In the month of April when the state of Michigan demands that all students be sat down and given three or more hours of testing, my workplace gave to me:

Twelve missing test logins

We had five hundred students to test at the downtown Detroit site (around twenty percent of the students who attend my online school). Each student had two testing tickets; some had three or four. Please try to imagine keeping track of a thousand slips of paper over a month’s time.

Then, sometimes, the state of Michigan just changes the login of a student for no reason and you have to re-copy down four different passwords. Nothing can be easy.

Eleven grade-free days

Generally, state testing is a hard sell to online teachers. Most of our proctors had to drive forty-five minutes and fight downtown traffic at 7 am just to sit and stare at children clicking buttons on a computerized test. There’s a reason we teach online. 

I on the other hand was thrilled to spend a month of my life at testing. I’m working! I think to myself as I refresh Discord for the fifth time and watch for any cars to pull up to drop students off. I’m working! I think as I weave through downtown to pick up our ordered lunch.

(Unfortunately this grace period does not last forever; grading is eternal.)

Ten People Mover trips

After driving in downtown Detroit one day and getting thoroughly lost on my way to the twenty dollar parking garage, I texted my colleague that I wanted to walk to the testing site for day two of testing. “I’ll come with you!” she sent back immediately am\nd then added: “You know, I want to try riding the People Mover one of these days!”

I switched to Google Maps and zoomed in, frowning. “There’s a spot right near your hotel. We’ll try it tomorrow.”

It took us until the NFL draft, three weeks later when people packed our beloved monorail, to walk home the point-four mile rather than sit and meander the city from above.

Nine missed phone calls

Turns out, when your name and phone number is on the email that gets sent out to parents, people actually call you and want pesky details like “where is the testing site” and “do I need to park” and “my car tire blew out on the way to testing. Can we reschedule for another day?”

Eight student names recognized

Considering the sheer numbers at the Detroit site, I was expecting to see a lot of students that I recognized. And I did see a lot of student names! Unfortunately, most of my online high school students did not come up and introduce themselves to me—shocking, I know, that their priority was not to make friends with an adult who they see twice a week in a little box on their screen for an hour at a time—which meant I resorted to peeking over their shoulder to see the name on the screen during their test and bugging them later while they were waiting for their rides.

Seven lost Ubers

One of the top five worst moments was trying to direct a parent to order an Uber for an increasingly nervous and incensed eleventh grader, as all the Ubers that we ordered would default to the entrance on the opposite side of where we were testing, which was about two football fields away. This was increasingly bad when that entrance was closed due to the impending NFL draft.

I spent about thirty minutes directing the parent to direct the Uber driver to the right corner and I was never so happy to be honked at once the driver finally got there. 

Six sleeping students

There are some tests that you can sleep through (unless you are a student reading this, which in that case there are no tests you can sleep through and you should be doing your best), and there are some tests that you cannot. One gem of an eighth grader napped happily through his three-hour PSAT but then required a proctor to sit next to him during the Michigan state test and kick his chair so he wouldn’t nod off after answering one (1) question.

*cue angel singing* Five expense reports!

Sometimes I get jealous of the perks of reporting to work in-person. I remember the spread of food during teacher appreciation week in my student teaching, and I drooled hearing about the french fry tasting event provided by my dad’s company. If I want a snack, the only person providing that snack is the girl who goes grocery shopping (and she’s annoyingly not-snacky when she goes to the store).

Being boots on the ground this month, I made full and extensive use of my company’s food expenditure policy. We ordered out for lunch every day, I often volunteering to stroll in the sun or hurry through the rain to pick up boxes of takeout, and nearly every night I scoured Google Maps for a new walking-distance place to fill my stomach (or I went back to my favorite, the Bucharest Grill).

My credit card is not happy with me right now. I’ll get my money back later.

Four new colleague friends

As one of them put it after the first day, “Wow! We were all sitting around and no one made eye contact, and I thought, ‘This are my people!’”

Three closed roads

When someone in our testing Teams group chat said something about the NFL draft happening in Detroit, I didn’t think much of it beyond Oh cool, they are hosting an event.

It was not just an event. A week before it happened, half of the roads accessing our testing sites were closed in preparation. When the time finally came, they closed off our usual pick up/drop off area, meaning we had to create a sign and have parents stop in a lane on a one-way street to drop off instead. Proctors were consistently late and annoyed by the run-arounds their GPS would give them in order to get to work. When I was at my most annoyed and had to go in-person to the store we ordered delivery from because they forgot a sandwich, the People Mover car I got on had a local TV anchor interviewing people coming from out of town to see the draft.

A parent asked me, “Why are you all having testing during the draft?” Believe me, it was not my choice.

(It was very good for the city and it was very cool to walk around on some of the busiest streets eating nachos from a food truck, but I definitely would have preferred to have it two weeks later when I wasn’t there.)

Two scoldings from staff

Don’t you love it when there are rules that you don’t know exist and you flagrantly break them by walking twenty Domino’s pizzas down the lobby of your testing site and then you get yelled at by a pissed off manager?

Almost as good as getting cornered and told off again when next week you try to do the right thing and order twenty-eight dollar sandwiches from the site but are unable to cancel your first pizza so the staff gets mad because children were eating pizza. Mmm, definitely some of the highlights.

One awkward side shuffle hug

I had just walked back to the check-in table and there was a student about to head into the testing rooms. He looked me in the eye, then side-shuffled to me, and opened his arms for a hug. I sputtered, with delight, “Oh! Who are you?”

He said, “It’s me!” and then said his name—a student I had last semester in computer class.

“Oh! I’m so glad you are here!” I grinned, and then he made his way down to testing. “Do great!” I said, and he gave me a thumbs-up.

Sometimes, you only need one to make all the difference. 


P.S. The last gift given to me: one new testing site for 2025

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