Friday, March 16, 2018

Bad Forgery

My second day of a three day assignment in the eighth grade English class was a Friday. It was "Fun Friday". Any student who met certain requirements (namely, good grades and attendance) got dismissed to lunch 20 minutes early and admitted to a fun activity.

I had the list of students. I had their passes. I passed out the passes to the seven students in class who had earned it. And at the allotted time, I allowed them to leave.

Jesse held up a pass, said he was part of the group, and attempted to leave the class with the group. But Jesse wasn't on the list.

Why do the difficult students think they can get away with this stuff?

Jesse wasn't "bad" per se. These classes were pretty good overall, so the worst I can say for Jesse is he got out of his seat a bit too frequently. I had to take an extra moment to ask for his attention when I was giving the class instruction. But nothing out of the ordinary, especially for a sub.

But trying to sneak out of class with "the good kids"? Nope.

After the rest of the class had been dismissed for lunch, I found Jesse's "pass" on the floor. The passes were preprinted class schedules (with student ID numbers) for each student. Jesse had scratched out someone's name and printed his name in pencil above it.

I don't know what he was planning to do with that pass if he managed to get past me. No one would mistake that for an actual pass for this activity.

Eighth grade logic escapes me.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stolen Time

I used to have this small travel clock. On days when I was in a classroom where the clock didn't work or was missing, I would pull it out so I would know what time it was. (I don't wear a watch, and my phone lives in a buried part of my bag.) I need to know what time it is so I can time things like when it's time for the class to pack up their stuff.

It was day one in an eighth grade English class. They had a writing assignment, and things were going pretty smoothly. Third period was a bit of a challenge, but nothing too terrible for eighth graders.

At about three minutes until the end of the period, I noted the time via my travel clock, and then I announced to the class it was time to clean up.

They packed up, returned their books to the shelves, and generally did the get-ready-to-leave stuff.

The bell rang. As the class left, I went back to verify my travel clock's time was about right. (It's something I do frequently. If my clock is more than a couple minutes off, I'll fix it. If it's about a minute off, I remember to take that into account when I'm watching the time.)

I went back to where the clock was, only it wasn't. It was gone.

So, naturally, the next day I confronted period three about the missing clock right off the bat.

And they... were offended... by my accusations.

Offended. Them.

So, yeah, the clock is gone. And I'm sad about that. (It wasn't anything expensive, and it's probably time to replace the thing anyway, but that's not the point.)

But I'm not real happy with how they treated my announcement.

Two students "had to" step out they were so angry. At me. For accusing them of stealing my clock. (No, I didn't accuse them specifically. Because I have no idea who took it.)

Others complained that I had no right to accuse them of the theft. They weren't to blame. And they were so upset they couldn't take the scheduled quiz that day. (They took the quiz. I wasn't about to let them get away with that too.)

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at their audaciousness. At this point, please laugh.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Wasted Day

Eighth grade math. I covered the class for two days.

On day one, they were finishing up a lab. They had measured their heights and their armspans the previous day, and they were comparing the two. It was the kind of assignment that they should have easily finished.

But, they were on sub behavior.

It took them the whole period to graph all of their data. (That was roughly 30 points per class, but still, a whole hour?)

As Mr. J, their teacher, had been at a training, he stopped by at the end of the day to see how things went. When he learned that they hadn't finished what they needed to finish, he told me to go ahead and finish it up the next day.

And we did. One class even got some free time. Another got finished with only about five minutes left in class, so no free time. But they finished, so all was good.

Then sixth period arrived.

The prior day they had been difficult. But on this day...

I was authorized to do the assignment with them. That means, if they were following along, they got a complete assignment without having to do too much thinking. (Oh sure, I called on students to provide answers, but I made sure what they wrote down were the correct answers.)

But sixth period wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise.

I stood up in front of them. I got their attention. Then I turned to go over the first question, and they started talking.

I stopped. Waited. Asked for attention. Then I tried again.

They started talking again. So, around we went...

After about forty minutes of not being able to get to the answer to the first question because they wouldn't let me do it, I gave up. There are only so many ways one can ask for a class to stop talking and pay attention so we can do the work.

(The other classes that day managed to let me teach. So, it wasn't beyond the capability of an eighth grader.)

I had them pull out a sheet of paper and write a letter to their teacher explaining why they got no work done that day. I rather doubt they took any responsibility for their actions, but I was done at that point.

This is why most teachers give their classes worksheets on sub days. Although, not all classes behave this way. It's just so frustrating when they do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gone and Forgotten

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.😉

Did you know that the Aboriginal people of Australia do not use the names of people who have passed away? I saw a reference to this in a movie several years ago. However, this thought just hit me recently...

What if we stopped listening to the music of artists who have passed on?

Friday, March 9, 2018


Friday. Sixth period. On a day that had been drizzly and dreary. For a middle school special ed math class.

They were... interesting...

Samuel decided he wasn't going to do a thing I said. I asked him to complete the practice problem. He refused. I asked him to get out a pencil, he wouldn't move.

He took offense when I stared at him. I told him I'd stop if he started working. Ultimately, I got distracted by another student.

Because it wasn't just Samuel. Ashley didn't like sitting in the back. And Edward was looking at her. So, Ashley was moved. And Edward was talked to for twisting around in his seat. But Ashley was angry at Edward for calling her name, only it wasn't Edward. Nope. It was Samuel.

Did I mention these kiddos had a quiz?

Luckily, the instructional aide was there. She did all the work. I can't imagine how bad things would have been without her being there.

Some hours seem longer.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hiding the Phone Prank

Advanced eighth grade English. So, I figured "the good kids" and no problems, right? Ah, not so fast...

Third period. They had just finished their warm up (defining the root word of the day: mort/mor, and fixing the grammatical errors in a given sentence). I was passing out their assignment for the day while another student was stamping their homework.

There was a commotion on the other side of the room.

A boy was chasing a girl.

Girl: "I didn't take it. Here, check my backpack."

Boy: "Give me back my phone!"

Oh crap. And, of course, these are eighth graders, so the whole class was now into this. Several students were looking for the phone while others were enjoying the scene. One girl in the back far corner couldn't stop laughing.

Somehow, I got the two of them seated. I reminded them that their teacher, Ms. R, was not going to be happy when she heard about this. That seemed to quell most of the merriment. Although, the boy still wanted his phone.

Well, the girl in the back far corner who enjoyed the show way too much? Yeah, she had it. She hadn't taken it, however. No. That was the girl who protested her innocence.

I've seen this show before. One student steals item. Then she deposits it somewhere else. Student two plays dumb, because she didn't take it. She's just hiding it.

Whatever. All I want is peace for the period. Ms. R can sort the rest of it out upon her return. Because, you know I did tell her all about it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Saved by the Internet

Did you know that if you type in the title and the first couple of questions of a worksheet, you may be able to find a copy of that worksheet online?

I discovered this trick quite by accident. I was looking for the answers to something or other. I did just this, and the original popped up.

So, when the worksheet that the ELD (English language development. Read: students who moved here from elsewhere and are learning English) class had was missing key components, after not finding the book it came from in the classroom, I checked for it online.

(This was the third day the teacher had been out due to illness. She'd left early on Friday because she wasn't feeling well. Then she called in sick on Monday and this day which was a Tuesday. That she managed to get a very detailed lesson plan to me, with worksheets!, is pretty amazing. We'll forgive her for the worksheets being incomplete.)

They were supposed to identify the tense of the verb, only the verbs were missing. Oops. Somehow, the copy had everything that was italicized blanked out. I was going to come up with some random verbs, but the list was rather long.

So, I typed in the publisher of the worksheet (it was printed on it), the title, and voila... It actually popped up. Not only that, but the whole book it came from. Wow.

And because the computer was connected to the projector, I was able to project what was missing from the worksheet for the class to copy down.

The Internet saves my butt yet again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Battle Scars

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 that mysterious ache/pain you woke up with this morning (that you have no memory of getting) is from some battle you fought last night of which you have no memory?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Porcupine Stitch Torture

I got some yarn for Christmas. So, now I'm knitting a scarf for me 😎

I found a stitch pattern in one of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries. Something reversable. I swatched. It seemed to be a fairly easy pattern. So, I thought I was good to go.

Then, Saturday, I discovered I had made an error. I spent a while trying to fix, until I ultimately had to ladder back several rows (but just in the one section).

(Luckily, the pattern repeat is only 12 stitches. It made the section I needed to fix very contained. Totally doable.)

I still have no idea where I went wrong. But I got it fixed.

I kept going, only to run into another error. That I had made just after discovering the first error...

Some days I just need to set down the knitting.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Big Hint

Special ed. middle school science. Friday. They had an open book quiz.

About halfway through first period, the instructional aide (Ms. S) noticed that the four blood types were listed on the board. Identifying them was one of the questions on the quiz. Oops.

Since erasing them would have drawn attention to them, we decided to leave them up. It was an experiment. Would the students notice?

The students who finished early enough had the opportunity to fix wrong answers. (They get docked a point.) Many had found the blood types. They were in the book. What wasn't in the book but was a question was, "What's the universal donor?" And they all missed that one.

Ms. S pointed out that their teacher Mr. M had gone over that with them. But still, they couldn't recall it.

Towards the end of the period, Mr. M came by. (He was out due to a field trip, but the group hadn't left yet. He was checking in.) We pointed out the blood types listed on the board. We also mentioned that the class didn't remember what the universal donor was.

Instead of erasing the blood types, Mr. M made a slight modification to the board...

So, the rest of the day saw this right away and got the answer correct, right?

Eh, not so much.

We basically had to hint rather strongly to get them to notice. And still...

There's a reason they're in special ed. Although, I know plenty of regular ed students who would miss the obvious as well.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bus Stop

I was back at the adult transition center, and of course we ended up at the mall.

This was a different class than the one I'd covered previously. These students were a bit more high functioning than the other class.

Outside the mall, we waited at the bus stop. I noted the signs. There were four different bus lines that stopped in this one spot: one for the city we were in, two for neighboring larger cities, and one for the neighboring county. (If you know the area, that all four lines met here would make sense.)

I have a car. I don't normally take the bus. So, while I knew what color bus ours was, I had no idea which route we were on.

When a bus that was the right color stopped, I didn't know if it was ours. I asked the students as if I knew the answer and I was just testing them,"Is this our bus?"

Nope, it wasn't. Our bus showed up a short time later.

(There was also an instructional aide with us, so it wasn't like I was doing this solo. But she was a ways away, and I wanted to know if we needed to move just yet. The students didn't appear to care one way or the other.)