Tag Archives: exams

Do Quiet Work Time And Space Make Everyone More Productive?

“How can you concentrate with that music blaring?”

“You can’t study in front of the TV!”

“Your child needs a quiet place with no distractions in which to do their homework.”

We have all heard this sort of statement at one time or another.  In fact, we may well have made that type of comment ourselves!  They sound perfectly reasonable, but are they really correct?

When I was in high school I routinely practiced clarinet in front of the TV.  My mother would ask about it but didn’t make me stop.  I knew I had a good practice when I couldn’t tell you what was happening on the shows.  If I was really in the groove and working well I was unaware of the TV.  On days that went less well it provided a comforting background noise.  I still frequently do my work with the TV or some other sound on.  Many days when I have my preparation time at work I go to the staff room where there are other people coming and going in order to get work done.

There are times when distractions don’t work for me.  Distractions are definitely not good for doing timed Sudoku puzzles on the computer, nor for concentrated reading of theological texts or Bible passages for instance.

A quiet space is one of the suggested accommodations to make for students in class who are struggling to keep up.  Do you remember the isolation study carols we used to have in libraries and some classrooms?   I often have kids who go down to a quiet room when it is time to take a test rather than to be in a room full of interesting people who may distract them.  Kids with ADD and ADHD often need help with focus.  On the other hand, an extended period of silent time may be torture for a child with ADHD and some people do their best thinking when they are able to throw ideas back and forth with someone else.

I think that once we determine if we are a person who needs quiet or needs noise or distraction we need to take it into account when choosing a career path.  I could not work in a silent office environment.  Libraries bother me and I am very uncomfortable when I have to go into my insurance company’s offices.  The hardest time of the semester for me is when my students are writing their exams as I am not allowed to talk to them for two hours.  There are many, however, for whom the constant actions of others in the class and productive classroom noise would cause overload.

There is no one answer for all people.  The world needs folks who can stand to work in those quiet locations just as it needs those who get their energy from activity and interaction with other people.

Exams Are Coming…Yikes!

The pressure is on for students and teachers as semester one draws near the end with exams beginning in four school days.  On top of that, all the grade 9 students have a reading and a writing assessment which they must pass in order to graduate.  For those who did not pass that exam when they were in grade 9 are now taking it again in grades 11 and 12.  Some teachers still have curriculum items they have not managed to cover in their classes.

For my part, as a teacher, I have three classes who have an exam coming up next week and one class who have exit projects due tomorrow and being presented to the public in an evening event.  We have invited the school staff, administration, MLAs, our MP and other people from the community and the students’ parents.  I am very stressed!

We all face this sort of pressures at times in our lives and have to find ways to get through them without totally losing it.  How do we do this?  There are some obvious answers but I am not going to get into time management tips here, that is not the point of this blog.

We can not take on the stress that belongs with others.  As the teacher I need to focus on what is actually mine to do.  I need to focus on getting all my marking done, I need to allow some time for review with my students but can not actually make them focus or get anything out of it.  Knowing that I have done my best for my students throughout the semester I would not be doing them a favour if I were to get wrapped up in their pressures.  This does not mean that I don’t listen when they share their stress with me, but I can empathize without taking it on my own shoulders.

Gospel Mark 3:7-19a

7Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. 13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.

Jesus came to the world because of his love for humanity.  He came to heal the sick and to help the poor.  Even Jesus knew that he had limits (self-imposed due to his choice of becoming human).  He made plans ahead for getting time to himself and time for away from the crowds with his closest followers with the boat on hand and heading up the mountain.  He shared the work with the twelve apostles. 

So, when we are faced with our own limits it is ok to ask for help.  It is important to take time for ourselves.  We will be no use to those we want to help if we are falling apart ourselves.  I’ll take some more time this evening for myself,  pray tonight for the help I need and then get up tomorrow morning and go to work and do what I need to do counting on my students to do what they need to do as well.