Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On Leaving Early

Today was an abbreviated class because we had a "snow storm" and the school administration decided to let us out of school early. There were only 21 of the little hellions in there today. Be that as it may, the important cast members were there.

Tubbles seems to have a particular predilection for violence. I should preface this by saying that our students sit on those metal fold-up chairs. I was standing there and I heard Tubbles making racket, so I turned around and Tubbles was repelling a Dark Clown barrage with one of these chairs. It resembled a deranged lion taming act in which the lion had somehow taken the chair and wielded it against its master.

Tubbles was also in a chair trying to attack Dark Clown, but when he went for the fro, the chair tipped on two legs. Now I'll never understand the miracle of physics involved here (God Himself may have been behind this), but the chair didn't tip. It was absolutely one of the damnedest things I've ever seen; it was utterly inexplicable.

After almost everyone had gone, Gangsta came back in to get something he'd left in the room. As he walks in, he exclaims, "DAMN, GIRRRL!" It's beyond me why he felt this was the appropriate thing to say at this locale, much less any locale, but he looked over and Admin was sitting behind the desk.

"Oh, I mean 'darn.' "

"I don't talk like that normally."

"I was just stage-actin'."

Really, Gangsta, I think you need to embrace the future. All the world's a stage when you're a moron!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Troubles Galore

Sounds like our whole class had a "case of the Mondays" today. Our fearless Admin ordered my partner and me to create a new seating chart. Mind you with 35 kids, that's no easy task. We sent away for three desks to accommodate three children who've been shoved in at table ends and such, but haven't received them. Of course, this would be just another humorous anecdote except that we sent away for the things six weeks ago. Yes, we've had to undergo the ordeal of being without desks since the first week of school. But if there's any class intellectually lower than UP, it most certainly is the mythical "Tech." (Cue faux angelic sounds.) But today, through some fierce negotiating with another teacher down the hall, we managed to procure three desks to make the seating arrangement work. Success.

Now, I would never be intentionally malicious or anything, but there are some times when opportunities present themselves. Being given the power to lord a seating assignment over children is one of those opportunities. Now, for the most part, we tried to be benevolent to those children who do well in the class, and we tried to put people near us who are tolerable. As for the stupid, well, all bets are off. Gangsta is seated off by himself and around people he would never dream of talking to (okay, so maybe we punished a couple of reasonably intelligent people). Sleeper and Rip van Winkle are at the very front. Captain Cleavage (no explanation necessary), who has had difficulty dealing with Sleeper in the past, is seated directly behind him. Tubbles is still seated relatively close to us so that we might catch a few pearls of sagacity from his prudent head--but, mind you, not close enough that we have to deal with him. Other than that, it's a random smattering guaranteed to elicit moans of dismay from those who should experience that emotion several times daily. Find out how it goes tomorrow.

Today Tubbles had a wee bit o' a paroxysm. JAG (you'll find out in a minute) came in and was talking to Tubbles. And for some reason, Tubbles yells, "You better get down out of my face!" To which JAG retorts, "I wasn't in your face!"

"I'll crack your head if you do that again."

Now, I think Tubbles has terrible depth perception because JAG was at least a good foot away. Of course, he might have been confused because of his all-encompassing weight: it's hard not to be in his face. I almost thought I'd have to handle a situation. I can only imagine trying to break up a fight that included Tubbles.

Local student killed when crushed up against classroom wall trying to intervene in a fight. More at 11.

Today the students completed an interest inventory. I'm not sure the exact point, other than to keep them occupied for a few minutes. I didn't get to look at all of them, but I'll pull some of the better ones tomorrow. One of the questions was to choose what your future career would probably be.

Terrioiste wrote: "I'de like to be a marin bioliogest." As long as there isn't a spelling component to marine biology.

The Rock (name derived from the same logic as "Tubbles") wrote: "I'll probably become a mechanic." Finally, someone who has a realistic view of the future!

JAG wrote: "I want to be a pilot or JAG officer." Yes, chalk up reason number 532 why I will never be in the military.

Good Lord, Captain, that plane's comin' in low! WHAT IS THAT SOLDIER DOING? Oh, Jesus, he crashed into the hangar! Call HQ, tell them we've got us a KIA.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Rip Van Winkle and the Magical Appearing Students

There's a young man in our class who, like Sleeper, has a small problem with dozing when he should be learning. He sits back there no more than three feet from my partner, Admin, and me and sleeps. I mean head down, hood up. The kid is a shameless sleeper; thus we named him Rip van Winkle. Well, I've never realized the full extent of this problem until we were standing in the lunch line today:

My partner and I were standing there waiting for our food when Rip busts in between us. He turns around and goes "HEY!" very loudly. In fact, it was kind of an effeminate screech. So he froze. You could see the myriad rusty gears creaking and snapping as they tried to help Rip comprehend the situation before him. Then he came up with this:

Aren't you guys in my class?

We've been in his class for over six weeks. In fact, we've sat directly behind him a majority of it. We give him tests, we take him into the other room and sit at the front of the class while he takes quizzes. I'm going to be quite frank and admit that I really don't expect that much out of any of these kids, but is it to much to ask that they recognize whether or not we're in there?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

James Joyce, Eat Your Heart Out

This is all I have today. It deserves its own day. My partner and I found it beneath a stack of folders, and, like some relic of yore, was lauded with the greatest praise. Gloria in Excelsis Deo indeed. What follows is the story; I won't comment on it. It has been neither corrected nor modified in any other way. There wasn't a name on the paper. Now, enjoy...

He lept up when he palpabled the spooky sound. Jake was a lore, when it came to the knowledge of death, but this, he thought to him self, could be the undead. He looked down at his feet and saw the taint of blood on the white rugged carpet. he looked up and staring him straight in the face was an evil demon. Jake at first thought he was dreaming until he figured out that the demon was tangible. The demon snarled at him indolently. He felt like he was blaitantly sensuous. The demon stoped snarling abruply, but still gazing feicerly in to the eyes of Jake. Jake then regained vitality and doggedly ran with the demon nipping at his heels. Jake could not see where he was going due to the opaqueness of the hellatious night. Then all of a sudden the beast lunged at Jake. Jake thinking very quickly took off his Jacket and threw it at the beast. The demon lacerated his Jacket tell there was nothing left. All Jake could see in the pitch black was the heavy red firery eyes darting one way then the other looking for Jake. Jake prayed that the monster was just a mirage, but he new it wasn't. Jake finally ran into a gargoyle. He hid behind it waiting for the beast to go away. All the time Jake felt disarmingly uncomfortable. Jake felt a cough come on. Jake, who was unaffable to the beast, started backing up slowly. He kept on backing up untill he ran into something. He turned around and there was the 7ft tall devil monster. Jake could only think of one thing and that was fight it. Well that was an imprudent decision. The only proposition that came to mind was death. All he could remember was the amenities of the analitical proportions of his life. Finally he remembered that he had a silver diamond plated cross in his pocket. He took it out and stabbed it in his eye. The demon ran away like a quarry, But Jake new that would not be the last of the demon for Hell.


Learning to Count

Found a good way to help the children learn to count. Check it out, for it's über-freaky:

The Conet Project

Want to hear some?

NPR broadcast on "numbers stations"

(Link to broadcast is about 1/3 way down the page)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Slow Day

I was kind of in a tired stupor all day today. Nothing that great happened. The students were finishing their vocabulary assignment, so they were quiet for the most part. Nonetheless, there were some bright spots. (Or would they be dim spots in this case?)

Dark Clown was visiting Tubbles today and when Admin walked in he scurried to his seat. Now, I don't know if either of them had an actual note, but Admin asks, "Is that note for me?" A note from Tubbles to Dark Clown. Oh, what endless possibilities:

(A 'dramatic reenactment' in the style of my new friend CA)

Deer Dark Clown.

i wuz jus sittin here in english class & i thought id rite u LOL, so i wuz jus playin sum, majic the other day & man. wuz it fun. im thinkin about goin dear huntin this wekend u wana com! itl b fun 4 us, i might bring sum majic cards 2 u can see my new crak the earth card its awesum. well ill let u go now

bye? Tubbles

Enough with that. I can't program my fingers to type like that anymore.

In other news, Admin discovered that TT and Gangsta seem to have a penchant for alternating days being absent. It's kind of like musical school days; too bad they both lose in the end.

My partner and I sit at the back of the room and I try to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, actually going to the front of the room. It's not because I lack self-confidence by any stretch of the imagination, rather it's like crossing into No Man's Land from the relative safety of your little trench. But I needed to retrieve the copy of Aristotle's Politics that was perched at the front of the room (I'm really quite surprised the pages haven't withered from being in that pernicious milieu). I got up there and had begun the return voyage when, for no apparent reason, John Deere--I don't think I need to go into much detail here--exclaims, "You dropped your ears back there!"

Man down, captain! Man down! If only he hadn't left the trench alone.

We were trying to figure out a passage from the Politics to teach the children, and I was leaning towards one on oligarchy or tyranny. Regardless of what we choose, however, we'll have to lead them into it slowly.

Oligarchy. Can you say 'oligarchy,' children? Ol-i-gar-chy. Now put it all together. Oligarchy. That's right! Good!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Children Learn about the Holocaust

As I previously mentioned, the children got their first taste of adult subject matter in class today: the Holocaust. I'm quite certain that they can fully appreciate the full depth of the atrocities, but there are differing opinions about whether or not it should be taught in high school and why. Admin had the kids write a short paragraph on that exact topic. What follows are, so far as I can remember, selections from some of the better responses:

"Students should learn about the Holocaust because it happened in real life."

"I don't think racism exists that much in the world anymore of course there are still some jerks out there."

"Hitler was real messed up in the head. In fact, he poisoned his wife and shot himself in the head."

"Students shouldn't learn about the Holicost cause there parents might want to teach them about it." (This student would later go on to say that the monopoly on Holocaust instruction should be held by parents and people who lived through it.)

Almost everyone put that we should learn about the Holocaust because it's part of history. Can't argue with that flawless logic. I'll have to go back and remind myself of some of the better ones because I'm at a loss right now. I do believe that someone asked what the Holocaust was. God, I hope I just made that up in my mind.

I'm confident that most have the maturity level to deal with the Holocaust, but there are, of course, exceptions to every rule. I'm just hoping that the material will be depressing enough to stifle any inappropriate comments a few of them might have about the matter.

But if they do, I can assure you that you'll read it here.

Today's Trouble

I'm hoping to be able to make "The Trouble with Tubbles" a biweekly post. So, starting next week, expect a new Trouble every couple of days or so. Yeah, I'm pretty confident the kid is that full of good material.

Today we all went into another room to take a test because the room we're currently in is too overcrowded. Now, I don't like being as close to Tubbles as I was, but it did provide some valuable insights into his behavior. Tubbles handed in his test--which was surprisingly good--and proceeded to use his skin as a canvas. As pasty as he is, his forearm proved to be the perfect canvas; and so with the black pen he was holding, he proceeded to inscribe some phrase that I couldn't make out into his arm. Maybe it was "I (heart) Magic." Just a guess.

So after the ordeal of proctoring the test was over, we herded the half of the class which had to vacate the room back into Admin's room. We planned on watching a video about the Holocaust and the children were to complete a viewing guide over the film. When I hand the paper to Tubbles, he turns to hand it to Gangsta. Now, I wasn't exactly paying attention before, but it seems that Gangsta wasn't there before Tubbles left to take the test. He paused for a moment in silent awe and then asked, in a mumbling Deliverance voice, "Where'd you come from?"

Ah, the joys of UP.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Legend of CBJ

There's one of the bunch that I haven't mentioned, for he is no longer with us.

Once there was a boy who owned a blue jacket.
This jacket wasn't very clean, so it was dubbed "crappy."
From that day forward, the boy was known as Crappy Blue Jacket.

Yes, children, this is the Legend of CBJ. CBJ was a real looker: black mustache, beady eyes, and greasy hair. Almost too stereotypical, and way too good to be true. Indeed, for the short time we were privileged to be in his presence, we were given some wonderful memories. Take, for example, the day we were standing in line for lunch. I was standing there holding a $5 bill and CBJ was in front of me. CBJ was holding three $1 bills and was looking pretty full of himself over this fact. He turns to me and asks as he holds out the three ones, "Wanna trade?"

Well, one of the dollars was crisp. But, being the sharp dealer that I am, I noted that one of the dollars was ripped and had a conspicuous tape job on it.

"Whoa, what's that? You're going to have to throw in about three more to make up for that one."

"I don't got three more dollars."

"Oh well, we would have closed the deal if you had."


Yeah. I miss those days. But this was nothing compared to the one that ended our time with CBJ. There was a paper due in class and, true to his UP-level roots, CBJ had failed to turn it in. Admin called him to her desk and inquired as to the reason why she didn't have a paper from him. I had a probation hearing. Yes, that's right, a probation hearing. As in dealing with the police. Welcome to University Prep.

But, alas, Admin finally got her paper and it was, to say the least, abhorrent. Three errors on the title page. Not formatting, either--grammar. I read it. My partner read it. We laughed for fifteen minutes straight. The paper, however, hinted to Admin that there may be a problem with CBJ's training. Sure enough, CBJ hadn't received a credit in a prerequisite course. Ergo, CBJ was no longer entitled to remain in our class.

The news was delivered to CBJ rather abruptly. Admin was discussing something with my partner and me, she suddenly looks up, and announces, "CBJ, gather your materials and go see your guidance counselor. Leave your book with me." Before he's even out the door, she tells everyone in the row CBJ was sitting in to move down one seat. Touché.

I met up with CBJ shortly after the "incident" whilst talking to another administrator. He tells me, "She threw me out." I sort of chuckled, not wanting to make public the true reason for his departure to the administrator (oh, the ironies involved here). The administrator asked him, "Are you an academic student?"

"Well, I am this semester; last semester I didn't turn anything in."

I'm sorry, but CBJ, indeed any UP kid for the most part, and "academic" should not be mentioned in the same breath unless either is preceded by "not." But then I'm sure CBJ is on the way to a Rhodes Scholarship.

The Trouble with Tubbles

Now, before I expound too much on today's trouble, I should explain that our readers out there should become very well acquainted with Tubbles. Out of the 35, I would dare say that Tubbles is the most original, and by original I mean "makes me value every modicum of my intellect every time I look at him." Tubbles doesn't exactly radiate, how shall I say this, couth. His eyes are like two magnificent black holes that deplete the IQ of the whole room by about 100 points. Each. And in a room where IQ points are very precious, his presence is rather deleterious.

Now, Admin often tells the class to complete a task, but rarely is an order issued without some ridiculous smartass comment from Tubbles. These range from such classic humor mills as "What?" and "No." to the more advanced "I don't want to (guffaw, guffaw)." Of course, Tubbles finds these pithy insights to be...erm... funny. Tubbles finds numerous things to be humorous that normal folk would often not even give the cursory chuckle. Tubbles and his "crew" (one of whom is "Dark Clown," named for his massive black fro-thing, which appears to be an animal that mounted his head and died) used to sit at the end of our table at lunch. To say that Tubbles was loud would be an understatement, for he would scream--and I don't mean talk loudly, I mean scream, beat on the table, belch loudly, and otherwise engage is behavior that would be considered to have passed the "socially acceptable" line miles ago.

Tubbles also must like Magic: The Gathering cards; he often sits in class with an assortment of them spread out on the table in front of him. Today he knocked his plastic card holder on the floor and the cards went everywhere. A student who sits several seats down from him followed up with "Good job, Pokemon." Tubbles replied with "These aren't Pokemon, these are Magic." Oh, well that cleared everything up. Good job, Magic.

Tubbles' favorite (No, not really; how should I know?) demonic Magic card.