Short Story - Certification

Certification

After years of school as an adult, while working full time and raising my son, I was really not looking forward to my retake of the teacher certification test. The first time I took it (and ‘not passed’) was an incredible experience. I look back and can only laugh.

I was instructed to arrive at the testing site, an elementary school, 45 minutes prior to the start of the exam. At that time, all students were herded into the auditorium, where we were read very specific instructions about what is and is not permitted at the testing site and in the exam rooms. For example, water is not permitted unless it is in a clear, plastic bottle with the label removed. No mechanical pencils. No purses or bags. Nothing with a power button, including cell phones, iPods, iPads, smart phones, mp3 players, etc., unless you are taking a Math test, and then only certain graphing calculators from a State-approved list are permitted.

After the rules were read, we were escorted to classrooms, complete with elementary school sized desks and chairs, to take our certification exams. The rules were again read. It was announced that the bathrooms would be closed for the first 45 minutes to hour of the exam. The testing proctors then began coming around the class to clear the memories of everyone’s graphing calculators.

One of the testing students in my room did not have an approved calculator. She had a scientific calculator, and said that was all she had. She was told it was not permitted, which she should have known prior to coming to take the exam because the list of approved calculators was sent with the admission ticket. She burst into hysterics and began asking if anyone had an extra calculator. (They are $100+ calculators; not likely anyone would be carrying an extra. Besides, we were not permitted to bring any purses or bags into the room. Where would we keep an extra calculator?) At this time, she is instructed to calm down or security would escort her out. My nerves were beginning to fray.

Then someone’s cell phone went off. I couldn’t believe it. After the 45 minute lecture that included “NOTHING WITH A POWER BUTTON”? We were held up until security arrived to escort him out. It occurred to me that I had begun to tremble and was having trouble writing my name.

The next announcement? “The bathrooms are now closed.”  I don’t care if you haven’t had anything to drink in a month, as soon as you are told you cannot use the bathroom, that’s exactly what you need to do! All I could think of was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop saying, “There is no bathroom!”

By the time the test began, I couldn’t remember my name. I’m not kidding. So when I opened the test booklet and had to find the volume of a rectangular prism, I drew a complete blank. I couldn’t have added a column of figures at that point.

This time, before the test, I took some precautionary steps. I had eggs for breakfast, because I knew I would need protein to get me through the four hour exam. I did not have any coffee (which is a diuretic) and drank just one glass of milk. I made sure I had new batteries in my (State-approved) graphing calculator. I removed the label from my bottle of water. I had two sharpened, non-mechanical pencils with new erasers. And earplugs.

This time I passed the test. I am now certified to teach math to middle school students. In spite of all the controversy surrounding ‘common core’, I will spend the rest of my working years doing what I love, and thanking my lucky stars there will be no more State certification tests.

Author: Serena Tabor Google+ Page

Teacher, Jewelry Maker, and Lazy Blogger. Finding a quiet place in a chaotic world.

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