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National Board Process Support Groups
by Nicole Chiarello

This week we asked our diarists, "What are the pros and cons of working in a support group while going through the National Board Process? Would you recommend it? How important is it to have a support group member be working towards the same certification?"

November 24, 2003

At the very beginning of this certification process, we were told of the importance of a support group. Luckily, with five people at our school working towards National Board Certification, it was easy to find people with whom to work. Three of us who live near each other immediately began working together to organize our binders. None of the three of us are working towards the same type of certification; I'm the only one working toward the exceptional needs certificate. That hasn't been a problem so far because, for me to get the most points, the people at the National Boards who read my papers need to be able to understand what I'm talking about. When the two teachers I'm working with read my papers, they point out to me whatever they don't understand. I then can clarify the information and maybe give a more detailed explanation.

The benefits of working together are huge. We share any information that might be helpful to us. We read each other's papers and offer comments and suggestions. We've set up a schedule of meetings to keep ourselves on track. Most of all, we're available to one another when we have a problem with something (like videotaping!) and need to vent.

In fact, the only problem we've had is that, because we are friends, we spend the first 30 minutes or so of every meeting talking about things we're too busy to talk about at school!

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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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