Monday, 18 February 2013

Exam Daze

So I finally have some time to write up some posts. Here's the first, the long awaited insight into what happens during the exam period, on the teacher side. I already blogged about the impossibility of marking within five days, but here's the rundown of what actually happened. In so much as I remember.

Exams began on Friday, January 25th, 2013. But I'm going to jump ahead to Tuesday. Since I teach for the first three periods of the day, with prep on the last, Tuesday was my last exam day and it's the same as the rest. We'll proceed from there.


Arrive before 8:30am, this is not news. Drop off things in prep room, spin by Exam Central room to pick up exam, head to my classroom.

8:30am - Collect textbooks. If a student has lost or forgotten theirs, they fill out a liability form. I also notice a student from my math club, who had signed out a textbook to tutor another student, and remind him he needs to return that one too.

8:45am - Close door, set up room to have exams on every desk with paper for rough work, et cetera.

8:55am - Collect textbooks from late arrivals and let everyone in. Jackets and bags at the front of the room.

9:00am - Exam begins. Go around to have every student sign in, and to make note of where they're all sitting.

9:15am - Attendance person comes so that phone calls can be made for any absences; I have none.

From this point on, it's just supervision. And you do have to circulate and supervise, you can't be marking or doing other work... and even though I do this, I still had what I deemed to be a case of cheating this year. Sigh. If there is a bright side, it's that I was able to do some mental writing for my Math Sampling song parody, which I finished some weeks later.

10am - Students are allowed to leave. A couple may have, I don't recall.

10:30am - End of allotted time, beginning of flex time. All students get time and a half because... because. About half are gone by this point.

11:15am - End of flex time. Only two students left, I collect from one, the other is frantically writing, says "I just remembered how to do this!" I give him enough time to finish his calculation. Then phone up to exam central to say I have all my exams.

11:30am - Lunch. Also a union meeting to discuss new details about the contracts the provincial government imposed on teachers.

12-3pm - Marking Time. I pull out the laptop and play music as I work.

Total Exam Days So Far: 3 Days
Max Marking Time @ Work So Far: 9 hours
(Recall: 2 min per page with 30 students means an 8 page exam is 8 hours, working nonstop. Pretty sure I check email in there.)
Did some marking at home that evening.


Arrive before 8:30am. Period 4 is my prep, but others still have exams today; I can't use my classroom, so I find an abandoned computer lab where I can set up. Today, I'm marking my data summative reports... each of them takes me about 20 minutes. I've actually had them for two weeks now, but at that time, was dealing with other marking that had to be returned before exams started. (By the way, students aren't allowed to hand in all their work on the last day anymore. You can see how those would be fun times!)

9-11:30am - Marking Time.

11:30am - Yoga. A relative of one of our staff has been offering free half hour sessions for the last couple weeks of this month to get feedback. There were four people there last week, three on Monday, I'm one of only two to attend today.

12:00pm - Marking Time.

1:00pm - Staff luncheon, which is also a farewell to one of our teachers who is retiring.

2:00pm - Marking Time. At some point a colleague comes by to ask when is a good time to talk about the new course I'm teaching in LESS THAN 48 HOURS. He said he'd provide some materials. Now is a good a time as any, so we spend at least a half hour on that. Another colleague also comes by with some questions about what was discussed at the union meeting yesterday; I try to clarify the issue.

3:30pm - Depart for a Teacher's Council Meeting after what was probably only 30 minutes of time to actually mark. (I also swing by the house to chip some ice off the driveway because temperatures went above freezing today and are plunging tomorrow.) This is a dinner meeting, they always run until about 8pm because the final reports just seem to get longer when there's time for them.

Total Exam Days: 4 Days.
Max Marking Time @ Work: 13 hours.
I don't remember if I had the energy to mark when I finally got home.


Last day for exams but only "Teacher Scheduled Practical Exams" are running today, along with "Course Rescue".


12pm - WHO CARES ABOUT LUNCH, MARK, MARK, MARK. Wait, I actually forgot to have breakfast this morning. Okay, I have some lunch while I MARK.


2pm - MARK, MARK. A student comes by. Seeing I look rather harried, they tentatively ask if I know if they'll get 65% in the course or not. I do know, I answer.

3pm - All summatives are done. One set of exams is complete, and I have a vague clue for tomorrow's teaching. This leaves two class sets to complete. Oh, and exam comments. AND ranking learning strategies in six categories. Those last were due today. FML.

Total Exam Days: 5 Days.
Max Marking Time @ Work: 18 hours.
I mark that evening. I've vanished from Twitter and other social media.


REGULAR SCHOOL DAY. TEACH ALL DAY. On my prep, I manage to get my smaller class completely done as far as reports go. Yaaay.
Need a break when I get home, so I blog. Then MARKING. My wife handles dinners, she is awesome.


7pm - Retirement party for our department head, who is awesome, put on by a colleague and friend of mine, so adds to the awesome. It kills the evening but with so much awesomeness - I even get to chat with a colleague who retired last year. Gotta find joy where you can.


I catch up on my email. YEAH RIGHT! You know I'm still marking. In the evening, I switch from pop music to pumped up anime music, including putting this AMV on loop for a while. (YouTube has suggested a few 'To Aru Kagaku No Railgun' vids ever since the Hyperbola invented her Railgun in my mathematical comic...)

A little after midnight, it's all done, everything, finished... including me. Which raises a new problem, I'm teaching in under 8 hours and don't have that figured out yet. Okaaaaaay. Not in bed until after 1am.


Regular teaching day. Spend my prep filing and documenting top marks and things. The one thing I *don't* have to do is make failure calls. (Which ideally would have been started back on Friday anyway - you mark those papers first.) The reason being, of the four in the most danger... two dropped back in December, and the other two pulled through with 50. Yeah, pass rate of 100%, but that speaks more to them than me.

PRO TIP: Phone parents for anyone below 60% BEFORE exams. I hate using the phone generally, but I've learned that when you're exhausted and wanting to smack your head into a wall, you'd prefer to make the following call:
"Remember that conversation we had about needing a pass on the exam? I'm afraid your son/daughter won't achieve their credit."

As opposed to the following call:
"I'm afraid your son/daughter won't achieve their credit. Because they didn't pass the exam. No, that wasn't their mark going in, their mark slipped during the last unit. No, it's too late now. Yes, they were aware of that fact. Fine, we can meet to discuss this, just excuse me, there's a wall over here with my name on it."

Next post: Why I liked my Data Management (statistics) Exam.

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