Epic Tale of My Cohort Experience: Finals week

Monday: 12/09/13
Today I finish up working on my portfolio for my final tomorrow.  When I get it finished it is easy to decide what I will talk about.  I am very excited for tomorrow to come so I can cross 3 finals from my list.  I will hand in two and then go to my favorite class for the last time.

Tuesday: 12/10/13
Thankfully I slept with my phone on the nightstand because we got a call at 5:30AM that my children’s school was on a 2 hour delay.  An hour later, this turned into their schools being closed. Another snow day.  When it is time to leave for my final exam, the roads aren’t bad.  I leave extremely early though so I can hand in two of my finals in the appropriate offices and mailboxes.  I felt such relief letting those go!

When I make it to my final my professor places numbers on the board so we can sign-up for our presentations.  I choose #1.  I want to get it over with.  It goes well.  I make my classmates cry, which is always a good thing.  In fact, during the presentations we learn that most of us thought about quitting the cohort.  One student even printed out the papers and had them ready to turn in!  I wish we had been closer in those first days.  We were all in the same boat and we all had the same thoughts.

During our presentations, I also found out that the girl who saw me cry made herself so busy because her father is very ill and only has a few months left to live.  After class I talked to her about this and told her I wish she had told me this sooner.  I know what she is going through. God makes no mistakes. She saw me cry.  Then the next day, the first day of our other classes, when she walked into our last class, the only empty seat in the room was next to me.  Little did she know before she walked in, I was sitting there praying she wouldn’t be in this class because I was uncomfortable that she saw me cry, but she walked in the door anyway.  She also told me some other things about her family and I can 100% relate to her worries.

I had begun to think maybe I should have waited another year before joining the cohort because had I waited I would have never met the hostile professor, but if I had waited I would not have met the girl who saw me cry or all of the other wonderful people I have met.

Wednesday: 12/11/13
Today is the day.  The last time I will ever have to see Professor Hostile in my life.  I am nervous about this final.  I did not study for this nearly as much as I did for the midterm.  I chose not to because I was not happy with my midterm grade, but I was also not happy with our midterm in general.  The actual test was nothing like the preparation.  All I can do is pray.  Of course I am praying for an “A”. I can only miss two points on the final to get an “A”.  I realize only God can pull this off for me.  Only God can guide his grading.  I mean that is what it boils down to – how he grades.  I know all the stuff, but Professor Hostile is not very objective.  It is in God’s hands and I will make peace with whatever happens.

When I walk into our exam room it is LOUD.  Everyone is giddy.  I think everyone is ready to put this class behind them.  Professor Hostile walks in.  He makes an attempt at small talk, but everyone is ready to get this thing going.  He passes out not 1, but 2 Blue Books to each of us, followed by the exam.  I read it over.  I try not to panic.  It is awful.  It is horrible.  The poem we are supposed to use to answer all 4 questions is stupid.  It means nothing to me.  I stare blankly ahead.  I mutter a prayer.  I take a deep breath and then I start writing.  I write for the next two hours.  I answer all of his questions. I pretend I am a teacher in a classroom and explain what I would do.  I got this.  Even if he doesn’t like what I say, I am confident I will be a good teacher.  Somewhere in one of my answers I let him know the poem is stupid.  Of course I say this more eloquently than I just stated.

Finally, I write my last sentence.  I am trying to replace my fear of walking to the front of the room solo to hand it in with the relief I will feel when I close the door behind me.  These emotions teeter totter with each step I take.  I hand him my test, while trying to not make eye-contact.  “It’s been a great semester Becky,” Professor Hostile says.  Relief washes over my face as I can no longer hold it down like I had hoped so I could experience it in its fulness apart from this man.  “Thanks” I mutter, like the girl who has just been told “I love you” and does not respond in the expected manner. I bolt to the door. I am free.

I practically skip to my car.  I feel lighter.  The weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.  I decide to stop at Chipotle on my way home for a celebration lunch.

Thursday: 12/12/13
The semester is over for me.  However, I can’t help but laugh at all the messages on our cohort Facebook page about the wretched take home final.  My fellow students have just started to complete it. Their thoughts are very entertaining.  No one understands it. I am thankful mine has been turned in, never to be thought of EVER again!

Epic Tale of My Cohort Experience: Week 15

Monday: 12/02/13
I have reached the final week of class.  I am beyond thrilled, but I am also more stressed out than I have ever been.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  I am in a cohort.  We are all taking the same classes.  I would assume our professors talk to one another and they would not overload us so much. Why is it when I have taken other classes, not part of this cohort, the final week of school was blissful and serene?  What is the point of this cohort and more importantly, why didn’t we do more of this work throughout the semester instead of the final week of class?

My first class we talk about the take home final.  No one in my class seems to be freaking out the way I am over it.  It is very intense. We have not talked about most of what it contains and each question has at least 5-7 questions to answer.  This is not how you write a test.  My only thought is my classmates have checked out and are not really listening and have not read what this test actually contains.  A scanning of the room confirms this theory.  Our professor tells us we must come to class at our scheduled exam time to turn it in.  What???? What is the point of a take-home final if you can’t just put it in your professors mailbox or deliver it to his office?  Now I will have to drive all the way back to school, park, and walk to the building just to hand in a final. This is absurd.  The due date is Friday, December 13th. This does buy me some more time than I anticipated, but I also planned on having it finished by Wednesday along with everything else so I could start getting things ready for Christmas. Oh well, I will deal with this later.

Next I go to the dreaded class.  Today we are divided into groups of four and two of us are scheduled to teach a lesson.  I signed up to teach mine today because I wanted to get it over with so I could relax on Wednesday.  It goes well.  I pray that my hostile professor does not join my group while I am teaching and God answers my prayer.

Tuesday: 12/03/13
I have a huge project due today, but I finished it up on Sunday so I can’t wait to turn it in and feel the relief that goes along with it.  Now I have to start working on a portfolio for this class.  I am not too worried about it, but I know it will be time consuming.

In my next class we spend our time working on our projects.  The professor has drastically reduced the amount of work we have to do for the final.  My partner and I hang back after class to finish some things up and our professor tells us how much he appreciates us and how we probably don’t even need to turn in our final because we all know what grade we will get.  This may not be entirely appropriate for our professor to say, but these words only make me work harder so I do not disappoint him.

Wednesday: 12/04/13
I am so thankful today is the last time I will have to attend a regularly scheduled class with the professor who loves himself too much.  We spend our time talking about the new processes we will have to undergo when we do our student teaching.  As helpful as the information is, it is not coming at the right time.  I would rather attend a meeting about this right before I am actually going to student teach.  Not only is this a huge waste of time right now, but it is also adding to the anxiety of those who choose to listen, anxiety that is not necessary to induce because this is a new process and by the time we student teach everything he is telling us right now will probably change.

Today during the dreaded class I am thrilled I simply have to sit in my group and listen to the other 2 students present their reading lessons.  I carefully remove the extra chairs surrounding us so the hostile professor cannot set-up position at our table.  The lesson starts and despite my efforts, he joins my group.  Things go well at first and then he pushes my buttons.  He shares his view that not everything we read or learn should hold some kind of value or applicable lesson.  I share my differing opinion and explain that if I am not going to learn something from an activity or reading I would not waste my time doing it.  We go back and forth for quite awhile and it is very entertaining for my group.  I finally tell him I understand what he is saying and his way of thinking is his opinion and one way to look at things, but I happen to have a different opinion. He backs down and tells me he just wants to make sure I know what he is saying because he fears my way of thinking will get me into trouble as a teacher to which I laugh and reply that I have a teenage daughter, I am surrounded by teenagers, and I am fully aware of what I am walking into.  I left out the part about how he has never taught a day of actual school in his life.  When he left our table, the girl who saw me cry the first day of school, (who now happens to be a friend of mine) said, “That was AWESOME!”

I was so happy to leave that room knowing I will only see this man 2 more times in my life!

Thursday: 12/5/13
Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow and I am preparing myself for missing my last day of the dreaded class.  I also have a seminar scheduled for 10AM tomorrow.  We will have to see what happens.

My first class today is bittersweet.  This is my favorite class.  This is the class that has kept me going the whole semester.  I was supposed to have this same professor next semester, but he is taking the spring semester off to write another book.  He will teach again next fall and then he is retiring.  I am thankful I was able to meet him and have him as a teacher.  He is very inspiring.  He is what all professors should be.  Today we talk about our final portfolio.  I wasn’t worried about the portfolio until this class.  He wants them to be creative.  He also talks about the presentation we are supposed to give the day of our final.  I thought I would just get up there and talk, but he wants us to have something prepared.  It is supposed to be like a speech.  I am a little stressed, but I know I can pull this off.  I kind of just don’t want to though.

Before I leave my first class I discuss the possibility of snow tomorrow with my professor because he is in charge of the 10 o’clock seminar.  He told me to not even worry about attending.  Again, this is why I love him so much.  He gets the adult attending college!

Our next class we work on our projects again.  Ours is almost finished and once again our professor as eliminated some of the work.  It is very doable now.

Later I email my hostile professor about the impending snowstorm.  I explain how far I drive to school and talk about how a 2 hour delay would mean my youngest daughter would not start school until 11:30 AM, which is the same time class starts.  I told him I would do everything in my power to make it to class if possible, but I also had to be realistic.  He responded kindly and told me not to put myself or my children in danger.  Maybe if our class had been online I would have gotten along with him better.

Friday: 12/06/13
Well my kids have their first snow day of the year.  The roads are bad.  The 10AM seminar is canceled and I decide it is not worth risking my life to drive to a 45 minute class.  My friend, the girl who saw me cry, records class for me so I can hear the exam review.

I spend the day completing a project and the extremely difficult take-home final.  After I finish the take-home final I email my professor to ask if I can turn it in next week on one of the days I will already be up at school.  He is gracious and allows me to do this, but tells me not to let anyone know. I am relieved to know I will not have to drive an hour there and an hour back just to hand in a final exam.  I now will have the whole day next Friday to get ready for Christmas!

The snow sure is beautiful.

Snow Day

The forecast called for freezing rain and sleet in the morning, changing into snow around 12PM and then leaving 4-6 inches when it is all said and done by late tonight.  I woke up around 2 AM to the sound of sleet and/or freezing rain hitting our bedroom window. This is legit, I thought as I rolled over and set a mental alarm clock for 5 AM when I expected to receive a phone call from my children’s school, canceling for the day.  This is precisely what happened, except what followed surprised me.  I could not fall back asleep.  I became consumed with thoughts about whether or not I should still go to class.  I played out all the different scenerios in my head.  Like, if it is icy, I won’t go or if I see the  roads are treated and the weather man doesn’t forecast the bulk of the snow until later, I will go.  See, today is the last real time I meet with my dreaded class (not dreaded because of my classmates, but dreaded because of my professor).  My professor is going to go over the exam and he gives us  hints and tells us which parts of the questions to pay attention to.  I want an “A” in the class and the thought of missing this information freaks me out.

I woke up at 8 AM and immediately looked out the window.  It hadn’t snowed yet.  Everything just looked icy, except the road.  The road looked treated.  I turned on the news.  The forecast called for the freezing rain/sleet to turn over to snow around 11AM.  My class is 11:30 – 12:25.  I would need to leave the house around 10 AM and I should be home around 1:30.  The roads are rural, windy, and hilly.  I am just not sure it is the best idea for me to go.  In fact, I know I shouldn’t go, but I WANT TO GO.  I have not missed a single scheduled class this entire semester.  I drove to school 50+ minutes away 5 days a week for a total of 11 weeks.  I drove to 2 different high schools for field experience for a total of 4 weeks arriving at 7AM. I never missed a day or arrived late.  In fact during my first field of 2 weeks I stayed an additional 3 hours each day for a total of 30 extra hours of field experience.  Yes, I am tooting my own horn.  For some reason I feel it is necessary to justify missing the very last day of class when clearly the weather outside is treacherous.  Even my dreaded professor encouraged me to stay safe and he understood if I didn’t make it to class.  
I hope staying home and being smart does not affect my GPA.  Perspective.  This is what I need.  I hear the freezing rain hitting my office window.  It is decided.  I am home for the day.