Teaching Opinion

Reflecting on National Board Certification Through the Eyes of a Leader

By Starr Sackstein — November 15, 2018 1 min read
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As a teacher, deciding to take on National Board certification was a means to pushing myself professionally.

I eagerly took on the challenge because I wanted to be the best teacher I could be. Years had passed since my teacher education program, and I knew it was time to dig deep into my practice because I wasn’t getting feedback from my leadership that helped me improve.

Now as a leader, looking back at the work I did to achieve this certification, I’m reminded of the dedication it took and how important it is for me to provide our school team with the highest-quality feedback and at the same time, encourage them to take on new professional challenges that will inspire them to keep moving forward.

Here is the reflection from my fourth task of National Board certification. It is always useful for me to look back on where I have grown as an educator. This task asked me to look at my commitments and involvement in the community and my professional growth. As educators, we must get involved with our communities and our own personal and professional development.

Being a part of a community requires active participation in the lives and happenings of all involved. Whether it is the students, parents, local community, or school staff, sharing information and learning from each other is essential to the success of the whole. Over my career, my commitment to self-improvement as a learner has propelled me forward as a knowledgeable and well-respected member of my school team. I have eagerly participated in schoolwide, vertical-team and grade-level-team collaborations and professional development that helped round out my ability to be effective in my classroom providing a more diverse learning experience. Each of my accomplishments fit together to fill the gaps of my earlier career. Joining a professional teacher’s organization has broadened my network of support and offered greater opportunity for professional outreach which allows me to collaborate with other master teachers in improving what I can provide to the students. My involvement makes me keenly aware of changes, challenges, and innovations in education as they are happening. The larger my network becomes, the more I can bring to my students to prepare them for the world. This can be seen in the daily processes in my classroom with the high expectations and strict enforcement of deadlines that instill a sense of pride and responsibility in each child. Teaching seniors requires a certain temperament that I feel uniquely qualified for. Always striving myself to excel and wanting to push my students to do the same. In the future, my goals will always be to remain relevant in and out of the classroom so that as my students graduate, they aren’t a part of the growing population who aren’t ready for college. Rigorous classes, high expectations, a reasonable workload with multiple opportunities to achieve mastery of common-core standards foster the overall environment that can be consistently expected of my space. My reputation at the school is that of stern authority with an overwhelming willingness to give of myself to help every student be successful by corresponding with them via email in a number of formats as well as person-to-person conferences. Given the patterns I’ve been able to recognize in looking at myself as a learner and instructor in and out of the classroom, I feel that my modest and honest portrayal of what I’m learning every day serves as a model of what I expect from my students. People make mistakes; I’m not exempt from that, but the prompt admission and correction of those missteps offer students the ability to recognize that mistakes can be good. As long as we each seek to improve, then the positive movement forward can only increase our productivity and thirst for the acquisition of wisdom. More education is always in my future, to solidify as a model that learning never ends, no matter how smart a person may seem. The educational opportunities I experience will serve my students while providing me with a chance to be a student myself. The close connection to meeting deadlines and persevering through frustration endears my students’ struggles to me as it did this summer. The empathetic teacher is one who models appropriate behaviors, never takes what he/she knows for granted, and humbly admits what still needs learning. One challenge at a time, I plan on conquering my own quest for knowing, paving the road for my students. Each opportunity that befalls me becomes another chance to reach out to the community and share experiences and knowledge. As a student, a parent, and a professional partner, the pursuit of knowing is infinite as are the opportunities to get closer to true wisdom. My students know I never give up on them. They know I will reteach, enlist their parents, give multiple opportunities to meet the standards. However, I see I am at times too eager for the students to jump to the higher-level thinking they will need for college. I need to be vigilant in assessing my students’ readiness for college-level tasks and provide scaffolds and bridges to help them make the leap. Learning from every challenge and potential mistake rather than fearfully living in the embarrassment of them, I will continue to push forward.

After rereading my thoughts from this reflection, I’m amazed at how much I have grown as an educator since then. Each year, I have pushed myself harder and further to become an invested participant in the educational world.

As a leader, it is my duty to continue to grow and foster an environment that helps others to do the same. Purposefully, I work with each member of our team to develop professional goals and then help them to successfully achieve them. This is an important part of what I do and I’m eager to support our teachers in any way I can, not just for school initiatives but for personal growth.

What big challenge will you take on this year and how will it impact your school community? The larger educational community? Please share

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