Where have you guys been? What? I’ve been here the whole time. What are you talking about?

I’ve been a little distracted lately; the weather has been soooo good. Sorry to make you people who live in other places besides Paradise jealous, but it was 82 degrees on December 1st. I skated the empty streets on Thanksgiving day. In shorts.

So much to share. I’ve missed circle time for a while. So I may will string this out over a couple several more posts to sort of, you know, make up the slack…

I’ve had to miss a bunch of days (for me) this year. I can remember when I went a year or two without a sub. (I always have been a weasel when it comes to “professional development” days.) But this year, I have already had a sub–sorry, they’re called guest teachers hereabouts–at least four times that I can think of off the top of my head. As my long-suffering reader(s) may recall, the first line in my sub plan always says, “…the kids should be good, and have fun, but don’t be afraid to kick ass and take names on the seating chart.” I also tell the GT to rate each class from 1-10 on respect and cooperation. Everyone knows that anything less than 8 means “consequences” and that a 10 means reward (usually not having to do the 1-page response for their independent KBARR reading… which is HUGE to them). And anyone that gets called out by the sub also faces “consequences.”

The consequences are old-school: “I must be obedient and respectful for the guest teacher.” 50 times. Hand written. No mistakes. Due the next day.


I do the math for them: Ten word sentence X 50 = 500 words.


They can’t cope.

Wimps. It was 100 times for the nuns at Mel’s back in my day. In cursive. Due before you could go home. Talk about D’oh!

It’s my version of the nuclear option for subs. For a smart sub, the rating system and the seating chart name-taking are magic… POWER! I actually watched it happen through the window once. I got back early from some sort of something, and I was dropping in to get some shtuff from the classroom, but there were still about 15 or 20 minutes left. So I watched through the window. Hello? Of course. I love watching them in their natural habitat…without the head game warden to herd them.

So that sixth period class was a boisterous one, and the sub was trying to bring them back from the brink, so to speak. I couldn’t hear all that well, but I watched as he wrote a 7 in the space next to Period 6 on the chart I make for the GT ratings on the board. It was like throwing a switch. Silence. All movement stopped. I could make out parts of what he was saying now…

“…if you can…end of the period…MAYBE I…unintelligible…” …but understandable nonetheless. He was telling them that if they stayed that way until the end, he would put the rating back to 8. Magic. Sho’ ’nuff, they were good enuff until the end, and he changed it to an 8. Disaster averted for all.

Subs hate to say things went poorly. They think that it reflects poorly on them if they rate the kids low. For me it’s worse when they pretend it’s all good. The kids know, and I will find out. I watch them as they come in the door and look at the ratings on the board. If ANY of them look the least bit surprised by a high rating, my suspicions are raised. Besides, there are some classes who aren’t physically/mentally/emotionally capable of earning a 10. Ever.

So the latest sub was a smart one. She was savvy with the ratings and didn’t give out 10’s like candy. She named the names of the cheeseheads so they alone took the “fitty lines” as we call it ’round here. She also named what she called stand-outs.

I was reading her note as she wrote it. Sometimes I don’t. I learned this trick from another teacher at our site. If the sub doesn’t leave a note, or worse yet, says only that “everything went fine,” he just makes up a note where “several people were disrespectful…” and so forth and gets them to give up all the names. They’re so easy. “Now I won’t punish the whole class if…”  That’s gold, Jerry!

Anyway, her note named all the names that needed naming. But when I read the part about stand-outs, the kids so named were a little… what’s the word… uncertain. One finally raised her hand sheepishly.

“Does that mean we’re in trouble?”

They didn’t know what stand-out meant. They assumed it must be a bad thing.