Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Middle School Life Skills Teacher

I had a life skills class today.  Never heard of a "life skills" class?  You might be more familiar with the term, "Home Economics."

My sixth graders were working on advertisements for fictional products.  They had a list of advertisement techniques, and they had to include at least two of them in their project.
Some of the ads were fantastic.
One boy was marketing a "snot remover."  I overheard the following conversation between the creator and another boy.
Other Boy: That nose looks stupid.
Creator: It doesn't matter what the nose looks like, as long as it's full of boogers!
The creator also had drawn in Kim Kardashian, and had her quoted as saying, "This is the only booger remover I rely on!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A High School Science Teacher

I subbed today for a science teacher.  I have written about her classroom several times in the recent past.

My first class of the morning was anatomy.  It was pretty easy.  I showed the kids a PowerPoint slide show, featuring labeled diagrams of various muscle groups.  Some of the names of the muscles have "weird names" or are difficult to pronounce, which led to a couple interesting comments...

Student 1: "Sternocleidomastoid?  Sounds like a children's cereal."

Student 2: "Zygomaticus... that would make a great name for a kid."
Mr. C: "I think that would be cruel."
Student 3: "His nickname could be Ziggy!"

The students in today's Biology class wanted to have a "party" today at 12:12.  I told them there was no way, because they were supposed to take a test.  When the minute came, however, I let them stop and give a collective yell of "WOOO!!!"
After, I made them go straight back to the test.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A High School English Teacher

I subbed in a brand new school today.
The place was huge.  After the secretary took me to my classroom, I was worried that I would never find my way back to the office.  I also had to take the kids down to the library for my first class.  Since I had no idea where that was, and I didn't want to show weakness, I just said, "alright guys, let's head to the library."  Then followed them.  By the end of the class period, I was concerned that I might not be able to find my way back to the classroom.

During my first class, while I was in the middle of taking attendance, a  student yelled out, "do you believe in Bigfoot?"
Later in the same class I was treated to, "if you could be any animal, what would you be?"

Lastly, for all you "real" teachers out there, please heed these words of wisdom from a friend of mine subbing in Alaska:
Worst thing a teacher can do to a sub? Only provide thirty minutes of work for an hour and twenty minute class.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Physics Teacher

I was a science teacher today.
Not the same teacher I mentioned in my last entry.

Part of today's lesson involved going over homework.  This involved having kids come up to the board and writing out how they solved various physics problems.  The teacher left me an answer key that showed the major steps for each questions.
Even with the key in hand, some of what the kids were doing still looked like alchemy.

The second part of the lesson involved several book problems and a worksheet.  A lot of kids were able to get both done with a little time to spare.  With about 5 minutes left in one period, while circulating around the room, I walked into an overwhelming cloud of some sort of sweet citrus scented spray.  At the nearest table sat two boys, in their varsity football jerseys.  I asked them...
Mr. C.: Hey guys, did one of you just dose yourself in some kind of stinky spray?
Guy 1: Huh?  Oh, yeah, we smelled that too.  I think it's coming from them. *points at nearby table, where four girls are sitting*
Mr. C.: Are you sure?  It really smells like it is coming from over here...
Guy 2:  Yeah, it's not us, we smell like new cars.
Mr. C.: New cars.....?
Guy 2: Yeah, we got new jerseys for the play-off games.  They smell like new cars.  Here, sniff!  *He moves towards me, lifting the jersey away from his shoulder*
Mr. C.: *Taking a step back*  Yeah.  No.  Sorry.  I'll take your word for it.  There is no way I'm going to sniff a football jersey.
Guy 2: Come on!  It's clean, we just got them.  It really does smell like a new car! *takes a big sniff of his own shoulder*
Mr. C.: That is great, really.  But nothing you say or do will get me to sniff a jersey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Science Teacher

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week subbing for a science teacher.
It is the same teacher I subbed for a few weeks back.
One of the classes took a test, identifying the parts of a crayfish.  Some of the directions were not very clear, and my lack of crayfish expertise kept me from being able to help them.  I always feel bad about that sort of thing.

Thursday was the Opening Day of Firearm Deer Season.  It is celebrated as a holiday.  All area schools were cancelled, and on Wednesday the kids could only talk about their opening day plans.
One boy was bragging that he was going to be able to bring his iPad out with him, and play on that while waiting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A High School Math Teacher

I had several random students walk into class today and start distracting kids while they were working.  This actually happens all the time in this district; often enough that I assume it must be "normal."  Each time I would just boot them out.
So, when someone quietly walked in (the kids all have their backs to the door) dressed in a Halloween horror mask, and long cape, I didn't care that he was putting his finger to his lips, motioning for quiet.  I just said, "alright, take the mask off and get out of here."
It turned out that it was a teacher, hoping to get a scare from the class.  He muttered something along the lines of, "at least I got the other class" as he hurried back out the door.

I felt like a total jerk, but given the day I had had, I don't think my reaction was unjustified.

The following happened in an Honors Geometry class.

While moving around the room helping kids classify angles, I noticed two of the geekier students in the back throwing papers balls at each other.
I moved back to their desks and said, in my sternest "teacher's voice," "Hey.  What do you think you're doing?"
A girl looked up at me, obviously embarrassed, and possibly slightly intimidated and replied, "we were LARPing... I just cast Magic Missile on him." 
After that, all I could do was turn and walk away.
I have to admit, in almost 5 years of subbing, I have NEVER heard that one before.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A High School Science Teacher

I spent three days this past week as a high school science teacher.  This woman has five different classes to prep for... that is pretty intense.

The Freshman Biology class spent two of the three days creating biome posters.  On the first day I went over the rubric with them.  One of the items was, "cite at least 3 sources."  I'm almost positive that the teacher only wanted them to list the book title or URL for their information.  However, I told the kids that this meant they needed to have a proper citation page for their poster, and that it should be in either MLA or APA formatting.  The kids were really unhappy about this.  Their complaints lessened once I pointed them towards, but only slightly.
I figure it is always a good thing when kids realize that properly citing information is needed beyond research papers.
I told their English teacher about this during lunch one of the days, and she loved it.

The school also had a varsity football home game on Friday.  On Thursday, one of the guys on the team asked me if I wanted to wear his away jersey the next day.
I politely turned him down.

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Awesome History Teacher

I found the following item sitting on the teacher's desk.

Poke (base) ball
He had a rubber shark with a laser pointer taped to its head hanging from the ceiling.

The kids told me he has an armory of Nerf swords locked in a cabinet.

I don't know this guy, but he is clearly awesome.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Test Proctor

I'm on a special assignment.

I have traveled about 100 miles north in order to help proctor a state-run standardized test.  Not only is the subbing agency reimbursing me for my mileage, hotel, and meals, but I'm also earning almost twice what I make at most schools for a subbing job.

The job is almost mind-numbingly easy.  There are 11 students mixed between grades three and eight.  The state requires that each grade have its own proctor.  I spent the first two hours of the day ready to escort kids to the bathroom, and the second two hours watching a single eighth grader take the test.

You may be wondering why any school would want to take part in this absurdly over-priced situation.
First, the state has very strict requirements on the administration of this test.  Second, the school I'm working with is an online charter school.  The students are basically home-schooled, except the curriculum goes through this school, and kids turn in homework online, to a teacher they've never met.   In some cases, the kids (or, I guess their parents) have driven over an hour to be at this testing site.  The school has testing sites all over the state.

I will be here for the rest of this week, and part of next week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A 7th Grade Special Ed Math Teacher

Most of my day today was spent as a band teacher, but it was pretty boring.
During sixth period I subbed in a 7th grade math class.  The school wasn't able to get enough subs to cover all the missing teachers today, so I got to fill in during what would have been a prep period.

As I was rushing to look over the lesson plans for that hour, I noticed a girl standing in the doorway, glaring at me.  The following conversation happened as I looked up at her.

Girl: You!  I hate you! (said with some actual venom in her voice)
Mr. C.: ....oh? Have we met...?
Girl: You got me expelled from [other school]!  That's why I had to transfer here!
Mr. C.: Oh, wow.  That does seem like something I should remember.
Girl:  You got me expelled because I threw a marker at you!  It was last year, in sixth grade!
Mr. C.: I'm sorry, I really don't remember that... are you going to throw markers at me again today?
Girl: (said with a scoff) Only if you get me mad.
Mr. C.: I guess I'll try not to do that.

She did not speak to me again the rest of the class period.  She just sat and quietly worked on her math worksheets; glaring daggers at me anytime I'd walk by.

Eventually I did remember her.  The marker thing had just been the tipping point, when I finally called down to the principal's office and asked for her to be removed.
I had no idea she had been expelled, as I had made a point never to go back to that teacher's classroom.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A 7th Grade Science Teacher

My day was off to a fun start as soon as I checked in at the main office.
It turns out that the online subbing job dispenser made an error.
I accepted my job online at about 5:30am.  I had to hit "accept" a few times, before it would push the job onto my personal job page; this happens sometimes when I click "accept" while the automated system is calling someone about the same job.  It isn't really a big deal, it just means that I have to always double check my personal page before actually leaving for an assignment, since if the person called takes the job, it will over-ride my online acceptance.
Confused yet?  Yeah, the system takes a little getting used to.
Anyway.  I get to the main office, and the secretary was surprised to see me.  Another sub had showed up a little bit earlier for the same job.  Since there was only one teacher gone that day, she hadn't double checked the arriving sub against who the system said would be coming.  So, because I was the one in the system, we went down to the classroom together.  It turned out that this other woman had accepted the job over the phone (which should have closed the post, and not allowed me to accept).  She even said that she had seen the job on her page before she left home.
In the end, I got the assignment, because it was my name in the system.  The secretary felt horrible for not catching the error earlier, and I'm of course left looking and feeling like a jerk for taking the other sub's job.
The other sub was REALLY cool about the whole thing.  I would have been livid.  The secretary and I both urged her to call the agency and ask about what happened.

Much later in the day, one of my 7th grade classes was taking turns reading a section in the textbook.  The topic involved the different way that living organisms are classified.  As you may expect, the word "organism" is shown at least every couple sentences.
One boy, while reading a section, pronounced the word as "orgasm."  Every.  Single.  Time.
I'm pretty sure it was not on purpose, and not a single kid caught onto it.  Even the parapro in the room was too distracted to hear it.
I let the kid finish his section, without correcting him.  When he was done, I pointed out to the class that proper pronunciation is always very important.  I then lead them through a quick verbal exercise on how to correctly pronounce several of the words in the section... including "organism."

Friday, September 14, 2012

An 8th Grade American History Teacher

Today we watched an episode of the History Channel's documentary series, America, the Story of Us.
I love the series, and I've used it in my own (Summer School) classroom.
However, it gets old when you see the same episode 5 times in a row.

When reading the following conversation, keep in mind that this is only the 2nd week or school, and my first time in this building this school year.

8th Grade Boy: Hey, Mr. C!  Do you remember me?
Mr. C.: Oh.  Yeah.  You're that kid.  You did that one thing, that one time.
8th Grade Boy: Yeah! *Super excited, to a friend* He remembers me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A 7th/8th Grade Math Teacher

School started last week, but I just had my first subbing gig of the year.
I subbed for middle school math teacher.

This particular school starts middle school in the 7th grade, so in some of these classes, these kids were about a week out of elementary.
The 7th grade class had some basic book work for an assignment.  The teacher had it written on the board as something like:
Page 6 & 7
Qs 1-3, 4-24 even, 26-29, 30-38 even, and 41
That seemed pretty straight forward to me, and after some intro stuff, I pointed the assignment out to them and said, "get to work, let me know if you need any help."
After about 2 minutes I realized these kids had no idea how to even approach the work.  They understood the concepts just fine, but when it came to deciphering the problem numbers, and then putting that onto a page, they were lost.
I drew out a piece of paper on the board, and then showed them how to organize it.  After that, they blazed through the assignment.
I'm really glad that I caught why they were struggling.

The following unrelated conversation also took place,
7th Grade Boy: Guess what I might be getting!!
Mr. C.: Umm... a pony?
7th Grade Boy: No, but close!
Mr. C.: Oh... a donkey?
7th Grade Boy: No!  A laser that will shoot all the way across my house!
Mr. C.:  Oh... cool.  I see how that is close to a pony.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Security Guard

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I've taken a seasonal job working security at the football games of the local university.
The first game was a few nights back.
The gig was pretty fun.  I just had to walk a corner of the Student Section, and make sure the kids didn't get too crazy.  By and large, it was actually a lot like subbing in most high schools, with the exception that a much higher percentage of these kids were drunk.
The highlight of the night was calling for the paramedics when some girl collapsed.
Next week I've got a 4pm-4am shift working security in the dorms the night before a huge game, followed by another 12 hour shift during and after said game.  It should be a lot of fun.

On a separate note, school starts on this Tuesday.  Last year I started getting work on day 2 of the year.  Maybe this year I can get work on day one?  How fun would THAT be?

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I was called today by one of the head people of a subbing agency I work for.
Apparently one of the districts in which I work has had a very hard time getting subs to fill jobs in their elementary.  It sounded like the district leaders were putting some pressure on the agency, trying to find out why.  It was decided that the best way to answer "why" might be to actually survey some of the subs that work in the district.
This also happened to be the same district that would often give me problems with my pay.  The agency has very misleading (I would say wrong) rates on their website for the school.  They are pictured below.  Keep in mind that multiple days, mean consecutive days as the same teacher.

The pay rates, as listed on the company website.
To me this means that if you're the same teacher two to ten days in a row, you get $75 per day.  The agency says this only applies to long-term subs, though there is no mention at all of this anywhere on the website - trust me, I searched VERY hard.  According to the agency, the school has exceptionally complicated "pay codes," and this is their best translation, and reflects the wishes of the school.  It took many strongly worded emails to their customer service before I was paid my missing $15.
Oh, and on two separate occasions, the school forgot to submit my work logs to the company for my pay.

I explained this to the guy, and suggested that if I'd had trouble with my pay, others might be in the same boat.  I also pointed out that the district pays less per day than all of the surrounding schools, that a few times I've noticed the elementary jobs posted with the wrong building and address, and lastly that The school is kind of in the middle of nowhere.

The guy said that he would be looking into the possible pay "errors" right away.  He also sounded as if the other things I'd mentioned were very useful, and gave me what sounded like a sincere "Thanks, keep up to good work."

For the first time ever I actually felt like the agency gave a damn.

**UPDATE - 9/1/2012**
A recent look at the agency's website shows that they have corrected the posted pay information for the school AND raised the per day pay to match that of surrounding schools.
Did my suggestions help out all the other subs that work there?  I'd like to think so.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Job Hunter and A Social Studies Teacher (Summer 2012)

I have just finished the first week of the August secession of summer school.
The program ran for three weeks back in June, and I've now got two more weeks left in August.

I have about twice as many kids this time; 11 instead of 6.  I've got four different classes going on at the same time.  That isn't really too difficult to manage, but I've got a couple students who won't stay on task unless I'm watching over them directly.  Another student works really well by himself if I leave him alone, but he has a fancy pair of Beats by Dre headphones, and blasts them into his ears at max volume.  Sometimes he will burst briefly into song for a few seconds.  It's actually pretty funny, and since he's working so well I ignore it.

For those of you keeping track, I did not get that job I mentioned a while back.  In fact, I've only had three interviews all summer.  Despite numerous sent applications.
This past Monday I interviewed for a parapro position at a local alternative ed school.  The job sounded awesome, and the interview went really well, except that it ended with them telling me that I was overqualified.  They also said that it paid a good deal less than I would make subbing five days a week.

On Tuesday I interviewed with a local company that provides security to the University's home football games.  After explaining how my experience wrangling teenagers is actually quite similar to crowd control, the interviewer told me that she thought I "would be a very good fit for the student section."  This job is, for now, only seven home games, but it is in the evenings and weekends, so it should be interesting.
Maybe I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Looking For A Job

I've got a job interview coming up on Thursday (7/12/2012).
It is with a school just about 230 miles north of where I'm living now. It is for a social studies teaching position.  I'm not exactly sure if it is middle school or high school, since I've seen the district posting for both.

I wonder sometimes what will become of this blog if/when I get a full-time teaching job.  The blog's premise, which is "pretending to be a teaching of any given subject," would become almost more self-deprecating than I'd like.  Perhaps I'll rename the blog, and continue on as a teaching blog?  Maybe I'll abandon the whole thing, and just start a new one? I suppose deleting everything, and forgetting the whole endeavor is also an option... though probably not one that I'll go with.

This is something I can probably worry about later.

For those of you keeping track, I'm not just "pretending" to look for a job.  My job hunt is very much real.  I just wanted the title to fit the over all theme.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Social Studies Teacher (Summer 2012)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am once again working as a summer school teacher.  It is a credit-recovery program, for kids who failed the first time around.

The summer is broken up into two 3-week blocks; one now (June) and another in August.
This first block is turning out to be pretty easy.  I've got three students in  "World History A," and four students in "American History B."
Just like last year, though, I feel like I have way too much content to fit into a three-week block.  I have the kids for three hours a day, four days a week.  This particular school is on a trimester schedule, so all classes run in 12 week blocks, for about an hour and 15 minutes a day.  All of this means that I need to cover a week's worth of material every day.

On the plus side, a couple of the kids seem to remember SOME of what they learned the first time they took the class.  Once in a while I will get an "oooh!  I remember this!"
Not often enough, though.

End of The Year Totals...

I just did some counting.
For the 2011/2012 school year, I worked 160 of 180 possible days.
I suspect this would have been higher, if I hadn't been working another job at the start of the school year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A "Science" Teacher

For a lot of schools in my area, this is the last week of class.  For that reason, subbing days are difficult to come by.  I didn't have any work at all yesterday, and today was very nearly the same.  That is, until a teacher called me at 7:30 this morning, asking if I could come in and work for one of her colleagues.  I agreed, but said that I might be a little late, given the very short notice.
I got there less than two minutes after the final bell.

So, the school was on an "exam schedule."  I won't go into detail, but you just need to know that the class periods weren't conducted 1-7, and some of them were longer than others.  Because of this my morning consisted of the same group of seventh graders for four hours straight.  If you follow my blog on even a semi-regular basis, then you've read about this group of seventh graders.
This could have been hell, but the kids were actually reasonably good today.  Incredibly loud, but reasonably good.  The teacher left a couple movies, which helped keep the peace.  I got to watch The Rookie and most of Remember the Titans.  Not the best movie, but a lot better than past subbing assignments where I got to watch the same 50 minutes of the live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks five times in one day.

Later in the day I got to watch Remember the Titans again with a group of exceptionally well behaved Freshman, and also administer a test to the other half of that same seventh grade class.

I may get to go back to that same class again tomorrow.  If I do, it is only a half day, and also the last day of school.  It should be fun.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Music Teacher

Sorry that I haven't updated in a while.

A couple weeks ago I subbed for a music teacher.  I had classes ranging from 4th grade all the way to high school concert band.

It was supposed to be an easy day.  Classes either consisted of videos or study hall.  The down side was that a school play was being performed right next to the band room during the class period I was supposed to show a movie.  By "right next to," what I mean is, the band room shared a wall with the stage; a removable wall designed so that it could be opened up, making the band room part of the stage.  The wall was closed, but it was by no means sound proof.  Luckily, this class was only 6 kids because the seniors had already left for the year.  We watched the movie very quietly.

The concert band study hall was a joke,  there were 60 kids and every single one of them swore up and down that they didn't have homework.

I did overhear something fun during the 7th grade band study hall.  It made me both laugh and die a little all at the same time.  If you don't know anything about the history of computers or video games, you probably won't understand why it's funny.

7th Grade Boy: Oregon Settlers was one of the first games ever made.  It was on the first computer, called the "Lisa," made by Microsoft.  At first it was all text until later they made graphics.  Eventually they put it on iPod and stuff.

And, before I forget, I've been accepted to teach summer school again this year at the same school as last year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a Fourth Grade Teacher (Field Trip Edition)

I subbed today in a fourth grade classroom, in a building I had only been in once.
We went on a field trip to a nature center.  I knew in advance that we would be going on a trip, but I did not really know much of anything about the destination.
The place turned out to be extremely heavy on nature, and very light on center.  Almost all of the six hours we were there was to be spent outside, on what turned out to be a VERY bright, hot day.
Guess which incredibly pale sub forgot to pack sunscreen.
Lucky for me, the group of kids I had to watch also came with a super-mom for a chaperone.  She saw my predicament nearly right away, and simply offered me some sun screen.  She also, later on, gave me a very long lecture on how horrible energy drinks are for your body.

The day as a whole turned out to be a lot of fun.

And, even with the sunscreen, I still managed to get a horrible sunburn on my scalp, because of how I had my hair gelled.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I've accepted a job for tomorrow with the following note attached to it: We will be going on a field trip to Forest Hill- you will need a sack lunch and will want to wear jeans/tennis shoes. Another class will be going also, so there will be another teacher there. 

Not only have I never subbed for this class, but I have only worked in this particular building once.
And did I mention that it is 4th grade?  I avoid elementary jobs like the plague.

It should be an adventure.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher

The following conversations happened during two separate class periods.

Mr. C: And that's how a hydroelectric dam works.  Any questions?
*Girl in front raises hand*
Mr. C:  Yes?
Girl: What brand gel do you use in your hair
Mr. C:, I honestly can't remember..... any OTHER questions?
*Boy in the back raises his hand*
Mr. C: Yes, sir?
Boy: Is it "Got 2B Spike Up" brand?
Mr. C: ......*sigh* Yes, as a matter of fact, I think it is.  Good guess.  Now, any MORE questions?
*Several other hands shoot up*
Mr. C:  ...any more questions that AREN'T about my hair? *All hands go down* That's what I thought.  Moving on...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Math Teacher

I had two seventh grade classes, and one senior pre-calc. class.

I spent both seventh grade classes moving around helping with math.  When it came to pre-calc, I told the kids flat-out that they were on their own.

Today should have been a full day, except the teacher came back early.  I did still get paid for a full day though.
Nothing like full pay for three hours.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An Art Teacher

A few weeks back I spent a week subbing for an art teacher.  She had an unbelievable schedule.  Not only did she not have have a prep period (not common, but something I've seen a number of times), but she did not have a lunch break.  She had a class of two students over the usual lunch period.  She was even double booked during that period, so that she had to leave the two kids alone for part of the hour to teach art in rotating elementary classrooms.
I could have subbed for her for the rest of the school year, but for several complex reasons I decided against it.

On the plus side, she had some really crazy/cool stuff around her room.  According to one Senior art student, she "just builds stuff and assigns projects to advanced students, so that she can have neat stuff all over the room."

I've got a couple examples below.  The teacher built the dragon, "just because," and I'm told that he son built the face.  The dragon also isn't done, as she hadn't finished the wings.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Resource Room Teacher

I was a resource room teacher today, with one period of middle school gym class.

Just before lunch, the school had a special assembly to address bullying.  They brought in a motivational speaker to talk to the kids about the subject.
I really hope the kids were motivated, because I wasn't impressed.  The man seemed to ramble on pointlessly, and then weakly tie in the rambling to how it feels to be bullied.
Also, in the middle of it all he had two students "race" to empty tubes of toothpaste... then didn't connect the activity to anything that he was saying.
After the man's "presentation," small groups of students read off different power point presentations (word for word) that defined cyber bullying and described how gossip can lead to bullying.

On a different note, I haven't updated this blog in a while... I've got a sort of mental back-log of stuff I've seen since my last post.  Maybe this weekend I will have a chance to post a couple more updates.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Freshman English Teacher

I subbed as a Freshman English teacher the past couple days.  It's actually been pretty boring, and uneventful.  In fact, if I hadn't drawn this sweet robot, I wouldn't even be writing up a post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Science Teacher

Today was the first day back from spring break.  Hooray for being able to earn a paycheck again!

During 7th grade science, I had the following exchange with a boy, after I caught him doodling in a notepad, rather than working on his assignment.
Mr. C: Hey, I need you to put the drawing away for now, and get back to the science, okay?
Boy: Okay. *puts it away and opens his textbook*  I'm drawing character designs for a video game me and (other boy) are going to make.
Mr. C: Alright, that's pretty cool, but right now I need you to...
Boy: *Interrupts* We've decided we're going to war after high school, and if we survive the war we're going to make a game out of our adventures!
Mr. C: ....oh, I see... well... it's good to have plans.  *turns and walks away*
Other Boy: Dude... why'd you have to say IF we survive?

Later in the day I had an upper-level physics class.  One student had grown a rather impressive beard over the break, and was walking around school with a comb stuck in it.  About mid-way through class I looked up from the report I was writing to see two other male students taking turns combing the guy's beard.

Mr. C: Gentlemen, I admire your bold experiment in social grooming... but that beard has clearly become a distraction.  I you don't put it away right now, I'm going to have to confiscate it.
Beard Guy:  Psh, yeah right, we both know that isn't going to happen.
Mr. C: You're right.  That just sounded absolutely absurd in my head, and I wanted to hear myself say it out loud.  But seriously, knock it off and get back to work.

They knocked it off and got back to work.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A High School Librarian... again

I spent more time in the high school today working on the inventory.  My two day total was just about 4,000 books scanned.  I can only really ball-park on the exact time spent working on this (what with taking a lunch break, and stopping to let the scanner charge), but I think I averaged about 15 books a minute.

Confused?  Check out my last two posts, here and here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A High School Librarian

Same teacher today as Monday.

The high school library is starting an inventory of their collection.  Since I was pretty much disposable labor for about two hours, I was given the privilege of kicking off the event.  In just under two hours, I scanned a just over 1,500 books.
I think there are a few librarians out there reading this... is that a high number?
Either way, I will more than likely get to do it again tomorrow.  I'm hoping to beat my high score.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Elementary and High School Computer Teacher

Unless something changes, I'll be in the same job the next few days.  The job is a bit difficult to classify.  I start my day in the elementary library, teaching a computer class to 5th graders.  After an hour of that, I'm a librarian until about noon, when I head to the high school library to be their librarian for about an hour, before finishing out the day teaching a high school computer class.

The 5th graders were working on some internet typing games today.  What's funny is that they are through the BBC, so not only do all the games feature a British accent, but the kids get to spell words like "colour" and "favourite."  I wonder if they even notice the difference.

In the back room of the elementary library they had a 3" tall, super-detailed statue of Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter movies.  I'll try to get a picture of it tomorrow.

In the high school, they were putting on a school talent show at the end of the day.  Most of the "acts" consisted of kids singing badly to modern pop songs.  One boy actually put on a magic act, interwoven with a mild comedy act.  He was, by far my favorite... if only because he had the guts to do something so different.
At the end of the show, while the judges were tallying their scores, all of the kids who performed went on stage to sing Don't Stop Believing, by Journey.  It ended with the entire school belting out the song along with those on stage.

Lastly, can anyone tell me if the American Chiller and Michigan Chiller books by Johnathan Rand are as super-popular elsewhere in the country as they are here?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another High School Science Teacher

It just occurred to me that I've been doing this blog for just over a year now.  Whoopee!

I had a video day today.  I got to watch Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees 5 times.  It wasn't too bad.

One of the classes, though, is tasked with collecting and sorting all of the recycle bins in the school on Fridays.  They dump out the bins right in the middle of the classroom floor, then dive into it; sorting everything into paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal.  It made for a horrible mess, but these kids were pros, and had it all sorted and cleaned up with 15 minutes left in class.  The entire process, from job distribution, collection, sorting, and putting the bags in the appropriate dumpsters took all of 45 minutes.
I was impressed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A High School Science Teacher

This must be science week.  I've had science Monday, today, and I've got science scheduled for Friday.

I had an AP biology class today, and I've never before felt like such an idiot.  The kids had just finished a study guide of some sort, and we had to go over the answers today.  There wasn't a lot of time, because they needed to get started on a test, so the teacher wrote, "just read the answers to them."  Seems easy enough, right?
First off, the key was hand written, and the teacher's handwriting was horrible.  I've gotten pretty good at deciphering chicken scratch, but this was just like nothing I'd seen.  Second, the material was something I knew nothing about, so I couldn't even try and infer what he wrote by having an educated guess at the answer.
The end result was that I stumbled horribly through the guide.  It's a good thing this was an AP class, because the kids pretty much knew all the answers anyway, and could explain anything I couldn't answer.  I felt like an idiot, and I just KNOW that they were sitting in their chairs thinking, "who is this dumb-ass, and why is he standing in front of us?"

On a related note, nothing kills your good morning better than, while standing outside your classroom door you hear "f--ck yeah!  We got a sub today!" erupt from some unseen kid in the hallway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Dreamer

My intention when building this blog was to keep it from ever being a place to rant about my political opinions.
However, I found this video on YouTube, and I really have to post it here.

I'm not a scientist, let alone an astronaut, but NASA and the space programs have always held a strong fascination for me... I'm sure my love of Star Trek is connected some how.

Whenever I hear people talking about de-funding NASA, it makes me sad.  

Take a look at this video, maybe you'll agree that continuing to fund our nation's future isn't such a bad thing.

A Middle School Science Teacher

I'm back now to my old nomadic life style, roaming the land, going wherever the work takes me.

I was in a school today that I had worked a LOT before my 7 week stint as an art teacher.  On my last day there, back in mid-January, I forgot my lunch box in the teacher's lounge.  I went in search of it today, only to find that it was most likely thrown out.  Sad face.

I learned today, in seventh grade science, the difference between a genetic trait and a characteristic.  A characteristic is, for example, the ability for an organism to produce hair.  A trait is, for example, whether or not the organism will produce blonde hair, black hair, red hair, etc.  But, of course, you already knew that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 12)

In one of my classes I have a student who is obsessed with Jelly Bellies.  He often likes to blurt out ideas for new flavors.  These are usually random things, often with the intent to "gross out" whomever is in earshot.  
Today, near the end of class he called out, "Mr. C's mustache!"

I laughed much harder than I should have, before I caught myself.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 11)

If all goes to plan, this Friday is my last day.  The teacher I've been subbing for should be back on Monday, though the principal has asked me to stay on-call, in case I have to come back suddenly.
I get a pay bonus after so many days in a consecutive job.  If the teacher comes back for one day, and then I'm called back in, and I get reset back to the base pay, I will be VERY upset.

Kindergartners can be fun...

Little Girl: "Look at  this scary picture!"
Mr. C: *Looks over her shoulder at an undersea picture-find book* "Oh?  What's so scary?"
Little Girl: "It's the mermaid!  She steals all the fishes' souls!"
Mr. C:  "Yeah...?  And... how do you know that?"
Little Girl: "I dunno... I just made it up."
Mr. C: "Oh, okay, carry on."

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 10)

I had some memorable moments today.

After reading to today's kindergartners, they got to roam around and find books to check out.  A few minutes in, a little boy runs up to me with a large book, featuring a close-up picture of an alligator's jaws on the cover.

Boy: Mr. C!  Look at this big bastard!
Mr. C: ....what?
Boy: Look at this big bastard!
Mr. C: ...say that again... what am I looking at?
Boy: This big bastard!
Mr. C: That's what I thought... you know, kiddo, you shouldn't say that "B" word, it's not a nice word.
Boy: But, my dad says it.
Mr. C:  I'm sure he does, but that's a word for adults to use...
Little girl: (blurting out) my brother calls me that all the time!
Mr. C:  ...

A few hours later, during my 7th grade art class...

Mr. C: Alright guys, I know a few of you are still finishing up your project, so I want to give you one last day before we start something new.  As for the rest of you, I expect you to either be working on other homework, or working on one of the free draw prompts.  And, stay out of the paint.  If you're free-drawing, you can use crayon, pencils, or markers.
Girl: Can I use glitter?
Mr. C: No, glitter always makes a mess, and we're running low anyway.
Girl:  But Mr. C!  I need to have color!  Glitter is my favorite color!
Mr. C: *starts laughing* ...okay, thank you... I need to write that one down...

I also discovered today that one of my 7th graders is a 3rd cousin.  She couldn't get over how "weird" that was.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 9)

I've been on this assignment for about four full weeks now, and things are pretty much falling into a normal routine.  One thing that I have been doing is asking the advanced high school art students to give me their own critique of their work, before I grade it.  I don't think this is asking too much, and more than once it has resulted in kids going back and putting more effort into their projects, just because they realized it didn't live up to their own expectations.
So, yesterday, when a very quiet, shy Junior girl (who I've had in various classes since she was a Freshman, including a previous 5 week long-term job) turned in a fantastic rendition of the human eye, I asked her, "out of 30 possible points, what do you think you've earned, and why?"  Right away she gave me a number much lower than what I thought was fair.  When I asked why, she pointed to a small section of slightly uneven shading (that I thought looked great).  I then asked her if she really thought she should lose so many points for such a minor error.  At this point she started to turn bright red, wouldn't make eye contact and started muttering, "I don't know."  After a few seconds of this I realized she was trying not to cry; so I let her sit down and cool off.
I felt like a monster.  But, seriously, did I do something wrong?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 8)

I had to order some paint a while back.  When it came in, I found that the office had ordered it in my name, as oppose to the regular art teacher.  I thought that was fun.

I've also found out that I will be filling in for the regular art teacher during upcoming parent-teacher conferences.  Since they are after regular school hours, I just hope that I get paid for it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 7)

In addition to teaching art classes, I spend a period each day in the library.  The first 20 minutes are spent reading the elementary kids, followed by 20-25 minutes of supervising them while they check out books, and then the rest of the time I shelve books.

I had a group of kindergartners in today.  They come in the same day every week, but today they were exceptionally squirrelly.  They wouldn't sit and listen, they were hitting each other, they were tattling on each other, and just generally behaving like a box full of ferrets.
When the teacher came back and asked how they were, I told her that they were having a very loud day, and had trouble sitting still.  She nodded, thanked me, and instead of lining them up to go, she herded them into the side-room that serves as the elementary library.  I went about my business shelving books.  A few minutes later she came out and said that they needed me in the room.
I was pretty sure I knew what was coming, but I didn't know how to react when the following came...

Teacher: 1...2...3...
25 Kindergartners: ...We're sorry we were... dis-re-spect-ful...we promise not to do it again...can you ever for-give us?
Mr. C.: .......yes, of course.  Thank you....

I couldn't get out of that room fast enough.

Later in the day, during Yearbook, a senior boy decided he had to "serenade" me with the song Hero by (I think) Enrique Iglesias.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 6)

My middle school students started a new project today.  I bought five different shapes of pasta, and they are gluing them down on an index card.  They will then draw a close-up of a section of the space they've filled.  They purpose is that they will use shading techniques to give the pasta some depth.
I wasn't sure how much instruction they had received on shading techniques, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to give them any.  So, I went on YouTube and found a video.  I will post it below, but I had them follow along with the person on the screen, as she sketched out a few examples.  Some kids seemed to find this pretty interesting and helpful, while others couldn't believe that I was making them practice something.

I didn't make them sketch the horse OR the mane.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 5)

I over heard the following conversation today in one of my high school art classes.

Student 1: Wait, who's Bill Murray?
Student 2: You don't know who Bill Murray is?  Dude, he's a comedian.  He was in Space Jam.

I spent time after school mounting some student work on large sheets of cardboard, so that I can hang them in the hallway.  Just as I was getting ready to head to the other end of the building to grab something, three students walked in.  One of them is a very avid art student, and someone I know I can trust.  I didn't really know the other two girls with him, but they seemed trustworthy.  He wanted to show the girls a project he was working on.  I told them that they could stay while I went out, but to just close up the room if they left.
While at the other end of the building I ran into another teacher, and we started chatting... 30-40 minutes later I walked back into the art room, only to find that the three students had CLEANED the place.  I had been doing a pretty good job keeping stuff picked up, pretty much in the same condition I found the room.  These kids put everything away, clearing off all of the counters and organizing the supplies.  I was so shocked that I probably seemed ungrateful, just because I had no idea what to say... "thanks" just didn't seem like enough.

An Art Teacher (Long Term 4)

This should have gone up as two separate posts, but I forgot about it.  Oh well.

Today my 7th graders organized giving me "the silent treatment" at the start of class.  They didn't say a word as they filed into class.  When the bell rang, and it was time to get started they continued to stare at me, not making a sound.  I know they meant it to get on my nerves, or make me upset or something... but it was amazing.  I was able to get through attendance, review the project they were working on, and get everything started in record time.  The magic eventually broke, but it was great while it lasted.  I might need to make them mad at me more often.

Well, my 7th graders took their frustrations about how I graded their project to the next level.  During lunch I was talking to the principal about ordering some paint, when he mentioned that he had been swarmed by a large crowd of seventh graders, all complaining about me.  He told them that if they had a problem, they needed to calmly talk to me as individuals, instead of whipping themselves up into a frenzied mob.  We talked about it a little bit more, and it became clear that I have his support.
When you're a sub, knowing that the principal is willing to trust your judgement is a pretty big deal.

I had my seventh grade class right after lunch.  Not only did no one say a single thing about the grade issue, but they were all being extra sweet and nice, drawing me pictures and writing "I <3 Mr. C." on the board when my back was turned.
Granted, I don't like them drawing on the board, and they should have been working on their project, not making little drawings for me... but it is the thought that counts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 3)

I finally got access to the online grading information today.  Having three classes in the same room is still going to be complicated, grade-wise, but not too badly.

My 7th graders let me know today that I grade much harder than their regular teacher.
Student:  Uhh... excuse me, Mr. C?  Yeah, no offence or anything, but Ms. H. would have given me full points on this.
Mr. C:  Let me see... I took off all of three points, out of 30, because you didn't follow directions... here *point* and here *point*
Student: *walk away muttering* So not fair... I'm an artist...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 2)

I read my middle school students the riot act about the mess.  The past couple days they have done a surprisingly good job of cleaning the room at the end of the period.  

I've spent this week sorting out and organizing all of the piles of student work around the room.  I have given back at least 2-3 projects per class period. I'm also starting to wrap my head around the organizational system. 

My next big task is going to be the main storage room.  There are a lot of items that I just don't understand.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Art Teacher (Long Term 1)

Well, it's official.  They gave me keys and everything.  For at least the next six weeks I will be the art teacher at a small, semi-rural middle/high school.  As things become routine, I imagine my blog posts will diminish in frequency.
The teacher I'm subbing for called me last night, and we spent nearly an hour on the phone going over her classes, and talking about the weeks to come.  I mentioned some of my biggest concerns in my previous post.  She was able to clear up a lot of them, though I'm really not looking forward to putting the gnomes in the kiln at some point.  I had to move them today, and put them in a safer storage area (than on the main counter in the room)  Several of them fell apart when I picked them up - oops.

My middle school students are working on a project that needs a lot of construction paper.  I got out a large selection, but several times I allowed kids to go into the storage room to get other colors.  Towards the end of the day, when I had a real chance to go back and check out the room, I found that it was trashed.  I guess I learned a lesson.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Secondary Art Teacher

I walked into school today expecting the usual boring art class lesson plans of: "The kids should continue working on their projects, they know what they're doing."
Instead, when I walked into the office I was greeted by the principal with, "oh, Mr. C, what are you doing for the next two months?"

Long story short, I may have an unexpected long-term job coming up.  Right now I'm scheduled tomorrow (Friday) through all of next week.  Past that, things are still up in the air.
I spent some time tonight talking to an art teacher friend of mine, getting some advice and also reading up on state visual art content expectations.  I'm certified in social studies and English... I can't draw my way out of a paper bag.

With all that being said, the high school students just finished sculpting lawn gnomes out of clay.  They were sitting on a shelf in the room, and some of the kids did a really good job on them.  The gnomes still need to be fired and then painted.  I have no idea how to work a kiln.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Third Grade Teacher

It has been a while since I've covered a single elementary class.

Today's 3rd graders managed to be excessively loud AND reasonably productive, all at the same time.

Early in the day, after I had explained to the kids that I was leaving their teacher a note, and that it already contained several references to their excessive volume, one kid managed to sneak me a slip of paper while my back was turned.  It contained a "World's Best Teacher" award, and it was signed, "The Kid in the Black Gap Shirt."
I thought that was pretty insightful, seeing as if he had signed his name, I wouldn't have known who it was from.
Also, this was only two hours into class, I think they award may have been a bit premature.

I got to cover a recess.  At one point, while watching the kids on the snow hill, one girl got to the top and screamed, "NO ONE CAN JUDGE WOMEN!"  I have no idea why she said this, but it was met with cheers from the other girls on the snow hill.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A High School Special Education Teacher

A group of about 15 Freshmen sat in near total silence for all of a 75 minute study hall.  I never through I'd complain about kids behaving, but I nearly went stir-crazy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Senior English Teacher (Day 2) and a Gym Teacher

I was the same English teacher as I was on Monday.  This would have been day three, except there was a snow day yesterday.  I don't think I will be subbing for her again tomorrow.  I am in the same building, though, covering meetings.  I'm pretty sure that if that teacher is gone again, my assignment will be changed.

I covered for a gym teacher the last hour of the day.  He had the kids playing an interesting variant of dodgeball. They call the game, "Medic Ball."  It plays out just like dodgeball, except if you get hit, you have to sit down.  One player is designated as the "medic," and gets to carry around a little scooter that can be used as a shield.  The medic can't pick up or use balls, but his job is to run the scooter to anyone sitting down, and pull them back to the team's wall, at which point the person is back in the game.  You can win by either getting an entire team to sit down, OR by hitting the medic.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Senior English Teacher

I covered today for a senior English/journalism teacher that I've subbed for a handful of times in the past.

This time, there was a student teacher, and this was her second week in the classroom.  She was obviously flustered, since her Master Teacher had been gone Thursday and Friday of last week, in addition to today.
I guess the teacher is really sick, because I'm in the class again the next two days, and possibly even a third.

I feel a little sorry for the student teachers from the local colleges.  They are not allowed to sub for their Master Teacher, which means they get a "baby sitter" instead.  When I did my student teaching, it was required that I register as a sub with the local ISD, so that I didn't need a babysitter.  I even got paid for most of the days my Master Teacher was out of the classroom.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A High School English/Speech Teacher

The teacher had given a student specific instructions to film the speeches due to be given today.  Of course, that student decided to skip class, and I ended up filming.  I know how to work a camcorder, but I'm still a bit worried that I might not have "done it properly."  Oh well.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Science Teacher and a Social Studies Teacher

I covered some meetings today.
I was a science teacher in the morning, and a social studies teacher in the afternoon.

There is nothing like getting paid to watch Mythbusters.

The social studies teacher had the students playing bingo as a vocab review, using Skittles for markers.  A few minutes before the end of class, one student went around picking up all the Skittles everyone had dropped throughout the day, and came up with a small handful.  I knew his intention was to eat them, and part of me wanted to stop him.  However, I figured he's a high school student; if he wants to eat floor-Skittles, that's his business.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Gym/Weight Lifting Teacher

Today was a perfect example of the flaws in the sub-placement system I work with, some of which I mentioned yesterday.
I got the call for today's job at 4am this morning.  The (automated) system says the teacher's name, but it wasn't one that I recognized, even though I'm in that school quite often.  When I wake up again a couple hours later, I get online to check out the job.  It's at this point that I read the teacher's note, "this position requires a person well versed in Lifting and Training and capable of managing 38 semi-independent teenagers."
The second part is easy enough, but I don't know anything about "Lifting and Training."  (On a side note, I love that he capitalized those two words.)  I suppose this is partly my fault, for not getting up at 4am to check the job boards.  If I had, I would have seen that the same school had two other openings today, both of which ended up not being filled.  I would have much rather been the band teacher, for whom I had to cover for an hour.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Amused by the System

As I've mentioned in previous updates, the way the subbing systems work (or at least the two I work for) is that teachers either call or log-in to an automated system, and enter the info for the job they need covered.  If you do it online, teachers can add in special notes.
Every so often I'll see a job posting with a note saying, "No sub needed, job filled internally."  
So... 1) Why do they bother posting it to the job board?  Depending on your setting, some people may be getting CALLED as early as 4am because the job is posted to a particular school on their list.  And, B) what would they do if I accepted the job and showed up ready to work?

Friday, January 6, 2012

An 8th Grade English Teacher

Mr. C.: ...alright, so that's the plan.  Any question before we head down to the media center?
Student 1: Can I get my book from my locker on the way down?
Mr. C.:  Yep, just be sure to make it quick.  Anyone else?
Student 2: Can I dance?
Mr. C.:  If you want to, but you'll have to leave your friends behind.
Student 2: ...wha..?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A High School Math Teacher

Kids can be so weird.  I looked up from helping a girl with her assignment, only to see two other girls exhaling at each other's faces.  They were trying to smell each other's breath.  I guess they were chewing cotton candy flavored gum

Later on...
Mr. C.: Hey, you two aren't cheating off each other, are you?
Student 1: No, I'm helping him, we're partners.
Student 2: Well, not really partners, we just happen to be sitting next to each other... and talking... and working...
Student 1: Wow, thanks for making it weird.
Mr. C.: ...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Spanish/World History History Teacher.

I got to watch an episode of American Family today, along with the first 40 minutes of In the Time of the Butterflies; both staring Edward James Olmos.  American Family was pretty good, especially after the 3rd time and I realized the a large portion of the episode was a flash back.  Prior to that realization I was really confused why the baby and the 8 year old boy both had the same name and the same mother.

I also covered for an 8th grade computer teacher.  The kids had to do an "internet scavenger hunt."  They were given various websites, and had to answer questions on the sites.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, the first thing most of these little angels did was go to instead, and just type in the question.  When I told them, "no, that isn't how we're doing this.  Part of this assignment is that you learn how to do your own research online," they acted as if I had just kicked their puppy.  When the whining finally stopped, I caught several kids just typing the questions into Google.  As if I'm not going to know that that is the exact same thing.
I'm going to sound like an old man here, but when I was their age, and I wanted to find out how many rooms were in the White House, I had to look it up in a book!