Exams started this week so I thought I would give you a little breakdown of what that means for everyone involved:
For the learners: They take one exam every day from 8:30 to 10:00. This is extremely stressful for them, I had one girl actually start crying during the exam today and another who looked like she might. I actually like it because it is the best behaved I have ever seen them—they actually sit quietly and focus on a task for at least an hour. It’s baffling. It also means that they have an hour and a half of study before the exam, which is usually spent in quiet anxious reviewing, a half an hour after the exam for break, and then two hours of review before they go home. This last two hours is… less quiet.
For the teachers: This is also incredibly stressful, not because of the exams per se, but because we have to turn in all of our marks (grades) for the entire term. And we have to put them on these stupid, confusing forms, and there is a separate form for each learner for each class. Considering how many learners and classes we all have, it isn’t what I would call fun. Add to that proofreading, copying, and marking all the exams.
For me: I spend a lot of the time kind of confused because the idea that I have no idea what exams are like in Namibia is lost on the people who are supposed to help me. For example, it took me three days to figure out how much time learners got for each exam. There was a little extra confusion too because I was told that the exams for math and science that we are sent by the government would not actually be used for the marks on their grading sheets. This meant I had to write separate exams (two for math, one for science) and find time to administer them to grade 6. Writing the question papers took approximately 6 hours total, given I had to figure out what approximate length, question style, and material should be. I wrote them on time and lost a lot of my weekend, only to show up Monday morning and have the principal tell me we can just use the government exams. After reading the govt. exams over, however, and seeing how terribly confusing and beyond what my kids have learned they are, I showed her my exams and she was impressed enough to let me administer them too.
The most ridiculous part of this week has been marking for the whole term. I have been marking as I go, for the most part, but didn’t actually have a class list for grade 5 until about a week ago (so I couldn’t record their scores) and I discovered that grade 7 needed more marks, so I went back and graded some of the activities we had done. This would be fine except for all the empty spaces in my grade book. Some learners just don’t give me their work, some lost their books, and some never did it to begin with. I don’t really want to fail half of my students so I tried giving out slips of paper telling every student what they were missing. Didn’t work. Then (based on the success story of a fellow volunteer) I wrote all of the tasks we did this semester and under each one wrote the name of the learners who haven’t given it to me, and posted these lists outside the library. I had learners falling over eachother to turn things in. I have no idea why it worked, but I now have only 1 missing assignment for grade 6 and grade 7 got most of their stuff in too. Unfortunately, I think a lot of this was lost on my grade 5 (especially the boys) but they are the ones who didn’t do the work in the first place, so a zero might be an accurate reflection of the class for them.
Needless to say, this week is exhausting. I’m usually at the school, constantly busy from 6:45 until 5pm (minus the hour long lunch break). But it also means the term is almost over, and I am so excited for the holiday! I hope life is less stressful for all of you back home!