All Girl Class II


blog post
The title is All Girl Class II, however this the third in my sub-series relating to my teaching an all-girl eighth-grade English class. Again and yet again, at the expense of making a repeated, recurring statement, as I said two or three times before1Bumping up the word count once more for no specific reason., that experience led to my believing eighth grade girls very are much like seventh graders, ninth graders, or just in between.


It wasn’t very long into the quarter when I was approached during the middle of a lesson. The girl said, “Mr. B., it’s my time. May I be excused to the restroom? And may, … go with me? She has what I need in her locker.”

I gave permission. Then, less than two weeks later, near the end of the class, the same girl approached me with the same request. I knew irregularity wasn’t uncommon for the age and granted the request. And I allowed her companion of choice permission to leave also. I didn’t put two and two together when I learned someone had been smoking in the girls’ restroom during the time they were gone.

Within weeks, it seemed to me that most of the girls assumed or thought they had a way out of the class taught by a naïve male teacher.2Well it wasn’t most, but it seemed to me at the time. Wrong on their part – but I’d not found a way to stop their escape attempts. I’d checked with administration and the school nurse, but was told not allowing was my judgement call, but I should start a coded register of who and when in my grade book.

I gave the documentation plan a month and when the most usual requester made her second of the ensuing month, I gave her a pass to the nurse’s office with the comment loud enough for the few nearby to hear. Trying to not be harsh or sarcastic, I said something like, “I’ve been married for 19 years, was raised with sisters, and have a daughter your age. I’m concerned that you may have a serious medical problem and should see the nurse. She can make a preliminary determination.” I added, “Don’t forget to have her sign the pass to get you back into class.”

Each time I got the request after that, I simply handed the requester a pass to see the nurse. Word got around quickly. Another problem solved.


Perceptions of the Principal – I
Arlie in kindergarten:
The principal is the person you have to see in the office when you kick Allison at recess. She didn’t listen to my side.
Perceptions of the Principal – II
Allison in kindergarten:
The principal is the person my mother called when I said Arlie kicked me at recess. I pulled Arlie’s hair first, but I didn’t tell Mom or the principal.

All Girl Class I


blog post
The title is “All Girl Class I,” but this the second in my sub-series relating to my teaching an all-girl eighth-grade English class. At the expense of making a repeated, recurring statement, as I said before1Bumping up the word count for no specific reason., that experience led to my believing eighth grade girls very are much like seventh graders, ninth graders, or just in between.


During my teaching years, I had three sets of identical twins in my classes2I had mirror twin boys in a math class. Two sets were in the all-girl class. One of the pairs had a nature to confuse others. The other set pointed out their differences on one of the first days of class. The set who gave me the ID clues nearly always had the same grades, but the pair other didn’t.

I disregarded the antics of the ‘fool ya’ pair and got to know the subtle differences in their behaviors, but I let them play their game for a while. I’m sure some students knew they were involved in the guess if you can episodes when they traded places in the seating chart. Initially, I wasn’t sure which was the better student because one time one would get the better score, then it was often the other.

If drama had been part of the curriculum, each of them would have been an A student. The year before, one was busted for smoking and they split the suspension time.

To get them to admit which they were, I averaged their grades for several assignments. Finally, the one who really got better quiz and in class assignment scores protested. And the problem, for me at least, was solved.


All Girl Class

blog post
This sub-series relates my teaching an all-girl eighth-grade English class. That experience led to my believing eighth grade girls very are much like seventh graders, ninth graders, or just in between.


The growing of our junior high school designed for 600 increasing to 800 presented some problems. Shortly after everyone was settled in for the year, there was a serious need for class size reduction. For reasons unknown to me at the time, hiring more teachers was not an option1I did learn about school funding later.. One solution was to have teachers volunteer for an extra class, with pay of course. I had taught an extra math class the year before, so expecting a math class again, I put my name on the list. All extra math classes were taken. I’d not taught English, nor did I have college training in it. Needing the extra income I took the only class left.

’Real’ English teachers were asked to make recommendations and those students were transferred to my supplemental assignment. The all-girl class was a real adventure. A repeating freshman moved and was replaced by a seventh grader, about whom you’ll read later, at the start of second quarter. I knew several of the girls from my wood-shop class, one was from our church, and one was a former neighbor; but most of them I’d never seen nor heard of before.

But little did I know the collection that was picked to be foisted upon me had a group GPA of 1.0 on a scale of 4. Of the 23 students, excluding the two mentioned before, nine were graduated from the district high school. Some may have graduated elsewhere, but the student community was always in flux. To the best of my memory, I only saw three of them as adults. One became an English teacher in the same district, one filled a prescription for me, and another worked at the local public library.

I saw the latter when I was turning in a book. She told me about her baby, but added, “No! Mr. Gerund2Their ‘pet’ name for me., I got married a year before his being born.” I’m sure it was to let me know she was different from to several in the class who had babies without marriage.

I wish I’d taken notes so I could share more, but there are at least three stories to tell. As I draft, perhaps I’ll remember others.

At the end of the year the class GPA was the same as when they entered, but with one exception, all legitimately passed the class. On the last day, I was surprised by their gifting me an engraved bracelet with J.M.B. on the outside.


All Girl Class I will be posted next.

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.

Of Slugs VI

blog post
Hits or what I’ve called them continues.
Like I said before, girls can pack a wallop too.


I was working at a middle-school as a substitute for one of the two vice-principals and charged with routine student discipline and supervision duties. It had been a slow with zero territorial disputes in the lunchroom or other places. It’s indeed a rare day to have no disruption referrals in a school of nearly 600 students. I had made my last roam the halls observations and was typing my report to the regular VP before going outside for bus duty.

There was shouting from the school counselor area and I rushed there. The regular VP was already there and asked me to take the shouting girl to my workspace so he could find out what was happening without the seventh-grade girl interrupting.

The shouting was about her not willing to give up her cellphone, which was strictly forbidden for students to have in those days. She had claimed to the counselor that she’d tossed it to a friend when escorted by security from her classroom. Men, of course didn’t do girl searches, and she’d vehemently refused to allow the woman counselor to do that.

There’s more to the story than I care to or should tell here, but she broke loose several times and flailed her arms when the VP and I were attempting to escort her to the bus. For those who wonder why two men could not restrain a non-compliant seventh-grade girl, try it some time.

In the aftermath, the school secretary said something like, “boy, she sure laid one on you.”

I felt a blow, but thought it was just from her random flailing. The swelling was evident when I looked in a mirror and touched the spot. The closed-circuit hallway video showed her taking an aimed punch at my face.

There was legal action initiated, and there is a ‘rest of the story’ but not for the public.


Slug stories related to classroom incidents have come to an end, or so I think at this time.


From Iniquities of the Fathers: A story of Illusions and Deceptions:

There were no letters that Levi knew of while they were at Vanport; his mother refused him permission to write to Lillie or Adam. Nearly every time his mother went to the store, she brought back newspapers for him. After he finished reading them and marking in his atlas, Levi stuffed them into cracks in the shed walls to help keep out the cold winds.

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