Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Today was one of those days. And they were blood-thirsty, soul-crushing monsters 1st graders. I can't even begin to describe them. I know I sound dramatic (because I am) but you have to believe that they were just bad. Just the most aggravating little things, and the worst part was I did not intimidate them AT ALL. I put on my meanest face and voice and they were like "Oh Miss P! Hug me! You're the best!" in their little munchkin voices and I was like "ZOMG I AM ANGRY! WHY ISN'T MY LASER-BEAM STARE WORKING?!!"

In an effort to not crumple into a ball of tears and down a bottle of cheap wine, I have a picture of a cute kitten to restore my soul.

Awww...that helped.

Wine would help too but I'm too lazy to go looking for it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

do you want that sticker?

Ancient classroom with 400 students. These were the days we could still use rulers on unruly kids.

My only goal, every day, is survival. That’s it. I just want to get home to watch Oprah at 3. So I am not above bribing the kids to behave. With little ones, it’s easy. I promise a treat like a sticker or a stamp, and they get all excited for that one measly little sticker that all I have to say is “I guess you don’t want that sticker…”and the chatter stops. I talk about it like I’m 4 cans of Red Bull in: “Do you want a STICKER?! It’s the MOST AWESOME STICKER EVER!!! All your friends will be SO JEALOUS that you earned a STICKERRRR WOOOOT!” If I am there for a few days, I promise something bigger, like popsicles. You’d think there was nothing better in the world than frozen sugared-water with how motivated they get over store-brand popsicles.

With older ones, it’s trickier. They don’t care about stickers. They don’t care about popsicles or candy either. So I don’t use treats, I use threats. (See, just add an ‘h’!) Instead of rewarding good behavior, I warn about what I will do to punish bad behavior. I start the day with that warning and even before they get there, I’ve found the detention/referral slips and have them dated and signed. It’s like arming yourself for battle; you must be prepared before the first strike. If I could wear them in a holster, I would. In my early days, I would verbally issue a detention, only to have to fumble through the desk, look for a pen, fill it out, which ruined the momentum of my awesome ass-handing detention skillz. Now it runs smoothly; I whip out that already prepared slip and watch their jaw drop. If this ever became an Olympic event, I’d be bronze, at least.

I also send middle schoolers outside when they can’t stop shredding my nerves. It starts with a warning, “Do you want to go outside?” and that always elicits a wide-eyed “no” as if outside the classroom door was Dante’s Inferno. And 70% of the time, the person I warned once WILL earn that trip outside, where I say “Alright, you’re moving. You can come back in when you feel like acting normal.” Once in a while I get a beggar, who pleads that they will stop talking/goofing and PUHLEEEEZE let them stay, to which the answer is always no. Once I had a kid who could not stop giggling. He giggled so much it made me giggle, and he couldn’t even tell me what was so funny. It was hilarious and maddening at the same time. I told him to go take a walk, get some water, think of dead animals and come back with a frown on his face. It didn’t work, but at least he was gone for a good 10 minutes.

As if it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t learn very many classroom management techniques in credential classes. I am pretty much self-taught, on-the-job. Nothing can really prepare you for working with some of these nutty nutjobs.

Except maybe being a little nutty yourself.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Empty Threats

"If I have to get up and figure out who is the one meowing in this class, I am not kidding, I will have you expelled. And you can go explain that to your new school, that you got expelled for meowing."

I don't actually think you can expel a student for meowing to annoy the sub, but I do wish.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

it's only obvious...

"Are you the substitute?"

So many smart-ass answers come to my mind when a kid asks me this, especially if they are over 5th grade. I mean, who else would I be? "Are you the sub?" No, I am Mr. Jones, your regular teacher. The sex change was a success, thank you. ......No, I am but a figment of your imagination...maybe I'm not even real..... Oh no, I'm just lost. I was looking for the nearest laundromat....

But no, I smile and reply "Yes, I'm the sub. Good morning."

Because I'm a professional, that's why. ;)

And the response to having a sub changes dramatically from the little kids to the big kids. In 1st-3rd grade, I am greeted like some kind of shiny new toy, and within 10 minutes, I usually get declarations of "I love you" and "You're the best teacher I ever had"...but by the time they hit 5th grade, it's minor curiosity coupled with indifference, and by high school, I am but a phantom in the classroom as they walk right by me and barely even look. There is always one sweet person who offers a smile, like they are trying to say "Yeah, we're all a-holes. I know. Sorry." I know. It's like a rite of passage, being a twerp to the substitute. I don't take it personally. I know something happens during puberty that turns those loving little angels into snarly, ill-mannered teenagers. I see this as my trial-by-fire. If I still want to be a teacher after 4 years of this, I must have suffered a serious brain injury REALLY love teaching.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Thief

Dearest Student:

If you're going to break a school rule and use your ipod or phone during class, have the decency to make an effort to conceal it from me. I am neither visually nor hearing impaired. Please at least attempt to hide it. I will find it, I guarantee, but at least humor me. When I was a kid, we had to pass notes on paper back and forth (between feeding the oxen and churning butter), and even we managed to be stealthy. If you just let the cord hang from your ear, it's like saying "Miss, you're so dumb you probably wouldn't even notice this." It's offensive. I am much more alert than that.

Miss P

And nothing is more satisfying than confiscating an electronic device from a kid you've had your eye on the entire period but just could NOT manage to catch right in the middle of the act, until you do a fake "ho-hum, here I am checking out the door" and turn back fast enough to spot it in his hands and yell "AH-HA!! GOTCHA! VICTORY!!!!" like you're King Leonidas (cue the Spartan choir!) and take it despite his weakling attempts to keep his phone with "come on Miss!" while laughing at the absurdity of it all. I teach, and I also steal their toys.

You have to relish little victories like that. Keeps everyone on their toes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

middle school

I sat in 8th grade math during the prep period where there are no students and heard a dog barking nearby. I don’t know why a dog was in school but I didn’t care enough to investigate further as I was too busy reading entertainment blogs for Glee spoilers. Maybe he was lost. Maybe he was subbing.

Middle school children should not have facial hair. It is wrong. What are we feeding these kids?

I know my last name is weird, but it’s not like I write it in on the board in Hebrew or something they can’t understand. We need more phonics practice with these kids. It’s like they see letters in a new arrangement and their immediate reaction is horror. And I don’t mind being called Miss P, but my real name should not terrify middle schoolers like that. It’s only 5 letters.

This teacher I am currently subbing for has no pens or pencils. I want this teacher to get a citation or something. That’s like a doctor walking into surgery with no scalpels or other gadgets he uses to do surgery (I’m not a surgeon, I don’t know these things). Unacceptable.