* A new year!

I’m looking forward to putting 2016 in an attic box, out of sight and out of mind.  Of course, that reminds me of what a pastor used to say: You might prefer the cards you have already been dealt.  Uh-uh.  Not this year.  I’ve never been good at cards and this has felt like a losing hand.  I know it’s not, but I’m stumbling.  What I need is a good snowfall.  Or more chocolate, which my dearest teaching widower just plopped into my hand.

The antidote to this malaise is gratitude.  So thanks, dear Miss Emily, for your Three Things Thursday challenge.  Here goes.  First, our son and his wife bought me something amazing for Christmas.  It just arrived and wow, I am loving it!  ipad-air2-hero

Yep, it’s the iPad Air 2 (I added a Zagg shield and Incipio case).  I am still pushing down guilty feelings because this is such an extravagance.  Ooh la la!  Now I am creating courses for Tiny Tap!  I’ve wanted to do that for so long, but needed an iOS.  This iPad is a gift that keeps on giving!

I’m thankful for the thousands of answered prayers this past year.  And the millions of unanswered prayers, because only God knows what’s good for me and others.

I also thankful for the precious kiddos I teach and their amazing families.  These kids work sooooo hard, face heartbreaking challenges, and inspire me to press on.  Their parents/guardians are incredible.  They invite me into their hearts and homes, enriching my life beyond measure.

Let’s hear it for 2017!  Snow, chocolate, and teaching, not necessarily in that order.

 

* #teamNBCT: renewal

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As we come to the end of a week’s celebration of National Board Certification, how apt to consider the renewal process.  I have already renewed my certification once and look forward to another renewal opportunity in about 5 years.

Why should National Board Certified teachers renew their certification?  First, I would ask anyone to explain why they shouldn’t renew!  This certification is far more rigorous than at the state level.  It’s my hope that all educators and licensing agencies across the country would recognize the NB process as the ultimate professional achievement.

Why renew if you have retired from fulltime teaching?   I will renew because I am a lifelong learner and still have room to grow.  I owe it to my students, whether I’m teaching part-time or fulltime, to be the best teacher I can be.  If I should ever stop teaching, I will continue to share my experiences and support others; current National Board certification both validates and encourages my attempts to give back to the field of education.

This week’s reflection on National Board certification has helped me better appreciate the countless hours that others have poured into this endeavor.  To those with the vision, the determination, and the willingness to score all these portfolios- thank you for advancing our awesome profession!

* #teamNBCT: mentors

In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

One of the most satisfying aspects of becoming certified has been the opportunity to mentor other teachers through the same process.  I found it interesting that I could mentor folks from general ed to PE to special ed.  In all cases, I was looking for those 5 core propositions and knowledge of the standards unique to their fields.  Sure, I had to keep referring to the standards, but what a privilege to walk alongside those marvelous teachers!

All candidates must videotape at least once for their portfolios, which made for fascinating viewing and analysis.  The cool part was that even those inevitable glitches did not spell doom.  In fact, if teachers can see where and how they “missed” something, it becomes an effective part of the NB process.  I would have been a little worried if someone didn’t catch the kid facing the wrong way throughout a lesson.  And that brings back a memory….

Years before my own certification, I used videotaping routinely to observe my own behavior and that of the kids.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as eagle-eyed as I became during the National Board experience.  I remember a principal asking me to share a classroom video of my self-contained class with uncertain parents of a prospective student.

I pulled out a video (filmed with parents’ permission!) and we watched a 20 minute segment.  The couple who observed were reassured and entertained, but all I could see was a kiddo with his finger up his nose the ENTIRE lesson!  Yikes!  Somehow, that had escaped me, both during teaching and when I’d observed the video itself.

The bottom line is that all my mentees received NB certification.  And there were no kids with wayward fingers on their videotapes.

* #teamNBCT: professionals

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In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

When I first heard about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, I was a bit doubtful that it would impact the teaching profession.  I’d been around long enough to know that my salary didn’t reflect my graduate degree and experience, that I had no opportunity for advancement unless I became an administrator (heaven forbid!), and that I would work many more hours than a 9-to-5 profession.  And what did novice teachers face?  Exactly the same, if they actually stayed in the profession.

What could the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offer?   It has helped reshape our profession into a Profession.  I couldn’t have imagined the effect of a certification process that is clearly associated with better student outcomes!  And salary!  And improved resources and support for novice teachers!  But not shorter working hours, at least for me.  That’s why my dearest teaching widower spent so many nights with me at school.  Even NB certification has not fixed that glitch in my approach to preparation.

I am particularly thrilled that NBCTs have impacted the performance of minority and low-income students.  Do we have miles to go before we rest?  Indeed.  I’ve written at length about the racially predictable test scores and low minority achievement which plagues our country.  (As we go brown and gray in the US, it won’t be minority achievement anymore.)  Our failure to teach ALL of our kids is dreadful.  How can we encourage blacks and Hispanics to enter the teaching profession?   The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards could reverse the current trend of fewer minority and male teachers with higher standards, higher salaries, and support for novice teachers.  I hope I am around to see that happen!

 

* An Open Apology To Dolly Parton  — Kindness Blog

LOVE THE KINDNESS BLOG!

dolly

Originally posted on Rawe-struck: Dear Dolly, I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer. Granted, I was raised in the Midwest and lived as…

via An Open Apology To Dolly Parton  — Kindness Blog

* #teamNBCT: effort

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In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the effort required to attain National Board certification.  It was seriously grueling, in part because I started the process in the second half of the school year.  Organized teachers start to prepare before the year even begins.  Even with a full year’s focus on the process, the effort required is daunting.

Is it worth the effort to become National Board Certified?  Oh yes!  The effort, and its consequent reward, comes first as teachers dive into the NBCT 5 core propositions:

Proposition 1: Teachers Are Committed to Students and Their Learning
Proposition 2: Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How to Teach Those
Subjects to Students
Proposition 3: Teachers Are Responsible for Managing and Monitoring Student Learning
Proposition 4: Teachers Think Systematically About Their Practice and Learn from Experience
Proposition 5: Teachers Are Members of Learning Communities.

Next, teachers explore and apply (and read and reread and analyze and reread) one of 25 unique standards for their certification area.  Here’s a link to the Exceptional Needs Standards.  It’s 79 pages of gold!  The bar is very high but well worth the effort.  It’s been a few years since I read this document, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to appraise my teaching compass.

The National Board certification process is a marathon of alignment, exploration, validation, and presentation.  I lived and breathed that process, discovering that I was solidly on track in many areas and relatively weak in others.  I applied considerable effort to understand the complex questions and develop portfolios to demonstrate my skills.  And there were glitches.  On steroids following a serious poison ivy encounter, I compulsively cleaned my classroom and threw away important documentation of my achievements.  In one portfolio, I realized I’d misunderstood the primary question only a few weeks before the submission deadline.  About that same time, I was waiting in my car when a dump truck plowed into me and the doctor advised me not to sit at a computer for a few weeks!   Crazy suggestion!

What reward was gained from my effort to organize and present my teaching skills, to incorporate new techniques, to analyze, to write, and to videotape?  My teaching advanced to a new level.  Seriously.  I felt both exhausted and exhilarated as I completed the process, like standing on a mountain top and surveying the complex and sometimes rocky path that led me there.

* Move!

Michelle Malone has posted another Inspirational message for Mondays.  She challenges us in goal-setting and accountability.  Plus, there’s a cool video from Toby Mac, one of my favorite musicians.  Enjoy and be energized!

Happy Monday, friends! Are you well rested and ready to tackle the work week? Silly question, huh? Of course you are! So get up and get moving. Don’t stay stuck in the same spot you’ve …

Source: Move!

* #team NBCT: reflections

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In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

It’s been 16 years since I was first National Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist.  I applied for certification in the 2nd year of that category’s availability, with only one other special ed teacher in my district having completed the process.  I had little idea what impact this certification would have upon my practice or how much effort would be required!

Why was it worth becoming National Board Certified?  I had started teaching in 1970 and much of my career had been reactive.  I was desperate for solutions, so I read, took classes, and experimented with approaches.  I participated in many leadership roles related to special education.  My kids made progress but I was always searching for that magic bullet, a perfect set of materials or scope and sequence.

What was missing in my practice?  REFLECTION.  In the busyness of teaching, I was assessing student performance but didn’t spend much time analyzing my teaching practices.  Sure, if I had a terrible-horrible-no good-day day, I would dissect every word and action.  But that wasn’t the daily norm for me.  During and after the NB process, I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back to that “disaster” style of analysis or a fruitless search for the perfect curriculum.  I now spend much more time thinking about where the kids and I are going and how my decisions impact student learning.  I’m processing information on a deeper level and encourage kids to do the same.

Did I enjoy that learning curve on reflection?  Honestly, it was a bit too steep for comfort, but I needed to be shoved out of my “routine” teaching.  The NBCT process changed my trajectory forever.  It’s delightful to reflect on my teaching practice and see how mindfulness is the new normal for me!

* Rising to new lows

What have I been up to these days?  It’s been a l-o-n-g week and today is only Hump Day!

Monday I started my week in bumpy fashion.  I overslept because I’d set my alarm for PM, not AM, so I missed a session with a student.  Then I decided that I should take a double dose of this supplement called Cordyceps to improve my immune system, kidney function, and memory.  Sadly, I was unaware that it also knocks down blood sugar levels, so I couldn’t think straight at all!  I left my lunch at home, which didn’t help my blood sugar one bit.

I tutored another nephew on Monday evening; by the time I got home around 9, with my blood sugar having turned to salt, my dearest teaching widower started passing me chocolate.

Tuesday, because I STILL hadn’t realized what was happening with Cordyceps, I went to work without my key tools of the trade (all things vital to my lesson plans).  My dearest widower drove the needed stuff over just in the nick of time.  Later that night, I typed his latest training project.  My goal was to be as sweet and helpful as he had been, but doubling the Cordyceps continued to plague me.  I became Snake Woman after a few drafts of the project and my dear widower retreated upstairs.

Today, oh today, was very difficult, but not because of the supplement (a helpful nurse got me back on track).  Instead, I attended an extremely painful IEP meeting.  At one point, I had to force back tears as I begged for services for a child.  My heart still aches for the child and family, but I trust that God has it all in hand.

Laugh of the day?  I am officially on snow watch until March but that’s the serious part. Siri and I may both be on Cordyceps!  Can you catch her glitch from this screenshot?

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