Thursday, November 15, 2007

Proctoring Exams

Proctoring exams can be painfully boring, but I find ways to amuse myself during this time. First, I will usually pick up a pencil and start flipping it on my fingers. About the third time I drop the pencil, I start feeling bad that I am disturbing the students who are tying to focus on their exams.

Soooo, then I start making up little games while I am watching the students. For example, I look down each row and see who is the prettiest girl, then who is the most handsome guy, who is the best dressed, who is the most 'interesting' looking person, who looks the smartest, who has the coolest backpack, and so on (notice the positive vent to my game). If I notice that a particular student in a row has not been chosen as a winner yet, I will look that student over and create a contest just for him/her, such as "who is the student in that row with the, uh, well, uh, the nicest, um, nose ring ... or eyebrows ... or freckles". I think you get the picture.

All of that takes me about 5-10 minutes – even in a large class. So, then I will usually walk around the room once or twice, and then I go back to flipping my pencil a few times until it becomes too distracting (again).

Next, I stand there and think about what I am going to eat for a snack after the test (e.g., popcorn, frozen fruit, maybe pudding). When I get to thinking about food, it usually results in my thinking, “Shoot, I wish I had brought some gum. What if someone has a question and the garlic/onions from lunch is making my breath stink?” So, I will panic about that for a bit. And that is just about the time a student asks me a question – Oh just GREAT! When I get to the student’s desk, I try to lean in close enough to hear the whispered question, but not too close that he/she can smell my breath.

Now, I am 15-20 minutes into the 1-2 hour exam. Usually about this time, I think “My feet hurt! Why didn’t I wear more comfortable shoes?” Which leads to, “Oh yeah, because these shoes are sooo cool, and they match the stylin’ outfit I am wearing ... Hm, I wonder if any of the students think I am a snappy dresser? I wonder if they realize I never repeat an outfit the whole semester. Maybe I should ask them sometime? No, that is too egotistical. But I would like to know. But no, not appropriate. Does it really matter what they think? Yes, I guess it does. What was I just thinking about? Oh yeah, my cool shoes.” This line of thought will usually keep me going for about 15 minutes OR until someone raises a hand to ask me another question. Of course, I begin to panic again over my garlic/onion breath.

After answering the question, I usually make another obligatory walk around the room. As I am walking around the room, I often wonder if it freaks students out when I walk by. When I pause somewhere in the class to look around, I wonder if the student who is sitting close to where I paused is totally freaking out (e.g., “Why did Plunk stop by me? Does he think I am cheating? Is he looking down my blouse? Oh my gosh, if I move my hand up to my cleavage, he will know I know he is checking me out? Oh this is so vain. Plunk is not checking me out. Oh no, then that means he probably thinks I am cheating. I should not have aced the last test. I will just peak up at him. Oh, he is not even looking at me. Whew! ... Hey, why isn't he looking at me? Sheesh! ... Hm, I smell garlic, or is that onion? That's weird ... He is moving on, thank goodness!

I arrive back to the front of the classroom. It is about this time that I start contemplating many very important issues impacting our society. For example, I often contemplate fast food: “Hm, do I like the chicken soft tacos better at Del Taco or Taco Bell? Hey, I just used the word ‘taco’ three times in one sentence; that does not occur very often. Taco Taco Taco - I like saying the word Taco. Burrito BurrrrriiiTO!” My friends know I can run silly topics like this through my head for a long time. Sometimes I will get tickled, and start chuckling, and then a student will look up. Soooo, I have to let my Super Ego kick in to straighten myself out and be a good test proctor. I will, once again, make an obligatory walk around the room.

What is interesting to me is that when students look up, I will immediately key into them. They will either (1) quickly look down because they don’t want me to think they are looking at someone else’s test; (2) engage in some dramatic gesture such as popping their neck, stretching their arms, etc; again, so I won’t think they are looking at someone else’s test; or (3) smile at me and look back down. I always smile back, and then look around at someone else so the student does not assume I am staring at just him/her. What kind of freaks ME out is when a student keeps looking up, which makes me look over, which then makes me think the student thinks that I am just watching him/her. It is really hard work to proctor an exam.

Eventually, most of the students have finished their exam, and only a few slow, er uh, thorough test takers are left. This is when I will alphabetize the tests for easy grade entry later, and then I will either read or work on my laptop until the last student finishes ... Speaking of which the last student is walking up right now. So, I need to go grade the exams.


Amy said...

You crack me up! Now when I am taking a test I am going to wonder what crazy thoughts are going through the proctors mind. Humm...are they looking down my shirt? Yep! That's what they are doing...darn..if only it were a male proctor! I'm just joking! Have you ever thought about the word "proctor"? It is very close to the word proctologist....I think that is very strange! It is something for you to ponder the next time you are proctoring!

Anonymous said...

I am very happy that we only have one more test to go! LOL Because, I can tell you, I will be wondering what is my "row quality" while you are walking and looking at us =) You are The BEST!!! =)

Anonymous said...

last test i was completely out of it and looking like i rolled out of bed...i dont even wanna know what award i was entitled too. this time i will make sure i look decent so that i can win something like best dressed or pritties lol...btw i have noticed that you wear something different to every class. your style is great. rock on! n u rock as a teacher/proctor/comedian/person. i wish the world was filled with honest nice people like yourself. MORE IMPORTANTLY TEACHERS AND MENTORS! k take care..

Anonymous said...

Scott, I cannot believe you have enough clothes to only wear each once during a semester. I promise you that if you had kids, you would not have so many clothes!!!
Now my daughter on the other hand, she does have that many clothes.

Sothy said...

Scott, I really enjoy reading this. Students you better be careful of what you wear LOL. I noticed that during exam, students prefer to wear t-shirt since it makes them comfortable.