Post for 9-11-22
Although I have a strong preference for high school, I have to take what I can get, so I taught elementary school kids again thrice this week. They're very cute when they aren't hellspawn. On Tuesday I had a class of second graders for half a day. These second graders were much better behaved than the third graders from the week before, but oh my goodness they were a handful. They had so much energy and so many questions. I felt overwhelmed by the end and don't think I could have lasted a whole day, but I didn't feel frustrated with them or take the Lord's name in vain under my breath even once, so that was a win. The kids were also quick to tell me what I was supposed to be doing if I ever got confused. The wildest kid, whom the teacher warned me about, was also one of the most helpful. I think he just needs constructive outlets for his energy. Also when the kids were writing stuff about themselves, he made me happy and sad at the same time.
Him: How do you spell lore?
Him: Yeah, lore, like the kind of person my mom has to give a lot of money to because she's in a divorce.
Him: How do you spell anxiety?
Me: *tells him*
Him: *writes "Anxiety" on his paper under "I am special because"*
On Wedneday I didn't know what I was doing because the listing just said "Resource." I'd had two assignments with the word "Resource" in them - Resource Center where I ran the library, and Resource Intervention Specialist where I sat in the classroom and did literally nothing. I assumed this would be one of those two things but then I showed up and they told me I was teaching Special Ed. Crap, I thought, I'm not even remotely qualified for this. But it was super easy. First I tutored an adorable second grader in reading and writing. I couldn't tell why she was in Special Ed because she blazed through the lessons with few errors. Her only consistent issue was using e's instead of i's when she wrote down the words that I spoke, but since literally every vowel in English makes the same sound at some point, that seemed perfectly understandable. Then I went and sat next to another adorable second grader who needed occasional nudges to stay focused in class and assistance if she had a seizure. She didn't have a seizure so it was an uneventful hour and a half. At least as far as this age group goes, I much prefer the one-on-one stuff to managing entire classes and wouldn't mind doing it full-time.
On Thursday I had high school students and all I had to do was administer a test and show a couple of videos. After some difficulty with the teacher's weird computer layout, it was a snap. Here are the videos in case anyone else wants to become educated.
On Friday I had two fifth grade classes, one for each half of the day. It was a Portuguese immersion classroom but I didn't have to worry about that. During recess and lunch I read Dav Pilkey's Dog-Man in Portuguese, or rather skimmed over the words without really pronouncing them in my mind and got the basic idea because of their similarities to Spanish words. Partway through the day, all the fifth grade classes met in the common area for an assembly where several kids gave their campaign speeches for student council. The first kid had it in the bag. He looked like a future movie star, and he tossed away his notes and just spoke with such confidence and conviction that I'd pick him for US president in a heartbeat. Actually, I would have picked any of the kids for US president in a heartbeat. He'll win and a few others will win and the rest will learn an important lesson about life's many disappointments.
The kids behaved very well. The second class was a little rowdier, but nobody disrespected me, and I wasn't going to report anyone to their teacher to have points taken away, but one kid helpfully gave me a post-it note with the names of the bad kids in descending order of badness. The one at the top of the list was... interesting. She came in during recess - they all had to stay inside during recess because the air quality was so bad, probably as a side effect of the temperature dropping twenty degrees in two days - and wrote on the board, "Cats are the best. I don't care what you think. That is all." And when I actually had her class, she wrote it again, and then she wrote "Cats = awesome" and then she just wrote "Cat" a dozen times. And she asked me probing questions about my personal life. And she asked me like five times, "Am I being bad?" And she asked, "Am I being bad, or just obnoxious?" And she asked, "On a scale of one to ten, how bad am I?" I found her very amusing and I hope some stupid adult never crushes her spirit. Also, in the morning class a student was kind of rude to me but I let it go and then later she apologized on her own initiative and it was adorable. I want to teach these classes again, but I suppose I'd have to learn Portuguese.
Contextual world news for future readers: Today is the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, Queen Elizabeth recently died, and Ukraine is kicking Putin's жопа even harder than usual as it takes back its territory in an incredible counteroffensive. Also, monkeypox is probably still a thing that I should be more worried about than I am.
Post for 9/4/22
Substitute teaching elementary school children and middle school children who act like elementary school children is every bit as awful as I thought it would be. Not all the time - some first grade classes are better than some sixth grade classes, and some sixth grade classes are perfect but some third grade classes are straight from the bowels of hell. (I did a day teaching six sixth grade classes and a day as a librarian covering the whole spectrum.) But it's a gamble, so I'm definitely going to keep aiming for high school. Also, I didn't think my desire to reproduce could be lower than it already was, but surprise!
Yesterday I went outside just in time to see a teenager come down the road on a bike, and right in front of my apartment, the front wheel came off and the back wheel flipped over his head. He lay in a fetal position in the road with the bike on top of him, gashes on his forehead and wrists, and had a seizure. Another teenager came up behind him on a skateboard and screamed, "AW SHIT! AW SHIT! AHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHH!" That freaked me out more than the initial accident. I ran up and tried to move the bike, but when I pulled up on one part the other part went down, and I didn't want to make things worse and I figured the bike being on top of him was not the most pressing issue, so I ran back inside for my phone that I hadn't bothered to put in my pocket because nobody ever calls or texts me. For this guy's sake I put aside my hatred of Logan Regional Hospital and the Logan City Police Department and I called 911. I explained everything to the dispatcher, and then she put me on hold, and then another dispatcher picked up and asked the nature of my emergency so I explained it again and she said they already knew about it. Um, okay.
The skateboard teenager had also called 911, and he asked the injured one's name and age, so at first I thought they didn't know each other but of course he was just checking to make sure the injured one remembered. After the seizure, I thought for a brief awful moment that the guy was actually dead, but then he spasmed and then he tried to get up and his friend tried to keep him from getting up. His friend asked where it hurt and he said nowhere. I could see blood on his teeth as he spoke, but he said he was fine. A FedEx driver stopped to see what was going on, and an EMT stopped to see what was going on, and then the fire department and the police but not an ambulance showed up. Nobody knew how to contact his parents, so they debated for a moment whether to take him to the hospital. Why was that even a question? Oh right, because this is the United States, and the hospital bill might ruin his parents' lives. The police investigator asked me for my contact information and I gave it to her and I wonder if she recognized the name. The department leadership is very aware of who I am, and for all I know they've got an illegal file on me. I don't know what she even needed to investigate since no crime took place or was suspected. The second teenager came back later to pick up the wrecked bike, and he said he'd snapped (snapchatted, for you boomers) his friend and he was in a neck brace but seemed fine.
For anyone wondering, no, he wasn't wearing a helmet. Wear a helmet. I'm never getting on a bike again without a helmet.
Yesterday evening, my next-door neighbor tried to have a game night, but too many of our neighbors were gone for the long weekend so we just watched a movie with one other person. The movie was Back to the Future Part II because I selfishly always vote for movies I've already seen instead of trying new ones. Now, this next-door neighbor is ultraconservative (her word) and frankly her worldview disgusts me. She wears Thin Blue Line shirts, she identifies as anti-feminist while happily taking advantage of the rights that she owes to feminists, she unsubscribed from Disney+ because it's "too woke," she subscribes to the Daily Wire instead, and they sent her a Thermos labeled "Liberal Tears" that she likes because it's a good Thermos but now she's worried about offending her vegetarian roommate. I'm not offended by it, I just think it's pretty pathetic coming from people who tried to overthrow the government because their candidate lost. But anyway, I just stay away from those topics and I've managed to be her friend and enjoy her company anyway. Thomas Jefferson said, "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." And yes, even though he owned enslaved people, he had some good ideas.
So in Back to the Future Part II, Michael J. Fox reprises his role as Marty McFly and plays Marty McFly's son and Marty McFly's daughter. When my neighbors realized that he was playing the daughter, they found that very amusing. Fair enough. But then the the super conservative one joked about how she'll get canceled and banned from all her social media platforms for not saying that Michael J. Fox is a beautiful woman, and they both went back and forth joking about that for a minute, just obviously poking fun at transgender issues and liberals. And this topic hits much closer to home for me than it did a few months ago, and I couldn't stay silent. I didn't want to make a scene in front of the other neighbor and in the middle of the movie, so I texted her, "I have a transgender sibling, so I would appreciate you not mocking transgender people in my presence." And she read it and then, with the maturity one would expect from the kind of person who drinks liberal tears, she went ballistic on me. How dare I be passive-aggressive, how dare I have the audacity to text her in her own apartment, how dare I not say what I had to say to her face if I had something to say. And she condescendingly explained that it's just funny that Michael J. Fox is dressed as a woman, that's all, and pretended like she didn't just say the overtly political stuff she just said.
So you know, I don't think I respect her at all anymore. And that's rather awkward, but whatever, it's not the worst falling out I've had with next-door neighbors. Just ask the police.
I kind of thought that once I got a Masters degree, people would be lining up to offer me jobs. But no. Most of the college-level teaching or tutoring jobs I applied to ignored me. A few had the basic manners to tell me that they hadn't selected my application. I ended up in a K-12 substitute teaching job that any twenty-year-old with a high school diploma and a clean background check can get. I was kind of resentful about that, but I've tried to let it go because it won't help anything. Maybe God is still directing my life and maybe this is where I'm supposed to be.
I've gotten off easy so far. On Wednesday I signed up to fill in for a high school gym teacher, which seemed like a nice easy way to transition into this line of work. I knew there was nothing to stress about but I still stressed about it and got maybe an hour of sleep. When I showed up I couldn't find the lesson plan and neither could the main office or the other gym teacher and I went back and forth for half an hour trying to figure things out, but then it turned out to be even easier than I expected. The gym students just bounced basketballs around for an hour while I made sure none of them died. I wished I wasn't wearing slacks and dress shoes (as per the substitute dress code) so I could participate. I did have an actual classroom class as well, but an older student was assigned to it as a mentor and he did everything and that was nice.
On Thursday I filled in for a middle school science teacher for half the day. I showed up at noon like I was supposed to, but he was still there for another hour. He constantly joked around and (gently) teased the students. He was the kind of teacher I want to be, the kind that every student would love to have, and I could imagine his later classes' disappointment at coming in to find me instead. The lesson plan here was also simple enough, as the kids just needed to do get-to-know-you stuff on their laptops and then show me so I could check them off, but the stress level increased in one class with a couple of troublemakers who made barking noises and kept getting out of their seats. That's the sort of thing I'm afraid of because I don't know how to handle it at all. I just kept asking them if they'd done the assignments yet, and they kept apologizing and going back to their seats and not doing the assignments. Oh yeah, and a student told me to my face that I seemed really nervous and I would be more successful as a teacher if I pretended not to be, so that was appreciated but also ouch. The big perk at this school was the teachers' lounge that had massage chairs that touched me in ways I've never been touched before.
On Friday I signed up to be a resource/intervention specialist for a teacher who wasn't absent. I had to look up what that is. It's supposedly like a social worker. So I thought that despite having no training along those lines and being told over and over not to do so, I would be the one responsible for intervening if a student got violent. Actually, I sat in the classroom and did nothing. I just needed to be there because the teacher hadn't passed her Utah background check yet. She went over the same syllabus-type stuff in all three of her classes and it was pretty dull, but I was intrigued by how she started off cold and intimidating in her first class and transitioned to cracking jokes by the last class. I had also wondered how long in this job it would take for someone to mention the elephant in the room, and she was the one who did so. She said that in her previous school district in Idaho, one of the schools had two shootings in three years, and the students couldn't have backpacks and the classroom doors had to be closed and locked during class. Greatest country in the world, ladies and gentlemen.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.