National Boards Professional Learning a Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators presented by Hot Lunch Tray. The most important and impactful professional learning I have participated, so far has been achieving National Boards for Professional Teaching. Don’t get me wrong it was three years of videotaping, rewriting, ending late nights or early morning to squeeze in time to write, edit, or cry. I’m really not sure WHY I decided to put myself through that nightmare.

See the source imageAs a Special Education teacher in Colorado, you spend much of your planning on how to be a general education teacher. Which is what NBPT is looking for--four portfolios, two videos, and one three hour test--I learned a lot about myself, my practice and how to move my students. It was hard--really hard but I’m better for it.

The thing is in Colorado achieving National Boards means I’m part of an exclusive club--today there are 45 teachers with National Boards in Exceptional Needs. It’s hard but so worth the time.

Achieving National Boards changed how I looked at my teaching practice. I make time at the end of a week to reflect on my practice. Sometimes even after a lesson didn’t hit a target or if I’m trying something new.

I also encourage my students to reflect on their work--actively. I mean I have built in ways for my students to think about what they did, what needs to change, and how they are doing. It has become more than just check-ins and Marzano. I have added a video or drawing with notes for students to share their how they are doing. They have gotten used to exit tickets and open-ended questions and knowing they have a strong voice in how there group time in structured.

Giving 1st or 2nd graders a voice in how things are run may seem like a crazy thing to do but by giving them a voice in what is read or how they want to demonstrate what they learned means I have student buy-in without having to build in extrinsic motivation system. They know that the “fun stuff” is part of their week and the really fun stuff is earned. Those days are built in and have a purpose such as using “Where’s My Water?” to build perseverance and giving feedback to peers. Or STEM days to work on “soft skills” and higher order thinking without stressing anyone out (including myself!).  (These are the things that mean more to my IEP goals and to my teacher rubric.)

Data is the vain of any special education provider. We love it. We hate it. We can’t live without. After boards-data has taken on a new meaning. I look beyond the number of progress monitoring like the numbers you get from DIBELS or AIMSweb. I look at those soft skills and the feedback students give themselves. I make a point to have students reflect on and set goals based on that data. They see it as a challenge and make it if not exceed the goal they set.

Boards helped me focus my time. If my students can do it than I give them that job. I don’t hold on to student data or student goal sheets or IEP pieces anymore. My students keep all their stuff--reading material, data sheets, IEP pieces, writing and even attendance is kept in their binder.  They LOVE taking care of the anything and everything. Plus, it’s all in one place for me to grab run to a meeting or to write reports or for them to bring when they meet with me.

Boards has challenged me to make the most of my daily practice with students. To help them grow and challenge them to better themselves as they grow up. Even though I thought about giving up as I was in the thick of it I’m beyond thrilled about what National Boards has done for my special education practice. If your thinking about it--DO IT. You’ll grow and your practice will thank you.

Until next time,


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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