Soooo, a few weeks ago, after a bruising three hours with the National Board Exam, I found myself at Kohl’s. Desperately seeking slippers. And socks, that won’t show. And pajama tops. Only the tops. And sparkly nail polish.
I also almost bought shiny silver sparkly glitter Keds. But luckily, reason kicked in.
What an experience that was. The exam I mean.
I am trying to get certified in English Language Arts – Early-Middle Childhood. It is what I have taught for the past 30 years. I figured I knew it enough. I brushed up on the theories, the stages of development of language acquisition, reading stages, writing stages, childhood developmental stages. I studied assessments that primary teachers frequently use, since they are not in my fourth grade wheelhouse. I reminded myself of what I do when I am being my best version of a teacher. I read and reread the NBC standards. Nothing really earth shattering in there, no surprises.
And yet, I am not sure I will pass. Well, there were more things I knew than I didn’t. I think. But how many do you need? I felt pretty good about my constructed responses, where I looked at a kid’s work and wrote about what I saw and what strategies I would use to address the issues and strengths. But I think I blew the reading one. Honestly, how do you assess a reader if they aren’t in front of you? A running record does part of it, but the real life kid and the discussion and the comprehension check fills in the snapshot.
Mostly, I was struck by how assaulted I felt. As soon as I started I wanted to get up and walk around. I was told I COULD NOT do this. Plus I was being timed. Geez. The earplugs I wore made me able to hear my heartbeat, which got much faster when I was answering a question I wasn’t sure about. I never knew my heart did that. I had to practice breathing. A lot.
This is totally voluntary on my part. But I went in thinking “I am strong-woman-teacher, I can do this.” And felt like I hobbled out, having been analyzed, critiqued and judged by some two dimensional evaluator that has no way of knowing what I really know, and what I do with my knowledge.
Note to self. Remember this every time, (Every. Single. Time.) you do this to kids. Keep it in mind. If it drove you to Kohl’s for random shit on a sunny Saturday afternoon, imagine what it does to a little one without so much impulse control.