“You’re grumpy today,” my friend and co-worker told me as I sat down at lunch on Thursday. I tried to adjust my eyes so that they were less of a glare and more of I-need-coffee stare.
He was right. I was grumpy.
Standardized testing is to blame.
This week has been the longest week of my short time as a teacher.
My school offers both Cambridge and International Baccalaureate programs, with senior school students in grades 7-10 working within the Cambridge curriculum, and students in grades 11 and 12 involved with IB’s Diploma Program.
This year, I teach only Cambridge classes, but during our three weeks of testing insanity, I proctor (or, as we say here, “invigilate”) all sorts of exams. IB exams, Progression Tests, Mock IB Exams, IGCSE tests, Mock IB tests….
The school day is from 7:00 until 3:00, which is very long when you consider that both my own high school and the highschool where I student taught had schedules that roughly ran from 7:30 until 2:30. Typically, I have two preparation blocks per day to make copies, organize work, and grade. However, during this testing week inparticular, I went from a two-per-week invigilation to (practically) all invigilation, all the time. Even when it wasn’t technically my turn to invigilate, my students were testing in my classroom.
When days are just filled with testing, it creates an amount of tedium that is far more exhausting than the normal ebb and flow of a day of teaching. While I am not enough of an extrovert to claim that I feel recharged by being around people all day long, I do enjoy my job.
But not this week.
The stress of standardized testing is always high, even when students are confident in their knowledge and teachers are confident in their instruction. I know I prepared my students well for the tests that they took. But now that those tests are over, I feel exhausted, much like I did when I was in university and had just finished all of my exams. The difference, though, is that I still have three more weeks left to teach, and 100 short-answer-and-essay tests to grade. My students, too, have to keep pushing on for the next few weeks as we prepare Grade 8 students for the two-year IGCSE program, and the Grade 10 students for the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
But now, it’s Friday.
24 days until I am in Michigan.
21 days until school is over.
13 instructional days of school left.