One thing I never considered as a student was how much finals suck for teachers. The whole process, from preparation to administering to the grades, is ten-fold worse now that I’m on the test-giving side of things. As a student, I never considered that the final I was taking also showed how well the teacher had done his or her job. I might’ve studied more. Now, it’s not even me that gets to decide my own fate: If I were taking the test, I’d get myself ready, drill all that information into second-nature responses, but these days I’m left to rely on students to prove my success for the year.
Teachers have to do way more work than any one student has to do to prepare for exams, but still we’re at their nonchalant, happy-go-lucky childhood mercy. We stress, and the horrible part is we mostly stress about the students who care the least, the ones who will likely not study, not try, probably not even bother to write their names on the exams that represent their last nine months of mediocre-to-poor effort. We stress because those students’ marks will represent the last nine months of effort we’ve given, and frankly, we rather it not be that way. It’s unfair. It’s more unfair than them having to take the exams.
In the last month or so, my workload has mutated. I have had books to finish by such-and-such date. I’ve had to drag my students through a review of every vocabulary word, grammar point, and rule exception they’ve learned since day one, meaning I had to review every vocabulary word, grammar point, and rule exception I’d taught them since day one. I have had to make report cards, create personal write-ups for each of my 60+ students, and fill in charts of marks, the pressure of deciding all of their fates. I’ve had to print about five hundred pages worth of tests, collate them, staple them, and separate them by class. Then, we grade them all.
Marking exams is not only time consuming and eye-crossingly tedious, but, as the teacher, it is also one of the hardest things to watch, like a car sliding towards a gas-truck in slow motion, each “X” bringing the score a little closer to implosion. Sure, it’s rewarding when those goody-two-shoes students, whom you knew would do well, do well. Unfortunately, everyone has to take the final, including those lazy, loafer students, whom you’ve spent the last lessons trying to implant with the knowledge they need, knowing that it would be the one and only time any form of studying would occur. It’s those students whose marks you must live with.
Long after the students have gone home, the teachers are left to deal with the mess, just as it has been all year. It never occurred to me, way back when, in those last couple of weeks of school, just how much more the teacher was ready for a break: One more final to go.