As you can tell from the length of this post, it’s been an interesting week

What a week!  My son is adjusting back to California life.  He’s still not back to his normal sleep patterns.  Tomorrow is also his 18th birthday!  He’ll be able to vote and get his driver’s license without the student driving requirement.  In two months, he’ll be going off to the Air Force.

Speaking of two months, that’s how long this new long-term contract is.  I’m sure it will feel longer!  They weren’t kidding when they said that this teacher had no lesson plans.  He has no plans at all.  From what the kids tell me, he didn’t teach much and he often fell asleep after lunch.  The guy turns 80 this year!  No wonder he had a heart-attack (that, and – no kidding – the man eats butter).  I found out that he’s currently in a coma… and may never come back.  I may be here a while.

The other thing I found out quickly is that his classroom is the absolute furthest thing away from civilization – it is near nothing of importance.  It is about a three minute walk to the nearest bathroom, a five minute walk to the front office and a seven minute walk to the English department where I hope to have most of my lunches (to schmooze).  I lost seven pounds this week from walking!

The students in my classes were not used to working when I arrived.  They might have initially been looking forward to an easy A, but they discovered that boredom was worse than hard work.  They are ready to work.  Though it’s been a slow and painful week for me personally (14 hour days every day this week just to put something together – remember: three curricula!), and my wife has a cold I’ve been trying my best to avoid, I think the result by the end of the week turned out OK.  The department chairs did indeed give me resources to get me going; included in the stack of materials was what the teacher should have been teaching for American Government (SDAIE) but clearly was not.  I now have a ton of worksheets for two of my three subjects.  My third subject is an elective class that this teacher created himself.  So far as I know, there is no curriculum for it, so to help me along, I was given the captain of the debate team as a TA instead.

My TA for Speech is a gem.  She has been teaching the majority of the classes this week; and I’m sure that this fact will have the parents up in arms if it continues, but at least for this week, it helped a lot.  Little known fact: TA’s originally were student teachers, even at the High School level.  Some colleges still let TA’s teach (I was such a person), but High Schools typically do not.  Starting next week, I’ll begin to teach some of the classes, but not all of them.  I have another student in class who was a TA of mine last year and he has expressed an interest in teaching.  I think I’ll let him!

By the end of the first week (yesterday), I had enough curriculum and printed materials for all of next week already.  This should allow me to do a semester plan by the end of next week and also build up something proper for Speech classes (the TA wants to start debate soon – her specialty – and I want to slow things down and do oratory for a while longer – my specialty).  Since I see little chance of this teacher returning before Christmas (if at all), even though I’m currently scheduled through Thanksgiving, I’m planning curriculum through the end of the semester just in case.  If they want me to teach beyond Christmas, they will need to hire me.

I hope that by Monday, I’ll have my own computer accounts so I can do grades and take roll electronically (so I don’t have to send a student to turn in a roll sheet every period).  I’ll also have to get with security and convince them that my temporary staff pass is valid in the staff parking lot.  I got a parking violation warning on Friday.  Next warning, and I get towed… except that what I have on my dash is valid according to the front office.

My son has returned!

Yeah, today is the day my son comes home from Ghana!  I taught Sunday School then headed home so I could meet up with another family that had someone on the trip.  We had no problem getting them at SFO.  Of course, they had many stories to tell.  Jeffrey also came home with several knives and a walking stick with a sword inside.  Getting that home was a little tricky.  After a nice lunch at the Elephant Bar, we went home.  Jeffrey gave us a two hour, 400 slide presentation of his trip then went to bed.

So, on the job front, I’m beginning to feel employed, in that I’m working every day, though not for exciting wages.  the question I had to answer before Tuesday, when I start at the High School, is “How does one prepare for a class with no lesson plans and a teacher who is unreachable?”  I decided that the answer must be: “You email the department heads!”  At this point, I have exchanged emails with both the English and History department heads at the High School.  The English teacher also recommended that I get in contact with one of the teachers who is heading up the debate team while this other teacher is incapacitated.  Apparently, MHS has an award-winning debate team at the national level.  I may get a TA from this debate team to help me with the two speech classes.  I have also been promised resources on my first day of school.  I think this will help a lot.  First though, I have one more day in the Middle School science class.  My friend won’t be back until Tuesday.

Yeah (?) I got a job

On Wednesday, I got a call asking if I could substitute.  I definitely said yes because up to this point, I had only subbed for three days and this was the fifth week of school!  And so yesterday, I substituted for my friend whose father is dying of Cancer.  During the day, I got a text asking me if I could do multiple days – his dad had died.  I said yes.  He met me after school to go over lesson plans for the next three days.  My friend was happy that his dad died quickly, rather than something that was long and drawn-out.  Now he had to do funeral arrangements and stuff.  I now have his class until Monday.

Well, today, I got a call from the district asking if I could do a long-term sub.  When it rains it pours!  Of course I said yes!  I’ll be teaching English and American Government for the next 60 days (at least).  I was hoping that it was something other than American Government for the History side of things, but this is also a “remedial” class (SDAIE), so it should be pretty structured.  The other four classes are (2) English – 1, which is basic Freshman English, and (2) “Oral Composition,” which is an elective speech and debate class.  I get dropped into these five classes without any prep or lesson plans.  I think it’s going to be rough, but I will certainly learn a lot!

Doing this long-term sub should befriend me to the district; the district I want to be in… and hopefully the High School as well.  Should a job open up, I stand a much better chance of being considered if I do this job well.


A ride up to Mt. Hamilton

Today was my friend Ray’s birthday.  I was home and he was off, so he invited me to lunch.  After lunch, he was commenting on what a clear day it was.  This got me thinking: I really wanted to drive up to the Lick Observatory on a clear day (in my Porsche), since I had never been there.  Ray liked the idea, so off we went.  The ride was a blast in my nimble little car, and the views at the top were spectacular.  Alas, the observatory itself was closed, but the mini-museum and 120’ refractor telescope on the other hill was not, so we went there.  he drive back was even more fun – and a lot quicker!

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Meanwhile, at home, the high school changed my daughter’s schedule without telling her.  She was attending the wrong classes for a few days and was receiving absences.  She also lost her two favorite teachers in the process (teachers hand-selected by us last year!).  She wasn’t happy.  We weren’t happy.  Her new teachers are not a fit.  She feels that they are not as bright as she is, and she’s probably right (since she’s very bright).  Today, he schedule changed again, after some prompting by my wife and by my daughter’s counselor.  She should have better teachers now, but still not her two favorites.  From what I understand, these two new teachers should be a fit.  I’ll find out when my daughter gets home today!

Bumpy weekend

I heard from my son over the weekend.  Saturday and Sunday were rest days for them, so on Saturday they walked around and did a little shopping.  Jeffrey bought a hat.  On Sunday, they went to church and then to an alligator farm.  I have a picture of Jeffrey petting a rather large alligator.  I hope he comes back with all his limbs!  Tomorrow, it’s back to work for this team until Thursday, then they begin their two day journey back to Accra.

It was sort of a weird weekend for me.  I cut off a driver on Saturday and he pretty much terrorized me for the next four miles (I was making a safe lane change, but this other guy sped up in an attempt to not let me in – kind of a jerk move, really).  He had major anger issues after that.  At least he didn’t have a gun, though he did try to make me run into things and he got in front of me and slammed on his brakes.  Really, I should have dialed 911, but I was trying to avoid this jerk.  If he followed me too much more, I would have driven to the police station.   That evening, my buddy Ray and I attempted to add a much-needed second monitor to our Adult Ed computer so the video person could see what’s on the projector, but after two hours, we couldn’t get it to work.  We left very frustrated.

On Sunday, I got a little harassed by someone who doesn’t like me very much.  We’ve had some clashes in the past and it has become his mission in life to publicly humiliate me whenever he can while I’m teaching my Adult Ed. classes.  Usually, if he sees that I’m teaching, he simply doesn’t show up, but he really likes this particular study so he’s coming for that but he doesn’t really tolerate me as a teacher.  He looks for me to say something wrong and then he pounces on me.  C’mon guy, I’m a volunteer!  Let it go!  Besides, he was wrong in his ascertation that I was wrong when he interrupted me.  All he did was disrupt my class for no benefit and make for an awkward moment.  We need more grace in this world, not more law.  I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.

Well, my evening didn’t get much better.  The Niners got absolutely hammered by Seattle in a very painful, one-sided game.  At least all the other stuff between these events was pretty wonderful.  All in all, it was a pretty good weekend, though with some bumps along the way.

I’m not exactly sitting around…

I found my first bone fide Art History teaching position on the web yesterday.  I guess there still is a call for Art History teachers somewhere.  Alas, this college is in Salinas, a little over an hour’s drive each way!  Still, I will apply and see what happens.  If I get the job, I’ll hate the commute, but it will add greatly to my resume.

I asked two of my favorite Art History professors to write me a letter of recommendation.  I’ll also ask my NHU professors today as well.  Hopefully, this will give me enough firepower to get the gig.

So far, no Jr/Sr High jobs – not even substitute jobs!  To tide me over, I have taken a contract for two small chips and a number of chip repairs.  It won’t give me too much money, but it’s better than sitting around the house all day.  I’ve already finished most of the chips.  I have two weeks to complete the last chip.

Starting last Sunday, our church began 31 weeks of “The Story,” a complete walk through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  All the materials provided are well-coordinated between Sunday School, Adult Ed and the sermons.  This is great because I can do my part without really communicating with the other involved groups, and come Sunday we all have the same graphics and materials.  The book itself is a chronological version of the NIV (2011 edition) Bible with the boring bits summarized.  I love the concept!  Apparently, so does the congregation.  We had over 50 people (a quarter of our total church population) in Adult Ed last week.  As head of Adult Ed, I’m teaching the first three weeks, but then I’m scheduling different people to teach different weeks.  In the background, I’ll create all the power-points.  By doing so, all the presenters will need to do is show up and facilitate the class.  It might be a bit of work on my part, but it will keep me in the Bible even if my enthusiasm begins to wane.  So far, this is not an issue, the materials are great!

Over in Ghana, the team has reached their destination and has begun distributing wheelchairs.  On day one, they fitted 30 people with wheelchairs and another five people with walkers.  One family came to Christ!  This is a great start to this mission trip.  My son seems to have stopped sharing on email & Facebook after day three of the trip (for unknown reasons, though there are many reasons why he wouldn’t be able to), but my friends Craig & Annie able to send something every day.

Well that week was different

This was a weird and wonderful week.  Early in the week, I taught my son how to hit a golf ball.  On Tuesday, we played 18 holes.  He did pretty well for his first time out, and I did much better than I thought I would after not playing for four years.  I mostly shot straight!  It was a fun afternoon spent with my son and a retired couple whom we were paired-up with.  I’ll tell you though, I was sore the next day – I guess I’m out of shape!  Wednesday and Thursday, my son went to work for the first time, and seemed to enjoy the experience.  On Friday, the whole family drove to Placerville to attend the funeral of a friend, and godfather to my son.  Brian died early due to complications from diabetes.  He was 49.  It was a tear-filled funeral because Brian had led such a spectacular and high-energy life.  He had hundreds of friends.

On Saturday, early morning, we drove my son and Ralph to SFO and dropped them off.  They are going to Ghana to set people up with wheelchairs through Joni & Friends Wheels for the World.  It’s a pretty terrific Christian/humanitarian thing that they’re doing.  To get to Ghana, they flew to JFK, waited six hours, then flew to Accra, Ghana.  22 hours total from airport to airport.  I did not hear from anyone on the team, but I was watching them on my flight tracker, so I knew that they had arrived safely.  While tracking them, I also put together a powerpoint for Sunday’s kick-off of “The Story” – a 31 week, church-wide, trip through the entire Bible.  It’s going to be massive.  I was quite proud of my first powerpoint (Genesis), and it went well on Sunday.  We had over 50 people for Adult Ed Sunday School and that never happens!  It’s nice to see so many people getting into the concept of a whole church reading the Bible together.  Now that week one is over, It’s time for me to make the other 30 powerpoints and find a collection of teachers to teach, so I don’t have to do all 31 lessons.

After church on Sunday, I got to meet up with my friend Jeff.  I only see him during football season and today was the kick-off to the season, so far as we were concerned.  San Francisco beat Green Bay in a pretty exciting game… and the right team won (San Francisco).  Tomorrow is Jeff’s birthday, so we’ll call this game an early present.  Go Niners!

Still looking

Hmmm… I was hoping to have a job before August, but in talking to all my teacher friends, 100% of them said that they got their first job in September after school had started.  I guess in weeks three and four, schools decide if they need more teachers based on enrollment.  I hope to catch this next wave.  In the meantime, I’m spending time with my son while he is still here (also with nothing to do).  He’s getting ready to work this coming week.  I’m still looking.