Professional Development Opinion

Revisiting National Board Reflections

By Starr Sackstein — January 03, 2017 1 min read
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Feeling a little stuck lately, I started digging through some of my old work as a way to spawn some inspiration.

In doing so I came across my four tasks for National Board Certification and it served the purpose I needed. Rereading the reflection necessary really helped me connect with something worth sharing.

Below is the introduction to my first task which is an in-depth analysis of my students’ work. If you’ve never done National Board Certification, but are looking for something that will elevate your pedagogy to the next level, I highly recommend it.

They have since changed the process, but at the heart of what is expected is deep teacher reflection and understanding of practice.

Here is a sample of the kind of work you’ll need to do:

Our class is comprised of 35 students of varying ability levels and diverse backgrounds. Because of this, instruction must be scaffolded and differentiated with multiple opportunities for students to show what they know based on their own strengths as learners and the standards. The two selected students address a snapshot of this diversity. Knowing this group of students well, I have a good handle on the needs of this diverse group of students. Student A, is a decertified special education student who works diligently to be successful. He struggles with clarity and focus, but is a strong reader and extremely motivated. Student B, is an ELL student, also diligent in her pursuit of academic excellence struggling with her grasp of the English language and going beyond the literal in both what she reads and writes. The relevant features of the teaching context that helped me select this instruction was the variety the works show. While backward planning for unit assessments, I always consider the breakdown of skills coupled with time allotment and choice. Students are given opportunities in class to develop skills through mini-lessons, whole group and small group instruction as well as one on one conferencing. The drafting process gives a lot of room for differentiation in the way of instructing students with particular needs.Sometimes they are grouped according to those needs and sometimes, they are paired with someone who has a strength to their weakness. Both Student A and Student B offer complex insights to themselves as readers through the assignments provided. They are both 17 year old students, one boy and one girl who have been studying at my school for last 7 years (it's a 6-12 school). They both have English language learning challenges as Student A is a decertified special education student and Student B is a decertified English Language Learner from China. Student A is able to vividly interact with texts reading often complex pieces of literature of his own choosing and engaging me in conversations about what he has read. I've often enjoyed these kinds of conversations which show his love for reading and his deep interest in the written word. Student B, reads because she has to. She struggles sometimes with seeing the deeper insights provided by a novel because she is bogged down by a literal understanding which I believe comes from the fact that English isn't her native language.

What comes after this above excerpt is 13 pages of close reading of student work, what I learned about each child and more importantly what I learned about my craft and how to better it from their work. As with any assessment for learning, we need to review student work and then adjust our practice and expectations based on what we see. Students can only learn in an atmosphere that is flexible and responsive to their needs. Great teachers know how to make the revisions over time and then on the fly.

National Board is an excellent way to take a deep look at your practice and make some necessary adjustments based on the findings. It truly changed who I am as a teacher.

Are you considering National Board? What’s holding you back? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.