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The Benefits
by Nicole Chiarello

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

February 2, 2004

The process of National Board Certification has been very difficult for me because of the amount of time required (it's like having a part time job in addition to the full time job of being a classroom teacher!). I believe, however, that my students are benefiting from my experience. From the beginning, I made the decision to continue to create new lessons, grade papers, and participate in projects with my students. So, I continued to teach the way I have always taught. I didn't change anything just because a video camera was running.

I found that the certification process made me look harder at communication and literacy, at assessment, at social skills, and at my own professional accomplishments. I'm much more aware of assessing my students needs as I work. Some of the areas I have to focus on for the entries require me to research and to talk to people. I'm not researching problems that don't exist, however; I'm creating plans to improve my own students' learning. The impact of all that on my students can only be positive.

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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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