Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If This Is The New Math, I Don't Get It

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve posted a “Life In Oklahoma” blog—heck, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted any blog at all—largely because I am currently working not one, not two, but three different jobs.

That’s right, after months of not working at all and then scurrying from one crazy gig to another, I find myself definitively over-employed.

Here’s what happened…the local university offered me another writing class. Since it only meets once a week (albeit for three hours), I agreed.

Then I got a callback on a job application that I turned in months and months ago…for a part time online monitoring job in which I spend hours at a time admiring and then deleting penis drawings and other questionable content from a website geared toward children (you can read all about that here or here). It seemed interesting and I got to work from home so I went for it.

Shortly after signing a 6 month contract with the penis patrol, I got a call from the publishing company that I have subbed at several times over the last year. They had a position open and they could be flexible with the hours but they needed me to start immediately—while I was still under contract for jobs 1 & 2.

“You have to take that job,” Opie said. “First of all, you like it there. Second, you need to actually interact with GROWN UP PEOPLE once in awhile.”

Apparently, he finds it disconcerting when I spend dinner explaining to him all the things the animals and I have talked about during the day. “You know they can’t actually talk, right? RIGHT, KIMBERLY?” he has asked more than once.

And if you think those kind of stories bother him, you should see his reaction when he walks in after a long day of work and I yell things like “You would not believe how many penises I’ve seen today! It’s like penis-palooza!”

So, I signed on with the publishing company and now I’m working 3 jobs. Which is kind of exhausting…but on the bright side, screaming “I have three jobs!” wins a surprising number of arguments before they even start. Like Opie will be all, “Ewww…did you know that the milk expired two weeks ago and has actually become a SOLID?” and I’ll start waving my hands in the air, yelling “Milk? How can I possibly think about milk right now? I have THREE JOBS! How many jobs do you have?!”

And, miraculously, the milk carton just disappears from the house, never to be seen again.

It’s great fun, make no mistake.

As far as the jobs themselves, they’re great too. Teaching college is still not as different from teaching high school as one would expect…as evidenced by the fact that I still have a surprising number of students who don’t realize that COMING to class and DOING THE WORK are necessary components of passing the class.

Like this one girl who sent me an email back in February after missing 3 weeks in a row. I have copied it verbatim below:

“Sorry I was not at class the last few weeks I was not feeling well. I know you don’t want us us to miss any more than one class so what I am really trying to ask is do you want me coming tonight even though I am still feeling sick? You probably don't want me to come. Question what did we do the last weeks and tonight since you probably don't want me to come?”

But she was wrong. I did want her to come, if only because I find it challenging to re-teach 12 hours of class in a single email.

However, that was 4 weeks ago and I haven’t seen her since…until last night. Just in time to get her midterm report.

“This can’t be right,” she said. “This says that I have an EIGHT PERCENT.”

I assumed that she was expecting it to be lower but, no, she was under the impression that after coming to 2 out of 9 classes, turning in 3 ten-point assignments and taking—yet failing—1 quiz that she would at least be passing.

At this point I inquired if she happened to be enrolled in a math class this semester and, if so, how that was going for her?

It is interesting to note that this particular student doesn’t think I am funny AT ALL…Especially when she started asking how many points she needed to get in the next few weeks to pass the class.

“Well,” I said “we have about 1000 total points each semester. We have about 500 left…you have 42 points total…”

I trailed off, thinking she might realize that her Comp ship has already sailed for the semester but she obviously just thought I was too stupid at math to figure it out myself. So she got out a piece of paper and began doing a little computing…”So,” she said thoughtfully. “I need to get 558 points to get a D but 658 points to get a C!”

“We only have about 500 points left,” I reminded her.

“It’s going to be tough,” she agreed. But walked out in a much better mood, presumably coming up with some elaborate MacGyver-like plan to get at least 115% on every assignment we do for the rest of the semester.

Or maybe her plan is based on those strange “imaginary numbers” that I’ve heard about but never really understood.

Either way, I feel a nearly overwhelming urge to look up her Algebra teacher and find out if I’ve missed some groundbreaking new twist in simple computations.

I have a feeling I’ll be seeing her again…

In any case, that’s part one of the latest Life In Oklahoma…but stay tuned, I have a pupdate on Peek, stories of mole murder, and a contest on who is the worst patient coming soon!

kimbo325 is a writer and a teacher (as well as an internet moderator and publishing company worker) laughing her way through life. She’s not too great at math herself but even she knows when to throw in the towel on a failing grade. To read more about her crazy life, tweet with her on Twitter, follow her on Facebook at!/or leave a comment below.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bad Decisions -- Why Teachers Drink

One time I did something really stupid, I agreed to work 3 different jobs which means I got way, way behind on my blog and my life and all this pent up writing energy  forced me to create a POUS (post of unusual size) for Finish The Sentence Friday.

So, let me start again, today is Finish the Sentence Friday (see the link below) and today’s sentence was “One time I did something really stupid, I—“ and today, I’m going to finish the sentence with a memory…One time I did something really stupid, I agreed to take another teacher’s class on a field trip. I wouldn’t have but the regular teacher thoughtlessly went into labor two days before the trip and I got roped in.   So, bright and early the morning in question, I assembled in the commons with 15 students (only 3 of whom I had ever met) and prepared for a little trip I like to call field trip hell.

Now, one thing that was emphasized over and over again was the fact that due to liability issues and strict Missouri law, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT HAD TO HAVE A PERMISSION SLIP!
So, of course, I only had 14 permission slips. 15 kids, 14 permission slips. When I pointed this out to the girl who had no slip she completely freaked out, yelling that I had the slip, I had to have it. She knew I had it, what kind of crap was I trying to pull? AND WHY WHY WHY DID THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO HER???!!!

 Maybe because she was so darn annoying.

Of course I didn’t say that but I did finally ask her if she really thought that I-a complete stranger to her--had hidden her permission slip in some secret plot to sabotage her writing career. She allowed as how that seemed a bit far-fetched and I sent her off to call home and have her mom give verbal permission for the trip to the principal.

After I finally got the permission slip disaster squared away, disaster two reared its ugly head. No bus. The bus we were supposed to take had not arrived. So I had to go make a few phone calls. And a woman from the district transportation office actually told me to look in the parking lot for a "big yellow automobile" like I DON'T KNOW WHAT A BUS IS FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN!!!

If she had been there in person, I swear I would have punched her in the face.


The bus finally arrived and we loaded up. I did a quick head count. 13 kids. I contemplated suicide as I realized that in the 45 SECOND walk from the commons to the bus, I had managed to misplace 2 kids. The odds of bringing all kids back from a crowded university decreased dramatically. I asked the others where the missing kids getting rubber cement to fix one girl's shoe. I sent 2 students in to retrieve my missing cobblers. Five minutes later, the cobblers reappeared WITHOUT the searchers. They hadn't seen the searchers but they were more than willing to go and search for the searchers. I pictured myself stuck in endless loop of kid-searching and stormed back into the building myself where I found two very surprised searchers standing by the lockers saying goodbye to their boyfriends. I threatened severe bodily harm; we all got on the bus.


The bus driver then asked me where we're going. I told her. The bus driver asked if I know how to get there.
Catch that? The BUS DRIVER asked ME how to get there.

I looked at her like she must be kidding. The original sponsor faxed her a map a week earlier. I had no map, I had no clue, I have never visited a world where people depend on me for directions.

Finally she called one of the buses from the other district schools also attending the conference and off we went.

After driving the WRONG WAY down a one-way street that was under construction, the bus driver found Washington University and dropped us off in front of a huge building.

The wrong building, as it turns out.

So there I was, with 15 kids, stumbling around carrying a huge box of creative writing folders, and I had NO CLUE where we were supposed to be.

Did I mention that I was not given a map?

The kids and I wandered around campus aimlessly.  They kept looking at me for help and I kept saying nothing.  Finally one of them said “Uhh…Ms. Haugh, you look distracted.”

This was, no doubt, due to the fact that I was silently trying to figure out how many different ways I could use the F-word. It's a verb, it's a noun, it's an adjective, it rhymes with so many things...

But I smiled and pretended like everything was fine.  “Just trying to figure out the shortest route to where we need to be,” I lied.

After wandering for a few more minutes, I saw another huge group of kids. We went over and sure enough, it was our conference!

Much celebrating...until:


The sponsors from the other schools ran over, tackled me and yanked the box from my arms (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration). Apparently the huge box of folders that I was lugging around contained folders for all four district Schools, who knew? Although that does explain why it weighed about 275 pounds...anyway, the other sponsors grabbed them, passed them out and then gave my kids a schedule of sessions to attend.

The kids immediately started whining about their schedules so I told them to deal with it and switch places with one another if they wanted to.
Which is when the sponsor who handed them the schedules turned into a demon child. She started waving her arms in the air, her head spun around and around, she did the projectile vomiting thing (ok, another exaggeration) and told my kids they can't switch, that she spent hours figuring out who was going where and if they didn't like it tough!

I, meanwhile, was making "it's ok" gestures behind her back and still switching kids like mad.  Because I was pretty sure that, as long as the number of kids in each session didn’t change, a few flip flops didn’t matter.

Clearly, I was wrong.

“I spent a great deal of time arranging this schedule,” she told me furiously.  “You are undermining all my efforts!”

So, I put on my best teacher voice.  “I thought the point of this workshop was to foster the kids’ love of creative writing,” I said. “For that to happen, don’t the kids have to be at the sessions they’re interested in?”

And she looked at me like I was a complete moron.

“Well,” she said in a snotty tone, “the other sponsors and I all think that it’s important to expose the kids to all genres of writing so they can develop a true sense of what they like.”

Since I didn’t organize this conference and I don’t even teach Creative Writing, I’m pretty sure I should have backed down.

But you know what?

She pissed me off.

“Well, I think,” I said, imitating her tone exactly “that forcing a girl who likes to write love poems to sit through the science fiction session is insane.”

“The other sponsors—“
“And,” I said, not letting her finish. “I also think the ‘everyone else is on my side’ argument stopped being relevant in the third grade.”

She didn’t speak to me the rest of the day.

Which means I should have been free to enjoy the conference myself except...

One of the sponsors who was still speaking to me cornered me before the first session and asked me if I was the English teacher from Quincy (my original hometown). I really wanted to know what she'd been hearing before I said yes (I mean, JUST IMAGINE the stories out there) but went ahead and confessed.

The woman practically hugged me because she's from Quincy too, in fact she went to Quincy High School...and she started rattling off a huge list of teachers, asking if I knew each one. It took me a few minutes to realize that she was talking about teachers she HAD not teachers she worked with. Since this woman could be friends with MY GRANDMOTHER, I was immediately offended that she thought I would know these people, especially since she kept saying they were "so old" when she had them.

I began digging in my purse for something sharp to poke her eyes out with but there was nothing in my purse except a Tootsie Roll Pop so I had to content myself that bit of oral gratification.

Then I tried to get away from her but she followed me around the rest of the day...she didn't even sit with her kids at lunch, choosing instead to sit with me and my kids. I wanted to ask her if she thought she was my new girlfriend but didn’t want to offend my only friend at the conference.
A feeling that didn’t last because after lunch she followed me into the next session, whispering questions while the poor presenter was talking. Now, considering there were only about 12 people in the room, I thought it was pretty obvious that she was annoying the shit out of everyone. She was oblivious. So I finally said "Excuse me, but I'm trying to take some notes here." and she apologized and shut up.

Ok, sure, the notes I was taking weren't actually on the presentation, it was pretty much the notes for this story but she didn't know that!
But trust me, I learned my lesson, and I am NEVER taking another class on a field trip!

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Finish the Sentence Friday