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Funny things happen every day in classrooms. Silly stories is a collection of comical moments that happened to substitute teachers.
April 2010 Silly Stories
I was subbing in a biology class that was having a test on the digestive system. A number of students complained that they had never heard of the word "egestion" which showed up in a list for matching terms with definitions. I suggested they figure out all the other words, and the last unmatched definition would be the right one. "You can work it out by 'process of elimination'," I told them. Then I realized I had just given them the answer!
June 2008 Silly Stories
At the start of a 7th-grade Science Class, a boy suddenly jumped out of his seat, began flailing his arms, and then blurted out something unintelligible.I told him to settle down but a few minutes later he threw his arms up again, yelled a nonsensical string of words, and the students giggled.A girl said, “Nick has Tourette’s Syndrome.”
Only somewhat familiar with Tourette’s Syndrome, I was aware symptoms could produce uncontrolled outbursts and profanity, and told the students not to pay attention and do their work.
As the hour went along, the young boy continued to bolt out of his seat about every thirty seconds, waive his arms around, and spew a few vulgarities, disrupting the class.
When the period ended, I walked out into the hall where the teacher in the next room was standing, and told her what had happened.I mentioned I wasn’t totally familiar with the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome, and didn’t want to intervene because the boy’s behavior seemed indicative of a physical condition.
Looking quite surprised, she exclaimed, “Nick doesn’t have Tourette’s Syndrome!No one in this school has Tourette’s.They had been studying diseases a few days ago in Science Class, and he was just acting out!Wait until his teacher comes back!”
A week later, I was back at the middle school subbing in a different class when, during my plan period, a boy sheepishly walked in and said, “I want to apologize for how I behaved last week.”I thanked him and then thought to myself, “The kid is probably going to win an Oscar for acting someday!”
Richard from Michigan
April 2008 Silly Stories
One morning I got a call to sub for an AM kindergarten class. I got to the school, signed in, and went to the classroom. There were no lesson plans, seating charts, nothing left out for me. I found the teacher’s lesson plan book, looked through it, and found what the kids were supposed to be doing, but could only find half the worksheets. I went to the other kindergarten teachers and asked them for copies of their worksheets so that I would have work for the students. When I finished making the copies, I went back to the classroom, and found the teacher sitting at the desk! Turns out the school had requested the substitute for the wrong day! I ended up just being a floater for the day, so I still got work. ~Katie, Michigan
May 2008 Silly Stories
This month's silly story isn't so much a story, but a forward from an email that was received.
No Dentist Left Behind
This is an interesting take on "No Child Left Behind." Teachers will enjoy it, parents will be informed and politicians should consider it.
My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth.
When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.
"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.
"No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"
"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number ofcavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."
"That's terrible," he said.
"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"
"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."
"Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."
"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also, many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"
"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability."
"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."
"Don't get touchy," I said.
"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth.
"Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"
"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making, and stonewalling won't improve dental health... I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.
"What's the DOC?" he asked.
"It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved."
"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.
The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"
"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."
"That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."
"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.
"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."
"How?" he asked.
"If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly.
"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!"
"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all."
"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."
I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point."
He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.
March 2008 Silly Stories
I substituted for a second grade class and have never felt so stupid in my life. It was not that the work or plans were confusing but everything I did was wrong according to the students. The funniest part was that when I plugged the overhead in I plugged it into the “wrong” outlet. The students were amazed when it turned on! - Nicole Feuerstein, Chandler, AZ