[etni] Re: why I'm exhausted

  • From: "Sara Welts" <linci@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bnirenberg@xxxxxxxxx>, "etni" <etni@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005 08:08:18 +0300

**** ETNI on the web http://www.etni.org.il   http://www.etni.org   ****

Hi Bari!

We hear you loud and clear, and we know where you're at.

Everything you write about sounds so familiar, We all picture ourselves 
"flying" around the school, trying to take care of the same things that you 
so vividly describe.

What is most disturbing to me (of the list you mention) is the issue of the 
modular matkonot.  According to the Ministry we must allow students to take 
and retake any module they please.  This creates so many logistical problems 
as every pupil has his/her own agenda.

I have many pupils taking tests at two different levels (just to see what is 
more worthwhile for them), which means 5 modules and 5 matkonot (divided up 
into winter and summer).
I have pupils retaking tests, some even after having received a grade of 90+ 
on the previous try.  When I ask why, they answer:  "What do I have to 
lose"?  The only person who has something to lose is me, having to rethink 
their "tziyun shenati", (as they have participated in class) and grade yet 
another exam.  When you multiply this kind of situation by 40 (and for some 
teachers even more), the scenario becomes surrealistic.

When you add to all this- oral presentations for projects, mock oral bagrut 
tests and the  oral test itself , both as a tester and for your own 
students, you come up with one very hassled English teacher.

I feel that my efforts during the year have gone into sorting out and 
overcoming these issues.  I feel like I'm constantly on the "Bagrut track" 
(winter and summer) and never have a chance to get off in order to 
contemplate pedagogical matters of substance.  English teaching has taken a 
back seat, while a new profession, "test organizing" seems to be at the 

You're not alone, Bari!


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bari Nirenberg" <bnirenberg@xxxxxxxxx>
To: "etni" <etni@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 4:56 PM
Subject: [etni] why I'm exhausted

> **** ETNI on the web http://www.etni.org.il   http://www.etni.org   ****
> Those of you who know me either in person or from ETNI know that I
> generally have a lot of energy and although I am quick to express my
> opinion, I'm not usually a "whiner".
> Today, I am exhausted, both mentally and physically and for the first
> time in a very long time, I really need a break.
> I have 37 students in two 3-point 10th grade classes (doing module A
> this year).  In those two classes, I have a total of 17(!!!) students
> who have to have their exams read to them (10 of them have oral exams
> and the rest have "hakra'at she'elon", but for reasons I won't go into
> here, all of them have to be read to by a teacher).  The tests for
> both classes fell pretty close to the end of the quarter.
> Fortunately, three or four of the kids decided that they didn't want
> their dispensations.  I had to test the rest of them, though (or find
> someone else to do it).  I spent every free period this week testing
> kids.  I gave classwork in one of the classes so that I could read
> part of the test to students.  I shortened one of the exams so that it
> could be done in one period instead of two (which is what the rest of
> the class had).  I tested several kids at once.  And I finally
> finished.  But that's not all...
> During this same period of time, my never-ended-project finally came
> to a close.  I stopped giving extensions and forced kids to do oral
> presentations even when they weren't ready (after warning them that
> there would be no more extensions).  I made fairly detailed comments
> on each project.  I sent kids halfway around the school with notes
> asking for them to PLEASE be allowed to borrow a tape recorder for one
> period (and God bless the kids who managed to schedule the computer
> room on their own in order to present their project -- all I had to do
> was show up!).  And I listened (and am still listening) to endless
> complaints about how "unfair" I was being for giving low grades to
> students who didn't follow instructions, despite having been guided
> through the entire process.  In fact, I had two kids show up in the
> teachers' room yesterday during my only break ("hafsaka g'dola")
> demanding to talk to me about their grades.  When I told them that I
> wasn't receiving students because I needed a break and I had other
> things to take care of (and, of course, told them when I WOULD talk to
> them), they got nasty, but eventually, they left.
> And then there's all the "regular" stuff that I would normally take in
> stride but seems to be just too much when added to projects and
> testing students orally.  There were book reports and compositions and
> unseens to grade.  Lots of them.  And four out of five of my classes
> are taking Bagrut exams (modules A, E, F and G) and there are matkonot
> to be prepared.  And there were end-of-the-quarter grades to compute
> and enter into the computer.  And make-up exams for kids who were
> absent and late book reports to grade (and quarter grades to be
> changed) because kids weren't in class when we did them and extra
> compositions to grade because kids didn't bother handing in the one
> they were supposed to do.  This list goes on and on -- everyday school
> stuff.
> I'm not a very nice person to be around these days.  Is there
> something wrong with this picture or is it just me?  Am I really being
> paid enough to deal with all of this?  Note that I am NOT a
> coordinator or even a homeroom teacher. Does anyone else feel like
> they are drowning under the weight of project work, dispensations,
> multiple matkonot and just regular school stuff?  I've been teaching
> for 16 years and I thought I could handle almost anything.  In fact, I
> AM "handling" all of this, but not well.  I'd love to hear how the
> rest of you English teachers deal with all this stress.
> Bari
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