Friday, May 28, 2021


It was my last day in the eighth grade English class. (The way the subbing credential works, I can only cover a class for thirty days. Last Friday was day thirty.) I was hoping to get my grading done during the "office hour". 

The school established an "office hour" in the afternoons so the students could get extra help on assignments and such. For the most part, the students don't utilize it. But, of course, on the day I really need no one to attend, several students needed my help. 

Bentley had been doing well until the last couple weeks. She hadn't been in class for most of the previous week, and she hadn't turned anything in for a couple more than that. So, I was surprised when she popped up. 

Bentley explained that she had been sick for about a month. (She didn't say she'd had the dread plague, so I assume it was just a cold.) And she said she'd gotten lazy. She wanted to know if she could turn in her missing assignments as now she was concerned for her grade.


The due date for late work had been pushed to that Friday due to the system crash, so she could still get work done. And I do applaud her for wanting to get something accomplished. 

She's not the only one the procrastination bug bit hard this spring. 

They're down to the wire now. As you read this, they're taking their finals. The year is over.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Paranoia Pays Off

On Friday, the whole Google Classroom system crashed for the school. By Monday, they were able to sort of restore the students' email accounts so they could access the Google Meets. But it was a temporary thing. 

We were warned not to use Google Classroom until the system was restored. When they reassociated the students' email accounts with their classwork accounts, anything the students did in the between times (from the time the system crashed until it was restored) would be wiped out.

But how do you get assignments to students at home during a pandemic? Email? (That's very, very time consuming, not to mention going through all the emails to grade it. Eeek.) 

Now, there are a couple other systems in place, but I do not have access to them. They figured the sub wouldn't need them. (I did try to get an account early on in the school year when I was on a different assignment, but it never happened, and by the time I'd follow up, I was done covering that class.) 

There was nothing else to do. I assigned them work on Google Classroom, but with the caveat that they'd need to back up their work to a different system somehow, as once their accounts were restored, that work would be lost. 

But eighth graders. I knew this was going to go awry for some of them.

I got paranoid. 

Daily, I went and graded all work that was turned in. I immediately recorded it in the gradebook. Up until now I had been waiting to grade things until after they were due so I could grade them all at once. But I just knew...

Thursday I got an email from a student. His account had been restored. And the assignment he had completed had gone poof. (He had thought his account was safe, that it had been restored the day prior.) 

I checked. Yup, I'd graded it. It had a score in the gradebook. 

Once we got word that the accounts were mostly restored, I went back through the week's assignments to make sure they showed as completed. I found three other students' work that had "incomplete" when I had a score for them.

I'm so glad I did that grading when I did. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Worst Timing

Last Friday I related the crash of Google Classroom. I wrote, "Hopefully, they'll get things fixed by Monday." 


I really should have known.

Actually, come to think of it, it's rather amazing that we haven't had a catastrophic failure like this all year. Things have been working pretty well up until now. But, of course, if the system is going to crash, the system has to crash at the worst possible time... 

There are three weeks left of school. It's time for things like final projects to be due. It's time for all make up work to be due. And the eighth graders have their finals a week before the seventh graders so they can participate in end-of-the-year activities. (Well, in a normal year...) 

By Monday, things hadn't been restored. All of the students' work from the entire semester was gone. 

Now, this wasn't too terrible as the gradebook software was unaffected. And I had been really good about grading things and getting them recorded immediately. So, while they lost access to the work they did, they still had credit for it.

But, this did present a problem for the current work. When all of your work is online, how do you run a class when the online component is not functioning? And, what do you do when you're just covering for another teacher who left all of the work for the classes with the assumption that the online stuff would be working? 

It was a bit of a scramble.

And it's almost all sorted as of this writing. Almost. 

I am learning so much. I have no idea if the kiddos are.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Outside of Everything

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.

The other day as I was perusing Twitter, I stumbled across this meme: 

I did a little digging and found a bit more about this False Vacuum Theory. And I thought it made a good jumping off point for a "what if?"...

What if we managed to find a way out of our universe?

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Next Project?

Last week I showed off my finally finished seven (and a half) year cardi...

And now... I have nothing to work on. Sigh.

I've been focused on it and the various masks I was making for so long, I hadn't allowed myself the time or space to imagine any new projects. And work has been taking so much of my focus lately. So now I find myself between projects. 

So, while lamenting my lack of projects, I was perusing Twitter, and I stumbled upon this tweet: 

 Assuming the picture posts, you can see what has me enamored, right? That's a dragon. On a sweater. 

The tweet thread helpfully led me to the actual dragon pattern which is called Tahesha the dragon(ess). And this is what it's supposed to look like: 


I don't need a sweater. But I kind of want a sweater with this on it. I want to knit this. I want to wear this. But I don't really have a need for something with this on it. 

The dilemma. 

I mean, I suppose I could knit this for someone else... Considering how long my last sweater took (see: the seven (and a half) year cardi), that doesn't bode well for someone else being promised the thing. 

I purchased the pattern (how could I not?), and I'm going to practice it (as soon as I print out the massive 29 page PDF), so I'll have it at some point (no telling how long it'll take me to complete as it is an advanced pattern). I suppose I'll just have to wonder at what to do with it once I've practiced it once. Or twice. 

Then again, something else might capture my imagination. Who knows? Everything is wide open at the moment.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Worst Case Scenario

Friday, fourth period. The principal came over the loudspeaker to inform us that some students had been deleted from their Google Classroom accounts, that the school was aware of the problem, that the issue was school-based, and that they were working on it. 

I had no issues in fourth period.

Then sixth period arrived... 

I have four in-person students. Three had lost their Google Classroom accounts.

Uh oh... 

The class has a total of 31 students. I may have one absence, generally. Most of the time, they're all present. This day, I had 17 in the Google Meet. 

Throughout the period, students "left the meet", or at least that's the message I got from my end. But I got messages in the chat telling me that the student who just left had been kicked out of the meet and couldn't log back in. (They know each other, so I assume they texted each other to let me know.) 

Considering the situation and how they usually behave, I figured that everyone who "left" the meet was booted from it and then found they no longer had access to their Google account. 

Ah, the joys of technology. 

The boys in class? Well, three of them couldn't access their accounts, so they obviously couldn't do the assignment. At which point, they switched from "advanced student mode" (read: well-behaved) to "eighth grade boy mode" (read: not so well-behaved). The boy who could access his computer used the time to play Tetris.


Hopefully they'll get things fixed by Monday. It'll be really awkward if I have no work for them to do. (All the work is online. I could scramble for the students in class, but what do I do with the kiddos still schooling from home?)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Seating Chart

Students are creatures of habit. They like their routines. Once something has been established, like requiring them to wipe down their desks at the end of the period, they just continue to do that thing. They don't like it when we change things up on them.

In the co-taught classes, I am in charge of taking roll. (I'm in charge of roll in the classes where it's just me, too, of course.) After a couple weeks of not remembering any of the names of the in-person students, I decided to take advantage of their tendencies. I decided to make seating charts. 

We have not assigned seats. Now, you'd think that me making a seating chart and then not requiring the kiddos to sit in the same seats would mean that my seating charts are useless. They are not. 

Second period, Tuesday. Four students arrived. All sat down in the front row. I went down the line, and all had sat according to the seating chart. That they were unaware of. 

After a month of in-person learning, they have chosen their seats, and they are sticking to them. 

It's not 100%. In third period, a girl and a boy have done battle over the back far corner seat. It goes to the student who arrives first. (The one day that they started an argument over it, I forbid either to sit there. Since then, they've accepted the first one to get there gets it.) 

Save for a couple other adjustments daily, the kiddos pretty much stay in the same seats. And with my chart, I have started to learn their names. Or, at least, I'm way better at "guessing" who is who. 

Seating charts are how I learn students' names. It's the way my brain works. So, might as well play to my strengths, right?

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Sub Day

Monday. It was the day after Mother's Day. Ms. R, the co-teacher, had decided to take a personal day off. (She went to visit her grown children, and she didn't want to rush back.) 

Ms. R was going to need a sub. 

I have subbed many times for co-teachers when the other teacher is there. (It's a very easy day for a sub. Usually.) This time, I was the "regular" teacher. 

And... Had this been any other year, I might have gotten an actual sub. But this year is weird. And one of the weirdnesses is a lack of subs. It seems we're all on long-term assignments, so day-to-day subs are few and far between. 

Instead, full-time on-campus teachers period subbed. (It was fine. I knew what we were doing, and they just assisted with the online students.) 

It was kind of a disappointment. I had hoped to get a chance to compare notes with another sub. We don't often get a chance to hang out for a day and talk. Sigh. Well, maybe next year... 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Premature Obituary

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 friend who you thought died returns and is now out to get you?

Monday, May 17, 2021

All Done

I have skipped posting the past two Mondays for a specific reason. I made no progress on the seven (and a half) year cardi, and I didn't want to write yet another post that said that.

Today, however, I get to report progress...




I finished it on Saturday. The edging is complete. All that's left is to wash it and block it.

Whew. That was a ride.

Alas, I have no idea what project to start next.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Mask Up

Are you all still wearing masks? 

Masks are required of the in-person students (as well as the teachers and all staff). We have the masks, the partitions, air circulating, social distancing, and constant cleaning. Hopefully all will be well continuing on.

However, a certain problem has cropped up that I know you are familiar with, going by how often the complaint pops up on social media.

The kiddos don't keep the mask over their nose!

In public, I grumble. I see these people, and I wonder if they realize that the whole point is to cover the nose (as well as the mouth). But it's not my place to say anything, so I don't.

However, in school, it is actually my job to make sure the kiddos are complying with the masking up.

Yup, I get to tell kiddos to pull their masks up over their noses. And they do it

Ah, the power.

It kind of makes up for when I leave campus and no longer have the authority to do so. Sigh.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Heckler

I was asked to cover a chemistry class during my prep period last Thursday. I figured it'd be an easy day. 

I had two students in person and twenty-odd online. They had an assignment on aqueous solutions. I offered my assistance, but no one took me up on it. 

After accidentally logging out of the meet and returning, I got a notification that someone from outside the "network" wanted to join the meet. Since I didn't know the students' names (I had a roster, so I could have looked), I assumed it was a student who was on the wrong computer, so I let him in.

Mistake. Big mistake.

After a couple minutes of the usual silence, he turned on his microphone and began playing some rap music that was wholly inappropriate for school. Sex and drugs and swearing and such. I muted him (to minimize the disruption) and removed him from the meet. 

It doesn't take much time to actually remove someone from the meet. I remove kiddos at the end of the period (when it's clear they're not there to remove themselves) all the time. 

Problem solved? Not so fast... 

It was a while later, like a half hour or more, when someone joined the meet via a phone. I know, because what showed up on my screen was a partial phone number. (Google stars out the majority of the phone number, for privacy, I suspect.) 

He immediately turned on his sound and played some other rap music that was inappropriate for class. I hit his mute button and removed him from the meet. 

When I remove someone from the meet, I get a pop up asking if I want to file an abuse report. As I usually remove kiddos for inattention (when I'm closing out the meet), there's no need. But this time, it was abuse report time. While figuring out the abuse report and composing my complaint, guess who called into the meet again? 

This time, he started in on me. He called me names. Said insulting stuff. I'd give you a rundown, but I wasn't really listening. I was hitting the mute button and then the remove button. He unmuted himself before I removed him, but that lasted another second or so.

He tried a couple more times. Luckily for me, I got faster at this the more he did it.

(No, I could not prevent him from connecting. I looked for a "deny entry" button, but didn't find it then. I'll have to look around for one in case this happens in the future.) 

In the chat, the students expressed their dismay. One boy said the intruder was exhibiting crazy fan behavior. Another couldn't figure out why he kept trying. Several apologized for the rude behavior. (As none of them were responsible for the crazy, I thanked them but told them they had nothing to apologize for.)

Once the period was over and the class left, I left the meet. And I went into Google Classroom and changed the link for that period's meet. (It's a simple thing to reset the link.) So, hopefully he won't try again. I warned the regular teacher, just in case.

I wonder what that boy got out of that. I mean, to go to that much trouble to hurl insults and music at a chemistry class...

Wednesday, May 12, 2021


This hybrid school thing... So many moving parts. 

The bell rang, so I dismissed fourth period. Then I had six minutes to get ready for sixth. (We're on a block schedule, so periods 1-3-5 one day and periods 2-4-6 the next.) 

I let the in-person boys into class as I logged into the meet for the at-home students. I first joined using the main computer. Then I joined using the "receiving" computer.

Okay, so this might get a bit complicated to explain, but I'm going to try anyway. If we play a video to the at-home students and attempt to listen to it on that same computer in class, there's a distortion that the kiddos at home hear. The fix for this is to present the video on one computer while listening to it on another. That is, I need to have one computer open to the meet and receiving the presentation just like the kiddos at home. 

I mean, I don't have to do this. I could just mute my computer. But then I don't know if they're hearing me. Besides, I kind of have to follow along so I know when to stop the video. And with kiddos in class, it's easier to have one speaker going so they can all follow along. I plug the receiving computer into the in-class projection system for the kiddos in class.

(I mean, they could just join the meet and watch it that way. And sometimes they do. But, what's the use of being in person if they're just getting their instruction via a Google Meet?) 

Confused? I'm just getting started...

Once I was in the meet with both computers, I "presented" my main computer screen to the receiving computer. Only, the receiving computer wasn't seeing what my presenting computer was presenting. 

I had something similar happen the previous week, so I logged out and logged back in. Still, nothing.

At this point, the kiddos started logging in. Only, I wasn't seeing them on my presenting computer...

And that's when I found my error. I logged my receiving computer into period 6's meet. I logged my presenting computer into period 4's. Oops.

Too many moving parts. Or open tabs. Or some metaphor like that. 

By the time this is all over, I'm going to be an expert at Google Meets. And then I won't need to be anymore.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Good News

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 bad thing you're expecting never materializes?

Friday, May 7, 2021

Falling Partitions

Because pandemic, all the classrooms have been outfitted with plexiglass partitions for the students. They look like this: 

As you can see, they're not attached to the desks. Because of this, the inevitable happens. Several times a day. 

(The inevitable being that kiddo knocks said partition down.) 

And, you know what? This makes me laugh every single time.

It's terrible of me. The kiddos don't intend to knock the thing over. Some of it is clumsy. (They are adolescents, after all.) Some of it is careless. And because we have them wipe down their desks after every class (yup, there are safety protocols in place), someone is going to touch something wrong, and down it goes. 

I'm not trying to laugh at them. Some of them look positively mortified when it happens. Although, as it happens every day, I think we're getting to the point where they're less upset when it happens to them.

I hope.

Because, the laugh response continues to happen. I'm tamping it down more and more. But a snort still seems to come out when I hear the tell-tale sound of falling partition. 


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Where I Found My Earring

This has been the weirdest year. Not only did I get a chance to attend Back to School Night, I also got to attend Open House. Because I'm doing the long-term assignment. 

I just timed these long-term assignments wrong right, I guess. 

Even though we have students on campus now, Open House was fully virtual. So each department got together to create a presentation. As the sub in the mix, I went along with what the three other eighth grade English teachers wanted to do. (It's not like I knew what to showcase, anyway.) 

The night of, we were all in the same meet, but we were all in different classrooms. I got a call from the teacher who took charge. As we talked, I felt something strange with my earring. When we finished our conversation, I felt for my earring, and the back had fallen off. (With masks, I've been wearing stud earrings exclusively.)

It had to have fallen somewhere... 

The co-teacher was in the same room with me. She looked from one side of the desk, me from the other. I used my flashlight. I got down on my hands and knees. Nothing. 

I put what was left of my earrings in my wallet, and we went on with the Open House presentation. (We had, like, 13 parents show up. Sigh.) 

After, I went straight home. It had been a long day. (There was time for me to go home between the end of the school day and the start of Open House, but it seemed like a waste of time, so I had remained on campus. That made it a 12-hour day.) 

And that's when I texted the co-teacher with one of my stranger texts...

She had said it probably ended up in my bra. The earring back had somehow slipped into a pretty secure location on the inside of my bra, between the lace and the structural support. It was safe there until I found it.


I would have been very upset at losing that. I wear those earrings all the time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Giggles

A teacher at one of the high schools I sub at wrote a book about parents and teens and effective communication. She's looking for backers on Indiegogo. You can read (and watch her talk about the book on video) here.

Spring in eighth grade English means it's time for them to read The Diary of Anne Frank. Because eighth grade, we read the play version. 

Reading plays in class can be fun. Parts are assigned. If you have the right mix of kiddos, they can get into it. Some do a voice. Some get engaged in their roles.

Alas, with the hybrid thing, things are different.

Getting kiddos at home to turn on their microphones and respond is hard. Those that do often have background noise: dogs barking, babies crying, siblings making noise, etc. But since we have kiddos in class, we have willing volunteers to read. 

Okay, maybe "willing" is stretching it a bit. It's more like I told them they were reading, and they didn't contradict me. And with few kiddos in class, everyone in class got a speaking part, so it wasn't like any one of them were getting singled out. They all had to, ahem, suffer the same fate. 

Sixth period. I had four students in class.

Scene 1, Act 2 has eight speaking parts. I divvied up the parts so each boy got two roles. And away we went.

Only... Adam had the giggles. 

When he wasn't speaking (he was playing Anne and Miep), it was fine. The kiddos at home didn't hear him as he kept his microphone muted. But when it was his turn to read...

He had to try to gather himself together. Then he'd get a sentence or two out only to burst into laughter again. Luckily, he didn't have too much to do in the scene.

Why was he laughing? I have no idea. He blamed another boy's picture in the meet. (With cameras off, a picture holds their place on screen. Very few students use their actual pictures, so it was some odd image.) But I doubt that was what caused the giggle fit. 

Somehow, we made it through the scene.

With the at home and in class groups thing being awkward, I took some time to search, and I found an audio version of the play

The one day a week we're all distance (kind of a long story as to how the whole thing works), I teased the recording. I asked the class how they enjoyed reading in class. As expected, the in-class kiddos weren't so enthused about having to read. (The at-home kiddos rather enjoyed it, though.)

When I told them I had found a recording, the in-class students cheered. (Yay! in the chat counts as cheering.) But not Adam. Adam said he rather enjoyed reading in class. 

But the rest of sixth period were happy. It seems that they didn't get a whole lot out of our reading of that scene as the kiddos in the classroom did.

Not surprising, really. I could probably say the same about most things school-related.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A Different Origin Theory

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

I found this on Twitter on Sunday, and I thought, "why not?" It's way better than any question I can come up with today...