Sunday, March 16, 2008

She Looks Just Like You

I keep hearing that phrase when people are talking about my daughter, Grace. I'd really rather hear them say "You look just like her." Or better yet, "She looks just like Faith."

Anyway, you decide.

I'm surprised that you've never been told before,


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Power Struggle

The scene opens with loud talking in the back of the classroom while a video is being shown. The handsome dashing protagonist Mr. Burk Substitute Teacher Extraordinaire approaches the offending students.

Mr. Burk: Please keep it quiet. Thank You.

Students are quiet for about 3 seconds (as long as it takes for Mr. Burk to retreat a few steps). Several minutes later, Mr. Burk returns to the area.

Mr. Burk: Some students are trying to pay attention to the video. You're going to have to go back to your assigned seats if I have to come over here again.

Students are quiet for about 3 seconds (as long as it takes for Mr. Burk to retreat a few steps). Several minutes later, Mr. Burk returns to the area again.

Mr. Burk: Okay, it's time to go back to your assigned seats.

Student 1: (in a whiny voice) Why?

Mr. Burk: Because you are being disruptive and disrespectful.

Student 2: Just give us one more chance.

Mr. Burk: I've already given you two chances. You knew what would happen.

Student 1: Dude, we weren't doing anything.

Mr. Burk: My name is Mr. Burk, not "Dude". Go back to your seat.

Student 2: Someone is sitting in it.

Mr. Burk: Then you can sit there. (gestures to an empty seat near the teacher's desk)

Student 2: Why can't I just sit here?

Mr. Burk starts to get tired of this exchange and begins to get a headache. The bell rings, saving him from further grief.

A scene very similar to this happened today. I actually gave them three chances. Anyway, I realized that going through a power struggle like this is completely hopeless. Being a substitute teacher you really have very little authority in the classroom. You’re unfamiliar with the discipline procedures of the classroom and the school and the kids know they’re never gonna have to see you again once the 45 minute period is over. I realized today that instead of uselessly wrestling wills with these precious ones, I can just write their names down on a note to the teacher and let them deal with it.

Fish heads, fish heads, yummy yummy fish heads,


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Substituting these past few months has been an incredible learning experience. It's helped me formulate my own ideas about how I want my classroom to be. I learned one lesson last week that I'll never forget.

On Thursday, I was in a 9th grade Earth Science class. The kids were arguably the most rowdy I'd ever seen. They threw crumpled up paper balls and pencils at each other. They talked loudly and called each other names. But it wasn't just that, they were vulgar and disrespectful as well. It was all I could do to quell the worst behavior and maintain some semblance of order. After it was all over, I came home with a bad headache that wouldn't go away. I was thinking, if this is what being a teacher is going to be like, then I should find something else to do quick.

The next day, Friday, I was in a 9th grade English class. Something I had never seen happened before. The first period class came in silently, sat down and began their routine work. All throughout the class there wasn't a peep. If one of them had to ask me a question, they came up to me and whispered. When the bell rang, they all filed out without saying a word. I was almost in shock. From the rest of the classes that came and went during the day I learned that this teacher had a reputation for being the meanest and grumpiest teacher in school. He didn't put up with anything and he followed through with consequences. I figured that he wasn't really mean in real life but had to keep order in his class. Otherwise, he'd have the same incredible headache every day that I had on Thursday.

I learned that I want to have order in my class and in order to do so, I'll have to be very clear about what behavior I expect from students and follow through with consequences. Otherwise, I'll hate my job and I won't last long. I'm glad I'm learning these types of things now. Each day is a new adventure where I get to learn and plan how I want my own classroom to be. I know I'm gonna have a lot of surprises when I do become a full-fledged teacher but hopefully I'll be able to cope with them better because of my substituting experience.

I liked it better my way in my world of fantasy,


Tuesday, March 04, 2008


This is the original post.

Since becoming a father, I've discovered that one of the most useless inventions ever is little tiny baby socks. At first, when you think about it, it makes sense. Babies have a hard time regulating their body temperature and little tiny socks would help keep those little tiny feet warm. Great idea, let's start production now! But the truth of the matter is, that they don't stay on worth beans. Babies are always wiggling. They stick their little legs out and then pull them back in like a frog. Stick legs out, pull legs back in. Out, in. If you do this enough times in a short period, the socks have worked their way off. Every time you turn around, the baby's feet are bare again. It's much easier to just put them in little pajama suits that have the feet built in. Then you don't have to be replacing socks every five minutes.

Because I'm cool,