Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feeling Kind of Empty

I will apologize now... I'm sure this post will be a bit long.

The art test was yesterday. I studied all week, but was never very confident in the study material. Did I tell you that I searched for three weeks and only ever found one company that made a study guide for the art test? And when it showed up, it was NOT very impressive. My last book, the one I used to study for the EC-6 test, was laid out perfectly! The test has five domains, or subject areas, and each subject area has 10 or so elements that the Texas Educators Association believes a beginning teacher should have mastered. The TEA, or whoever, makes a manual for each test clearly outlining what you are expected to know. I printed out the manual for each of my tests and have them in notebooks. My first book was laid out point for point explaining each thing outlined in the manual. It was GREAT!

My art book? Not so much. First of all, it was completely black and white, all text. Yeah. You read that right. The ART book didn't have a SINGLE PICTURE in it. No examples of anything they covered. Just sentences. Sentences that were often really disjointed. They would change topics in the middle of a paragraph. It is stapled. So it's the cheapest possible book they could have produced. I know that because we do saddle stitching (stapling) at my work. It ain't fancy! And the first 20 pages were "secrets to acing the test" or crap like that. Pages about getting enough sleep the night before and making rhymes to help you remember facts.

Oh brother.

But it was all I had. It was my plan all along to get through that book, which was mostly a VERY brief review of basic art history, and then spend some time at the library filling in the gaps left by the book.

I can't really make excuses. It was my responsibility to study. But after taking the test yesterday, I almost feel like I had no business being there.

There was so much I didn't know.

I was a design major in school. My classes were pretty much split between computer classes and studio classes, but it was a small school. The studio teachers at OBU were really strong when I was there, and the design teachers were very mediocre. But I've been in the profession for 7 years now. I've learned a lot. A TON about the elements of design and I'm strong in the programs that I know. But it's been 7 years since I've studied art history. I only took Painting 1 & 2, and Drawing 1 & 2. I took two years of Pottery. It was my strongest subject. And I sat in on the Mixed Media class. I couldn't take it out right because it would have put me at 21 hours and I couldn't afford to pay the overload fee. But the teacher was my friend, so I got to sit in on the class. And I took the Art Education class. The one for Education majors that weren't Art Education majors, but still needed to have a basic knowledge of art in the classroom. I learned a lot in my years at Ouachita. It strengthened my love and appreciation for art in ENORMOUS ways!

But I never took Sculpting. And I didn't take Jewelry Making. And they didn't offer Weaving or Carving... and all of those things were on the test. After reading about them for a week, I still encountered LOTS of terms on the test yesterday that I had never heard before. And I left feeling disappointed.

I still believe that I could be a fun, effective art teacher. I had a kick butt middle school art teacher, who made me enjoy and appreciate visual art in a very real way. And I think that I could equal her. But leaving that test, all I could think was "I'm just not up to par". The TEA has high standards for what they want their art teachers to know and be able to do. And right now, it's a mark that I can't hit.

I know that I said that I wasn't sure if I passed the last test, and I ended up doing fairly well. But I'm serious. I probably guessed on half of the questions yesterday. And there were only 80. Well, there were 90 questions, but only 80 will be graded. 10 are sample questions that they throw in to see if they would be good questions on future tests. But I have no idea which 10 will be thrown out.

I'm kind of embarrassed. And I feel sort of empty. I feel like I gave it all I had, and it was like watching a five year old try to drive a car. They think they have the basic idea until they get behind the wheel and proceed to drive the car straight into a lake.

We had a really busy day yesterday so I didn't have much time to dwell on it. But I am completely spent. This was a paper test (my last test was a computer test) so it will take three to four weeks for me to get the score in the mail. Ugh.

Even before yesterday, it was a rough week. While my nights were full of bleary eyes and text books, my days were full of worry. Brett had a rough week. I know I've said that before, but this was really difficult. There is someone at work who was not happy when he was promoted and she has been out to make life difficult for him for months. This week was kind of her magnum opus. We still don't know exactly what went on, but Brett was kind of torn to pieces. And it was terrible to watch. And I wanted to run that girl over with my car. Even without her mucking things up, he was working 12 hour days and worked through lunch on three of those days. He came home exhausted. I found myself daydreaming about us being stranded on a dessert island. That is a fantasy that I used to have all the time, but I was convicted about it a couple of years ago, because I realized how ungrateful it was of me to wish for a different life when God spends EACH DAY pouring out blessings over me. But this week, each day it was a struggle to move forward. I snapped at my boss at work and alienated my only friend there. And it was all I could do to make it through each day. In fact, Friday I couldn't do it. I spent the morning at the library and didn't go to work until noon. I wanted some study time, but I was also shaking in my boots thinking about Brett being surrounded by vipers all day. That last thought is a little dramatic, but only a little.

It's scary when you are moving in a direction and you think that your focus is in the right place, and suddenly, it seems that everything might change. Drastically.

I wanted to be an art teacher. But saying "I want to be a doctor" doesn't suddenly make me qualified to operate on someone. Education is a big deal, and if I'm not qualified to teach children, then God, and the Texas Educators Association, is right to keep me from that. And not being an art teacher NEXT year, doesn't mean that I never will be. I know lots of people who started out in a classroom before moving to a studio.

If I somehow do pass this test, I'm going to go for an art job. Because I really do believe that I could teach it to young people who art just being introduced to it. I never said I could be a college professor! But if I end up in a classroom, I will know that is where I belong. And art DOES have a place in the classroom. So maybe it would be the best of both worlds? Sigh.

The tests are over. Maybe. (I'm starting to consider taking the 4-8 Generalist test because it would be a LOT more schools that I could apply at... more on that later). For the remainder of the month I am going to focus on completing my online course work. There are a dozen or so classes that are online and I would like to have them completed before I finish my face to face classes on March 6. I am doing my observation the last week of this month. There are still a lot of steps to complete, and I'm going to keep doing my best. We'll see where that leads me.

Thanks for the encouragement that a few of you have given me. I appreciate it.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Keep your chin up! The ARt test sounds like a perfect example of the idiocy of the TEA. They may know "things" about education, but the stink at communication.

We're still praying for ya'll. :)