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Testing, testing…1, 2, 3!

February 16, 2010

Things have been going surprisingly well in my placement.  My students appear to be reading, they are engaged and they have respect for me.  I’ve certainly had some classroom management issues (who doesn’t?) but I’ve been working on them and gaining more respect and authority every day.  Then, last week I decided to give them their second and final test on Great Expectations.

I told them on Monday that the test would be on Thursday.  Then I told them again (you have to repeat these things a million times, fyi).  Then everyone started talking about how we might have a snow day on Wednesday, the day of our scheduled review.  I was very clear and said that, if there was a snow day, we would still have a test on Thursday.  Well, Wednesday came and there was indeed a snow day.  No snow, but a snow day nonetheless.  I spent the day doing laundry, grading book reports and proofreading the test I was going to give my students the next day.  I didn’t realize that teachers love snow days just as much as their students!

After my students had straggled in, taken their seats and the bell had rung, I asked them to spread out and take everything off their desks.  They looked at me with bewilderment.  Why would they do such a thing??  Well, because we’re having a TEST!  My students acted as though I was out of my mind and objected ferociously to such demeaning and unfair treatment.  I quieted the whining and explained that I had warned them about this.  All of my students except for one seemed to have forgotten that the test was scheduled and would be held that day.  In response to their objections, I said “get over it” and began handing out the test.

The next 40 minutes were incredibly uncomfortable.  My students, who usually smile and laugh at my goofy jokes, looked up from their tests with glares that would’ve put me in my grave if looks could kill.  One student refused to finish up his test, making everyone else wait silently for the last ten minutes of class while he “checked” his work.  It was obviously a power play.  When the bell finally rang, I watched with immense relief as my angry students rushed off to their next classes.  One down, one to go!

When my second class began to arrive, it became obvious that they’d spoken to the first class.  They had accepted that there was a test, but they were concerned about something unforeseen by me. 

One of my best students said, “Ms. Workman, I heard that the test is really, really hard.” 

I thought for a second and responded, “I don’t think so.  After all that complaining I got, I made this one mostly multiple choice.  There isn’t even an essay because you’re writing the essay portion over the break.”

I proceeded to hand out my carefully crafted tests to my unwilling students.  Yet again, I was the subject of icy glares.  When everyone had handed in their tests, I braced myself and asked a question that I knew would open up a giant can of worms, “Was that test really hard?  I thought it was easy.”

My students erupted, “Yes!  That was so hard, Ms. Workman!  It was impossible to tell which answer was right!”

I went home and began grading the tests.  My students did horribly.  One person got 100%, but most of the students got C’s or below.  What’s worse, they all missed different questions.  So, I can’t just throw out certain questions that are unfair.

It’s February break right now, and I’ve graded all the tests. My students expect their results at the end of the break.  I’ve been looking over the questions and trying to come up with a solution.  I think the test was unfair because of how badly my students did, but I’m not quite sure what to do about it.  They haven’t covered this in my Education classes.

I think this is a great learning experience for me, regardless of how I’m struggling now.  I’m sure I’ll come up with a fair-ish solution.  Whether my students will be satisfied with it is up in the air.  I don’t realize how much teachers loved snow days, which I admitted earlier in my post.  Another thing I didn’t realize it how much teachers hate tests.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Marty permalink
    February 16, 2010 10:33 am

    Do you curve your grades at the end of the term? Maybe that’ll make your students feel better.

    I forget when I learned this lesson, but at some point everyone has to learn that it’s your own fault if you forget something that someone else told you, especially if that something was told to you many times.

  2. Patty permalink
    February 17, 2010 2:52 pm

    Veteran teacher here . . .

    Always keep in mind that you are dealing with kids.

    When the snow day came to pass, they assumed that the test would be postponed.

    You told them that the test would be on Thursday, snow day or not.

    They know that you are new and are testing you.

    If you feel that the test was fair, do not curve it. This is a lesson that they have to learn.

    (My apologies if these sounds rather hard-line – but if you don’t follow-though with your promises, EVERY test will be a testing experience for you.)

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