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by Nicole Chiarello

This week, we asked our diarists, "Has the national certification process been harder than you expected, easier than you expected, or just what you expected?"

January 5, 2004

Looking back at the national certification process from the very beginning, I'd have to say that it's been harder than I had expected it to be. In all our pre-candidate courses, I remember the national board certified teachers telling us that it took about 400 hours to complete the process. I guess that amount of time never really registered in my brain. I've been saying from the very beginning that I've had a hard time working on my boards along with my daily classroom work -- stacks of papers to correct, journal entries to respond to, lessons to plan. I am on committees at school that require a lot of my time too. All those things didn't stop just because I decided to go for my Boards.

The four entries that need to be completed for the National Board are very specific in their makeup, which also has been very difficult. For example, a lesson I want to do with my students for the communication and literacy entry might not cover all the required standards; therefore, it is unacceptable. That lesson also needs to be videotaped. Even if I do a great lesson that does hit all the standards, if the person videotaping did not pick up the children's conversations, it's not valid and I must come up with a different lesson or tape the same lesson again.

In short, nothing that I thought would be easy has been easy, and everything that I thought would be difficult has been difficult.

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Meet Nicole Chiarello

Nicole Chiarello received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University at Buffalo, of the State University of New York, in May 1994 and her master's degree in special education, learning and behavior disorders from Buffalo State College in December 1996. For the remainder of the 1996-1997 academic year, Nicole worked as an inclusion teacher at Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School in Sanborn, N.Y. For the past six years, she has taught a district-wide special education program for three-to-five students with emotional and behavioral concerns at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly, Rhode Island. Nicole was named Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year in 2000. She is currently serving on a district team focusing on social, emotional, and behavioral concerns in the classroom.

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