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Better Than I Thought!
by Stephanie Blackburn

This week we asked our diarists, "What have you learned about yourself through the certification process?"

October 27, 2003

Before beginning the certification process, I was concerned particularly about the requirement to provide proof of effective communication with parents; I've always felt I should be doing a better job with that. Although I've kept parents informed, I wanted to do more. As I began to document my communications with parents, however, I discovered that I do it more frequently than I realized. For half of my students, a nightly narrative keeps their parents updated about concerns; those contacts mainly are initiated by parents who want to be kept in "the know." For the other half of the students, a weekly note home reinforces positive behaviors or accomplishments.

The certification process also has helped me realize how much assessment I do to guide my instruction. In past years, I've questioned whether I do too much assessment or not enough. As I've begun to look at the entry that deals with analyzing student work, I've felt less stress about my assessment strategies.

The most glaring revelation about myself has been the realization that I'm a person who really needs specific deadlines. I find I'm scattered. Whenever I think I'm on track, I stray off and start worrying about another part of the process. Even when I make lists, I find it difficult to stay focused on only one entry. For example, I'll talk to another candidate or someone who has achieved board certification and then wander off to another piece of the process without fully finishing the task I was working on. I guess my primary goal should be to become more focused!

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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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