Sunday, May 31, 2009

And his mother had a doctorate in English.

"I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life." ~Kanye West

No wonder my students are illiterate.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Officially unemployed. Woo Hoo?

Today was my last day as a long term sub. Well, technically I have to go in on Monday to post grades, and I could have done it today, but if I go in I get paid for the day.

I gave the vocab final to my first hour class. They were appalled that I couldn't help them. And by "help", they meant "tell the definition of the vocabulary words". And this was AFTER I gave the little fuckers breakfast (of course, when I mentioned the possibility to breakfast to them last week, they started demanding doughnuts and pancakes. Like I'm getting up to make them fucking pancakes. Have some generic Pop-Tarts and consider yourselves lucky).

Monica, my *favorite* in the class (who missed 11 days in a row three weeks ago and never made up the work) was especially pissed that she had to do the work on her own. She handed me her 160 point test with about 15 points worth of work done after only 20 minutes and announced that she was done. Now, we have 90 minutes for finals. There was no way in hell I was going to let her sit there and be a distraction for 70 minutes, so I handed it back to her. She rolls her eyes and whips out her definition cards with every intention of cheating. I quashed that pretty quick, so she sits and starts whining that she needs someone to read the test to her (yes, this IS a reading class). Because these students have IEPs, they can opt for someone to read the test to them. However, for finals, they have to either talk to me ahead of time or pre-arrange to have someone read to them. She was perfectly capable of reading the damn test. She just wanted to wander t he halls, which is a HUGE no-no during finals. We can't even let them go to the bathroom. So when I told her that *I* would read it to her, she threw a fit. And I told her her options were that either I read it to her or she reads it herself. Which went over swimmingly.

In reality, what Monica wanted was for me to give her the answers. There was no way in hell I was going to give her the answers; not after I've spent the last week drilling review into their skulls. What does she expect when she misses the Thursday and Friday before a long weekend and already has poor retention and comprehension skills?

One of the vocab words was "enormous". They had to give specific examples of things that are enormous. One in particular was "A Country". She gives the name of our town... "Is Anytown a country?" I stared at her for a second. "No, honey. Anytown is a city." "What about Illinois? Is Illinois a country?" This completely baffled me ("baffle" was also a vocab word, BTW) because she gave "Texas" as an example of an enormous state... Yet she could not recognise Illinois as a state. So I said, "No. Illinois is a state." To which she replied, "I donno no stupid countries. If all you wanna country, then y'all needs to tell me a country to put." So I asked her, "What country do you live in?" and she answered with "I don't know". So I calmly tried again. "Monica, what country are we in right now?"

" I. DON'T. KNOW."

She knew she was boned. She finally recognized that she missed too much school and she was frustrated and trying to save face and doing whatever she could to keep from going down in an epic fail. Part of me also wants to believe that this was all test anxiety. That deep down, she really knows that Illinois is a state and that we live in America. But I really can't be sure...

Monday, May 25, 2009


I'm currently suffering from the 5th illness brought about my germy children. I should add, it's the 5th illness since January.

My job doesn't come with health insurance because being a sub sucks. Here's hoping it's not the swine flu.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh, what to do, what to do.....

It's been pretty hard for me to post lately. Finding out the position I applied for had been filled was quite a blow; eleven days and two random hysterical fits of crying later and I'm remarkably okay.

I have four days. Well, technically three, as I will be out of town next Thursday. And it's finals week to boot. I suppose the advantage to being paid once a month is that on June 15th, I will get my May paycheck. And that, my friends, is it. At least it puts abject poverty off a few more weeks. I've had a few responses to the diploma I put on eBay; no takers, but messages of support are just as good (though $53K would arguably be better).

In other news, the students are conspiring to rob me of my sanity. Today I got to break up a hissy fit between a diva and the boy who lives to annoy the shit out of her (which he does quite well... at least he's good at something, since the kid can't read). She was making for the door, hell bent on leaving until I called after her, "If you leave this room, you suffer the consequences!", which made her stop. Which shocked the hell out of me, since I can't get them to define the word "miraculous", even after I tell them the definition is "like a miracle". And none of these kids EVER stop to think about the consequences of their actions, so I had a *tiny* victory.

Oh, and FYI- NEVER assume that a private conversation between yourself and another teacher won't get back to the student of whom you are speaking, resulting in having to field angry phone calls from Mom and a really confused vice-principal. Remember that extra credit I thought was plagerized? I never had difinitave proof that it was; I scoured the vastness that is the interwebz to see if I could find ANYTHING that suggested what I suspected. So while searching on a shared computer, another teacher struck up a conversation with me (which was weird since no one in that office EVER talks to me) and we started talking, in general, about students. I merely mentioned that this paper was suspect, but that I had no proof (remember that.... that's important). Well, a few days later, the VP catches me in the hallway and informs me that this student's mother called her and wants to set up a conference about this paper. Now, the VP has no idea what any of this is about, so rather than getting involved, she hands me Mom's phone number so I can speak with her directly. After the last parental conference, I would be lying if I said I wasn't shitting bricks. I leave her a message, and the next day she calles me right as I take a giant bite out of my sandwich.

This is when I finally get the whole story. Apparently, the teacher I was talking to is this kid's case manager. She took it upon herself to tell this kid that he's losing points because he plagerized his paper. WTF?!? Have I mentioned how *I* hadn't even talked to him yet, as I had NO PROOF??? Turns out Mom helped him, and in the past, every time she's helped him he gets accused (my first thought is, "probably because you think 'help' means 'write for', because there's not an original thought in this entire 2 and a half pages"). So all this explains why nothing came off the internet searches...

Because Mom is polite and understanding, I give the kid the 15 extra points. What the hell do I care? The kid will pass the class with a D+... not valedictorian material, but he won't have to take the class again. For a third time... Besides, what are they going to do, fire me?

At least he tries.

Today's endearing Glass Menagerie student grammar screw-up:

"Laura and the Unicorn of the set of Menagerie are very alike in many ways. First of all they are both very genital."

I do believe he meant *gentle*. Regardless, it made me laugh out loud.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The English position I applied for in the school in which I have been subbing for the past 9 weeks has been filled.

I didn't even get an interview.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spirit week revisited.

The highlight of my day today: being punched in the boob by a student who slammed into me in the hallway because she wasn’t watching where she was going.

Today there’s a giant all-school festival at the end of the day. Subsequently, class periods are all 28 minutes long. At this point, why bother? It sometimes takes most students about 10 minutes to settle down enough to get into the class groove. That leaves 18 minutes to work. Take out about 7 minutes for snide comments and socializing, along with 5 minutes of being interrupted by students asking to go to the bathroom, and two minutes to log into the computer system and take attendance, and that leaves you with four minutes. Four minutes of actual, viable instruction time. FML. So, in most of my classes, especially this morning, I have relaxed the hell out of the rules (without telling them, of course) and not made them adhere to strict policy. It’s not like anyone’s whipping out cell phones or fornicating, but I let them talk and crack jokes and hope that perhaps it will soften the image they seem to have of me as a harsh dictator and give them a sense of what I truly am: an honorable and fair dictator who will, every once in a while, grace them with my benevolence.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spirit Week

This week is spirit week. The students are encouraged to participate in fun weekly wardrobe activities, like Monday's "Class Colors" event (Freshmen in green, Sophomores in purple, etc.). Tomorrow is "Sport Jersey Day". The downside of being married to an artist is the decided lack of sports jerseys. Today was "Crazy Day", with a lot of bright colors and bathing suits on the outside of clothes. The highlight?

6 foot tall senior in electric blue footie pajamas.

There's a big all-school festival on Friday, and I volunteered to take a pie to the face. However, it was by vote, and since I'm a freakin' sub, no one voted for me. It's not that I WANT a pie to the face, but let's face it... volunteering to be smothered in pastries has got to look good on a resume. Actually BEING smothered in baked goods is as good as getting hired.... or it should be, anyway.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Note to self:

You cannot help the students who refuse to help themselves.

Case in point: Monica has missed two days due to a suspension. We are currently working on a paper for the last (relatively short) book we've just read, When the Emperor was Divine. It's all of 150 pages, which when compared to To Kill A Mockingbird, should be a freakin' cake walk.

Monica has taken the test for this book. She has been in class and listened to discussions about said book. She participated in a presentation on background information on the book. She turned in a reading guide for the book. She has received the handouts to aid in the writing of the paper for the book. She asks me to help her get started on the paper. Fine, it's what I do.

So I start asking her questions about the topic she picked. And it's not like she had to think hard; we gave them their thesis statements this time. All they had to do was pick a side and fill in the blanks (The interment of the Japanese Americans was ________ because _____________.).
Every question I ask her is met with the same responses: "I don't know." "This is hard." "Can I go to the bathroom?" Not a single thing is coming from my questioning that is going to be helpful for this girl. We manage to eek out a thesis stance after about 20 minutes (twenty minutes of surpressing my urge to smack her....), but any progress she made was completely halted when she dropped this little beauty into my lap:

"I didn't finish the book."

Okay, sweetheart. What the hell am I supposed to do, write the damn paper for you? How in the hell were you able to take the test and fill out the reading guide if you didn't read?!? And when I told her that perhaps she should remedy that by, say, reading the damn book, she hits me with this little jem:

"Well, if something isn't interesting to me than I just don't comprehend it."

Someone somewhere in this kid's school career mentioned that if she's not interested in something, she doesn't comprehend what she's reading, and now the little darling is using it as a crutch. And let's not even bring up the CLASS TIME DEVOTED TO READING OUT LOUD. She'd have to read 10 pages at home at one time, tops. And hell, half the shit I read in college was boring as fuck, but I read it, goddammit. Never before in my (albeit short) career have I ever witnessed a student completely defeat themselves before they even start. And after she tells me that she "can't comprehend" the book, she goes on about how she needs to bring her grade up hardcore. Uh, if you don't read the book, you're going to need a miracle to bring up the 35% you currently have in my class.

The kicker of all this is that she ASKED TO MY FACE if she could write the paper if she just got the "gist of it"; meaning she wanted me to give her the Spark Notes version of a book I read in less than two hours. Because she was out for two days, she thinks she's entitled to lots of help, failing to realize that 1. she was suspended for having her phone out in class (presumably busted mid text), and 2. WE FINISHED READING THE BOOK A WEEK AND A HALF AGO. She had PLENTY of time to do what she was supposed to do, but she tells me that she had a shitty weekend because her "mom was in the hospital", a claim I can say in all seriousness that has zero credibility at this point, since she has a habit of lying about serious shit in an effort to buy herself time. And her father is "super concerned" about her performance in school. Here's an idea... TAKE THE DAMN PHONE AWAY. Don't talk about your concern for your daughter's lack of motivation in school in one breath and bitch about the 600 texts she sends in one month in the next. Guess what, Daddy Dear? Those two events are completely related!!!

Maybe I should go back to selling dog food. Dogs don't talk back.