If you’re a regular reader (I know there are at least three of you), you know that I rely heavily on the work of my loyal and diligent student assistants. They are all better organized and neater than I am, and they allow me to get a whole lot more done and a whole lot more napping in on my limited prep time. My current Gal Friday is another good one; her handwriting was better than mine and 90% of my students’ during the six weeks she had to write wrong-handed while her writing hand was in a cast. Heck, she TYPED faster with that cast than I can anytime.

wooglyAnyway, this post is about the other assistants I have. The ones that collect essays and pass out clickers and greet students at the door. All the things I’m too lazy or busy to do. The ones that hold things up. Literally. While they are certainly nowhere near as valuable as my assistant girls, they do add a certain “ambiance” to the room.

Let’s start with our greeter in the window by the front door. He’s new here. So new in fact that the kids haven’t even noticed him yet. Obliviousness is a characteristic middle school trait. I found him while on my daily after-school skate. No doubt Woogly will be a classroom catchphrase soon enough.

clickersyesNext up is the Clicker Guy. He has one of the cushier jobs. He usually only works on Fridays these days. He lets the kids know whether or not they need to grab their clickers on the way in. Nowadays that’s pretty much only on Fridays for the test. He used to work a lot more when clickers were fresh, but I have cut way back on their use for warm ups and suchlike. Occasionally Clicker Guy moonlights as a hat-check guy, fashion model, and decoy in lock-down situations.

Now we have the two most important members of the Inanimate Aide Division. On the left, in pink and orange, is the Popple. He collects all fines. Dropped clicker? 25 cents, please pay the Popple. Forgotten handout? 25 cents, please pay my short pink friend. No cash? Take five school days to pay. Still not paid? The Popple Mafia will show up at your door and break your knees. (That’s all they can reach.) Or you can do a break-time detention. Between the fine collection and the pencil machine concession, the Popple does quite well for the classroom finances. All the money goes for the end-of-the-year Scrabble tourney prizes. essayassistobamasurfSome kids like the Popple so much they just feed him quarters because “it’s fun.” Ditto the pencil machine:

“You look like you have plenty of pencils. Why are you
buying another one?”
“It’s fun to turn the handle and pull out the pencil.”

On the right is the Essay Collector. He too is a hat connoisseur. He collects all projects and writing assignments that aren’t digital. He doesn’t lose shtuff like I do. Looks like he needs new shirt. Now that I think about it, that one has to be at least 20 years old. On his shoulder is his assistant, whom my wife brought back from Hawaii.


yellowdawg1Lastly is the other new guy. He too was an orphan picked up during a skate session. He’s still trying to find a role for himself. Lately he’s been toying with the idea of being a Where’s Waldo sort of character. Our local “cool grocery” chain, Trader Joe’s, has a thing for kids where they place a plush, stuffed seal at random locations around the store, and if a kid spots it and tells the cashier where she saw it, she gets a piece of candy. The other day, one of the first period homies said,

“I see the dog up there!”


“I found him!”

“This ain’t Trader Joe’s. I don’t have any candy for you. And you’re not eight any more. ”

But I do kinda like the idea. Hmmm.