Another Gotcha

blog post
I am happy to have finished the “Of Slugs” part of my classroom stories.
This series started with “Blog Purpose Decision” on 09/05/20 in which I related one of the first classroom ‘gotchas’ foisted upon me. Remember 3×5 spiral notebook paper story?


Ten years into my career in public school, I moved from the junior high to the high school to teach electronics and drafting. Because those two didn’t fill my schedule, I was assigned a sophomore English class1Not my first English class experience.

The English department had requirements not related to curriculum. One was that students write all papers with an assigned word count. I didn’t then and do not now understand setting word count as a criterion – content should be the rule. I openly admit, however, that quite often I am too wordy in what I could say with fewer – words that is, so as Mark twain said, “I would have written a shorter letter but, I did not have the time.”

Whoops, I drifted away from the gotcha story.

Because of my poor cursive handwriting, I understood when some of my students had the same problem. One boy’s cursive was worse than mine and he didn’t type. I told him it was OK print his assignments. I assumed he like the others would use standard notebook paper for the first long assignment I gave.

His 600-word essay was turned in on a 3×5 unlined index card. He’d used a number-six drafting pencil which has the hardest lead and was used for nearly invisible guidelines for lettering or preliminary lines on paper. Because the pencil point can be made very sharp, his extremely small letters were easy enough to read with a magnifying glass.

He had my prior permission to print and his content was good, but I could have rejected it because he violated two of the department rules. Work was to be in pen and only on one side of the paper. However, no way could I reject such a good gotcha?

I modified my basic instructions again.


Nothing to see here – move along please – thanks!


From my novel, Echoes of Nam: Absence from war is not the same as peace of the soul.

It wasn’t until Goor did the research for this book that he learned what happened to the others at the Dak Bla Bridge. Well, Wosk excepted.

Smiles, snarks, and comments go here.

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