Category Archives: National Boards

A Radical Thought

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m heading to southern Arizona (pretty much Mexico, which sounds way cooler) to receive coaching and help courtesy the AZ K-12 Center on my National Board Portfolio. I’ll be there all weekend. That has nothing to do with this post, but please wish me well. I have so much I hope to accomplish.

Now onto that radical thought. Teachers having input on policy decisions about education? It seems common sense, but if only that were true.

And despite my adoration and customer loyalty for any and all products boasting that cute white logo of an apple with a bite out of it, I really want to hug Melinda Gates for writing this. You have to read it and tell me what you think!

P.S. For those of you sick of my attempts to wax eloquently on educational psychology and philosophies, I promise to soon share some lesson ideas!

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Socratic Circles

My exciting Saturday has been consumed with National Boards. I wrote one entire page. This is a big accomplishment. And I worked on my parent communication log, watched 2 more videos of my teaching this week which resulted in me thinking, once again, that I’m long overdue for a haircut, and I studied my standards. I was very excited because I bought really cool new pens and highlighters. Who doesn’t love that?

But I think the best idea I came away with (other than the fact that I should be having more fun on a Saturday) is the concept of Socratic Seminars/Circles. I’m not sure what the true title is. I’ve just been researching. I read a bit and watched some YouTube videos. My favorite is below. I like it because it shows real middle school kids, not adults, and because it centers on the writing of one of my heroes … such an overused word, someone I admire with a great passion, Dr. Martin Luther King.

I love the idea, but I have SO many questions. What about kids who blow it off? What about kids who get bored? Who don’t want to participate? Who don’t understand? What about assessment? How do I know this is really working and I do I prove it impacts student learning? (Yes, I worked on National Boards all day!)

Please share your ideas and your use of this strategy!

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Filed under National Boards, Student Engagement

Private Practice?

I’ve mentioned before, but this year I’m pursuing my National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts. If you are unfamiliar with the process, check out the video below.

To certify, I need to write four portfolio entries and pass a test. Two of the entries are responses to 15 minute videos of whole and small group lessons. I’ve barely gotten my feet wet with this process, but the experience has already been enriching.

Last week, two of my colleagues who are also candidates and I video taped parts of our lessons. Yesterday, as a part of a coaching event for National Boards put on by the Arizona K12 Center, the three of us sat down with a mentor who is already an NBCT. We watched each other’s videos and offered suggestions.

This can be scary! For some, criticism is hard to take even when it’s constructive. For others, we are so used to practicing behind closed doors away from any other adult eyes that it can be quite intimidating to let others in. And then there’s the one who didn’t get enough sleep the night before and is worried about her dark under eye circles, and OMG, someone needs a haircut! Of course, I am that third person. 🙂

But, what a valuable learning experience! And you really don’t need crazy technology to do something like this. We used a Flip cam our district owns propped up on books or baskets to get a view of the students working. I’ve already talked to some other teacher pals to see if they’d be interested in doing something like this every so often. I’d love to take turns with my teammates bringing a 5-10 minute clip to team meeting each week to provide each other with feedback. It’s time-consuming and a maybe frightening, but I’m willing to put in the time if someone will send me some good concealer and call my hair stylist for an appointment. If we really want to grow as teachers, it’s time to stop hiding out in our classrooms. Crazy idea. What do you think?

On a tangential note, I’m excited to announce that starting this week I’m joining up with a teachers’ book study right here on the Interwebz!

I just ordered this book on Amazon. It features 49 simple strategies, and we will be focusing on one each week. Each blogger will share ways s/he’s implemented the strategy that week. As readers, you’ll have easy access to all of the blog entries, but more importantly, you can comment and share your own ideas without going through the work of setting up and maintaining your own blog.

Check back later this week for my Strategy #1 – No Opt Out. If you know me at all, you’ll know I have A LOT to say about that (What do you mean I have A LOT to say about everything?) I’m looking forward to it!

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Filed under Book Studies, National Boards, Professional Development