I’ve just spent a fortnight staying up late and passing judgement on the work of young men who most likely won’t even read my comments. In some cases, I put more red ink on it than they put pencil marks.
We’re now in pass-backs, which is basically 10 minutes of writing answers on the board and passing out the marked exams followed by five minutes of reactions and trying to get everyone quieted down again. I’ve seen entire classes celebrate having the lowest average. I’ve seen students celebrate their low scores. I’ve had one student doubt that his low score was real because it was the highest test score he’d ever received. I’ve received and passed back tests with blood on them but no writing. I’ve even passed back a blank test that had been glued to the test behind it, because, apparently, the proctor fell asleep or knew it was unlikely the student would ever write anything on a test.
This period of celebration and hand-wringing is followed by a few minutes of answering questions from the handful of students whose parents will give them a hard time about their grades, followed by a half-hour of baby-sitting while the students enjoy free time. (My only limits on the free time: no fighting, no kissing, no sports, at least while I’m in the room because I don’t want to have to do paperwork.)
Eventually all this ends and I am suddenly left to my own devices. Which means I enter the post-marking malaise. My old schedule has been scrapped and I have to start remembering what I used to do in the evening before I marked exams. It’s especially difficult at the end of the school year–Note: Japan’s school year runs from April to March with only a short break between years–as different grades end at different times which means we are marking exams for one group and still teaching another.
That said, I can’t complain too much. With a few exceptions, my students are loud but not rowdy. Even the rowdy classes aren’t as bad as similar classes in the USA or the UK would be. (I’ve heard that even Australia and Canada have some, um, challenging groups of students.) The work is only crazy a few times a year, and crazy me decided to start a daily blog during that time, mostly to see if I could maintain the habit through a busy time.
Now that I’ve finished that for today, I have to figure out what to do next. I could start an online business, or write, or play free games online.