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How to Eat an Elephant

Four entries will eventually be due. In my recently completed intro class, they recommended we first tackle Entry 4, “Documented Accomplishments: Contributions to Student Learning.” I present this and more verbiage to come in quotes. If I were talking to you, the pointer and middle fingers on both hands might get sore. Paraphrasing this stuff just doesn’t do it justice.

This entry tasks us to “demonstrate [our] commitment to student learning” by documenting more or less recent accomplishments in three areas: in the current year, with families and the community; over the past five years, as a learner; and, also over the past five years, as a professional leader or collaborator. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a chance to demonstrate our commitment to student learning by submitting bank statements and pay stubs.

Specifically, we need to provide no more than ten pages of “description and analysis” about eight accomplishments. Along with this, we need no more than sixteen pages of documentation. A two-pager at the end called a “reflective summary” wraps it all up. Let’s see, that’s... twenty-eight pages! Certainly output equivalent to what might be required in a graduate class. Maybe this whole thing should be thought of as a five-course Master’s degree.

One instruction that seems to deserve note is that accomplishments “must demonstrate an impact (direct or indirect) on student learning.” Test scores are not needed, apparently, but we must show in the writing “how or why improved student learning is a likely result.” I will report back when I have discovered a good way to do this, or at least a list of useful buzzwords.

The entry will be evaluated based on a rubric which will look for “clear, consistent and convincing evidence” based on three standards: XIV. Self Reflection; XV. Professional Community; and XVI. Family Outreach. Did I write in a previous post that there were twelve commandments? In my certification area, Early Adolescence/ English Language Arts (henceforth EA/ELA), there seems to be XVI. One effect of this process may be that I will become a more adept viewer of old Super Bowls on cable.

So, back to the question at hand: how does one eat an elephant? In my case, post by post. Fair warning: I intend to use this space to process and draft the material that I will eventually submit. Keeping myself honest, the way I see it. Without this weekly date, now that the class is over, how on earth would I achieve the motivation to keep this process moving forward?

As for you, dear reader, if you are not a teacher pursuing or considering pursuit of this certification, be forewarned. I cannot guarantee that this blog will remain, um, interesting. Not excruciatingly boring may be the best I can promise. While I reserve the right to digress freely, for my next few posts I will explore how to describe, analyze and document according to the rules, and then address the three relevant standards. In the manner of one who cleans his desk (whole office? house? that old rusty bike in the back of the garage?) before starting to do any work, by then I should be ready to actually select and write about my accomplishments.

Does anyone have a very large fork?

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