It’s funny how you insert movie quotes into your every day life. After a while, you just expect everyone to know what the hell you are talking about. I, for one, am a big movie quoter. And today I “released the Kraken.”
You will have no idea what I am talking about if you have never seen the epic, “Clash of the Titans.” The Kraken appears in the 1981 movie, starring Harry Hamlin and an owl. And other people and stuff. But, the Kraken was my favorite character, mainly because I immediately liked the quote. The Kraken was a monster with four arms who lived under the sea. When one of the gods, Zeus, or some character named Calibos, I believe, said to “Release the Kraken,” an underwater gate lifted and the the monster reared its ugly head.
And today, I realeased the Kraken on my substitute teacher.
Now, I debated whether to write this blog post, as I am sure the girl will read this post. But, I have decided that she should learn from the mistake she made, so she won’t have to deal with the release of a Kraken ever again. Because, anyone can be a Kraken.
When a teacher misses a day, they should leave a note or detailed plans for their substitute to follow. I do. And I make it as detailed as possible. I had to leave at 10:50 with my principal for a training. So, I already had everything written on the board for the day. All she had to do was follow my plans. Easy easy day. The kids were even going down to our local fire hall to be entertained by Carnegie, so an hour program even meant less time actually teaching. It should have been easy.
This morning when I came in, the first thing I noticed was a colored construction paper menagerie of scrap paper taped on one of the student’s desk. Um, ok. I wasn’t sure why he taped construction paper all over it, but I would ask what was going on when he came in.
My sub had left me a note. Good. My kids behaved themselves. Well, except one, and well, you can’t keep a clown quiet. But, all in all, I was glad. I looked through my plans and everything was checked. Good. It shouldn’t be be rocket science to follow my plans. Simple and to the point.
Or so I thought. A nice note and worksheets and a test paper clipped together make for a followed plan. Smoke and mirrors, my friends. Smoke and mirrors.
So, the day began. I took roll and lunch count and I was getting ready to move onto their morning work. But, I only had to ask a few questions before the kids started cracking like mud drying in the Sahara.
They told me the day went well and that they liked her well enough. Now, you have to understand that I know these kids. I know when they are not feeling well and I know when they have brought problems into the classroom. They wear it on their faces. And a couple of my girls looked like they wanted to say something. I sort of turned my head and gave them a puzzling look. They knew I was on to them.
“So……did you guys do your own work on the worksheets?” Some shook their heads yes, some looked like deer caught in headlights. Hmmmmm, something was up. I decided to put on my Columbo white coat and grabbed a cigar. It was time to turn into an investigator.
I asked again, this time slowly. “So……did she help you with the worksheets?” Silence.
For a long second. And then they all started chirping. Hands were raised and they just started squawking. And this is what I found out.
On my plans, I wrote with each subject, “They are to do their own work. PLEASE do NOT help them.” I even underlined NOT two times. Now, if I were a substitute, I would think that meant that the kidlets were to do their own work and I shouldn’t help them at all. Oh, but my sub must have missed that part.
I could feel the Kraken waking up from a long nap at the bottom of the ocean.
So, I found out that the English worksheets were worthless. I had to throw them away. Why? Well, let me tell you. The kids had a worksheet on guide words, you know, like for a dictionary. There were two guide words listed at the top of the worksheet and all they had to do was look through a list of “F” words, and find twenty words that would be found between those two guide words. Simple ABC order shit. When my students were done, they went to turn them into the sub. The sub called them up, told them which ones were wrong or how many were wrong and sent them back to their desks with the worksheet. The sub had made a key on a spare worksheet and actually told the kids which ones to fix.
“She did what?” Oh, the Kraken was awake now.
“Did she do that for the Science Test?” I could feel my face getting red.
For Science, I wrote on my plans that the kids could study their study guide for ten minutes before the test. I always do this, as it helps some kids who truly study but have short term memory stalls.
“She was holding the Science test and asked us about five questions that were on the test….She was reviewing.”
Reviewing. Did I ask her to flippin review? Uh, no. I just stared at them. “What?……..What?” And then they started all talking at the same time once again. So, yeah, she asked a couple questions. I don’t know, but I didn’t ask her to review with them. I didn’t ask her to pick a few questions that were on the test to test them before they were tested. You know what I mean. Not good, sub, not good. It kept getting worse.
“She did take us outside at the end of the day for about ten minutes. We got done early.”
They got done early? How was that possible? So, I asked that very question.
“How is that possible? You guys had to read lesson 2 in Social Studies and then do the worksheet.”
On my plans, I wrote, “Social Studies…Read chapter 11, lesson 2. After they are done reading, have them complete the worksheet. They may have until 3:15 to finish it. Then collect all, even if they are not finished by then. They are to do their own work. Please do not help them.” I wrote it again.
So, from everyone still trying to talk at once, this is what I understood that transpired. She told the kids that she would could read the lesson so it would go faster. She read the lesson. Not them. She did. So they could get done faster to go outside. Just great. They told me she also read the reading story. She read it. Not them. This is getting so much better. She then told the kids that she would give them about ten minutes to do the worksheet and if they finished it they would go outside for a recess at 3:05. So, naturally the kids all rushed and asked questions, trying to get her to give them answers. Kids do this to subs. They are smart little people. And soon enough, the sub gave away two or more of the answers. Depending on who went up to ask. I had to throw out those worksheets as well.
So, at 3:05, one of the kids was still not done. So, what did the sub do? She went in the back and gave the girl the answers.
And the Kraken is near the surface of the ocean.
And this is when I lost my mind.
She told the kids that she would write a good note to me if they promised not to tell me that she helped with all the assignments. And then said again.
“If you promise not to tell Ms. Mendenhall that I helped you, we will go outside at the end of the day.”
And here comes the Kraken.
Two teachers heard me down the hall as the Kraken bounded out of the water.
“You have got to be kidding me!!!!” I picked up my detailed substitute plan and went hunting for the sub. I knew she was in the building.
Sure, I was dripping wet. I just woke up from a long nap at the bottom of the ocean. I was pissed and hungry for some answers. I called her out into the hall and let her have it.
I don’t remember what the hell I said. I was that mad. It went something like this.
“What part of “Do not help them” and “they are to do their own work” do you not understand?” Blah blah blah.blah blah blah..”You will never sub for me again…” blah blah blah. Growl.
My voice carries, Especially when making Kraken noises.
I actually found out about “her deal” with the kids after I let her have it the first time. Notice I said, “first time.” Shit. The Kraken was not done pillaging and wrecking havoc. I chased her down again. This time she was in the office. I eeked of salt water.
Growl…”Seriously….blah blah blah. I had to throw away the worksheets. They are worthless….blah blah blah….”
I went back to my classroom, collapsed into my chair and almost started crying. I wondered if the Hulk enjoyed turning into the Hulk. But, then I looked over at one of my students, and she was smiling from ear to ear. My Kraken imitation amused her. I smiled back and slowly transformed back into Ms. Mendenhall, fourth grade teacher.
You know, I used to sub before I got my full time position. I always did exactly what was on the plan. I was too afraid not to.
Now I know why.
There are teachers out there who can morph into sea creatures.
And I am now one of them.
Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook that you can download on your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download their Kindle app FREE…Yes, free. Have a look see. My literary debut….. Amazon.com for $3.99. It’s sort of funny.