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National Board Process Support Groups
by Stephanie Blackburn

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

Throughout this entire process, it's been a blessing to have been in a support group with my colleagues. We're able to bounce ideas and questions off one another, read one another's entries, and brainstorm techniques to meet Board standards. Working together also has helped me be more focused. We leave each meeting with a verbalized plan of what we'll be working on until the next meeting. During the weeks that follow, we check up on one another many times. "How did the taping go?" or "Did you get a chance to yet?" That helps me remember to get moving too. Then, during the next meeting, it's nice to sit down and debrief one another about what's happened. Sometimes, I'm so overwhelmed by the entire process that I don't feel as though I'm accomplishing anything until I actually verbalize what I have done. On the other hand, sometimes -- when I hear what other members of the group have done -- I am aware that I haven't done as much as I should have.

The only downfall to the support group is that we do have a bit of a tendency to get off task. Although we're getting better, we sometimes do spend the first half hour of the meeting discussing the previous day's events, our weekend plans, funny stories, and so on. It's like any group of friends getting together and catching up.

We do stray, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I highly recommend that anyone who's going through this process hook up with others in the same boat. It's a great help!

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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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