas shopping is hard. At least it is for me. (That's why I try to make most of my gifts.)

I get bored with all the mass-produced stuff out there. When I give a gift, I want it to be unique. Sure, that t-shirt sports a pithy one-liner, but then I see it in several different stores, and it no longer seems special.

But if you know where to look, you may end up with something that you can't find just anywhere.

I know I've mentioned my Etsy shop before. Etsy is a great place to find some unique items. (I've gotten my brother a couple t-shirts from different sellers. He seemed to like them. Although, I can never be sure with him.)

The point of this post isn't to promote my shop (again!), but rather to point out the importance of buying handmade this year. The news is filled with stories about the dire state of the economy. But when you support an artist or a small business, you are helping the economy. And you end up getting something unique to boot.

(You remember my ereader cozies, right?)
all the cozies

Support your local craft fairs. If you don't have one near you, check out crafters online, like on Etsy or the Handmade Craft Show or Cafe Handmade.

Do you know of any good places for Christmas shopping? Please share.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Public Conversation

School is back in session after the Thanksgiving break. Today I covered a middle school art class.

Third period. Two girls were having a conversation about Thanksgiving and what they ate. Then one of the girls mentioned that her excesses gave her constipation.

A boy chimed in with, "Ewww!"

The girls turned on him: "Why are you listening to our conversation?"

It might be because you're talking across the room. Maybe?

One girl was seated at the front of the room. The other girl sat in the back. At one point they attempted to sit next to one another, but I put the kibosh on that. (I find that if I enforce the seating chart, I have fewer problems.) So, they had their conversation anyway.

I pointed out the obvious. They changed topics.

Did this stop the conversation? No, of course not. (At least they got their assignment done.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering Anne McCaffrey

I gasped when I saw the news on my Twitter timeline.

I was first introduced to Anne McCaffrery when I made the jump from the kids' section to the adults' section in my local library. Dragonriders of Pern, of course. After reading her books, I knew I wanted to write.

I'll never write about dragons, since she did that so brilliantly that I have nothing to add, but before I ever wanted to go to Hogwarts, I wanted to Impress my very own dragon. Even though I'm so afraid of heights I could never actually ride one.

I once stayed up all night reading The Rowan. (Mistake. I shouldn't stay up all night reading. I pay for it in the morning) I just couldn't put it down. All her books sucked me in like that. And most didn't disappoint (still pissed at the ending of Moreta).

I think it might be time to revisit Pern. It's been a while since I read those...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Said Yes

We're off school for the whole week for Thanksgiving. Since I'm sure you don't want to hear about how my cleaning is going (I've been rearranging furniture), and since the editing of my novel is about as interesting as cleaning, I thought I'd repost something from the old blog. This first appeared on October 12, 2006.  

Middle school band. Those three words, used together, should be all the explanation I need.

Need more? Well, I can talk about the time that one of them chased another around the room wielding a music stand as if it was a baseball bat and the other kid was the baseball.

I've written other posts about them here, here, and here.  

But I'm not here to talk about the horrors of that assignment. I guess I'm just setting the scene. I was not in the best of moods, and so I was not as kind as I would like. And that's when I did something that was not very nice.

I had a kid ask if he could go and get a drink of water. Now, allowing kids out of class is not something that we are supposed to do. But I know the school pretty well, and I know that the drinking fountain is just outside the band room door, nearly next to it. So, for most of the day when a kid would ask to get a drink, I'd say fine. He/she would return in a minute or less, and I have no problem with that.

So, to the kid who asked, I said sure. I don't know if it was the noise in the room (it was a bit loud) or if he was just expecting to get a no, for he went directly into the explanation phase of the question. This is where they explain that the water fountain is close or that they're really thirsty or they come up with some other reason why I should say yes.

I don't know if it was just because it was late in the day, if it was because I was tired, if it was because I was having one of my miserable headaches, or if it was because I was tired of not being listened to, but what I did was walk away. "What did I say?" I had said yes. I guess the kid couldn't take yes for an answer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Free Computer Time

Last Monday, I did not expect to get a call. Last school year, I had most Mondays off. But I was not about to turn down the assignment. Even if it was economics.

(I'm fairly comfortable with most high school subjects. Economics is not one of those.)

I got to class, and the teacher had left me nothing. As panic set in, I reminded myself of my own advice. I know of this teacher, and he was not the type to leave a sub hanging. The lesson plans were going to show up.

(I'm writing a book on subbing. I figured, why not? And my advice on finding no lesson plans is to not panic as most of the time the teacher will find a way to get the plans to the sub.)

Then the phone rang.

Turns out, the students were finishing up their stocks project. They were making charts, and they had time booked in the computer lab. Score! Easy day for me.

I know enough about computers to fake it most of the time. And the teacher told me that detailed instructions were on his website. I figured I had enough information for the day. The biggest concern was to make sure the students weren't goofing off online. The teacher said that any students who finished their project could do his online homework, so they should have had plenty to do.

Of course, some managed to finish everything and have time to spare.

I expected them to get onto inappropriate websites. Instead, several checked their grades (the school has an online system for grades now). A couple found video of the last varsity football game (I assume they were football players). The rest ended up on college websites.

It's November. They're seniors. It's college application time. And they're feeling the crunch.

Some worked on online applications. Some checked out various programs at the colleges. Some logged off the computers and worked on other homework.

I had nothing to complain about.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Graduation Surprise

For the past three days I've been at the continuation high school (again). This was the time to be there, as the last two days were short (out at noon).

Graduation works differently at the continuation high school. When a student finishes his credits, he graduates. There is a whole procedure to checking out at this point, and one of the things they do is announce the student's name over the PA system.

On Wednesday, the PA came on and Pomp and Circumstance started playing. I stopped to hear. The principal came on, and the first thing he said was, "I would like everyone to sit down for this."

Then he announced the name. I dropped my pen.

If my chin hadn't been attached to my face, I think it would have landed next to the pen on the desk.

The principal said Dane's name*. (I've been searching my archives. I thought I mentioned him more than this.)

The last thing I ever thought he'd do is graduate. Apparently, I was wrong.

The next day, the school paper came out. In it, they list the students who have graduated. I expected Dane's name, but I was shocked to see Kayla's*. Kayla graduated?

I guess when they said that they do their work, they were telling the truth.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for them. I'm pleased that they put in the work and completed their high school educations. I just didn't think I'd ever hear of them graduating. (And I'm glad that I won't be seeing them in the future.)

*I don't think I mention this enough, but all student names used on this blog are not their real names.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roving Around

Yesterday, I got called at the usual time. The sub caller assigned me an art class. But when I got to the school, there was no art class. I was given a roving assignment.

It was very strange. The vanishing assignment used to happen to me all the time, but ever since it's been all early morning wake-up calls, I thought this sort of thing was over. Ah well.

I don't mean to rant. It's been that sort of week. (And I'm not ranting about the thing that's really bothering me right now, so if I sound angry, it's actually over the other thing.)

First period I got sent to the library. That's the go-to assignment when they want to give us subs something to do. It's our make-work. They usually have something that needs doing. Yesterday I got to put away books.

It was fun. The library was empty except for adults and one library TA. I got a chance to peruse the library's fiction selection.

It wasn't a vast collection. The Harry Potter section was well stocked as were Stephen King and Goosebumps. The Twilight books had a spot, but it looked like most of them were checked out. (I reshelved one.) And various classics were well represented.

I managed to finish the reshelving before the end of the period. And then I was off.

I kind of like roving days. It breaks things up. I got to cover two periods of special ed, two periods of math, and a period of oceanography. It was an interesting day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heads Up

I did another craft fair this past Sunday. It was better attended than the last one I did.

I got to sit outside. This would have been nicer if it hadn't been chilly. However, since it rained Saturday, it could have been so much worse. So, all in all a nice day.

Here's my table...

art show full table

Yes, I was behind a post. This didn't stop people from taking a look, though. And the view I had all day looked like...

my view

I love the color of that tree.  

Anyway, you can't tell from the picture, but there was a playground behind me. Towards dusk, the place got really packed. Some kids started throwing balls around.  

I think you know where this is going...  

The person who put the whole thing together came by around dusk. She took pictures of us participants in our booths. Just as she snapped the picture of me, I got hit in the back of the head by a flying ball.  


At least the kid didn't have a very good arm. That is, I didn't get hit very hard. It was still kind of scary.  

The booth next to mine sold fused glass. They were more panicked by the incoming throws. Yeah, that could have been disastrous. Luckily, none of their wares got hit. (The ball came our direction only three times. I guess they got better control after that.)  

I'm thinking of expanding my wares. Would anyone be interested in hand knitted coffee sleeves? You know, like the cardboard ones that coffee shops slide over the cups so as to not burn hands. Or is that too silly?  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Noises

Thursday was basically a repeat of Wednesday. (Although, the boy chose to ask me to move to the back of the room rather than telling me he was sitting there. Better approach, and I rewarded him accordingly.) Well, mostly.

The last two groups of the day were the orientation class. This is the first class that students new to the continuation high school take. They do packet work, some barreling through many assignments while others stare at walls and get next to nothing done. No matter which option they choose, they are supposed to sit there silently, and for the most part they did.

Then the drops started.

I'm pretty sure it was this one girl. She informed me that she was done with everything. I told her to go on to the next chapter. She didn't believe that she should. (I'm familiar with the class. The next chapter was the next assignment.) So, instead she played with her lips.

Then on the other side of the room, a boy developed a sinus issue. He blew his nose, but then he continued to sniffle. Loudly. Every two minutes. And it didn't sound like he was clearing anything.

Neither of these things should have bothered me. But since the rest of the class was silent, it was hard to ignore them.

Then my cell phone started buzzing.


When students use cell phones in class, there are consequences (here's another example). So, I keep my phone out of sight and silent during class. I figure it's only fair, as that's the requirement for the students. And usually there are no issues.

But, I just got a shiny new phone, and I haven't figured it all out yet. I thought I had it on silent. I must have enabled some notification, because no one was calling and I had not received a text. (I checked after class.)

At least the students were nice enough not to call me on it. (Then again, I hadn't confiscated any of their phones. Of course, that's because they were smart enough to keep them out of sight.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not Scary Enough

First period went really well. I wasn't surprised. This teacher's classes tend to behave (even though this is the continuation high school). Then second period arrived. 

I had been warned to make sure that the students sat in their assigned seats. So, when three boys took up spots in the tables at the back of the room, I knew something was up. The seating chart had no one sitting there. 

When called on it, one boy informed me that Ms. W. I had told him he could sit back there. Sure, yesterday, maybe. No, he explained that he asked her yesterday if he could sit back there today. I reminded him that Ms. W. was not in class today, so I needed him to sit in his assigned seat. He was having none of it. 

Before I determined my next step (referral?), security walked in. He was looking for a student who was not on my roll sheets. But before he had a chance to ask the question, the boy scrambled back to his assigned seat. 

Interesting how he could be so belligerent with me but compliant the minute another adult stepped into the room. 

I should be used to this by now. It's how most students treat the sub. 

For the rest of the period, the boy worked. Quietly and diligently. Other students would say "Security!" and that would get him to look around, but other than that, the period was unremarkable. 

I don't know what it is about having a sub that makes students try to get away with things. Did you ever try to get away with something with a sub? What was it, and did you succeed? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Not Weather Appropriate

Walking onto campus this morning, I passed a boy wearing a tank top and shorts. 

Then, in second period, a girl came in wearing shorts. I asked the obvious question. She told me that it was a warm day. 

I run warm. On any given day, I have the air conditioning on. Today? The first thing I did was turn on the heater. 

And yet, there are kids dressed for warmer weather. 

It's cold here. Well, cold for us. Most of the country would laugh seeing us shivering in heavy jackets in 50 degree weather. But since it rarely gets much colder, we consider this cold. 

Our high today is projected to be about 66 degrees--a fairly temperate day, but we're warming up from a couple previous chilly days. When I saw the boy in the tank top and shorts, it was about 50 degrees. I was shivering, yet he didn't seem to notice. 

I see this every year. The temperature drops, but the students still dress like it's going to be in the 80s. I've seen girls in short skirts and flip-flops. Boys in t-shirts. 

Then in the summer, they all still wear their long-sleeved hoodies. 

I really should stop paying attention. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lost Notebook

I don't lose things. (Well, most of the time. I somehow managed to misplace my compact umbrella, just in time for rainy weather.) When I do lose track of something, it usually turns up later (socks especially).

Students lose things all the time. Supposedly, subs lose students' work (although, I think this is sometimes just a ploy). That's why some teachers don't have us collect work. Of course, these teachers aren't familiar with my knack for not losing things.

But I digress. Today I wanted to talk about students' notebooks that went missing.

Every student was issued a notebook. They do all their work in it. Since this is the continuation high school, the students aren't apt to remember to bring stuff to class, like paper and pencil. As long as the student has a notebook, the student can do the work, and it keeps it all together.

At the beginning of the period, the students retrieve their notebooks from the class' box. They return the notebook to the box at the end of the period.

A student in period 2 couldn't find his notebook. It wasn't in the box.

I'm a firm believer in the it-has-to-be-here theory, so I was bound and determined to find the notebook. We searched through the other classes' boxes. We searched the teacher's desk (he had a pile of them set aside for grading). After going through every stack of notebooks, I went back to period 2's box, pulled out all the notebooks still in there...and found it. It had gotten stuck behind another notebook.

My record was again challenged in 3rd period. This time I started with period 3's box, but it wasn't in there. I told the student to go through the other classes' boxes. Turns out the first box I picked up had it shoved somewhere in the middle.

Yeah, I'm good. Now, if I could just find that umbrella!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Attention Grabbers

4th period 8th grade physical science. Their rather long assignment was due at the end of the period, so the class worked silently.


I heard a drip from the back of the room. Then another. Then another.

The class giggled.


The boys in that part of the room now had my undivided attention.

It's a noise they make using their mouths and flicking their cheeks with their fingers. I'm sure you're familiar with it. If not, there are all sorts of lovely tutorials on YouTube...

It normally doesn't bother me. My reaction is more akin to a rolling-of-the-eyes and a look of "really, you're pulling that?". But if it's going to get the class riled up, then I have to do something about it.

Once I started watching those boys, the sound stopped. What a surprise. The minute I looked away, I heard it again. When I looked up, the boys all put on their innocent faces. (If they had been looking at their books and/or papers, I might have believed they were innocent. Looking at me is what gives it away.)

I included the incident in my note. Clearly, the boys wanted the attention.

Can you do the water drop sound? (I can't, but then again, I've never tried.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ranking the Good

Yesterday I was at the continuation high school. Again. (They were on their fall break for a couple weeks. I kind of missed the place.)

I passed out the work. I took roll. They got to work. And they worked quietly.

It was kind of spooky, actually.

I've subbed for this teacher before. I usually get a period or two of silence. Then I get a period or two where the students won't settle and won't shut up. Not yesterday. I got four periods of silence and one period of near silence (the last period of the day is always a bit off).

In my note for the day, I give each class a "grade" and a "rank". The "grade" has to do with behavior. I rarely give out my top score of 5. A five means they were "silent and on task". (I give out a lot of 4s. Four means they were "talkative, but mostly on task".)

Yesterday I gave out 4 fives (and the last class got a 4.5).

The "rank" is all about saying which was the best class of the day and which was the worst. There are days when all the classes behaved about the same, so I skip ranking the classes that day. A day where every class got a five should be a day where I do away with ranking.

Yesterday? Ranking was easy.

It was strange. While the worst rank wasn't terrible (many days that would be the best behavior I'd get), the best class was obviously better behaved than the others. They all settled and worked, but some classes gave me more attitude before they settled and worked.

It was a very odd day. Good, but odd.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Craft Fair Dress Rehearsal

Sorry I disappeared for a few days. I've been a little busy since Thursday, and...

You didn't notice I've been gone? Okay then. 

I did my first craft fair on Saturday. Or, as I've been calling it since, my craft fair dress rehearsal. It was rather dead, that is, not much foot traffic. (No zombies. Really. I promise.) 

My brother took pictures of my table... 

I learned a lot. I can't wait to do another. 

By the way, I finally found an answer to the first question for that meme I did last week. In case you were curious, I figured out what moment I'd relive.