The More You Know…

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I’ve started substitute teaching. You probably remember crusty, old geezers teaching your class when one of your teachers was gone. These fossils were fond of telling students that they don’t know what hard work is, that they had to recite the pledge of allegiance in Greek and had to learn math with an abacus.

 

Whatever the case, there was always the assumption that, like teaching vampires who only came out during the school day, subs didn’t have an everyday normal life; when the school day was over they’d retreat to the school basement to read the textbooks for enjoyment before using them as a bed to sleep on until they were called to action again.

 

My point is that, with a single day substitute, there isn’t really a chance to get to know the sub.

 

I typically sub at the school where I once taught and assisted librarily, so I know most of the teachers and they know of my condition. Given enough notice, I’ll offer to give a presentation to the kiddos about me. This way the teacher doesn’t have to prepare as much and the students get first-hand knowledge of why I am the way I am. I’ve posted a version of this presentation before (LINK), but it was a raggedy old PowerPoint.

 

AND THEN…last summer – I went to a writer’s conference to pitch my memoir. I wanted to stand out, so I put together a presentation. I had just given the students a crash course in PowerPoint presentations and Prezi, so I thought I’d give that a try. I didn’t get a book deal >:(, but my presentation was pretty sweet. Find it HERE

 

AND THEN…a new school year started and the sub jobs came pouring in. So far, I’ve presented to about 250 seventh graders, most of the eighth graders saw it last year.

 

AND THEN…my younger sister, a Latin teacher (She teaches Latin, she’s not a teacher who is Latin, no one is or really has been since the Roman empire), asked me to come talk to one of her classes. I thought that this nexus of presentation opportunities called for a revamped presentation.

 

AND THEN…I combined the raggedy PowerPoint with the fresh, shiny Prezi to create a PreziPoint (PowerPrezi?). The svelte can be viewed in all its smoothly transitioning glory HERE. Or, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced the presentation here in slideshow form.

 

AND THEN…actually, ‘AND THEN…’ doesn’t work here, but I’m nothing if not consistent, the frames with a 🌟 in the lower right corner were adapted from the original PowerPoint. This means that the ones without a star make up the original Prezi.

 

AND THEN… If you don’t notice, apart from the book excerpts, it rhymes! Isn’t that delicious?

 

AND THEN…FIN

 

AND THEN…@JarrettLWilson

 

From Wildcat to Shepherd

One cake to rule them all

The Piner Middle School chapter of my life has ended. I’m not going to say that I thought I’d be there forever, but I don’t think I really processed the idea of not working there. I’ve Pinned some of my more memorable tokens on my bulletin board –

Bulletin Board

Among these various tokens of days gone by are pictures with various YAF authors, top down (right side of the bulletin board) – Jordan Sonnenblick (Notes from the Midnight Driver, Zen and the Art of Faking it, etc.), Joan Bauer (Stand Tall, Rules of the Road, etc.), and Gordon Korman (Schooled, Ungifted, etc.). Not pictured is the author from my first year in the library – Neal Shusterman (the Unwind series, the Skinjacker trilogy, etc.).

On the bottom left are warning signs I made to make the students (especially incoming seventh graders) aware that I’m rarely serious, and though it may not sound like it, I’m joking when I say “you have a fine of $47.33.”

Above that is a card that was stuffed with cash, graciously given after my most recent medical episode (read more HERE).

The rest are cards and other memos given for various occasions.

I’ll miss that place, especially the kids and my coworkers. One of the things I’ll miss the most is playing with the students’ names. Some of my favorites –

Student with last name Bell had lots of middle names – taco, liberty and southwestern

Anyone with the last name Martinez had to have “Wal” as a middle name.

Students named Juan were only allowed to check out “Juan” book

Landon’s middle name was gear.

A few years ago, a favorite of mine with the last name Park became *first name* national Parks, or water Parks or simply ess Parks.

The teachers and staff weren’t immune to my name play. I especially enjoyed heckling Mrs. Likarish (middle name ‘black’ or ‘red’, obviously). There was also Ms. Joe, or should I call her Ms.  Sloppy Joe or Ms. Cuppa Joe?

Silly names aside, I’ve been blessed to work with some stupendous individuals, and I’ll truly miss each and every one in his/her own special way. If my new coworkers are half as amicable and professional (amifessionable?), then I’ll be a happy camper.

Speaking of camping, my new job will be at a clinic as development coordinator – fancy, huh?  Aside from coordinating development and what have you, I’ll be writing grants that the clinic will continue to do business. What does this have to do with camping? Nothing! I just needed a segue to my new job. I’ll still try to make a connection. The “Shepherd” in the title refers to the name of the clinic. A shepherd would often have to camp out to keep an eye on his/her herd – there’s a very tenuous connection for you, you’re welcome.

Speaking of cake…wait, I never mentioned cake except for the instance where I mentioned that I didn’t mention it. A dear coworker of mine got me a cake, this cake –

One cake to rule them all

A few things to note about this cake –

It’s from Mom’s Bakery, so it’s as if pure joy lay Bakery with infinite serenity Bakery and had a child, named it “Mom’s”. I’m going to keep trying to explain the transcendental, otherworldly properties of a cake from Mom’s Bakery, but whatever explanation I conjure will not be sufficient. Maybe this next story will give you some idea of the worth of a Mom’s Bakery pastry. have a gander –

Listen, my coworkers and I, with the help of a few select students ate 3/4ths of this cake until I was bade to take it home. I ate about half of what was left and realized that, despite my commitment to healthy eating, I didn’t have the willpower to not eat every crumb. Therefore, I was forced to throw the rest away – reserving me a special place in hell. In the book of Revelation, I believe it says something like “…and the adulterers will be confined to the 7th ring of hell, where Netflix is not. Below them, in the 8th ring, are the douchebags that walk on the wrong side of the aisle at the grocery store, for the Lord God hath declared you s shalt keep to the right, just as in an automobile; it is written that these infidels will only have access to Celine Dion’s and Barbra Streisand’s stations on Pandora.  In the ninth ring w will be those who wantonly discard cakes and other delicious pastries from exceptional bakeries.  These wretched souls will have access to Netflix, but the remote will ever be out of battery.”

FIN

Presenting – My…Presentation

I used to work at a middle school.

I’ve was employed there in some fashion for a number of years.

My first two years I taught 8th grade US history and coached boys’ athletics. The next year I taught 8th grade English and coached girls’ athletics.

At the end of that school year some blood vessels in my brain leaked like so much kiddie pool left to rot in the sun.

I taught 8th grade English for half of the next two school years. I came back the next school year as the assistant librarian and have filled that role for four years.

Assuming my math is correct (2+1+.5+.5+4), I’ve been working there for 21,554 years – this raises a few questions.

Firstly, I’m only 32 years old. Secondly, the school has only been there for 40ish years. Let’s round that figure down to eight school years.

I did so enjoy working with students. Thing is, I’m was’t like any of the other teachers/professionals in the school.

When I returned to teaching after the hemorrhage, I created a PowerPoint presentation about my condition to show to my class to prepare them for my uniqueness.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to the new seventh graders. I modified the presentation to fit my condition today. I thought I’d share it with you, the internet –

1

This is the title slide – note that it has the title written (in English, no less!) on it.

2

This slide is for a handout. The students were given the same graphic, but with blanks. In essence, they started with an empty brain and ended with a full one (symbolic, no?)

3

In the same fashion as the previous slide, the students filled in the blanks on the same graphic.

4

This slide is a pictorial representation (pictoriational?) of the functions of each lobe. For instance, the temporal lobe (orange) controls the instinct to swat things away from your ear (actually, that represents hearing), and the frontal lobe controls the confusion that comes from staring at gibberish on a sign post (actually, that represents planning).

5

Now we get to my contribution – you see, the seventh grade reading classes at the school where I work are covering non-fiction. They are reading Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson – the brain surgeon that removed half of a girl’s brain. One of the teachers is a friend of mine and asked me to present my experience as a primer. The image in the slide is my brain (isn’t it beautiful?). The white dot in the middle is my cavernoma isn’t it (or rather, wasn’t it) ugly?

6

Not much to say about this slide that isn’t in the slide. I’ll just add that the symptoms listed are enough to get you a 20 minute helicopter ride.

7

Much like the image in the “My Brain Issues” slide – the head pictured is my head. My head is perfectly round and my brain has many different colors. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jarrett, there weren’t no color in the other image and your head ain’t perfectly round.”

I’ve a twofold reply to this comment. First of all, I was joking – that’s not my head. Secondly, you need to work on your grammar. Moving on, this one has info about the surgery. That fact weighed heavily in my decision to title the slide “The Surgery 9/2009.”

8

A few summers ago I went on a tour of a Nair factory – this happened to be the day that Gillette planned to sabotage the Nair factory. They set explosives…I’m tired of this explanation. It started off with promise, but now I hate it!

Truthfully, a few summers ago I wanted to see the scar, so I shaved my head.

9

This slide is linked to a file with moving pictures and sound! This “video” is about *drumroll* neuro-plasticity! A fancy term denoting the brain’s ability to form new connections.

10

This is a visual representation of how your brain thinks. For instance, you see a donut with your occipital lobe. That info shoots to your frontal lobe and activates your happy gland. Your happy gland shoots a message to your parietal lobe “GO GET THAT F’N DONUT!” Someone gets it before you can, so your temporal lobe tells you to break out your megaphone and shout obscenities at this person and threaten to call the police. This guy grabs a nearby napkin dispenser and wangs you in the Temple…

11

…That blow to the Temple gives you a TBI. Your brain rewires itself and finds an alternate route to your happy gland.

12

I included this slide to give the students an explanation as to why I sometimes shake when I speak and why I walk with a limp and hike up my left arm like so much Bob Dole. It also helps explain the little girl in the moving picture mentioned earlier. It also gave me a chance to…

Treating Hypertonicity with Pic

…mention the painful treatments. One thing I’ve learned from working in a middle school is that, as much as the kids want to be treated as adults, they still love to hear about people getting poked with needles and meeting a real life cyborg.

13

I like to pepper in some humor here and there to make sure the kids are awake. When this slide appears, it’s accompanied by a very loud, obnoxious laugh.

15

I don’t really do any of these anymore, but I mention it because I did it for so long, and it drives home the point that I’ve had a long road.

16

In my mind, all of these will someday be replaced with “Painfully normal”. For purposes of this presentation, it gives the students an idea of what to expect when they see me.

17

It can be difficult to work around young people with my disabilities. Instead of hiding or pretending that I’m no different, I encourage the students to come talk to me if they have a question. I want to think that I’m an ambassador for the disabled. Hopefully, these students will apply what I’ve tried to teach them to others with disabilities.

I included the last bullet because I’ve had some students speak very loudly and very slowly to me. You see, they have to tell me their student ID number to check out a book. In previous years, a student or two would speak to me as if I was unable to type and listen at the same time.

18

I’m a pretty smart dude and I can be pretty creative, but I didn’t discover any of this and I didn’t make this sh*t up.

If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that Keystone Light is super cheap and tastes like weedkiller. If there’s a second thing I learned in college, it’s that plagiarism is bad (I remember a syllabus that said there’s a special place in hell for those that plagiarize).

We try to instill that fear into the students, so I model the proper citing of sources.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

How Standardized testing contributes to Global Warming and Other Curiosities

INSPIRATION! I found you! It was hiding in the vast tangled forest of the rules and regulations that is standardized testing.

You see, I work in a middle school and state testing days are quite an ordeal. The only comparison I can think to make is what a building would have to go through to prepare to receive the president (a lame comparison, I know. I’m still shaking the rust of my inspiration gland).

EVERYTHING is considered a threat (to test security), every corner is monitored by highly trained personnel (i.e. the next name on the alphabetized staff roster as duties are assigned), and the event is catered (insofar as you can say that school lunch is a catered affair).My duty was predetermined at conception.

Listen, I’m a dude. Society dictates that I potty in a room where only dudes are allowed. Rumor has it that there are similar rooms for chicks, but I’ve never been in one. During state testing, the restrooms have to be monitored. The students like have think tanks after going potty. Such a clandestine rendezvous might cause a student to score a little higher and help him or her land a job that he/she is not qualified for (before discussing it in the bathroom, he/she thought the square root of 64 was 116, or that George Washington discovered America, or something).

Such a forbidden meeting might go like this (it’s funnier if you imagine them speaking in British accents): “The answer to #4 is unequivocally option ‘C.'” Says George. Carl scoffs at this, replies “I’d put ‘C’ if I wanted to get it wrong!” Jim busts in and says, “Will one of you please hurry? I really need to go potty.” He then starts doing the potty hop on one leg. George and Carl, having agreed that the answer is actually ‘D’, have moved on to discussing the merits of multiple choice testing and are too engrossed in the subject to hear Jim’s urgent request to pee (peequest?). Just as they decide that short answer questions would be the best assessment tool, but too difficult to grade, Jim soils himself. Now Jim rushes to finish the test so he can go home to change his pants. He ends up failing the test, and repeats the grade. His self esteem is shot, he stops trying in school, and is forced to take a low paying job at an aerosol can factory. As we all know, aerosol cans deplete the ozone layer – contributing to global warming.

In effect, not monitoring the bathrooms during standardized testing contributes to global warming.

This brings us back to my conception. In order to prevent cheating, rousing discussions on testing methods, and global warming, the people who create and enforce standardized testing (Satan, Barbra Streisand, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) have decreed that all potties be monitored during standardized testing. As a male, it is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.  Getting back to being I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D (part one HERE), ‘P’ will now stand for “potty monitor”.

In keeping with the topic of standardized testing, ‘I’ stands for “Irregularity”. This is a very common, yet much maligned term used for any aberration from testing procedures, which is pretty much everything.

For instance, I told a student to “knock it dead”, ‘it’ being the science test. Moments later an owl flew by and dropped a letter at my feet. It was addressed to “Test Defiler Wilson”. I opened it and it started screaming at me (sounded like Tom Cruise). It said, ” It was reported at 8:03:56am that you bade a student to ” knock it dead” in reference to a test. This is in direct violation of subsection ee of decree 17 of chapter 119 of section four of the third edition of the educator code, copied here for your convenience: Thou shalt not wish luck to any student the student to figuratively use violence between 8:02 and 8:07am. Examples: “knock it dead,” “kick it’s butt,” and “slay that puppy”. For this irregularity, we’re taking away your stapler. May God have mercy on your soul.”

I can’t give you a example of a real irregularity – that, in and of itself, would be an irregularity. However, I can tell you that ‘R’ stands for refill.

When I write the word ” refill”, you probably think of an icy cold beverage at your favorite local eatery. That is quite far from I’m talking about. I refer, of course, to going to the doctor to refill the pump in your abdomen with that sweet, sweet muscle relaxer called Baclofen – which is 1,000 times stronger than the oral stuff. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, I’ve provided some pictures for you. These shots capture the wide variety of emotions that surface during a refill (read the captions for more info).

Primary emotion - euphoria. I never learn, every time I go in for a refill, I think they're going fill it with Pepsi or something, so I'm very excited. But...
Reading the Pump. Primary emotion – euphoria. I never learn, every time I go in for a refill, I think they’re going fill it with Pepsi or something, so I’m very excited. But…
...then comes the dread of knowing that, even if they do fill it with Pepsi, I'm going to get poked. Primary emotion - dread
Dawning the Pump               …then comes the dread of knowing that, even if they do fill it with Pepsi, I’m going to get poked. Primary emotion – dread

 

Primary emotion - boredom. I've been stuck with A LOT of needles. I'm not bragging when I say that getting stuck with a needle is as routine as going potty.
Prepping for the Poke. Primary emotion – boredom. I’ve been stuck with A LOT of needles. I’m not bragging when I say that getting stuck with a needle is as routine as going potty.
The Stick. Primary emotion - rage. Like I said in the previous pic, getting poked doesn't bother me. If I recall, I was so upset on this particular occasion because they didn't have any "Where's Waldo" books in this exam room.
The Stick. Primary emotion – rage. Like I said in the previous pic, getting poked doesn’t bother me. If I recall, I was so upset on this particular occasion because they didn’t have any “Where’s Waldo” books in this exam room.
Sucking out the old stuff. Primary emotion - stunned sadness. The old Baclofen had been a part of me for a few months, now it's gone.
Sucking out the old stuff. Primary emotion – stunned sadness. The old Baclofen had been a part of me for a few months, now it’s gone.
Pumping in the new stuff. Primary emotion - contentment. I'm just about done and the medical assistant has gone to get the "Where's Waldo" books
Pumping in the new stuff. Primary emotion – contentment. I’m just about done and the medical assistant has gone to get the “Where’s Waldo” books

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

 

 

“Emotions” pt. 2(ish)

This is the next part in my controversial “emotions” series. I can’t call it part two because I’m going to discuss two emotions. Why not call it parts two and three you ask?

I can’t call it that because that name is boring. A better name that I’ve in this moment conceived is “part threwo”, which is a combination of the words two and three. Combining numbers two and three, gives us five; I’ll go with that – “Emotions, pt. 5”

You see, in this installment – in what can only be explained as blue flaming overachievement – I’m going to talk about TWO emotions that I have felt recently.

The first emotion can be summed up with the following picture –

Jarrett = A sad panda
Jarrett = A sad panda

Don’t be fooled by the smiley face. About a month ago, ice raineth from the sky such that my car door got frozen shut.

Being as tough as I am, I tugged and tugged until the door came off. I managed to get the door back on, but the handle stuck out. That part about ripping the door off and putting it back on is a lie.

Furthermore, I can only assume that this is unrelated to the door handle and speculate that it has to do with Satan, Cher or some other foul beast – my car keeps dying. Here is a little poem to describe the situation –

Oh car, I exited the highway, then you died

I pulled into a parking space at home, them you quit

Then, you stalled out in the Petco parking lot, dammit

Up to now you’ve been such a dependable ride.

You got me to McKinney,

Then you decided not to run.

Being stuck in the middle of the road isn’t fun.

I had to have a wrecker drive 30 miles to get me.

The cost to fix you has been high.

More than that, it’s been a big pain in the ass!

Oh car, why does your fuel pump stop pumping gas?

Please please please get better before I cry!

The mechanic can’t determine where the problem lies;

The Buick service dept. seems bumfuzzled too,

Here’s what I’ve decided to do –

Rent a car from Enterprise.

This should give the mechanic time to fix you,

And while he does, I don’t have to be without transportation

Calling for rides is a real agitation

With any luck, you’ll be back on the road in a few.

This broken car business has been quite an ordeal – I don’t wish to comment on it any further.

Instead, I’ll turn to happy business. I know I’ve already covered that “emotion”, so I’ll take it one step further and describe it more fullyer.

A few months ago, I told you about a PRESENTATION I gave to the seventh reading classes at the school where I work. The reading teachers had the kids make flyers as if I was coming to speak.

That's right! An entire wall at the school is all about me!
That’s right! An entire wall at the school is all about me!

Close up of my wall #2

Creative kids, no?
Creative kids, no?

To be the object of an entire grades’ learning is quite a privilege; I felt very important. I don’t know if there’s a name for this “emotion” (or if it can even be called that). Whatever the case, I propose to call this “emotion” improrteged, or perhaps primporileged. Either way, I was greatly honored to be a vehicle to help transport young minds to learning.

That wraps it up for the 23rd (threword)/5th/2nd  installment of my revolutionary “emotions” series.

Toodles!

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

SiLiMes #15 – Birdese

I send messages to reading teachers to inform them that one of their students has a book on hold. I started writing these clever poems & vignettes. * = a student’s name –

A little bird flew into the library today and said, “KAW! KAW! KAW! KAW! KAW! KAW! KAW! KAW!” Luckily, I speak bird, so I’ll translate.  She said “* has a book on hold, he has until MONDAY 10/03 to pick it up, or it will ‘KAW!’ to the next ‘KAW!’”…couldn’t quite understand that last part, but you get the idea.

SiLiMes #14 – Another Message from the Aching Bookcase

*= Student with a book on reserve – this entry plays off of a previous message found HERE

It’s the bookcase again – The ravenous fervor you instill in your students for reading has produced another shelf-breaking hold. Please have * pick up her book by TUESDAY 12/6.

Still Aching,
A Bookcase

SiLiMes #13 – The Aching Bookcase

As always, *= a student’s name

If you could send * to pick up his reserved book, that would be great. You see, I’m holding up far too many books and my shelf is about to break (I’ve had that shelf since it was a baby, I don’t know how much “shelf life” it has left…ha ha, library humor). The hold will last until FRIDAY 12/2, but he may certainly come earlier.

Achingly,
A bookcase

SiLiMes #12 – “HOLDysburg Address”

I don’t care to go back and look right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this before. However, this is MY blog and I (imagine that I yelled that, it’s already capped) want to post it again NOW!

Oh yeah, SiLiMes = Silly Library Message.

Again, *= A student’s name.

Four score and seven years ago (or thereabouts), * put a hold on a book in the *School Name* Library.
Now it is my esteemed pleasure to inform you that that book, so conceived and so dedicated, is ready to be checked out. We are met on a great landscape called the Internet. We have come to the portion of this message where I tell you that s/he has until TUESDAY 10/25 to pick up this volume. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.

SiLiMes #11 – “HOLD of the Rising Sun”

Here’s another silly message I sent to the reading teachers when one of their students has book ready that had been reserved. Again, *= A student’s name.

There is a Library in Sherman,TX
They call the *school name* Library
And it’s reserved books for many a student
And Gosh, * & * are some

My mother is a bureaucrat
She is very particular about dates
She insists the book get picked up by WEDNESDAY 11/02
And be sure they bring money to pay late rates