Exhalation // Exaltation

Tomorrow is the last day of the thirty-fourth week of the 2013-14 school year.1

Not sure why I felt the need to set a reminder for myself...
Not sure why I felt the need to set a reminder for myself…

If it’s anything like the past three years, I’ll wake up at around 4 in the morning and be unable to go back to sleep.2 In terms of nervous energy, tomorrow is typically matched only by the first day of school.

After five solid weeks of reviewing for the AP Exam, I have ably run out of things to throw at my students. And yet, without fail, there are always one or two things that I wish I had touched on more.3 But almost nothing in real life is ever truly perfect, so I suppose that at some point, you just have to let go.

After having maybe 3 students show up all week for tutorials, the floodgates opened up today during lunchtime, and the stress-level — on a scale of “1” to “10”, with “1” being “nap time” and “10” being “Lord take me now, it’s wayyyy too stressful” — jumped suddenly from a “2” to an “8”.

About thirty minutes after high noon tomorrow, 90 of our students will head into the gym for the Statistics AP Exam.

And when they do, it will be one pure breath of relaxation. I have had other faculty members ask me if I usually freak out while they’re taking the exam, and the answer is a definitive “NO”. Because once they head into the exam room, you know that there is truly nothing more that can be done to prepare your students… that there is nothing left to stress out about.

But as important as this exam day may be, this year I have learned to fully appreciate the journey here from opening day just as much. (Read: “The Test Does Not Define You”, posted today at another blog that I greatly admire, petalsofjoy.org) It really is hard to believe that this ride is winding down.


For the life of me, I cannot remember why, but a little over three years ago, I had the hankering to shop for a REALLY BRIGHT shirt that I could wear on a day of absolute exaltation.4 And on that impulse, I bought perhaps the loudest thing that I own:

May 10, 2013.  AP Exam day last year.
May 10, 2013. AP Exam day last year.

Since I bought this shirt, I have only been able to justify wearing it in public on three occasions5 — all on (or around) AP Exam day.6 The thing is as ridiculous as it looks in the picture: highlighter yellow with a shine7 visible for half a mile.


For the second straight year,8 the AP exam is on a day in which I have my conference period at the end of the day.9 Which means that once the students head in for the exam at around 12:30, I’ll be twiddling my thumbs until 4:45pm or so, when they get out of the exam.

Well, at least until I remember that I am a teacher, and that there are literally a million things to do — paperwork, grading, polishing up final exams, progress reports for 504 students, and if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get a head-start on cleaning up my classroom for the summer. I’ll twiddle my thumbs for a moment, just for kicks, maybe.

  1. For those keeping count: We have two more weeks of classes, plus final exams.↩︎
  2. For the record, I expect to sleep like a baby this time around. Three years of experience does wonders for the nerves.↩︎
  3. The differing effects of multiplication and addition on measures of center and spread, at this moment. Or perhaps how to explain the meaning of a z-score. Or the formula for a 1-sample t-interval versus a t-interval for regression slope… blegh, it never ends.↩︎
  4. Exaltation for what? I had no idea at the time. Just in the off-chance that I had reason to exalt and simultaneously wanted to wear my feelings. :shrug:↩︎
  5. at least by my recollection; I may have worn it on a Sunday once.↩︎
  6. The first time I wore it in 2011 was actually the day after the AP Exam, which at the time the exam was on the 2nd Wednesday of AP exams. The last two years I wore it on the day of the test. This year, I’m not nearly as high-strung as the previous three, so I may opt for a change…↩︎
  7. one of my former students affectionately refers to this as “Youn-shine”↩︎
  8. Incidentally, does anyone remember the talent-show “Dream Job” on ESPN, where up-and-coming journalists would compete for a job at ESPN? It was like “American Idol”, except contestants were competing for a spot as an anchor on “Sportscenter”. Well, it was bad. Really bad. But on the one episode that I watched, one of the judges (who was actually the lone broadcasting professional among the judges and was also an ESPN employee — basically the “Simon Cowell” of the board) taught me something that still sticks with me: You cannot have “two in a row” — you need at least THREE objects to constitute “a row”. Hmmm. So basically I’m not allowed to write, “For the second year in a row”, because apparently that doesn’t make sense.↩︎
  9. Third period starts just after noon, and that’s an AP Statistics class, so almost all of my students are testing then.↩︎