The Ogre Says



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.

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.


Assembly: Change Change Change

A long time ago I learned the truthyism: nothing is constant except change itself. This is not a bad way to understand the world, but for some reason some people just don’t get it.

We have a situation in Assembly that requires some people to be moved from one seat to another. Particularly one person, Person 1, but the last person we moved, Person 4, was very unhappy about it. Person 4 was convinced I thought she had done something wrong. She didn’t of course. She didn’t believe me. She actually broke down into tears. Sobbing, fifty-year old women from Boston are pitiful, but because the change was important and necessary, I didn’t budge (I can’t tell you why Person 1 had to move unfortunately).

This set the mood for the day.

A client/trainee, Person 2, who was a tiny part of the primary reason for the change is someone who taxes the patience of the faculty and other clients/trainees. Person 2’s disability makes her cranky. Constantly. She is a very nice person, but if something sets her off she complains non-stop (Hey is for horses! I can’t drink caffeine. Current events is only supposed to be on rainy days! I hate Bingo! Tell the other faculty they can’t boss me. So-and-so is bossing me! etc.). We moved her to her new location, because she has been doing very well and we had been looking for a way to integrate her better into the group.

Today, the first day of the move and person 2 is happy with the change, but one of her new neighbors was not too thrilled and started picking at Person 2. Person 2 complained. Eventually, Person 2 had to be taken outside until her “behavior” subsided. I have been working with Person 2 for as long as I have been substitute teaching with Assembly (since early February) and so I know how to weather her worst storms and to also help her understand we hear what she says, listen carefully and value her. It did not take long for me to get Person 2 to agree to ignore her neighbor at her new table. Now Person 2 and her neighbor have a long history of strife. Both are hard working, competitive women with very different disabilities. To say the least, the needling continued. The neighbor dislikes Person 2 (“She’s annoying”). We had two more blow-ups, both went outside for “talks” and both lost their end-of-day rewards for good behavior, but Person 2 is still happy with the change. Eventually, the neighbor will come around to Person 2 and everything will be fine. The stress of change eventually goes away.

It is too early to see if Person 1 likes the change. He’s sneaky. Person 3 was just fine with the change. Person 3’s OCDs are extreme and I was expecting problems, but I got none.

At the end of the day, the last thing I heard from Person 4 is: “I didn’t do nuttin. I was good. Why did you make me change places.”

Oh my!