Hard to believe but school starts tomorrow at WCS! This is from March 28, 2010.
If you are a regular reader, you know I teach Bible at Westbury Christian School in Houston. What you may not know is that my Bachelor's and Master's degrees are in Social Science and during my education career, I've held teaching certifications in Arkansas and Tennessee. Several years ago, I promised our then Headmaster, Robert McCloy, that I would fulfill the requirements for teacher certification in the Lone Star State. It's a fairly simple two step process. In a short time, I passed the Social Science exam for the license, which I felt good about considering I hadn't taught in that area for years. That left the P.P. R. (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities) test for me to navigate and become an official Texas instructor. Shortly after passing the first part of the certification, my father had a stroke which put quite a few things on hold. His deteriorating health and ultimate death followed a year later by Mom's passing made it easy for me to keep certification on the back burner. Still, I kept promising Dr. Lacey, our upper school administrator, that I would get around to completing my vow. Yesterday, I went to a review session held at our school and took a P.P.R. practice test. We were allowed to grade our own papers when finished. I rushed through the eighty questions, wanting to finish quickly and do my normal Saturday stuff. My grade was 59/80 correct answers or 74%. Texas requires a minimum score of 70% so without even glancing over any material, I passed. The next step is the real test scheduled at my convenience. The downside is the $120 fee for the P.P.R. which, of course, is forfeited if you fail. The thought of losing money is abhorrent so I'll make sure I pass. We all need motivation!
I have a confession: I don't care how I do on the actual P.P.R. test as long as I make a 70%. I preach to my students about the dangers of sliding by but truthfully, that's all I want to do. Passing the test won't make me a better teacher and I won't even be certified in my subject area. (No state has a teaching license in Bible.) I understand why it looks better for our school to have teachers certified in Texas and not just in the state of their student teaching. I also understand that it is vitally important for states to be able to determine by testing who is qualified to be in the classroom. Still, I admit I'm simply fulfilling a commitment that I made and fulfilling it with minimum effort. (There is one more requirement once I pass the P.P.R. exam. Texas requires finger printing of all teaching licensees so I will be in the data base!)
Let me ask a question. Do we ever feel in our walk with the Lord like I feel about this certification process? Are we content to get by with expending as little energy as possible? Are with happy to be skin of our teeth Christians? Are we comfortable with our level of knowledge and service in the Kingdom? Let me be clear- I absolutely love teaching and I'm proud of the work I do and I'm extremely proud of our school. But since in my particular situation it doesn't matter what score I make as long as it is the magic 70, or D-, I don't feel the need to push myself to make a 100% like I did in my college days. I mean, no one will know but me and some paperwork that will be filed under my name. That's an easy trap for me to fall into as a believer. The one question I don't tolerate from my students when answering a discussion question is, 'How long does this have to be?' or translated, 'What is the least I can do and not get into trouble?' I pray my standards are much higher when it comes to the Book Of Life. There's no do overs for that exam.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom. To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.''
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org