Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Lined up for morning assembly and ready to go on the exams front. My home classes IXC front and centre and 2 of the smartest among them looking very worried in the front row. Exam committee in the background guarding the papers in front of the building currently doubling as exam central!

Yesterday was the final day of classes before the nine day exam period commenced.
It was an eyeopening experience for me to see how the students utilised their final study time in class, since mostly my classes are direct teaching and constant circulating of the room to assist individual students I rarely get to see how effective their study habits are.

In my first class I arrived to discover that about two thirds of the students had miraculously been able to acquire a copy of last year's paper and they were frantically working their way through the questions and developing real anxiety over those that they couldn't answer. They all insisted that I tell them the correct answers and when I tried to explain that it would be better to learn a strategy for how to answer those types of questions they looked totally perplexed. With that logic that only class IX can have, they were sure that memorising last year's answers was now the best way to go. I persisted with trying to teach the mechanics of the question types and they got the correct answers so we were both happy. (In fact as I am writing this at my desk, I have just been asked the same questions as I was in the class yesterday, by one of the students who was absent.)

The next class was with class XI students and they were going over notes from previous teachers in previous years and had a series of questions that related to grammar that they had got wrong in the final board exams at class X level. " How do you begin sentences with 'no sooner did' compared to 'hardly had'?"  Once again, I tried to explain that we had not covered this grammar and that the exam I had written was based on what we had covered. I asked if this was not the case for Bhutanese teachers and was assured that it was! Others in this room were attempting to do all the grammar exercises I had suggested in the past 6 weeks and I tried to point out the idiocy of covering the entire course with less than 24 hours before the first English paper and the one containing the grammar questions was due to start, but that too was met with incredulous stares. As with the previous class they had also managed to procure several copies of previous exam papers and were meticulously working their way through them, asking questions as they encountered problems. A few of this group were actually revising the material I had taught them and that gave me some hope.

By the time I got to the final class of the day there was a definite mood of festivity and frivolity in the room. It was exactly the same as an Australian group of senior students in the final lesson for the year. When I enquired about whether or not they were concerned about the upcoming exams they informed me that they were thinking about going home to their parents. After 4 long months as boarders, many of them for the first time, they couldn't contain their excitement about the prospect of seeing their families again and eating home cooked food! I couldn't help but think,"Let tomorrow and the first of their English papers roll around. Come what may."  By and large they have worked hard all semester and I figured they were well enough prepared anyway and today will tell.

The final 2 lessons of the day were cancelled so that all the rooms and the MPH could be turned into examination halls and that also meant that both evening and night study were cancelled. Good news for me as the study supervisor for that day.

This morning I have arrived early enough to be typing this at my desk. I was hoping that I would see an exam supervision roster so I could see how to manage my time for marking and supervising this week, but it has not yet been posted. Assembly in 5 minutes and then exams start in 30 minutes so I guess that we will all find out in good time. With just 2 minutes to the assembly time today's schedule has appeared. I guess that means we will find out our responsibilities each morning when we arrive. What was I thinking? Planning ahead and time management. I must have forgotten I am in Bhutan! Bell has sounded...... assembly, prayers and the national anthem and here we go! 

Just forming up for the assembly, stragglers still coming in at the back

Exams look a little different down in RLSS but it is still a serious supervisory role that needs to be undertaken.

Who is that spectacled Lopen at the back anyway?

Alfresco! Why not when the classroom space is limited?

I love that I can recognise so many of these kids even though I don't know their names. Madame Milk's daughter, momo shop's wayward son, the neighbour downstairs' principal's son is conveniently missing!

Love the position of those feet!

The exam nerve centre at the RLSS. Why wouldn't PP (pre-primary) kids do exams anyway?

The centre of nerves at RLSS just before their exam began.

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