No sleeping in for me

Whenever I have had a subbing day this year it has almost always been a result of getting up early and hitting the web. Last night I was able to secure a job in 6th grade a little after 10 which didn’t have a start time until almost 8:30, meaning I could sleep in, at least a little bit. Okay, knowing about the snow meant I should be up about 20 minutes earlier to get shoveling out of the way. Still, I could get up about an hour later than usual. Of course you know something was bound to happen, and happen it did at about 4AM. That’s when I was jarred out of my sleep by what I thought then was the neighbors slamming the door. It took me about a half hour to get back to sleep. I was worried because it didn’t sound like a door slamming, but what else could it be.  Well, eventually I did get up at about 6:45 and didn’t worry about it all day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite early enough as there was more snow than I would have hoped waiting to be shoveled, making me a little bit late.  At least I still arrived before the kids.


Yesterday I subbed for music at one of hometown district’s middle schools- I actually got a call for it about five minutes before the alarm was set to go off.  Very uneventful.  We watched videos in all classes.  At least I got to see Blue Man Group, a group I had never heard before though I of course knew about them.  Other class videos included Stomp and The Wizard of Oz.  Today I was excited because I was subbing in an elementary school, and what that usually means is getting to teach instead of just babysit.  Well, not so much.  The plans didn’t include videos, but they did include a test, lots of reading and working on their own, and skit performances for social studies, in which they are studying Greek Mythology- a topic I really enjoyed myself when I was in 6th grade.  Well, there was a spelling game too, and at least that was interactive.  I also worked in a short math review not on the plans before they started working on their assignment, and at least one other subject, vocabulary, was more interactive as well.  Additionally, I worked in some word puzzles which I like to do in elementary classes.  Definitely a more productive day for me than yesterday, overall.


So back to what woke me up.  On one of the forums I read someone who I know lives around here made a post humorously telling California to keep the earthquakes to themselves.  Say what?  I read his post then had to go to my newspaper website to see just what he was talking about.  Sure enough, there was a 3.5 magnitude earthquake a short distance from us.  An earthquake.  In Illinois.  At 3:59AM.  That’s right, not a slamming door.  Well, I guess if our tornadoes can be exported to other areas, I shouldn’t be surprised when earthquakes are imported to our relatively-geologically-stable part of the country.  Here’s a link to the story (click the title), and a short excerpt:

Small earthquake wakes up northern Illinois

To some, it sounded like a train derailing, a snowplow taking out a car, a plane crash, a sonic boom.

To dogs, it was clearly something to panic about.

But the U.S. Geological Survey said what woke people well before dawn Wednesday was a mild, 3.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was about three miles beneath a farm field a short distance south of Pingree Grove, near Route 20 and Switzer Road in western Kane County.

It started rumbling at 3:59 a.m. Wednesday and lasted just seven seconds.

Not much really…

It has been a few weeks now with nary a post from me.  You’d think in all that time I would actually have something to say, but sad to say I don’t.  Not much at least.  This new job so far is keeping me a little poorer than subbing alone.  Finding half-days for subbing to go along with this job is not easy and I have gone a few days without.  Also, I just learned my commission is based monthly so the couple of weeks I was ahead did not make up for the weeks I was behind.  Base only again.  Sigh.  Soon…  This season has been none too friendly for this job either.  About 70% rain in the last couple of weeks.  In fact, I had to completely take off Friday and go to one of the dealers Saturday instead.  I wanted to go to the other one tomorrow since it’s Columbo day (or something like that… 😉 ) and therefore no chance of subbing, but it looks like the rain will likely make a return.  Looks like I’ll have to take half a day off of subbing Tuesday instead.  I already took a half-day sub job, and have jobs for Thursday and Friday as well, so aside from Wednesday I’m pretty set for this week.

Speaking (writing?) of subbing, no interesting subbing stories I’m afraid.  Mostly upper grades (4th+) and once with a student teacher whose observing professor came in to watch her teach.  I am now two days toward the five I need in order to get paid for the annual sub-training in Hometown district- both middle school days.  The last one was science.  I essentially led a small chemistry project for 8th grade.  I hope their teacher gave them more time the next day as no one finished.

Then there’s church, something I haven’t written about much lately.  I have been able to give four of my five cabin kids their DVDs I made.  Unfortunately the fifth hasn’t been to church in awhile due to multiple surgeries- yes, the one with the dwarfism condition (is there an official name?  I suppose if I had ever watched Little People, Big World I would know).  They are just trying to fix his body, but even with a lack of an emergency which would normally lead to invasive surgery, I’m sure it is still trying for him and his parents- and undoubtedly painful.  I pray he recovers well.

Well, sorry there isn’t much here.  Hopefully I’ll have at least one more post before all of you come out this way.  I’ll try to be less lazy about posting interesting news and links as well.  I think there were a couple, but I can’t recall at the moment.

Time to close this blog?

Seeing that today is the one month anniversary of my last blog post about my life, that is a valid question.  The filler is interesting, but what about my two jobs, one of which was once the emphasis of this blog?  This week was actually a milestone for my new job.  For the first time my commission exceeds the $50/day they have been paying me since the start of training last June.  It’s still not much, but the job promises to pay more eventually.  And what about the camera training the owners have asked me to take charge of?  One of them has plugged me as the national camera trainer to one of the clients after they noticed my pictures are pretty good.  Great- a standard to live up to! 😛 .I still wonder how much I will be paid for this training whenever it happens.

At the moment I am subbing, or trying to, for two full days a week plus mornings five days every two weeks (every other week I go to two places on Friday so I can’t sub that day).  I am signed up in three districts this year but so far have only worked in two.  What?  Yes I did say two before, but then the third sent me a welcome note without my having signed up again so I stuck with it.  Since they were the source of some of my jobs so far, it looks like I made the right choice there.  I have subbed for one (half) day of middle school so far- the rest have been in elementary schools.  I actually took a bilingual first grade job- something I try to avoid during the main part of the year.  I also just took a job for a kindergarten morning Monday at the very school I went to for K through most of 2.  Oddly enough, while I can remember the names of all my other elementary teachers, I can’t for this school.  I wonder if I will be in the same classroom I was in for my own kindergarten?  I wonder if I will even recognize anything at the school.  I am pretty sure I took no assignments there last year.

Let’s see what I can say about the jobs I’ve taken so far.  The first-grade bilingual class was a little rough as the plans the teacher left were not very detailed, often requiring me or one of the assistants who were in and out of the room throughout the day to find the required materials.  The kids were also not very good listeners, but whether that was because of limited English skills or other reasons I couldn’t say.  Another couple of days I was in a position where there were no plans.  These were for special-ed teachers who didn’t even have set schedules yet being the beginning of the year so I ended up helping out in different classrooms throughout the day.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I found out that they came in the next day and said, “I had a sub?”  I don’t think I was expected…  The junior high job was a teacher who had both 7th and 8th grade classes, and all I did was supervise as they used computers to work on projects.  I was worried when not just my classes, but others as well used the laptops throughout the morning with little time to charge them, but according to one teacher the batteries actually hold out for some six hours or so, something I have never heard of in laptops.  My own computer lasts for three or less, but with with its specs I am not surprised.

So why have I not been keeping up on my friend’s blogs even if I couldn’t be bothered to update my own?  I don’t know.  If you want refrain from posting commenting in return I will understand.

A middle school week

(Big Nate ©Lincoln Peirce)

This past week I could be found in a middle school every day.  In fact, I was in one school for three days for two teachers.  I started the week in near-city district at the school that was closed for a few days a couple of weeks ago due to swine H1N1 flu.  Yes, I’m still fine, thanks for wondering 😉 ..  The class was IT, though in actuality he only had four classes (I believe I mentioned before that at this school 6th grade doesn’t take this class).  To make up for it, he had a tutorial, something usually only the core teachers have, and lunch detention.  It is my understanding that under normal circumstances lunch detention has only ten or less students.  Monday had 23 😯 ..  Most didn’t have passes though as was supposedly required.  Huh.  So as typical in this class which doesn’t have an assistant like in hometown district, students didn’t work on IT projects.  Instead, students had to read a packet then do three worksheets based on it.  Yeah, kind of a blah day for the kids.  The packet only covered about half the chapter that the worksheets had questions on I discovered later in the day.  So naturally I informed the students of this… hey, are you kidding??  Like they needed an excuse to be lazy and not do it.  “Hey, I didn’t find the answer in two seconds so it must be in the half I didn’t get to read so I’ll just skip the question.”  My lips were sealed about this little discovery 😈 ..

Tuesday and Wednesday I subbed for sixth-grade math.  Not that I taught any, nope.  Still in near-city district, I was at their other middle school and the teacher left plans just having students work on problems out of their books.  This is the sort of assignment in which one hears about subs falling asleep…  They were generally well-behaved, at least in my book.  The resource teacher however, who came in for a couple of periods, didn’t think so as she was very…not friendly.  My highlights were going over the warmups (not listed in the plans, but I did it anyway just to have something to do) in each of the math classes, but for her one social studies class I just suffered in silence as I babysat.

Thursday I was in hometown district, so I didn’t have to drive as far.  This time I was with 7th grade language arts.  They had a spelling test, afterwhich they worked on a persuasive writing packet for the rest of the time.  You may be thinking, “Spelling test? But it’s only Thursday!”  Well yes, but this district had an institute day Friday making it a four-day weekend instead of three (Memorial Day ya know).  Near-city district on the other hand was supposed to have a four-day weekend, though Tuesday instead of Friday being the off day, however for them Tuesday was a buffer day that got changed due to the winter’s snow days.

Speaking of near-city district, as you already surmised from my opening paragraph I was back at Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s schools as a 6th grade resource teacher.  No, not that one, but the one for the other team.  I’ll tell you, her first period was very busy.  Do this, then this, then this, then this…  Fortunately she gave me time constraints, otherwise it would have turned into a do this, then this, then leave a note on how we ran out of time for the rest period.  Out of the rest of the day, team teaching with another teacher followed by a tutorial period, two of the periods were quite interesting as there were two subs in the room- a lot of teachers were out- could Memorial weekend have anything to it I wonder..? Come to think of it, there were a lot out on Thursday too in hometown district…  Anyway, there was a little more restlessness in these students than the ones earlier in the week which I fully understand since it was a holiday weekend coming up after all.

So that was my week at work.  I do hope I get a chance to fill this week, all four days of school, but I suspect I won’t have four full days.

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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Monday: Industrial technology in hometown district.

In near-city district, only 7th and 8th grade take this class- I think this year the teacher at one of these schools only teaches for four periods.  What does he do with the rest of the day?  In hometown district all three middle-school grades take this class.  The other two districts I’m in don’t have 6th graders in junior high (they don’t call it middle school) so…

Anyway, I arrived at about 7:30 and headed across the hall from the office into the IT room.  Dropped my stuff and looked for the plans.  Dug around a bit on the front table- there were the seating charts, buried, but no plans.  Hmm.  Open his office door, looked, no plans.  Right then.  Fortunately I knew he had an assistant so I shrugged it off for the moment, though last time I subbed here the assistant was gone too so we watched videos all day.  In other words, there was still a chance everything could go wrong.  Ah, there she was walking in, and sure enough she knew what we were doing.  Because she was there, the students would work on their projects or modules.  For 6th grade, their work was enlarging drawings of cartoon characters by using a grid, which they had to draw themselves on the large sheet of paper.  Tweety Bird, Marvin the Martian, Woody Woodpecker, Dumbo, Pink Panther, and more could be seen all around the tables.  Students had to carefully draw the character making sure every line was in the correct grid box.  It was interesting tho see the different ways students accomplished this.  Most outlined then filled in the details starting at random spots, but there were a few who worked from top to bottom, filling in everything for one row before moving to the next.  Several I couldn’t tell as they were far enough along that they were going over it in marker or even coloring.  I was called on to do spot checks when students felt they were ready, so I had to compare their drawings with the originals and let them know if I saw something that wasn’t right.  The second period of this I actually had a line at one point waiting to be checked.  As it turns out, 6th grade hands for the most part still aren’t attuned to finer writing as most looked no better than I with my poor fine motor control could draw, but there were definitely a few exceptional ones and I said so.

7th and 8th grades were on modules.  That meant that pairs of them were in different areas doing different things like building roller coasters and other objects with K’Nex; working on computers on audio engineering, electricity & magnetism, and more; working with woods or plastics; and a number of other things.  This time my job generally worked like this- I would see a help light on, go over to see if I could help, then ask the assistant when I couldn’t answer the question.  Seriously, I last worked with plastics and woods when I was in high school or lower, and I just didn’t have experience with the software they use.  I think out of a couple dozen help calls throughout the day, there were maybe three I didn’t have to refer to the assistant- not that I should really call her that because today I was the assistant and not a very good one due to lack of experience.

During the middle of the day the regular teacher came in with several people from administration.  Apparently he was trying to get the computers updated as they were about seven years old- a difficult proposition for this economic climate.  I wish them well in this.  Following the last class chess club came in, but I had no part in that so I bid them farewell.

On to Tuesday…