15 March 2010 – Today I walked out on a class

The Form Three Home Economics class pushed me too far today. Here’s the back story. The school calender I have says that classes will end April 14. This morning at assembly I found out that is not so, since Easter is the first weekend in April, we will send the students home 31 March, two weeks early. Therefore this week should be for revision but I was having a class test. How was I going to revise with them. How would they know what they needed to study since I probably would not get the class test back to them before exams. Ah-free-kah!

So I tossed around the options. Don’t give the class test and just revise.(No the Form 2s need the chance to take more tests from me to prepare for the end of year exam.) Give the class test and revise with them in the evening. (Yeah like I could be effective at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm!) How can I correct all those tests in time for them to see what they don’t know? I’ve got it. I’ll give the test then we can mark it in class and that can be a revision as well.

Three C is very close to my heart. They were some of the first students I met, when I came on my site visit. They are full of life and laughter and they love to sing. The girls in the class love their Madam. Other masters say they are not serious. Well not always but they do know their food and nutrition and plenty of them are serious about the computer. I’ll admit that I am loose with that class but we usually get our work done. The class meets the last two periods of the day and we are all tired and hot by the time I get there so that is another reason I cut them some slack.

At 12:35 I entered the classroom. I greeted the students and I joked with them and asked if they were ready for the test.They began to moan and complain. I quieted them down and said to take one sheet of paper and put all other books and papers away. They were still moaning and complaining and not complying with my request so I walked around the room and assisted them in putting away their books and papers.

Finally the test was under way. About 10 minutes into the test people began to talk. I walked to three different people and asked them if they had any questions. “No Madam” each one replied. The class quieted down.

When I announced that there were 10 minutes left, students who were finished left the classroom. I reminded them that we would mark the exams and to stay near the classroom so I could call them. When I announced there were five minutes left the remaining students begged for another 5 minutes. I gave it to them. It was the first time I had given this test and maybe 30 minutes was not enough time.

When the extended time was up I told the remaining students to put their pens down. Many did and they passed their papers to the front. Some did not. So I walked around and collected the papers from them. When I do this I take the pen and then the paper. Usually students are very compliant to this routine but today one student held the pen tight and tried to keep writing. I said to her if you had focused more on writing during the test you would have had plenty of time. One student said “Madam I need to put my name on it and continued to write her answer. I snatched the paper, it tore small small. I showed her that her name was on the front. I had seen her put it there when I walked around during the beginning of the test. As I was collecting the test Jane (name changed to protect the guilty) had two papers on her desk. I took them both, I assumed she was recopying her paper, but no it was someone  Marsha’s (again, name changed to protect the guilty). Marcia is a one fo my daughter’s who visits my house frequently, but not Rofina or Portia, and I was shocked. I put a zero on both papers and expressed my disappointment with both of them. They tried to explain there in class. I told them to talk to me after class.

I asked the class captain to call the rest of the students back into the classroom so we could mark the papers. I explained again that I wanted to mark them today so that they would know what they needed to study for the end of term exam. My voice rose as I was explaining as the class began to chatter amongst themselves. I stood and waited, my usual strategy to get a class to quiet down. “Be quiet, Madam is waiting’ “Sssssssss”(the Ghanaian shhhhh) “Quiet down we are going to mark” came from the class and they were quiet.

I gave the answers to questions one through four each time raising my voice a bit higher above the noise. I tried reason. “Be quiet” I said “we won’t meet again. Don’t you want to know how you did so you can study for the exam?” I looked around Mary-Emmaculate, Charles, Christiana and a few others were with me. The others were quiet but clearly uncaring. I turned to put the equations on the board for question 5. The noise erupted again.

I turned around. Asked for the papers and said “Clearly you don’t want to do this now. I am leaving. You won’t see me again before the exam.” I put the tests in my bag, and gathered my things. Charles came and said “Madam, let me help you with your bag.” As we walked out he pleaded with me to come back, that some of the students wanted to learn. I told him no but I would be in the computer lab at 10:00 am on Saturday and anyone in class who wanted to learn could come then.

Jane and Marcia followed me to my bike. Marcia said that she had recopied her exam and it fell on the floor. That is how Jane must have gotten it. My face must have shown that I was not buying this story. They both shut up. I told them that if they did well on the end of term exam they cold still pass the class even with the zero on the class test. I reminded them that they had other class work as well.

I had to go to the exam office to give one of my exams for printing. When I got there three of the master’s who take classes with me were there. I told them about the class today and how I walked out. They all said ‘You must punish them” When I replied that I had walked out wasn’t that punishment enough, they said no.

Now what was I going to do?

-vc

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