Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I love about substitute teaching

My workweek this week:

4 days of work
4 different grades
4 different buildings

1 outfit


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Children Are Deadly Dangerous

Today I gave Kira five dollars for school carnival tickets. I handed her the bill and looked away from her. She took it and then said, "Oh, I love the smell of money." I looked back at her and she had this filthy, disgusting bill pressed against her face and she was breathing it in.

She also told me that on the bus after school, the kids have an ongoing Mercy tournament. You know, it's that game where two kids grab hands and try to hurt the other by bending their knuckles back. So they go from one kid to the next, clasping filthy, sweaty palms. Then I just know that every kid in the tournament goes home and the first thing they do (after grabbing the door handle that everyone in the family touches) is grab the refrigerator door handle looking for a snack and then they rifle through your FOOD.

Today I overheard a kid in my class say to another kid, "Last night I put 47 pennies in my mouth." Apparently he thinks he could fit in more, but 47 was all he had to work with. You know, you ARE going to get one of those pennies as change sometime, don't you?

And none of them wash their hands after they use the bathroom unless I'm standing there watching, and make them go back in to do it.

If I can get through the next few months without getting the swine flu, it will be a miracle.

This is biological warfare, people! We have to fight against all the children that are trying to kill us! I think I will start carrying around a can of Lysol and a hepa mask. And a club.

My class

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Craziness

Today while subbing for fifth graders, when I went to the cafeteria to pick them up from lunch they were getting totally reemed out by the other fifth grade teacher for being obnoxious during lunch time. Apparently they wouldn't listen to the lunch monitor and somebody threw some food so they had to sit in the lunch room for an extra ten minutes and get a very long, very humbling lecture.

During the lecture, one girl from my class was whispering to me, trying desperately to get my attention. "Mrs. Lindahl... MRS. LINDAHL..." I noticed her but I ignored her. She kept it up. I thought maybe somebody next to her might be having a seizure or be choking to death so I acknowledged her and she asked me in a loud whisper,

"What are those long things in fried rice?"

And then she looked at me like having the answer was a matter of life and death. I said, "... um...what?" and she repeated herself slower with careful enunciation:

"What... are those long things.... in fried rice?"

It was so surreal. I avoided the question by pointing to the other fifth grade teacher and shushing her like any good teacher would, but I couldn't stop thinking about that all day. Why was she thinking of fried rice right then? What are the long things in fried rice that she was thinking of? Carrot slivers? Sprouts?

I might have to pull her aside tomorrow and ask her. It's driving me crazy.

Also today Sam said something very weird. He said, "You know how when somebody pulls one over on you, you say 'touché'" I said, "...yes..." and he said, "Well, when you fool yourself do you say 'oneshay?" Mitch and I both said, "Yes. Yes you do." Just kidding, we didn't. We said, "No, you stupid idiot, don't you know French?" No we didn't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Working Girl

I got a two week sub job at my favorite school for one of my favorite classes. Yay for me! The teacher is out because she developed a lung infection from all the cement dust floating around the school because of all the construction. So what if I'm only a substitute teacher, earning hardly any pay and having no health benefits and I'm working full-time in an environment that has already proven to be a health hazard. So? It's worth it, isn't it?

Other than the risk of developing Black Lung, the job is pretty sweet. Beautiful room, nice kids, easy-to-follow curriculum; and the best part is that they are studying US history in the 1800s for Social Studies! I think Dr. Quinn may have to make an appearance! Lucky lucky kids.

My class

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not the best day I've ever had

I thought I dodged getting the beginning-of-the-school-year crud that the kids bring home every year, because they brought it home about a month ago on their filthy hands. But I've got it now. They think that if they take a shower and wash their hair, their hands are clean enough to not wash until the next shower. Why are kids so gross that way?

Anyway, it feels like someone yanked me by the tongue and turned me slightly inside out and then worked over my throat-meat with a Garden Weasel.

Garden Weasel

And I keep hacking up these disgustingly hard teeny-tiny phlegm balls and when they come up they sit on my tongue and then I panic because should I swallow them? Should I spit? (I usually spit. Usually.) They don't seem like they are quite body temperature so, you know, gross. I hope I'm better by tomorrow because I am supposed to work. I got called to work this morning but I said no. Little tip for all the teachers out there needing subs: When you leave your message of instructions on the sub recording thingy, don't end by saying, "Good Luck, you'll need it!" because no sub is going to ever take that job.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This post is rated "R" for language

It's one of those days when profanity just rolls off the tongue. The F-bomb is inserted into my every thought, and, I'm afraid to say, too many of my sentences. At first it was just one of those swear-a-lot days that we all have, but as the day started getting bad, I found myself having to really think before I spoke.

For example, when I was at work today, subbing for a fifth grade teacher, and one of the boys thought he'd be really funny and SNEEZE on the back of another kid's neck ON PURPOSE I wanted to say, "Hey kid, what the fuck is wrong with you? Ever hear of the swine fucking flu?"

But I didn't say that. I had to literally bite my tongue to stop myself. I spared an entire class of ten year olds from a barrage of profanity laced vitriol and simply said. "Gross. You: go wash your neck off. You: sit down and don't get up again unless the building starts on fire."

Now that's self control.

The only bad part was that about fifteen minutes after I said that, the building actually did start on fire. I'm not even kidding. There are contractors working on it and one of them was soldering and started a small, totally manageable fire, but the super-sensitive brand new fire alarm system picked up on it and went nuts and we had to "go calmly and quietly to the nearest exit!" That's what I said, but I wanted to say, "WELL? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! THE FUCKING BUILDING IS ON FIRE!"

Then I came home and saw that my gorgeous husband shaved off the beard that I meticulously cultivate because I love it, and I said, "What the fuck happened to your face?" Just so you know, that is not the way a spouse likes to be greeted.

Then I came in the house and discovered, via email, that the teacher re-licensure committee, that only meets once a month, and that has to okay all my brand new college credits and work/volunteer hours to update my teaching license met today, BUT they didn't have the packet of information that took me a WEEK to meticulously gather and that I put in the hand of the chairperson of the committee two weeks ago. They just didn't have it. They don't know what happened. Now I have to gather all the stuff AGAIN and wait another month for them to meet and FUCK IT UP again.

I love bureaucracy.

When I took a course in linguistics last year we had a linguistics problem that was this: Analyze the following sentence. Note that when buffalo is used as a verb, it means "intimidate."

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo bufallo buffalo buffalo.

Which means basically Buffalo from Buffalo intimidate other buffalo from Buffalo who intimidate other buffalo.  

"What the fuck are you talking about?" you say? The point is that it is possible to use one word, even the stupid fucking word "buffalo," as almost every part of speech. I think the f-word is a much better word for using as every single part of speech. I obviously like it most as an adjective.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Everyone Poops (except me)

I have had a long term subbing position at my favorite school (Kira's school), in my favorite class (the library). It has been great. The only problem with full-time work at this school is that there are no private bathrooms. Just girls and boys bathrooms with stalls.

It turns out I have shy bowels and so, naturally, I've been constipated and have been having to rely on "weekenders" (a term Mitch made up) for relief on a weekly basis. I am disappointed that I can't function normally so I've been trying to encourage myself to "perform" when I need to, so today I chose time when I thought the bathrooms would be empty and I could be alone and relax and try to have a positive experience. I went to the furthest stall, and was going to sit there until something happened. About a minute into my vigil, I saw an eyeball peering at me through the crack in the door and a little voice said, "Hey, I know you, you work in the library." It was the kindergartener who has annoying back pockets. She went in the stall next to me and said, "Hey! I'm going potty too!.... Are you done yet? Can you see my hand?"

"Yep," I said, "I'm done." (and yes, I could see her hand) Needless to say, the dream was over and my shy bowels are now agoraphobic bowels.

Then she started singing really loudly. (because although the bathrooms are rundown and cruddy, the acoustics are great)

p.s. It's only Wednesday.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Locked in the bathroom

I got called to sub for a P.E. teacher today and it reminded me of the last time I subbed for a P.E. teacher. It was last year and the teacher had an office in the girls locker room behind the gym, way away from the rest of the school. She also had a private bathroom that was in the office. Are you getting this? Bathroom in an office, office in a locker room, locker room behind the gym, way away from rest of the classrooms in the school. ISOLATED.

So, I was in there during prep hour at the end of the day, looking at my email and I had to go to the bathroom. No problem! Super private bathroom! So I went in, and as a reflex I locked the door. I did my thing, and then tried to open the door. It wouldn't unlock. I kind of chuckled, imagining how embarrassing it would be to get locked in a bathroom. Ha ha. Then I really tried to open it. It. Would. Not. Open. CRAP!

Then I remembered that I had no more classes, this was my last hour of the day, so nobody at school would miss me. "Okay, pull it together," I told myself, it would be totally embarrassing, but somebody would come by. Right? I wouldn't die if I had to spend a night in a bathroom. Lots of people do it. That's basically what a jail cell is, a bathroom with a couple cots and a roommate. I didn't have a cot, but I also didn't have a roommate so I figured I was getting the better deal. Then I remembered that it was Friday so if I didn't get found after school, I would be stuck there for the weekend.

Then I remembered that Mitch was out of town for the weekend, and if I didn't get out, my kids would be home alone without me. What would they do?

Then I remembered that there was no school on Monday so I would be stuck in that bathroom for three days. And then when I was finally found, probably by the teacher the following Tuesday (that would be an awkward encounter); nobody would feel sorry for me, they would just think it was hilarious and nobody would appreciate how horrible and embarrassing it was to be stuck in a bathroom in a school for three days. I was desperate so I jammed my thumb into the lock and twisted with all my might. Nothing.

So I sat down and looked around for a tool. I needed something to twist the locking mechanism. There was nothing to use. I mean nothing. Just extra rolls of toilet paper. Not helping! I kept trying to open it with my thumb and finally, finally, after being stuck for a half hour, I got it. My thumb was super sore after that, but it was worth it. I was free!

Then I thought how easy it would have been for the teacher to write a short note, a post-it even, saying "DON'T LOCK THE BATHROOM DOOR! THE LOCK STICKS." That would have been nice to know.

I got home and told my kids what happened and asked them what they would have done if I didn't come home when I was supposed to. Sam said he'd wait a half hour, and then call 911 and give the authorities all the information that he knew. Kira said she would NOT call the police, she would eat ice cream and play in my jewelry box.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sure-fire Cure For Head Lice

Today Mitch and I were talking about head lice and how it spreads at schools and how gross it is. We were talking about the treatment and all the cleaning you have to do in the house to get rid of them, and how harsh those shampoos are on tender little scalps so we decided that if our kids ever get it we would cut their hair super short to minimize the treatment time and chemical trauma to their bodies, and spend a week sterilizing the whole house so it doesn't come back. Then Mitch said, "...... decapitation would probably work too." Take that, lice bugs!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Future's Biggest Nerd

I think I may have met the future's biggest nerd. I subbed at an elementary school in the library today. When the kids were checking out books one second grader was humming the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars. I said, "Sounds like someone just watched Star Wars!" and he said:

"Oh, I like singing. In fact my favorite thing to do on the playground is me and my friends pretend we are a barbershop quartet."

That poor kid. He looks totally normal, no glasses with tape, or pants pulled up to his chin, but come on, playing BARBERSHOP QUARTET ON THE PLAYGROUND? He's practically begging to get punched.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sheepdog and Coyote

I subbed in a fourth grade class with kids I've known for a few years now. There is a kid in that class named Paul*. He is one of my favorite kids in the world because he is so darn happy and likable, but when I sub in his class it's like we are in that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the coyote and the sheepdog are pals until they punch the clock to go to work, and then they are mortal enemies for the work day, and then at the end of the day they are friends again and go out and do something together. I'm the sheepdog, Paul is the coyote. He comes into school, we are happy to see one another, then the bell rings and it's on. He is NEVER doing what he is supposed to be doing and he has the loudest voice in the world, so everyone always notices and then the other kids tell me and I'm expected to do something about it CONSTANTLY.

Last year his third grade class had a student teacher and she taught the whole day so my job was to sit by Paul and keep him on task. One day when she was talking to the class, he was at the pencil sharpener, sharpening his pencil. It was loud, and annoying and it went on and on and on. I was waiting for him to look at me so I could give him the evil eye and a quiet reprimand. He turned around after about five minutes of uninterrupted sharpening, and I looked in his hands and he didn't even have a pencil. I was so surprised I almost laughed out loud and I couldn't bring myself to say anything because I thought I would laugh in front of him which would be like the sheepdog rolling over and showing the coyote its throat.

So at the end of the day today Paul told me that I have to write a short note in his planner to tell his mom how he was in school. I told the brutal truth, Paul read it, smiled at me and said, "Have a great weekend, Mrs. Lindahl!" I love that kid.

In other subbing news, we played a game in the gym today called Sofa. Weird name, I don't know why it's named that. It's like a dodgeball free-for-all, played with seven to ten balls, with everyone gunning for everyone else, and if you get hit, you have to sit on the sidelines until the person who got you gets out. It's total chaos. I bet if it was studied by psychology and educational experts it would be found to be a TERRIBLE game that bruises fragile self-esteems, as well as little bodies, but the kids LOVE IT. I love it too because there is no other social context (that I have found) that allows you to chase after an eight year old, and when you corner him and he cowers, you fire a ball with all your strength at his head, and it's okay!
It makes me giddy!

*Not his real name.  His real name is Russel.*

*No it isn't.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Graders

I subbed in first grade today and they have all the cuteness of kindergarteners, but none of the bizarre volatility. I was pretty confident that nobody's back pockets were driving them to distraction, like the kindergarten girl yesterday. They are definitely weird, but in a funny entertaining way, not in an "oh my god, this kid is going to have a melt-down because of her back pockets" kind of way.

One girl told me she likes to chase the boys on the playground and then throw them into pretend jail. (been there, done that) She said when she catches them they scream. She said, "You wanna hear how they scream?" We were in the hallway at the time so I told her NOT to scream. She said, "Oh, I can do it with my mouth shut - like this:" And she screamed an ultra-sonic high pitched scream with her mouth shut. Surprisingly loud, but I must say, pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New Math

My kids and I invented a fun and educational new game we call Child Abuse Math. It's totally sick and they love it! It started with me holding Kira's hand and telling her that she had to tell me what three times two was.  I wouldn't let go until she told me. She told me that if she gave the wrong answer I had to squeeze harder. (SHE told ME that)

She gave the wrong answer, I squeezed harder, she flinched and laughed and laughed and then gave the right answer. Sam heard the fun and wanted in on it. He literally shoved his skinny little forearm into my fist and said, "Give me one!" So I asked him to tell me what three cubed is. He said nine, I squeezed, both kids squealed with glee and pain and then he gave me the right answer.

Then I started making up word problems like, "If you have 28 teeth, and I give you a roundhouse kick to the face that knocks out 9, how many teeth do you have left?" They were in hysterics. What is wrong with these children! Then I asked Kira, "If you have 32 liters of blood, and I beat 8 liters out of you, how many liters of blood do you have left?" I thought she was going to pee her pants she was laughing so hard! I think I've stumbled onto something big here!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Tomorrow is my last day of semi-full time work. The district has to replace me because unfortunately, the teacher is way sicker than she originally thought, and a long-term sub is needed and I am not licensed to do it.  I have a middle school/high school license and an elementary license is required to do the job properly, apparently (cat sound). They tell me that long term subbing is the same as having the job full time and you have to be licensed in the proper area to do it.

I was prepared to do the job for the next three months because I really like the kids and the staff and the school, but I have to admit, when I was told about the license glitch, I was secretly happy. Turns out I don't particularly care for full-time employment. (Sorry Mitch) I don't want all the responsibility of being a real teacher without the contract and the pay. It's kind of like the difference between raising your own child and babysitting. When you're babysitting you're constantly thinking, "Please god, don't let these little bastards get hurt on my watch," and "When will this be over?"

And I'm too immature for a job with children anyway. Today in the reading book we turned the page and there was a poem called "Summer Hummers" and right there at the front of the class, I could barely stifle a giggle. (Plus, a good teacher would have previewed the pages before the lesson and been prepared for seeing a haiku about BJs. )(It was actually a poem about BEES.) (Yeah, I don't get it either.)(Wow, that's a lot of parentheses.)

So after tomorrow, when I'll be training in the teacher who is replacing me because she is qualified, and I am not (again, cat sound), I will have more time to sleep in, tend my facebook farm, shop, and most importantly, blog.