I have been a substitute teacher both in the public school system and at my daughter's private school. I have substituted for pre-k all the way up to high school. One time I had a 7th grader burn up the pencil sharpener during a test (and smirk all the way back to his desk). One time I had a smart alec 10th grader ask snidely, "So what's YOUR favorite Jackie Chan movie" hoping that I wouldn't know who he was talking about (this was actually back in the mid-90s before Jackie Chan was more mainstream). I was able to answer (Twin Dragons) and even educate them on a few JC movies that they hadn't seen. I've put an entire class of kindergarteners in "time out" (and was told that when their teacher put them all in time out, she did it differently) and I've built compasses from sticks in a sandbox. You never know what you're going to do or get when you sub.
This morning I got a dead mole on my desk.
It was pretty awesome.
Monday I subbed a my daughter's private school. A 6th grade English teacher was out with a horrible cold so I got to teach reading and writing. The first class of the day is an all boys class. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I have a son so that's strike one to fear. We've been at this school for eight years, that's strike two because I know most of the boys' parents. Strike three is that at this point, I'm still bigger than they are. Well, for the most part. And I've been teaching this age for three years. My blisters are becoming callouses.
During the writing portion of the class, we studied appositive adjectives. (Appositive adjectives are usually found in pairs and follow the noun that they modify. Example: The bread, crusty and warm, tasted sweet in his mouth. Crusty and warm are the appositive adjectives. There, you learned something today.) I looked at the examples in the book, but when you have a room full of 10 year old boys, you need to make sure that they are engaged and that they can be interactive. So I decided that we would build our own sentence.
"Give me an animal. A non-human mammal."
"Okay. Now let's describe that molerat."
Naked and pink.
"Great. Now tell me an action that this molerat does."
Our sentence: The molerat, naked and pink, snuggled.
They loved it. We had other things that the molerat did, other adjectives to describe the molerat, but that was our first sentence. They really are a fun group.
Last night I got the call that the teacher was still sick, (she's on antibiotics and getting better, but she wanted another day to rest and not have to talk) can I please sub again? No problem.
I walked into the room and there, on the desk, was a sandwich bag with a note stuck on it. The note said, "Happy birthday" and the bag contained a small, dead mole.
I know this school. I know the kind of kids that are enrolled in this school. I know most of their parents. Had this been any other school, I would have been very suspect as to the motive and/or execution of this action. However, as I said, I know these kids. I looked up and all of them were smiling and excited to see my reaction. Of course I loved it!
The boy who brought it said that he cat had killed it the night before. Since we were talking about moles (or molerats), he wanted to bring it to share. We spent some time looking up what kind of mole it was (Eastern mole), why it has no eye and ears (doesn't need them), why its "hands" are up around its neck (to burrow), etc. Then we wrote more sentences about it. (The mole, hairy and squishy, died.) It was so much fun!
Boys will be boys and the conversation turned to who they were going to give/show the mole to next. As a protective measure (for them), I said that I would keep the mole all day, but the boy who brought it could come get it after school. They were a little disappointed because they wanted to show him to the science teacher. I assured them that I would hand him over some time today.
To further the awesomeness, I e-mailed the principal and told him he needed to come to my room and burst in demanding to know if the kids had brought a dead squirrel and caused me to barf. (We were also talking about gossip in class today so I was going to make it another lesson.) Unfortunately he didn't get the e-mail until after the class was over. He came to the room, I told him the story and he grinned. He loves these kids as much as I do! I don't put it past him to find the boys' class later and demand to know what happened just to see the looks on their faces.
No class mascot would be complete without a name. We decided on Pedro Phillipe von Lichtenstein III (although upon further examination and absence of certain . . . evidence, I believe we might have a female mole). After school the boys want to have a proper burial. I might be called upon to say a few words. I'm going to need to look up some more adjectives.
A photo of our dear, departed Pedro Phillipe von Lichtenstein III, may he/she rest in peace.