Monday, December 7, 2009

Testing, Testing

We are two weeks away from finals at Trailer High. When I came to this district 28 years ago, I was impressed by the finals program at the end of each semester.

Everyone was (and still is) required to give a 'meaningful' final. When I began teaching here, a copy of our final had to be submitted to the principal before finals were scheduled to begin. I know the principal looked them over. He would comment on the length of it or the challenge that it provided.

Trailer High has always run a special schedule for finals. Class periods are extended. Hours 3, 5, and 7 are tested one day, and then hours 1, 2, 4, and 6 are tested the next day. Many schools run this kind of block schedule every day. We don't. We run a 7 period schedule, except when we run the block schedule for finals. This special schedule reminds students how important these tests are.

The school has always figured that these finals are a good warm-up for collegiate life. Finals week in college shouldn't come as such a shock to Trailer High graduates.

As a teacher, I dread finals. I try to write a test that covers everything that we have studied during the semester. Then I write a review for the final that allows students a chance to begin studying early. Most years I also try to give an essay that asks the students to reflect on what they are learning and shows off their growth in writing skills.

Writing the final is actually less stressful than grading them. I hate going into Christmas vacation with ungraded finals hanging over my head. I work really hard during finals to keep up with grading. While one class of students is in the process of writing their essays, I can usually grade a portion of a previous hour's essays.

Why am I thinking of this right now? I have a student going out of the country for a Christmas trip on December 10th. That means Wednesday is her last day until after the New Year. I think she'd like to take her final before she leaves. *sigh* The administration gave teachers the individual power to decide when she takes our class final. I'm not sure this Wonder Woman is going to be able to accommodate her. This time of year is stressful under normal conditions. This adds a whole new twist.

Am I testing the student? Or am I testing my ability to get it together a week early? If it is the latter, I fear I might be failing!


ols1 said...

You can only do what you can do. You have such a high work ethic - don't put too much pressure on yourself. You don't want to go into the Christmas break too exhausted to enjoy yourself. Take care.

Kamana said...

hello! found you through ols1. happy to find another educator and mom.

Puna said...

Mrs. E, is she a good student? Then I would probably not even give her a test and or write her a different test. hmmm...this is a hard one.