Furthermore…(If I had a dollar for every time this word was used in an essay…)

Downtown Kansas City, MOI just spent 7 days in a science fiction nightmare. Over 4000 educators descended into KC Mo and were assimilated to a freakish work routine within hours. We were shuttled to and from our out lying hotels to the downtown convention center–spanning at least 3 city blocks–on huge buses, one lined up after another, moving vast amounts of people from one place to another.

Once inside, we moved in shoulder to shoulder groups, up stairs and escalators; through hallways and corridors to a HUGE area that spanned football field lengths, cordoned off by blue curtained “rooms” ( sustained at a comfortable 60 degrees) that held 400 people grading hundreds of thousands of essays. Four different subjects, 3 essay questions each, 400 people per question.

Table 56 Q2 readers.

We sat at a table of hierarchy and were trained to respond to bells. Some dings of the bell indicated a headset and receiver should be turned on to receive information from “big brother.” Other dings sent us from our faux rooms to an area with snacks and beverages for 20 minute breaks. Others got everyone back to work. It resembled mice, working their way through elaborate tunnels and responding to cues. A group of Pavlov’s dogs. For 7 days.

It was genius. A well oiled machine, it wasn’t the first rodeo for this company! However, my mind is mush. I didn’t realize what a toll 8 hours of constant and diligent reading would take. I am exhausted–both physically and mentally. I have been told, by the most supportive and encouraging experienced readers, that it will be better next year…at this very raw point in the process, I don’t know if there will be a next year for me. I’m gonna marinate on it for awhile. Maybe it’s like childbirth. It’s painful as hell during the experience and you swear you’ll never have another, but the memory dulls and you long to have another eventually. We’ll see.

I do know that being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded English teachers was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had in a long time. I was validated on so many levels, and boy…did I need that! We are an odd bunch, indeed.