It’s an apt description of substitute teaching in New Orleans; every day features a colorful array of cultural oddities, games of chance, con-artists galore and try-your-luck-at –this attractions – fast-talking barkers abound. Today was no exception.

Indeed, today was the day I won ‘Ring the Bell’, sub wise. I have had students complain about me making them work to teachers and administrators (which only endears me to the powers that be) and have also had a couple of students complain in writing about my ‘making them work’ which is another feather in my cap.

But today topped them all.

I was at a district high school I really like, and that I sub at regularly, but filling in for a teacher I never had before. I did know this guy, as his classroom is right down the hall from a couple that I have frequented; he has always been helpful with answering questions and in helping deal with students. He is also a coach in a number of sports, so he has some added weight he can bring to bear on a number of students – always a plus.

Today he was at a meeting all morning, so I was just there for half a day. His first period class was typically argumentative, stating they had ‘no idea’ what the assignment he had left on the board was all about – while also telling me they had done the outline for it yesterday (go figure). They were feisty, and I had to bring the hammer down a couple of times with hallway 1-on-1s to get things calmed down.

When coach came back, I was just getting ready to leave. He came in, asked me how it went, and I told him that the first period group was very adamant about not getting to work at first, but that we finally accomplished some of what he had laid out. I was paper clipping my class reports together for him while he was putting some things away in a file cabinet. I said “Third period just won’t do any work…but that first period bunch argues everything”. With this he closed the file drawer and looked at me with an expression I couldn’t quite place.

“I know’ he said softly,”one of my softball players texted me this morning during class. I looked at my phone and it says, ‘This man is crazy! He keeps trying to make us do stuff’! I texted her back and said ‘Told you yesterday I’d be gone and that there would be an assignment on the board. Get to work’! “ Coach shook his head incredulously, as I roared with laughter; “Now that’s funny. She threatened to do it, I told her ‘go ahead’ – guess she was pretty subtle about it”. I was still laughing as I picked up my briefacse to go – coach just shook his head in amazement.

“These kids” he said with a huge sigh “are crazy”.

So I rang the bell today – will somebody please tell me what I’ve won?


2 thoughts on “Sideshow

  1. Craig February 4, 2010 / 7:07 am

    Johnny? Tell him what parting gifts he has! “Well Bob, Mark has just won himself a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni® “The San Francisco Treat”. In addition, we have a lifetime supply of 1 on 1 hall passes redeemable at any New Orleans school! Thanks for playing, Mark!


  2. margaret larson February 4, 2010 / 9:04 pm

    Thanks for doing this, Mark. I hope the wider world picks up on it. It is so unbelievable but no one could make that stuff up. You and Amy have “sisu”…….go ask your Finnish friends if it still means “guts”.


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