Today I will be taking a computerized test to be given real authority to have a teaching license in my new state. I have opted to take the three sections of the rest all at once so it will be five hours with breaks between. I am terrified.
I’ve been reviewing information and study guides for the test to prepare and it has become clear to me that people who make the tests are not the people who are in the classrooms. Here’s how I know: no teacher really needs to know the difference between all of the nehavior theorists and the names of developmental stages and why Freud said what he said. Teachers just really need to know how to teach. They need to know how to find the right book for a struggling reader. They need to be able to get Johnny to stop hitting Timmy and say sorry and mean it. They need to be able to help Mary understand that although she will never write in cursive she still needs to be able to read it.
There’s a whole section in my study guide about the different geographical terms that are considered essential, and while I understand it’s important to have a basic understanding of them, that’s something I can look up. I can look up the guidelines of IDEA, though I should be familiar with how to keep legal in my classroom. I can go online and find out what makes a number an integer. What I cannot look up is how to tell that Danny has a stomach ache not because he’s sick but because his family can’t afford breakfast. No one can tell me how to encourage Tammy when she thinks her reading at two grade levels above where she is isn’t good enough. These are things I must know and do every day.
Am I saying that all of the information on this test is useless? Absolutely not. I need it all in my head, but only insofar as knowing it exists so that I can go retrieve it somewhere. The room in my brain must be occupied by how to talk to their parents when at home they hear that school is a waste of time. I need space for all of the positive and negative constructive feedback that I can give to make a child work harder, smarter, better. I think 70% of the room in my head is questions, and I don’t know the answers to most of them. That’s the stuff that’s important, and I don’t know if it will be on the test.
So I will head out this morning and do my absolute best. I will try to remember that this doesn’t really define me and I can always memorize all of that information and take the test again if I need to. And the reason I will not panic about it is because I know that I really have all the information I need to be an amazing teacher in my head already. All I need now is an opportunity to show it.