Monday, June 30, 2008

crimes witnessed

two of the worst things I saw last semester:
1. A student punched out a glass display case.
2. A student smoked illicit herbs in class.
(in the latter instance all the kids got searched.
nothing was found. tricky little devil, whoever)

memoirs of last semester not yet written

apologies to this nice blog for failing to
fill its pages with all the cool stories.

I had a couple nice longish term jobs in my
last months as 07-08 high school sub.
The longest was for a French/English class.
Got quite attached, still lack objectivity.
Did a number of 3-day to one week jobs
which afforded nice teaching opportunities
and chances to get to know students better.
Started getting to know students better
as I saw them in different subjects.
Rare is the day I don't hear several
"hey mr Hand"calls as I walk across campus.

There have been several great opportunities
to check out real student work, and some of
them even asked for my advice about it! Lots
of interesting chess matches. I had fun trying
to explain the lessons to them and while my
enthusiasm was too often dulled by student-
under-sub apathy, always at least a few of
them appreciated and enjoyed whatever
efforts I put out. I'm glad to have done it.

Today I had a doggy visitor

While working my excellent summer position doing English at Richmond High, I had a pleasant diversion from the usual 8am teaching experience. A wayward dog burst into the room: a non-threatening, timid little terrier-type creature, probably with some chihuaha. Poor little thing was spooked by me and ran from my efforts to make friends, but eventually bonded with a couple of the girls who talk about makeup and boys. The teacher who followed the dog into my room asked me to watch it for awhile, which I was fine with, eventually they called animal control when they couldn't determine who belonged to our little visitor. The teacher on the case gave me a sweatshirt for the dog to lie on. She (as we soon noticed) at first was playing with it and chewing on it, then fell asleep on it. I had given her some food I found in the desk (the teacher who uses the room had a little dog with her when she came by last week) and poured her some water--lucky thing the prior teacher had left her doggy dish! Animal Cops Contra Costa County showed up during the lunch break; she tried to bite him a few times and didn't like the leash, poor thing. I told the officer what I knew and he told me "if anybody looks for her she's in Pinole."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The writing is on the desk

Last week I taught the same Chemistry classes for a week. The kids seemed to like me pretty well, as I let them have relative freedom--I overheard one kid tell another that I'm the "only sub this class doesn't get out of control for." Certain of the kids showed their appreciation by writing down some funny things that I said, which I have taken as a compliment of the highest order. Unfortunately it's not my wisest or wittiest stuff, but until somebody takes an eraser to it, "let this be a lesson to you not to stay up late watching the CSI Miami Marathon" will be inspiring and instructing students for posterity. (They also signed it "Mr. Hand" but with a little drawing of a hand instead of my last name... I was touched)

I didn't know dream interpretation was part of the job description

The other day a high school girl told me: "I had a dream that I died and came back as a white girl. Can that happen?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

a new one on me

Today a kid jumped out the back window when the vice principal showed up.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Treasures of the Heart: Sufi Stories for Young Children,M1
(One can get a full view of this text at Google Books.)

"Includes seven short stories by a Sufi mystic meant to teach children lessons about good behavior and respect for others."

Perhaps I will try reading this kinda stuff to my junior high kids sometime.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

my combover

Forgot to mention, yesterday the kids asked me to comb my hair forward, they were very entertained by my long-haired bald guy combover.

super tuesday

I had a nice day yesterday. The kids were buzzing about Clinton vs. Obama so I staged mock elections for them at the beginning of class. (otherwise they had a short easy ditto to do) 3 classes voted for Clinton and 2 for Obama. Only one class had "republicans" and they chose McCain. I also had them vote on the issues, in order of preference they were Iraq, Immigration, Economy, Environment.

These kids are starting to know me well. It makes me happy that they are sometimes excited to see me, exclaiming things like, "Yes! It's Mr. Hand! He's cool! [he lets us fool around and do whatever we want]" Perhaps this is a sign that I should be a more harsh disciplinarian, but my popularity at least means that I'm getting to have some interesting conversations with the few kids who show some interest in me--even some of the otherwise unengaged ones.

Today due to testing I had very small classes and get to play online (just no sites dealing with games or social networking). I love these kinda days.

job hazard

On monday a 7th grader pointed a laser pointer into my eye. I don't know if there's any damage.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One learns a lot in this job just looking at the teachers' walls.

They have been very entertaining so far. Student work, educational posters, behavioral bumper stickers (evidently often in vain), all provide nice grist for the ol' mill. Some grizzled old science teachers have very informative ones, especially on astronomical and biological subjects, way more involved than "back in my day." Of course now I'm not only having fun brushing up, but trying to think about how to explain this stuff to the kids (although my opportunities to really teach are few and far between, I like to at least take the opportunity to think about how I might.) I did get to explain what the problem was to a girl who asked me why Australia "is a continent but is not an island". (We just call them that) Sometimes I try to shout over the rowdy kids and talk about the material to the quiet ones who are doing the work, which appears to be better than nothing in some sense, but even they don't seem to get much involved with it. Unfortunately as a temporary visitor I'm not all that much involved in whether they're listening. It's too bad that few people see the substitute being there as an opportunity for different kinds of learning spaces, rather than just an empty space where you "try to fill time productively" with programmed classwork (usually dittos or copying).
I guess they don't think it likely that every substitute will be able to hold forth on any random topic, but I have never taught a class where I wasn't able to look at what they are reading without fully understanding exactly what was going on. There are many ways I could be of service, but it's just not being asked of me. It's too bad full-time credentialed teaching is the only way to get past that. The result I'm seeing is kids wind up taking the substitute being there as an opportunity to do whatever they want, which does occasionally involve some creative social activity in the form of outburst, but seems like such a waste considering how much they could be learning, especially given the possibilities with modern (and even decades-old) tech. Factory workers have always complained that there's no way to "do the job well."

recent exchange

"Mr. Hand, are you a hippie?" (I have long hair and a magnificent beard)
"No. The Sixties were forty years ago. I wasn't even born yet."

Teacher absences are hurting learning