Friday, February 28, 2020

The Invitation

Thursday. Tenth grade English, honors. Second period.

They were reading Frankenstein (chapter four). I was writing this week's blog posts. (There's not a lot for me to do when the kiddos are reading quietly.) An office aide walked in and handed me a half sheet of paper.

I scanned it. A student was being invited to lunch with the district superintendent later that day. I checked the seating chart, found the girl (Abby), and handed the paper to her.

A couple students oohed. "It's not a punishment," I informed them. Then Abby told all. Mostly because she wasn't sure what that thing was.

I explained who the superintendent was ("She's the principal's boss"), and another student noted that they know her son (he's a student at the school).

(At that school especially I find myself running into the kids of various staff members all the time. It's generally obvious by their last names. In fact, in that very class one of the other students is the daughter of the principal of the continuation high school.)

But Abby's main concern (besides why they picked her) was that she already had lunch plans. She had a club meeting, and since she'd just joined the board of the club, she kinda had to be there.

A debate ensued. She bounced questions off of her classmates.

That was when she realized she had volunteered for this lunch. There was an email or something that she responded to (that her classmates had not).

What did she do? I never did find out. Maybe one day I'll run into her again and she'll tell me. (Probably not, though.)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Dancing Fool

Wednesday. Seventh grade English. Fourth period.

JT walked in late, but he immediately asked for a health office pass telling me he had a headache. He sounded like he was in pain, so when he returned a half hour later, I had sympathy for him.

But the minute he got back, he went for the standing desk.

Standing desk? A few classes have them now. They look like this:

The general rule is that if a student needs to, they can go back to one (there are two in each class that has them, and the teachers have them in the back of the room) and work from there.

I would think if you have a headache, the last thing you'd want to do is stand in class, but whatever.

The lesson for the day was SSR or silent sustained reading. They were reading books of their choice. The room was silent. The kiddos weren't even listening to music.

So, it was a surprise when I looked up to find JT dancing at the standing desk...

Throwing down random dance movies is a thing nowadays. Mostly in middle school, but I occasionally see it in high school too.

I blame TikTok.

(Things I never expected to have to say: "Stop dancing in class...")

Man, I wish my headaches went away that quickly. Unless he was lying about the headache. Could be either, really.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Wait

Freshman math (formerly algebra 1). Special ed. Third period, Tuesday.

Because it was a "special day class", I had an instructional aide. She warned me that group could be volatile.

They came in, all eight of them, popping off to each other. Someone said someone's hair looked weird. Dan was fixated on his shattered Samsung mini tablet. All I wanted was for them to settle down.

They did, kind of.

But then, someone said something, and Grace was ready to beat up Thomas over it.

The IA went to defuse the situation, attempting to send Grace to another class where she wouldn't be irritated by Thomas. Grace refused to leave.

(Later, the IA told me Grace explodes regularly. Asking her to leave was sending her to a room where she would be able to calm down, rather than remaining in class where someone else would bait her to explode again.)

Time to call security to escort her out.

So, I called. And we waited. And waited. And waited.

The IA stationed herself between Grace and Thomas. I doubt anyone got much of their worksheets done.

It was odd. Security usually shows up pretty quickly. But this time, fifteen minutes later, at just about the end of the period, he arrived.

At least it didn't come to blows. It was a near thing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Fixing the Fix

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 company to produce insulin to be sold at a modest profit to undercut big pharma's price gouging? 

It's probably not possible. If it was possible, someone would have already started doing it. But articles like this make me so mad...

Monday, February 24, 2020

Two More Down


Yup, I finally finished eldest and middle nephews' 2019 Christmas gifts. They are in the mail as we speak. (Christmas on February 25th?)

I'll start with the Yoda beanie. (The pattern I used is here.) Eldest nephew requested a "Baby Yoda Beanie".

The beanie part itself didn't take long. But I took forever getting the ears done...

...because I knew they would flop, and I wasn't sure what to do about them. In the end, I knit a sleeve to put in a metal band to keep them sticking out.

It's not a great solution, but it'll work. If I were to knit another, I would look for a different way to do the ears. Hopefully the other nephews won't request one of these, at least for a little while.

The request that flummoxed me the most was middle nephew's request for a shark scarf. (The pattern I used is here.)

It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do. Once I had the plan, the scarf knit up quick. According to its Ravelry page, I started it on February 6th and finished it on the 17th.

I modified the shark cloth block to make it more rectangular (read: I omitted several straight stockinette rows), and I reversed the shark on two blocks. Then I sewed the blocks together. It ended up being a good length...

(It's amazing how the light effects the color.)

Two more complete. Now I only have two more Christmas presents to go...

Friday, February 21, 2020

Vanishing Students

"Where did you go?" I asked.

"Health office. My stomach hurts. I told you..."

Oh right. Now I remember.

Thursday. Continuation high school. Social studies. Third period.

It was the beginning of the period. I was passing back their atlas pages. They were identifying countries and their GDPs and literacy rates via an online atlas. They'd been working on it a couple days.

As I was passing out packets, the phone rang. I scrambled to answer.

This was when Joey asked to go to the health office. I said sure. At any other moment when I didn't have three other things happening, I would have stopped and written him a pass. If he had waited two minutes, I would have been able to pause to write him one.

But by the time I was done on the phone and the packets had all been passed out, he had already gone. And I had forgotten giving him permission to go.

Joey hovered (rather than sitting). He walked out of class. He came back with food... (I assume he had a stomach ache like Russell did.) This is normal stuff for the continuation high school.

As I went through the roll (before Joey got back, after the crazy of starting class), I noticed that two students were missing...

Aaron and Joey had been sitting next to each other. Joey returned. Aaron did not.

Did Aaron ask to go someplace? Did I forget?

Aaron never returned. And I didn't write him a pass.

So, at the end of the day, I talked to the attendance clerk. Apparently, Aaron had been hanging out in the main office during class. I definitely didn't give him permission to go to the office. That I would have recalled.


Aaron has been difficult as of late. Some students just don't go to class. They're on campus, but they find other places to hang out. (He could have totally hung out in class and did no work. It's not like many of his classmates were actually working.)

So, the attendance clerk marked it as a cut. Because, that's what he had done. I'm pretty sure.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Not a Fair Fight

Tuesday. Ms. S taught four periods of twelfth grade government and one period of tenth grade world history. In the lesson plan, she asked me to tell her which was the best class of the day as they would receive extra credit points as a reward.

I normally rank the classes. Some teachers like having that information, so now it's just habit.

The government classes were working on their "civics project". This was a group assignment, so once I had taken roll, they shifted around so they sat with their team members. They discussed.

The world history class was to outline a chapter. Individually.

So, um, yeah, this was not a fair fight. If the tenth graders had chosen not to work, it would have been different. But they settled to silence, and I had a stack of work at the end of the period.

The twelfth graders? They weren't loud. Many appeared to be on task, but their project wasn't due, so I had no way to verify what they'd gotten accomplished.

(First period chatted. There is a difference to the sound when groups are discussing their assignment versus when friends are sitting around talking. First period was not on task.)

So, while the seniors weren't bad (I'd take that kind of working any day, well, all but first period), the sophomores were better.

The tenth graders won, of course. I just hope Ms. S gave the second place finishers points as well. Among the senior classes was more of an actual competition.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Read What You Like

Monday. Lunch time...

The previous period the assignment was SSR or silent sustained reading. It was ninth grade English (many of the English teachers on campus have their students read on Mondays). Because sub, Ms. B had them write up a log of what they read. I gave them fifteen minutes (as per instructions) to complete it, but a couple of them needed more time. I didn't have the heart to kick them out.

As those kiddos finished up, a student from the next period walked in. While I normally don't have students in the classroom during lunch, I figured I might as well let him stay.

William asked what the assignment was going to be. I told him. He was disappointed; he had finished his book over the weekend. As it was lunch, I told him he could go and check something else out of the library. He said they didn't currently have the sequel, so he'd wait.

What he was reading came up. The Selection by Kiera Cass. I can't remember who, but one of you fine bloggers reviewed this book on your blog, so I had a vague idea what it's about.

When I mentioned being familiar with the title, William explained how it was a little embarrassing to admit he reads this type of novel (read: girly romance), but it's what he likes...

Frankly, that had not even occurred to me. I was just happy I had some familiarity with the title.

I never book shame.

I like sci fi and fantasy, but I also like romance. There is a stigma to reading romance, however. A lot of readers turn their nose up or sneer at romance. Which is silly, especially considering how it is probably one of the most successful genres. Most romance readers inhale books, and one can make a lot of money writing it.

I wonder how much of that snootiness is misogyny. It's a genre primarily aimed at women, and unlike most literary types of writing, the novels end with a happily ever after. I've read some excellently written stories, and I've learned loads about writing the feels better.

Anyway, girls are actively discouraged from liking these books. So, of course boys shouldn't even consider them.

And William was telling me how when he presents (the students have projects to go with the books they choose) he'd rather be working with a book he enjoys even if others question his reading material.

I went into a bit about how disliking romance is misogynistic, but mostly I said that he should read what he likes. It's hard enough to get students reading. Many won't pick up a book again after they graduate high school. I will not shame someone for finding books they enjoy.

Do you read romance novels? Do you read a genre you're embarrassed to admit you like? I promise, I will not novel shame you. I probably read "worse" novels than you do.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Lunar Holiday

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 we could vacation on the moon?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Some Assembly Required

I'm still working on Christmas 2019 knitting. I'm getting closer to done.

Eldest nephew requested a Baby Yoda hat (pattern I'm using is here). I started on it almost immediately, but I had gotten hung up on getting the ears done.

Do you ever procrastinate something you know is not going quite right? That's what happened with the Yoda ears. I worried...

Well, I finally buckled down and attached the ears...

...but the thing I feared came to pass...

Yoda's ears stick straight out. These flop. Sigh.

I have an idea, though. I'm thinking of attaching something to the back to make them stick out. If that works, then this hat is done. Keep your fingers crossed.

Middle nephew requested a shark scarf to go along with his shark hat. And this is the request that flummoxed me the most. How...?

Last week I had solved the problem. This week I knit the blocks. I figured five blocks would give me a good scarf length, and it appears my math was on target...

When I measured four of the blocks next to each other, I was at 50ish inches (125ish cm).

I haven't measured all five yet. I still have to wind in ends. I decided to crochet a border around each block, and then sew (crochet?) them all together. So, it's not quite done.

I alternated blocks. We've got the "right side" ones...

...and on the "wrong side" ones I reversed the shark, so all the sharks face the same way...

(If you click on any of the images, they should enlarge.)

So, nothing is quite done yet, but both of these projects are getting there. Barring any other issues, these should go out into the mail sometime this coming week. Fingers crossed...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Smokin' in the Boy's Room

It was Friday in one of the "severe to moderate" special ed. classrooms. Fourth period.

The teacher had left detailed lesson plans. Alas, they weren't detailed enough for someone who had never accessed this particular website, and it was taking me a lot of time to find and figure out what it was the kiddos were supposed to be looking at.

(The instructional assistants tried to help, but the teacher had always done it before, so they were unsure how to access the lesson as well. They got one of the neighboring teachers to help, but in the end I misinterpreted the instructions and did the wrong lesson. Sigh.)

So, while I heard a bit of the commotion going on, I only found out what happened after. (At the time there were three other adults in the room, the fourth was on her lunch. One was the class' IA, and the other two were one-to-one aides for specific students.)

The class IA went across the way and got a teacher out of the classroom diagonally across from us (one I have subbed for a few times in the past).

"Go in the restroom."

(I should mention at this point that the classroom had a restroom attached. It's very convenient, especially in classes where students need to have diapers changed.)

Ms. A was very hesitant. "Do I really want to see this?"

"You'll know when you go in," the IA said.

After she went in, there was a flurry of activity. I was busy going over the (what turned out to be wrong) lesson with the kiddos. One of the IAs gave me a heads-up that security might be arriving...

So what was going on?

The class IA had gone in to use the restroom after a student from across the way had used it. (This is so usual that I didn't notice at all.) Apparently he had been in there a long time as there was a certain odor that the IA picked up on.

The odor of marijuana...

Now, pot is legal in California, but it's legal like alcohol is legal. Adults only. Kiddos under 21 are a big nope.

And besides, schools are smoke free. Teachers and staff who smoke tobacco must go off campus if they want to smoke. I assume the same applies for smoking other substances. (I've not checked the updated rules. I'm sure working high is frowned upon.)

The IA knew who the student was and which class he had come from. (It's a large campus but a small group of special ed. students. The IAs know all of them.) His teacher knew, and administration was alerted.

But what got us in the end was he used a classroom restroom to do this. Where he was known. If he had gone to one of the usual boy's rooms where several students were always in and out...

I mean, it was like he was trying to get caught.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

69 Degrees

Thursday at the continuation high school. I was doing "testing overflow"...

(It's always something at the continuation high school.) The students had some district mandated testing to do. Because some students had the classes where the testing was happening twice (and they weren't required to take the test twice), they needed somewhere to go that wasn't the testing room for that second period. So, the school contracted a couple subs to watch over them. It was a very easy gig.

I had been relegated to the fire occupations room. (It's an after school career training thing that's run through a different entity but uses facilities on campus.)

The first thing I did upon getting to campus was to turn on the heat. Yeah, I know you all laugh at us here in southern California, but it was bitterly cold. When I got there, it was 54 degrees inside the classroom (Fahrenheit; so that's 12 degrees Celsius).

By fifth period, things were much warmer. The classroom had been comfortable for hours. (The heater got the classroom comfortable by mid first period.)

However, I was feeling a bit chilly. Tuesday I woke up feeling sinusy, and I had been feeling under the weather since then. I generally run warm, but I had been chilled all week. So, I wasn't trusting my internal thermostat.

I asked the kiddos in fifth period if they were cold. They were. But I had a feeling...

I could not see the thermostat from where I was sitting, so I asked them what the temperature read.

Someone went to look. And he started snickering.

I got him to verify what I then knew it had to be reading. 69 degrees. And then the rest of the students started snickering.

Oh dear. The maturity level...

I wasn't about to tackle that conversation, so I brushed it off by saying that was an adequate temperature. It's actually the temperature the thermostat is set to heat to. Now, I can adjust so it'll heat to 70, 71, or 72 degrees if I wished, but it seemed like overkill. It wasn't that cold. (Normally, I'd be quite comfortable at that temperature.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Deep Sleeper

It was seventh period at the continuation high school. Science class. They were supposed to be working on Punnett squares, but most weren't doing much of anything. Basically, it was a typical day.

I had not had a break since about noon. This is not typical, as the teachers usually have their "lunch" period sometime in the afternoon. But I was picking up an extra period as the teacher had to leave early. Because of the scramble, I had not had a chance to hit the restroom, so by the end of seventh period, I really, really needed to go.

It was about 3:15. The kiddos tried to leave. The bell hadn't rung. But another teacher had let his kiddos go, so I dismissed the class, and then the bell rang.

I was ready to be out the door when I noticed that one of the kiddos was still at his desk. Asleep. Sigh.

I totally should have noticed that earlier, but oh well. I went over to wake him up.

"The bell rang. Time to go."

No movement.

So, I went to gently nudge his shoulder. No movement. Louder, "It's time to go." No movement.

Deep sigh. I can't leave the kid alone in the room. But I really have to go. How to wake him?

I tried turning off the lights. I stomped around. Nothing was waking him. Finally, I got into his face and told him it was time to wake up.

And finally, he did.

He rubbed his face. Shifted position. Got out his pencil. And made a pretense of working...

So, yeah, not awake.

"The bell rang. It's time to go."

Finally, he got the message. He kind of staggered out, not quite conscious.

I feel kind of bad for pushing him out the door like that. It was clear he wasn't quite with it yet. But, I really, really needed to get to the restroom. I'll save my gentler wakings for when that isn't so urgent.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Strongest Friend

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 best friend got super powers?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Shark Scarf Solution

Ever since receiving the request, I've been stumped. Until this past Thursday...

I first mentioned the problem here on December 30th. Middle nephew requested a shark scarf to go along with his shark hat. (I finished up shark hats for his younger brothers in January.)

How does one make a shark scarf? There were some patterns, but I didn't think they worked well with the hat. Not as an ensemble. And the request was for an ensemble, kind of.

By last week I had kind of given up. I went out and bought some heavier weight yarn than the hat, but in the same color, so they would work together. My thought was I would knit a triangle-type stitch pattern to mimic teeth and call it a day.

On Thursday at work, I had some time and internet access. On a whim, I searched "shark tooth knitting pattern". The "tooth" part is different than the previous searches. Well, that, and I had specifically searched "scarf".

I found a very interesting scarf in that search, but it was on Pinterest, and Pinterest was blocked at school. But that led me to looking at the page from that search, which got me to this post with a bunch of shark knitting patterns, and that led me to the shark blanket. (Sorry, this link is only visible if you have a Ravelry account, but the shark blanket is on the previous link if you scroll down the page a bit.)

The shark blanket was made using a washcloth pattern. They made twelve blocks, tiling them 3 x 4. One column could work as a scarf...

And an idea was born.

Alas, the yarn I bought would have made those blocks 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide, which is way too wide for a scarf.

But... If I do the blocks sideways, the width works for me, and I'd have to make fewer of them to complete something scarf length.

(It's either that or buy finer yarn. I'm not buying finer yarn.)

I finished my first block on Friday...

I think I'm going to add a couple rows on the bottom and top just to give the shark a bit more "breathing room". But otherwise I think I've got it. The back even works...

The plan is to knit five of these, sew them together, alternating "right" and "wrong" sides (because scarf), and hope that middle nephew likes it.

I'll show it off when finished.

(There were a few turtles sunning themselves while I took photos...

I couldn't resist including the picture.)

It's nice to have a plan. Now that I have a plan, it shouldn't take too long to complete the scarf. It's the planning that takes forever.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Misplaced Anger

"Oh, I remember you. You're the sub that hates me."

I... Uh...

I did remember the girl. Because last time I had seen her... she had said the exact same thing. And, well, I don't remember any animosity.

She insisted that I hate her.

Eighth grade math. It was co-taught, so some of this was directed at the special ed. teacher. Ms. C said perhaps the girl talked too much. I explained that I hold no anger towards the girl, but the girl seemed to think I did.

Actually, she rather enjoyed the idea that I hated her.

Okay, fine, then.

It was towards the end of the period that the girl explained why I hated her.

It was a Wednesday. The girl had asked if she could yell out "hump day". I said no. As the bell rang, she did anyway...

I vaguely recall the incident. Kind of? It could be one of those recalls that happen when someone tells you of something that happened in your presence and you only remember it via their memory.

So, anger? No. I was likely irritated. At the time. But I don't carry that anger for more than the length of time it takes to write in the note. (Likely, this didn't make the note to the teacher. I probably sighed in exasperation and was glad the period was over.)

But, middle schooler. They think the whole world revolves around them. And they think that we spend more time contemplating them than we really do. I mean, I'm only recalling this now because I knew it would make a good blog post. If I don't see her for a month or two, I'll be blindsided by my supposed hatred of her next time, too.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Guest Conductor

There haven't been a lot of planned absences lately (trainings, conferences, meetings, etc.), so I've been getting gigs last minute (the dreaded early morning wake up call). For the most part, these teachers are falling ill, so lesson plans are kind of sparse and/or makeshift.

Wednesday. Band.

The class was expecting a rehearsal. They even knew what piece they were to be working on. But I was a musician (oboe). I didn't learn conducting.

As luck would have it, that was the day a teaching student was beginning his observations. No one had told him the teacher would be out. When it was clear I was out of my depth, he volunteered to rehearse the group.

And... Things went well. Really well. One doesn't begin teacher training until having spent time learning the subject concentration, so he had already trained to conduct.

I spent twelve years playing in bands. That period felt like a rehearsal.

Some days I really luck out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Feigned Ignorance?

There haven't been a lot of planned absences lately (trainings, conferences, meetings, etc.), so I've been getting gigs last minute (the dreaded early morning wake up call). For the most part, these teachers are falling ill, so lesson plans are kind of sparse and/or makeshift.

Tuesday. Woodshop.

I've covered for this teacher before. Because they don't use power tools in his absence (safety issue), the kiddos are stuck doing bookwork. But because of technology, the the teacher was able to assign a new chapter from home. (It was his second day out. A different sub had covered the prior day.)

Third period was construction tech. They were working on an "estimation packet".

They got the packet out, but then claimed they didn't have enough information to do any work. Deep sigh.

I found blueprints. They claimed they'd already used them. So, I reread the lesson plan, and the words Google Classroom stuck out. None of them had gotten the computers out. I encouraged them to do so.

Sure enough, there were more specific instructions online. There were links to videos demonstrating what they were to do.

And yet, they still claimed ignorance.

Now, they could have been telling the truth. Something might have been missing. They might have needed more information to complete this assignment.

But I rather doubt this. It seemed to me they were taking advantage of a sub day to goof off--a long standing tradition.

Deep sigh. This is why I write detailed notes to the teacher. Teachers rarely appreciate the kiddos sudden ignorance.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Going Obsolete

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 learned your blogging platform was being discontinued? (No, I haven't heard anything. It's just a random question.)