Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

(Besides the mask, I haven't done any Halloween projects this year. Ah well. Maybe next year.)

Friday, October 28, 2016

In Tears

I made a 7th grade girl cry. I'm not proud of this. But it kinda couldn't be helped.

I had been warned that 4th period could be "immature". I had also been warned that the teacher had a strict no cell phone policy. I had already dealt with a boy eating in class (after he had been told not to) and another boy who seemed to think he could choose any seat in the room he liked.

And I won't even go into the girl who bellowed "whale" while I was trying to give instructions. When I questioned her on this utterance, she informed me that she hadn't been talking to me. Well, clearly, but that doesn't negate my question.


The class was working quietly (as they had been instructed to do). I happened to look over towards the corner, and I caught another girl with her phone out apparently taking a picture of someone across the room.

Um, no.

They had been warned about cell phones, so I went to confiscate. And surprisingly, I got no protest from the girl. She handed the device over, and she went back to work.

Later in the period, the girl raised her hand. She had a question about the assignment. And she was crying.

She asked her question. I asked her about her tears. She told me that she was going to get into so much trouble. I answered her question about the assignment and moved on.

At the end of the period, I returned her phone to her. I probably would have even without the tears. It's so rare that a confiscation goes without even a bit of protest or a period of hearing about how unfair I was. Besides, I did write her name down. She's probably going to get a detention. Which, considering the infraction, seems like a fair punishment to me.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


"Is Ms. S your sister?"

I get this sort of question about the teacher I'm covering that day more often than you might think. I usually just give a "no". Sometimes, I add in, "I don't have a sister". And that's usually that.

But this particular day, Elias wasn't going to let it go. He insisted that we looked so similar. (I've met the teacher. Perhaps there's a slight resemblance, but not much of one.) So, Elias took it upon himself to tell each student as they entered the room that I was, in fact, Ms. S's sister.

I shook my head. Silliness.

Elias told his lie. The student looked at me. I shook my head.

This didn't last, of course. I'll only spend so much time bothering with trying to disabuse them of some notion about me they get in their heads. Then, I figure if they choose to believe something that's not true about me, it's not really my problem.

By the end of the period, I had kicked Elias out of class. The reason was completely unrelated. It's too bad he isn't using his strange imagination for good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goodbye, Asia

It's funny how sometimes I do get the ending to the story.

Remember Asia? A couple weeks ago, I covered for a special ed teacher. By a strange sort of luck, I happened to be talking to another special ed teacher, and the topic of Asia came up. That other teacher had Asia on her case load. (She was the special ed teacher keeping track of Asia.)

The reason that Asia came up at all? They had just had a meeting about her (and with her), and they had come up with an alternative placement for her. As of that day, she was gone.

I got a chance to verify this the following week when I again covered for the science teacher. (Here's a link to that post.) The only class I was dreading was 6th period. But, I discovered on the teacher's rosters that Asia was no longer in her class. (A withdrawn note was put next to her name.) Hooray!


6th period was finishing up the movie Super Size Me. (The health classes do a unit on nutrition, and they hit fast food pretty hard. It's a great series of lessons.) I got the class started, and then the door opened.

Asia. (Several students had lamented that "their friend" wasn't in class. I think they were baiting me. I ignored the statement.) She needed to "pick up something". She proceeded to hug half the students in class all the while talking about how she just needed one thing.

I gave her a couple minutes, but then it was time to shoo her out of class.

"Bye, Asia," I said.

"Well, you don't have to say it like that!" she responded.

Deep sigh. At least now she's gone. (And hopefully her new placement will be a much better fit for her.)

It was amazing how much easier that class was to handle with her gone. Still some issues, but not nearly as pronounced.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

False Praise

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 someone started a rumor about you that was in no way true? What if because of this false rumor, you got a benefit that you did not earn? (I'll not specify a meaning for "benefit". I'll leave that up to your imagination.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Some Clown Made Me Sick

You've heard about the clowns, right? The idiots who are dressing up as clowns to terrorize people. Because some people think this sort of thing is funny.

It was Friday at the middle school. They were at lunch.

It hadn't been a hard day. I had been warned by neighboring teachers that the last sub had had issues with Ms. K's classes. Ms. K isn't one to tolerate that sort of behavior, so they were under dire consequences for misbehavior. And things were going well.

It was a normal type of assignment. We were to read a section of the book together, and then they had questions to answer. But Ms. K had left us a "nuclear option". If the students were too disruptive so that we couldn't get through the reading, they were to write out the section instead. Word for word.

The morning classes went smoothly. We got through the reading easily. Then they worked silently on the questions.

As I was coming back from my bathroom run at lunch, a couple teachers warned me of the lunchtime excitement. Apparently, some clown had "invaded" the school and ran around chasing the middle schoolers at lunch.

No. Oh no.

Middle schoolers are impressionable. They believe in the Illuminati and whatever other conspiracy theory you want to dream up. They scare easily. We, with years of experience with these things, know not to take a lot of it too seriously. We know this is all a hoax. But not the middle schoolers. For them it's all very real. And it's coming to get them.

Just what I need with groups of students who were already wound up...

The class arrived. And were the sort of loud I'd expect after lunch and after being chased by a clown. Except, they claimed it was three clowns. And everyone had stories...

So, I attempted to rein them in. Their warm up was a freewrite, so they could write about anything they wanted. I told them to write about the clown. Only that didn't have the desired effect. They wanted to talk about it, not write about it.

We went into the reading. One student refused to read. Then the phone rang. I was to send a student to the office as she was going home. (By the end of the day, 20% of my class was gone. Presumably because their parents picked them up because the school was "unsafe".) Then another student "had to" answer her cell phone because her mother was "blowing it up".

Then the principal came on the loudspeaker. The clown was a student. He had been caught. The principal had the clown costume. And the student had been "dealt with".

But there were three clowns, they protested.

I tried to get them to read. I really did. But they weren't having it.

Okay, fine. They get to copy the section, then.

Ugh. Shortly thereafter, my throat got sore. Which is my usual first stage of a cold. And I hadn't even been yelling.

I'll be so glad when this clown hysteria dies down.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I didn't really get into the four days I spent in the forensics/biology class (three periods of forensic science, two periods of biology). I kind of ran out of time and space. But then the following week...

I had a 7th grade class work silently for the whole period. And I did not even ask them to do that. I had a class that by all rights should have been a disaster go smoothly. And I had a day where the classes were instructed to work silently, and they did. I do have weeks that go like that. Good thing the previous week still had stories left over.

Anyway, I was in this class for four days due to a sudden emergency illness (hospitalization was involved), which meant the week was fairly chaotic.

Day one, the students all descended on the rats...

I tend to fret over pets in the classroom. Are they being fed? Do they have everything they need?

But they absolutely, positively must remain in their cages. Because they're not my pets. I don't know what's allowed. And if anything goes wrong, I'm ultimately responsible.

The first thing the students did? They took them out.

I put my foot down. "Put them back. Leave them alone."

Them: "Are you afraid of the rats?"

Deep sigh. "No."

But they weren't hearing "no". In their minds, the only reason I wasn't allowing them to handle the rats was because I had to be frightened of them. (Apparently, handling the rats is permitted by the teacher. Cool. So long as the teacher is there to supervise.)

Fine. Whatever. I've given up denying stuff. The kiddos can believe what they want. They're going to anyway. And spending time denying it isn't worth the effort.

So, I sort of won that battle. The rats were put away. And stayed put away.

As did the snake. (Apparently it was hiding well as no one even attempted to handle it.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The One Problem

I'm back. The day last week that I would have normally written all my posts for the week was the day the cold hit me hard. And then rather than playing catch up later, I realized that it was probably for the best. 

I've almost caught up on my blog visiting. And as for the cold, well, I've got a lingering cough, but I'm on the mend. Now, back to my regular stories...

It was one of the good days. The biggest problem I had was staying awake. Silent classes. On task. No issues.

And then he walked in with 6th period.

Trayvon sat over in the back far corner. When I questioned him on this, he explained that "the teacher had moved him". Most days I would believe this, but every other class had just had a seating chart update (several students asked me where they sat), and the seating chart was accurate. (And Trayvon should have been seated in front of me.)

But I let that slide. That's an easy note to leave in the interests of keeping the peace. (Some battles aren't worth fighting. Especially when it's going to suck all the oxygen from the room. Why battle one student to the detriment of the rest of the class?)

I explained to the 11th graders that they were using their books. So, they went to retrieve them. All but Trayvon. His had been "stolen".

There was one book left. The name on it said "Tray". Um, not his book? He claimed not.

I found him a temp book for the day. But before he started on the day's assignment, he needed to use the restroom.

After he left, the rest of the class informed me he might not come back.

Oh really? Oh, please, let that be the case.

Nope, they were wrong. He did return. But while he was out, I replaced the temp book with the book I was convinced was his. And he didn't seem to notice.

The rest of the class worked silently. So, Trayvon slept. (These students fade when they don't get attention.) It wasn't until the end of the period that Trayvon noticed he had the "wrong" book. When he went to return it to me. After having done nothing all period.

Deep sigh. Better get to know him now. I have a feeling I'm going to see a lot of him at the continuation high school in the near future.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Misplaced Betrothed

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 ;)

Ah, the fall TV season. New shows. And this year, a couple of them have time travel elements. Like Timeless, which is all about time travel. And Frequency, which doesn't have anyone time traveling, but the timeline gets messed up all the same.

Both shows hit an interesting snag...

What if you messed up your timeline (via time travel or some other means) so that your fiancé(e) no longer knew who you were? Or, you suddenly have a fiancé(e) that you don't remember at all?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I'm the Bad Guy

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 ;)

One favorite trope in speculative fiction is the alternate universe. Most sci fi shows do at least one episode where we get to see our main characters live lives almost like the ones in the main universe. If you know what I'm talking about, this question will be quite familiar.

What if you ended up in a parallel universe and discovered that you were now the villain of the story?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Time Off

I've been a little absent online the past few days. It's just a minor cold, but I've been taking it easy, and that means I haven't been keeping up with the blogs like I usually do. I'll have to play catch up this coming week.

Until then, I leave you with a picture that I took about a month ago of a spider I crocheted last year. (Not much new has come off the needles and/or hook the past few days, either.)

I had intended to relist them in my shop, but time has gotten away from me. Ah well. Have a pleasant Monday, and I'll be by to catch up on my blog reading in the next day or so. (Definitely not today. Today I'm sleeping.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reacting Badly

Remember Asia?

I had a feeling I'd be running into her again. Unfortunately.

It was "my" prep period for the day. The math teacher had a meeting, so they needed someone to cover. He explained what I needed to do. Easy enough. Then Asia walked in.

And reacted badly.

The teacher talked her back into the room. He got the students started, and then he took off for his meeting.

Asia... Well, I was the enemy now, so she was going to resist me. No matter what. And a class I thought might go well...

(Add in other students who were now going to do what they wanted while I was doing battle. And technology that wouldn't cooperate. It was a hard, hard period.)

At one point I pulled Asia outside to have a chat. She told me that I hated her because she's half black. I told her I had no such opinion of her. I thought we could be friends. But I needed her help. I needed her to follow directions so we could get through the lesson.

She tried, I think. And things got better for a time. But she seems to be incapable of sitting still.

When she needed to use the restroom while her friend needed a health office pass...

I talked to their teacher later. I let him know what happened. And he told me that they are tracking her behavior, trying to modify it.

The next day I saw Asia across the way. She saw me. And from that distance, I could hear her reaction to me. "That's the sub that hates me. She got me in trouble."

Deep sigh. At least I know she's got issues. And the school is attempting to work with her.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Volunteers

It is ridiculously easy to get student volunteers to run errands for me during class. Like going to the office to get the classroom key.

(That's a long story having to do with keys locked up in a safe place and the ones who had access to the safe place were all coincidentally unavailable before school.)

Second period hadn't quite started when I asked for someone to go to the office. I got three volunteers (of the five that were in the room at the time). Who to choose?

Well, where I was going to send the volunteer took a bit of explaining. It wasn't like they needed to go to the health office, the attendance office, or another office with which just about every student is familiar. So, I began my explanation.

"Do you know where the office of [specific assistant principal] is?"

Girl: "Oh, that's the office next to Ms. M..."

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Because, it was to Ms. M that I needed the student to go. (She was the keeper of the keys.)

The boy protested. He really wanted to go. "I know where that is."

Me: "Who is Ms. M?"

Boy: "Um, she's a lady..."

Nah. I'd rather send the girl who seems to have a good rapport with the secretary than the boy who kind of vaguely knows the office to which I'd be sending him.

(For the record, students aren't supposed to have keys. But this was a special circumstance where several things had gone wrong. And the student actually retrieved a sealed envelope with my name on it. So, not ideal, but necessary at that moment in time.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Not Hiding the Damage

Freshman math. It was the math class that used to be called algebra 1. Now it's a combo of algebra and geometry... Anyway, the students had the class for two periods because they needed extra assistance.

I offered to help them with their assignment. It was the review for their test the next day. Did they take me up on my offer? Nope. Instead, most found "other things" to do.

Like, one boy decided that he'd rather be drawing. (They have little white boards that they use for problems that the teacher assigns in class.) Only, he got out his Sharpie instead of a dry erase marker.

(Dry erase markers wipe off. No harm done. Sharpies, on the other hand, are permanent. Even on white boards.)

I don't know what he wrote, but he found a way to obscure it when he discovered that it wasn't going to erase. Then he put the board back under his desk...

Not so fast, bucko. That's damage to school property. Somehow, he seemed to think it was no big deal.

Well, I thought it was a big deal. I retrieved the white board and I left a note explaining exactly what had happened to it.

The next day, I was in the library on an unrelated errand. The boy stopped me.

"You were my sub yesterday."

OK. Didn't ring any bells.

"You got me in trouble for writing on the white board..."

Oh, OK, now I know exactly who you are.

What? He thought I was going to let that pass. Ah, freshmen. So naive.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Good Lie

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 ;)

I started watching The Good Place. It's not a favorite, but it's good enough until other shows supplant it. But it's what prompted this week's question...

What if you told a big fat lie to get into a place where you weren't supposed to be? What if it turned out that that was exactly where you belonged? 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Finished Mask (and SIL Update)

I finished the mask. And I gave it to my sister-in-law for her birthday...

...because, while I really wanted to make the mask, I have absolutely no use for it. It came out pretty cool, don't you think?

Some of you may remember the last time I mentioned her, a little over a month ago. Things were looking grim. Via her GoFundMe page:
 ***August 22nd update***
Here is the latest. Heather is currently on the road, driving with a nurse to Northwestern University near Chicago. Why is she doing this, you ask? Well, here is why. Her bone marrow is failing. Quickly.  
The clinical trial she was in at the Mayo Clinic was unsuccessful. Her trip to Panama was a major success in reversing damage but was not able to fix her bone marrow. Extensive blood and bone marrow tests came back positive for two things-- myleofibrosis and acute myeloid leukemia. The thing is, those two conditions can’t exist at the same time. The doctor who examined her blood and sent the results said that he has never seen results like this… ever. He classified the results “inconclusive.” (Go here for the full update.) 
Since, there's been another update:
***September 25 update - part 2 of 2***
(please see part 1 for details from the Chicago treatment)
So where are things now? Her immune system is back to 100%. The bone marrow is somewhere in the 75-85% range of being regenerated. Her body is producing good blood. She does needs to get blood and platelets every 4-6 days while the bone marrow spreads and grows. So much better than where she was before she left when she was going to the hospital every day for 6-8 hours of blood transplants and other various infusions. Things look to be moving towards a full recovery from this.  
The bad news is that while this was a complete success, scans of her brain and spine have shown that the lesions that had been healed from the last Panama trip have come back to life. Currently most are very small, but others are not... (For the full update, go here.