Once again I’m bracing myself for the national matriculation (“Bagrut”) exam day. We have them three times a year but this is the major one, with the largest number of students taking the exams. So what has changed since I first posted this in 2012? Well, I don’t teach in a private language school anymore . In addition, this is the first exam without the envelopes mentioned in the post (new system) so who knows what new emergencies can arise? Expect the unexpected and hang in there!
There is a wonderful post which I really recommend reading: “Can you have a normal life and work in ELT” on the TEFLGEEK Blog. I really identify with that post!
But I just had to comment on the following statement from the post:
“But I can think of absolutely no situation within my own teaching experience, that could possibly be classified as an emergency”.
So here are a few ELT emergencies, beginning with the ones least causing palpitations:
First of all, as someone still fairly new to the world of “for profit” schools (I’ve recently begun teaching my second course at a private language school) I’m amazed as to how everything is treated as an emergency. When a client squawks all able-bodied hands should report for duty at once:
* I peek at my phone during the break at the high school. Four (!!) unanswered calls from the private school. I call them back. A student contested his grade, they need me to come over right away. Fortunately, I have a clever husband who said ” I bet they could scan and email the exam to you”. He was right, they could and did, when I knew to ask.
* A student mailed me a query through the private school’s website less than two hours before the lesson (begins at five p.m). I only saw the query after the lesson. Confident that I had discussed the issue with the student personally during the lesson I did not answer the letter. At eight a.m the very next morning (!!!) there was a letter from the private school intended to draw my attention to the fact that there was an unanswered letter to a student in my inbox!
However, lets return to those ELT emergencies that involve running, physically.
National Matriculation day (our leaving exams are called “Bagrut Exams”) is often a source of drama at high-schools round the country. Being a special ed. teacher adds more combustible pieces to the puzzle, but doesn’t make my situation seem like an exception to the rule:
* Mad dashes down long corridors and up/down steps to get to the photocopying machine when:
a) not enough exam papers were sent
b) the envelope containing the special section for the students with hearing problems got sent to the wrong room by mistake and no-one knows which room (more running, photocopying of master copy if necessary)
c) one of my students who has emotional issues (my students arrive early on exam days as they don’t have transportation for exactly when they need it in the afternoons) tore his watch strap while horsing around with another boy and threw a temper tantrum, screaming and banging on walls of classrooms where exams where taking place. More running to get available staff over to remove him from the testing area and help him calm down. Quicker than trying to get people on the cell phone because they are probably on the phone!
True, none of these emergencies required a police escort, as described in the blog post. Though my husband would have appreciated one the day he had to make a special trip to the high-school because I had left the candies we give out on exam day at home!