Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Blog: The tip of the iceberg

I remember learning that only about 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water.  Most of an iceberg is hidden beneath the water, and the shape of the underwater portion can be hard to estimate simply by looking at the visible portion.  So there's a lot more to the iceberg than what is readily seen.

I'm a middle school guidance counselor, and one of the hats I wear at work is school testing coordinator.  For the past couple of years, this has meant that I'm responsible for all the preparations, training, scheduling, and administering of our state tests, which are given near the end of the school year.  We test every student in grades six through eight in reading, math and history, and 8th graders are also tested in science and writing.  In my school that means approximately 2500 tests are administered every year, with 2300 of those administered within a three-week period. 

This past school year, we administered our state tests online for the first time.  That meant hours and hours of additional advance preparation for me.  Our school has enough computers to test about 200 students at a time, so I had to come up with a testing schedule which would run all the students through all the tests they needed to take during that three-week testing window.  I had to assign students to testing groups (first on paper, and then in online test sessions), ensure that special ed students' accommodations were provided, train teachers, and run simulations.  I had to provide practice sessions for every teacher and every student, in order to familiarize them with online testing tools and help both groups increase their level of comfort with the online testing format. I came early to work every test day to ensure that computers were both turned on and logged on, and had to start and monitor each online testing group from my desktop computer.

Although the tests are untimed, a typical student spends roughly two hours working on a test.  For that student, and for the teacher who proctors the test, it is all over relatively quickly.  But that two-hour test represents hours and hours of preparation on my part. 

I'm not looking for acknowledgement of my effort.  I could just as easily be focusing on all the work a teacher does to prepare a student to take such a test.  But reflecting on this rather ordinary part of my job has given me pause.  This is what I've been thinking about: What do I take for granted that has taken someone else hours and hours of preparation so that I might enjoy/participate/consume/view/wear/listen/read.....?

I'm hoping that while I'm up here enjoying the tip of any particular iceberg, that I'll be more aware of what others have done "below the water line" to make it happen, and that I'll look harder for ways to express my gratitude and appreciation.  And I invite you to join me.


1 comment:

  1. Nice thoughts mom :) I like this. I had a relevant experience at work today - not exactly what you wrote about here but it taught me a similar message. Essentially, a customer seemed a bit short with me at first encounter, but as I kept talking to her I found out she'd had a tough day and barely even made it to the bank with the gas she had. I was glad I didn't just respond to her "tip of the iceberg" outward attitude because I think by talking to her and empathizing I was able to help make her day a little better :) yay for getting down to the nitty gritty of the full-on iceberg!! :)


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