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The Benefits
by Stephanie Blackburn

This week, we asked our diarists, "How do you think your efforts to achieve national certification have benefited your students?"

February 2, 2004

As a national board candidate, everything I do in my classroom is based on the question, "How does this impact student learning?" Because the certification process forces me to continually answer that question, I, in turn, ask the same question when planning or discussing curriculum matters with colleague. In the past, I thought that all the teaching experiences I provided impacted my students' learning; I have discovered, in fact, that that wasn't always the case.

After spending endless hours watching videotapes of what transpires in small group discussions in my classroom, I find it amazing to see what actually happens. Students aren't always on task, nor are they always having "meaningful, intellectual conversations." That knowledge has opened my eyes to the need to increase student accountability when completing a task, and I've developed many instructional materials to address that need. That has created, in turn, more accountability among my students.

So has all this impacted students? I'd argue yes. As an educator, I've become more aware of the need to provide instruction that makes students accountable for their learning, and of the need to create materials that better ensure that students are aware of, and engaged in talking about, that accountability. My awareness has dramatically improved the conversations in my classroom. Doesn't that impact student learning? According to research and the Principles of Learning, the answer would be yes.

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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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