I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for the exam this week because it felt like reminiscing. It was an easy walk down memory lane because the fundamentals of chemistry have not changed since my high school tour in the 70’s. Catching up with everything else, however, may be a Rip Van Winkle experience.
Testing has certainly changed. I was instructed to bring two forms of photo identification and be prepared to submit to a palm vein scan. Hopefully no needles will be involved. No personal items, including watches, are allowed in the exam room. When I asked about pencil and paper, I was told that for “security reasons, a white board and a dry-erase marker” will be provided. The test will be 255 minutes long with 125 questions.
My attitude has changed. The closer I came to the exam, the more excited I became. I circled around each chapter to get different perspectives. I was online with the likes of Kahn Academy and in person at the Public Library. I realized that this is the first time in my life that I have had the luxury of focusing on one subject for long stretches of uninterrupted time and I wanted to make the most of it. Former classmates will vouch for the extent of this change, if they believe it.
I imagine that teaching has also changed. I wonder what smart phones, teacher evaluations, content flipping, new standards, online text books, and BYOD have done to the classroom that I remember. I wonder about the teachers that I remember: how would they feel about today’s expectations? Parker Palmer describes teaching as a communal, moral, internal journey. Charlotte Danielson models that teachers are masters of four domains, 22 components, and 76 elements. TeachPlus proposes that teachers are leaders and shapers of public policy. State Departments expect that teachers provide continuous improvement as measured by student test scores.
Which leads to the biggest question of all: How have the students changed?
I hope to learn the answers to some of these questions at Interface 2014 this week, or at least meet teachers who have the same questions. Meanwhile, as Vitale wrote and Walsh sang:
“I can remember all the good times
Put ’em in a book of memories
Hopin’ that our book will never end
Hopin’ that our book will never end.”
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