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What If?
by Nicole Chiarello

This week, we asked our diarists, "What if you don't achieve national certification? Will the process have been worth it anyway? Will you try again?"

March 1, 2004

The question we are asked to think about is, "What will happen if you do not achieve National Board Certification? That's a tough question to answer. I'm so glad I tried for this certification when I did. I don't have children yet, and my fianc was willing to pick up any extra jobs I didn't have time for. I had no time to cook or do any sort of housework during the week. I would come home from school between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., eat dinner, and then disappear onto the computer.

To achieve certification, a candidate needs to earn a total score of 275 points. The four portfolio entries and the assessment exams each are scored separately, so points earned on entries you do well on can be "banked." Only those entries on which you need to get a better score need to be redone. If I don't achieve 275 points, I'll work on the entries I need to do better on, but I'll never again have to do the amount of work that I did this year.

I hope I'll be able to achieve certification the first year. It will be difficult to have spent all that time working on it and then not pass. Whether I achieve certification or not, however, I was able to do a lot of reflection on my teaching and at the way I assess my students. The information I learned about my classroom and myself will be of value to me no matter what. The process was a difficult one, but whatever happens, it was worth it.

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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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