Second Grade Cafe

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I Learned from National Board Certification

National Board Certified Teachers 2014
Through the years, my teaching style has changed to match whatever direction my
administration suggested. But after fifteen years of teaching, I decided to take charge of my own professional development by beginning my pursuit toward National Board Certification. I immediately realized that there was A LOT that I did not know about teaching. For years, I thought I had to have all the answers, and each day I would present lessons that typically followed the I do, we do, you do model. In this model, I would "teach" a new concept. Next, the students and I would practice it together. At last, students would demonstrate their understanding of the concept on their own. This is also known as the Gradual Release Model. This model seemed to work especially well as I taught my primary students the procedures of addition, subtraction, telling time, finding key words in word problems, etc. I felt successful with this teaching style until I analyzed the National Board Professional Teaching Standards and their description of accomplished teaching. I've listed below several summarized descriptions of accomplished teachers in mathematics according to NBPTS.

Accomplished Early Childhood Generalists...
1.) Know the ways in which young children think about mathematics and know mathematics in ways that allow them to support the learning of every child. Teachers know the structures and interconnections of mathematical topics. 
2.) They are skilled in modeling processes and practices that provide young children with the means of developing and using mathematical ideas, and they routinely structure opportunities for children to engage in practices such as representing and explaining their mathematical thinking.
3.) Teachers encourage young children to talk about mathematical ideas, processes, and reasoning.
4.)Teachers also know that invention, inefficiency, and error are a part of the process of developing and using strategies, fluency, skill in developing and using strategies, adjusting ideas to work in particular contexts, and perseverance are all hallmarks of mathematical competence. 
5.) They value each of these attributes of competence, understand their interdependence and use knowledge of children's thinking to plan and implement instruction.

While my teaching strategy provided sufficient modeling of the procedures, it did not encourage children to discuss mathematical ideas, processes, and reasoning. Nor did I routinely provide opportunities for children to represent and explain their thinking. I was teaching mathematical procedures, rather than facilitating critical thinking.

During my first attempt at National Board Certification, I tried to demonstrate that there was evidence of accomplished teaching with the I do, we do, you do method. National Board is all about evidence and impact of student learning. While my students were learning the procedures in mathematics, I was unable to provide evidence that they understood mathematical concepts. Therefore, I did not achieve National Board Certification on my first attempt. This motivated me to become an accomplished teacher, not just for myself, but also for my students.I eventually achieved National Board Certification, and I've finally learned that facilitating critical thinking should occur in every area, not just mathematics. And, because of the National Board Certification process, I continue to learn everyday.

A student gave me a collection of poetry about teaching. Here's a photo of him in math class. He's collaborating with a peer as they talk about mathematical ideas, processes, and reasoning.
I've included an excerpt from the book that I feel defines an accomplished teacher. The book is titled:
...and that is why we teach, A Celebration of Teachers by Patti Graham

Teachers are Facilitators
Teachers trust and know that as they compel questions to flow,
As they encourage higher levels of thinking,
And as they cultivate collaboration among the students,
Learning is the natural outcome.

Are you an accomplished teacher? If not, you can become one! Do it for yourself; do it for your students!

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