The TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC – 12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual possesses a basic understanding of the teaching methods and responsibilities associated with becoming an entry-level educator in the Texas public school system. This exam, instead of focusing on a specific level of education as the other Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities Exams do, actually focuses on the teaching methods and responsibilities for educators at any grade level. This exam may be required, instead of the other Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities Exams, in order for an individual to become a certified educator within the state of Texas depending upon the specific position the individual is pursuing. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Designing Instruction and Assessment to Promote Student Learning (34%)
- Creating a Positive, Productive Classroom Environment (13%)
- Implementing Effective, Responsive Instruction and Assessment (33%)
- Fulfilling Professional Roles and Responsibilities (20%)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC – 12 Exam is administered in a computerized format and the registration fee for the exam is $131. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level educator within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss the teacher’s role in the classroom.
Teachers are facilitators and coaches whose main function is to present the required educational material in an interesting, hands-on manner. The information given should relate to the students’ lives in practical ways. Since a primary task of adolescence is learning to understand abstract concepts and acquiring problem-solving skills, it is the instructor’s responsibility to prepare lesson plans that not only teach the facts but also focus on helping students practice using what they have learned. Whether they are college-bound, planning to join the military or headed to the workforce, students must be able to interact with other people in and out of groups, adapt to new technology and institutional change, and logically think through new situations. It is imperative that teachers create an atmosphere that encourages students to develop and utilize these critical skills.
2. Discuss some common characteristics of successful teachers.
While each person’s instructional style is unique, successful teachers share certain characteristics. The most important qualities are attitude and approach:
- A sense of humor will relieve tense situations and make class more pleasant for everyone. Students will look forward to coming and pay attention when they get there.
- A positive attitude helps teachers cope with most situations, both in and out of the classroom.
- Setting realistic expectations and making sure students believe they can reach them is a great motivator and helps students achieve a sense of competence.
- Being consistent creates a safe, predictable learning environment. Students don’t like it when the rules are always changing.
- Being fair means treating all students the same in similar situations.
- Flexibility is critical. Things change, and students expect the teacher to be in charge and in control at all times.
3. Discuss methods to motivate students to want to learn.
Students don’t learn if they are not engaged in the process. They won’t engage in the process if they are not motivated. So just how does a teacher fulfill curriculum requirements and excite students at the same time? Teachers want students to learn, but know it is impossible to force someone to learn and equally impossible to motivate someone to learn. The best a teacher can do is to create an environment that encourages learning and to present challenging lessons and hands-on activities that are interesting, meaningful and relevant to the students’ lives. To prevent boredom and help students retain key concepts, teachers need to build on previously-acquired knowledge and link new data with old information. Teachers should set clear expectations, teach to multiple learning styles, vary presentation approaches, assign projects that require critical thinking and praise when earned, encourage frequently, and discipline when necessary.
4. Discuss the importance of making connections to other parts of the students’ lives.
One of education’s primary functions is to prepare students to be productive members of society. To do that effectively, knowledge gained in school needs be meaningful and make sense to the students. Information learned and skills acquired should be used to understand facts, integrate data and apply lessons learned to problems posed outside of school. The ability to see the relationship between seemingly-unrelated topics and events requires critical thinking and advanced reasoning skills.
Planning lectures, special projects and field trips that explore universal themes and address national or international issues makes lessons real and relevant. For example, a teacher might assign a Stephen King novel, then identify a similar theme in a Shakespearean play, and finally show the relationship of this theme to the political situation in a third world country. This kind of lesson teaches students how to think critically and creatively and make connections to the real world. Use unexpected opportunities to connect school life to real life. For instance, during career day students could interview a guest. They could then write an evaluation of the guest’s profession.
5. Describe cognitive collaboration and discuss its importance.
Cognitive collaboration is the process of utilizing the personal, cultural and factual knowledge of everyone in the group to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a new way of thinking. The individuals in the group are all problem-generators and problem-solvers who provide multiple perspectives from which to tackle the assignment. They are expected to work together, bounce ideas off one another, question and challenge observations and suggestions, and refine their understanding of the subject to reach a consensus. This type of collaborative group approach is highly sought after in the business world. To be effective in a classroom environment, teachers must impress upon students the importance of functioning as a team. The teacher must treat students as members of a dynamic community, and respect the social interactions that encourage learning. The teacher must be involved, interact with each group, ask questions, pose problems, and challenge students to think creatively.
6. Discuss some strategies to help students who have difficulty understanding new concepts.
In spite of compelling lectures, interesting and challenging activities, and inspiring field trips, some students have difficulty understanding new ideas. Sometimes the information is complex and confusing and even the better students have difficulty grasping the key concepts. There are some steps teachers can take to minimize frustration and maximize learning – no matter what the topic. Plan adequate time to prepare, present, discuss and review the data. Allow time to repeat specific lessons if necessary. Introduce new vocabulary, explain historical references and implications, and outline the main concepts using flow charts, diagrams, and appropriate organizers at the beginning of the lesson. Present the information in a variety of ways (i.e., teach to multiple intelligences), so students have an opportunity to learn using their particular style. Encourage cooperative learning, assign peer tutors, and connect new data with previously-acquired knowledge. Use appropriate assessment tools to evaluate student understanding and integration of the new material.
7. Discuss some strategies to help students who have difficulty retaining and retrieving data.
Some students have difficulty retaining and retrieving data. They pay attention during lectures, participate in class discussions and group activities, and complete every written assignment, but they have difficulty committing the data to memory and have trouble retrieving it when they need to apply it. There are some strategies teachers can use to help these students improve their retention rate and retrieval skills. Break instructional units into short, manageable sections and rephrase, review, and repeat key concepts frequently during the presentation. Prepare outlines, study guides and vocabulary lists with important data highlighted, and show the relationship between the new and old information with diagrams, matrices, and maps. Teach students how to visualize important facts and use mnemonics as a memory tool. Use a variety of methods (visual, auditory, tactile) to explain the concepts, and provide concrete examples to demonstrate the relevance of the information to the students’ lives.
8. Discuss some strategies to help students who have difficulty following classroom protocol.
Unruly students do more than disrupt classroom routine and steal time and attention; they prevent fellow students from learning. Teachers have a responsibility to help students acquire self-control and self-monitoring skills. Classroom rules need to be developed, established, explained, posted, and enforced fairly and consistently. If one student is expected to follow the rules, all the students should be expected to follow the rules. If it is unacceptable today, it is unacceptable tomorrow. These two classroom conditions must be at the top of the list. Requiring every student to sign a copy of the rules is a concrete way to help students set personal goals and learn what is acceptable behavior in a community (school is a microcosm of the larger social dynamic). Positive and negative consequences need to be discussed, understood and agreed to before there is an incident and corrective action is needed.
9. Define classroom management.
Classroom management is the set of procedures, strategies and instructional techniques that affect student behavior and learning activities. When the classroom environment is calm, teachers can teach and students can learn. With clearly-defined rules and established routines, there is less discipline and more teaching.
There are many ways teachers can create a harmonious classroom: respect all the cultures represented; be aware of, learn and understand adolescent slang; offer praise and encouragement. Explain the rules clearly, consider the circumstances before taking action, and apply the rules fairly and consistently. Look at situations from the students’ perspective; try to be objective rather than judgmental. A teacher should be willing to admit mistakes; it not only makes him more human, but also tells students it is okay to make a mistake as long as one learns from it. Address problems and issues immediately so they don’t escalate or appear again. Collaborate with the students, ask for their opinions, and offer choices. When students are active participants and believe they are heard, behavior issues are minimized.
10. Define a discipline plan.
Most students respect rules if they are clear, if the consequences are understood and explained ahead of time, and if they are consistently and fairly enforced. Teachers have a responsibility to set parameters and enforce rules. Disruptions and interruptions need to be dealt with immediately to prevent an escalation of the situation. A discipline plan is a written description of acceptable behavior. It provides a framework in which to assess situations, address issues and make changes. It won’t stop or prevent unacceptable behavior, but it does provide a means to identify and deal with it. The plan can be imposed by the teacher or developed with input from the students. Whatever method is used, the plan must be understood by students and parents. Critical elements include:
- RULES are written as positive statements.
- THE INCENTIVE PLAN is clearly defined, easy to understand, fair to everyone.
- POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES are explained and may vary with each rule.
- LIMIT-SETTING ACTS (taken before the next step is invoked) are established.
- NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES are hierarchal steps taken to address unacceptable behavior.