Getting close now…

Well, school is almost upon us once again.  Depending on where you live, it can be a week or three, or maybe your kids attend an all-year school that started up again in July after a much shorter break.  In the two districts I’m signed up with, it starts in 1½ and 2½ weeks.  What’s that you say?  Two districts?  That’s right.  I am only in hometown and supersized districts this year due to my continued job of shooting pictures of cars.  I have chosen to work three days a week on the cars for now leaving two days to teach.  Of course it will likely be another month before I am needed as a sub, but that’s the plan.  As you probably figured out already, these two districts are where I have gotten most of my work in the past and so I stuck with them, losing the less productive ones, even though near-urban paid me the most.

So how is the new job going?  Well, I got my first store finally- unfortunately it’s 45-minutes away!  The one who had this store didn’t do a very good job so he was replaced.  Not the best way to start, but I’ll take whatever I can get.  Today, in fact, Kim (one of the owners of the company I work for) and I spent much time fixing the stickers on the cars that were tilted, stuck over unremoved adhesive from previous buyer’s guide (warranty info which by law has to be in the window even if just handwritten) or otherwise placed with a lack of care.  I think we did no less than two dozen.  The rest of my time was spent in doing four cars that were ready for me.  Not a lot, but the idea is to have three dealers (four if they are small like this one) in one day to shoot a reasonable amount.  The most I had in one day training with Rene was 42.  At $7 a car that was nearly $300 for the day for her.  Of course that was three large dealers, and even then that number is rare.  My goal is eventually 20-30 cars per day.  Another trainee may be leaving as his school just gave him a reality check- no, it is not possible to graduate in a reasonable time if you only have classes two days a week.  If he leaves then I am hoping to get one of the stores promised to him, but not the other one.  There is a dealer that is way over toward Chicago (strike one for the bad traffic).  They require the cars to be shot in their warehouse a mile away, meaning the cars have to be driven from their lot to there, adding a tremendous amount of time (strike two).  Also, the warehouse has bad lighting with three of the five lights burnt out the last two times I was there making it difficult to take pictures inside the cars (strike three).  I am scheduled to do new cars every other week, but the one who has been doing the used cars while Pat was training to take it over can keep that part as a punishment for his bad performance at the dealer he lost (yes, same guy)!

In the meantime, all this work has meant that I haven’t gotten the DVD done yet for my kids from camp- I’d better start on it soon, or just do what I did the first year- give them a CD with all the pictures, but that’s no fun and can’t be viewed without a computer.

Another one

Humorous, but contemplative as well…

A teacher asks….

(Author unknown)

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:
‘Let me see if I’ve got this right.
‘You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
‘You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.
‘You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.
‘You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
‘You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
‘You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard,a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.
‘You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN’T PRAY?

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Lean times

During these times of uncertainty I think it appropriate to mention that I have had a couple of lean days in the past week.  How so, you ask?  First of all I am not talking about my diet or any lack of jobs.  What I refer to is the lesson plans.  Twice in the last week I have walked into the classroom to a lesson plan book opened to the appropriate week.  Okay, this gave me the general outline for the day but another teacher had to come in and help me interpret them.  Seeing “10:15-10:30 Student Council Election” doesn’t tell me who is running, for what positions, and how to do the vote.  In this case I was told to skip it by the other teacher so I happily did so.  Things a lesson plan like this doesn’t include is behavior management system, details on what is to be taught, students who can help, and more.  Fortunately as I said the teacher across the hall laid it out for me and I was able to take it from there.  In addition there was a teaching assistant in the room for one of the students.  Both were very helpful.  As well, I had a good class, so all in all today was a good day.  Well, in the spirit of lean-ness this post must come to a close.  Well really because I’m tired and want to go to bed but if it fits the topic then, hey. 😛

Mine is smaller than yours!

Wait- that’s not quite how the saying goes of two boys comparing sizes, is it?  Well, in second grade apparently that is quite the appropriate comparison for comparing the lengths of their pencils.  Literally speaking of course- how can you even think…! 😮  Oh, never mind.  Anyway, the lower grades can prove to be quite interesting as the way a small child thinks is so alien to adults.  In the case I mentioned, two boys were in competition to see who could use the shortest stub of a pencil.  The clear winner was the one who sharpened his pencil so much only the metal eraser band was left with only a small point at the other end.  The next day, there was a boy who would break the point on his pencil on purpose and just use the broken tip.  I guess that actually beats the stub from the day before.  Including last Wednesday, I kind of just worked my way down the hall from one second grade room to the next.  Each room had its own challenges and own interesting characters.

Umm, ‘scuse me a minute while a close my window.  A skunk just walked by…  There.  Whew.  Where was I?  Oh- characters.  The latest room had a boy who liked to fight and apparently did so at recess time yesterday.  He was supposed to spend lunch with the principal today, but he didn’t show up.  Did his mom keep him home?  There was also the hearing-impaired girl who required me to wear a microphone.  I had to try to remember to take it off when I wasn’t talking to the whole class or to her.  For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to stuff it in my shirt pocket when not in use.  Bad idea of course.  Instead of getting me talking to others, she got the scratching of the microphone against the material of my shirt.  She never told me.  Only during the afternoon today did she tell her one-on-one assistant who told me.  Apparently Pokemon is still in fashion, as one boy showed me his small book of cards he would take with him to lunch.  And you already read about the pencil boys.

Of course as is normal for primary grades, there was the ever-present “this is how we do things and so you’d better get it exactly right.”  Okay, it wasn’t that bad but small children really aren’t as flexible as older ones when it comes to routine.  speaking of routine, it was nice how the teachers worked together and had their classes doing a lot of the same things.  Some of the stuff I got to teach more than one class, making it easier for the second since I already knew what I was doing.  All-in-all, it really wasn’t that bad working the five days with second grade.  Experience normally has me dreading multiple primary days as so much extra focus is required compared to the older ones, but this wasn’t bad at all, perhaps because the teachers were still there (doing testing) and checked in from time to time taking some of the pressure off.  I don’t know.  Tomorrow will be a little different in any event.  I have two half-days for music, but I might drop the afternoon because there’s a job fair going on at that time that I should attend.

EDIT: I forgot to mention the “does this look like the face of a guilty person” look of innocence one of the boys gave me when I asked him to change his card (behavior system).  It reminded me of when a sixth-grader tried this a couple of years ago with another teacher.  It failed then too- the teacher just said (a little sarcastically), “aww- how cute”  then gave him his punishment anyway.

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Avast, ye scurvy dogs!

On this official International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I forgot one thing while subbing- I forgot to talk like a pirate.  Despite my reminder to myself.  I think the kids would have enjoyed it.  Oh, well.  Cleanup continues here on the home flood front- I finally ripped up the carpet at the foot of the stairs which has not dried since getting flooded.  The other day I also discovered that the dryer did not in fact survive the sump-pump failure.  It started once for a test run, but then once I put a load of clothes in suddenly the dryer wouldn’t keep going once the start button was released.  Later that evening, I came down to an odd smell, which after looking up the problem was probably a fried heat control board which is $130.  Sigh.   At least the washer works so I only have to dry at the laundromat for now.

Today completed a week (well, 3½ days) of elementary subbing.  Up until this week it was all middle school.  Two days ago I showed up at a classroom expecting 4th/5th and it turned out to be 2nd.  The teacher changed grades this year and her info was not updated I guess.  I’m mad at myself about that day by the way.  I overheard something from one of the kids and I said to myself, “blog moment.”  Now I can’t remember what it was.  Next time I will write it down I think.  Anyway, an interesting thing happened that day.  I walked in on a meeting- yes, even the elementary teachers sometimes have team meetings- they must time their specials to coincide- and one of the teachers mentioned that I subbed for her last year and the kids loved me, asking for me to sub again.  And since the students were being tested, the whole reason a sub was needed in the first place in this case, and that teacher has two days scheduled next week to do the same, she took the opportunity to ask if I was available.  Another teacher asked the same.  One will be testing Monday and Tuesday, the other Wednesday and Thursday.  So… long story short [too late] I have four days in second grade next week.  Will I survive?  Well, you’ll have to tune into the blog to find out. 🙂

So… This brings me to yesterday, a half day of PE.  Two mentally impaired classes where I really just helped the assistants work with the kids, and three 4th or 5th grade classes where the kids got to toss the pigskin around, preparing for the passing part of a pass, punt, and kick contest some time in the future, apparently sponsored by the NFL.  A few of the 5th graders really had good arms- could throw pretty far.

Today was a mix.  Between morning and afternoon I had 3rd-6th grade (one 3rd/4th multiage class, one 5th/6th multiage.  They were at two different schools too, meaning I had to spend half my lunch leaving one school, travelling, and checking in at the other school.  Fortunately the plans at the second school were pretty easy so I was able to go over them quickly.  Nothing too special.  A lot of worksheets in the morning and a lot of supervising while students read or wrote in the afternoon.  Actually, scratch that- there was reading with a group for 45 minutes and during their independent reading time I did book conferences with a few kids so I did get to do some actual work beyond classroom management.  Speaking of which, this was a slightly tough crowd to keep under control.  Nothing like the ELL fiasco a couple of years back, mind you, but challenging just the same.  Fortunately I did have help in the form of an assisatnt and a high-school helper.  You know, why didn’t I ever have the opportunity to go back to elementary school when I was in high school?  It would have been fun I think, and a break from real schoolwork, though I suppose this high-schooler will have to write up her experience, or keeps some sort of log.  That could take the fun out of it I expect.


We all know what that date represents.  Well, most of us do.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago I worked will ELL students today.  One student actually didn’t know about what happened seven years ago as he just came to this country less than a year ago.  I suspect there were others as well.  Needless to say, he had a little trouble answering the journal question, “What happened on September 11, 2001?”

Believe it or not, I have been subbing for a few years but this is the first year that the school I was at had a big thing going for September 11.  The morning started with the entire school crowding around the flagpole.  No, it wasn’t a “see you at the pole” event, though I would wish it would get these kinds of crowds.  If more kids were followers of Jesus there would be so much less trouble at our schools.  Back to the topic, the principal called out everyone to observe the all-too-recent holiday remembering what happened those seven years ago.  There was the flag raising of course, a speech by the principal, and some students read poems they wrote.  The principal made himself heard, but they really needed some amplification for the kids- I wasn’t able to understand, or in some cases even hear a single poem.

After that, everyone went in and first period started (late).  The 9/11 theme continued with the aforementioned journal question, and then we saw an interactive CDROM.  Apparently the Chicago Tribune gave away these CDs back in 2002 commemorating the one-year anniversary.  It provided archival footage of ten days of the Tribune headlines following the destruction with some commentary and a Flash intro to start.  I was hoping to provide a download link for this, but I guess after six years it’s either off the map or I didn’t look hard enough.  Actually, I did find a torrent (peer-to-peer download) with the title (When Evil Struck America) but there didn’t appear to be any seeds, meaning it couldn’t be downloaded.  I’ll check Usenet in a bit, but I’m not holding my breath.  To the students’ credit, they really were engaged and asking questions.  A few periods later I was helping in the 7th grade social studies classroom, and the teacher did his own presentation on 9/11.  He chose some really thought-provoking pictures, including one building closeup where people could be seen to the side falling because they had jumped from the towers, perhaps hoping for a better outcome than death by fire or smoke inhalation.

These were the only periods I had dealing with this topic, but it seemed like half the day.  The rest of the day had typical lessons.  I either taught, helped out, or led a review.  I could say more on that, but I think I will leave this post focusing more on 9/11.  Until tomorrow.

EDIT:  I may not be able to give you the Tribune CD, but the History Channel has it’s own interactive media: 102 Minutes that Changed America

(Not my picture.  For more pictures like this, CLICK HERE)

Busy busy

With a new school year comes not just employment but things going on at my church as well.  Okay, I haven’t been that busy, but compared to just a week ago it seems like it.  Also, I have been catching up on my internet reading since I was down for much of last week.  It still goes down daily, but they tell me I have a perfect connection and it must be the work they’re doing in the area.  I can only hope it goes away after awhile proving them right, otherwise I’ll be stuck since they’ll never find anything with my “perfect” connection.

Monday I took a half-day job, but when I got there I found out the secretary put a teacher’s request in for the wrong day.  They then proceeded to remove the assignment from my job list so I can only hope I’ll get some sort of compensation for it, but if not I least I can have the satisfaction of working only four periods today and getting a full day’s pay for it (the norm for middle school is six periods).  The teacher came in to work and decided he was too ill to work so I picked up the late assignment.  I did not work first period as a result.  Then I found out the teacher only has five periods, helping out in the office a 6th period.  That is not normal and they didn’t have me do it, though I did ask about it.  To top it off, the teacher has a student teacher so he did most of the work.  Cool.

Yesterday was an easy day too, though when I got there I was a little concerned as the teacher didn’t leave any lesson plans.  Fortunately I only had to teach one class.  The rest were either co-teach classes (you know what that means- the other teacher does the teaching an I help as an assistant) or resource/study hall.  As it turned out the one class they were just working out of a packet, so I just taught the next page of the packet and had them start their homework in class.  Of course when I got home I found an email outlining the plans- apparently the system allows for a teacher to upload the plans to the sub-system and have them emailed to the sub.  Having never had this happen before, I never realized it could do this so I never bothered to check my email before heading to work.  Fortunately for me I had pretty much followed the plans without realizing it! Whew…

Besides work I had my usual small group Monday night and tonight I had rehearsals for both children’s drama, which starts up again this weekend, and choir.  Since they overlapped, I had to miss a little bit of each.  I just wish it hadn’t been the first rehearsal as that is one that people shouldn’t miss, even in part.  Well, that’s how it goes I guess.  I have two more choir rehearsals next week and will have to miss small group as a result but they understand about that- it only happens a few times a year.  I’ll just have to make sure they are set on song lyrics as that’s kind of my job- I usually set up a couple of powerpoints and bring my computer in.  That’s one of the nice things about this new computer.  I guess I will just have to print something up and drop them off- I’ll be in the same building after all.  Someone else provides the music by the way in case you’re wondering.  My small group starts off each week with a couple of worship songs.

Well, that’s it for now.  Time to get ready for some sleep.  It’s going to be another early day tomorrow.

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