Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Class Clown

8th grade math. They had a pretty simple worksheet to complete. Which I tried to tell them at the outset, but several students wouldn't let me start class.

One boy roamed the room. Another had gotten a hold of the seating chart, and he was banging it on his desk. When I tried to get him to settle, so I could, I don't know, start class or something, he explained that he wasn't right in the head. He had "issues".

And he proceeded to demonstrate those issues by overacting.

Yep. We've got ourselves a class clown.

I don't think he realizes how much he looks like an idiot. The others in the class enjoyed his antics immensely. They asked him to do impressions of various people. Their teacher. Me. (Which showed that he wasn't listening closely to what I said, for he mangled it badly.) Other teachers. His mother. His baby momma. (He's in 8th grade. 14-years-old. Let that sink in.)

He even mimicked a dinosaur. Sort of.

As the class left, one girl said something about him being trouble. I said that she shouldn't encourage his antics. She supposed so. But she said he was too entertaining.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Poor Planning

7th grade math. Although, it was lunchtime when I met several of the group. I had just returned after running out to use the restroom. I still had 10 or so minutes of lunch when a group of them came in.

They were already in a panic. And when they saw that their teacher had taken his laptop, they were more so.

(The teachers are all now assigned a laptop for classroom use. When they are out, they tend to take it with them, unless they assign something where the sub is going to need access to a computer.)

They explained. They had a big project due for their English class which was their next class. They had planned to print it out in the library during lunch, but the library was closed for a special event. Now they wanted to print it out in class, but couldn't as there was no computer for them to access.

I felt for them, so I allowed one girl to go to her Mandarin class and see if they could use the computers in there. There was some issue about the computers and printers not connecting. Then another girl (after the first had returned), asked to go and see if their band class had a computer they could access. (Everything was due a day early for them as the next day they had a band event.)

At some point in all of this, I called the library and learned about it being closed.

Yup, so they were kinda out of luck. (The Mandarin teacher called me at one point. She mentioned that perhaps they should have gotten this all taken care of a whole lot earlier.)

I have no idea what they ended up doing. I suggested that perhaps they could get their project in the next day before they had to leave for their band thing. But who knows?

Perhaps next time they'll have a backup plan. (Well, they are 7th graders. At least they're getting this particular lesson early.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

A few of my shows have recently resorted to They Would Cut You Up as the only reason why. (Warning: the link leads to TV Tropes. Click on the link at your own risk. And whatever you do, don't click on anything else. Unless you want your evening to mysteriously vanish...)

As I watched the third such iteration of that explanation, it occurred to me that it wasn't much of an explanation as to why said character had to run or hide rather than continue on as things had been going. It made no sense to me. Which leads to...

What if you had some extraordinary ability and, oops, it got made public? How would you handle all the attention? Would you be worried that someone would try to lock you up and "study" you?

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Preview

I was back out at the farmers market a couple weeks ago. During the course of the day, one of the other vendors came over to ask me a question. Could I make...?

I had not seen such a thing before. But it appeared simple enough.

Upon getting home, I went to do some research. There are some people who can see a crocheted item and know exactly what to do to reproduce it. I liken these people to those who can play music by ear--they hear it once and can play it for you.

I, however, am like the musicians who need to have the sheet music in front of them. I can follow a crochet (or knitting) pattern easily. But reverse engineering a garment? I can do it, but it'll take me a while. And why should I, when a pattern can easily be found?

Besides, it turns out that what I had envisioned was way more complicated than the pattern turned out to be.

First, you get an object that looks like this...

And then with finishing...

Well, it turns into something more recognizable. And if I had lots of other knit and/or crochet projects to show off, I'd probably be writing about something else entirely today.

But this item fits C perfectly. So, rather than steal an A to Z post and scramble for a C post next Monday, I'm just going to tease you with this. Although, I bet some of you already know what this is going to turn out to be.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Busy Work

Economics. 12th grade. Written on the board, they had a huge list for their assignment. But, each item on that list was only a question or two. So, not a terribly bad assignment. Not even all that long, really.

They groaned a bit when they saw it, but it didn't take them that long to settle to silence. And most finished easily before the end of the period.

It was a normal Friday. By that, I mean that there were a lot of teachers out. There were so many absent teachers that the district was unable to get subs for them all. Five teachers at that school didn't have their very own subs for the day. Including the teacher for this class. I was covering this period as it was the prep period of the teacher I had been called in to cover.

This teacher had called out Friday morning. And he did what many teachers do when they call out at the last minute. He made sure his classes were busy while he had a sub.

This is a good thing. Students with nothing to do tend to get into mischief. (Although, I doubt this group would have been a problem.)

But... Sometimes it's pretty clear that the assignment is just something assigned to keep them busy. And by senior year, the students are pretty adept at recognizing assignments as such.

I got one paper back titled "Busy Work". I had to laugh. It was true.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


12th grade AP US government. 1st period.

The bell rang. I finished the roll. As I passed out the day's assignment, one last girl darted in.

The rule is late students get sent to tardy sweep. And I will kick late kids out much of the time. I'm especially ruthless when the class is loud and difficult.

But these were seniors. Taking an AP class. Behavior was not an issue. Letting one tardy slide wasn't going to come back to bite me...

I finished passing out the papers and arrived at the open classroom door just as security pulled up in her little golf cart.

"Did a girl just come in here?"

The girl in question squeezed closer to the wall. She pleaded with her eyes. But it was out of my hands now. She had run afoul of school rules.

Reluctantly, she gathered her things.

Security, however, assumed she was being defiant. She threatened to take her to the office instead of just to tardy sweep. I explained that the girl was on her way. She was just packing up. But security seemed to think an office visit was warranted as they drove away.

Others in class protested the tardy sweep policy. I can see their point. But, I pointed out how corporate America frowns on tardiness.

Shortly thereafter someone got a text from the girl. Security didn't take her to the office. Instead, they went directly to tardy sweep. The students speculated that tears had probably been involved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Sorry, Jeanne. I know how you hate it when I have to deny restroom passes... 

You know you're going to have issues when this is in the lesson plan:
Keep an eye on these guys--a lot of class clowns (mostly boys). THEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESTROOM PRIVILEGES. If anyone asks, keep their cell phone, and if they are gone more than 4 minutes, PLEASE let me know because they will lose bathroom privileges until May if they take advantage of you. I'm not kidding... 
And this was for a class of seniors. Uh oh.

So, when I've barely started my opening remarks, and I get in hand in the air from one of the students listed as a restroom pass abuser, and he's asking for a pass...

Yeah, I just called a moratorium on all restroom passes. Because really. With a warning like that, it was going to get ugly. And this class was right after lunch, so it wasn't like they didn't have a chance to go before they got there.

I braced for the deluge anyway. I was sure someone was going to "have to go" or have "an emergency". (I can't know for sure, and I would have totally let them go in that instance.) But not a one of them asked after I made my blanket statement.

I think I dodged a bullet. Or I was very, very lucky.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Divulge or Not?

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

So, today I'm cribbing from Younger. Because it was an interesting set up.

What if you found out a horrible secret about a good friend's significant other who just passed away? Would you reveal the secret? Or would you keep it to yourself?

(In case you're wondering where the question came from, here is the recap of the episode. I'm keeping "secret" deliberately unspecific, so that secret could be anything. It doesn't have to be the one that inspired the question.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

And My A to Z Theme Is...

Today is the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal Bloghop...

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 3-21-2016

And my theme is... I have no theme! Nope. It's business as usual around these parts.

If you're not a regular reader and have just hopped over for the theme reveal, saying "business as usual" has no meaning. So, I'll be a bit more specific.

Mostly what I write about is: "a funny thing happened to me at school today". I work as a substitute teacher. The kiddos keep us all sorts of entertained.

If the kiddos aren't being interesting, I have a few other things to keep the blog going. Mondays I write about my knitting, crocheting, or other housekeeping miscellany. Tuesdays are always about the "what if?" question. Wednesdays I may offer some tips for getting through the A to Z challenge. Thursdays I may delve into the way-back files. Fridays I may post a random quiz. And Saturdays I just post a picture.

The past two years the kiddos have been cooperative enough to give me the perfect Z post. However, I've been able to cheat for X and knit something to fit the letter. This year X falls on a Thursday, so you may see a repeat of a knitting X post. But we'll see. Perhaps the kiddos will surprise me and give us the perfect X. Fingers crossed...

And over at the blog I occasionally contribute to, Unicorn Bell, we'll also be doing the A to Z Challenge. There we've divvied up the month, so you can expect some "what if?" questions on the 2nd (B), the 12th (J), the 21st (R), and the 30th (Z).

Are you doing A to Z? What's your theme?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Not on the List

8th grade science. (No, not that class.) They were making "Wanted" posters for atoms. (Cute assignment, really, but a bit too involved to go into explaining.)

Each student was to be assigned an atom. The teacher had helpfully provided a page that was easily cut into small strips of paper, so each student could draw an atom rather than having me assign one. A lottery, as it were.

Knowing their usual tricks, I explained they'd get to pick their atom, but there were no redraws. Because if I allowed that, we'd spend the entire period with them trying to pick a "good one".

Students who ended up with larger atoms were not pleased with this. (They had to draw out the diagram, so the students who got stuck with iodine had to draw out 53 protons, 53 electrons, and 73 neutrons.) Although, I made one girl happy when she picked arsenic. I informed her it was a poison. She was quite content with that atom after learning that.

Several had turned in their posters. One boy put his in the pile, but something about it caught my eye. He had helium.

Funny, helium wasn't on the list...

(The smallest atom on the list was carbon.)

I asked the boy about it. He admitted that he had lost his slip and had forgotten what atom he had.

Um, okay... Well, he could draw another from the left over slips I had.

I suppose I should be grateful he didn't try to get away with hydrogen. I wish I could tell you which atom he then drew, but I don't recall. It wasn't one of the bigger ones, though.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

That's My Job

It was a weird roving day at the middle school. The 7th grade teachers were meeting with the 6th grade teachers from the elementary schools, but only for a period at a time. So, several subs were dispatched to cover, meaning I covered four different teachers that day.

I love roving days.

Third period I covered a reading class. The teacher had written out her lesson plans, and she had listed all fourteen students enrolled, highlighting the six who I needed to keep an eye on.

Half the class worked on a computer program while the other half read books. Half way through the period, they switched places. Two boys on the computers could not get their computers to hear their microphones. (They read out loud for the computer.)

Liz (not me, but one of the students on the watch list) came over to "help". I shooed her away. Yes, I knew the whole restart the computer thing. I knew to try to switch out the mic. Eventually, one boy got his to work, but not the second. Liz returned to tell him to use Internet Explorer rather than Google Chrome. (Which, sadly, did the trick.)

Now it was time for Liz to get to work. She was in the reading-a-book group. But, she was more interested in other things. Like, one boy had his monitor turned away from her. She informed me he could be doing something he shouldn't. (He wasn't. I noticed that earlier and verified he was on task.)

Then, Liz needed to remind me that they were only reading for 25 minutes and then they'd switch. And she needed to know when the period ended. And on and on.

I calmly explained that she had a job to do. Read. Taking care of those other things? My job.

I explained that I was keeping an eye on the clock. I was keeping an eye on the class. I was doing my job.

Liz only settled once she got to go on the computer. (The second half of the class was much calmer than the first.)

Ah, the joys of middle school...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Marquis held up a fragment of paper. By fragment, picture that corner of a paper that gets torn off and is only a speck on the floor. It wasn't more than a half inch long in any direction.

"Evidence," he intoned.

Daniel, his seat partner, burst into laughter.

I didn't think that was very funny. But, I did recognize what it was--an inside joke. I didn't need the particulars explained. I probably wouldn't get it. That didn't mean that it wasn't insanely funny to Daniel.

Unfortunately, this happened in a 7th grade world history class. While the rest of the students were working in near silence.

Now, everyone wanted to know what was so funny.

How do you explain an inside joke to a room full of 12 (or by now, 13)-year-olds?

You don't.

It would take way too long to explain, and the nice working atmosphere would have been lost. Besides, most of them wouldn't get it either.

(And no, I didn't seek to punish the boys for this. They're allowed a bit of fun every now and then.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

It's a staple in certain kinds of fantasy. The Law of Names. (You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it.) Knowing a creature's true name gives you power over it. So...

What if our names had power over us? (It would probably have to be our full and complete name, but I'll leave that up to you.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Backdrop in Context

Last week I promised a "finished" picture of the thing I've been working on since January. Here it is...

And with a little more context...

Aaaannnnnddddd...It's not quite done yet. Or, I should say it's the first part of a multi-part project.

I thought it might be nice to knit a sunshield for my farmers market setup. Since I hadn't set up since I started the backdrop, I needed to see the thing up to see how much more I have to do. I thought I would need three panels. But this panel is narrower than I realized. I may need to knit four or five.

Or, I may knit a second panel to balance this one for the other side, and knit something different for the middle. I haven't decided yet.

(The reason the panel isn't wider has to do with how long the needles I used are. Long story that will only make sense to another knitter.)

It's a work-in-progress. Of course, I may scrap the whole idea and just buy a tarp or something.

In other news, remember my clock that likes to go into Daylight Saving Time on a whim? Sunday began Daylight Saving Time. My clock should have been thrilled. Nope. Decided Sunday was the perfect time to remain in Standard Time. Deep sigh.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Kinders Horror

Friday at the middle school. Day two of a two-day assignment. 6th period prep, but I knew I'd be covering an extra period. Until I got the horrible news...

Some emergency/problem/mix-up at the elementary schools, and they needed subs who had 6th period preps to divert. And I was on the hook.

I got sent to cover... kindergarten...

For an hour.

So, I really shouldn't complain. It wasn't that bad. They sort of followed directions.

They had this pipe thing that they spoke into, I suppose so they could hear themselves read out loud. Instead, they burped into it.

They were supposed to get into partners and read something back and forth for three minutes. I timed them. I didn't see any reading happening.

They had a math worksheet. The teacher showed it to me. I went to get it to pass it out, and I couldn't find it anywhere. And it had been right there before she left...

I was to read a Dr. Seuss book to them. We ran out of time before I could finish.

I was so glad to see the end of that day. So glad.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hiding in the Bathroom

I think that many of the students at the continuation high school have a serious cell phone addiction. Well, it's either that or they just don't care to make even a pretense of abiding by the school rules. Perhaps it's both.

I was in the math class. One boy had his cell phone out, texting or something rather than doing the assigned work. So, I told him to put the cell phone away.

A few minutes later, I returned to him, and his cell phone was out again. I thought my warning was pretty clear--put the phone away and get to work. Apparently not. So, this time I made my warning abundantly clear. The next time I saw his cell phone, he was going to turn it into the office.

Sure enough, a few minutes after that, he was on his phone again. He'd been warned.

But no. Now he was going to "be good". He finally headed for his computer. He'd keep the phone put away.

Um, right. Sure. Because my previous two warnings were so well heeded.

We did the usual dance, with me informing him that he could take the phone to the office or I could call the office to come and get it. He finally left.

At one point, I had glanced down at the paper he'd been working on, so when I called the office to inform them that he was on his way, I gave that name. And was promptly informed by the class at large that that was not the boy's name. The boy I named was sitting right there.

So, what was his name? No one seemed to know.

I called the office back. The secretary told me that two boys had just diverted into the bathroom.

After a bunch of back and forth, we finally figured out the name of the boy I'd sent. But he still hadn't come out of the bathroom. The secretary sent someone in to get him. (This boy had just come out of the bathroom. He claimed that he had no idea if anyone else was in there.)

The boy had planned to hide in the bathroom, either for the rest of the period or until he figured he'd been in there long enough to convince me that he had given up his cell phone. Because that is what they do now. (Which is why we call the office to tell them that someone is coming to turn in a cell phone.)

If only they put this kind of effort into their schoolwork. See why I think some of them have a real addiction problem?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Two Subs

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite assignments is subbing for a co-teacher. It's great to have someone in the room who knows the routine. But lately, it seems that many times when I have a co-teaching assignment, both teachers are out. Leaving the class with two subs covering.

Monday I subbed for a special ed teacher I'd covered before. (Namely, in the above link. She was the high school teacher there.) Which was funny as I'd covered the other half of the teaching team in her 3rd period the previous week. It was in 4th period that we had two subs.

I hate to speak ill of another sub, but this guy was kinda useless. It was a freshman class, and they had a quiz followed by silent reading time. He handed off the lesson plans to me, and proceeded to spend the whole period on his phone while sitting at the teacher's desk at the back of the room.

Me? I spent much of the period going after the four boys who refused to read. Because someone had to do it.

Thursday I was back in the class I started the year in. This time I was covering the special ed teacher.

My co-teacher for the first two classes was running late, but he got there before the final bell. (Considering I did the exact same thing the previous day at another school, I have no cause to complain.) He proceeded to jump right in and get the class going.

The class responded to him very well, and we got through the two classes we had together easily. It was so nice to not have to do it all myself. In fact, he was the one doing most of the work. I was just there for support. (He explained the assignment; I walked the room to deal with the students who were causing distractions.)

It's interesting to see other subs' teaching styles. We rarely get to spend much time comparing notes, so it's nice to have days like this.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Not a Liar

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Not sure why lying is suddenly on my radar. Perhaps I watch too many TV shows where main characters lie. Or perhaps the students' usual MO has gotten to me. Anyway...

What if you found yourself unable to utter a lie?

(Yes, I know there was that one Jim Carrey movie with this as the premise.)

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Magic Formula

Have you seen this commercial?

I hadn't when I stumbled upon this article from Lifehacker (here's the video that accompanied it)...

I was curious. It seemed simple enough to me, so I thought I'd make up a batch and check it out. I finally got around to it this past week. I picked up all the ingredients (except for the essential oil which I ordered online) at the dollar store, making it a very cheap project.

Turns out, it works as advertised. I was surprised. Pleased. And I thought I'd share with you all, in case anyone wants to try it themselves.

And, of course, I must update you on my progress with my backdrop. Three weeks ago...


If all goes according to plan (and that's a very big if), I should have a final picture to show you next week.

Have you ever tried something you found on the internet? Did it work as expected?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

Friday. 6th period golf. As happens when an athletic team has a sub, they just hung out in the teacher's classroom for the period.

I've covered many of these kinds of classes. They sprawl out on the desks. A couple will ask to go and do work in other classes. But mostly they sit around and talk. And play with their phones.

As long as they aren't tearing apart the classroom, I'm pretty lenient with these kinds of classes. I become the fly on the wall, listening to all the strange things teens talk about when they have nothing in particular to do.

So, when they tried to figure out the phone number for the school, I thought nothing much of it. Someone knew it off the top of his head.

And when they started asking who various students' favorite teachers were, I listened with half an ear.

I was curious when the boy dialed his cell phone. Normally I'd put a stop to them making phone calls in class, but they had a free period, and it doesn't bother me if during a free period they call someone.

But then he got the switchboard. And he shushed the rest of them. He asked for a classroom...

"Is this Ms. A?" He got an affirmative response. "Is your refrigerator running?"

I'm not sure what shocked me more. That the boy actually made a prank call. Or that he used that old chestnut. I mean, seriously. There's got to be a better...

I put a stop to that nonsense. No teacher needs that sort of distraction 6th period on a Friday. And it's just silly.

But the conversation continued on in the prank call vein. Apparently, this was not the first time he had done this. He had stories of previous pranks.

Just in case you thought kids these days get up to new tricks...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tennis Ball Boys

Some things just become a part of the scenery.

At one of the schools I sub at, there are two boys who have found a way to entertain themselves before school. They kick a tennis ball at each other.

I have not been able to discern the rules of this particular game, but there must be rules, for they've been playing this game just about all year. Every morning. Well, at least every morning that I'm at that school.

The game takes place at the edge of campus. They are right by the gate that leads to the faculty parking lot. So, I see them every morning I'm there. Usually, the tennis ball has been hurled at one or the other of them just as I get through the gate. They pause to let me pass, and then they resume.

At one point, a third boy had joined them. But this week it was back to just the two of them. I wonder if they keep score. If it's a continuing game, or if they start a new one every day.

It's become my morning thing. "Oh, there are the tennis ball boys..."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


12th grade English. We were in the computer lab so they could type up their essays.

I did my usual walk around. Students quickly got off basketball games, music videos, and email accounts. Diego, however, stubbornly remained on a local community college's website.

"You could at least make a pretense of doing the assignment."

After defining pretense for him, I waited for him to get on task. But it wasn't happening. Diego explained he wasn't going to do it. He didn't care about his grade. Didn't care if he graduated.

Rather than argue all period, I walked away. (And wrote down his name.)

Halfway through the period I did another walk around. (Well, it wasn't the only other one I did...) Diego was on his phone now.

I looked over his shoulder.

He was typing his essay. On his phone.

He spent all that time and energy arguing with me about doing his assignment only to turn around and surreptitiously do his assignment? Someone please explain this to me.

So, I asked him. Typing his essay on his phone? He admitted to it.

And I walked away. Because he was on task. And I had no idea what else to say.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What if every lie you told came true?