Today I gave two exams. One was an oral exam for which students had to pick a question out of the “hat,” (They were given a list of all the questions ahead of time.) take five minutes to write, from memory, an outline on a three by five card, and then speak for at least three minutes to answer the question. It is always nerve-wracking, even for me. The mother in me is extremely empathetic and the teacher/coach in me longs for them to do their best. It is a tense hour and a half.
After a break, they take a written exam that lasts two hours and fifteen minutes. Not everyone takes that long, of course. We take exams very seriously and in order to help my students to avoid temptation I spend almost the entire time of the test sitting and watching them. This used to gall me a bit. It seemed like a waste of time when there were so many other things that I needed to do. Today, though, I completely enjoyed every minute. It was the most relaxing thing I have done for many weeks. I just sat, and stared, and thought. It was lovely and, well, luxurious.
Weeks and weeks of almost constant activity, more things to do than I could possibly accomplish and pressure to use every waking second to the fullest gave way to complete peace and calm. Instead of being bitter that I had to “police” my students, I was incredibly thankful and content. As I sat there, I considered each of my juniors and I prayed for them. As I prayed, it came to me that I was not policing, but guarding and protecting. Attitude makes all the difference.