Do you remember this test? How long ago was it that you had to sit for hours and prove to prospective colleges exactly what you remembered learning, and how quickly you could recall such information, and how well you could synthesize your knowledge and skills?
Every March, Juniors across the state of Michigan get to prove their skills as part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation by taking not only the ACT test, but the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and Work Keys portion of the ACT. This amounts to three days of testing. If you're a capable student, who learns as easily as the kid in the next chair, that means you've got a full day of testing today, and two half days tomorrow and Thursday. . .if you're not so capable and are granted additional time, you may have a full week of testing. . .with no real breaks. Meanwhile, your classmates go to classes in the afternoon and are instructed, given homework and move on in their lessons--you'll have to catch up next week.
To say this is an intense week is to put it mildly. Students are stressed because of the testing. Teachers are stressed on behalf of the students, as well as concerned that they follow the letter of the law with the very stringent testing guidelines. In the past week, I've read nearly 100 pages of testing protocol to make sure the rules haven't changed, and that I'm not going to invalidate anyone's test scores. Administrators are stressed making sure that we're all doing our jobs. . .and parents are stressed hoping their children test well and their scores eventually lead to the college and career of their child's dreams.
While my students test, I have the role of watching them test. I cannot really pace around the room--my accommodated testing location has only a few students. I cannot grade papers. I must watch that students are bubbling correctly. I cannot surf the internet. I must watch that students are not working on an improper section of a test. I cannot text friends on my cell phone. To bring a cell phone into the testing location is a HUGE violation. . .besides, I must be watching to ensure that students are not cheating. Worst of all?
I cannot knit.
Never-mind that I can knit without looking at my hands, and that I could have a beautiful garter stitch scarf completed at the end of the three days, or that my stress level would be reduced if I could move in some way, or that perhaps my students would feel less stressed without such intense scrutiny. If I'm found knitting in a testing room, I invalidate a room full of testers.
I cannot knit.
I normally cannot knit at work. Typically this would not be a huge problem. But for the next three days, I'll be sitting in a room with about six students. They'll be silent. They'll be focused on their tests. I'll be able to do nothing but sit there, watch them, and fill out a few forms.
I cannot knit.
While you're at work for the next few days, hopefully being productive and making the world a better place, please send some zen energy to me. Say "Ahhhh" a few times for me. Think calming thoughts. Maybe knit a few stitches on your lunch break. I'll be proctoring the ACT/MME tests.
If you know a high school junior? Give them a break this week too.