3rd Time’s a Charm

Or three strikes and you’re out, but I prefer the title saying better.  It is midway through the year of my third stint at being an AWANA leader.  Some time ago, when I was still subbing, I was asked by family to break off a bit from the kids.  After all, I was doing drama and serving in 4th and 5th grade on the weekends then working all week in K-8 classrooms.  Not wanting to get rid of the weekend service, I dropped AWANA after the year was over.

This year things have been a little different but very much the same.  Originally, 3rd-4th grade were known as Pals (boys) and Chums (girls) while 5th (normally 6th too, but at our church 6th grade is junior high and they don’t do AWANA) were known as Pioneers (boys) and Guards (girls).  I believe it was during time #2 that the switch was made to T in T: Truth in Training for all three grades, boys and girls.  One year I worked with Sparks (K-2) but the rest of the time has been with 3rd-5th grade.  Would you believe the kindergarten Sparkies from that year are in 8th grade now?  Time does fly.  Other differences this year include keeping points for my team- kind of a pain with over 15 boys, mostly 3rd and 4th grade though I do have one or two 5th-graders- and game time is no longer the normal circle games, though at the beginning of the year we did do them.  Now we switch off between double-kickball (two balls, two kickers, one set of bases) and dodge-ball.

Last night was crazy hat night.  Every week has some sort of theme with varying levels of participation- last week was ugly sweater night and few participated.  Wristwatch night also seemed to be on the light side.  Hat night must have been easier as there was much participation.  Conservative, childless me didn’t have a hat anywhere near crazy status and I didn’t have time to think about it anyway since I arrived home from work after six and had to be at the church at 6:30.  There were of course Dr. Seuss hats among the fare, a mohawk hat, a creative lad wearing two Civil War hats representing both Union and Confederate sides, and another one wearing stacked baseball hats.  I am slightly chuffed to say the winner came from my own team, though of course I had nothing to do with it myself.  Cole wore the same hat he always wears to AWANA- he usually leaves it on all night except for prayer- but over that he had on a full Air Force pilot helmet, meaning not just the helmet but the breathing apparatus as well.  Technically not a hat, but it did go on  the head, so…  He informed me one of his relatives was in the Air Force.  If he went to this church on the weekend (he attends a different church- he came as another’s friend one week and signed up after that) he would fit right in at camp this summer and the winter retreat the following January- next year will be the military theme once again.

Anyway, speaking of winter retreat, *this* year’s retreat is tomorrow night and it is now after 11PM.  Time to hit the sack so I will have at least some rest for it.  And perhaps a blog post afterward.  Please pray for us this weekend- 24 hours from Friday 7PM to Saturday 7PM.

What a week

The Thursday before last, I shot all of one car at two dealers- highly unusual, so on Monday that was more than made up for by having 18 cars to do between the same two dealers.  Normally this would make me quite happy, but not so much on a Monday following a snowfall.  For starters, I knew I couldn’t leave as early as normal because the dealers needed time to clean up their lots.  The first one was still doing it when I arrived.  Monday nights I have small group at my church, so it is the only night I need to finish on time so starting late and then finding I had so many cars to do, some of which would have to be brushed off, was less than thrilling.  I finished the second dealer a little before 7PM, then headed back.  It was dark and I was traveling 50MPH, so I can probably be excused for not seeing the massive pothole in the right lane.  I kept moving, but I feared it would cause my tire to go flat on the way home.  It didn’t and I was able to drive the car for the rest of the week, but when I brought the car into the shop Saturday because I needed a brake job, surprise!  A $500 repair bill.  Actually, it was higher but he gave me a break (on top of the four brakes 😛 ) because my mother and I were good customers.  $210 was for the brakes, $30 was for the oil change- that meant the rest was for the new axle and bearings on the potholed wheel.  Incidentally, I was an hour late for small group, partly because I stopped to eat on the way.

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Tuesday I found myself in supersized district to sub- a rare occurrence these days as I can find few jobs available there even the mornings of.  And sub I dd- in bilingual kindergarten.  Fortunately there was an assistant with me for both classes- a different one for each class.  The morning had Spanish-speakers who knew very little English.  The assistant ended up running most of the morning.  It was a struggle.  Oddly enough there was a boy who I’m told actually knows English and very little Spanish, yet he was required to do everything in Spanish like the rest of the class!  The afternoon was supposedly Polish-speakers (hence the different assistant) but all of them knew English so I was actually able to take charge of this group.  I felt I accomplished much more with this group.

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Wednesday I had only a half-day in, what do I call it again- next-door district?  It was for middle-school math.  The website said 7th grade, but when I got there I found out it was 8th grade.  Oh well, the system has been wrong before.  It was actually quite easy- most of the classes had tests, though I also went over homework answers.  This teacher actually teaches five different classes out of her six teaching periods- unusual for middle school.  Usually there are no more than three different classes, repeating the same lesson for more than one.  Her one repeated class was in the morning so I only had two different lessons, though I did start the 5th-period class which would have been my third different plan.  She arrived less than ten minutes in and took over.

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Totally forgetting Wednesday when I had that entire afternoon free that there was a dealer in Barrington with two cars, I could kick myself when I realized I had forgotten and would have to fit them in Thursday instead.  This is a small dealer that only has a couple of cars every few weeks.  At least I did remember.  Eventually.  So I started off the morning by going there.  Of course, there had been some more snow Wednesday night so I didn’t get there too early.  I did the cars and was on my way to the next dealer when- 25-min in I realized I still had a set of keys from the first place.  Oops.  I turned around, angry with myself once all over again.  The better part of an hour wasted.  So I finally arrived at the next place, their lot cleared of snow, and found I had another bunch of cars like Monday.  Two of them were too loaded with salt to do (hey, I just used three forms of a homophone/nym!), so I breathed a sigh of relief and headed to the final dealer with a good three hours of light to go, though it would be less by the time I got there.  I finished with some light to spare.  You are probably wondering about Monday right now.  Yes, I did run out of light Monday, but when there is pressure to get things done at the end of the day like that I get all the photos out of the way first before I do the options and print the stickers, which tends to be the bulk of my time spent.

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Friday I had only one dealer in the afternoon so I took a morning job in next-door district (still not sure if that’s the name I gave it).  It was for 3rd/4th grade.  When I arrived, I said who I was there for and was handed a folder for a classroom that turned out to be 1st and 2nd grade.  I looked at the name and it sounded right when I said it to myself, but while I didn’t quite remember the spelling of the name I knew it didn’t look right.  I asked another teacher if this teacher taught 3rd/4th grade last year as sometimes that info doesn’t get updated on the sub system (remember Wednesday).  She thought for a few seconds and then informed me there was another teacher upstairs with almost the same name!  I went back to the office to verify I was in the right class and found out that I was indeed given the wrong folder.  Both teachers were out this morning, probably both for the same meeting I knew at least the one was at.  I went upstairs to let the other sub know we had been duped.  She had almost the same story as me, knowing something wasn’t quite right with the room she was in.  We traded folders and I finally got a chance to look at the right plans.  The morning actually went quite well.  For the afternoon, instead of the usual two or three cars I had nine because for some reason the other photographer either didn’t go there the day before like he usually does, or they didn’t have any ready when he did which would have been strange considering nine were ready this time.  Well, more commission for me I guess- something I will need because of the car repair bill.  Sigh.

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Saturday I was supposed to go cross-country skiing with a few guys from church, but when I called around Friday I couldn’t find anyone who rented skis close by, and the one store that was recommended to me closed at 6PM Friday night, too early for me to go there.  Well, I hope the others had a good time.  Instead, I stayed home to receive that repair-bill shock…

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Well, that was my week.  How was yours?

Okay, okay

I can’t stay mad at all y’all (that’s how a Southerner says it, right?)  so here’s some sub news.  Monday and Tuesday I was in near-city district again, and will be back there again tomorrow.  3rd grade was the name of the game Monday, and one of the first things I noticed was the teacher’s computer, or rather what was taped on (click pics for larger size):

How awesome- the teacher is a Christian and not afraid to show it! 🙂 . Once class started, I found she had a good group of kids making it a much easier time than 3rd grade last week.  I also got two breaks in addition to lunch- art in the AM and PE in the PM.  Besides the monitor dressing, probably the most memorable part of this job was the huge spelling packet we had to grade- without a key!  Seriously, this packet was about a dozen pages, front and back, for around 24 pages of work.  Using some time in the morning and some time in the afternoon, we were able to get through maybe half of it.  It took longer than it should have because I had to think about the answers before I said them.  It’s 3rd grade work, but that doesn’t mean the answers come instantly.  I have corrected work without a key before, but usually it’s math and usually just me grading papers, not the whole class.  At least in those situations I made a “key” by grading one studen’t paper then using it (at least the correct answers) as the key for the rest.

Tuesday I subbed for art in the open middle school and was pleasantly surprised to find I only had five classes.  There was a second art teacher who taught two classes before going to the elementary school next door.  Actually, she had a sub too, but you get the picture.  All periods were pretty easy.  The 6th-grade just got a video.  We watched one of the HBO Artist Special movies.  I picked the Rembrandt one.  These movies, or at least this one, really don’t talk much about the artists’ work, but instead take the artist and his setting, and make it into a historical fiction story utilizing a boy or girl somehow to make it more appealing to kids.  7th and 8th grade were in the middle of projects so they just continued to work on them.  I actually ran into the daughter of my church’s camp and one-time youth director- I guess I know what town his family lives in now. 🙂

Today- just a half-day in PE.  I had the option of changing it to a full day in kindergarten, but I really didn’t want to drive all the way there (one of the further schools in near-city district) and, well, you know me and younger grades, especially when “ELL” shows up in the job description. 😉 . For PE we just played scooter tag, which was just a sharks and minnows tag game on scooters, where two at a time are taggers and anyone they tag have to sit down but may tag others as they pass.  The gym becomes quite the minefield for survivors after awhile.  It was fun.  I had planned on getting gas for the mower after work and doing a quick job on the lawn, but probably because of the scheduled walkathon at the school (okay, not really) it started to downpour just as school finished.  Since rain is scheduled for the next several days I guess I will have to wait a while longer.  Oh, well.

Scary Flu 2.0 hits

1.0 being the avian flu a few years ago which barely got out of the starting gate as far as pandemic staus is concerned.  Yes, I know there have been really nasty flu epidemics/pandemics in the past, but I am specifically referring to modern variations in my numbering.  Anyway, tonight I got a call on both phones one after another (I must have given them my cell number at some point) from near-city district’s emergency response system which informs employees and parents of emergency situations.  This one was bound to turn up since my area has a heavy Hispanic population.  This time, it turned up in one of the middle schools.  I was not set to work in that school tomorrow, and haven’t been in the last couple of weeks, so I am good (so breathe a sigh of relief, fellow blogger & family who I visited with the other night). However, they canceled school for tomorrow just at the one school.  I wonder how that works for required school attendance days- will just the one school have an extra day tacked on in June?  Anyway, I work tomorrow in one of it’s elementary feeder schools, so I do hope there are no siblings of that middle school student in class- especially it being bilingual 3rd grade which of course means all Spanish-speaking kids in this district.  Well, I’ll let you know how it goes I guess.

UPDATE: It appears that the school is off until at least Friday, so again I wonder, will they have those extra days tacked on while the rest of the district enjoys summer break?  Hmm.  Today, one girl in my class went home sick after lunch, but it is unknown at this time if her illness is related to H1N1 swine flu.

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Week in review

This week was mostly unremarkable.  Monday I was in second grade, Tuesday and Friday PE, Wednesday sixth grade science, and Thursday I was in third grade.  The highlights, or in one case “low”light, were probably the PE classes and the third grade class.  Science was a “students work on projects while sub circulates” day- not that it was a bad day, just a relatively uninteresting one.  Second grade just wasn’t memorable this week.

Tuesday’s PE class included some 4th and 5th graders who played a game called “homerun derby” where they used a fat bat and tried to hit a small gatorskin dodgeball across the room to a predefined homerun zone.  The 4th grade class didn’t get a single homerun leading me to switch to actual game mode toward the end.  5th grade did better.  The big part of this job though was the work with mentally and physically impaired students- three classes to be precise.  These classes started with some running, though some were pushed in wheelchairs or otherwise helped along by assistants meaning those assistants got a bigger workout than many of the kids.  Then with varying degrees of success the students practiced hitting the ball when pitched to them.  Again, the assitants played a big role here, not only swinging with them, but in some cases just getting them to the plate to take a turn.  The third class had more severely impaired students, so they didn’t even have the ball pitched to them.  Instead, there were T-ball setups, one of which I brought out to them.  The classes ended with free-time as these kids can’t go for a full 30 minutes of structured gym time.  They got to choose balls or oversized scooters (2 feet x 3 feet (!) I think) and spent the rest of the time with them.

The third grade class was truly a low point.  I was worried from the moment I read the note saying to get the help of one of the teachers next door if the class gives trouble instead of calling the principal over, which apparently one sub did three times last year.  I actually did not have to call him over, but the one time he did come was in the middle of a crisis so of course I ended up looking bad.  I’d better cross this school off for any sort of permanent job should my life go in that direction.  There was one student who actually got so mad at one point he stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him.  This was shortly after the principal’s visit when some students were set on finding some money that was thought to be lost or stolen instead of working in their reading groups.  Another student got frazzled and needed some calming time, saying he had a bad day yesterday and was trying to avoid one today.  Well, depending on what that bad day entailed, he may have failed as it was certainly a bad morning for him (and me) from that point on.  By the afternoon things got better though the math group tended to be every bit as chatty as the regular class (they switched for math).  There was also an assembly at the end.  The student who had stormed out during the morning was supposed to sit next to me, but instead the principal had him help with the awards presentation, rewarding students for positive behavior/work over the last few months.

The other PE class was my reward for Thursday’s third grade.  Over the entire day I only had five classes.  This had part to do with the fact this teacher worked in three different schools and so had two travelling times, and part to do with Friday being a light day with only one class at one of the schools instead of the usual four, so I was able to go home for lunch (this was in hometown district).  All classes went very well.  The first school had a volleyball unit going and her classes had their first day playing a real game so I had to go over the rules, though we really didn’t keep score.  The other three classes played some tag games.  It was a nice way to end the week.

Has it really been that long?

Well, it’s been awhile since my last work-related post.  I finally got season 4 of The Office from my library and have been watching it.  For those who don’t remember back that far 😛 , Ryan, who was the temp at the Scranton, PA office is now Michael’s boss, and is trying to make many changes to the company to bring it more up to date with the times.  Oh, and he is making Michael’s life miserable.  I watched the first five episodes so far, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the first few were 40+ minutes.  I thought at first these were two-part episodes combined into one, but apparently they are actually extended versions of the original episodes.  There are supposed to be five of them out of the fourteen episodes on the DVD set and I saw four of them.  The fifth episode was the normal 20+ minute length.  I am guessing the season finale will be the fifth extended episode.

Anyway, on to work.  Today was a difficult day with a pleasant ending.  I substituted for 3rd-grade ELL at the school that made the local paper a few months ago for its supersized 3rd grade classes with 30+ students per class.  As far as that went, I prepared myself for it.  It turned out to have 24 students- 23 after today as it was one student’s last day.  For some reason that student is transferring to another school in the same district.  To any who didn’t catch it, this was an ELL class, which I’m guessing is why the class was a normal size.  I bring up ELL because while I prepared myself for a supersized class, I forgot to prepare myself for ELL kids.  Fortunately most of them understood English to a point, and there was an assistant who spent most of the day in the class to translate when there were difficulties in understanding.  However, the behavior in a few of the kids was just off the wall.  As I have mentioned in the past, ELL kids can be challenging when it comes to behavior, and these kids were no exception.  Again, I think this is due to us being to soft in this country as compared to other countries like Mexico.  And I especially am more easygoing than other teachers.  I would like to think I have gained better management habits, but I know I am still kind of a soft teacher, at least when I am in a good mood.

In the end, I did make sure to point out the kids I had a problem with in the note to the teacher, so something will happen I’m sure.  So what was the pleasant end?  Well, a 4th-grader from my church is apparently a student at that school.  As I was lining up the kids for dismissal, he spotted me.  A few years ago I had a student who showed some major excitement when he recognized me when I subbed in his class, with a very excited, “Hey! I know you!!”  Well, that boy’s record for excitement was just broken today by this other boy.   He shouted to everyone who could hear, “Hey, you go to my church!!” which was repeated a few times, once to his teacher.  When I failed to come up with his name right away, he happily offered it, not disappointed at all like a few others I have run into.  I should remind you that I am not that great with names at all and this year I lead a fifth-grade small group so he isn’t in it.  Tomorrow night I will make sure to give him some extra attention.

This week I was was in middle school only one, which was just an okay day in Spanish, with two 8th grade, two 7th grade, one 6th grade, and a 7th/8th combined class (which I thought kind of strange for a Spanish class).  The other days were strictly elementary.  The music class was a highlight of my week.  Normally these can be difficult classes behaviorally, but it was a rather pleasant day.  The teacher left plans that were clearly meant for the Friday before break with some of the classes having a Christmas-y theme, but since that turned into a snow day she apparently thought it would be just fine for the day after break.  Three of the classes watched part of the Nutcracker while coloring Nutcracker pictures.  It was in one of these classes I ran into a rare occurance- an Albino.  Okay, that term was politically incorrect.  I guess I should say he was albinistic.  I joked with him having hair blonder than mine was at his age (I had very light blond hair once- it has since become almost gray.  Yes I have some grey hairs now, but most of it is still blond when looked at closely.  It was pointed out to me that he had a vision problem which is often an effect of the condition and when I looked at his eyes a certain way I noticed some red which I think may also be common, though seeing red in pupils apparently is not.

Well, time to head back to Scranton, PA- I only have a week on this DVD set.  Later!

EDIT: Whoops, forgot the title!

Blog-weary

I have been doing a lot of catching up on TV shows lately.  This has eaten into my available time to write in this blog.  That, and my interest is sort of lagging right now.  I now have several DVDs I checked out of the library in addition to several hours of TV shows I still haven’t watched.  I also checked out Mario Kart DD for my Gamecube.  With all of this expect my posting to continue to be like this for a while.

As for work, my week had some interesting moments.  I subbed for 7th grade science on Monday.  Not a lot going on there.  Six classes of handing out books then letting them do an assignment out of them.  Mostly good classes.  Tuesday I subbed for 6th grade math, staying on the analytical/logical side of the brain.  This teacher had math classes at three different levels, two classes of each.  All were similar in going over homework, my answering questions, and the starting the next section.  Some actual teaching!  I will have two days of 6th grade math at another school at the end of next week.  I saw a former student from 4th/5th grade ministry on Monday at science, and I hope to see one next week who just started this year at the school I will be at.

Wednesday I found myself in the elementary school right next to the middle school I will be doing math at next week.  The level was third grade.  The day started out with the smell of electrical fire near the classroom, though there was no fire as far as I could tell.  This turned out to be sort of an interesting day.  This is the only school I know to have a vocabulary special- a teacher comes in to teach vocabulary- and they had that in the morning.  Now, music, gym, and art are standards, and I’ve also subbed for an elementary social studies teacher.  There was a Japanese special at another school, but this is the first school where I’ve encountered a vocabulary special, though not the first classroom I subbed in where they had this special.  A couple of months ago I had five days in second grade at this school, and some of those classes had vocabulary as well.  Moving on, they had MAP testing, so that killed another 45 minutes or so.  It ended early so we played Sparkle using their spelling lists before finishing the morning with a language arts lesson.  After lunch they had a “holiday store.”  This is similar to a book fair, but instead of books the students could buy cheap gifts.  The rest of the day was typical with reading groups, math, and science.  Nothing interesting like labs, just book-work for the most part.

Thursday and Friday were both music days.  Friday I subbed for an elementary music teacher.  These are always potluck days as to which grades I will get.  It turned out I would get two classes each of kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades.  Almost all with different lessons of course.  1st and 2nd played music insrument bingo, 5th did a science tie-in lesson about bones using an old black spiritual song about Ezekiel and the dry bones, which turned out to be a review lesson since they had already done it before.  Oops?  We just made a little competition of it.  Kindergarten had the only real new lesson.  They learned about the difference between a lullaby and a march- fast vs. slow, loud vs. soft.

My other music day, Thursday, was actually a very odd class for middle school.  There are schools that have divided up the year for certain classes into quarters, fifths, and sixths.  This school has the year divided for a set of classes into, get this, eighths.  That’s right- each class is just four weeks long, and for 7th grade at least (8th grade actually has this class for a full quarter) this was one of those classes.  That’s not the most unusual aspect of this class.  That would go to the focus of the class- African drumming.  I have not heard before of this sort of specialization in middle school.  College, maybe high school, but not middle school.  Anyway, the classroom of course was filled with drums, mostly more modern renditions of African drums, but also a few more traditional models.  Also, bells and rattles.  These three instruments make up African music (at least Ghana, the country in Africa the video focused on) I learned from the video.  Yes, with this sort of specialization comes the usually correct assumption that the sub will have no idea how to teach it, so the video is the standard staple of the sub for this sort of class.  Unfortunately the video was only 20 minutes, leaving me to fill in the rest of the time.  So, we went of the sheet they filled out and then I let them play silent ball for the rest of the time.

Well, that’s my week in review.  We will see what the future of this blog holds.  I am toying with the idea of starting another blog at some point where I will attempt to write a story a little bit at a time.  Maybe write a choose-your-own-adventure like I brought up in Taylhis’s blog 🙂 .  For now, just an idea.  We’ll see if it goes anywhere.