Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Pencils

Just for kicks, perhaps also for a check, I proctored the SAT today. 

Photo of pencils, taken with iPhone 5C in my kitchen after I wasted 20 minutes googling
"free stock photo of pencils" and couldn't figure out how to load one for free
Stunning, isn't it?

Maybe it's just in my blood, proctoring. 
After all, Proctor, Oklahoma is named after my maternal grandma's family. For real. 
My first proctoring experience was last year shortly after we had arrived here. I was asked to proctor some AP tests. I tried it and found I quite enjoyed it, for several reasons: 
Initially, I confess I liked it for the free wifi access in the test room (when we didn't have any internet access at home, the horror!). 
Then, I liked it for the feeling of accomplishment the students emanated when tests were over. 

Also, I liked the structure built into the tests, 35 minutes for this section and 40 minutes for that, now you can take a 10 minute break but come back on time! etc. If you are a person who excels at creating structure for your life on your own, then you may be baffled right now. Try to understand all the shiny things luring me and my attention, all day every day, pulling me from my good intentions and utterly destroying any ability I may have to make a schedule and stick to it. Not for every minute every day, of course, but some amount of externally imposed structure is a wonderful gift for me. Following?

So, this time I was asked to proctor the SAT. I agreed very casually and so was in for a shock this morning when I walked in and felt a different sort of atmosphere. So serious. So monitored. Well, I don't actually want to say much about it, because it was so monitored I am probably not supposed to talk about it.....

The pencils were the thing! The instructions went on and on about please use a 2B pencil and if you don't then your mother might slip on a banana peel and crack her head open, I mean, you might get a big fat zero on this here test. 
Except. This is Japan, and some of the students seemed to have flown in from other Asian countries (!) for the test, in other words, we are not in the United States and 2B pencils are not a thing. So the poor students were so anxious, what if I have a pencil that says HB?! on it, OH NOOOOOOOO

Fortunately, what the SAT higher-ups are really trying to say, I think, is that they don't want students using mechanical pencils (conveniently called "sharp pencils" here, just to make things crystal clear). Also, the lovely lady who is a pro at giving these tests and drafted me for proctoring....without even KNOWING how it's in my blood, what?!.... is prepared for just these moments of alarm. She had assembled a mass quantity of impeccably sharpened 2B pencils, just for a moment like this. 

Palpable relief, people, I mean, PHEW. 
We passed around big handfuls of proper pencils and the crisis was averted. And forty some relieved students are resting peacefully tonight. I hope. 


Jane Lucas said...

Who but you could make such an appealing and entertaining story about sharpened 2B pencils complete with illustration. LOVE!

Cher Glass said...

Jamie, I agree with your Mom. You got right to the point about pencils used for testing. How about something on pencil skirts?

Jen said...

Jamie- you make every story a good one. And I miss hearing you tell them!!