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.

Donning my explosion-proof suit

Back to the school entries- it’s been too long.  Before I continue though, one of my friends mentioned that I have been too general with my district descriptions, that she is always wondering which district I’m talking about.  I have been thinking about how to refer to these districts because I want to play it safe so any wondering eyes from those districts don’t lock on to my posts and figure out who this is in case I post something I shouldn’t.  I could of course refer to the districts as A, B, C, and D, but that would probably get to be just as confusing.  How about I come up with some better descriptions:

♦ Hometown district = the district in which I live, presently my favorite district I might add.

♦ Near-city district = the district I work in that is closest to the big city, Chicago, to where I live and bears a few similarities.  This is the district that has the really tough ELL and BD classrooms.

♦ Next-door district.  Of course, there is more than one town next to me, but the ones to the north, east, northeast, and southeast of me I am not signed up in at the present time.  Two are too small, and the other two called me so rarely I didn’t sign back up with them.

♦ Supersized district.  This district has a lot of schools.  It encompasses one entire town plus parts of at least three others.  It of course isn’t as big as Chicago’s school district, but what is?  Besides which I am not signed up for that one of course.

With that out of the way, I was in near-city district today doing something quite crazy- I returned to the classroom I had big problems in just a few months ago.  C will be glad to know that this is officially a BD/ED classroom, no LD kids to be found, unless they are also BD or ED (behavior, emotional disorders).  I was in my full faculties when I accepted this assignment just so you know, tired but not so much I didn’t know what I was doing.  I reasoned that there were unusual special circumstances last time- all four teachers/assistants were sick the day before, and I was one of two subs that day.  If you think young kids need consistency, these kids are like autistic kids in their such need.  They just broke down without it and I happened to be one of the targets that day.  So, in full figurative battle gear I headed to the school this morning, expecting anything.  I was early, got a look at the plans, talked with the other teachers, then read a book until the start of the day.  Fortunately I was the only sub this time.  The kids arrived, I waited for the explosion, then.. nothing.  It was actually a quite pleasant day.  One 8th-grader was absent for the first few periods meaning I didn’t have him at all which turned out to be a good thing as when he arrived it was apparent he remembered last time and got visibly upset if I just talked to him.  As for the rest, they had no such problem even if they did remember last time I was there.  Also making for an easy day, two of the classes involved just listening to an audiobook while the kids followed along (and they did, I guess S.E. Hinton is a hit with them), and one class was a single girl watching a movie.  The other two had potential for disaster as they actually involved my input and/or teaching, but the other teacher smoothed things out before they happened.  Kudos to her for using her planning time to keep watch as I led reading a story together before they could get a chance to work independently, which is what they are most comfortable with.  The other two, assistants, were off in watching the ones in specials at this time.  The last class was tutorial, and because this is the last day of the week (Good Friday tomorrow) the ones who did well that week got to watch part of a movie.  The other teacher took the ones who didn’t earn it to another room.

You were looking for a, err, more exciting day, weren’t you?  Admit it!  Sorry I had to disappoint you :mrgreen:

How about the other three days this week?  Well, I subbed for art in hometown-district yesterday, special-ed math the day before (same district), and, lessee…  oh yes- Spanish in the near-city district on Monday.  All days went very well.  The Spanish lesson, oddly enough, was actually social-studies lesson on Latin America rather than a lesson or worktime on actual Spanish.  At that school the 6th-graders don’t take Spanish so it was all 7th and 8th.  They also don’t do industrial tech which leads me to wonder what they do instead of these classes.  Art was movies for all followed by a little drawing.  5th grade had the most problems but the rest of the day went well.  The only real thing to report for the special-ed math day was 8th grade at the end of the day- they were so quiet and really worked- was this really 8th grade in April (the start of 8th-grade-itis, a common condition in those who know they will be in high school in a few short months).  That and there was a little mess-up at the end of the day when I found out I was supposed to bring the 8th graders down at 2:00 for an assembly.  Couldn’t they have announced it at 1:55 or something?  Oh, well.  They only missed 15 minutes of it.

For the other two districts I haven’t worked much in them as of late.  Next-door district continues to have next-to-no assignments available for some reason and supersized district actually canceled the last two days I signed up for.  Thanks a lot.  At least they didn’t do it the morning of so I was easily able to get other assignments.  Speaking of canceling, I wonder how long it will take to cancel this next one I signed up for?  This isn’t bitterness talking, but reality.  You see, it’s a three-week assignment.  Yes, you read that right- three weeks.  As a noncertified sub, they are sure to pull that one away when they realize what happened.  I have my suspicions it wasn’t even meant to go up on the system.  Perhaps another sub canceled the assignment by using the system instead of calling the school.  I will be genuinely surprised if I still have the job come next Friday.  I am more than willing to do it-  I just don’t think the district will let me.  Anyway, make your wagers and I’ll keep you posted.

Eww, gross! Cooties!

It is a specials time for me this week.  Yes, I did mean to spell it that way.  Monday I subbed for art in an elementary school and today I did music in middle school.  This day was one of those times where I did the same lesson for all classes.  Yes, that means all grades from 1st to 4th did the exact same thing.  Why would they all do the same thing?  Well, apparently Metra is sponsoring a safety poster contest and have done so for the last couple of years.  Kids from kindergarten through high school make posters that have to deal with safety around trains.  Each grade competes in their own contest so a 1st grader, for example, doesn’t have to go up against a middle schooler.  Some of the posters from last year are really good.  Too good in some cases I think.  Check out this poster for example:


This looks like a fine 2nd or 3rd grade entry, but kindergarten?  Hmm…  The previous year’s kindergarten winner looks a bit more age-appropriate.  So the kids got the details and started working on ideas for their posters, due in a short four months.  Anyway, check out all the previous winners at:

2007-2008 Winners
2006-2007 Winners

Today as I wrote above I did music.  This was a most enjoyable experience for me because I got to show videos for movie musicals.  6th grade got to see one of my favorites, Oliver! Well, the start of it.  Having been in Oliver! I was really able to get into it with the kids and talk a little about it and my own experience.  8th grade was next and they continued watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  That’s right, the old one which in my opinion has the better Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder.  No offense to Johnny Depp’s acting, but that interpretation of the character just didn’t work at all for me.  Not much to say about this.  They were engaged 8th graders, and that’s what was important. 😀  A couple in the second class asked if I could skip the songs.  Let’s see now, the class is music and he wanted me to skip the music.  I think you can guess what my answer was as we continued to listen to “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” 😈

Moving to 7th grade (last classes of the day and relevant to the topic title) we got to see the start of Singin’ in the Rain.  I’ve never seen this before believe it or not.  It is now on the reserve shelf at the library waiting for me to pick it so I can finish it since I saw only the first 35 minutes of it, twice.  If you’ve seen this movie then you know there are some kissing scenes in it, several of them.  I couldn’t believe it when one of the seventh grade classes had some boys going “ewww” during these scenes.  I heard “cooties” as well, but to be fair this was probably a joke reaction to the ewws.  I would expect this from 4th graders, but I would have supposed the sex education the kids get in public schools would have desensitized them to things like kissing.  I guess not.  I guess I learn something every day. 🙂

Check this Oliver Twist picture out (click image for larger version)- funny! 😀

Oliver Twist
Mike R. Baker

So what was the assignment?

The assignment I took for today at that furthest school was art and drama.  Interesting combination as usually drama is the realm of the music teacher.  It was actually a pretty easy day.  School started at 8:00, so I was there at 7:45.  My first class? 9:30.  That’s right, I had over an hour and a half to kill reading, answering nature’s call, eating free food in the lounge…

This is teacher’s appreciation week, so the PTO provides food all week for the teachers.  Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to offend the PTO by not doing my part here.  Bagels, doughnuts, fruit, juice- a second breakfast!  Okay, I didn’t eat that much, but suffice to say I was satisfied with my mid-morning snack.

9:30 rolled around and the first of three classes came in.  Now three doesn’t sound like much, but remember this was art and drama so I had to teach two of the classes both, so it was really more like five classes- still an easy day though.  This first class was 2nd/3rd grade, and it turned out I had subbed for this class before earlier in the year, which had its own interesting tale of two subs showing up for this one job.  The teacher had requested a particular sub, making the arrangements herself, then proceeded to put the job in the system as sub needed but not filled so I took that job when it showed up.   The principal chose to side with the system, so the requested sub had to do work elsewhere in the building.  She wasn’t too happy because this apparently was the second time this had happened to her.

Anyway, back to today they just completed a project for art- in fact all three classes did, though differing projects of course- and then I got to teach some drama.  Well, play some drama games with them.  We did a game called “Change Three Things” which was n observation game.  They partnered up and observed each other for several seconds.  Then they turned around, changed three things about their appearance then turned back and tried to figure out what changed.  It could have been something as simple as closing an eye, or as obvious as, well I will use one of the students as an example for this- one boy unbuttoned his shirt and put it on again, backwards.  Yes, he held up the game doing this- it took as long as you can imagine.  Now if it was a t-shirt like most kids wear it would have been quick.  Oh, well.  This was a pretty wild group so we only did one round of this.  Next we moved on to a murder-mystery game, where one person is throwing a party (his/her choice of type of party) but there is a killer at the party.  They walk around shaking each others hands while at the same time acting like the type of party it is- pizza, tea, whatever.  The killer would “kill” someone by tickling another player with his/her finger while shaking hands.  The “victim” would wait ten seconds before “dying” dramatically.  The ten seconds being so we wouldn’t catch the killer in the act.  Of course, being 2nd and 3rd graders this more sophisticated game didn’t go quite so smooth.  Sometimes they would forget to wait ten seconds or the killer would forget to be discrete.  And of course everybody wanted to guess at once.

6th grade was only art, so I will move on the the last class, 4th/5th grade.  This class was supposed to be a pretty bad class, but to be honest, aside from a few boys who just wanted to make origami “fortune tellers” because they were finished with the project then go and bug everyone around them with their fortune tellers, I had more trouble with the 2nd/3rd grade class.  In any event, for drama I didn’t get to choose the mystery game, so for them we did skits about three items.  In groups they would pick three unrelated items (example: frog/basketball/telephone) and make a skit around these three things.  The trick was they were not allowed to say the names of these objects in the skit.  When a group finished, the rest would try to guess the three objects.  Of course the goal was to make the objects easy to guess and this would be an indicator of how well they got their message across in the skit.  In the end, many were easy to guess but there were a few tough ones.  In all, I would say they did a pretty good job with it.  Only some audience participation left something to be desired.

Well, I was able to find another job in the same district tomorrow while writing this.  More free food I hope.  😀  Same school as the rejected job, a school I will be at on Friday as well.  So far four days in this same district this week.

Math dyslexia?

I have heard of dyslexia of course, but this is the first time I have heard of math dyslexia.  Apparently this condition makes for a very hard time in math.  One Florida teacher is finding that he may not be allowed to teach since he can’t pass a required basic math skills test due to his disability.  Where this gets interesting is he is an art teacher.  No math involved in what he teaches.  The rules say it doesn’t matter, all teachers must pass this test.  However, he has people fighting for him.  Click the link to read the article:

 Math dyslexia imperils Orange County art teacher’s job

Running into acrylics

Erm… Running into what?? It sounds like I mixed up two topics here… Well as to the second, since it’s the least interesting, the position I wound up subbing for was art. After patting myself on the back for actually arriving a little early for once I ashamedly dragged my tail out the door and over to the school I was supposed to go to. Okay, though that scene has actually happened before, this one wasn’t my fault. Really. You see, many of the specials positions in this district are itinerant, or traveling jobs. That is, the teacher works out of two schools. Having been burned before I meticulously checked, and rechecked both the message (“special instructions”) the teacher left and the online system so I would really know where I was going. Real– okay, enough of that word. Anyway, the message told me all about how there was a student teacher and I would leave the teaching to her… yada yada. Been there, done that. No school mentioned. Check. Over to the online system, looked at the school, check. Go to the school, sign in, drop my lunch off, pass over the store-bought bagels someone brought in, go to the art room, and… another teacher is there who says she has the room Friday mornings. Check in with the office, and sure enough all my careful detective work is shattered when they (now) inform me the teacher I am subbing for works out of a different school on Fridays. Oops… Sign out, collect my lunch, pass over the bagels again, travel to the other school which is fortunately only five minutes away hoping all the while it wasn’t one of those schools that closes their parking lot when the buses start to arrive (seriously), fortunately again find out it is not, check in, put my lunch away, pass over… wait- Panera bagels? Grab bagel, go to art room, carefully verify with student teacher that I am indeed in the correct place this time, then finally take my coat off and plop down with relief. Hey, at least someone brought good bagels over here. 🙂

So, it turned out there were eight classes to teach: four 5th/6th, and four 3rd/4th. Apparently all classes except kindergarten are multiage at this school. Well, the 5th/6th classes were in the middle of a project involving Crayola®-clay animal pots and acrylic paints. Yes, they looked better than that just sounded (most of them…). I of course assured them that yes, the olive green and yellow plaid shirt I was wearing was on purpose because I hate it and don’t care if it got messed up in art. Through all four periods unfortunately it didn’t. I guess with three wins (“fortunatelies?”) I was bound to lose one.

The 3rd/4th grade classes started a new unit on movement. No, this wasn’t PE or performing arts. Movement as portrayed on the canvas. They even got to draw a little, well, er, two of the classes did. Such a crime- art class and some didn’t even get to do art! Well, that’s unit introductions for you.

Okay then, until next post.

Wait, I’m forgetting something aren’t I? Yes, really (didn’t I ban this word earlier?). “Running into” doesn’t actually refer to the movement, as they weren’t allowed to draw people today anyway, only objects. Drawing people and showing their movement is apparently for more advanced students, more advanced than 8-10 years anyway. And besides, I had to have added the church category for this post for some reason.

In this case “running into” refers to me running into someone I actually knew from church. No, not really (that word again!) running into him, adults don’t run in school rooms now, do they? So anyway, It had been a couple of years, and memory for names and faces isn’t exactly one of my strengths, or even neutral features (you know where I’m going with this…). Apparently his memory was only slightly better as I just “looked familiar” like maybe someone from camp. I one upped him and said “church camp?” still not recognizing him. Then he one upped and gave the name of the camp and his name. I of course pretended to recognize him before he said his name (secretly grateful he said it, reall- truly recognizing him only after he said it). As it turned out, he was the one student from my cabin I spent a week with (yes I truly am pathetic…) and never saw again after that summer. There were two like that the following summer, but at least I knew I wouldn’t see them again when they told me that the one was from another church and the other was a friend he invited to come with him. Anyway, since you have suffered through this entire post I will provide an obligatory picture of my cabin from that year, but you will have to just guess which one he is. All I’ll tell you is he isn’t the one on the right (that would have been a really (sigh) big 5th grader). The one on the right was actually my junior counselor (I was the adult counselor). I of course am behind the camera, so no picture of me- sorry! 😛

Note: The thumbnail picture is not so good, so click on it to see it in it’s full glory!