Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's a girl to do?

I decided that I want to score essays for the SAT. Why? Well, there's the philosophical reason that I will be better able to prepare my students for the SAT if I am an actual scorer - credibility and all that. Then there's the cash factor. It pays something like $18.00 per hour, and I would work something like 40-50 hours in a scoring period - potentially eight or nine hundred dollars in two weeks. A trip to Vegas coming up makes this a great idea.

So I spent the afternoon yesterday going through the training and practicing scoring papers. For each of my practice sets I scored within range to qualify as a scorer. You see, you have to grade all of these practice papers - three sets of ten - and score within a certain range to qualify. But then I was tired. Turns out looking at hand written essays on a computer screen for two or three hours is not as exciting as it sounds.

Then I couldn't sleep last night. What if I don't qualify? I mean, these people are grading my grading, and that's a little scary to me. It's hard to adjust my expectations to someone else's expectations and then use those expectations to assess student work. It's complicated even writing it! On the scores where I was off by a point, I was always scoring the essay one point lower than the approved score.

This leads to all kinds of issues - am I too hard on my students? are my expectations too high? am I grading harder because I don't know these computer students? do I cut my own kids more slack? am I good at assessing student performance? do I even know what I'm doing? how did I get to be a teacher anyway? do the people who pay me know that I'm an awful teacher and grader? when am I going to get fired?

I couldn't sleep.

Today I decide I just have to get the qualification over with because it's stressing me out. I'd rather work in my yard or read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle again or make a key for my Scarlet Letter test. But this is me, and I'm task-oriented. So I sit down to do my first of 3 qualification sets. (I have to qualify in 2 out of the 3.)

It was miserable. Tucker was in the bathtub splashing and the sound was driving me crazy. Just splashing - not screaming or bugging or anything - just splashing water. I kept telling myself that I just had to get through that one set.

Then it got worse. I didn't qualify by one point. One point. This means that I must qualify in the other two sets or I'll get a "thanks for your time" from Pearson. No pressure, right? Arrgghh!!!

I'm left with this: do I really want to do this? I mean 40 extra hours of work in two weeks when I already have a job, a husband, and two kids seems like crazy talk. However, an extra $800 in Vegas would buy more than one Jackie Collins cocktail at Spago. Am I being greedy? Maybe I'm being a quitter. I mean, had I qualified today would I even be having these thoughts? It's true that while I don't mind being wrong from time to time, I really despise failure. Really, honestly, truly despise it.

I have a couple of days to sort this out, I guess. I don't have to finish the qualification until Wednesday night. But I need to sleep between now and then. I have to decide if I'm using my family and work obligations as an excuse to not risk failure, or if I've just decided that Spago isn't as important as 40 hours of my life. Ugh. Whatever I decide, the answer tonight is to turn off my brain and stop thinking about it.

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