Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Case of the Proctor Jones

"Let me see...Ummhmmm yes.... Definitely a case of Proctoritis (Proctor Jones)"

Having a case of the ‘Proctor Jones’ is no fun.

Oh, you aren’t familiar with this age-old diagnosis? Well, since the beginning of time (and by time I mean ‘standardized testing time’) teachers have fallen ill to this brutal condition, also known as Proctoritis.

The vast majority of teachers have had experiences with catching the ‘Proctor Jones”, and I have heard tall tales from near and far that a few have never fully recovered.

But first, let me explain.

While taking a three-plus hour standardized test, a student’s brain is left strained, stressed, and fatigued. Every person who has had any form of formal education can remember the dread, fear, and anxiety associated with having a giant test booklet and scantron answer sheet placed on their desk.

Brain power

During this same period of time though, a teacher, (or the more properly reduced title of proctor) may have a much different, yet similarly painful experience. A proctor’s brain, during and after the administration of a state testing session, is left a giant melted stick of butter.

The directions for a proctor are to make as clear as possible the correct testing environment and seating. The proctor must distribute the correct materials and read the directions to the class. He or she might even write down a few pieces of information on the board before the timer begins to ensure the understanding of the procedures of the exam. This is all very stimulating activity, don’t get me wrong, but the diagnosis of the  ‘Proctor Jones’ happens just as the students begin reading the first question and using their brains.

As the students begin the long and treacherous road of taking the test, the proctor walks the aisles and checks to see if the students are writing their answers on the correct sheet. After looking right and left, and at all the student’s faces in the room four or five times, he might glance at his watch for the first time and notice only five minutes has passed. The proctor suddenly to come to the realization that THIS MIGHT BE THE MOST PAINFULLY MUNDANE ACTIVITY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

I heard the inventors of this website quit proctoring tests to follow their dreams.

This realization begins to soak deep into the consciousness of the proctor. As time inches forward slower than a line at DMV, or even the service at the Atlantic Center Target,  the proctor beings to stare at his or her hands, shoes, or the wall for longer than they ever have before. In the past, proctors of long exams have stated that they actually rather watch paint dry.

Pulling out a computer, grading tests, or even reading a personal book are options, but are frowned upon and are against the proctor rules.

In my case, many of the tests that I have been proctoring have been for students with various modifications to their testing setting. Some of them get the directions and/or the questions and answer choices read aloud. In this case, doing anything but waiting for them to finishing answering is nearly impossible.

Now that you are educated about the deadly proctor jones condition, you might say,”That sounds kinda boring, but the average teacher must do that for only a few exams a year”, or even “Jesus Mr. Jeromy, you’re just such a complainer baby! Suck it up!”

To both of these I would have to agree, yet respond with a staggering statistic. I’ve done the math (actually while proctoring yesterday), and I have proctored over 35 hours of these tests in the last few weeks. Through a great combo of my responsibilities, luck, and flexibility, I have administered every major test given to the 8th and 9th grades this year. These include major finals, all state exams, all Regents exams, and all Regents Competency Exams. Many of them have been for students who receive extra time, and some even with the added fun of reading up to 70 questions and answers aloud!

With a newly developed pride for my record (which I doubt will ever be broken), it might take until mid summer to fully heal from my stage 5 Proctoristis. All I ask is for sympathy, and for exciting things to do in the future to combat the excessive boredom of the final weeks of school.

The next blog with be coming shortly, with a recap of the final days of school (2.5 days left!!) It is always a fun adventure for students and teachers alike. We are almost there!

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When Summer is Caged by June

June equates to a great many things for a public school in New York City. Hopefully this post can shed a little bit of light into what I mean. It all starts with the beginning of the end.

It looked better, but not as festive as this.

The three-day Memorial Day weekend might be one of the most loved weekends by Americans across the board. From the long-awaited ushering in of good weather, to the even better ushering in of eating steaks and burgers off a dearly missed grill, this festive weekend may just be the best few days of the year.

For me, spending Memorial Day in Long Island with a bunch of friends was perfect. The sun, the beach, relaxing, lawn games, and continuous grilling made for a memorable time.

But this post wouldn’t be fun to read if it ended there…and if it had nothing to do with the tribulations at school.

So back to the  Memorial Day.  Outsiders might think it was all sunshine and happiness after these three days off. If you look at it based on numbers, teachers in the city have only three weeks of school left on the schedule (for college readers that alone sounds terrible). Some might even think that teachers and students might be in a cheery mood all June because we are all looking forward to better, more comfortable weather. With a glorious summer free of work lingering just over the orange city horizon, shouldn’t it be a cake-walk from here on out?

These notions are far from reality.

Last week, the beginning of June felt like a hot, humid, sledgehammer over my head. With temperatures in the 90s, and only about 25 percent of our classrooms with air conditioners, I felt as if mother nature had punished us all – especially those of us confined to the fourth floor of a building that traps in heat like a pizza oven.

Thankfully after Tuesday and Wednesday, the temperatures cooled down and became livable, but for those few days that lied in awful contrast to the glorious weekend, it was teacher-hell on earth. It is safe to say that all fingers are crossed for a cooler rest of the month, but the way the weather has been acting this year (all extreme-like), we could be in for more punishment.

Liquid hot magma

Like a fiery magma ball, building momentum as it plunges to the earth from the sun, a sweaty, humid, 90-plus degree day in a room without A/C makes is sure to escalate any negative emotion in a building.

During these days, the sweat dripping down from your face and neck is less of a problem than the general fact that human beings at school become a bit more easily agitated (myself included).

Last week I found myself strolling around the halls, an ugly grimace on my face, just looking to assign a few demerits for hallway misbehavior. (I actually didn’t give any, but that was my mindset). In class, I found myself wiping sweat from my brow and then whipping my head around to give a set of powerful stank-eyes to a few students who were routinely chatting during a lesson.

With a headache from the dehydration, the loudness in the halls seemed to be amplified, as was my tolerance for annoyance in general. Even tiny, unimportant occurrences, (such as the internet wires in the school melting so that we have no connection for a week), were making me tick.

I know that I’m exaggerating the awfulness of the sticky situation, but quite frankly, it is not comfortable in June without a room with A/C. In addition, to make matters worse I am admittedly a quick and heavy sweater.

Quick, an adjective that describes learning: sweaty

Throughout those two days last week, a few quotes I received, as I was going through numerous shirt changes and about 20 plastic cups worth of water cooler refills, were:

“You know that you are sweating, right?” – 7th grade student

“It’s hot in here” – Whiny 9th grade student

“You’re sweaty” – Little, informative student

“Did you just play soccer?” – Curious 8th grade student

“You must generate a lot of heat” – Teacher

“I love my air-conditioned room” – Evil teacher friend

“I’ve been through five shirts today” – Gym teacher at other school

I’ll finish this post with a prayer for coolness for June. There really is not much school left on the calendar. The High Schoolers are preparing for their Regents exams and there are 3 half-days for the Middle Schoolers. Everyone is preparing for Finals and getting their grades in, and before we all know it, summer will be upon us. Here’s to the thought of being able to act on our inhibitions of  spontaneously jumping into a pool.

It could also be wayyyy worse.

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