Thursday, November 4, 2010


The 3rd graders came in from recess and held all their playground toys. Jump-ropes, balls and such.

We walked down the hallway where other classes were still in session and I heard a ball bounce. I turned without thinking and yelled "HOLD YOUR BALLS!"


Luckily, they are still a bit young to catch the funny in that. LOL BALLS.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today in kindergarten...

HEY KIDS! Let's practice writing on our whiteboards! Copy this sentence:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Louder, Please

Why is it that when during a normal classroom session, you have to ask students to keep their voices down repeatedly, but when asking kids to read aloud in class, they suddenly cannot speak higher than a marble-sized gerbil?


but when I ask them to read, when I WANT to hear them, it becomes

Charles looked up into, seeing the vats, I mean, vast clouds and birds...... flying..... overhead. He was amazed at........ what he saw.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


When I am talking to kids, I often realize how differently I will phrase things in order to make them student-appropriate. For example, recently I was subbing for 2nd grade and the kids were writing about pets. One child wrote that he wanted a pet parrot. I smiled and said "A parrot is a neat pet. But you have to be careful. I got bitten on my finger by a parrot once."

The little boy asked what happened, and I paused for a second.

What I say to a child: "Well, I was not making good choices and I put my finger in his cage."

What I would say to an adult: "I was being a dumbass and wanted to see how hard it could bite. And yeah, it bites HARD. I almost shattered a knuckle. Luckily his beak had just been filed. Seriously though, totally stupid and I was sober, which makes it even worse."

Other examples:

"You need to keep your hands to yourself."
Keep your hands to yourself or I won't notice when that girl clocks you for touching her hair again.

"That was not a good choice."
What the hell is wrong with you??

"I can't seem to find it"
Your teacher needs to clean this crap up because I can't even find a damn pencil.

"That was an interesting experience."
I'm so blogging about this shit later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Kinds of Pets

This 7 year old meant "I like dogs" but instead wrote "I like god." I'm sure God understands the mix-up. It probably happens a lot. Especially when you're 7.

We're back!

School has started! I got a call to come in for 2nd grade! After 3 months off, I was ready to be back!



Our schools have faced severe cuts this year. There is a lot to be upset about. Many of my teacher friends have lost their jobs. But this blog is not ever going to be sad. There is still a lot to be happy about and a lot of joy and goodness here. And that's what I'm going to share, because I love school, and these tough times will pass.

Glad to be back!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thut Up!

This is the story of how straightening my teeth made me a crappy teacher.

Two years ago, I decided that my teeth were terribly crooked and I should spend several thousand dollars to get them straightened. In reality, they were barely out of line but at the time I thought my teeth were the key to success in life and they had to be absolutely perfect. Since the crookedness was so minimal, my dentist said I would be a good candidate for invisalign.

Invisalign is two plastic trays, molded to your teeth. Each few weeks you get a new set of trays that move your teeth into their new, straight place. They’re supposed to be great because they’re clear and no one knows you’re wearing them! Unlike bulky, obvious braces, invisalign is supposed to make everything wonderful and get you perfect teeth in a jif.

This is what you look like with braces:

Nobody tells you that invisalign can give you a lisp and make basic speech awkward until you adjust to having a ton of plastic in your mouth. My first day with the trays, I walked into 3rd grade and promptly realized I could not pronounce the most basic sounds. Sounds like “SHHH,” which is basically 70% of my daily speech to children. “Shhh” became “Thhhh” and I was so frustrated in trying to get the kids to listen to me with my new lisp and sore mouth.

“Lithen! You guyth need to lithen! Thhhhh!!!! Eyeth up here! I’m thpeaking!”

Do you know how hard it is to talk about fracthunth? And Thothal Thtudieth?

By noon, my mouth could barely do any more of the gymnastics required for basic lessons. The kids were out of control. I didn’t want to talk. My tongue refused any more acrobatics just to reprimand anyone. Miss P was down and out.

The next day, I thought I might start off my introduction by telling the kids I sounded a little weird because of the invisalign. This did nothing. Aside from the weirdness of having the kids SUPER interested in my mouth because I told them about the trays, they still didn't listen and I still had a lisp. Only now they knew why.

So for the first month of my teeth straightening odyssey, until I learned how to speak with them in, the children under my care were basically nuts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Hi guys! I'm still here! We're on summer break so no new stories to share, but I will post some old favorites soon that happened before this blog started. :D

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Announcement

One day, in first grade, I was demonstrating a math problem on the white board. I was explaining away, and I turned my head and asked something about tens and ones, to gauge how much they'd understood: "Now what happens when you have 12 ones? What can you do with that?"

A little hand shot up eagerly. A boy with a buzz cut, and a missing front tooth. I nodded at him (the signal for "go on, tell me") and he shared:

"The baby, that was in my mom's stomach, it came out!"

Me: 0_o

Now, I am used to getting answers that have nothing to do with the question I just asked. The problem was his answer could mean something wonderful or something terrible. I cautiously asked "Oh? What was the baby, a boy or a girl?"

"Girl!" he announced. He sounded happy, yes, this was a birth announcement. I exhaled. He continued:

"She is a girl, and her head is this big (he compared it to his palm). Her hands are really small." He couldn't remember her name, or what day she was born. But she was born.

I said "Wow, that's wonderful. Thank you for telling us. Alright, now back to tens and ones..."

If this kid sent out the birth announcement, it would look like this:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Will We?

In my second year of subbing, I was placed in a kindergarten class. Kindergartners are a tricky group. To me, they are the hardest age to work with and I avoid them as much as possible. They are perpetually sticky, toothless bundles of crayon wrappers and energy who all need their teacher’s attention at the EXACT SAME TIME. This is all I see when I sub kindergarten:

On this day in kindergarten, I took the children to the carpet with their white boards and markers. We were going to practice writing and reading together. Kids get the biggest kick out of whiteboards. I’m serious, I have never met a child who didn’t practically pee their pants at the chance to use a whiteboard. So I tell the kids that I will write a word, and then I want them to copy the word on their own board, and sound it out.

We go through several words that they know: you, the, see, we, me, to, at….and then I decide to make simple sentences.

I start with “We” and they copy. I add “Will” next to it. Out loud I read “We will…” Before I can add the third word, a little voice shouts out “ROCK YOU!”

Giggles ensue, and a few other voices pipe in: “We will…we will ROCK YOU! WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU!!”


Suddenly I have an entire carpet of kindergartners singing along. I could do nothing but laugh.

Somewhere, Freddy Mercury was smiling.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Assembly Line

Last week, a 3rd grade teacher asked me to take down students’ work that was displayed in the room and give it back to them. It was a daunting task, but I had been through about a gallon of coffee that morning and felt like running laps around the school, so I knew I could get the job done (and possibly climb the walls while I was at it). Also, I could get the kids to help!

Here is where I totally forgot that I was talking about 3rd graders.

I asked for volunteers, and I got 20 of the most excited 8 year olds swarming me like I was made of free candy and stickers and I realized right away what a dumb request that was. I had to be organized. So I regrouped and made up jobs for them. I went to the white board and wrote down the titles and who was doing what. Here is where my special talent for BS comes in handy.

The children who I could depend on to pull things off the walls and not damage/tear/eat the paper were Taker-Downers. That was their only job. Gently take things down. Also I like made up/jumbled words.

They then handed the work to the Sorters, who had to remove staples/tape and sort the work into piles. Staple-pullers.

Then the Passer-Backers took the work and placed it on the desks of the students it belonged to.

I described these jobs like we were responsible for safely launching a spaceship. I'm surprised I didn't get a Ground Control crew to chart us.

Now, I had to create a special category for 4 boys who I did not trust to do anything without being monumental pains in my ass or bothering other students. They were given the Very Special task of being Supervisors. I told the Supervisors have to walk around and make sure everyone is doing their job correctly, and if they are not, to quietly write their name down, and then secretly hand me the list so I could speak to the students who were not doing their jobs. (in reality, I did nothing, but kids love to rat each other out). This was mainly so the Supervisors stayed out of my hair while I took down the work from the highest parts of the walls and could be assured that they were not holding classmates in a headlock or breaking pencils.

What I got at the end looked something like this:

Slowly but surely, we did it.

And so it was this way that we took down an entire school year’s worth of work, together. Teachers need to be creative and flexible, and also kind of good at BSing.The Supervisors still think they got half their class in trouble for not pulling staples correctly. LOL on them, right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Google It

Every day I am in a new class, having to teach new things. And these are all basic things, it's not like I'm subbing for Quantum Physics or anything. I'm just getting kids to understand ABC order or subtracting double digits (go next door, borrow 10 more!). It's simple, simple stuff. And when I honestly do not know (like when a little 4th grade smarty pants asks me where electricity comes from and I want to say "uhhh, when you flip the switch?") I usually say "Well, let's find out!" I just don't want to say "I don't know." I feel totally inadequate and like the children will start crying and attack me with their pencils for my pathetic ineptitude. So when I don't know, I prolong the question, by asking more questions around it.

And I google.

I google like a madwoman. I've googled things I already know, just to be sure. I am obsessed with google. I'm naming my firstborn child Google.

One day, I did not have google. And a child asked me a basic question that I DID NOT KNOW and I panicked, and gave the kid the wrong answer.


The 2nd grader asked me where George Washington was born. I froze. Where was he born? OMG WHERE WAS HE BORN?! HOW DO I NOT KNOW?!!! Was it England?! The colonies?! WHICH COLONY!?! My eyes immediately searched for the computer but that one day I did not bring it. I could not access the teacher's computer.

I thought I could manage without google. And I obviously could not.

I smiled and said "Well....he was to me, come to me)....the country of....well at that time it was known as...(COME ON BRAIN, WOOOOORRRRKKK!!!)...


The kid said "Oh."

As soon as I got home, I googled. That man was born in Virginia. HOW DID I FORGET?! I have damaged that child and being a sub, I will not see him again tomorrow to rectify my mistake and now UCLA is going to revoke my history degree and HOW AM I SUCH A FAILURE?!

I know one day someone will ask that kid "Where was George Washington born??" and he will say "England!" and that person will say "Uh, no. Who told you that?"

And the kid will say "THAT DUMB-ASS SUBSTITUTE MISS P!"

Sorry, kid. :(

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sub Report

Subs have to leave a report for the teacher telling them about their day. When I sub for my best friend, I like to get creative. I've left her notes in pictures, in dramatic illustrations, and simply a run-down of my inevitable emotional breakdown as the day progressed.

One time, I left her this form, filled out. It's my Generic Sub Report.


Hello ________________!

I am so _______ to be in your class today! I’m looking forward to a ________ time.

Morning: We did___________________ and it was __________________.

Noteworthy Moments:

Mid-Day: We worked on_______________________ and it was ___________.

Students who deserved a beating needed extra attention:_________________.

Lunch: I raced to my car in _____ seconds.

Afternoon: We worked on____________________ and it was ___________.

Your students make me __________________ and __________________.

Things You Should Know:

Absent Students:____________________

Detentions Assigned:________________

Number of Tylenol Consumed:_________

I beg God that you are not out again hope you feel better soon! Your students were behaved ________________________. Hope everything was__________________.

[ ] Request me again
[ ] Don't you dare

Sincerely, The Substitute