See what I did there?! For those who don’t know, the Praxis Series are the tests one must take to obtain a teaching certification in the United States. There are tests for every content area and grade level, and everyone has to take more than one. To be certified to teach Secondary English Language Arts, I am required to pass the English Language, Literature and Composition: Content, English Language, Literature and Composition: Essays and the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) for grades 7-12. The content test is all multiple choice, essays are (you guessed it!) solely essays, and the PLT is a mixture. I took two yesterday and I’ve written about my communication with ETS and more about the tests, but that’s where this post delves into the horrifically boring, so I saved it for the end.
This is the big week! I depart on Wednesday morning and getting really excited! I’ve said my fond farewells to my pals in the program and I’m starting to do the rounds here in Cincinnati. My first stop (as per usual when I come home) was Kim and Rob Guy’s; I said bye to my buddies Will and Tori, whom I’ve been babysitting since I was a baby.
I’m all packed but I know I’m going to unpack and repack a few more times before I leave, and I remembered to grab my travel wallet (and passport) from my apartment in Lexington right before I left. That would certainly have been an unpleasant surprise! I don’t know what else to say about material preparations because that’s all I’ve been writing about here.
But! I do have something to say about my professional preparations! I have been doing a few weeks of observations at Elkhorn Crossing School (for those of you that know her, it’s where Aunt Kim teaches) and (drumroll please) I got to teach this week! Now, I didn’t teach content because that would have been a huge jump from doing nothing; I taught an activity. Super huge thanks to Amanda Burrows, who let me hijack her classes! Anywho, I had the kids start writing Diamante poems after I did a brief lesson with them. I taught in two classes, and the first class was a little rough because I was not as on top of things as I should have been and because the kids were a little more needy than they were in the second class. What I was most nervous about was seeming like a teacher (which is kind of important when you’re a teacher). I felt teacher-y for the most part, and the kids were great — respectful, funny and engaged. As much as I felt like I hadn’t done my best after those two periods, I definitely loved doing it. So that’s a good sign!
Ok, so here’s where it gets boring and I start talking about the Praxis. (If you want to find out why I’m taking my third test in Rome, though, read on!)
Guess what though! I took two Praxis (Praxii?) yesterday, so I only have one left (provided I pass). The Praxis is set up in such a way that most people can take more than one on a given day (tests are proctored in 2-hour sessions, with 2 sessions on each testing day) so I took the PLT and my multiple-choice content. I am pretty confident that I scored well enough to meet Kentucky’s minimums, but each state has different requirements for the Praxis. For instance, to pass the content test in Kentucky, I am required to get a 160 on an 200-point scale, but to pass in Ohio, I’d have to get a 167. Regarding the two tests I took (at the crack of dawn) yesterday, I feel more confident about the content, if only because it was all multiple choice. The PLT was a lot of writing, and by the time I got to the PLT I was exhausted…so I’m not certain my answers made a ton of sense. I’ll find out in 4 weeks though!
Now, the third test I have to take — the essays — has created a lot of anxiety and some registration problems. The test, because it’s “low volume”, is only offered on certain testing dates (unlike the content and PLT, which can be taken on any testing date), so this year it was offered in November and will be offered again in March and June. I didn’t have a chance to take it in November, and because I am going to be in Sweden on the March testing date, I was planning on taking it in June. BUT! We had a student teaching seminar on January 10th — which I wasn’t required to go to but thank goodness I did — and during this seminar, we were informed that we can’t even apply for our certification until after Praxis scores come back. If I took it in June like I originally planned, I wouldn’t get scores until mid- to late July which would mean (after processing and approval time) that I wouldn’t be certified until late August and maybe even early September. Since most schools in and around Lexington (where I’d want to work) start in early August, this timeline made me pretty much unemployable by them.
That in mind, I was curious as to whether the Praxis was offered at international sites, and turns out, it is! However, when I tried to register, I was told that the test I needed to take wouldn’t be offered there and that I would have to take it in the US. When I called ETS (Educational Testing Services) to ask them about it, I was told that it wasn’t usually offered there but if I specifically (in writing) requested a test, they would be required to offer it internationally. This is the low-volume thing again; they don’t count on the English Language, Literature and Composition: Essays test having a lot of interest internationally (most are math, science) they don’t advertise it as being available. The only hitch in my giddy-up (I now had the location and the form I needed to fill out) was that the deadline for registration was less than 48 hours away and I had to register by snail mail. I ended up having to overnight my registration and was still not given a guarantee that it would reach them by that Thursday (I went to the Post Office on Tuesday). Buuuuut, as I’m sure you gathered, It reached them! They deposited my (heinous) registration by-mail + international test fee and I’m all set to take my third (and final) Praxis in ROME! It’ll be at St. Stephen’s School, and since it’s a pretty important thing, I’m staying at a real place (as opposed to a fake place [a hostel]) where they do wake up calls and call taxis for you. It’s called Aventino Guest House. I’ll definitely be sleeping in style … and right down the road from the Colosseum.
Also, for those confused, older readers of mine (ahem DAD), any time I have a link you can click on, it shows up as the underlined red text. Click those for more information on what I’m talking about! Next time I post I’ll be in Linköping! EEK!