April 14th, 2009 | Filed under: preservice
Whew. What a relief. I thought for sure I was going to have to at least take it a second time. Many of the folks in the classroom with me were taking it for their second and third times. We were organized alphabetically, so maybe the W last names tend to do poorly on the Praxis II, but I was an outlier!
I needed a 172 to pass and received a 191 out of 200. I just wanted to pass, but the score was a pleasant surprise! Especially after not taking a high-stakes test like this since high school.
Now I can focus my attention on all the other work I still have yet to complete for this teaching license – practicum (only a few more hours), this semester and all of its work, two classes this summer, then student teaching in the fall.
What a weight off my chest!
Tags: licensure, praxis, preservice, testing 2 Comments »
March 13th, 2009 | Filed under: preservice
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately since I’m swimming in standardized tests for my teaching license.
I took the VCLA reading and writing test this morning, which was fairly easy and straightforward, but long! And I’m set to take the Praxis II English (0041) tomorrow morning. I’m actually nervous about that one since it tests content knowledge, which is why I’m blogging (ahem, procrastinating) instead of studying. I took a Cliffs practice test yesterday and my score took my breath away. Needless to say I need to study poetry meters tonight.
Not the best planning on my part to schedule two tests in two days, especially over spring break, but I’m hoping this will be the only time I have to take these tests (fingers crossed!).
Taking these two tests was enough, but to think if I had to take the Praxis I! I’m lucky my SAT scores were high enough to exclude me from having to take the Praxis I, because I don’t know how much more of this testing I can take, let alone how much more my wallet can take. With registration fees and testing fees, I spent nearly $300 on the two tests.
What are your experiences with these tests? How did you study? What are your opinions on these sorts of tests?
I’m thinking if I were actually teaching the content day-to-day I would be more confident with the material, but since I’m not I feel grossly unprepared for the Praxis II tomorrow. I’ve been told not to worry, but I’m a terrible test taker.
Tags: praxis, preservice, SAT, testing, vcla No Comments »
March 6th, 2009 | Filed under: preservice, teaching
Friday was the first day for some of the 8th grade students to have English class after completing their writing SOL on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were surprised to find a writing assignment on the agenda – a book review for a contest.
The first question out of the students: “Why are we writing? The writing SOL is over.”
I think this warrants a sigh.
The last two weeks I’ve been with these students, the writing SOL has been the focus of every class. What the students are learning (types of essays and their parts, writing introductions/conclusions, test strategies, etc.) is applicable beyond the SOL – we know that. How do we show students that the SOLs are very important, but that learning in general is the goal? I’m sure this is an old struggle for most public school teachers, but this was my first experience with the SOL.
I took a few SOLs in high school, but graduated before they became a prerequisite for graduation, so the pressure wasn’t nearly as great. I’m wondering how I will get the point across to my students that the SOL is important (not necessarily my opinion – just a fact), but that we need to strive toward improving our writing skills even beyond these major tests. That needs to be the overall goal – learning something new everyday and pushing ourselves to try more. It’s unfortunate the SOL, a minimum standards assessment, is often the goal.
In other, less depressing news, I taught almost an entire block on my own! We discussed the parts of a book review, what we might include in a review, favorite quotes that we might include, etc. The students are able to choose from two of the books they’ve read – “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry or “Night” by Elie Weisel. Then we ate popsicles!
Tags: education, Elie Wiesel, Lois Lowry, practicum, preservice, SOL, standards, teaching No Comments »
February 24th, 2009 | Filed under: personal, preservice
This is my attempt at an online confessional – sort of a personal exercise to work out my own ideas about teaching and to discover that elusive “philosophy” they keep talking about. My philosophy of teaching changes with every class I attend, with every discussion I have with a teacher and with every day I spend in a real school with real, live students.
A little bit about me…
My decision to pursue education came after I decided my dream of working in newspapers wasn’t quite what I imagined. I studied English in college with an emphasis in journalism while spending every waking minute I could as editor of my college paper or consuming media criticism, journalism tips and writing techniques. I wanted so badly to be a gum-shoed reporter, sticking it to the man and sniffing out stories in between coffee and cigarette breaks, but that just wasn’t what it turned out to be. I got an internship at a local business journal with the best editors and co-workers you could imagine – kind people that took the time to help you and nurture your writing and research techniques. I was eventually offered a full-time position there and savored it, but after a while I realized the world of corporate newspapers wasn’t what I imagined. I often found myself conflicted ethically with decisions made in the corner office while scraping two pennies together. I started to feel resentful and decided it wasn’t worth it. I admitted to myself, finally, that this dream just wasn’t working out. It’s a hard thing to do when your first job is your “dream job” complete with a wonderful boss and co-workers that become like close family.
So I decided to pursue something I felt I could be great at, but that I was too scared to consider in the beginning. I quit my job at the newspaper and launched into a teaching certificate program at my alma mater, Old Dominion University. To support myself I’ve continued writing at my old job, thanks to generous freelance opportunities from my editor, and started pursuing other gigs. Working freelance has given me almost everything I could have wanted – a connection with my dear co-workers, a way to keep my writing gears moving, income, and some great satisfaction knowing I can make it on my own. The only thing I miss is the health insurance, but I keep telling myself this is all temporary while taking advantage of hand railings, always looking both ways and wearing my bike helmet.
When I first decided to leave the media world, I felt like a failure. I was the one person in my group of friends with a job in their field right out of college. But I’m proof that we’re not meant to discover a singular passion to pursue for the rest of our lives. And truly, I don’t see the move from journalism to teaching as much of a stretch. I thought of my role as a reporter as one of educator – pursuing a story and attempting to explain it in such a way that a wide audience could learn from it. Isn’t this what we aim for in teaching? To trasmit or facilitate lessons in such a way that all of our students learn? Once I made this connection my feelings of failure melted away – I’d found a purpose for my journalism training in supplementing my career as an educator.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Even though I started this as a conversation with myself, I hope you’ll join and offer suggestions and ideas to make me a better teacher.
Tags: journalism, media, Old Dominion University, preservice No Comments »