This week I am enjoying a week of VACATION! The reason? We just finished 2nd trimester exams. I was incredibly surprised to learn that in Ecuador, even elementary school kids take exams at the end of every grading period. An ENTIRE WEEK of tests! The oldest kids, who are only 8 years old, had 15 different subjects to study for. How stressful! Especially since the results make up 1/4th of the trimester grade. Even the little itty bitties took tests. I admit, I don't understand how effective it is to give five year old kids 10 different tests like that, but I did my best to be helpful during the process and to lend a hand when I wasn't proctoring my own English exams.
In one of the 1st grade classrooms, there is a boy with special needs. His name is Jesús. He can be a very loving or a very violent child, and this often changes without notice. When I have free time in my schedule, I work one on one with him, because left to his own devices, he does not accomplish much and spends a significant amount of time crawling around the floor on all fours barking. Imagine trying to help 20-some 5 year old kids (who can't read) take an exam while Jesús is pretending to be a puppy... yikes. So one of the test days, I worked on exams with him one-on-one. We were making some progress when all of a sudden, he looked at me with his eyes wide, exclaimed "oh no!", and slid out of his seat onto the floor. He then began crawling around making scary snake/dragon noises and pretending to bite other students' feet. Having worked with him many times before, I knew chasing him would not work. Picking him up and putting him back in his seat...also no. So I followed a few paces behind him saying, "Sea humano, por favor. Quiero hablar con el nino Jesús." (Be a human, please. I want to talk to Jesus the little boy.) Although my mind was absolutely frustrated, I kept my voice calm. And after what seemed like hours (which was only 3 minutes tops), he looked at me from the floor and shouted "Hola!". I made a big show of being overjoyed to find him human again, hugging him and thanking God. And we actually finished an entire exam!
A frustrating part of exams, I had a LOT of students try to cheat by writing things on their hands or by talking during the test. Ugg...very disappointing. But despite all that, most of my kids passed the exam, and some of them aced it!