Teaching TiradeOn Tuesday this week, I went to retake a portion of the National Boards test. This year was my second attempt. I feel pretty good about it, but the problem with the National Boards is that as much as they tell you, they don't really tell you much. I mean, yeah, they tell you how things are scored and what the scores mean, but it's not very pertinent information. It's like, "If you scored a 1, did you do X? Y? Z?" Well, I thought I did...how about you tell me what I screwed up?
I arrived at the testing center with all materials in hand including some reading material, because I was early. The lady signing people in and whatnot asked if she could help me and I told her I was early and what I was there to take. She asked, "Would you like to study some, or are you ready?"
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Study! That's funny. Now, I can't comment on other subjects, but the Middle School English stuff, what am I going to study? It's not about learning something, it's about convincing someone else that you know what the hell you are doing, which is going to be a whole other tirade in a moment. I can't say anything about the question at all lest National Board Secret Police come storming into my house and carry me away to conveniently disappear. I will say that it's stuff any English should know. It's not about knowing, it's about expression, expressing that you know in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Blah fucking blah. I will say that I am not convinced that personal teaching preference doesn't affect how I'm going to get scored, and if someone scores my test response and they just disagree with my style, then that could affect my score.
I had about 30 minutes to compose my response and I had to rush the second portions response to be able to finish with about 10 seconds to spare. I felt good about it, but it depends on for what they are looking.
Now begins my tirade that I mentioned above. I find it amazing how teachers are told and taught about effective teaching and assessing strategies, but those strategies are used on the teachers themselves. I noticed this first in my secondary education classes in college. They'll teach you how to teach to multiple intelligences, and making fair tests, and such...but they do so teaching to one intelligence and giving tests with trick questions. I know it's not all education professors, but it seemed there were a lot of them in the classes I took. The same goes for National Boards. Teachers, how many complaints would you receive if you gave a project or test to your students, gave the students a grade, but never gave any feedback about what was missed or done wrong? That's the National Boards. A score with no feedback.
But I know what it is. They make their money off of people going through the process, and the more times you have to go again, the more money they make.
But then we teachers put up with a lot in the name of our chosen profession. Think about...I went to college for four years (I'm not counting the years a floundered from major to major) at Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!), then moved back to my home state where, in order to get a teaching certificate, I had to pay money to take a test...So, a four year degree isn't enough? Well, fuck me...Then, to keep my teaching certificate, I have to take classes and give presentations and such to earn recertification points in a period of time...So the test wasn't enough either, fuck me sideways...And some say it's to make sure that teachers are well trained, No Child Left Behind and shit, but that doesn't make much sense. I mean, a good teacher doesn't get to work at 8:00 and leave at 4:00, leave school behind on the weekend and holidays and summers...Most teachers take papers and tests home at night and on weekends and holidays. Most teachers work on, revamp, tweak lesson plans at night and on weekends and holidays. But that's not enough, we also have to require teachers to take classes, make presentations, etc. etc. With little pay. Don't give me that, "Well, you have the summer off" junk...No, I don't. I'm planning for next year. I would be taking a class if it hadn't been cancelled. We teachers spend so much time grading, planning, calling, reading, learning for our classrooms, that the actual teaching part seems like just a small responsibility, not the primary concern that it should be. We make it harder for someone to become a teacher, slimming down the teachers available, ask more of the teachers we do have, increasing the chance of burnout, which will lead again to fewer teachers.
I love being a teacher, I do...I just hate how everyone views the teaching profession: either that we should do everything without complaint, or that we don't do anything and don't deserve more.