Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Drinking on the Job

At the beginning of the school year, I informed one class that it would be okay for them to drink coffee, coke, or an energy drink to stay awake in class if they're tired. An administrator overheard this and informed me that this was wrong, and that there was a new push in the county to ban all energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull, Full Throttle, etc.) from school. Today, I brought an energy drink to school, which I planned on drinking after school on the way to a grad school class. The same administrator informed me that I was strongly encouraged not to drink energy drinks in school, too. This seemed a little silly to me because he didn't seem to care about the 24 ounce coffee in my other hand and the diet coke jutting from my pants pocket. I can see the rationale to encourage students not to rely on energy drinks at a young age. I can even see the rationale for teachers to model the same standards to their students, but this seems ridiculous. I guess I'll add energy drinks to the long list of drinks I'm not allowed to drink at school, including booze, blended baby fetuses, and yellow-flavored Gatorade out of urine collection cups. What do they want me to drink? Water? What am I, a gazelle?

Some Similes Should Never Be Said

When I think about half the shit that comes out of my mouth in the classroom, I wonder how I haven't been canned. Today, I actually said, "I want you to keep this worksheet in your binder all school year. Keep it forever - you know, like herpes. [pause] What? I learned about it in health class. class."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Call me uninhibited, but if I was a high school teenager with cold sores around my mouth, I wouldn't share with the class that my secret talent is that I can tie a cherry stem into a knot and remove a Starburst wrapper with my tongue.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Does anybody know what a hangover is?"

I'm not an alcoholic, but I'm a little bit of a lush. In fact, I haven't met a drink I haven't liked, which creates a conflict with my job as a teacher. Occasionally, I like to have a drink... or twenty... on a school night. The problem with this is not that I blow off my responsibilities at school the next day, but I cannot get the smell of booze out of my pores. I could bathe in a bathtub of cologne and I would still smell like alcohol. Today, I arrived to school after seeing a concert the previous night. I had a few drinks at the show and I think some of the alcohol crept through my pores yet again. One student came up to me this morning and said, "Mr. Substitute, you smell like rum!" Yikes! Maybe it's time for me to tone down the school night drinking, especially since this is the second time this week that my classes have seen their teacher hungover... and it's only Wednesday!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Please Sign My Petition."

Two male students in my second period class are best friends. They're great students, but the two never get anything productive accomplished when they're together. Consequently, I never seat them together because the temptation to misbehave or talk is too strong. Every quarter, they have nagged me to seat the two of them together and I have always dismissed their plea. The fourth quarter began not too long ago and they, once again, asked if they could sit next to one another. I said no. They asked, "What if we get a petition going?" I laughed and said, "Okay. If you get a petition signed by 1,000 people, I'll allow you to sit together, but I reserve the right to separate you two if you misbehave at any point. Deal?" They agreed. A couple days passed and the two stopped by my classroom intermittently to show me their progress. At the end of the first day, they collected 200 signatures. I doublechecked to see if there were any forgeries; there weren't any. I was impressed. Eventually, word spread around the school about the petition, especially on the day that the two finally obtained 1,000 signatures. I taped them to my blackboard to show other students their hard work. The two students now sit together side by side. I only wish they worked as hard on their assignments as they did on their petition.

Friday, April 13, 2007


"Thursday's the new Friday." That's what I tell my principal when he asks me why I'm wearing jeans to school on a Thursday. On Friday, he sees me in the same clothes I wore yesterday and asks, "So it's Friday now, too?" I laugh and wait until he walks away before I mutter, "No, I'm just hungover, smartass."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sophomores are Not Players

I have a group of sophomore boys who pretend to be sexist. I believe that they say disparaging comments in class simply to get a rise out of other students, but they drew the line today when they said an inappropriate and sexually suggestive comment. When I asked the male ringleader, who is desperate for attention and (shocker!) single, if he actually believed the comments he said, he said, "Yeah, Mr. Substitute. Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?"

If there's one thing that I hate more than unsightly people who think they're players, it's sexist, repulsive people who think they're players. I played along with his analogy and replied, "Tom, who are you kidding? Don't you have to get the milk first before you can even apply your theory? I know you're not getting any milk, and no cow is ever going to give you the time of day until you lose the act. Don't reiterate comments like that in my class ever again."

Friday, March 09, 2007

"My name is Mr. Substitute, and..."

My students know that one of my foolish and silly ambitions is to be a contestant on MTV's dating shows, Next. For those who do not know the show, a "selecter" has a bus full of "selectees" to take on various outings in Southern California. The selecter dates as little or as many of the other contestants. If the selecter doesn't like a selectee, s/he can say, "Next!" and a new selectee will emerge from the bus. For each minute that the selectee lasts with the selecter, the selectee will receive $1. The selectee who wins has the choice of selecting another date with the selecter or to keep the money. Unfortunately, there is a special class of contestants who are immediatly repulsed by others and some selectees have the distinct honor of being "instantly nexted." These people earn a whopping $1 and a lifetime of embarassment for being rejected on national television.

Before someone can be instantly nexted, a selectee is given the opportunity to deliver a corny one-liner, demonstrating one's desperation to be on television. As a writing activity today, I asked students to write a one-liner either for themselves or me if we were contestants on the show. The winning one-liner goes to Charlie, who wrote this line for me: "My name is Mr. Substitute, and I'm going to give this girl some extra credit."