Set Your Expectations Higher

, , , , , , , , | Learning | April 15, 2021

I briefly worked as a teacher in one of the worst schools in the country. There were all kinds of social problems, including rampant drug abuse. One of the pupils decided to smoke cannabis to calm himself down before an exam; unfortunately, he smoked a rather large amount, so he was barely conscious when he filed into the exam hall.

Some minutes in, the teacher invigilating the exam observed that the boy’s exam paper had fallen on the floor and he was busily writing on the table. There was some anxiety as to whether this might mean that the table would have to be sent in to be marked, but thankfully, on examination — pun definitely intended — it was ascertained that what he had written on the table had nothing whatsoever to do with the exam paper or even its subject.

That was good, because the exam board would not have appreciated having a tabletop sent in for marking.

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Give Students Room To Flourish, And They Usually Do

, , , , , , | Learning | February 12, 2021

I teach gifted kids, and contrary to the stereotype, some of them have academic disabilities compounded by anxiety, ADHD, and autism, to name a few. A student of mine, an eighth-grader, has documented anxiety and ADHD with accommodations. [Student] had a math teacher who insisted that they were playing the system. [Teacher] regularly refused to give [Student] the time allotted for tests in the accommodations, despite begging from me, calls from parents, and being called into the principal’s office.

In one of our go-arounds, [Teacher] claimed not to have the time to allow [Student] to finish tests because of the next classes coming in, and [Teacher] didn’t want cheating by looking problems up between class and study hall. I offered to escort [Student] from [Teacher’s] room to mine, and that was okay.

I set [Student] up in a secluded corner of my room and they went to work… and work… and work. I had students after my prep period, so I warned [Student] that other students would be coming in.

I was about halfway through my lesson with some sixth graders, and I asked a question.

Me: “What were Archimedes’ last words?”

Silence.

Right before I was about to answer, a disembodied voice came from the secluded corner of my room.

Student: “Don’t disturb my circles!”

At least I knew the eighth-grader listened when in sixth grade! And they aced the math test.

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Further Training Needed

, , , , , | Learning | December 24, 2020

I have a written drivers’ ed test in high school. Typical of standard written tests, you are not supposed to write on the actual test papers but supply a separate sheet with the question numbers followed by your written answers. This is stated multiple times and is written on the top of the test question sheets in big, bold type.

All is going fine, but I then come across the following question:

Exam: “You are driving and your car stalls on railroad tracks. There is no train coming. Do you: A) Run towards the train? or B) Run away from the train?”

I have to stop and reread that one. Then, I quietly snicker.

I circle the question on the test paper, and on my separate written answer sheet, I write my response.

Response: “C) Push the car off of tracks, because there was no train. If there WAS a train, I would then A) Run towards the train, so as to avoid flying debris.”

Of course, the test proctor yells at me when the test paper is returned with the circled question.

Proctor: “Don’t you pay attention?! You were not supposed to mark on the test sheet!”

Me: “Read the question!”

After they do, I get a very sheepish reply.

Proctor: “Oh… Umm, you got that answer right.”

And, technically, it was indeed right; you run at an angle away from the tracks but in the direction the train is coming from, to avoid the flying debris from it striking your car.

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The Answer Sheet’s No Good If You’re Too Stupid To Use It

, , , , , , | Learning | December 14, 2020

One day in college, the teacher stapled answer sheets to the back of every test by mistake. A few minutes after passing the tests around, his phone rings and he steps out. Everyone has noticed the answer sheet, and we decide that we will all use it and tear it off after. Hopefully, he will never notice.

I check each of the answers and they are all correct except for the last one. We are to draw a flowchart for a process.

Answer Sheet: “Answers will vary.”

I draw my flowchart, tear off the answer sheet, and walk to the front podium to turn the test in. When I get to the podium, I have to know. I need to see what everyone else drew for their flowcharts. On every single test:

Student: “Answers will vary.”


This story is part of our Best Of December 2020 roundup!

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Learning How To Swab The Deck

, , , , | Working | November 11, 2020

I am starting a new job caring for adults with learning disabilities. There is training to be completed as part of my induction, especially in regard to hazardous chemicals used for cleaning.

The training includes some “exams.” Thankfully, I am completing the training at home, as I can’t keep a straight face when I see these questions.

Question: “What does a ‘skull and crossbones’ chemical hazard symbol mean?”

Answers: “A) Corrosive, B) Flammable, C) Toxic, D) Used by pirates.”

Yes, “used by pirates.”

Question: “Do you know where the Material Safety Data Sheets are kept?”

Answers: “A) Yes, B) No.”

I wonder how they are going to mark this.

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