Subbing PE and the Hospital

Yesterday, I woke up coughing. I hadn’t coughed much or felt sick since Sunday. I thought I had my cold licked.


I had an assignment to sub at Vista Heights Middle School. I’ve subbed there several times this year. It’s a nice school. It’s just twenty miles away. I coughed intermittently in-transit to school. I was worried because there was patchy black ice on the roads; and I didn’t want to cough and cause a pile-up or something.

Once there I had time to prepare: baseball. “But there’s eighteen inches of snow outside,” you say. The game is played in-doors with light plastic balls, bats and rubber bases. The ball can’t be thrown or hit hard and never goes straight. With middles school boys running every which way, we had a lot of fun; but I started noticing problems: I felt dizzy, all my muscles ached, it hurt when I urinated and I was having a hard time keeping score.

After the last class, I wrote a tiny note (I usually write long, thorough notes on behavior, participation and successes) and drove to where I thought the Veteran’s Outpatient Clinic in Orem, UT is. The Clinic had moved six blocks straight west. Delirious and confused, it took me forty-five minutes to find it. Once there, the clinic staff told me none were permitted to “see” me. I told them my situation and they agreed I shouldn’t drive the forty-five miles to the Salt Lake VA.

They gave me a number to get permission for 911 to come and pick me up.


I called and stayed on the line for thirty minutes before a guy got on to help. I did not understand what he was saying, but under the impression he would call 911 for me after I hung up, I did. He didn’t.

I called again an hour later, feeling much worse. The long wait went faster this time. I was really out of it. The phone told me this time to have the desk clerk here call 911. Okay, but to place the call the desk clerk needed permission from the head nurse to make the call. So after two phone calls, I was finally able to “see” someone at the clinic to be sure the expense of a 911 call and ambulance trip could be authorized. I guess heavy lung congestion, high blood pressure and a temp of 103.9 was enough for the nurse who “saw” me saying I shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.

What was I thinking.

The ER docs were quick and efficient. My problem there was I could not remember any of my family’s phone numbers (no cell phone). I know my own of course and so through my roommate, I called a close friend, Kevin, who gave me a ride home from the hospital after they stabilized me.

I feel much better today. My son helped me get around filling prescriptions up at the Salt Lake VA where the cost is zero when the prescriptions at a regular pharmacy would be well over a hundred dollars for only a few days worth of goodies.

Anyway, I’m about to take my pills which will knock me out, but will hopefully help me recover.

High School: Special-Ed and Peer-Tutors.

Today I subbed special-ed again. I get loads of opportunities to do this, so I am used to doing it. All of the kids today were cognitively challenged and love going to school. One of the benefits these kids get is the chance to work with a peer-tutor. Peer-tutors are kids who are normal, main-line high-school kids. Most peer-tutors are obviously the best kids in the school. Not necessarily the kids with the best grades or the popular kids. Peer-tutors are, for the most part, the most together kids in a school. Kids with plans and goals for the future.

Today, I went to lunch with the special-ed kids to make sure they ate all their food and didn’t get lost. I’ve done this before. Usually I do this in middle-schools and I am busy the entire time. High school kids are bit more chill and this goes for the cognitively disabled as well. It was very pleasant to see that many of the peer-tutors spent time with the special-ed kids even when they didn’t have to.

I mean, peer-tutoring happens during class time and these peer-tutors often would go out of their way to pull some of the disabled kids over to their tables and involve them with their clique of friends who are not disabled. Like I said, these kids were not the cool kids, the jocks or the nerds. They were just the regular kids who are the heart and soul of every school talking about whatever and doing whatever, but involving special needs kids who after high school will either live with their parents 24/7 until they or their parents die or will live in institutional centers and work at small jobs like Assembly (a day program attached to the Provo School District I sub at quite often) building boxes or extracting foam from packaging molds.

While these peer-tutors are just the regular kids, they are obviously the best kids, will to risk social standing and popularity to befriend those who normally exist within a tiny, little bubble who after high-school will never exit the bubble again.

Math, Middle-School Boys and Cookies

I subbed math today at Dixon Middle School where my brothers, sisters and kids all went to middle school (I went to Tomlinson Junior High in Lawton, Oklahoma). I got to sub Math which is my second favorite subject to teach after English.

The first half of the day were the kids in main-line classes and the the second half was for resource and special-ed. The special-ed kids try super hard, but disabilities make learning hard. The resource-student, junior gang-bangers were trying to push buttons while I was trying to help those with disabilities, so I was getting frustrated. During forth period, twenty minutes before the lunch bell rung, I decided to mess with the rotten kids. I had already sent one to the office for threats, disruptions and profanity and I wanted to lower the stress level just a little.

I pulled out the pack of cookies I had set aside for lunch and started looking at them. These kids, especially the boys, were starving. I opened the package slowly. Smelled the cookies loudly. Picked one out and sniffed it as if it were a fine cigar. I acted like I was going to eat it, put it back, then quickly snatched it back and gobbled it down greedily. I then sighed loudly and drank from my bottle of Coke.

I then ate the entire pack except one. I held it up and addressing the one boy who looked like he was about to cry from lunch anticipation, I told him I was going to put it in my pocket and save it until I went home. This kid also happened to be the loudest and most abrasive, but he is a middle-school boy after all and his stomach is still more important than his homies, the girls or mathematics in particular.

Every once in a while before the bell rang I would pull it out and smell it again.

He was in agony.

Between classes during hall monitoring, I would pull the cookie out and show it to him whenever I saw him. He was funny about it, but his friends teased him a lot.

Finally at the end of the day as I was exiting the building, I passed him as he was waiting at the main entrance for his mom and ate the cookie right in front of him. I told him how it tasted, but he said he already knew what Triple Double Oreos tasted like with a grumble and a huff. He told me I was a punk, but I responded that every time I ate an Oreo from then on I would think of him.

Man, I love middle-school boys.

Subbing English: Creative Writing.

I had a fun day subbing, today. I can sub and have a cold at the same time. Man, I hate my cough. I have been having such a hard time with it. Fortunately, most of the kids I sub are sick as well.

English was fun. It always is. We focused on writing strategies for the first third of the class. Many kids have a hard time writing. Many just don’t know what to write. Or so they say.

Step one: I had them simply sit still and think about the subject. The subject was “pets.” Easy enough. After sitting there, they started asking questions: “What if I don’t have pets?” “What if I don’t have a pet now, but I had one before? “What if I want a dragon/unicorn/dinosaur?” These were all great questions, so I suggested to them that they could write about any of those questions.

Step two: I had them make a short list, then write. Three or four simple ideas that have to do with pets. The kids had tons of ‘what if’ questions then. My answer was always “what if? Write about that or what ever you want.” They thought about this for a couple of seconds and then just started writing. Every kid in the class wrote for the full fifteen minutes. Most had more than one page of text. Some had up to three.

Step three: I had them talk about it. We then spent five minutes talking about what they wrote in small groups. The class exploded. Everyone was excited. Some pet stories were quite normal stories, but a few were about fanged toe-nails, barking tacos, seven legged snakes and other fantasy creatures. The fanged toe-nail pooped pepperonis. It was so much fun. Everyone broke into giggles through out the discussion.

Emotion is such an important part of learning and I am glad they reacted in such a positive way.

ps. I apologize to everyone wanting a comic. While I can teach with a headache and a cough, I can not draw that way. I hope to have something up tomorrow.