Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Tale of Two CDs

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Scratch the best part.

Funny that even after several weeks of teaching, that I expect things like technology to work properly, especially during quizzes and midterms!

The last week and a half at school has definitely been a change of pace. We had to administer our third quizzes on Tuesday and conclude the balance of the week with listening, written, and speaking midterms. What a grueling schedule for the students.  Here, individual teachers don't create quizzes and exams for their own classes.  We have set quizzes and exams (with different versions in an attempt to discourage cheating) that we use in our classes.

My tale begins with a normal class session. Previously, on the Friday before, I was in my Upper 1 class and I couldn't find the CD.  I ran back to the office to find it in my drawer. It wasn't there!  I got another one from the center office and luckily, my students were still in class when I came back!  I couldn't figure out where my CD went. Did somebody steal it?   Guess where I found it?  As I was packing up after class that night, I found that the CD had slipped in between the pages of my notebook. Of course.

On Tuesday, I felt really good. I had a good talk with the center director who also is my mentor.  She gave me some advice for classroom management and curriculum.  I felt prepared to administer the quiz, I had everything I needed.  I checked to see what the listening recording track was in advance.  I kicked back a little bit, feeling totally confident that for once I was totally prepared for class.

However, that wasn't true.  I got to my classroom for that day (since I am in a different classroom each class each day), set up my things, and felt good. I was on time, there was no teacher taking more time in the class before me, I didn't need the cartuchara (pencil case with projector remote and computer keys)...

But then... I was in the middle of review prior to the quiz when I realized I didn't bring the CD player I needed to play the audio track for the listening portion of the quiz.  I forgot the CD player.  I did have the CD though, so that's a start compared to Friday the 14th. So, I gave the students a workbook exercise to occupy them and I hustled back to get my CD player.

As you would expect, for the Upper 1 classes, I also had CD problems.  The one track I had to play for the quiz skipped so bad I thought Max Headroom had made a career reappearance. My usual fix-it prior to that night was to wipe it down with my shirt. No go.  The chipper British voices stuttered worse than a backyard yokel hitting the big city for the first time.   What could I do? I couldn't stop the quiz.  I couldn't leave and get another CD, I had already passed out the quizzes. I am not allowed to send students alone to the office (in case they don't come back?).  So, my only option was to read the passage myself.  Thankfully, the transcript was in the back of the textbook.

After that, I tried texting some of my colleagues to get me another CD.  Of course, no response.  Plus, my 5 pm class took longer to finish their quizzes, so the office staff were gone when I got back. So, for 7 pm, I had to read the passage again.   I did try the CD again but no go.  I can't tell you how angry and frustrated I was that night. In addition to those problems, I got upset with my 7 pm class.  They were not listening to my instructions when I told them it was time to put their books away so I could pass out the quiz. I actually took books away.

The next day, Wednesday were the listening exams. One of the other teachers sagely recommended that I figure out what tracks the listening exams were using (since we don't get informed of these). The answer keys have the information but sometimes they are wrong! Really.   Anyway, I figured out what tracks the listening segments came from in the workbooks.  I tested the CDs. The audio tracks came from the workbooks for both levels. Of course, first thing I did was give back my Upper 1 textbook CD and got a new one.  Let me smash that sucker. It had definitely given up the ghost.

Then, it was time to test the Intermediate II workbook CD.  Guess what? It also skipped on the tracks I needed.  Yep. It is true.   So, I exchanged the completely scratched CD and got a new one.

Thankfully, my prayers were answered. There were no glitches with the CDs in any of the three classes.  And if I find any more CDs, I think I am going to stomp on them in high heels.

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