Sunday, October 19, 2014

AdMU days: Losing sleep over exams

I've taken up a teaching assignment at the Ateneo de Manila University. This semester, I teach Biotechnology for Everyone, a course designed for non-biology majors. I'll write about my experiences from time to time.

If there's one thing I've realised about teaching, it is this: It leads to several sleepless nights, particularly when preparing for lectures or for exams. Students like me (before I took this teaching stint) never really think or appreciate how much effort teachers put into each lesson, quiz, class activity, or test. This is why I felt, throughout the term, that I had a backstage pass–a the-making-of view, if you will–into what goes on in a teacher's life. Take note, I am hardly a teacher, spending only five hours a week in uni, officially; however, the pre- and the post-class tasks make up more time than I had expected.

I love preparing exams that challenge students to think (such as essay writing and problem solving). If students find these types of exams difficult to answer, just imagine how slow it is to check questions structured in those ways. I lose a lot of sleep hours because I need to comment and evaluate my students' answers before I give them scores.

One of those sleepless nights came right after I sprained my ankle. I had to check my students' final exams as fast as possible so I could submit their final grades on time.

I had a few days of rest–I wouldn't call them idle time–because I couldn't go home yet. Because of the injury, I couldn't drive and so I was pretty much stuck with my nephews and niece in my aunt's house. When I felt that I could already drive despite walking with crutches, I drove home (in lots of pain despite the NSAIDs) and resumed checking exams with The Hobbit playing on the telly. That was one long night!

With a lot more exams still waiting to be checked, I'm sure I'll still have a lot of sleepless nights. I just wish that I could get all these checking over and done with!