HHH's National Board Certified Teachers were asked to share their certification experience and the impact the experience had in their classrooms. As there are several HHH members who are currently going through the certification process themselves or who are contemplating participating in the future, teachers also shared some advice for those members.

The HHHTA is proud to share these stories with the HHH Community!

1.  What prompted you to go through the process to become a NBCT?

While grade level teachers have colleagues that work through their curriculum as a team, as a special area teacher in a elementary school, I felt that I was not part of a "team" .  The National Board Certification process afforded me an opportunity to not only be SELF reflective, but to also become part of a team.  It gave me an opportunity to discuss the planning, implementation and assessment of my lessons with BOTH, general education AND special area teachers.  I found it useful to work through the process with teachers of various grade levels.  As a "reader" for THEIR lessons, I was able to get in in depth vision of the continuum of education; where the students are coming from, where they are going to (both developmentally and cognitively).

2. How did the certification process impact your classroom (ie: increase in parental involvement, improved teaching techniques, becoming more reflective)?

While going through the NBCT process, I noticed that I was planning my lessons differently. I was expanding the resources that I used to meet the standards of my curriculum area. I became cognizant of the need for more varied materials. While I always differentiated skill level, I rarely included music that was "off the beaten path". I realized that I needed to include more cultural/ethnic music in my classroom experience.  This realization immediately added excitement to my lessons (and my classroom).  An added bonus was the student/family involvement that occurred. Many of our often "hard to reach" immigrant families CONTACTED ME to ask if they could present music from their cultures.

On a more personal level, my assessment and record keeping improved as well. I began including the assessment in my planning (sort of a "backward design"). Since I needed to write about the assessment opportunities, I began noting those opportunities right on my lesson plans, which reminded me to take note and keep track. Grading is much easier now!

3. If you could give one piece of advice to someone going through the certification process, what would it be? 

I remind new participants that this process is NOT about CHANGING your teaching. It's about noticing what you do NOW, how it AFFECTS your students and THEN, after reflection, how you might change or add to what you are ALREADY DOING, so your teaching can become even more affective to even more of your students.

It's about finding the evidence of WHAT YOU DO WELL and increasing that. It's about noticing the things that can be changed or tweaked, not about reinventing yourself or your classroom.

Give the process the attention it deserves, but be careful about allowing it to overtake all you do. Find a group of people to read your work and then trust their opinions and comments, but remember to also trust your own "gut" feelings. This process is SELF reflective, it's about YOUR classroom and YOUR teaching.