Although the National Board journey made me break into shingles, I would go through all the stress again in a heartbeat. This process stretched my mind, it refocused my teaching pedagogy, and it opened my heart. The five propositions challenged me to focus on my students. It taught me to see who they were as individuals, not just numbers in a chair. The National Board standards encouraged me get to know my students. I set personal goals to talk to each student every day. I found out their hobbies, their passions, their motivation, and their backgrounds. With this knowledge, I was able to cater my state standards and teaching expectations to my students’ interests, so we could reach proficiency while incorporating their interests. When I found out most of the students liked to draw, I added artwork to my lesson plans and instead of doing worksheets to show plot diagrams, we used pictures and created comic books. The students were so successful when they were able to learn in their own way.
As teachers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but when I started implementing the National Board questions, perspectives, and challenges, I found the students were more successful; they were having fun learning, and they were excited to come to class and work! This of course motivated me and rejuvenated my passion for teaching. When I found out the students liked sports, I changed my novel choices, and the kids got really into the book. We did a collaborative Socratic Circle, and I couldn’t get the kids to stop talking about the book! They complained when the bell rang and they had to stop! When I found out more about their backgrounds, I changed my essay prompts, and their writing improved dramatically. They began participating more in class since I was using topics they were interested in. When I focused on the students and I added more technology to my teaching and assessments, their scores skyrocketed because they were excited to work on new computer programs and implement iPad apps.
The National Board process took the monotony out of teaching and challenged me to find what would help the students in my class. I realized teaching doesn’t have to be the same activity every year or class period for every student; I can create learning that is catered to my students, and when they feel like someone cares about them and who they are, they excel academically! This focus on the kids made my classes more unified, created more respect through collaboration, and taught me that teaching isn’t a one size fits all. Assignments can be tweaked for individual students and can be modified to specific goal setting for different level students.
This journey toward National Board certification motivated me, and I was excited to go to work; I was happy to see the kids, and I wanted more than anything to make each one improve and become a lifelong lover of education. This journey put the focus on my students and teaching became fun again because the students were excited to learn, and that interest made them succeed. The National Board journey was all encompassing. My strategies increased, my students became my focus, and I fell in love with teaching again.