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What If?
by Stephanie Blackburn

This week, we asked our diarists, "What if you don't achieve national certification? Will the process have been worth it anyway? Will you try again?"

March 1, 2004

Now that "the box" has been mailed and my eyes have begun to focus again, I have also begun to contemplate the possibility that I won't pass the boards. During the process, I never thought about failing. It simply wasn't an option. My husband did mention the idea one night. After the look I gave him, he never broached the subject again. I've worked. I've studied and revised. I've given 200 percent. How could I possibly think about failing? The word was never in my vocabulary.

Now, however, as the dust begins to settle, I sit and reflect: What if I don't passnot a big deal. Will I be upset for a bit? Yes. Will explaining to my colleagues, peers, and family that I need to revise a section to be successful be difficult? Yes. Will I pick myself up and try again? Yes.

I can confidently say that what I mailed to the Boards was the best work I was capable of. The National Boards, however, gives candidates three years to retake a piece of the portfolio and earn their points. If that happens, I'll have the opportunity to focus on one entry that didn't meet the standard. (Hopefully, I won't need to retake all four entries and the test!) That ability to focus on a single entry will allow me to concentrate on an area of need and make myself a better educator.

All the hard work and activities my students and I put forth were not a waste of time. The knowledge I gained about myself, my students, and the standards wasworth it - no matter what happens next.

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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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