AP Physics Reading: Day 4 (bringing the pain and a new question)

Tuesday, June 5

Monday the actual reading part of the reading went a little rough. Not for any test-related things, but because sitting in that chair hunched over a table for so many hours was making my sciatica act up plus two long nights of socializing in places with horrible seating. Usually, if I’m walking around each day and staying relatively active, my back has been in pretty good shape. A few sore days here and there, but definitely manageable and no major back-going-out incidents. It was mostly fine when I got here. The first two days of weren’t too much of a problem. I kept my jacket rolled up and in the small of my back, I got up every 15 minutes or so to swap out folders, so I was moving around a bit, and things were going smoothly. However, yesterday morning I started getting nerve pain shooting up my left butt cheek. I knew if I didn’t address it, it would get worse and farther down my leg pretty quickly.

Thus began “Operation: More Butt Stuff.”

Step 1: Stop following instructions during Break Yoga and stretch the hell out of my hips and glutes instead. So much pigeon pose. All of the pretzel stretching. I am one happy baby.

Happy-baby

Step 2: Wiggle. Constantly. Keeping my heels moving in circles on the ground so my hips wouldn’t seize. Doing heel-toe taps. Sitting sideways. Walking with exaggerated hip movements to loosen things up a bit when fetching and dropping off folders, during breaks, and to/from lunch. Sitting forward in the chair. Sitting back in the chair. Attempting to sit backwards in the chair to hilariously painful and non-productive results. Feeling like a jerk for being so distracting to anyone within eyeshot.

Step 3: Recognize that even my dynamic sitting is not going to be enough and ask for a couple boxes to use as a standing desk. Lose massive productivity as I figure out logistics for grading in three dimensions instead of two, because the box isn’t big enough to hold graded tests, ungraded tests, and the answer sheet. Eventually figure out a relatively smooth system for keeping things organized that leads to slightly less massive productivity loss.

Step 4: Remember that static standing for long periods is similarly painful to sitting. Try wiggling while standing. Discover similar results to wiggle sitting. Be sad. Begin regimen of alternating sitting and standing every hour or so when each one gets more painful than the alternative.

So, not exactly fun, but manageable. Everyone has been super kind about it and told me to do whatever I need to make it work. What I need to do was strengthen my core and back over the past few months instead of letting everything go because the end of the year is hard. It’s hard for everyone, and lots of people still manage to take care of themselves. Harrumph. It’s not like I haven’t managed much worse back pain before, so I’m making it work.

Today, I got trained on a new question. I was fairly vocal about the fact that I actively enjoy switching questions about halfway through AND that I can grade any question on any test, so if you need to move someone, I’m willing. The reason I like it is that it gives my brain new things to discover and new things to learn. I had 3.5 days on P1Q4 (and I had exhausted insight into student thinking on that question in about a day), and now I’ll have the next three days on the new question, which is about perfect for my brain that works far better under novel circumstances than grind.

The new question is an International exam, which means I can’t talk about the specific contents of the question at all ever. I can say that it’s AP C: E&M, so it involves electricity and/or magnetism. That’s it for details. In general, it’s a really awesome question and is showing me some good insight into student thinking. I don’t yet have a lot of notes, but I foresee a lot of interesting responses to consider and misconceptions to make sure to address with my own kiddos. I managed to grade one half of one folder this afternoon post-training, and I’m starting to have the hang of it a bit. I should be mostly settled in by lunch tomorrow.

This evening was “Dine Out Night” where they close the dining hall and send us all out to fend for ourselves. A group of us went to get sushi again. Same restaurant as last year, but very different group of people. We had excellent conversation while eating excellent sushi, and then a few of us headed back to the hotel while the rest went on to get cookies and ice cream. I was full and had had that on Sunday after seeing Solo, so I went and spent some time talking shop in the physics lounge. By about 9:00 I was worn out. I said about five times I was about to head to bed, but then someone would say something interesting and I’d stay longer. It took almost another hour before I was able to extract myself from the physics talk, but at last I escaped (?), write this post and the last one, and get prepped for DAY FIVE!

Update: It turned out that “get prepped for day 5” meant “stay up until 2am reading” because time zones are the devil.

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