The Dreaded First Exam

My students are taking a test right now.  It’s the first test of the semester and they look pretty terrified about it all.  If only they knew that I’m just as terrified as they are.  It’s hard setting them free.  I’ve given them all of the resources I know to give (a great textbook, lecture notes, outside articles, zany examples that have certainly pressed the limits of my creativity, activities and assignments to help them relate the material to their own lives, etc).  …But ultimately it’s up to them to learn the material.  I know that they’re bright and motivated, but it’s difficult to let them go and to trust that they will succeed.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet. We’re hunting wabb…er, good grades.

It’s difficult to read their faces.  Most have a look of deep concentration.  This was my goal.  I aimed to create a test that judges their ability not to mindlessly regurgitate definitions, but rather to apply what they have learned to real-life cases.  I cannot read, though, whether they are thinking critically or whether they are terrified.  The deer-in-headlights look is eerily similar to the intensely-concentrating look.

Some students finished very quickly.  Others are taking their time.  Are the fast ones fast because they know the material inside and out?  Are the slow ones slow because they want to make sure that they are explaining themselves to the best of their ability, demonstrating the depth and breadth of their knowledge?  I hope so…

But, for now, I can only wait.  Well, that, and offer encouraging smiles when they look up from their exams.

*edit* They did incredibly.  I’m so very proud!!

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