Proctoring a Middle School State Test in 46 Easy Steps

I recently read an amazing Love, Teach post titled “How to Teach a Middle School Class in 49 Easy Steps” It was of course, amazing and hilarious and understood perfectly how chaotic it can be on a daily basis.

As I sit in yet another week of required state testing, I felt inspired by this amazing idea of Love, Teach’s and want to tell you all about what it is like to proctor one of these bad boys with 7th graders:

  1. Tell everyone to come in and get a computer, but to please keep it closed at their seat.
  2. Watch as three people get a computer and open it immediately.
  3. Field the question, “are we testing again?” approximately 23412305811041028 times.
  4. Remind students once again, that they need a computer, but to keep it closed.
  5. Finally start giving instructions about keeping the “testing environment” quiet and secure
  6. Jump when someone screams because there is an ant at their table.
  7. Mediate a class discussion about whether we should just kill the ant or “set it free” outside.
  8. Start giving instructions again
  9. Phone rings, asking for the student who is now trying to get everyone to call her the “Ant Liberator.”
  10. Send Ant Liberator to office, to a chorus of “oooohhhs.”
  11. Give a 15 second lecture on how we are kind to each other, and that Ant Liberator’s office visit is none of their business.
  12. Finally get everyone to log in.
  13. Watch as 22 hands go up saying they can’t log in.
  14. Tell 22 students individually that it is a zero, not an “o.”
  15. Ant Liberator comes back, exclaiming loudly that this school sucks and that she is moving to Mongolia because they must have better schools.
  16. Ask Ant Liberator to come out to the hall and talk.
  17. Talk about why school sucks, and ask Ant Liberator to be more respectful of people testing, and to reconsider an international move.
  18. Walk around while students test, but secretly pretend you’re one of those royal guards with the cool fuzzy helmets.
  19. Confiscate about 45 of those stupid spinner fidgets that have officially replaced homemade “slime” as the Most Annoying Trend of 2017.
  20. Sit down at your desk, only to see a small hand go up.
  21. Walk over to the student.
  22. Student asks, “What’s an expository essay, again?”
  23. Feel simultaneously frustrated because we just went over expository essays two days before we started testing, and because I can only shrug and say, “Do your best!”
  24. Look at the clock and realize only four minutes have gone by.
  25. Do one more lap around the room. Wonder if students will notice if you sneak a few lunges in. Gotta work those glutes. Or hammies. Or move some sort of muscle during this Hell.
  26. Come back to your desk and finally take attendance, fearing the whole time that the office manager will come pounding at your door (she really does this, and it’s terrifying).
  27. Catch up on NPR, New York Times, and CNN headlines.
  28. Think about how to teach students to spot fake news.
  29. Speaking of fake news, email back a parent who claimed their kid turned in the last assignment, but that I obviously lost it.
  30. Wonder where that weird clicking noise is coming from and realize it’s one of your students, clicking furiously through the test.
  31. Gently remind student to take their time.
  32. “Why?” student asks, still clicking.
  33. “Just slow down,” you say, because you have no good answer.
  34. Watch an ant crawl across your desk.
  35. Have a student come up to you and ask to “pause for the day.”
  36. Groan inwardly, because you know what comes next.
  37. Like a terrible domino effect, with 38 minutes to go, 99% of your students have “paused for the day.”
  38. Remind students to stay quiet for the two kids still trying to test.
  39. Spend the next 37 minutes handing out Sudoku puzzles, coloring pages, books, and crosswords to those who just had to pause for the day.
  40. Console one of the two kids who starts to hyperventilate because they are so stressed and are sure that they will “never ever” finish this test and then they won’t get into a good college, and then there goes their dream of medical school and…
  41. Plan a coup to overthrow the Department of Education and ban standardized state testing forever. Also, pan dulce vending machines would need to be installed in every school building. Everyone could use a concha these days.
  42. Finally, finally, finally tell students that time is up, and to please plug in their laptops.
  43. Watch as three people actually plug their laptops in the cart as the rest pile them on top. As if they charge through osmosis or something.
  44. Stand in front of the door and tell students that, while you love them dearly, they will allllll get calls home if those stupid laptops aren’t put away correctly. (A perk of being bilingual is that I can actually follow through on this if I want to. Not that I would ever want to).
  45. Allow students to leave.
  46. Allow next period’s class to enter, and ask them to get a laptop out, but to please keep it closed at their seat.


So there you have it. These 46 steps have more or less been my life for the last week and a half. I have one more full day to go and I am already planning the epic gin and tonic I’m going to imbibe to celebrate.


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