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The Benefits
by Stephanie Capalbo

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

February 2, 2004

What is National Board Certification? Is it a masters degree? It's up to me to describe what it is and more importantly why I chose to do this. Here's what I've come up with: A master's program is prepared by administrators at a university; my job is to make that degree program meaningful for my classroom. Likewise, National Board Certification requires me to analyze my current classroom practices and determine the value, meaning, and scope and sequence of what I do on a daily basis. When are we as educators asked to do this? You're probably answering, "on a daily basis," but I would argue that that kind of analysis is rarely done to the extent required by the national boards.

Some might question the impact or value this process has on my students. For me, the process has required more accountability for what I am teaching and for what is learned by each student. It also has made me reflect upon past practices and consider their value in the "big picture." We all get stuck in the rut of repeating past lessons and activities that have been successful. The national boards process has helped me analyze why a lesson/ activity/sequence is done and what value it has for my students. I admit that videotaping lessons has added a little stress to my teaching, but that's minor compared to the benefits of the reflection and analysis that have become the norm for me since beginning the process.

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Meet Stephanie Capalbo

Stephanie Capalbo received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in elementary education from Rhode Island College in May 1995. She became certified in early childhood education in August 1997. For the past six years, Stephanie has been teaching kindergarten at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly, Rhode Island. In the fall of 2000, the kindergarten at Bradford became the first and only kindergarten in the district to receive accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 2003, Stephanie was named Westerly's Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.

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