Spring Break

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Any time is a good time to thank my readers. Thanks!
My school experience pile of notes is down to a sheet or two, so I’m taking a personal early spring break from blogging. However, if a thought burning within me is hot enough, I’ll drop one in.
I have several self-imposed deadlines staring me in the face or at least seem to be sneaking up on me. Remember Jason Finn from Nescient Decoy?


Impression Sketch

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Several times in my career I needed a substitute.
A good report from a sub makes a teacher feel good about his/her students.

I had been invited to make a presentation of an article I had published at a National Vocational Association conference in Los Angeles . I would be gone three school days, so I worked up two sets of very specific lesson plans. One set was for a sub who had training in math and electronics, the other was for a ‘generic’ sub.

The conference was informative, and I felt good about my presentation. I arrived home on Saturday evening and had most of Sunday to be in recovery from travel and unfamiliar food. I went to school a little early to check on turned in papers and determine what was accomplished by my sub.

My first day sub was a math and science teacher before retiring. He followed my technical lessons and reported good student response. The second/third day sub was as not technical as one could get, but I’ll say no more about that. Her report was one no teacher would like to get. I’m sure the students, girls and boys alike, were not the satanic beasts she described. Never-the-less, had to assume their behavior was not what I would expect.

I usually greeted at least two or three as they filed in first period, but I stood behind my desk with arms crossed as they came in. My body language would tell the least observant of them what I thought of their behavior.
My lecture was to confirm my body language controlled by my thoughts. I didn’t point out individuals as did the sub notes; I knew each would know his or her role in the inappropriateness of their behavior.

I gave the same basic lecture to each class. I don’t remember which class Jeremy Newman1his real name was in, but he gave me his impression of my mood with this sketch.John Morris Benson sketch I still have it in a frame these 34 years later.

At least two more times in 1987, I needed a sub, but I don’t believe I had the depicted expression again.


Court Order

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Many students are memorable for the wrong reasons.
This experience was started with a juvenile judge’s decision.

The same spring quarter Marl Boromann was in my first period class I had a student in sixth period nearly everyone had been calling Tom Miegunn. Like Marl, he entered the first day of the quarter, so I didn’t know him.

Real Name had all the stereotype behaviors of a loner. He sat in the desk farthest from mine and it didn’t matter to me – I had no seating chart. However, the first behavior of the other students was their not talking to him and filling up desks away from him. My first suspicion was BO, but that was not so.

After everyone had left for the day, I saw the book and orientation papers I had given him still under the desk. I figured his being new and not having conversations with other students, he wanted to just get away. I put his name on a sticky note and put the book and papers next to the student assignment in box.

My surprise was when Real put a book assignment in the drop box when he came in. Another student was turning in an admit after absence ticket so my only words to him were, “Your book is there,” as I pointed. He took it to the back desk. Other students’ reactions were the same as the day before. I made a mental note to get acquainted with him before the dismissal bell rang.

I gave my lesson for the day, answered student questions, and assigned a set of problems from the book. Most students took advantage of the remaining class time to work on the assignment, some did work for other classes, and Real just sat. I had it in mind to talk with him, but as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, I was answering a flurry of questions from students working on the assignment. All but a few squeaky wheels left as did Real. His book was on the desk.

He was tardy with an admit as excused slip from the attendance office and the Wednesday routine was much as the previous two. On the way to the Wednesday afternoon staff meeting, I had a grade transfer slip from Real’s 3rd quarter teacher. I had thought he was new to the school but put the new information aside as a lost in the shuffle.

At the end of the routine meeting, Real’s teachers were asked to stay behind. “As you know,” the principal started, “Real Name has been attending here under juvenile court order.”

I was in the 10% who didn’t get the word. Well, 17% because he had 6 teachers during the day.

The principal continued with what had been reported to the judge in order to have the student tutored at the juvenile detention facility. Having had him only a few days in class, I hadn’t been involved in the behavior documenting process. Both students and teachers were intimidated with knowledge of what he was capable of doing. A number of students were actually doing his homework as a favor under covert pressure.

The Tom Miegunn pseudonym I had not attached to Real Name in my class came from his firing an automatic rifle at his former girlfriend’s home in a neighboring town.

The judge changed his order to 24/7 incarceration for Real Name and a retired teacher was hired to tutor at the juvenile facility.



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Remember the ‘just like twins’ in “Of Slugs V” posted on 9/30/2020?
Charlene was transferred to my sophomore applied math class at second quarter.

She was late to the first period class on her first day and I’d already sent the attendance report to the office. Policy required students five or more minutes late get a pass from the attendance office for admittance to class. She didn’t have one and asked me to just mark her absent. I told her something like, “If I see you, you’re here, but tardy. I have rules to follow also.” She said the reason she changed classes was because she was tardy half of the days in the class from which she transferred.

I spoke to the girls’ counselor and was told her mother had agreed that the vocational applied math would be a better fit than general math. She settled in and seemed to enjoy the class and the curriculum concept. She was tardy several more times during the waning quarter but with the attendance office pass. Then she came in near the end of the class and asked for assignments for several days in advance. I explained there was lab work involved and she’d have to make them up at lunch time or after school before the end of the semester.

I got the rest of the story.

Charlene couldn’t be in at lunch time because she had to go to the school nursery/daycare to nurse her baby. And her being late so often was for the same reason. Then she told me coming in after school was out too because dropped off the baby at her mother’s she had a part time job to augment her welfare allotment.

Her mother was a mother at 15 and a grandmother at 30.

Sadly, she dropped out at the end of semester and I never saw her, her mother, or her sister again.


My Own Tools

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This didn’t happen in my class.
But the student was in one of mine.

Mal Content was in my third period technical drawing class. I knew him from when he was in my junior high general shop and mechanical drawing classes. Even then Mal had very little few positive comments about anything. His auto shop class was the period before my technical drawing session. Several times over a period of a few weeks at the beginning of the year he complained about the auto shop class.

The auto shop teacher had loaner tools for students who wanted to work on their cars evenings or weekends. One of Mal’s complaints was that there weren’t enough kits to go around and Mr. Otto just didn’t understand his need. Mr. Otto encouraged his students to have a purchase plan for their own tools. And told them about getting his first tools with earnings from doing engine minor work for family and neighbors.

Mid-week I asked Otto if Mal had been in his class the prior two days because I thought I had seen him before school on Tuesday and he missed my class then and that morning. Otto told me Mal was in juvie (juvenile detention).

The rest of the story:

Sometime between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon Otto’s truck had been broken into and his toolbox was taken. On Monday morning, Mal announced to other students that he had his own tools and wouldn’t need to check out loaners. Mr. Otto hadn’t told his students about the missing tools, but one who was his neighbor knew. That student told Otto about Mal’s brag sometime before the end of class that Monday.

Otto set a trap by saying something like, “So I can make up better loaner kits, I’d like to see what individual tools you need supplement your personal tool kits. And I can make suggestions for what tools you might need to add to your own. Tuesday morning each student who had tools spread them out on one of the benches.

As I was told, Mal puffed up a little and said, “Finally, I have my own tools.”

A small logo on each of the tools Mal displayed told Mr. Otto who had broken into his truck.


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