Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Education First


Why is it when right-wing conservative types post virulent comments they spell everything wrong?

I’m not pointing fingers. God knows, I have made my share of spelling gaffes. However, there are two types of spelling errors.

1) The kind of spelling error that results from a faulty phonics logic. This usually will bring one within a short distance of the correct spelling. These are the kind I generally make.

2) The kind of spelling error that screams “Fonics really Phukked me up!” Generally made by ignoring all of the phonics rules within the English language. These are the ones I refer to in the opening sentence of this post.

If you are going to insult, demean and degrade strangers, do it with panache. Do it with style.

Do it with spell check.

An unfounded accusation really loses something when the person that is being insulted has to guess at what you are talking about by deciphering your tedious spelling.

Right is not spelled r-i-t-e.

Traitor is not spelled t-r-a-i-t-e-r.

Shite is not spelled s-h-i-i-t-e. That is some thing else entirely: pronounced Shee-ite. A form of Islam. Which might change the content of your ballsy message just a little bit.

If right wingers in small Southern states want to be taken seriously, they should really make an effort to upgrade their spelling. Use that dictionary for more than something to keep your trailer level. It seems like a nit picky thing but, an incorrectly spelled insult can really set the opposition to laughing.

So as you, a self righteous indignant right winger go out into the cruel Obama world, try to spell your Nazi protest signs, scathing blog posts,  troll comments and general words of  anger at losing the Presidential election to an articulate and charming black guy, correctly. Not Kerectly.


Not To Complain But…..


It’s been a long week.

It went something like this:

Hello I ‘m here to-

Room 22. Here are your keys.

Uh thanks.

(Shuffle, Shuffle, click. Science??? This is supposed to be English. Darn.) Hmmm. Lesson plans, lesson plans. (I rifle the desk and look through the file cabinets which I’ve mentioned before I really hate doing.) Uh, where are the lesson plans????

Teacher from next door comes in. “Yeah Mrs. — was called away suddenly. Did she leave any lesson plans?”


“Oh, well I’ll see what I can come up with” she says running for the door as students begin to flood the classroom.

Oh dear, think think, think. (doing my Winnie the Pooh impression)

That was Monday.

Tuesday I was a Temporary Librarian.

HI I’m your-

Could you make copies of these and then I’ll tell you what you’re doing today.

Then she forgot to tell me what she wanted done. My job was to stand behind the desk and use my angry giantess superpowers to look imposing as students filed past to get their textbooks. “Grrrr, you evil students. Shhh, quit, this is a Library. Stop molesting the dictionary. What on earth are you doing to that book???” That’s right, I got paid to be a book bodyguard.

Thursday? Oh Thursday.

Two schools. One day.

School one.

Volunteers to read. How about you?

I don’t know how to read. (class laughs, until I give them THE LOOK)

Really. (Checking the class schedule) Is this not the honors class?

Yes but I can’t read. (class snickers)

That’s very sad. Maybe you should go to East office and let them know so they can put you in a different class.

Never mind

Are you sure? I wouldn’t want you to do anything you’re not ready for.

I can read it.

Oh well, you know what, let”s get someone else for now and I’ll let Mrs. — know you have trouble with reading.

Bitch, I hate you.

School Two:

Hi I’m-

Resource room upstairs end of the hall. And you’re late.

Sorry about that, I was coming from another school. I did call.

Mrs— is still there so maybe you can catch her before she leaves.


Hi I’m-

Here are the lesson plans. watch out for K and I, have a great day. ( I think her high heels actually left skid marks as she raced for the exit.)

Students come in.

Hello. Mrs — isn’t here today. My name is Dogwoman and I’ll be helping you during her absence. Please get out your workbooks and I’ll come around and help-

Reading charts go flying as one student becomes upset. Next the book cart, three chairs and a math book that hits me in the back. Don’t worry, it was soft cover. When I called the office to have the student removed this was their reply

Oh, yeah, K,. The teachers next door can help. click.

Whaa..????? ( Now he’s screaming, flipping me off and using language reserved for Ice Road Truckers.)

Three teachers materialize and start talking to him like he’s a rabid dog they don’t want to get to close to. He hides in the media cabinet. Two other students begin fighting over who gets to use the computers first.

Eventually, three of the six students I started with have to be removed.

Later, they come back and it’s like nothing happened. Perfect gentlemen, every one of them. Gahhhh!

In my car on the way home I think about intense drug therapy and how it can be beneficial in these situations. No, not for the students, for me. I think a heroin script would really do the trick and I might mention it to my doctor next time I see her. Because, clearly, the vodka is not working.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year


It’s that time again. The smell of new shoes is in the air. The delicate sound of shouting and screaming outside the bedroom window as students line up at 6:45 a.m. to wait for the bus.

They’re going back.

And so am I. Another year of self-abuse and personal flagellation I like to call My Career As a Professional Substitute. This year our district has signed on with a professional contractor, ergo, I get benefits. Yeah! And five separate districts that I am contracted to. Boo! New students. Yeah! New administrators. Boo!

I am actually looking forward to this year. I have put together all of my papers, pencils, lesson plans, notebooks, printables, stickers, paperclips, xanax and vodka. Now all I need are the assignments.

You know how little kids get ready at 4 am for the first day of school and then just sit on the couch waiting for the ok to run to the bus? Yeah, that’s me. Just swinging my feet and waiting to say those magic words:

“If you don’t give me that phone right now I will call security and have you suspended.”

Ah, it’s gong to be a great year. I can feel it.




There is a proposal by some British nit-wittian that ‘alterantive spelling ‘ should be allowed at University level because, clearly, people can’t spell.

I am among the spelling afflicted. However, using tried and true grammar rules will usually, but not always, will get one out of a tight spelling spot.

I’ve have seen student papers at the secondary level that make me want to cry out to the Gods to stop this madness. Spelling is not the problem. The problem is grammar is no longer taught, thank you G.W.

Teachers don’t seem to care that students use phrases like ” he be, she be, then I like said”, and my personal favorite, come across in an English class  which I promptly made the student fix, “and all that shit.” It’s nice to know they can spell George Carlin’s favorite words.

Spelling requires a dictionary. When I was growing up we had eight. They each had grammar rules printed in the back. I before E except after C, unless its an ‘eh’ and in neighbor and weigh. Simple. And woe betide anyone who refused to speak proper grammar around my mother. That earned one a serious a wooden spooning. (Okay, so my mental scars were turned into a career. It works.)

The rambling point is, that if simple grammar rules were taught rather than just phonetics, as is currently the case in elementary schools, people would spell and speak concisely.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy into the thinking that Ebonics and Text are acceptable standard public languages. They are dialects of English. Dialects shouldn’t be used in formal writing, unless it’s to make a point or highlight a character.

And students should be marked down for being so lazy that they can’t log onto their laptop and look up It’s not like they have to hike to the nearest library anymore. Point and click ye morons.


If You Only Knew


I read a news report about a substitute who was fired for doing a magic trick in class. Oh and he let students use a computer. I’m willing to bet he didn’t let the students use it, they just waited till he wasn’t looking. Or lied to him.

Another Sub was fired for having blue hair.

The charges against the Subs were, respectively, wizardry and paganism.

I find this interesting, considering that Subs are expected to be magical beings who can wave a wand and keep a class of forty two strangers under control while simultaneously getting them to do ridiculous busy work.

The complaints came from parents. Parents. Oh, parents.

Recently, I was redirected to another job at the last minute. After getting into the class and starting my morning walk about, a parent came to the door with two little ‘uns and began without preamble to scream at me. I watched and waited for them to take a breath. This took a while. When they finished calling me everything they could think of except ‘fine individual’, I smiled and said:

” I wasn’t here yesterday and I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Aren’t you the Sub?”

“I am a Sub, but not the one you are looking for I think.”

” Oh. Well my kids” indicating the two children who hadn’t said anything thus far, “said he was screaming at them.”

I nodded. ” Well, you could go to the office and discuss it with them but, right now I have to finish reading the lesson plans. Sorry.”

“Right.” Then they left.

The problem is that the parents have no idea how their children behave in school. The class mentioned above contains no less than eight conduct disordered and special educations students. I know this because I have spent a lot of time in that particular class. The students don’t get away with much when I am there, though they do try. Of course they try, they’re kids. And it’s ten times worse when a Sub is there. On this day, a student from this class was given a three day suspension. He came back after I sent him to the office and said ” You got me suspended.” I replied in my best teachery voice, “No, —, you got yourself suspended by making a poor choice. Next time, think carefully before you act.” Which of course was followed by the student yelling “I hate you.”  Sigh.

If parents could see what their children really do when Substitutes are in the room, I think the two people at the beginning of the article would still be employed.

Wizardry and Paganism are not really the issue. The issue is parental complaining. If they think that their children are being treated badly they don’t stop to rationalize the problem, they just go off. My children, over the years, have come home telling me about a mean Sub and I always ask them what they did to make the Sub mad. Inevitably, the answer is ‘nothing”. Bull. I know better. And so do they.

In the course of this last year I have been subjected to: Paper airplanes , paper wads, bits of erasers, pencils, paperclips, books and marbles thrown at me during lessons. I have been threatened with physical harm, spit at, screamed at, pushed and physically intimidated. I’ve been told to fuck off, get fucked, fuck you. I’ve been called bitch, geek, loser, stupid, dumb, not a real teacher, idiot. These are general education students. Every parents’ precious little snowflake treats strangers this way. Strangers, I might add, who have come into the class to help them learn.

So the next time your angel comes home whining about a Sub who was mean, take a minute to think of all things said angel might have done to push that person too far. Everyone has limits, even substitutes.

Paganism and wizardry, my ass.


Edumacation And Bad Spellings


I could rant on about the candidates, but watching them shadowbox each other is so boring I can’t be bothered.

However, I can rant on about the new No Child Left Behind regulations that Margaret Spellings is rolling out.

Miss Spellings , a woman who has never been in a classroom, whose degree is in political science, has decided we need more ‘accountability’ from the schools and more programs to involve parents.

I live in a place where all three high schools have failed to meet the NCLB standards for the past five years. The city’s solution has been to make ALL of the teachers re-apply for their jobs for next fall. When I ask student’s about it, I get an earful. They are afraid that the teachers they are familiar with enough to take their problems to will be gone next year. When I ask teachers about it they just roll their eyes and shrug, as if to say ‘What can you do?”

Spellings is not concerned about the students or failing schools. In this district there has been a significant elevation of students who are classified as Emotionally Impaired, most of them being conduct disordered. However, there are few solid programs to deal with this influx and many EI students end up in general classrooms, where they are disruptive. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of educational aides, run down, non-functioning schools are just some of the actual problems facing Administrators. Where are the increases in Federal funding to help? Don’t hold your breath waiting for Spellings whose real concern is mirrored in the following statement:

“Over their lifetimes, dropouts from the class of 2007 alone will cost our nation more than 300 billion dollars in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity,” said Secretary Spellings. “Increasing graduation rates by just five percent, for male students alone, would save us nearly eight billion dollars each year in crime-related costs.”

Because being fully educated means one will never commit a crime. Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, various Republicans caught with their pants down.. these people have cost our nation millions in prosecution and work loss but apparently, if you’re over educated this is more acceptable.

As for parental involvement. In this district they practically drag parents into meetings and programs. Every night I get phone calls about town meetings, forums, PTA, special programs for  parenting…. it”s endless. The fact is, some parents just don’t care. Many do but, some just don’t. All the regulations that Spellings wants to impose on the schools won’t make them care. It just makes the NCLB goals that much harder for the district to reach.

I have a solution. If Margaret ‘I’m a Political Hack” Spellings were replaced with an actual Teacher or School Administrator whose primary concern is real students rather than imaginary numbers things might change. Continuing the number crunch and calling it Educational Reform is just garbage. The NCLB is churning out students who can take a test but can’t hold a job, spell or do basic problem solving. And people like Spellings are taking it out on the only people who are willing to work for low pay and even less respect, Teachers.

Education is about the students and their futures. It’s about making sure that student’s have the basic tools to live and work in an increasingly complex system. NCLB and Margaret Spellings are throwing political wrenches into that system at  will and then blaming the very people who are trying to do what they ask.

Our political system, the one that controls our education system, is full of twits.  And Spellings is the worst of the lot.


The Secret Lives Of Substitutes


I should be gathering lesson plans for class but I’d rather talk to you.

When I started this blog there were things I wasn’t going to discuss, like my job. Well I’ve broken that rule a few times. Many people snicker or make a funny face when I tell them what I do. And they all say they feel sorry for me. Screw you. I like my job.

Today I am going to give a play by play as to how a Substitute Teacher Operates. Functions may vary from state to state. Certainly, the pay does.

5:00 am-10:00am

Bring bring


This is the—— School District Substitute Management System calling for Dogwoman

*It’s an automated system*

We have a Substitute Position available. To hear the job press 1


Now the system tells me the school, the teacher, the subject and the time. I have 30 seconds to decide: If I want to teach at that school for that teacher in that subject at that time. Lets pretend I do.


Job Number 111111 has been assigned to you. Please write down this number as it may be requested upon your arrival. click.

No thank you, no have nice day, just click. And the schools never ask for the job number. Ever. They ask for my name and the name of the Teacher I am subbing for. And woe betide me should I forget the teachers name. I write it down in my little book of horrors assignments.

Now I dress in my uniform of black clothing standard to all substitutes. This can be as fashionable or unfashionable as the individual chooses. See we need to fade into the background.

Now I gather up everything I’ll need. Lunch, lesson plans, review sheets, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, extra paper, mints, pens , hilighters, dry erase markers, post it notes , hall pass, treats, prizes, stickers, xanax, vodka, taser.( Just kidding. The taser is too big for my bag.) Rule number one for Subs: Never use the Teachers supplies. This is carved in stone somewhere.

Get in car. Check for gas and write down milage. Drive to the school. If it’s a new school, Mapquest it and drive past the school three times just to be sure. Or because I turned left when I should have turned right. Try to find the Staff parking lot. More hilarity ensues as I find I have gone in the wrong drive. Twice.

Go in the FRONT door. The Staff door is only for staff, which I am not. I must walk around the building to the main door. Sometime this is a three mile hike in heels. Once inside, I report to the main office and this where it gets tricky.

In the office sits the most important person in a Subs life. I think of them as the Gatekeeper. They are in fact the Administrative Assistant and they control my day. Everything I am going to do in the building is decided by the Gatekeeper. If they need me in another class other than the one I signed up for, the Gatekeeper tells me. They give me my attendance sheets and my keys. They tell me where the staff lounge is and sometimes where the bathroom is. If the Gatekeeper is having a bad day, so am I. If the Gatekeeper doesn’t like me, oh dear. Mostly they are helpful and kind. Occasionally, they are bitter and rude. I smile anyway.

I say hello to everyone I pass in the hall: janitors, librarians, students, on my way to class. I might need them later and there is no point in making enemies before I have to.

Once inside the class I turn on the lights and start the hunt. I am looking for the lesson plans.They could be on the desk, they could be in the mailbox, they could be non-existent. Once I locate them I read them as I walk around the room. I note where everything is, what rules are posted on the walls, students names if they are on the desks. I now have to find all of the materials listed on the plans. I like it best when the teacher leaves everything in plain view. That way I don’t have to rifle through their things. I hate that.

When students arrive I do one of two things depending on the grade level. I either occupy myself as they filter in or I stand outside the door with a menacing look on my face.

Once class starts I give the students The Speech. I tell them my name, what I expect and what we will be covering. This is by rote. What I am really doing is noting the students who are going to be trouble and formulating a plan to neutralize them. I am also noting the student who could be helpful later. Now you know, Subs have an opinion of students by the time they are in their seats. During Speech time, that opinion is either solidified or dispelled. It just depends on the students.

Lessons start. This is the bulk of my day. It requires me to field complaints, questions, emergencies, drinks, bathroom breaks, interruptions, office calls and discipline. All while getting the lesson plans completed. This is teaching. The part I like.

However, once students hear the word substitute it translates for them in to the word “Vacation”. I don’t know why, just does. And lo, if I happen to know the teacher and have had a lengthy conversation with them, the students get surly. One teacher told me that I would want a stiff drink at the end of a day with her students. She was right. Classroom management takes up a lot of the Subs time. My favorite student complaint starts with “Our teacher doesn’t …” I respond “Am I your regular teacher, No? Okay let’s do it my way instead, it might be fun.” It’s not, but they are usually half way through before this dawns on them.

I get 25-30 minutes for lunch. I use this time to sob quietly. And for taking the xanax washing it down with the vodka. Just kidding. I go over the plans for the afternoon. Subs avoid being seen doing anything human like eating, drinking or urinating. We do it on the sly when no one is looking.

By the end of the day, if I have successfully completed my assignment, all of the students are happily running for the bus and the room is a mess. I take time to put the room back together, pushing in chairs, picking things off the floor. The class needs to look exactly like it did when I walked in. I write a note detailing the day for the teacher, turn off the lights and check out with the Gatekeeper.

I get a sherpa, hike back to my car and head home.

That’s when I take the xanax and the vodka while sobbing. Usually there are students names included as I swig away at the bottle. Sob, D’Quis, sob, swig, Jamilla, Sob, sob, swig, zach, wail swig swig. Once I’m drunk enough I collapse into bed.

In reality, I love what I do. It doesn’t pay much, the students are disrespectful and demanding, I have forced unpaid vacations. Yet, there are rare moments when a student will say those magic words all teachers live to hear “Oh, I get it…” And that is why I keep picking up the phone at 5:00 am.

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