Monday, October 31, 2022

A Small Costume

I still haven't been motivated to do much of anything yarn-y, but luckily, that wasn't the case four years ago. I have something to wear to work today: 

It's just that touch of Halloween that I like. Perfect.

Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Fail Percentage

It was my last day in the success seminar for Mrs. B. As they did about every two weeks, it was the day they were to check in on their goals. And part of this assignment had them checking their grades and calculating their GPA. 

Eighth period. I gave them the same instructions I had been giving all day. This included, "And at this point, no one should answer 'idk' for the GPA. If you don't know how to calculate your GPA, ask me."

As the rest of the class got started, Soleil wailed. "I don't want to look at my grades. I don't want to see my Fs."

Soleil has spent the entire four weeks doing what she wants in class. She spent a couple days watching inappropriate TV shows. She did not listen when I gave direct instruction. It was as if I wasn't there at all. 

But now? Now she cares? 

Ugh.

Part of the assignment was to calculate the "fail percentage" for the various "teams" in class. Soleil had four Fs. 

Yes, she eventually did look at her grades. And she whined about how many classes she was failing. 

I reminded her that it was not too late to improve her grades. We're only about halfway through the semester. If she would do her work and turn it in, her grades would improve. If she asked her teachers to let her make up missing assignments, her grades would improve. The whole point of success seminar is to help improve grades, and that includes giving her a time and place to work on missing assignments. 

So, Soleil did one assignment for another class. (Her grade in success seminar is a B.) 

Hey, that's progress.

I have a feeling I'll be seeing her at the continuation high school soon enough, though. I hope she proves me wrong.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Stolen

Wednesday. The lesson was "Using Active Listening". Of which they were not.

The day was chaotic. I had students throwing things at each other. I had students talking over me while I tried to go over the lesson. As soon as the parts of the slideshow with videos in them would start, they would pull out their phones and ignore the screen. 

I put on slides what I wanted them to write down in their notebooks. Many of them weren't bothering. 

I was happy to get to the end of the lesson. 

It was the end of fourth period. The bell rang, and students were leaving. 

That's when Martin found her airpods missing. 

Uh...

There was nothing I could do. I would have had to call security while making sure no students left the room. And with these students, that would have meant me standing in front of the door as some would have just left even if I told them to stay. (The phone was on the other side of the room.)

Martin, understandably, was upset. She hadn't left her desk at all, and the airpods had been sitting next to her. 

This is why chaotic classes are bad news. 

But I couldn't stop. I had to prepare for the incoming sixth period, which was a worse class than fourth. (We're on a block schedule.) 

I was completely powerless to do anything. 

It's not a good feeling. 

Sixth period, as expected, was way worse than fourth. (Although, no belongings went missing.) I got a call part way into the period. 

Martin never made it to her sixth period class. (Nor did she make it to school on Friday.) 

Deep sigh. Days like these remind me why I don't do long term assignments. It's time to go back to just day-to-day subbing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Oddly Named

The following conversation is real, although not quoted verbatim. The names have been changed (as I always change their names), but the gist of the debate remains the same.

"Kress? What kind of name is Kress? Who comes up with such a name? It's a vegetable, not a name." 

Kress said that at least his name wasn't spelled like the vegetable, but the other boy said a couple things more about Kress having a "special" name. I was trying to get a word in edgewise to put a stop to this, but then...

"Okay, mm-why-kel. Who spells Michael, M-Y-K-E-L?"

At which point, Mykel got upset. He looked to me. 

And I looked back at him. And shrugged. 

"You just spent how long making fun of Kress' name, and now you're upset?"

Because, seriously? Mykel got off easy considering what he was saying to Kress. 

Freshmen. *shakes head* 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What's Gone Before

What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements πŸ˜‰ 

This week I'm cheating and pulling something I found from Twitter. I saw this tweet: 

And I was fascinated. (There's a whole thread that spells out the idea and hints at a story. It's worth your time.) So...

What if we got out into space only to find the ruins of another space-faring civilization? 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Fact Checked

As I have done at the beginning of every period, I was standing at the front, checking the roll and verifying that the students were in their assigned seats

"Brynn, go back to your assigned seat." 

Brynn: "I have permission to sit here. I emailed Mrs. B, and she said I could change my seat." 

The prior week I had an email exchange with Mrs. B about the quarter grades. She informed me that she might be hard to get a hold of for the next week as she would be out of town. 

Plus, whenever Mrs. B gave a student permission for something or other, she included me in the exchange. 

Brynn was lying. 

Me: "I'll need to see that email..."

It took a bit longer before Brynn finally went back to her assigned seat. But I got what I wanted, and Brynn's name got added to my very long list of "student behaviors" that I started keeping on the first day I took over the class. (And I shared the Google Doc with Mrs. B, so she's been able to read it the whole time she's been out.) 

When they sit next to their friends, they play. This is why they lost the privilege of getting to choose their seats in class.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Ditcher

Austin is in fourth period. Every day he asks to use the restroom. And every day he takes way too long (like 20 or more minutes). And almost every day I've called security to bring him back. (Some days I get busy with other things, and by the time I notice he's been gone, he returns.) 

Since we're on a block schedule, I only have him two or three times a week. So, it hasn't really been that many times. But last Tuesday, I was done. I had to get security to retrieve him, and upon his return I said that was it. For the rest of the school year, every time I have him in class, he would not get a restroom pass from me. 

So, what do you think the first thing he asked me for on Thursday was? 

Nope. Not happening. 

Other students advocated for him. How could I deny him the use of the restroom? That was illegal. Etc. 

I had warned him...

Towards the end of the period, Austin approached me. He really, really, really, truly had to use the restroom. He would only take five minutes. And he would leave his cell phone in my custody. He offered his wallet, too. 

Against my better judgement, I let him go...

...And he returned in five minutes, on the dot. 

Nice. 

The next day was an "odd" day (I didn't have fourth period). On my free period, I walked out of my classroom to use the restroom. Who did I run into? 

Austin was strolling along the sidewalk with three of his buddies. 

He said hello. I asked him where he was supposed to be. I then asked him why he wasn't there. 

Did he head in the direction of his class? Of course not. 

That boy will find any excuse to get out of class. So, will he get a restroom pass from me next time? Probably. But as I know he can get back in five minutes, he's going to have to convince me that he will. 

I have a feeling I'll be calling security on him again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

No Longer High Tech

When I got the lesson plans for last week, there was a question in them. "Is there a way to play a DVD in the classroom?"

Yup, we have technologied our way out of DVDs. Everything is online nowadays. The computers no longer have DVD players in them. 

Mrs. B wanted me to show them a video. She had it on DVD. It is streaming someplace, but that would have required a subscription that neither of us had. 

Because streaming something is easy now. I have a computer that I can plug into the projector that's mounted to the ceiling. The speakers are also installed in the ceiling. 

I just needed to find a DVD player. 

I called the library.

Hunting down a DVD player was doable, but would a media cart work? 

Roughly a decade ago, the media cart was the go-to for showing videos in class. This was before they upgraded the tech in all the classrooms. 

Yes, I said, a media cart would work. And so, on the days I needed to show the video, I had this in the classroom: 

It's a DVD player connected to a projector with a speaker on the bottom tray. It's plug into the wall and go. 

Did the students watch the video presented? Of course not. But I was able to show the DVD.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

About the Neighbor

What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements πŸ˜‰ 

What if your "nice" neighbor turned out to be a white supremacist? 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Necessary Repairs

The other day, I was walking out of the grocery store when I noticed that my keychain suddenly felt a bit light. I had lost my crocheted flip flop.

I immediately turned around and found it on the pavement. 

About four years ago, I got a little obsessed with making these flip flop keychains. They're fun. I made one for myself, and I sold a few in my shop. (I still have some available if anyone is interested.) 

It took four years for mine to wear out. Not bad.

And, really, that wasn't going to be a hard thing to fix. So, I did.

I think it took me longer to find materials and figure out what I wanted to do than making the actual repairs. 

Although, just from normal wear, it might be time to make another. I still have the original yarn/thread. But first I'll have to locate where I stashed the pattern. 

For now, I have my keychain back.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Petty Vengance

When I talked to Mrs. B before she went on leave, she told me she intended to do the grading while she was out. But the previous Friday, in a completely unsurprising move, Mrs. B asked if I could take it over. (She said mommy brain and teacher brain weren't compatible.) 

Last Friday was the end of the quarter. Grades were due. And that meant I was in charge of getting them done. 

These aren't semester grades. They're more of a progress report, but in a more official capacity. 

One of the things that the school wants on these quarter grades are comments. Comments for each student. 

The comments we can use come from a specific list. I can put in a code for the comment I want to use. But I have a limited list of things I can say. 

The last couple times I've done this, I kept it simple. I only used things like "in danger of failing" or "a pleasure to have in class". There's also an "excessive absences". If I saw that their grade went up, I can use "showing improvement". 

But this time I had a much better idea of who these students are. 

I had caught up on the grading. I input the letter grades they had earned. And it was fifth period when I could start inputting the comments. 

(The class had a make up work day. They worked. I worked. I got way more done than them.) 

I sat in the front of the room in a corner. I looked at the student name. I looked up at the student. I pondered...

At the beginning of the period, three boys refused to sit in their assigned seats. They'd been difficult off and on for the two weeks I've been covering the class. Eventually, they complied, but I had to insist. 

It turns out there's an "uncooperative attitude" comment. Hmmm. 

I also found the "disruptive behavior" comment. (That one was more useful for period eight, but I used it elsewhere as well.) 

I mean, I did use some "pleasure to have in class". Not all the students were terrible. But I got a perverse pleasure in naming some students as difficult. 

It was especially fun to do it when the kiddos were right there. (Does that make me evil? I think I'm okay with that.) 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Visitor

In seventh period there are two students enrolled who have not attended since I took over the success seminar class. So, last Wednesday when a new-to-me student showed up and sat in one of their seats, I assumed he was one of those students. 

"Visiting" is something that only really happens to subs. A student who is not enrolled in the class shows up, pretends to be a student in the class, and plays around

The day's lesson was on digital zombies. It hadn't gone well all day. (Too many of them displayed the traits we were discussing in the lesson, ignoring the whole point.) But seventh period...

Someone started whistling. I'd stop talking, the whistling would stop, so then I'd restart what I was trying to say, and then the whistling would start up again. 

They were throwing things. Someone played a high pitched tone on an electronic device (computer or phone, I'm not sure). And then there was the usual inattention and talking over me while I tried to go over what they were supposed to learn. 

It was a long, hard day. 

Somehow, me and the visitor (Kevin) got into a conversation about grades. I went to look "his" up, and he let me know that who I was looking up wasn't him.

That was his mistake. 

Because now I knew he didn't belong in the class.

He swore up and down that this was his class. A couple students chimed in to say that it was his class. But he wasn't on my roll sheet, and he'd been a major disruption, so he had to go. He begged. Couldn't he just stay today? 

I said his seventh period teacher had to be missing him. Where was he supposed to be? He didn't know, he claimed. So, I told him he had to go to the guidance office so they could tell him. 

Oh, he didn't want to leave. But finally I persuaded him to go. Only, he wanted a paper pass. I didn't have any. With the hall pass app, passes are all electronic. I got his "barcode" (but he made sure to put his thumb across his name--not very subtly) and input an office hall pass. 

And then I went to look up his name. The barcode is the student ID number, but it inputs in the system with a name. That I can easily access. 

Kevin returned. He "remembered" that he had dropped his seventh period so he no longer had a class. I told him to leave. He resisted, claiming a sun allergy. 

He left when I promised that I would next be calling security to have him removed. 

After doing a bit of research, I learned that Kevin was well-known to the office staff. Also, he's a BEST student (this used to be called opportunity, but basically it's a self-contained class where problem behavior students are segregated from the campus at large, kind of a precursor to the alternative education center). And he never had success seminar. 

So, I reported his antics to his BEST teacher, to the discipline office, and to Mrs. B. Mrs. B remembers him from her days working the discipline office, so when he tried this game before, she didn't let him in. 

And they looped in his basketball coach, the athletic director, and his mom

I doubt I'll see Kevin again (unless I pull a day covering the BEST class). 

Play stupid games, "win" stupid prizes. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Damaged

Sometimes two students do not get along.

And sometimes, those two students are seated right next to each other.

I didn't notice Odessa and Xerxes the first week. Although, Odessa did stand out on that awful Friday in sixth period when, bored, Odessa decided to organize the colored pencils and markers that Mrs. B leaves out for them to use for projects and such. 

(She did an great job. I took a photo and texted it to Mrs. B. She loved what Odessa had done.) 

I'm not sure what set it off. But I was dealing with other issues when I heard their commotion. 

Odessa blamed Xerxes. Xerxes blamed Odessa. 

The headphones should be in one piece, not two. 

They had been throwing the headphones back and forth. I'm not sure why. We have a class set, so they could go and get another set. 

Who's to blame? In my book: both of them. 

(I took the headphones back to the library. I gave the library clerk both their names. We're not sure how it's going to work, but both of them will have a fine assessed.) 

But now the both of them are in a battle. Every little thing the other does is cause for anger and recriminations. 

What to do? Time to amend the seating chart. Those two need to be separated.

Of course, neither would budge. 

"No, she can move."

"No, he should move." 

If I had two open empty seats, I would have moved both of them. But, alas, I only had one.

And neither of them were going to take it. (And the boy next to that seat informed me the seat needed to remain empty. That's a battle for another time.) 

In the end, Austin (who's also an issue, but that's a whole other blog post) volunteered to switch with Xerxes. And for peace, I allowed it.

I think I'm going to regret letting Austin have that seat, but I'll worry about that next week.

(If you recall Austin from the chemistry class, no, this is not the same boy. But yes, he does have the same name. And Austin from the chemistry class is in my fourth period. So, I'm basically all about yelling at Austins for this class.) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Our Robot Overlords

What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements πŸ˜‰ 

I saw this tweet:

And it made me laugh. But then, I pondered. And:

What if a world got seeded with intelligent life by robots?

Monday, October 10, 2022

Back to the Calash

It's been a couple weeks since I did a Monday yarn-y post. I've had nothing to write about. 

If you read my posts last week, you know I've been a bit fried when I get home. I haven't been in much of a mood to do the starting of a project. (Starting a project is different than working a project. I have to find patterns, decide on yarns, find needles/hooks, and cast on. It takes a certain type of mental energy that I just don't have at the moment.) 

And as I don't really have too much going at the moment, I haven't been doing a lot of knitting. 

But on the couple days I pulled out the yarn, I went back to working on the Calash. It looks like the last time I picked up this hood/scarf, it was June

But here's where I'm at:

I haven't sewn up the hood part yet, but it's now long enough that you can see how it's ultimately going to look.

At this rate, I might just get this done sooner rather than later. 

Today is actually a school holiday, so I might have the mental energy to start something new. Or, I might park myself in front of the TV and watch movies all day. As the movies thing sounds really enticing, I won't promise new projects for next week.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Friday Chaos

Some days...

This past week was Homecoming Week. That meant the game was Friday, the dance was Saturday, and there would be an assembly. Ugh!

I hate assemblies... 

(Although, they were calling it a "rally". It was an assembly.)

They shorten the schedule (the good news) so they can fit the gathering into the school day. My fourth period class was the one I would take. They arrived. I quickly took roll. And I told them to leave behind their backpacks as they would be returning to class after. 

They did not like this idea. 

I found out why when the "rally" was over. Four of the students who were there before the "rally" did not return. Deep sigh. 

(Two girls barely made it to the "rally" in the first place. I saw them arrive about ten minutes before it ended.) 

Of course, I reported those cuts to the attendance office. 

The biggest problem with assembly days is how wound up the students get. And I had the even periods (the more difficult day). 

At least the lesson plan was on point. They had independent work to do, so I didn't have to attempt to get their attention when they weren't going to give it.

But just as things had begun to settle in sixth period...

The fire alarm went off.

This wasn't the school where we ignore such things

It was about ten minutes before lunch. 

The students questioned a drill at that time. I told them it wasn't a drill. So, we evacuated. 

And we were about halfway out to the staging area when we got the all clear. 

We had a few minutes before lunch, so of course half the class didn't return. And at that point, I didn't blame them. 

At least eighth period went off without a hitch. (Well, except for them watching Dahmer instead of doing the work. And no, they shouldn't be watching that at school which I argued with them, but they ignored me.)

So, the first week of that assignment is done. Only three more to go.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Not How That Was Supposed to Go

The class is success seminar. It's basically a class for social-emotional learning. In theory, it's a great idea. Pretty much the entire campus could benefit from some of the lessons.

However, the students who were put in the class are the ones who are falling a bit behind and whose grades could use improvement. 

The lesson of the day was how to make a good first impression. 

I had a slideshow. They had a worksheet to fill out as we went through the slides. I pointed out what needed to be filled out when we reached the points in the lesson where they had to take something down. 

And still, for the most part they weren't paying attention. There was a five minute video. Before the video, I told them that they were to answer a question on their page. I showed them where on the page the question was. Then I played the video.

After the video, I told them to answer the question. "What question?" I pointed it out. "Where's the video?" You mean, the video I just played for you? On the big screen? That you all ignored? 

*facepalm*

So, when we got to the activity, I was not holding out much hope.

They were to do a "speed dating" thing where they would greet a fellow student and make a "first impression". The partners would critique each other, writing this down, and then we'd repeat. They were to have three different partners. 

So, I explained what they were to do. I pointed out what they'd fill out on their papers. I went around the room and assigned students to "rotate" and students who would be "bases". I asked them if they had questions. And then we got started...

Yeah, it was a train wreck. (I hope that video works. If it does, those kiddos were way more on target than my kiddos were.) Maybe a few students had understood my instructions. The rest had been talking over me as I explained. So, when it came time to do the thing, they didn't know what thing to do.

I learned an important lesson. Skip the activities. I mean, I knew it would go badly. I didn't realize how badly it was going to go. 

At least, I shouldn't attempt such things until I've gotten them to listen to me and take me seriously. So, yeah, skip the activities. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Battle of the Seating Chart

After my preview the prior week, I was not looking forward to beginning the four weeks in the Success Seminar class. And things went about as I expected them to go. 

The first order of business: keep the students in their assigned seats. 

The classes are a bit wild. Mrs. B, in an effort to mellow them out a bit, reassigned the seats in all the classes before she left. She left me with the updated seating chart. 

My first day in class was an even day. (We're on block schedule. Even days are periods 2, 4, 6, and 8. They have a name based on the school colors, but I can never keep that straight, so it's odd and even days for me.) That meant I got to see period four again right away. 

And... every class battled me on the seating chart. 

In period four I had one boy who just had to sit next to another boy who "helped" him with his English assignments. Okay, fine. But it wasn't work on other classwork day. 

In period six, I had two boys who swapped names/seats. They got angry at the other students when they got called out for it, but I was the one who went to each table and verified that each student in each seat was the student noted on the seating chart. 

But that was all child's play.

Period eight... They were going to sit with their friends, and there was not a thing I could do about it. 

Soleil was on her phone, having a full on conversation, when class started. And when I wouldn't let her friend sit with her, she could not understand why. Just the idea that perhaps I wanted them to pay attention in class was completely foreign to her. 

So, I lost that fight.

Their assignment was a "recap" (read: test) over the unit they'd just finished. But it was a group assignment. The whole table could work together on it.

Period eight worked with their friends rather than their table. Which was not the assignment. 

Mrs. B had to grade this as I hadn't been there for the unit. (The recap was online.) And she saw right away that the groups weren't the groups she had assigned. She left a note in their Google Classroom the next class day stating how disappointed she was that they hadn't followed instructions. 

The next class day, the students sat in their assigned seats, albeit reluctantly. 

So, win? Nah. More of a dΓ©tente for the moment. It's going to be a long four weeks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Shortening the Week

What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements πŸ˜‰ 

What if we made a four-day work week standard? And, if we did that, what other day off would we get? (Yes, I know everyone kind of expects it to be Friday with three days off in a row. But what about making it Monday, the day everyone dreads? Or, what if we did a Wednesday, so two days on, one day off?)