Friday, November 30, 2007

Mr. T of the science dept wanders around our campus like an ant that has somehow fallen out of the neat organized line of fellow ants and is now moving about quite aimlessly, not quite knowing where to go.

Of course this happens only when he ventures out of his lab. Which is rare. So when he came into the exam dept in a state of agitation, we knew something was wrong. “Someone has to help me”, he said desperately. “Please give me five minutes of your time”.

Sonya, with her infinite patience asked him how she could help.

“I cannot do invigilation on the 3rd and 4th of December. There are presentations by the 12th grade that I have to record and evaluate. I have also asked the other subject teachers to excuse the grade 12 from their classes so that I can finish the recording of their oral presentations. I simply will not be able to any invigilation on those days. Please put me for another day, I am really sorry, but I cannot help it.” He was very worried and looked at Sonya hopelessly.

(Grade 12 is not having any exam this month)

Sonya told him not to worry and asked him to take out his invigilation schedule so that she could see what she could do. He said that he had forgotten to bring it. So Sonya got out one.

She studied it carefully and a small frown came on her face and she double checked. “But, Mr.R, you have no invigilation scheduled for the 3rd and 4th of December!” she said.

“I don’t? Oh! Thanks, sorry to take up your time” he said as he drifted out of the exam dept.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

As a teacher and lifelong student of psychology, three things at my workplace gave me very entertaining insights into the human personality: My work in the exam department, the game black magic and Secret Santa.

The exam department is headed by my friend and super efficient colleague-Sonya and I was both nervous and honored to be asked by her to be a part of the exam department this year. The exam department does a thankless job: Organize and conduct exams for all grades in school. It is thankless because no one who is not part of the exam department knows the hard work that goes into ensuring that exams are conducted smoothly. It involves asking for the syllabus from each teacher a month in advance of the exams, making the timetable( something that is beyond my skills),teacher invigilation schedule, assigning roll numbers to students, photocopying thousands of question papers, locking them away safely among endless other things. Once begun, it never seems to end.
The first thing I was told by another friend who has been with the department for two years was that I could get all my case studies if I just spent a day in the exam dept.

In keeping with the ethics of discussing human case studies and minimizing the risk of being fired, names have been withheld or changed.

Yesterday we had the first paper of one of the science subjects (grade-11). There was a problem in the paper. One of the questions was just a statement with no accompanying question and another question was repeated twice. Since the subject teacher sets the paper and is responsible for its content, we called the subject teacher who came to the exam block looking irritated.

“Yes, what is the problem?” (Cant you two sort it out among yourselves? Must I be bothered by such small things, look how out of breath you have made me! The gall to make me run and come from two blocks away. There had better be a very good reason)

The ‘problem’ is explained

“See, these things will happen. (I never make mistakes.) Even in the final IB exam when this happens, nothing clarified to the students. They are told to just go on answering. It is sorted out at the board level.( and anyway since I am Zeus, even though I look like Adonis, surely I should not be troubled, I still cannot believe I was made to come all the way here). And the subject teacher never enters the exam hall”. (But what would you know)”

At this point he marched into the exam hall even as we were all set to go into the hall ourselves.

“This time I will go”. (After all, since you have ruined things enough, this is the least I can do. Anyway I am always a sight for sore eyes, besides who knows what you will say once you are inside)

Next day the exam dept gets a call from him.

“Yasmine, I am looking at the original paper. There is no mistake here (I told you so! Now how may I grill you, how may I kill you?)”

“………., we have the original papers, it was only after looking at them and finding the same error there, we called you.” I said.

“No no I have the original, who has given you that original? (Cheating me eh?)”

“Um you?!” I reply. (As per exam rules, all original papers are given to the exam dept for photocopying).”

“No I am looking at the softcopy (and since technology has not yet reached you, what would you know?!)

“Anyway, mistakes happen, let it be (tsk tsk poor child, you made a big big mistake by making me come all the way there for no fault of mine. But since I am the all forgiving Buddha, I will let it go)”

………that was my first day………….

Monday, November 26, 2007

There are seven kittens at home five grey one greyish brown one grey and white they sleep in a heap that can look like a pyramid a circle a rectangle and can go pop and disappear when you enter the room the grey and white kitten swam and nearly died in the loo they eat chicken legs twice their size to the bone they have driven their adoptive mother cat to frustration that is taken out on me they hiss when picked up and have ruined a woven bedspread with little kitten droppings they are not getting adopted no one seems to want greys and I do not want to think about what that means………….