(from left) Anne Eichman, Jeff Newton, and Tami Ribbens Posted: January, 10, 2018 - 8:23pm Teachers earn National Board Certification Social studies teacher Anne Eichman, science teacher Jeff Newton, and P.E. teacher Tami Ribbens recently completed the rigorous National Board Certification program. Here is what they had to say about their experience and how they expect it to impact their practice in the classroom: Anne Eichman, social studies teacher Q: Why did you decide to challenge yourself by working toward National Board Certification? A: I had considered beginning the National Board Certification process at two previous times in my career, but had not pursued it for several reasons. When I heard that the district was making this opportunity available [through a cohort], I was excited to finally pursue it with the added advantage of working with colleagues and a district that supported the initiative. In addition, I am interested in creating opportunities for myself to be a stronger teacher leader among my peers. I am always looking for a new challenge and for ways to improve and enhance my classroom teaching. The process to become nationally board certified gave me the opportunity to do all of this. Q: What is something that you learned about yourself as an educator through the process? A: Two takeaways for me: - I learned that I am very good at engaging students in analytical and relevant discussions in my classroom. One of the components to the certification process was video recording aspects of my teaching/facilitating and then analyzing those aspects in writing. While doing this, I realized that my students are actively and thoughtfully engaged in the material at a much higher level than I originally thought. The feedback that I received from the National Board confirmed that this is definitely an area of strength for me as a teacher. It makes me very happy to know that my students are engaging with each other and with the material in a meaningful and informed manner. - I learned that I need to do a better job of collecting data and allowing it to inform my future instructional decisions. For two of the components, the certification process specifically asked for pre and post data and then an analysis of how that data had or would inform future actions. While I could prove that I had collected the data and had used it to some extent, the feedback that I received from the National Board was that I should be even more intentional in using that information. Q: How has / will your experience impact your classroom? A: Because of my experience with the National Board Certification process, I am more aware of the need to elicit information ABOUT my students FROM my students. One of the key components of the certification is “knowing your students.” I realized just how important it is to frequently ask students what is working or not working for them and to ask them to self-evaluate. Jeff Newton, science teacher Q: Why did you decide to challenge yourself by working toward National Board Certification? A: My initial interest was driven by the long time frame that the certification was valid for (it was ten years between renewal although now it is five), the ability to teach anywhere in the country without taking state-specific certification tests, and in the stipend offered by the district. Q: What is something that you learned about yourself as an educator through the process? A: I learned that it was possible to improve my teaching when I devoted the time (via completing National Board submissions) to being more reflective about my teaching practice and learning outcomes for my students. I learned I needed to connect on a deeper level with my students to help them be more successful learners. Q: How has / will your experience impact your classroom? A: I will use what I learned as part of the National Board Certification process and continue to be more reflective on my teaching practice in the future. Tami Ribbens, P.E. teacher Q: Why did you decide to challenge yourself by working toward National Board Certification? A: It was something I always had in the back of my mind since hearing about it in graduate school. I viewed it as the highest accomplishment a teacher could earn, aside from a doctoral degree. I was interested in striving to be the best I could. Q: What is something that you learned about yourself as an educator through the process? A: I learned how much I could accomplish when I set my mind to it and that hard work pays off. I had to sacrifice a lot and manage my time very well to complete the components to the best of my ability. I missed outings with my family on weekends so I could work, I would have to figure out times I would have the opportunity to work for a few hours straight between my husband’s work schedule and both of my daughters’ activities. I was proud of myself that I set a goal, worked as hard as I could and achieved it. It was something that pretty much consumed my time and my thoughts for MANY months during each school year. I also learned about how much support I have around me; from my husband who never complained when I needed to leave the house and leave the kids with him in order to work, or my parents who helped out when my husband couldn’t, my co-workers for their support, help, and lending a listening ear when needed, and the students who helped to encourage me and ask questions about the process. Q: How has / will your experience impact your classroom? A: This experience has helped me grow as a teacher. It has taught me the value of collecting different types of data and how to reflect on the data collected to try to give every student the best education and opportunities as possible.