Monday, September 17, 2012

The Real Teacher's Test

Exam for Licensure in English Language and Literature
Using your answer sheet, please color in the corresponding circle to the correct answer.  Do not discuss the contents of this test upon pain of death.  In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know that we’ve bugged your car and your cell phone and own the rights to your account on gmail, Facebook, and your diary.

1.       Which of the following best represents beliefs common in 9th century Chinese writing?
A)     My family is everything to me.                              
B)     I respect my ancestors.                                        
C)  When am I going to teach this?
D)  All of the above.

2.       Who wrote A Christmas Carol?
A)     Mark Twain                                                         
B)     George W. Bush               
C)   J.K. Rowling
D)   Charles Dickens                                   

3.       Who plagiarized his/her essay on A Christmas Carol?
A)     Your top-scoring student; she was too busy playing varsity volleyball last night to actually write the essay you’d assigned a week ago.                                               
B)    Your middle-scoring student; nothing says mediocre like handing in someone else’s essay.  But don’t try to find it on the web, because he paid for it through a private site.
C)    Your lowest-scoring student; they’ve decided to suddenly care, and hey, Christmas is coming.  They want to be able to show Mom a good report card.
D)    Your second-to-lowest scoring student.  Mommy “helped” him write it by cribbing most of it from  When confronted, she will take full blame.
E)     Your second-to-highest scoring student.  A friend will defend him, telling you that he didn’t plagiarize it; his friend wrote it for him, and he copied it from

4.       You have over 100 essays to correct, and your next essay is supposed to be assigned next week.  You ___.
A)     multitask by wielding a red pen in one hand (or green – we’d hate for the students to feel like we’re criticizing them), and a pint of whiskey in the other
B)    multitask by having a student with a low average come to your house and earn extra credit by reading the essays aloud while you dictate notes, clean the floor, do the dishes, make dinner, and clean your infant’s poo-soaked diaper (not necessarily in that order)
C)    pace yourself to 20 essays a day and push back the assigning of the next essay until you can once again discern student handwriting from the dying pencil-grasping twitches of a raccoon
D)    look at the work being taken home by a colleague in another department (who has 20 fewer students) and wonder why you teach the subject you do.  After all, everyone can speak English, and we’re falling way behind in math and science

5.       You turn on the news to see that it’s another segment on “Education Nation.”  When the reporter begins to compare high school teachers to college professors, “who earn their tenure” (emphasis hers), you promptly __.
A)     throw your plate of dinner at her head, destroying the TV that wasn’t yet paid for
B)    go outside and run your aggression out until you vomit
C)    try to forget it by remembering which parents you have to call the next day
D)    All of the above

6.       On Sunday nights, you typically __.
A)     tell your significant other that after dealing with over 100 people a day for five days, you were looking forward to not going to a party on Friday.  Or ever again.
B)    go to bed early to combat the sleep-deprivation you’ll be facing on Tuesday
C)    check your email for that essay that student promised (again) to send you.  But don’t get too angry, and don’t subtract points.  Remember, they have a mother who’s influential on the school board, and they have a learning disability that allows assignments to be handed in up to three months after the due date
D)    check the status of the resume you posted on

7.       Quick, what’s Standard 12.4 about? (You have five seconds to answer.  Go!)
A)    It’s about how knowing which standard is which makes me an awesome teacher.
B)    It’s about how to recognize the smell of pot on a student’s sweatshirt.
C)    It’s about how much jargon you should put on your white board so you can convince any administrator who walks by that you’re an awesome teacher.
D)    It’s about how your union dues might as well get flushed down a dirty, stinking toilet.
E)     It’s about how the public hates that you have a union.

8.       Which of the following would you most like?  Remember, you can only pick one.
A)    A room with a working thermostat.
B)    A room with enough space for 32 students.
C)    A room with a window.
D)    A room with a working ventilation system so you don’t smell like a soggy dog sock by the end of the day.
E)     None of the above; this was a trick question.  You're lucky you have a job.

9.       A student has forgotten his notebook for the eighth day in a row.  You __.
A)    give him one
B)    smack him with his neighbor’s
C)    send him to the office; they’ll love to deal with an infraction like this
D)    send him to guidance to talk about his lack of study skills
E)     give him a detention so that you get to stay in your dirty sock-smelling room for more time

10.   A student punches another one in the face in the middle of a lesson, seemingly at random.  You __
A)     tell them to please pause while you call for a rover to take them to the office
B)     tell the other students to push their desks away to give them the best boxing/wrestling/fight-club ring possible
C)    punch the attacker in the face
D)    yell for them to stop (even though they have no reason to actually listen, which, if they realized, could unite the two enemies as leaders of a full-on revolt)
E)     do not touch them at all; they could sue you for it
F)     dive between them like Superman and hope you don’t lose a tooth

11.   A student accuses you of picking on them.  Your administration will most likely __.
A)     investigate the accusation by asking other students in the class of their impressions, asking you for your version last
B)    tell the student that, given his history of accusing his first grade teacher of assault and then having his mother tell all of her friends that she loved getting the town to pay for her new bathroom, they are disinclined to take him all that seriously, but they would anyway because he is, after all, an innocent child.  You, on the other hand, are not.
C)    use it as an excuse to fire you and hire someone much cheaper
D)    call the parent and apologize on your behalf, then remove the student from your class

12.   Crystal tells you that she couldn’t do her homework last night because her baby was crying.  You ___.
A)     tell her that a good smack will shut any brat up
B)     tell her that some lives are tougher than others
C)     ask if the father is in class to corroborate this story
D)     smile, giggle, and ask for pictures of the baby

13.   On the day before classes begin, you ___.
A)     don’t need to do anything because despite not getting paid for it, you’ve been in over the summer to get your room ready, complete with supplies you paid for yourself but which never amount to enough to declare on your taxes
B)    ask guidance if any of your students have problems you should know about.  But wait, your class lists aren’t done yet.  And even if they were, the information you want is private.  If any students do have restraining orders against them, just make sure they aren’t seated next to each other
C)    hide in one of your cabinets; you’ve been taking yoga, so you can fit
D)    copy all of your handouts and upload them to the class website; students can’t be held responsible for holding on to actual pieces of paper in this digital age

Thank you for taking this test.  After multiple classes in which you have studied educational theory and perhaps one class that focuses on actual practice, but not in a setting that is in any way representational of a true classroom, you are ready to lead the next generation into America’s history books.  To show our thanks, we will pay you less than what a part-time, out of shape prostitute would make working solely daytime shifts at a gentleman’s club located in the middle of nowhere.  We will also vilify you in public on a nearly weekly basis in the media, and whatever you do, however hard you work and however exhausted you feel, know that we blame any student or parental failure chiefly on you.  The politicians especially will do this.  You can’t blame them, really, I mean parents are their constituents.  So chin up.  After all, the feeling you get from teaching is priceless, right?  So who needs a salary, benefits and respect? 

Sorry.  Was that negative?  There are good moments -- great moments -- in teaching.  But after today, when most of my students chose not to do their homework (again), I just can't see them.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, those moments will be there.  After all, tomorrow is another day.  Scarlet O'Hara for president, anyone?

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