This week is EOG week at our school. For those of you unfamiliar with EOGs or old enough to no longer think about them every single May/June, EOGs are End of Grade assessments. They have a big impact in a student’s ability to continue on to the next grade, and an even bigger impact on my ability to continue teaching. Thank you, Standard 6. I have a lot of very passionate political views on the subject, but I won’t force you to hear about them. Let’s just take all this as a given, and know that, in short, EOGs are stressful.
But there are also some ground rules for EOGs that a lot of people may not be familiar with. The test is estimated to take 180 minutes in 5th grade, but with instructions and two 3 minute breaks, it ends up being almost 3 and a half hours from start to finish. Then students who need extended time are given it in a separate setting (i.e., not my classroom). Test administrators (that’s me) are never allowed to leave testing materials unsupervised. Let me explain what that means. Test administrators are not allowed to go to the bathroom during those 3 and a half hours, except in the case of an emergency and where a substitute test administrator is called into the room. That process is highly distracting for the students, and I’d like to avoid it, if at all possible.
Test administrators are expected to walk around the room to monitor students’ work, with minimal breaks to sit down and never sitting at the same time as the proctor (that’s the other adult in the room). And then, to top it off, there is no eating or drinking during the test.
I had forgotten just how physically demanding all of that is. Until yesterday. The test began around 9:30 a.m. I had avoided drinking that morning because I didn’t want to use the bathroom during the test. The test lasted until about 1:00 p.m. 3 and a half hours of almost non-stop walking with no food or drink and while I was already a bit dehydrated. Then, once the test was completed, there are all sorts of other duties a testing administrator has. And then, obviously, the kids are starving, so we went to get lunch around 1:15. Because a lot of our TAs were busy testing, I didn’t get a lunch break, totally understandable, but still a major bummer. It was easily 1:30 before I had a chance to think about how hungry I was. And by that time, a lot of the damage had been done. A seemingly irreversible headache had already set in, I hadn’t brought nearly enough food to school with me, and after I drank my Naked smoothie, I started to munch on starburst candy, which hardly helped the situation.
I was tremendously unprepared, and I paid the price. When I got home, I fell to sleep almost immediately, woke up briefly when Joel got home from work, and went back to sleep until almost 9 p.m., the headache only starting to subside by that time.
Today, we’ve got another monster long test. I’m going to be a bit more prepared this time, though. A) Drinking lots of water this morning, bathroom breaks be darned. If I’ve got to put an emergency card in my window, then that’s what I’ll have to do. B) Eating RIGHT before the test. I’m taking a peanut butter sandwich I’m planning on eating at 9 this morning. C) As much as I hate it, I think I might drink a bit of caffeine this morning, just to help give me the energy I need. D) Drinking an entire water bottle immediately after the test is over. We won’t get any bathroom breaks even after the test is over, but I’m sure I can get a colleague to watch the kids for a few minutes while I relieve myself. Not drinking is not an option. I’ll report back on how it went. Since I have to stay late after school today, I’m hoping the results will be substantially better than yesterday.