Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hellfire as an Educational Tool

I've been subbing in high schools yesterday and today.  For all you bloggers out there who have had comments from me two seconds after you posted, don't be creeped out, I'm bored and I'm just staring at Google reader waiting for something new to happen.

High school subbing is like war, or policework.  It's incredibly boring with brief moments of terror, then it's boring again.  Most of the teachers tell me to take attendance, then give them a worksheet and let them work.  Zzzzzzz.....  Excuse me, I AM a teacher you know, fully licensed and everything, I COULD teach them something.  Wait, what?  Math class?  Oh forget what I said, give me the worksheet.

Yesterday I taught at the good high school with the nice kids in the "bad" part of town and it was great, and today I'm at the shitty high school on the hill. It's amazing how schools with basically the same kids can be so different.  Third period seemed to last 47 hours because the kids were so OBNOXIOUS.  Not only that, but there was a newly-graduated-from-college-with-a-degree-in-teaching, middle-aged woman who was subbing for the aide.  She had all kinds of ideas for me for getting them to behave like human beings.  "Maybe if you tried [this]... maybe if you tried [that].  How about this: they know what they are supposed to do, I spelled it out in excruciating detail and if they choose to act like animals I will just write their names down and let their teacher deal with it tomorrow.

When I was a full-time teacher I threatened the kids with torture and grim death if they were mean to the sub. If I got a bad report, for the forseeable future the offending students were MISERABLE because their teacher (me) was an unbearable HARPY-DEMON FROM HELL.

You called Mrs. Larsen a What?

I would make them write letters of apology to the sub, then they would write humiliatingly detailed letters to their parents telling of their behavior for the sub (lots of good writing and rewriting practice), there would be a review of their contract for going to the school (alternative high school), there would be CONSTANT, IRRITATING reminders of how they acted last time there was a sub.  Sometimes after this happened I would come to school and tell them that I was terribly sick, but I didn't want to subject another sub to them (you know, because of what happened last time...) so I was just going tough it out (cough cough).  Too bad, because I really should be home in bed (cough cough).  I hope I don't get pneumonia, (cough cough).  And then I'd turn into the devil and give them a day so painful that they would have gladly pooled their money and paid any moron off the street to be their sub and treat them like royalty.

Don't you wish you had a sub instead?

It didn't take them long to learn that if a sub gave me a good report they were lavished with rewards and if not; utter, unending hellfire.  Usually just once.  Then I'd get glowing, wonderful notes about how great my classes were with every sentence ending with an exclamation point.  What wonderful students! How helpful!  How kind!  What a pleasant surprise!  Call me anytime!

I have two more classes today and I'm counting the minutes until the last bell rings.  Tomorrow 3rd Graders!  Yay!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eighth Graders

Eighth Graders

This is the second day of subbing for eighth graders.  These are some of the best eighth grade classes I've had while subbing, but still, they are soooooo mean and obnoxious.  I am convinced that the 14 year old human male is the meanest living being on the planet, right above the Honey Badger who loves to eat beehives, scorpions and porcupines (troublemakers).

Nature's eighth grader

This is what I mean:  Yesterday during MCA testing, which is a big deal and has to be administered the same way throughout the state, the boys did everything they could to make it difficult.  Every day of testing the administrator is supposed to read a set of instructions to the class.  No exceptions!  It's like miranda rights or something.  I had to do it, but regardless of telling them that I know they'd probably heard it before, and please just listen patiently because I had to read it; after every instruction there was adifferent boy who said, "We've heard this before," and then there were a series of laughs from the other boys. 

They can have candy and gum during the test.  The school actually gave them each a piece of taffy and every time my eyes were off the class, I could see from my peripheral vision, taffy wrappers flying across the room.  Many of the kids had their own gum.  I can see now why teachers don't let kids have gum.  I bet I heard 25,000 impossibly loud snaps of gum yesterday. 

During the MCA test, when a student finished a section, they were supposed to raise their hand and I was supposed to come over and put an orange sticker sealing the section off.  There were a few boys who would raise their hands and then when I came over with the sticker, they would say, "I'm just stretching."  Then they'd do it again and again and again.  Why?  Just to be annoying, that's why.

The kids had two hours to do two sections of the test.  All the eighth graders in the building were testing at the same time and if they had to leave their room to use the bathroom, I was supposed to call an escort to bring them.  I told them before the testing started to go to the bathroom if they had to go.  None did.  During testing 8 boys (no girls) needed me to call an escort to go to the bathroom.  EIGHT.  And they wouldn't make it convenient for the escort at all.  She would come to get one, then when she brought him back she would ask if there was anyone else.  There never was until about five minutes later when she had gone all the way back to the office.  Then another boy would have to go. 

After everyone was done with the test, there were about 45 minutes left of testing time and I had to keep them in the room and keep them quiet.  I gave them a ball and told them to play silent-ball, which is a popular middle-school game.  They couldn't handle it.  They would toss the ball a few times and then one of the boys would rifle it at the class nerd as hard as he could.  The second time a nerd got nailed with the ball I took it away and made them sit down with their heads on their desks. 

I see now why wars throughout history were fought with teenage boys.  They would drive the adults crazy to the point where the adults would find a reason to start a war and send the boys off to fight it.  Did you know that Alexander the Great's father sent him away to school to learn from Aristotle at the Temple of the Nymphs when he was 13?  And knowing what an enormous burden Aristotle was taking on, King Philip, Alexander's father, agreed to rebuild Aristotle's hometown of Stageira, (which Philip had razed) and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile. 

Aristotle asking Alexander if he's really done with the section of the GCA test, and not just "stretching" again.

That's almost a fair trade for tutoring an aggressive 13 year old boy and his friends, but Philip got the better deal.  My guess is that when Alexander was about 15 Aristotle was fed up, regardless of the deal with King Philip, and said something like, "Hey Alexander, the Thracians said you are gay," which, knowing how homophobic every teen boy is, made Alexander fly into a rage and he left to beat the Thracians down.

Alexander the Great, history's meanest eighth grader

I think the "Support Our Troops" idea is relatively new.  I would say it started about the same time soldiers had to be at least 18 to fight.  At 18 they are just starting to come out of that unbearably irritating part of life, and we'd be sorry to see them hurt or killed.  Before that happened I think the overwhelming feeling about the support of troops was, "Meh...whatev."