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If at First, You Don't Succeed
by Stephanie Blackburn

Stephanie Blackburn is working toward National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist.

December 8, 2003

Finally! This week, I did more taping. After viewing the previous disastrous attempt with my students, I made sure everybody knew what they were doing this time, going over the directions with them for about 30 minutes. One student finally said, "Mrs. Blackburn, can we get going on the experiment?"

The directions said to tape myself integrating science and math, working with two small groups of at least three students per group. There were some flaws in the way I orchestrated the second taping, but the students' behavior was much better. Unfortunately, I put the two groups too close to one another, making it difficult to hear who was in which group and what was being said. In addition, someone in one of the groups accidentally knocked over the other group's experiment because the areas were too crowded with "stuff."

The third taping went better. I had a board certified colleague run the videotape for me. She was able to give me feedback directly after the lesson, which reassured me that what I was doing was on track. Even though I would like to tape two more lessons for just the science entry, I think I have a better understanding of the process.

My suggestion to other candidates would be to tape many lessons. The process becomes clearer and the students begin to ignore the camera. By the third taping, no one was looking at the camera. I also would suggest showing the kids the tapes. They enjoy seeing themselves and it helps with classroom management.

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Meet Stephanie Blackburn

Stephanie Blackburn, one of Education World's 2002-2003 teacher diarists, received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Rhode Island in May 1994. For the first two years of her teaching career, Stephanie worked as an enrichment specialist in the talent development program for the Westerly, Rhode Island, school district. For the past seven years, she has taught fourth grade at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly. Stephanie was awarded a 2002 National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation, in a program that provides recognizes elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education.

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