Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bradley Final: One Step Closer to the End!

This afternoon, the girls and I made our once-every-few-months pilgrimage to the post office, where (among other things) I sent my final exam off to CA for the powers that be to grade. Finished all 21 pages of it this morning at 2:30 a.m. and mailed it off as soon as we could get out the door today (2 hours to do so--why we only make it to the P.O. every few months--so many things to mail, and none of them ready).

Bradley gives a month to complete the exam, and today marks exactly one month since they sent it to me. I probably could have waited a few more days, but I wanted this thing DONE. Every evening that I haven't worked on it has been not-as-enjoyable because I am putting it off.

For the first few weeks I had it, I barely did anything with it. I seriously found it intimidating. Nine sections, seven of which have 10 or more essay questions each, the eighth section being 88 vocabulary words needing definitions (I've always been bad at defining words). The final section was possibly the easiest. A few weeks ago, I sat down to do the first few essay questions and got really bogged down. It was another week or more before I picked it up again. Those first four sections probably took me 1 1/2 to 2 hours each to complete. As I got more into it, it went faster, and last night, I believe I completed the last 3 sections, plus did proof-reading and formatting for the whole thing in about 5 hours (had to wait till class was over, so it extended into the morning).
Total time put in is probably 15 to 20 hours. One thing that helped immensely is that I called to clarify a few things and found out something that really took the pressure off. See, the beginning of the exam has a part where you have to sign and say on the honor system that you had no help from anything (book, person, whatever) in completing the exam. I found this confusing, because in the couple times that I had taken up the exam to complete another portion, I found that I could answer some of the previous questions I had already answered, either better or with more clarification. I knew this had to be because of something I'd read in the teacher's manual, student workbook or another book I'd read since I'd last picked up the exam, so I wasn't sure how I should answer these questions, because at some point, I had learned MOST of the stuff I was answering FROM A BOOK! (Yes, I am a very literal person, if you do not already know.)

So I wondered how they could both allow me a whole month to complete the exam (assuming that I am working on it little by little) yet not have any "help" from learning or being reminded of anything in that time. Let me be clear: I did not think that I was allowed to sit down with the exam and have a book with me to reference as I answered questions, or google something whilst I typed away in Word, but it seemed hazy as to what I wasn't allowed to do. I knew it needed to be my answers, but many of my answers are not truly "mine" because I've reviewed the material so much by now. My impression from some of the message boards I'd read is that most people went through and answered all the questions they could answer easily and then came back to the harder stuff later. I assumed this was because they needed to do a little more research on those topics, etc. It sounded like a reasonable plan to me, until I experienced what it meant to come back to the questions after some time away. It quickly overwhelmed me.

Since every time I came back to the exam, I felt like I had a better understanding of many questions I had previously answered (and that without purposely going to do research on those questions), I began to feel VERY overwhelmed with how thorough and detailed I could be with this exam.

Last week, I ran into a question on which I needed clarification: wasn't too sure what they were asking. So I called and while I was asking, I clarified what exactly the honor system required. She explained that I was not allowed to go look something up specifically, even if I knew where to find the answer. However, she said they could not stop me from teaching my series while I completed the exam, and if I came across things in preparing for classes, I was welcome to use the information I'd read. Is it me, or is that a little confusing? I would never have assumed such a thing. Seems like splitting hairs to me. It did help clarify my predicament: the things that I'd had a hazy answer for almost jumped out at me when I would prepare for classes. Not that I'd gone and researched something specifically, but in my "research" (yes, I do that for every class I teach) of what I was to teach that week, I found a great deal of info. that I would not have paid as much attention to if I had not remembered a question on the exam to which it spoke. And it just kinda felt like cheating.

But anyway, I was very comforted to know that they did not necessarily expect me to have a thorough or detailed answer for every question. They wanted me to answer from what is in my head, without ruling out that new things can come in there if I am currently teaching/learning more about birth (yet not because I'm studying for the exam--it really gets into motives, doesn't it? Eesh. Too hazy for me.). This greatly helped my anxiety about answering questions: I was expected to answer them to the best of my ability NOW. I was not expected to kill myself "finding" the answers, nor to limit my answers if I HAD learned more (inadvertently, that is, and that is KEY to taking the pressure off). When I hung up, I tried to wrap my mind around what the honor system required of me. I decided to treat the exam like a student that I would only have for one week, and would never have contact with again: they only get what I know off the top of my head. I do not have the luxury of saying, "Let me look into that and get back with you." (Thank God--I cannot imagine how many pages the exam would've ended up being if I were allowed/expected to do that.)

As it turned out, I think I may have come back and answered ten or less questions with more clarification or detail than I had before (usually after preparing for or teaching another class!). And here I had wanted to put off finishing the exam because I wanted to "learn" all I could before I answered all those questions. Who knew I was allowed to learn along the way?

Glad it's done. What a relief. And last night marked the half-way point in our current series. It's going well. Have 2 great students. We had one other student, but it just wasn't working for her to come to class, as her husband was not able to attend with her, and often needed her to help him with his commitments on class night. I'm bummed we couldn't have found a night that worked well for all four of us. It would have been great to have them in class, too.

Both students from last series have now given birth, and both without medication (and from what they've expressed to me, happily so!). I'm glad they're pleased, and proud of them for preparing for an unmedicated birth. Doing so is no small task.

God willing, in another 6 weeks I will have completed all the requirements to wrap up my provisional affiliation w/Bradley. I'm so excited to have come this far! God has been so faithful to bring us to this point.

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed, Sarah, for taking this on while pregnant with your fourth. Seems overwhelming to me! But way to persevere!! I know you'll feel such relief when you are done, even though you enjoyed it while doing it. It will be nice, I assume, to have time to prepare for your own birth.