Resign-ment From The Assignment

| Learning | May 21, 2014

(I am in ninth grade. My biology teacher has been reviewing the past unit in preparation for our test, in which we write the unit in book form, either in textbook format or a children’s story. My friend, who sits across from me, has been panicking. I have been too, but I’ve been trying not to show it. It is the Friday before the test, our last day of review.)

Teacher: “Just remember, it’s not as hard as you think it’s going to be. You’ll have Monday and Tuesday of next week to do it. If you don’t finish by then, we can extend the deadline.”

Friend: “That’s not a lot of time.”

(I agree with my friend in that two days doesn’t seem like much, but I trust the teacher’s judgment. I spend the rest of the day and all weekend studying to make sure I get high marks on this test, an 8/8, as it’s our biggest one this year. When I walk in on Monday, I notice I’m not the only one still panicking.)

Friend: “[My Name], I haven’t stopped studying. Not even when I was in the shower; I put all of my notes into page protectors and taped them to the bathroom walls.”

Classmate #1: “Guys, I’ve been freaking out all weekend. I’m so screwed.”

(Similar worried conversations rise up throughout the room. The teacher ignores them, handing out the rubric for the test.)

Teacher: “You can see the guidelines for getting an 8 here on the rubric. As long as you include everything asked, you’ll be absolutely fine.”

(As I look over the rubric, I can feel my heart rate rise. An 8 requires detailed descriptions, diagrams, and a huge amount of work. All I have to do is raise my head to see the blood draining out of my classmates’ faces.)

Friend: “So. Completely. Screwed. ”

(I ignore the panic and anxiety and get to work. Out of six chapters we have to cover by memory, I get about 2/3 of one and half of another in the space of one period. When the teacher comes around asking for our tests, I finally ask her what she thinks is going to happen.)

Me: “[Teacher], I know I’m not going to be done by tomorrow, and the chances of me finishing before Wednesday are slim to none. Do I need to come in after school today and tomorrow to work on it?”

Teacher: “As long as you’re working consistently throughout the period, I’ll let you take as much time as you need.”

(I’m not alone in the class. While there were a few students who turned in rushed, low-quality work the next day, most kids finished on Thursday and Friday. By Monday, about six other students and I still weren’t done. We finished out in the halls. We returned to find that the new unit was already underway and we had missed half of a video. This wasn’t the first time my teacher had planned for the test but not the students and, as I learned as the year progressed, it was not the last, either. I ended up switching out three months later because her lack of foresight caused me such stress.)

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