Monday, November 11, 2019

Dropping a Lifeline

I started this scarf one year ago today. Aannndddd... I'm just about finished. I think.

It's almost wide enough. Although, what is wide enough? It's probably okay right now...

But I could do another pattern repeat. Maybe. Possibly.

Does it look like I have enough yarn for another pattern repeat?

If I had been thinking and planning ahead, I would have weighed the yarn before and after a pattern repeat. Then I could determine if I have enough yarn left.

But no. I didn't. So, I'm eyeballing this, and I'm notoriously bad at that.

I'm going to go for it. I might make it.

But, I'm hedging my bets. I've dropped a lifeline.

What's a lifeline? It's a strand of yarn strung through all the stitches of one round. So, if it turns out I don't have enough yarn to complete the pattern repeat, I can frog it back to the lifeline and bind off.

I may have enough yarn, though. In that case, all I have to do is pull the lifeline out.

Wish me luck. By the time you read this, I might already know if I made it. The next time you see this scarf, it will be finished one way or the other.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Grading Me?

It was Friday. Twelfth grade English. The school is starting a study hall period, and this was the day all the teachers were to explain the concept via PowerPoint to the students.

This is new to me, too. We did not have study hall when I was in school. I have heard of it, but I've never experienced it first hand.

Of course, I was informed about all of this when I checked in that morning.

My job is pretty much winging things with no prep whatsoever, so I wasn't too concerned. I had access to the PowerPoint slides. I know how to work the in class projector and computer. 

Yes, reading the slides to the students is dreadfully dull, but what else could I do?

So, the class came in, the slides were loaded, and the projector worked. I even had a group that sat quietly while I droned on. Success!

I was about five minutes into it when the door opened. In walked an assistant principal and a counselor.

Administrators walk in from time to time. They may be doing a dress code check or they may be looking to talk to a student for some reason. But this time they just stood in the doorway and watched.

Eeek. I didn't know I was getting graded.

I tried to up my game, but I was doing the presentation cold. And the slides were pretty detailed. There was nothing for me to add to make things more interesting.

The administrators were there for a couple minutes before they left. That's when I breathed a sigh of relief.

It is likely that they were making sure everything was working. But in my mind, I felt as if they were watching and judging. And I was sorely lacking.

We always judge ourselves way more harshly than the world sees us.

The administrators said nothing to me. So, I'm sure it was fine. It must have been fine, right?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Dancing AP

Some days are just strange.

It was Thursday. Halloween. I ended up covering Spanish. (The teacher had taken the Spanish club to Olvera Street for Day of the Dead celebrations.)

Fifth period was an AP (advanced placement) class. The lesson plans had them "joining" their class on the CollegeBoard website (which, of course, hit some technical glitches) and then going outside to practice their song.

Luckily, the smell of wildfires wasn't as bad as it had been earlier in the day. And the winds had died down somewhat.

When I saw "practice their song", I assumed they'd be singing. But when I finally joined them outside, I discovered it was a dance they were doing.

A couple students got stuck "joining" the class. First, most of them had to create an account, and they had the usual issues with the log in then not working. You'd think kids that age would know all the tricks, but they had the same issues we all do with these things.

This dance? They were really bad at it.

Apparently, they were to perform it the next day. So, they badly needed the rehearsal. Things did not go so well.

They were not in sync with each other. A third were at any given time not doing what the others were doing. And until someone started calling out the steps, most kinda stumbled through the whole thing.

Deep sigh. At least they were aware of how not ready they were.

What dance were they doing? I bet most of you are familiar with it...

And in this video? They're way more in sync than period 5 ever got. (The first minute and a half is what they did. At the two minute mark, they switch into the fast version. Period 5 attempted the fast version. Train. Wreck.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Change of Plans

"Oh good. You're here."

This was a rather strange greeting from the secretary, especially as I was pretty early.

She explained that I was listed as there for a half day in the afternoon for a teacher who had no idea she was out. But before I had a chance to freak out, the secretary said she had another gig for me.

A biology teacher had called in sick that morning.

Considering that my job is filling in for absent teachers, you'd think that I covered classes for sick teachers all the time. Not really. But it does happen occasionally.

Since Mr. E had called out that morning, he left no lesson plans in the classroom. Nor had he emailed them. Luckily, I know who his wife is. Her classroom is directly across from his.

Alas, he had not sent lesson plans in with her either. But after a couple phone calls, I was set for the day.

I kind of hate bothering a teacher when he isn't feeling well and could really use the rest. But, I walk into these classes cold. I have no idea what they're doing. And I'd like to not have it be a wasted day for them.

Luckily, the students were finishing up lab work and such, so it was a pretty easy day, once I knew what to instruct them to do.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


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 day I sat down to write a bunch of "what if?" questions to get a bit ahead on the blog. A theme emerged...

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they revealed that they had just arrived to our world? (That is, all the previous sightings of UFOs and Area 51 and such were proven to be hoaxes--or at least not done by them.)

Monday, November 4, 2019

An Old Crocheted Friend

Last week I got a special request via my Etsy shop for a water bottle carrier. Remember my water bottle carrier? I wouldn't be surprised if you don't as I haven't talked about it here in years.

She asked for orange (so I was stoked), and it turned out like this...

It's been so long since I made one that I had to look up the pattern. I could not find it in my notebooks anywhere. Luckily, I had posted it to the blog. It may still be the top post over in the sidebar under "Popular Posts". It's been in the top position for ages now.

I have a couple of these of my own that I pull out for special occasions. Most of the time I keep my water bottle in my bag, but if I don't want to carry my bag... So, it is a useful thing.

And it doesn't take too long to finish one up. Unlike infinity scarves that I've been working on for ages...

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Hall Pass

Seventh grade history. They had bookwork.

It was second period. A student grabbed a huge trophy and headed for the door...


"That's our hall pass," another student informed me.

The thing was massive...

I've covered this teacher's classes before. There used to be something way more reasonable. I recall a shoe.

"Someone lost the last pass, so now this is what we use," the student continued the explanation.

Um, okay then...

Once I was up to speed, I found the whole thing rather funny. And totally in the wheelhouse for this teacher. In fact, the trophy says it's a hall pass...

Mr. F's Hall Pass

(The sticky note was my addition as I don't reveal real names on the blog.)

So, for the rest of the day, when a student asked to use the restroom, they wrestled this unwieldy thing out the door (the closed door, which is hard to open while lugging this), and then returned in a similar manner. The thing is taller than most of the kiddos!

There is a certain genius to this. They can't go gallivanting around campus with this behemoth in tow. And it's not like it's going to get misplaced.

I may have to tell other teachers this idea.

Generally, when kiddos ask to leave class, we write them a pass on a specific official pass paper. Some teachers have created reusable options so they don't have to continually write them. They are generally small enough to be easily carried. (Some teachers have a sense of humor about it. One teacher has a toilet seat. Another has them carry a toilet brush.) This trophy was unusual enough to merit a blog mention.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Looking for a Way Out

For sixth period, I was in charge of the learning center. This is the place where the kiddos go when then need a quiet room for a test or if they need a little extra help with an assignment.

However, sometimes certain students are enrolled in that class, and on this day I had two. I was told one girl wouldn't be a problem. The second girl, however, had a slew of instructions...
...[Nicole's] ONLY responsibility... is to be on time and in an appropriate seat... she is to sit there and be quiet and not distract other students. 
She is not allowed to go to the restroom or anywhere on campus unattended. This includes the: nurse, psychologist, counselor, etc. She will try her best to leave class, please do not allow this... 
Oh, goody.

Happily, Nicole arrived with her one-on-one aide, a man I've met many times. He knows his job, so I wasn't too worried.

But Nicole immediately tried to get out of class. She wanted to see the psychologist.

I know how to play this, however. I said sure, let me just see if she's available. And then I went to the phone to call.

I got her voicemail. This means she was out of her office (so unavailable to meet with Nicole) or not answering her phone (so unavailable to meet with Nicole).

I told Nicole she wasn't there. So, then Nicole asked to see the counselor.

Again, I went to call. This time the counselor picked up.

I asked the counselor if she could see Nicole, but, "If you're busy right now and can't see her, no problem, I will tell her that". Since Nicole had her one-on-one, sending her out would have been okay as she had supervision. 

The counselor was busy at that moment with another student. So, Nicole was denied again.

After that, she settled down, entertained by her one-on-one.

I got busy helping a student with his test (more of a reading through it with him type of thing), so the period passed mostly uneventfully. But at about the last five minutes of class, there was a flurry of activity of students packing up. I looked around, and Nicole was gone.

Another student volunteered to run out and bring her back. Nicole returned a couple minutes later, poked her head in the door, told me there was a minute left of class, and left.


I informed her teacher of this. The teacher told me that they're in the process of finding Nicole another placement (probably in the emotionally disturbed program), but they need documentation.

So, I wrote up Nicole's defiance and sent it to the teacher. Because when a pattern emerges, it makes it easier for the administrative team to put a student like this where she needs to be.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


A high school day contains six periods. Most teachers work five with one "conference" or "prep" period. (The terms are interchangeable.) Teachers use that time, but subs generally just take a nice, long break.

So, when the school needs a class covered, we subs are called first. (We get paid extra for this, so we don't mind.)

We are fully into the school year, so I don't get many prep periods. I generally work them. So, on Monday I expected to get called to go and cover a fifth period (the teacher's prep). But I didn't.

I hadn't gotten any calls that day, actually. So, on the passing period between fourth and fifth, I checked my cell phone...

Yup, the secretary had texted me. (Turns out the classroom phone was broken.) She needed me to cover a fifth period. And I had three minutes to get across campus...

(I was late. Not very late, but late. But it was a computer class, so the kiddos kept themselves busy.)

Most of the time, the secretary informs me of what other class I need to cover on the prep period when I check in in the morning. But sometimes things come up during the day.

On Wednesday, I was not given an extra period, so every time the phone rang that day, I jumped, wondering if this was the call. But no. I got a call from the attendance office that a student needed to pick up his glasses. Two callers were looking for the teacher. A student was being picked up from school.

And then fifth period rolled around (coincidentally, my prep that day as well), and I hadn't gotten called. I get a free period!?!

Just to be safe, I checked my phone. No texts. So, I got comfortable...

About twenty minutes into class, the phone rang. The secretary said that a teacher had an emergency and had to leave campus right then. Sigh...

I packed up my stuff and headed over. It was the yearbook class, so they were occupied. The teacher bolted out as soon as I got there, and I got comfortable.

There's usually not this sort of drama with the covering of the extra periods, so it was strange to get two of those in one week.

(I did cover all six periods all five days last week. Two were assigned when I showed up in the morning, and one teacher didn't have a prep period.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Haunting

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 you could suddenly see ghosts? What if those ghosts could not see you?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Moebius Experiment

I'm coming up on the anniversary of starting the purple infinity scarf. Christmas is less than two months away. And, of course, my Etsy shop can always use new stock.

But am I working on any of that? Of course not. Nope. I just started a new project... for me.

Using birthday yarn (yarn gifted to me for my birthday back in July), I started a very simple infinity scarf...

The yarn is lace weight (read: very thin and fine), so of course this doesn't look like anything yet. If I have enough yarn to make this wide enough, it'll be a perfect scarf for SoCal "winter".

You can't tell from this picture, but this is a moebius. I saw on a TV show how easy it is to do moebius in crochet, and I had to try it.

I'll update when this looks like something more interesting. Although, hopefully now that I've got the cast on out of my system (that's the trick), I can get back to things I should be working on, like a custom order I just received.

In case you're curious (and I know some of you are crocheters or knitters), getting a moebius started is very simple. (This isn't the TV show I saw as unfortunately that's behind a paywall, but the technique is clearly illustrated.)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Lost his Audience

Seventh grade science. They were constructing an argumentative essay (using sentence frames) debating what caused the "canals" on Mars.

Justin walked into second period in play mode. He took way too long to get seated, and then he immediately got up because he "needed" something. And then...

In less than five minutes of class, I was done. Luckily, their teacher had left a list of nearby classrooms to send difficult children to. So, it was time to boot Justin.

Of course he resisted. But eventually he went where I sent him--Ms. D's class.

Before third period, I had a chance to talk to Ms. D. And it sounds like the punishment fit the crime.

Clearly, Justin had been playing to the crowd before. His antics were meant to elicit laughter. In the other classroom, Ms. D sat him near a group of cheerleaders. And they shut him down pretty quickly.

A year or two difference in age does make a huge difference.

Justin tried to entertain the girls. They gave him a look of pure disdain. So, Justin spent the period quietly working on his essay.

As this is all I wanted of him, I was pretty happy with that outcome.

A very different Justin returned to class at the end of the period. (I wanted him to return so he could turn in his work.) Let's hope that next time Justin has a sub in class, he doesn't immediately think it's play time.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Twenty Facts

Earth science. They had a video.

Because kiddos tend to ignore videos, there's generally an assignment to go along with them. On this day it was the standard twenty facts.

The students are supposed to take down a certain number of notes, and these notes get turned in. Twenty is a reasonable number for a fifty minute video. (Ten is too few. If we attempt to tell them a number like twenty-five, the students think it's "too much" and don't bother to do any. So, there's a balance to it.)

At a point in class a bit more than halfway through, I noticed the noise level creeping up. I shushed and moved about in an attempt to settle them back down. It took me way too long to look down at their papers and notice that they all had ten-ish facts listed.

"Remember," I announced, "you need twenty facts."

And that's when they lost it.

"It's only ten facts."

"You said ten facts."

And on and on and on.

They howled. Complained. Argued.

(Had I misspoken? I saw twenty facts in the lesson plan. That seemed like a reasonable number to me. So, I thought twenty. But I can't say for certain that I did, in fact, say twenty. I did admit this in my note to the teacher.)

I informed them that the lesson plan said twenty facts, so they needed to take down twenty facts. They still had about ten minutes left of the video. And I left it at that.

The push back died down, but they weren't going to let that go totally. A couple students started asking around. "Did you do more than ten?" And then, "Don't do more than ten." Yup, I had a mutiny. Which I ignored.

The next day I was on campus again, and I ran into their teacher. She was unsurprised at the kiddos' reaction. Apparently, they're belligerent with her, too.

She told me that a few of them had attempted to get more facts, and they really had had enough time to make up the difference, but she was going to give them ten minutes to take down more facts from their textbooks to get to twenty.

So, if I did screw up (and I'm not convinced that they didn't just hear ten because that's the number they wanted), they wouldn't lose points, because she was going to require all twenty facts for 100%.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Ninth grade math. They... uh... had, um, a word search...

Well, they're not my class, so I rolled with it. They were happy to have an easy day. Easy points.

By fourth period I was no longer too worried about their "work". I should have known better.

Mostly, the kiddos finished the word search quickly, and then they found something else to do.

But, not very long into period four, I noted a group of four boys clearly competing on a video game on their phones.

(There are days I let this sort of thing slide. If they had had a longer assignment or something a bit more academic, the period would have felt less like a free day, and I would have been all over the boys to get to work.)

Still, I knew what was going to happen, and I decided to let it.

At the end of the period, I called for the word searches. A majority of the class had already given them to me, but I like to make a final call to make sure all of them get a chance to turn it in.

The gaming boys...

"It's due?!?"

"Can I do it for homework?"

When I passed it out, I said "due at the end of the period". I was crystal clear. Besides, why would something that is clearly busy work need to be finished at home? (Sometimes teachers leave work that is just filler to keep them busy. That is so much better than leaving them up to their own devices, so I am grateful for those assignments even if I know the kiddos don't invest much energy into them.)

I was a bit too happy that they turned in word searches with two or three words found. If they chose to waste time...

(If only they had done what everyone else did that day and finish the word search first, then got out their game, they would have been fine. It's a lesson I hope they learned.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What's that Noise?

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 you heard a strange tapping (or settling) noise coming from the roof? And when you checked, it wasn't raining. 

(True story. It might happen more often, but usually I wouldn't be able to hear it over the din of students talking...)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Photo Editing

I haven't been doing much knitting or crocheting this past week. I did work a little on the purple infinity scarf, but I didn't make enough progress for photos.

What I did instead was some photo editing. I'm still working on listings for my Etsy shop, and these photos have been sitting on my computer for a while. (August. I think the date on these is August.)

When I start, the photo looks something like this...

I do a little tweaking, and it looks like this...

Or I start with this...

And get it to this...

I ended up taking 33 pictures for this listing. I get to use 10. And that's about how many pictures I take for each, so it takes me a bit to go through them.

Hopefully next week I'll have some new knits (or crochet) to share.

(If you're interested in purchasing some of my EOS lip balm holder/keychains, you can find them here.)

Friday, October 18, 2019


I lucked out with a government class. Seniors.

The funniest part was how many of them I knew. I looked at the roll sheets and recognized a good third of the students. Then the classes walked in, and I recognized another third.

I remember that girl. She was so upset in the eighth grade that her classmates were horrible. I promised her it would get better... Oh, I remember that boy. He gave me such a hard time in that special ed. class that one day... 

And there's just something about senior year. They grow up. I'm never sure how it happens, but it does.

I recognized Vaughn the minute he walked in. I've encountered him many times over the years. When I first met him, I always braced for trouble. Over the last year, that stopped.

I also recognized Blake. He and Vaughn are friends. I've seen them goofing off outside of class many times.

It was the beginning of second period. Blake walked up to me. He asked if he could sit next to "the boy in the white long-sleeve shirt". I did not say that I knew who Vaughn was. I just nodded. And let him.

Any other year, the answer would be no. But the class walked in calmly. I just knew I was going to have a silent class. And I saw no reason to deny him.

Sure enough, the class worked silently all period. Blake and Vaughn barely communicated. (It wasn't a test. It was a "Voter Turnout Activity". They were analyzing the voter turnouts for 2016 via online resources.)

I do occasionally get to see this. They do grow out of it. And those that don't get sent to the continuation high school.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sort of a Reward

Eighth grade math. They were doing test corrections. That is, they were going through their tests and reworking the problems they got wrong. This was a mostly voluntary exercise as if they chose not to do it, the teacher wasn't going to force them. It could only improve their grade.

In fact, the teacher told me that if they wanted to mess around watching videos on YouTube or playing video games, she was fine with that. I wasn't about to tell them this, so when they asked what to do after they finished (or if they told me they weren't going to do it), I told them to work on work for another class or read a reading book. (This is my usual speech for when middle schoolers tell me they're finished with the assignment.)

Several of the students were familiar to me from the vacant English class at the beginning of the year. (I will probably say this a lot this school year.)

It was sixth period. A girl called me over. I recognized her. She was one of the good ones. (Several of my problem students were girls, so that doesn't go without saying.)

She showed me her test score. She got 27 out of 27. 100%. Therefore, no corrections to be made.

"Congratulations," I said. "You get a free period."

Because, I totally could have told her she could do other work. And she might have chosen to do so anyway. But I'm totally good with telling her she can watch videos or otherwise veg all period. She earned it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Eighth grade math. They were doing test corrections. That is, they were going through their tests and reworking the problems they got wrong. This was a mostly voluntary exercise as if they chose not to do it, the teacher wasn't going to force them. It could only improve their grade.

Several of the students were familiar to me from the vacant English class at the beginning of the year. (I will probably say this a lot this school year.)

Dylan was one of the lesser difficult students. I had bigger problems than him, but he totally took advantage of the situation and played rather than worked. So, when he informed me that he has a D in the English class, I wasn't surprised.

Their grades are online, and they can access them at any time. While I was covering the English class, I warned the students that while I was not inputting their assignments (I didn't have access as a sub), their work did still count. I warned them that they'd go from having zero assignments and no grade to having five assignments in a blink.

Dylan showed me the breakdown for his grade. He was missing several assignments, including two that I had assigned...

"I told you those were going to count," I said.

And, really, at this point it's probably too late to turn those assignments in.

Sigh. I did warn them. And, really, it was kind of nice to be able to say I told you so.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Observed or Observer

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. 😉

Because summer, I was watching a show on The CW called Mysteries Decoded. And this episode on Bigfoot gave me the idea for this question...

What if Bigfoot (or Yeti or any of the other cryptozoological creatures we hear about) is really a group of extraterrestrial anthropologists who are studying us humans?

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Finished Phone Cozy

I finished last week's phone cozy...

Alas, there was a bit too much light in my photos this time...

This is actually a good problem to have. In the past, I've suffered from too dark images...

I do make these as custom orders, if anyone is interested. I no longer stock them in my Etsy shop, so you'll have to ask me for one...

But the positive of that is that you can pick the color, the strap length (in this case, the request for it to be strap-less), the size, and you can make any other requests of me that you like.

I think there's a way to list these with those parameters, and maybe one of these days I'll get around to doing that. But I currently have a backlog of other things to get listed, so it's not currently a priority.

Since this is the sort of thing that most knitters would prefer to make for themselves, the pattern is available to purchase. You can get it via my Etsy shop or via Ravelry. (The pattern includes a chart for the stitch pattern as well as the instructions to make a narrower or wider version.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

His Original Sentence

I was back in one of those very special ed. classes. These are the classes where the high school aged kiddos are doing first grade work.

First period. They did "calendar" where they colored in a calendar on that day's (and the weekend's as it was a Friday) date. Then they were to work on their News-2-You packets. (It's a very cool current events kind of assignment. Click on the link to learn a bit about it.)

The students I was working with were doing pretty well on their own. They didn't need me prompting them to do the work. And they didn't need a lot of help.

But when Adam had to write sentences, he did need help. He brought me a white board, dry erase marker, and eraser. Then he pulled out the sheet. The instructions said: Use one, two, or all of the following picture/word cards to write a sentence or story.

The words were: brown bears, fattest, vote, contest, and people.

Okay, so context... The week's story was on Fat Bear Week held in Alaska's Katmai National Park. (They declared a winner on Wednesday.) Did you know there's a live Brown Bear Cam? (They had the video feed on for three periods.) Anyway, the story was about how annually they have this contest to determine the fattest bear before they go into hibernation.

The activities for the kiddos were related to that, hence the word choices for the "story". I did not know any of this as Adam constructed his story, but his work page was pretty clear.

At times like these, I ask leading questions to get a sentence. Adam started with "brown bears". Okay. I asked, "Brown bears do what?"

His sentence was grammatically correct...

The brown bears ate the fattest people.
His sentence reads: The brown bears at the fattest people.
So it was a bit bloodthirsty... I suppose I probably should have talked him out of it. Yeah, I probably should have.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Another Unexpected Day

It was Thursday. I was expecting to cover a math class. When I checked in for the day, the secretary handed me the folder for an English class.


It happens from time to time. I was told I was covering one class only to show up to a different assignment. Sometimes the teacher cancels. Sometimes they need to shift subs to fill the classes. And I don't generally mind.

But it's happened four times in the last couple weeks. That's a lot.

Not that I'm complaining anywhere but here. Because the other option is for me to show up only to have my assignment disappear. (That doesn't happen as often as it did when I started out subbing.)

And sometimes it actually works out better.

On Monday I though I was covering a co-teacher who travels. (Doable, but on my gimpy ankle, not ideal.) I was switched to a very nice seventh grade science class.

On Thursday, the English class I got switched into... Well, the teacher took two of her classes with her on some field trip or other. So, instead of covering a full day, I only had three classes to sub. And I still got paid for the full day.

So, not complaining. Nope. Not at all.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Tattler

Seventh grade science, advanced. They had a vocabulary assignment, one they could complete in about twenty minutes of focused work.

Many of the students had been in the vacant English class. Jeremy has, in fact, already made the blog. He was the crier on "Picture Day".

Jeremy is... well... he's kind of a delicate flower. He's still very much a little kid.

We were about halfway into class. Jeremy approached me. (I was still babying my ankle, so I was sitting as much as possible.) He wanted to know what to do after he finished. Although, that's not what he said.

Jeremy sputtered. He kept looking over at a student to his left. Pointing and stuttering.

I glanced over. The boy had Cool Math Games up on his Chromebook. He was actually writing on his assignment, not looking at his computer. The room was silent.

I kept my focus on Jeremy.

"He's... he's..."

"Don't worry about him," I instructed.

When students ask what to do when they've finished, I tell them to work on any unfinished homework (from other classes) or read a reading book (as most English classes have some sort of reading assigned). I turn a blind eye towards appropriate games or drawing or such. Classes sometimes have downtime, and kiddos need to learn how to keep themselves occupied when this happens.

The other boy wasn't bothering anybody. He was working quietly. And once a student has finished the assigned work, my requirements have been satisfied.

Jeremy finally got his question out, turned in his work, and went back to his seat. But not before going towards the other boy...

Sigh. This is the sort of thing that turns his peers against him.

I get wanting to get everyone on task, but at some point, one has to let them be them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bad Planning

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 your carefully laid plans blew up in your face? (Figuratively. Although, literally has some interesting possibilities...)

Monday, October 7, 2019


My current WIP:

It's a custom order phone cozy. When finished it'll look something like this:

Although, without the strap, and this color is truer. (The first image was shot in full sunlight at noon.)

And as for my injury (which I wrote about last week), I'm healing. The ankle is still a bit swollen, but the pain is nearly gone. I can walk, albeit slowly. I think at this point I'm more paranoid of falling again than anything else.

I hope all is improving for you all as well. Happy Monday.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Mistaken Identity

The Learning Center is a room specifically for RSP special ed. kiddos. It's the room where they get extra time to take tests, and they can go there to get extra help on various assignments.

Every period there is one teacher on duty. The room has an instructional assistant as well, Mr. Claus. (Not his real name, of course. But, he could totally play Santa Claus. All he would need would be the red suit.)

On this day I was covering fifth period. We had had about six students sign in. They appeared to be taking tests.

The phone rang. I hobbled over and answered. It was from a history teacher. She had sent three students over to complete a test. She explained that her students had been warned not to have phones out, and she wanted to know if any of her students did.

So, I hobbled over and peered over their shoulders. Two girls had their phones out. I went back to the phone and let Ms. S know.  One of the students was hers, and she told me to send her back to class.

Time passed. A student here, a student there, they finished up and returned to class. One student asked to use the restroom. And then, it was just Mr. Claus and me.

The phone rang again. It was again Ms. S. she wanted Joshua sent back to her class. I told her we had no students in the room.

Ms. S said he must be on his way back. She'd wait a bit, and then contact security. I thought it had been a while since the last student had left the room, so he should have totally returned by then.

At some point during the phone call or shortly thereafter, a new student arrived. It was kind of late in the period to start a test, but he was willing to risk it.

I had barely hung up with Ms. S when the student who had used the restroom returned. I had forgotten about him.

"Joshua?" I asked.

He nodded.

"Ms. S just called. She'd like you back in class."

He packed up and left. I let him know to tell her that he had been in the restroom when she called. I didn't want him in trouble just because I had forgotten a student had gone. (He had been gone a while, but it wasn't like he had vanished which is what we had thought.)

Just as he left, Ms. S called back. I told her Joshua was on his way back. Now she wanted Michael returned.

I looked to the other boy in the room.

"Michael?" I asked.

"No. That was Michael."


"I was surprised he said he was Joshua," the boy continued.

Mr. Claus and I exchanged glances. He knew the boy as well and wasn't sure why he answered to Joshua either.

On the bright side, Michael was accounted for, Joshua was actually missing, and I sent the correct boy back to his class.

But where was Joshua? And why had Michael said he was Joshua?

I don't think I'll ever know.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Phoning it In

Last Friday I ended up covering the eighth grade English class of the department chair (the one who gave me lesson plans for the first couple weeks while I covered that vacant English class). They're reading Lord of the Flies.

It used to be when kiddos were reading in class, it meant that they'd read aloud, a paragraph at a time, or they'd read it to themselves. But with so many audiobook options nowadays, it's more likely that they'll follow along while a professional reads to them.

(There are pros and cons to this, and most teachers change things up depending on the day. When there are subs, using the audiobook helps with classroom control so so much.)

But, of course, the teacher didn't leave her laptop, and the hook up for the classroom speakers was on the opposite side of the room from the desktop computer. And the Chromebooks were locked up. (Sigh.)

It was suggested that I use my phone.

(I am reluctant to use my phone as it's old enough that the battery doesn't hold a charge as long as it once did. And I didn't bring a charger with me.)

So, I typed the address into my phone. I eventually got the thing to work, but it took a while. (And it was touchy besides.) During which time, well, eighth graders don't wait well.

At least I got it working well enough so that I didn't have that same issue the rest of the day. Although, there were other issues...

(But it was a good way to spend the day seated rather than on my sore ankle.)

The teacher had left helpful Post-It notes where I needed to stop and ask questions. They had written work to complete. It was a great lesson, once the technical issues were worked out.

If you're curious (or would like to have an audiobook version of Lord of the Flies), you can find that here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


After my fall that Monday, I wisely took Tuesday off. I had been scheduled for the same classes for Tuesday and Wednesday. While I was still limping about on Wednesday, my ankle was much, much better than it had been the day prior. I would have been in miseries if I had attempted the assignment on Tuesday.

The big problem was that the teacher traveled throughout the day. She co-taught for three periods, and she had her own classes for two.

I did not know this at the start of the day. I assumed she co-taught all day, so when I was not assigned keys, I did not worry.

When I arrived at the classroom for third period, the class waiting outside informed me that they had one teacher. Well, that wasn't a major problem. I got out my cell phone, called the office, and asked that they send someone to open the classroom.

For fourth and fifth periods, I went elsewhere. It was for sixth period that I returned to this classroom.

But right before sixth period is lunch. And security is busy supervising, so they couldn't come immediately to let me in the door. I kind of wanted to get in early so I could sit and wait for the end of lunch.

I got to the classroom, hoping the other teacher who uses the classroom second period (and who was also off at that moment) would be there. Alas, no.

I stood and pondered. The office was all the way at the front of campus while this classroom was near the back. There was no security in sight.

While I considered my options, one of the assistant principals appeared. I was shocked as this was not his usual part of campus. He let a student into a classroom nearby. It appeared that she had forgotten something inside, and the teacher wasn't there to let her in.

All the administrators carry keys that let them in any room. So, as he finished up with the student and her friends (I didn't catch much of the conversation, only something about him needing to talk to a parent whose phone number no longer worked), I approached. When he finished I politely asked if he could let me into the room across the way.

It was so nice to be able to sit for a bit before class. (I sat after class started, too.) It was so lucky that he happened by at that moment in time. Sometimes I'm just lucky.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

What Not to Do

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 the one thing "they" asked you not to do was the only available option? 

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Fall Day

Before I whine, here's the progress I've made on the purple infinity scarf:

I did it again.

It was the first day of fall last Monday. I had stayed in a hotel overnight. (The floors at home were being redone. We could not walk on them for 24 hours. So, off to a hotel.) And while I had had plenty of time to plan for this (I knew about this for about three weeks), I didn't prepare as I should have.

I had meant to get some bottled water for the two-day stay in the hotel.

So, Monday morning, that was the plan. (Well, the plan was to pick up some water on my way back to the hotel after work, but alas, I was not called to work that day.)

I was going to go back to the room and look up what was nearby. But after breakfast, I stepped outside the hotel and spied a strip mall across the street.

I headed for it. I was nearly to the light at the intersection when I lost my balance.

The pavement was uneven. I had placed my left foot down on a bad spot, my ankle twisted, and down I went. I landed on my right knee. Hard.

I sat there for a bit, whimpering. I have done this before, so I knew I'd get myself up somehow. But, a couple people were nearby, and they helped me up.

My left ankle was pretty swollen. My right knee was scraped up. But I managed to limp back to my hotel room before the ankle got too sore to walk on.

And there I stayed for the rest of the day.

At some point, with my foot propped up, I was reminded that it was the first day of fall. So, I tweeted:

I will mend. But if you hear me whimpering over here, now you know why.

Friday, September 27, 2019

ELD Bingo

The first two periods of this high school English class was beginning ELD (English Language Development).

How beginning? As I was explaining the assignment to half of the class (while the other half worked on something different), I noticed that none of them were listening. They were all focused on their computers or phones. I peeked at what they were doing. They were typing in the instructions from their papers into their devices, and the computer was translating into alphabets I did not recognize.

So, I did a lot of pointing after that.

But then we were to play Bingo. It was in the lesson plan, I swear.

As soon as I pulled out the Bingo set, a couple students started passing stuff out. I instructed those who were in charge that they were. And they got to it.

The instruction was that as soon as a number was called, the students were to repeat it back. And once they started doing that, I realized what this assignment was all about.

They were practicing their numbers.

For the most part, things went pretty well. They got confused between numbers like thirteen and thirty. But, it's B13 and I30, so if they said I-thirteen, I immediately knew something was wrong.

They were very shy shouting out "BINGO!" though. I barely heard it.

Then it was a scramble for the prizes. Where were the prizes? At least I found those readily enough.

The assignment may have been about practicing numbers, but the winners wanted their winnings.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Likely Story

It was one of those "severe" special ed classes where the high school aged kiddos are doing second grader work. The teacher had helpfully left a list of all the students and the things I should look out for.

It was fourth period. Math. They were doing worksheets where they were counting change.

They complained. "Math is for little kids..."

Well, um, I took math in college. Calculus. Applied analysis. Math is for adults too. But they weren't buying that.

But after the initial complaint, most of them got to work.

Except for Jeremiah.

Jeremiah didn't need to do the work. He knew it already. And he quickly changed the subject.

First, he had a headache. He needed to get medicine from his sister who was in class two doors down.

Not long thereafter, the conversation turned to lunch. Lunch is after fifth period. He said his lunch was after fourth. Because he was a senior. (There were only ninth and tenth graders in class.) When I pointed out that seniors had the same lunch as underclassmen, he said seniors had a different lunch at the school his brother went to, which was in another district.

Then he wanted to know if I was going to go to his game that night. One of the aides then chimed in with, "I thought you didn't have a game tonight."

And around and around it went. Jeremiah would either say something that was easily proven false, or he would say two things that contradicted each other. (He has a sibling at the same school or his siblings go to another school? Both could be true, of course, but then other "siblings" showed up in the conversation.)

By the end of the period, the rest of the class had finished their math assignment. Jeremiah? Hadn't even started it.

If only they put half as much effort into doing the work as they do in avoiding it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Where're my Toys?

It was one of those "severe" special ed classes where the high school aged kiddos are doing second grader work. The teacher had helpfully left a list of all the students and the things I should look out for.

Laila was obsessed with her toys. We were to gather them from her, then give them back to her at the end of the day.

The minute Laila walked in, she wanted to know if it was time for snack yet. And then she asked again about every ten minutes. (Snack is about two hours after the start of the day.) As soon as she got back from snack, the question then became about lunch. After lunch, she wanted to know if it was time to go home yet.

She repeated several things throughout the day. Besides the snack thing, she told me repeatedly that she missed her mom. I told her she'd see her mom after school.

And Laila could be stubborn. For history, they were to cut out the names of the original 13 colonies and paste them next to the outlines for those states. One of the aides color-coded them, so they'd be able to paste the names in the correct positions. But Laila was being unruly, so they sent her to work one-on-one with me.

She wanted to cut. So, I let her have a pair of scissors. She randomly cut slices into the paper, through the names, and all over the place. That's when I took the scissors away and did the cutting out of names.

At that point, Laila was done. She would not paste anything. She wanted to cut. But as soon as I got done cutting, she noticed that her paper had all these random cuts in it (that she had made), and that made her sad. She walked away from the project, refusing to do any more.

Finally, the end of the day arrived. The students were all escorted out to their buses or to be picked up by their parents. Laila went right for the teacher's cabinet. This cabinet had been locked all day, and none of us had the key.

We couldn't get into the cabinet. Laila refused to leave the room. The aides reminded her that her mother was waiting for her. Nope, she fell to the floor and refused to go.

She wanted her toys. They weren't in the cabinet, of course, because no one could go in there. We eventually found them, and then she willingly left.

This is what makes these days interesting. There's always at least one kiddo that keeps you on your toes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Peeking In

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 you happened upon your bedroom window, looked in, and saw yourself inside?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Art Class Drama

I was asked to cover an extra period after lunch. Middle school art. Insert groan here.

I ate my lunch in the classroom I was covering for the day. Then at the bell, I called to get security to unlock the door for me. (I've found that if I call before I leave my "home base", I don't have to wait as long for security to show up.)

When I got to the art room, the door was open. Security had arrived before me, and she had let the kiddos in the room already. I walked in, looking for the day's lesson plans.

That's when I spied Victoria. She's been on security at that school for years. She was hovering over a student, asking the crying girl if she wanted to go to the health office. The girl said she was fine.

After class got started, Jaci explained that the reason she was limping was because a boy had hit her leg at lunch. She had had surgery on her ACL not too long ago, and she wasn't fully healed. (She said it'd take a year to get fully healed with the implication that she was taking a year off her sport for this.)

Jaci bent and moved and figured no major damage had occurred. I told her she should report this boy. She said she wasn't going to get him into trouble. Apparently, he's been in enough trouble. My point was that since he deliberately injured her, he should suffer the consequences. She didn't agree.

If she doesn't report him, he's never going to learn. Sigh.

Jaci and the rest of the class got to work. They were creating "graffiti" versions of their names. They did the usual sort of stuff that middle schoolers do. I kept an eye on them. I didn't have to intervene too much, which meant things were going pretty well.

But then Kristen walked up to me. She was shaking, and she said that she needed to step outside. I do stop to question students when they make those sorts of requests unless it's obvious what's wrong. I waved her on.

I went to the group she was sitting with. What did they do? I had been watching them...

Jaci said Kristen was having a panic attack. Kristen sent her a text. And the group said they hadn't done anything.

It's possible I missed something subtle. But I'll believe the group unless Kristen says otherwise.

A short time later, Victoria came in to retrieve Kristen's stuff. I assume she went home.

All sorts of drama always in the middle school classes. At least it keeps it interesting.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Computer Issues

"Their assignment is in Google Classroom..."

These words in a lesson plan make me nervous. About half the time, the kiddos log in, find the assignment, and everything goes smoothly. Alas, this day fell into the other half of the time.

Middle school woodshop. Yes, woodshop. A good 1/3rd of the class already knew me from the vacant English class.

They logged in. The assignment was supposed to be from chapter three according to the lesson plan. Only chapter two appeared in Google Classroom.

Because, of course.

(When there's a sub in certain classes like woodshop or graphic arts--classes where kiddos use equipment that they really need supervision for--they always get "bookwork". But nowadays much of that stuff is available online.)

I did the only thing I could do. I emailed the teacher to let him know.

Towards the end of first period, the assignment appeared. Per his email to me, the assignment was in "drafts" and for some reason hadn't been posted. Oops.

Well, at least the rest of the classes would have the assignment posted.

Everything went fairly smoothly until sixth period. That's when several students got Chromebooks that were nearly dead.

Upon examination of the Chromecart (where the computers live--and charge--when not in use), I discovered the plug was halfway out of the outlet, and nothing was charging. Oops.

I plugged it in, turned "on" the cart, and charging happened. If only I had discovered this issue so that everyone had a charged enough computer...

(A fully-charged Chromebook has about eight hours of charge. Most teachers teach five hours, so there's no good reason to have dead Chromebooks sixth period. Still, I should have checked...)