Friday, September 29, 2023

Tag Team

Friday. Eighth grade math. Cotaught. 

I walked in expecting to play support to the regular general ed teacher, but it turned out she was out too. So, it was a two sub day.

Well, we could handle that.

Ms. S and I both read the lesson plans. We divvied up the work. (I'd check their homework. She'd take roll.) I have a math background, so I would take lead in going over the warm up and the homework. She'd keep classroom control while I did that. 

Second period went well. I was elsewhere for fourth period. (Learning center.) She had math support and enrichment. 

When I returned for sixth period, I was not surprised to hear that fourth period had not gone well. (It was only a week prior that I had my own hell in a math support and enrichment.) And several of those students also had math sixth period.

But things go a bit easier with two teachers in the room. I can deal with an issue on one side of the room while the other teacher deals with a problem on the other side. 

We had a couple students playing around. I caught a student copying the practice test they were doing. (Which was only going to hurt the student as no one was checking the practice test for completeness. This was their opportunity to figure out what they needed to learn for the test.) 

Ms. S had taken over keeping track of restroom passes, and I focused on answering math questions. 

"What are you doing over here?" I asked one boy.

"She said I could sit here." 

Considering that Ms. S hadn't been allowing students to move, I was dubious. I got Ms. S's attention and asked if she had let the boy sit in that seat. 

She had not.


I mean, if you're going to tell a lie, do you tell one that can so easily be found out? 

Eighth graders... *shakes head* They really don't think sometimes.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Not Brown

Thursday I took a gig in a special ed class that was labeled as "moderate to severe" in the substitute teacher booking app. I knew what that meant, as I have covered those classes in the past. Many times

Fifth period. The instructional assistant (IA) asked me to help DeMarcus with his packet work. (The IAs know the kiddos. I don't. I follow the IAs' lead.) I was warned I might need to write things out in highlighter for DeMarcus to trace as he didn't write well.

It turned out I didn't need the highlighter. The first page had DeMarcus choosing which of two items was more expensive. All he had to do was circle. Then he had to count boxes. He could write his numbers.

The third sheet he was to do was a coloring thing. There were various items on it, like cereal, chicken, grapes, and butter. He was to color fruits and vegetables green, dairy yellow, meat red, and grains brown. 

Okay, easy enough.

We got the colors. I prompted him with the thing. "Are grapes a fruit or vegetable or are they a grain?" (When I gave him four choices, he said yes to all of them.) Then he'd color the thing.

It went pretty well until we got to the cereal. He figured out it was a grain. I told him to color it brown. 

The look on his face...

He did not want to color it brown. (I knew what he was going to compare the color to. He did not say it, but his face told me what he would have said if he was going to say it.) 

Well, we had a box of crayons. What would it hurt to color it something else? 

So, I gave DeMarcus the choice. What color would he rather use than brown? He chose blue. 

Works for me.

I left a comment in the note to the teacher that we substituted colors (so she wouldn't think that DeMarcus was just randomly using blue). Because, seriously, it wasn't worth getting into the argument.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Warning

It was snack time when a knock in the rhythm of "Shave and a Haircut" was tapped on the door. That's code. It means another teacher is seeking admittance, so I answered. 

(Students pound. And kick. And we tend to ignore those knocks during our break times, especially if we just really don't want to deal with it.)

It was Ms. N. (I've subbed for her a few times, and I worked with her on various long terms I did at that school.) She was popping in as Ms. K (the teacher I was covering) had asked her to. The upcoming fourth period...

Uh oh. I was in for it.

Eighth grade history. Ms. K's classes are generally well-behaved. This class was not.

(The first clue was the assignment. They were to read a magazine and answer questions based on some of the articles. These magazines are written for classes, and they only come out on days when the teacher wants to keep the students busy.)

But, actually, things didn't go too terribly. It helps to be proactive. And it helps to have Ms. N threaten them at the beginning of the period, warning them that they didn't want to get out of line. 

"It's never this quiet in here." 

Considering that the room wasn't silent, I worried at how loud they usually were. 

So, I focused on keeping them seated. And that took most of my attention. Seriously. Some of them were doing anything and everything to avoid the work and get out of their seats.

But when Ms. N called about midway through the period to ask if she needed to buzz back by and threaten them again, I said no. They weren't throwing things. Many were making progress on the busy work. And I was keeping after those that were just itching for an excuse to play around.

Not a bad day. It would have been so much worse if we hadn't started out as we did. (And the period after that was way better behaved.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


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 😉

What if you managed to capture the big bad (a villain), but someone in authority came along and freed them?

Monday, September 25, 2023


I pulled out the pillow pieces:

Why do I remember this as being way closer to complete? There wasn't that big a gap last time. I thought...

I'd rip it out and start afresh, but considering how long this has taken me, I'm just going to keep going. I might finish this eventually.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Expected Chaos

Back in the day-to-day subbing trenches, on Friday I covered a middle school math class. If you notice the above picture, the teacher (who is about my age) had a chalkboard installed in his room. 

I... do not like chalkboards. And, of course, I was to go over problems with them. Sigh.

In the lesson plans, at the end, Mr. T had written, "Sorry about period 2 :("

So, I knew I was in for it.

Eighth grade support and enrichment. It's an extra math class for students who are bad at math. Which means all the math behavior problems are in one group. 

Did you know that paper airplanes have made a comeback? Yep. And two girls would not stop making them. Or throwing them. After I repeatedly asked them to stop. (I mean, paper airplanes? Substitute teacher? How cliché can you get?)

There was one boy who would not sit still or stay seated. And he got into everything.

Several students were fixated on the classroom decorations. Trying to get to them and play with them. The thing is, Mr. T hasn't really changed his classroom décor in ages. Nothing was new. So, they were just getting into stuff to get into stuff. 

I had dancers. (It's a TikTok thing. Kiddos dance at random times for no reason.) I had loud. I had arguments. 

Oh, and they had a quiz...

Sometimes testing conditions aren't. I let the teacher know this, and I move on.

(What was their quiz on? Problems like -237 + 100.)

Then I had to do this two more times...

But, fourth period walked in, and I could take a deep breath. (They're on block schedule, so I only had periods 2, 4, and 6.) 

Seventh grade math. (Not support and enrichment.) Completely different behavior. Lovely group. 

It's good when I get the awful class out of the way first thing.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


Wednesday was my last day in the English 9 classes. 

When I began the classes (oh so long ago--3 1/2 weeks prior) I had requested and received access to the class' gradebooks. (I had to set them up. Link them. And get all the grading that had been done input.) 

The one hiccup was in the transition, the seating charts that Mr. P had made went poof. I had to recreate them. (Usually I keep a copy on paper, but I hadn't had a chance to print out a copy with all the other things I was trying to keep up with.) Yes, there is a way to do seating charts in the attendance software, and it makes taking roll go so much more quickly.

Knowing this, I was a bit paranoid about the gradebooks. Would they go poof when Mr. V got full access? 

There was a way to make a PDF copy. So, Monday evening I did. 

But Tuesday and Wednesday... 

The progress reports had gone out. The students were suddenly very interested in what assignments they were missing. 

(The previous week, they had a good hour of class time--some had longer--to go through their grades, see what was missing, and talk to me about it. Some did. Most spent the time playing games on their Chromebooks.)

So, I was getting late work. Some students hadn't started the class with everybody, so they had assignments that they weren't responsible for. (That's an easy enough fix, but they had to tell me as I only knew who was in the class when I started. I didn't know if they started the first day or later. If later, some of Mr. P's assignments didn't count.) 

By Wednesday I had made multiple adjustments to the gradebook.

Mr. V got his district account set up Wednesday. 

Because of computer access, I couldn't back up the gradebook again from school. I planned to do it from home. I got home, only to find that the classes had been removed from my account. 

And now I was worried. Would I be able to recall every change I had made since Monday? Or did the gradebooks make the transition to Mr. V intact? 

Luckily, I had his cell phone number, so I texted him.

It turned out, they had. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Fully removed from the class, I no longer had to think about it at all. Yay!

(Although, Mr. V doesn't have the right access to take the Google Classrooms for the classes. Yet. That's in process, and I can hold onto them until I can pass them over. He just can't give them digital assignments until then.

And, on Friday, I learned that one lone student hadn't been transferred out of "my" class with the group. I only learned this when the attendance clerk chided me for not submitting attendance. On a day I did not work.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Short Time

On Monday, I knew I was on short time in the long term English 9 assignment. But just how short? 

I had been kept in the loop of the hiring process for the new teacher. I knew when the interviews were. I knew when they were offering the job. I knew when the job had been accepted. And as soon as I got his contact info, I reached out to Mr. V, the new teacher, to let him know what he'd be walking into.

He said the district said he could start as soon as Tuesday.

Monday during third period was when I got the official notification.

We had a two-day transition. I taught the classes while Mr. V figured out what he'd be doing going forward. (The topic of the day was "Fish Cheeks" by Amy Tan.) 

I've left the classes in good hands. And now I'm back to day-to-day subbing. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


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 😉

I saw this posted on social media, but as a wish for the superpower. I thought it'd make an excellent "what if?". 

What if you could speak every language on Earth?

Monday, September 18, 2023


I really haven't been much in the mood to do anything lately. I mean, I've had homework for school. (Lesson planning. Grading. Keeping up with all the teacher-y stuff.) But otherwise, all I wanted to do for my downtime was watch TV and eat chocolate.

But on Saturdays I have this time where I really need something to do with my hands, so I pulled out some stash yarn and a pattern I had done before. I got the pieces done:

All that's left is assembling the pieces.

(I wrote about working this pattern here and here. Not quite a year ago.)

Hopefully I'll get it finished. Eventually. 

I have recently remembered that I have three projects that I have started that are currently languishing, waiting for my attention. That I remembered them is a good sign. Will I get to them? 🤷

I almost posted some pictures of them, but I didn't need that kind of pressure. I don't tell the world about doing things unless I am certain I will do them. That whole accountability thing that people say helps them has the opposite effect on me. And then I'll feel guilty which will push me into a shame spiral, and nothing will get done.

So, I'm not even going to assume I'll finish this pouch. I hope to, but it might not happen.

I don't need any more pressure right now.

I hope you have a great week and are able to accomplish everything you wish to.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Drop Everything

I don't think the ninth graders really understand the concept of other people's time.

It was vocabulary test day. (They have a vocabulary warm-up every day. At the end of the unit, they take a test on those words where they place the words in sentences.) After, I was giving them time to make sure they were caught up with all the work (and checking to make sure I hadn't made any errors in their gradebooks--the grading has been a mess for reasons beyond my control). 

After we finished the test, a student asked if he could go "visit" one of his teachers. I pointed out that she had a class and she wouldn't have time to "visit". He did not see my point.

Seventh period. Class had just started. I was going over the announcements for the day when there was a knock on the (unlocked) door. 

A student from earlier in the day was there. He needed "help" with something. Um... I have a class. I don't have time to stop to help one student while 30 others are waiting for me to teach class.

(If he had come to me at lunch, after school, or before school, that would have been different. Then I could take whatever time he needed.)

I shooed the boy away and went back to my remarks to the current class. (They seemed to think me rude. I guess they didn't want to get their test started.) 

I just... Do they not realize that I can't stop everything for one student when I've got a class? Apparently so, as another boy did that just the previous week.

(The school has hired a new teacher for the class. As soon as his paperwork has cleared, he'll take over the class. Likely, by the time you read this, I'll be out of here and on to other subbing assignments.)

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Scrounging Up Desks

It was the Friday before Labor Day, and during my prep period (the last period of the day), I was finishing a bunch of things up before going home. One of my priorities was to create a new seating chart for period five (because of issues the previous day). 

As I was doing this, I went through the add/drop list. This is how we see which students are being moved in and out of various classes. 

(It's been crazy these first few weeks of school. Every day students are moved about for various reasons.) 

That's when I learned that I was getting two new students into fifth period.

The problem? The class already had 35 students. And I only had 35 desks. 

It was late in the day on a Friday. I figured it was a next week problem.

The following Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) I had everything set up for the seating chart change. Except for the two new students. (Who weren't "new". One transferred in from sixth period and one transferred in from second.) I had a table in the back of the room and had them sit there.

I took roll, then I had the two students take the seats of absent students.

I was going to need more desks. 

I asked around. My co-teacher gave me the name of the custodian who I should email. I sent the email.

As I was getting ready to leave Tuesday, I ran into the department chair and mentioned the problem. She noted that another teacher had left four desks outside her classroom.

I went to investigate.

It turned out that that teacher was getting rid of the desks as she didn't need them. They were outside for a custodian to dispose of. Free game. I absconded with them. (Well, not really. It's not absconding if you have permission.)

I left the desks in the back of the room and went home. (We're on block schedule, so I wouldn't see fifth period on Wednesday.) 

Wednesday, prep period, I did a little furniture rearranging. I knew where the desks would fit, but it took some maneuvering to get them into place. 

Thursday, the two students waited in the back of the room when they arrived. I motioned to them and indicated that there were two new desks. Just for them.

Mission accomplished.

(Why they keep moving students into fifth period is a mystery. I have 15 students in fourth period. Second and sixth period each have 25. And seventh period has 30. It's ridiculous to have that one huge period.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

A Theory

Bianca is in both my first and second periods. On block schedule, that means I start the day with her every school day.

Bianca is in ELD, which means she's not a fluent English speaker. She speaks it well enough to get by, but she's not quite there academically.

Bianca has also been out of class. A lot. 

She asks to use the restroom, and then she's gone a while. She returns to say she was in the health office. She was throwing up.

She's frequently been late. She's been absent. And she's not doing much work. 

She complains of being tired all the time.

On Thursday morning, she approached me before class. She said she might need to leave class quickly if she felt like she needed to throw up. 

And suddenly I had a realization.

I asked Bianca if she needed to go to the health office first. She said she was okay. Later that period she gave me the heads up that she needed to go. A while later, another student alerted me that Bianca had gone to the health office. (Bianca texted her.) 

Bianca's mother has been in contact asking about Bianca's work. Now that I have a theory, I kind of want to give Bianca's mother a heads up without saying it outright. But other things have taken up my time and energy, so I haven't had that follow up yet. 

Bianca is a freshman--fourteen years old. I could be wrong. I hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Starting Now

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 😉

I finally got a chance to see the final season of A Discovery of Witches, and that got me thinking of vampires:

What if you were offered the chance to become an immortal vampire, starting now, the age you are now? You would never get any older, but you'd never be younger, either.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Blue and Yellow

Well I did one thing last week.

On Saturday. (Well, I added the hardware on Sunday.)

As I prepared the pics for this post, I ran across my other knit and crochet photos, and I remembered the two projects that have been sitting and waiting patiently for me to remember them. I might get to them. I might not. 

Although, I am willing to make more flip flop keychains if anyone is in the market. Just let me know.

I hope everyone is expecting a good week. I'm expecting my long-term subbing assignment will come to an end before Friday.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Interruptions That Miss the Point

Last Friday was a long, long day. 

The long-term English 9 assignment has been going fairly well, all things considered. The lesson of the day was "How to Send a Teacher an Email", and it was taking up the whole long period. (The kiddos got antsy which was understandable.)

Sixth period was my last class of the day. And the lesson was going well. I was in the middle of discussing a slide on screen when the classroom door opened.

I recognized the student. I couldn't tell you his name or his period number, but I knew he had been in class earlier in the day. 

Completely oblivious to the full class sitting in their seats, watching, this boy strode across the room to inform me, "I finished the MLA assignment and submitted it in Google Classroom". 

Um, great? 

(The assignment had been due the previous class period, so it was late. Or it had been assigned the previous week. There were two MLA formatting assignments, and I was unclear on which one he was referring to. As I wasn't going to chase it down, especially at that moment, I didn't ask.) 

Message delivered, he strode back out the room, and I continued the lesson.


I guess I'm going to have to reiterate that if they want to tell me they've submitted an assignment late they need to email me. I thought I made that clear in the email lesson. (I kind of hit this concept hard: when a student tells me they submitted an assignment, I won't remember, but when I'm going through my emails, I can chase it down and take care of it.) 

Thursday, September 7, 2023


Thursday. Fifth period. The topic for the day was "how to write a teacher an email". 

I was a bit worried that the lesson would go short. I had a slide show (provided by Ms. B who is next door to my room and teaches the same subject--she's been such a huge help with this long-term gig) that I had slightly modified. I had thoughts on how to stretch things to fit the hour and a half I had with the class.

It turned out that none of that was needed.

The students were to be taking notes. For the most part, they were. But every time I'd pause (to let them write things down), they'd talk to their neighbors, so I had to stop and try to get their attention again. 

Keeping a class of 14-year-olds focused is hard. Especially when they're more interested in conversing with their friends.

Fifth period is one of the co-taught classes. These are classes that have a large number of special ed kiddos, so a second teacher is there to help them. 

After the umpteenth time I tried to get the class's attention, Ms. Y lost it. 

Ms. Y gave the class an angry talking-to. She informed them that what they were doing was not acceptable, and it was time for them to stop acting like middle schoolers and pay attention.

Cowed, they calmed enough so I could finish the lecture. Barely. We finished maybe a minute or two before the class period was over.

This is why assigned seats are a thing. As I inherited the class from another sub, I didn't feel the need to change the seats. And Mr. P had let them pick their own seats at the beginning of school. But they had now lost the privilege. 

Ms. Y and I discussed, and we came up with who definitely needed to be separated from whom. And creating a new seating chart got added to my already over full plate.

But, if it calms the class down so they can actually learn something, totally worth it.

By the time you read this, I should know if the new seats helped or not.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Vandal

It was my second week in the long-term English assignment, and I was still woefully behind. 

The teacher for the class decided to retire two days before the beginning of the school year. The district installed a long-term sub in the position until they hire a new teacher to take over. The long-term sub, Mr. P, got his very own full-time job, so I took over the position on the eighth day of school. As of the writing of this post, the school has interviewed several applicants, and they will likely offer the job to one of them. Until that teacher starts, the class is mine with all the lesson planning, grading, and classroom control issues that go along with teaching.

It was third period, my prep period, and I was hurriedly trying to get something done as I've just barely been holding on. I'm not sure exactly what I was doing at the time, but I happened to look over at one of the desks, and I noticed the Chromebook.

All classrooms now have a class set of Chromebook computers for student use. I've found it's easier to pass them out in the morning and put them away after the last class of the day. 

Alas, this Chromebook had a new design upon it. This design had not been there when I passed out all the computers before school. 

A student had scratched this into the cover sometime during class.

Deep sigh.

I knew exactly who sat in that seat. The Vandal (as I will now call him here) is a student who isn't very tuned in to school. He had his head down on his desk more than he was paying attention.

(These are things I need to keep on top of, but at the moment I'm just trying to get through the lessons each day. As soon as I catch up, I'll be able to focus on other things.)

Who do I report such a thing to? What do I do with this information?

Luckily, I have people I can ask. I sent a message to the IT guy, so hopefully they can replace this computer or something. And the co-teacher (who wasn't in that class, but I told her about it later) said the student needed to get a referral for this.

I wrote the referral. The above picture was attached. And a day or so later, the Vandal was called out of class and sent to an office. He came back a short time later. I assume he's now aware that his artwork was not appreciated.

Full-time teaching is hard. This is why I'm a sub. 

I now keep a closer eye on the Vandal. He hasn't defaced any other computers lately.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


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 😉

What if farm workers (those that do the harvesting--the hard, back-breaking work) made the best money?

Monday, September 4, 2023

Mixing Colors

Last week was a bit of a week. I got home from work only to have to do homework. So, I haven't really been doing anything yarn-y lately.

(If I'm really very efficient today, I might just be able to get fully caught up, and then work won't be such a stressful scramble. Wish me luck.)

So, when a request came in for a flip flop key chain...

...along with a "whatever colors are fine" statement, well, I can't make that decision. I just have so many choices. Too many.

These are the colors I have on hand: 

(The purple in the top right which is right next to the blue really reads as blue in this picture, but it's a nice purple in person.) 

I did the blue and orange for me. But, I could see black and white or green and light green or green and pink or purple and red or...

What do you think? What color combo would you like?

Friday, September 1, 2023

Not Quite Lunchtime

It was Friday of my first week in the long-term English 9 assignment. I had (barely) gotten through second period (my worst class) and fourth period had just left. I shut down the smart board and went to sit down at the desk.

A couple students walked in and headed for their desks.

That's when I realized... it wasn't lunchtime yet. I still had sixth period.

Hurriedly, I turned back on the smart board, got the slides they needed up and running, and got to the door to greet the students.


I mean, I know the schedule. While this school wasn't on block schedule last year, another school was, so I knew of the long three hours between snack and lunch. But I had a brain fart or something, and I thought it was time to sit and rest...

No such luck. 

At least sixth period isn't awful. I'm still learning the groups and the kiddos, but so far, they've been lovely. 

And lunch came after sixth period (which is an hour and a half long).