Monday, September 25, 2006

Killer semester

My first semester teaching four classes -- three different courses, one of which is a writing course. I'm forever feeling like I'm grading papers and prepping lectures. Little time is left for blogging.

Thursday was the first test in my Intro class. Ninety-one students were all freaking out. Several students earned extra credit by participating in a focus group for students in my campaigns class. According to my campaigns class, the intro students were stressing out about my test.

As usual, the first students were done in 15 minutes. A few minutes later a student rushes back in. "Ms. Quackenbush, one of the girls blacked out!" I look out the door. Sure enough, one of my students left the test and was now in the prone position in the hallway. I look back to the class. Eighty-something students left in a crowded lecture room. There was no way I could step out of there during a test. The girls were buzzing around the passed out girl and someone called 911. I try to keep one eye on the girl and one on the class.

Then I remembered J. Every day he sits on the front, taking notes. An attentive student. He looks a bit older than 20, or at least has a maturity about him. His haircut and demeanor are military-issue and quite often he wears a t-shirt from a local fire department. "Excuse," I whisper as I walk towards him, "aren't you military or a firefighter or something?" He tells me he's a fireman and I tell him the problem. Two seconds later he's out the door.

Eventually the EMT arrive. The girl is awake, but shaken. She has low blood sugar and doesn't eat much. The Coke and M&Ms they are feeding her is as much as she's eaten all day. By this time, most of the class has finished the test and have seen the girl in the hall. Given nasty bump on her head, she agrees to go to the hospital. I offer J an opportunity to take his test another time, but like the trooper he is, he finishes his test.

I piece together the story from other students. The girl finished the test and as she walked out the building she collapsed on the concrete steps. She revives enough to be helped back into the air conditioned building, where one of the other girls called the EMT. Before the ambulance takes her to the hospital, I ask who her next teacher is. It's my friend G, so I call him and let him know one of his students won't be in class. I ask the girl if she wants me to throw out her test and allow her to take it another time. This is the one time I am willing to bend my absolutely no make-up tests policy. The girl shakes her head, saying she thought she did well on the test.

The girl leaves. The final three students finish their tests and we leave, talking about what happened. I walk into the Mass Comm office and folks what happened. "Guess you'll now have the reputation of giving hard tests now -- ones where the students pass out when they are done." The jokes are funny, but I am worn. "What to do when I student passes out during a test" wasn't in the faculty handbook and I hoped I handled the situation okay.

I head to my office where I take a minute. Then I start grading the tests. This semester is going to be a doosey.


Anonymous said...

Wow! That sounds surreal. I hope that girl is all right. It's really sad how some people just skip getting sustenance for school. People will sometimes go without eating just so they can put more studying. Dumb, I know. It's good that the firefighter was there.

Anonymous said...

It's bizarre that with a class of that size, you don't have a proctor or a T.A. to help monitor exams! I guess your school isn't exactly like mine, but seriously, you should bring it up to the Department, since such a distraction could easily have led to students taking advantage on the test. I hate to sound so jaded, but I've been at UCLA 15 years and never seen an exam where somebody didn't cheat. Perhaps the major universities are just very competitive and this doesn't happen at smaller schools, but I wouldn't bet on it. -- Your jaded old Auntie M.