Tag Archives: children

A Day at the Zoo

I’m such a weenie, I was wishing I had a zoom function on my phone’s camera so I wouldn’t have to stand so close to the cage to snap this picture.  I could scarcely believe the secretary was leaving me alone and defenseless in the Carlin Combined Zoo all day.

Actually, it was 7:20 AM at Carlin High School.  This dude (real name: “Dude”) greeted my arrival in a biology classroom today.  The class also housed a turtle, 2 chinchillas, a ferret (another reason Nevada is waaaayyyy cooler than California), and a snake.  The kids told me the snake had gotten out of its cage and was lost, but their teacher hadn’t told anyone because he didn’t want to freak them out.

“Did he ever find the snake?”

“Oh ,yeah, it’s back now,” they said.

“Good, because if it wasn’t, they’d be looking for a new sub right now.”

The furry animals were cute.  The ferret put his little ferret feet on the thin bars of the cage, quivering his whiskers and hoping a student would poke their finger through the bars so he could rub against it like a cat or lick the salt off with his little ferret tongue.

The chinchilla hunkered in the corner of his cage, nose twitching wildly.  When a person slithered a hand through the cage door to pet his downy soft fur, he clsoed one eye, flattened his bowl-shaped ears and dodged the hand, looking pissed off. 

I really wanted to pet the cute little sucker, but he was kinda scary.

The kids said, “Oh, it’s fine – you can pet him.”  After watching 2 high school girls successfully pet the chinchilla, I worked up my courage.  Yes, I will put the first ride on a colt and tie down an 8-weight steer outside, but I get trembly when petting a small indoor pet in a cage.

The chinchilla ducked my hand and darted across the cage.  I snapped my hand back so quickly it hit the door frame and rocked the cage.  I laughed, then made myself stick my hand back in for one good, solid pet on the back.  I couldn’t show fear; it would ruin my image as a strict disciplinarian. 

Actually, I’m pretty positive my propensity to blush 18 times per day has already done that.

Yesterday, I spent a day with zoo animals of the bipedal variety.  The Spanish and English classes I taught were impressively disorganized and chaotic.  The teacher left a sub note dated 11/13 (yeah, that was definitely a Sunday) and had written “Dear Bev” at the top. 

After a day of handing out worksheets only to have the kids tell me, “We’ve already done this one.  We turned it in 2 weeks ago.  Our teacher is crazy,” I did what I had to do.  I had them put away their papers, stack their textbooks, and we watched cartoons.  The animated Rio rocks!

Some of the boys wrote a message in Spanish on the whiteboard for the next class.  Literally translated, it  read, “Hello, class.  You love me because you are poor and white.”  Then they drew a ninja. 

Thanks for reading,
The zookeeper

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You Just Can’t Know

As horrendous as Friday was, that’s how good today was. 

For comparison: on Friday, a high school boy looked at me and said, “You’re the cutest sub we’ve ever had!” then winked at me across the room.  Not okay.  A middle schooler later asked me if I had a black eye.  “No, I’m just tired, but thank you….”…..for destroying the last milimeter of self-confidence I possessed for the day.  I was drinking wine by 4:30. 

Working at Capriola’s assauged my frazzled psyche.  Cleaning jewelry cases and vacuuming the staircase calmed me right down.  On my lunch break I checked out Mish Mash and Muddle, a consignment store (that’s a five-dollar word for “thrift store”) and scored an imitation leather jacket for $11.  This jacket is seriously smokin’ hot.  If I wasn’t me, I would so hit on myself. 

And then the sixth grade schoolchildren today were absolute dreams to teach.  I have no idea why, but I just went with it.  They hushed up and listened when I addressed the class, telling their talkative friends to be quiet.  They read their history books.  They calculated their math problems.  They asked me for help.  They raised their hands when they wanted to share an answer.  They read silently. 

During free time, some kids played Go Fish, some played Apples to Apples, and one table played blackjack.  I wondered if I should shut down the gambling on school premises, but then thought Shoot, this is Nevada.  Blackjack is practically a basic survival skill, like honking your car horn while driving in New York City or shoving the bag of oranges under the front seat and telling the ag inspection station attendant, “No, we don’t have any fruit,” when driving over the California line.

I just made sure they didn’t gamble the rent money and no one had two hands on their cards.

The class was so quiet and studious that I got all caught up on my New York Times reading online.  I am now educated on the demise of “marginiality” (writing in the margins of books), lesbians and their sperm donors (yeah, TMI for me, too), female reporters in Egypt (the sexual assaults are horrifying) and the new season of Desperate Housewives: Miami (made me feel much better about myself).

I’m teaching high school art in Wells tomorrow.  I have no idea what to expect.  With subbing, you just can’t know 🙂

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What Would You Take?

Yesterday I taught at a small school, so my classroom contained a mixture of sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  They finished an assignment early, so I gave them a quick journal write to fill the extra time.

I told the kids to pretend that their house was burning down and they had time to grab only one item.  What would it be and why?

After about two minutes of silence, hands shot up one after the other.  The kids asked, “Does it have to be only one thing?”  “What if we can’t actually carry it up?”  “Can it be a bunch of little things in a box?”  “Does a dog count?” 

Seeing where their young, literal minds were going, I told the class, “The point of this exercise isn’t to determine how much you can physically carry from a burning building.  This is about priorities.  I want to know what you think and why.”

Once they were done writing, I asked volunteers (“volunteers” is teacherspeak for “whomever I call on when no one volunteers”) to share their answers. 

One kid said he’d take his mattress, because that’s where his money is hidden. 

“Why don’t you just take the money?” I asked.

“That would take too much time.”

Another boy said he’d take all his money, so he could buy food and clothing for his family until they could get a new house. 

One girl would grab a box on her desk filled with special gifts people had given her that couldn’t be replaced.  One boy said he’d be sure and grab his dog.  Another kid said he’d take his DS, which I understand is some kind of new handheld video game, so he could connect to the Internet. 

If my house were burning down around me, I’d grab the afghan my Grandma Shelley made for me when I was a baby.  She died when I was four.  Grandma Shelley made adult-sized afghans for everyone in the family, second cousins and in-laws included.  I’m so grateful I have a big afghan, rather than the typical baby blanket that no one uses after age two, to snuggle in and remember the matriarch of my mom’s side of the family.

What would you take?  And no, you cannot “take the fire and move it somewhere else,” as one boy suggested 🙂  More importantly, ask yourself “why?”

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