I finally made it to high school. I subbed today at Free State High School, here in Lawrence. It made a good first impression. For starters, there were none of those kids from High School Musical running around singing randomly. I don't really know anything about HSM, other than what I've learned selling HSM merchandise at Wal-Mart and talking to a few teenagers about it. That's enough. More than enough, actually.
I got called this morning to sub for the French teacher. Well, the guy who teaches French to the students. I don't know whether or not he is French. His first name was one of those odd, sounds-like-a-last-name names. Not at all French. And his last name is Rogers. Yep. I subbed in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
The major lesson I learned today was this: 30 minute plan + 60 minutes class time = 30 minutes goofing off.
In this case it wasn't terrible goofing off. These students were mostly capable of amusing themselves (and each other) in a regular tone of voice, rather than the hoping-to-be-rescued-from-a-deserted-island shriek that most of them seem to use in between classes while roaming the hallways. A couple of the classes talked about getting together on Monday (since it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and preparing food to bring for Mr. Rogers. The first class, French IV and V, drew pictures on the board, including the following words of wisdom: "All you need is LOVE. And GDF." They informed me that GDF is an abbreviation of some jumble of French words that mean Cheesecake. Oh yeah. I gotta get me a class like that.
I couldn't bring myself to be too upset with the guy. The reason he was absent today was that yesterday he collapsed while writing on the board, maybe an epileptic seizure, and hit his head on something. There was a spot on the floor that my students told me was his blood. Some of them insisted on pushing the overhead cart on top of it, so that no one would walk over it. I joked that if I stood on that spot I could channel his energy, perhaps speak French without having learned it. Didn't get many laughs.
Everyone knew what had happened, though some of them didn't seem to care much. The class that actually saw it happen still seemed a bit traumatized. There was an exchange student from Sweden, Helga [remember, I'm just making up the names!] who still seemed shaken up over it.
Helga also had an interesting observation about English: it's hard to learn to swear appropriately. Anyone learning English by watching movies will get the idea that we Americans swear all the time. Another student said that Helga would frequently "drop the F bomb" when it was not called for. I told them that although I recognized many vulgarities in Korean, I deliberately avoided practicing them. Because when you practice something a lot, it comes out easily, without forethought. Which is not a good thing if the words you have practiced can get you into a fight.
It was a good day at the High School. I took a moment at the end of the day to introduce myself to the principal, and mention that I would be looking for a math teaching position in the fall. He said that he didn't have any openings at the moment, but things could change.
In the evening, I got a call from the school district. It was from the teacher of the 3rd grade class that I had enjoyed so much a few days previously. She was planning to be gone this coming Tuesday afternoon, and wondered if I could sub for her. She said her kids really liked me, and hoped that I could come back.
I was very happy to hear that. Not that I want to teach 3rd grade as a career, but that she specifically thought of me was very touching. It will make for a busy Tuesday: I have class from 10 to 11 a.m., sub from 12:15 to 4:15 (though I may get out by four), then Wal-Mart from 5 until 10 p.m. As I finish writing this up, Tuesday is tomorrow. I'm glad today was a holiday, though I am at Wal-Mart from one to ten. Subbing as well would have made for a rough few days. I do have the next two days off, other than class in the morning.
On a more personal note, Mom and Dad came Friday, as I had the evening off. They took us to IHOP for dinner, which is always nice. Not just that pancakes and stuff are good, but having time with them is very refreshing for me. It's sometimes hard for me to believe that I really live so close to them now. It's been my mindset for the last 12 years that talking to them on the phone was expensive and complicated, and seeing them was really expensive.
Now that I can see and talk to them easily and cheaply, I find that we still email for a lot of stuff. Mostly because I get off work about the time they go to bed, but also because some stuff is just easier to do by email. Dad gives me lots of help fixing stuff around the house, which usually starts with an email from me. I describe the problem and my thoughts on it, and usually he calls (or I call him) to discuss details and solutions. He has an amazing ability to visualize problems and solutions without having the actual things in front of him. He's talked me through a couple of bathroom sink fixes in the last couple of weeks. Neither was a really big deal, but I just had no idea where to start. Thanks Dad.