Surprises of various kinds

This week certainly had some surprises, starting off on Monday morning.  Having been extremely lucky, or so I thought, with a five-day assignment in 4th grade, I was a little surprised when the phone rang early Monday.  Uh-oh.  Yep, job canceled.  It seems the school decided to use “one of their own” since it was more than a few days- lucky me.  Fortunately the district is good enough to substitute any jobs on hand at the time when they cancel a job, so I was able to pick up two days that way, but not the half-day that was offered for that afternoon- seems the offer is for a short time only.  So, I was up early on Monday and no longer with a job for the day so I started doing my rounds.

This leads to the next part of the story.  Remember when I mentioned a problem with a certain district?  Well, I called last week and was told that there was no problem with my account that would prevent my seeing jobs for them so I was ready to call the sub system company this week to see what their thoughts were about why weeks went by without seeing jobs for the district.  During the rounds a full-day job in this district popped up and even surprised as I was I took it immediately before seeing what it was.  8th grade LD/BD.  Well, it wasn’t fourth grade but it was a full day so a nyah-nyah to the other district’s offered replacement half-day that I didn’t get  😛 . As it turned out, I would have to be there in just over a half-hour so I was off to speedily get ready.  I made it, barely.  It was actually a great day.  The first period- very quiet, the students seemed to be working.  Second period same thing?  These were LD/BD 8th graders??  I certainly couldn’t complain.  These were the only two periods I had by myself too.  All other periods I helped in a mainstream classroom- 1½ language arts blocks with another sub and a math period.  I would sub for this teacher again in a heartbeat.

Did I mention the one district gave me two days for the price of five (figurative- not five days of pay for working two!)?  I guess I had better correct that to the real offer- one day, not two as when I got home I discovered one of the jobs was canceled like the original, at the same school no less.  This makes me very wary of taking another job at this school in the future.  I was so concerned I worried that my Tuesday jobs (two half-days at the same school in neighboring classrooms) would be canceled as well.  If this were not a different school they may very well have, but come Tuesday morning there was no call, and when I got there the jobs were perfectly valid- I bring this point up because one time in this district a couple of years ago I showed up for a job only to find a very surprised teacher who had not requested the day off- turned out some student was able to get into the system and did some messing around.  So there I was, ready for a day in classrooms with autistic kids.  Not a problem, as long as the assistants in the room weren’t subs too.  I have had that happen too- that day was not easy.  Two regular staff members camped out that day in the room to give the kids familiar faces which autistic kids really need.  Fortunately, I was the only sub.  For the most part this day went fine.  The teachers were even there, just pulling kids out for testing.  The biggest problem was during the morning.  As you already know from my previous post, putting a hand in front of the face of an unwilling autistic learner can lead to consequences.  I was reaching in front of this girl to point out something on the paper and apparently she gave in to the animal instincts we sometimes have and bit into my thumb.  Well, that was the end of working with her.  Good thing she didn’t break my skin or I would have had to get some treatment just in case.  The other kids were more willing to do the assignment.  In the afternoon I did some one-on-one again for math, but there were no incidents here.  One of the kids was actually more of a two-on-one because a concerned assistant stayed to make sure the boy worked okay with me.

So that was Tuesday.  Wednesday I was surprised again.  I had no job lined up again, so once again I was up early looking.  Surprise- another job in that district that was dry for the last month or so came up again.  Unfortunately for me it was a half-day for the afternoon.  Not having anything else show up, I decided to keep it and use the extra time to catch up on some much-needed sleep.  Nothing really to tell about this one.  It was a school I hadn’t been in before, but it was a subject I like, science.  It was a good afternoon.  After I got home I slept for another hour before drama rehearsal at night- the reason this post is dated today, not yesterday.  One of my cast was missing (there are three casts for kids drama) and one poor boy was the sole member of his cast.  At least they still let him rehearse, even if some of us stood in for the other members of his cast.  Neither his cast nor mine perform for another six weeks or so though due to a long break for Eastertime.

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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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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First full day of the year!

And only day this week, partly thanks to my connection issues which are unfortunately still ongoing.  I had no internet at all for yesterday afternoon and evening, while today it’s been intermittent.  I wonder if the signal is now too powerful if that’s possible?  I mean, it was going through a cable that was chewed or worn to the center wire, so it’s possible that in the past they have had to increase it to compensate (the cable didn’t get that way overnight after all) and now that it’s fixed, the signal may be too strong.  Just throwing a guess out which is probably completely off.  The tech who was here was unable to measure it as his portable reader needed recharging.  Since the connection was up and I was getting nice speeds (around 19000kbps on speakeasy.net), he just let it go.

Still in special ed on Friday, but not due to meetings this time.  Apparently the teacher had a bad case of bronchitis on Thursday so he wisely opted to take Friday off.  It was actually a rather easy day.  Four classes (well, three really- one was a typical two-period-long language arts class) were team teaching, meaning that a sub just takes the role of a teaching assistant while the other teacher takes over the teaching part.  The other two classes were resource periods.  I just gave them a topic to write about in their journals and once finished they just worked on homework.  There was also a teaching assistant in these classes (a sub too, by the way) so as you can imagine it was a pretty light day.  Next Thursday and Friday I have a job lined up for ELL in another district.  This is a teacher I refused to work for last year or most of the year before.  I am hoping things have changed since most of the students from that problem class have gone on to high school.  I will let you know how it goes, hopefully with other stories throughout the week.

Welcome back gift

As I said last post, I started working again this past week.  What I didn’t mention is my welcome back gift.  In the past, I have received books at one of the district’s workshops.   Well, this year I didn’t attend their workshop due to not planning on going back to subbing.  I found out later that I couldn’t have attended it anyway as this year they only allowed new subs.  I guess they got tired of paying returning subs who already had the information.  That’s right, they pay subs to attend the workshop, then also pay for their lunches, materials, and extras like the books I mentioned.  Another district workshop also pays subs to attend, but we have to work five days before receiving the pay for the workshop, and they don’t give away books or even pay for lunch.  Fine by me- I don’t have lunch provided throughout the year, so why at the workshop?  Anyway, you’re probably wondering what gift I received this year since I didn’t attend the one workshop?  Well, the gift I received was a most unwelcome one- a cold.  Colds any time of the year are depressing, but during allergy season when I’m already suffering it’s downright oppresive.  I kept waking up from the cold last night to a nose that would constantly run.  Yes, I took Nyquil before going to sleep, but apparently that only worked for a few hours at best.  Now I am a bit miserable which is why I can feel free to pass along some other misery in the form of a little rant about one of the districts.

Yesterday I mentioned problems signing up with this district.  They seem to want more information than other districts for people who want to sign up with them.  Fortunately, since I was already on file from a few years ago they didn’t need transcripts or a new letter of recommendation.  Why do they even want them in the first place?  It’s only subbing, not a permanent position, and as for the transcript that’s required by the state to get a sub certificate which is also required.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense that the district would want them too.  I still had to fill out new forms for taxes, background check, employment eligibility, retirement, etc.  I also had to fill out a new application.  Well, at least they don’t require a cover letter and résumé.  In any event, the paperwork isn’t even the main focus.  What has been keeping me so far from employment there as a sub is fingerprinting.  Fingerprinting is required by law for this sort of job.  That’s not the complaint.  It’s their execution of this requirement that making me wait.  It seems they only do fingerprinting for 30 minutes on any given day, maybe 45.  Say what?  That’s it??  No wonder they couldn’t fit me in to do it for a week after I call.  Then, when that day comes up, I get a call in the morning- sorry, we have to reschedule you as the people taking the prints are doing something else today.  we can reschedule you for a week from now…

So, I am still sitting here with the paper work.  I can only hope that I can start working right away after this is done, but they still probably have to wait for the results on that and the background checks.  Well, I survived last year on three districts (realistically since the other barely called me) so I can survive another couple of weeks waiting for this one.  I guess I can’t entirely blame them- I did sign up at the last minute.  For all I know they had a couple of full days a month ago for fingerprinting.  Oh, well.  I will just have to be patient.  With this cold as well as with work.  I hate colds…

It’s official- summer is over

And mostly due to my laziness I am subbing once again, and that is good news for this blog.  I have been on hiatus from this for too long.  I still intend to have some posts of my life outside of teaching, but for a while I have just been turned off from writing during the best time those post would have fit.  Well, to tell the truth my life outside of teaching really hasn’t been too exciting.  Remember back in June when I went to camp?  Well, I am finally making the DVD I have done for my cabin for the last few years.  I have two slideshows and a video finished, along with a video I borrowed from my DVD two years ago in which I just had to modify the end to fit my more recent cabin.  I have been using Ulead VideoStudio which I got free with this computer.  It really is a nice program, and not ridiculously high-priced like some packages out there.  Last year I used a 30-day demo of a $250 DVD authoring package which was nice, but not worth that price in my opinion.  Maybe $100 like this one, but not $250.  I also used a slightly buggy freeware program to do one of the slideshows, and maybe another one.  I haven’t decided yet what to do about this last one to make it different enough from the first two.  Well, I still have a week to put the DVD together before the next church time.  This weekend is the last one of the month, so 4th and 5th grades don’t meet.

As for subbing, I was actually able to get three half days during this first full week of many districts.  Apparently the special ed meetings started right away.  I could have had a fourth, but they called me after 8:00 to arrive there at 8:30.  Well, I might have been able to do that if I was ready to go when they called, but since it was 25 minutes away and in fact I was woken up by the phone call, that wasn’t going to happen.  Besides, I had to take my car in that morning for a new muffler.  Anyway, the three days I did have were pretty similar.  They were all at different Junior Highs (that district doesn’t call them middle schools) and were 8th grade, or a 7th/8th mix.  Two of them were 7:15 AM jobs (too early!) but fortunately I got to sleep in for the last which was an “afternoon,” starting at 10:45 AM.  I didn’t have to leave notes for two of them either, which is always nice, since the teachers came back.  Surprisingly one of these times was the “afternoon” job.  I guess she came back from her special ed meeting for the weekly school meeting.  Since school started last Thursday in this district and the meetings are on Wednesdays after school, this may have been the first one which would probably make it important to attend.  As for the other morning job, that teacher only teaches there in the morning, so I she wouldn’t have come back.  I would presume she teaches somewhere else in the afternoon.

All in all the three half-days went well.  Hopefully I will have more work next week even if there is one day off for labor day.  I am signed up again in three of the districts I worked in last year.  The last was still on the hired subcaller system and barely called me so I switched them for another district that is computer-based so I have more of a chance for work.  That is, I am still working on being signed up there, but that is for a rant in another post…

The end is near…

Tonight I write this as I should be partying instead.  Tonight is the end-of-year cast party for the children’s drama.  Or rather, that is what the schedule says.  The party was actually canceled due to lack of interest, plus a general grim outlook on people showing up on Wednesday nights for past rehearsals.  If it was going to be anything like last year’s get-together then I really won’t miss it.  It was a low turnout then and pretty unexciting.  Some ice cream and drinks, and a little bit of small talk.  The kids if I recall did some theatre games.  Those theatre games used to be part of the rehearsals, but this year they got cut due to time, though the director did do some one of the nights.

In any event, the end may have arrived for rehearsals, but we have one more weekend to perform- this coming weekend.  I suggested we have the show “canceled” and have “extras” carry off pieces of the set as we do the drama.  Unfortunately this suggestion was too late and Steve (children’s ministry pastor) cringed at the thought of having to take down and put back up the set for each performance.  I guess it was also kind of a negative note.  The show rather ends more positively by finally discovering the formula my character has been searching for for so long.  Of course the formula involves Jesus, the only super human.  He is the one who makes super heroes out of all of us who are children of God.  At the end we will take our final bows and the mock science show will end.

I really hope the performance goes without a hitch.  Last week I was the only regular cast member there for my performance time.  Another was prepared as a fill-in, but the rest just didn’t show up.  Steve said he knew a couple wouldn’t be there, but my guess is he didn’t have much advance notice as we had to scramble to get others to fill in, and needless to say they had to perform with scripts.  Something that was actually quite regular last year, but praise God was not so much of a problem this year.  The last episode is supposed to be the most memorable, so I pray that it is memorable in the right way…

Well, this wasn’t my regular sub-post, but you already knew I had PE at the one school again.  Basically, same thing different students.  Softball all day with similar pluses and minuses as the previous days’ kickball.  Until tomorrow then, when it looks like I will break the middle-school rut with second grade.  I will also get to sleep in an extra hour… 😉