The Mozambican school system operates on trimesters of about thirteen weeks, so we recently completed the first term followed by a week of vacation. As I always felt when I was in school myself, both professors and students were really ready for a break by the time the term ended. Each grade level had to have the same test for each subject, so because I co-wrote the tests for eighth, ninth and tenth grade with my colleagues Etelvina and Cativa. I don’t know if this system is ideal for students because they have been used to working with different teachers of different styles focusing on different skills, but it was interesting to collaborate with the other English teachers in this way.
All the tests for each subject were administered on one day. For example, during second period on Tuesday, every student wrote his English test, proctored by the teacher whose class normally occupied that period. Since we aren’t able to make photocopies, we used carbon paper to make a copy of the test for each class and gave it to the teacher to write on the chalkboard for the students to copy. As they took the test, we went around to each room and answered questions. Needless to say, Tuesday was crazy as I was running around to make sure the students and the teachers who were proctoring the exams understood what was going on. On other days, I got to proctor exams in Portuguese, French, math and geography, which was interesting to see what the kids were learning.
The next days were spent grading our exams and calculating final grades for the students. If I had been organized, I could have entered mine into a spreadsheet but of course I was doing this all at the last minute so used the calculator on my cell phone just like everyone else. Then we started “Conselhos de notas” where we submitted over our grades to the heads of each turma to enter onto a big handwritten spreadsheet called the pauta. Since I am not a director of a turma, I had a lot less work than everyone else, but stayed behind to help my colleagues enter and calculate grades. For the most part my students actually did pretty well so I’m even thinking I should make my tests a little harder. Though it took us the better part of two days to get all the grades entered, my Peace Corps colleagues said their schools hadn’t even started with conselhos by the time they left for vacation. I think everyone here was itching to get out of town; many of the teachers are still completing university work by correspondance, so they really needed to get to Beira to turn in assignments.