Yesterday an online psychic who lived in my house two owners ago showed up and wanted to take a look around the old place. “This is where I used to do my face-to-face counseling,” he remarked as we passed through the dining room. “Senators, lots of famous people have been in here.” Passing a wall in the kitchen into which I had drilled more than a few holes to hang a pesky shelf, I was shocked upon hearing that he had fished a lot of wire through there when renovating the upstairs bathroom. Oddly enough, the previous owners have also ...


My name is Emmet and I’m blogging for National Board Certification. I can see that you’re new here, so let me show you around. Back here is my first post. Oh, you like my mountain metaphor? Thanks, I appreciate that. I’ve introduced a few other motifs along the way: the book of standards as a bible and the act of deciphering it as cabbalah (medieval Jewish mysticism); the idea that the hugeness of this process is like eating an elephant; the notion that we candidates are dedicated athletes striving for gold... umm, there may be a few ...


(Or, why this is a top 5 list instead of a top 10 list) Yesterday afternoon: after the soccer game, while the kids are playing on the woodpile in the backyard, I sit on the deck and finish reading chapters from Kiterunner assigned for AP Lang on Monday, then glance at an article from the Virginia Community Colleges faculty journal about moving from lecture to “learner-centered learning.” Last night, around 10:30 p.m.: kids in bed, I change the rabbit’s cage and then mop the “man zone,” my unfinished basement office. Then sit and read “Graduation” (an excerpt ...


We interrupt our scheduled presentation of standards to bring you this breaking news: It’s all bunk! At least, according to a recent study commissioned by NBPTS from educational number-cruncher William L. Sanders which shows, as reported in Education Week, that board certified teachers’ students do not score better on standardized tests than other kids. NBPTS is not thrilled with this news and offers reasons why this study might be invalid, while one blogger, Andrew Rotherham of Eduwonk, suggests they seem to be sitting on the results, more or less in the hopes that: a) they will just go away ...


Standard XIV. Self-Reflection “Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers constantly analyze and strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their teaching.” (EA/ELA pg 61) With apologies to Letterman, this and possibly the next two entries will take the form of top ten lists, as I cull key phrases and ideas from the standard under study (unless this format becomes excruciatingly boring or I change my mind). I do this also on the advice of a reader who posted a comment some time ago that she found it invaluable to sprinkle her portfolio with bold-faced buzz words in order to ...


With my next few mouthfuls of elephant, I’ll masticate the three standards associated with Entry 4: XIV. Self Reflection; XV. Professional Community; and XVI. Family Outreach. (For newcomers or those who may have “missed a post”-- and at this point, I’m not even sure my editor is reading this thing-- I’ve taken a bite-by-bite approach to the year long task of creating the four-entry portfolio that is one of the elements required to achieve board certification). A digression related to my extended metaphor: eating an elephant actually occurs near the end of a short essay that ...


Spring break sprang, kids’ soccer is rained out for the third weekend in a row, and I retreat to my basement office to slog on towards the base of the mountain. This week, as promised, I’ll address how to describe and analyze “accomplishments that contribute to student learning” as required in Entry 4. We begin by cracking the bible to a section called “Get Started.” (Unlike Deuteronomy, this is not in the beginning.) Here it is written that description is “retelling... what happened in a classroom situation,” analysis explains the “significance of the evidence” one takes from that situation, ...


Not to mention Passover and Easter. Which is why I will delay, for a week, my plunge into Entry 4 as laid out last post. Instead, here is a list of things I did and did not do on my week off. THINGS I DID THIS WEEK 1. Go fishing. I didn’t actually catch a fish at Lake Accotink, but I saw several anglers pull out recently stocked trout so I know the fish were there. I shared stream-side conversation with a man who’s son had graduated from TJ (where I now teach) before it was high tech (about...


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, ...


My ninth graders, a class I hope to “use” in my portfolio, have just finished a poetry unit. They created booklets with wonderful covers, selected poems by and analyzed the work of both dead and live poets, and composed three original poems. Now I have to grade them. The scene from “The Dead Poet’s Society” comes to mind, where Robin Williams as the maverick English teacher first has kids read a traditional critic’s theory on how to evaluate a poem using a graph, then encourages them to tear the page out of the text book. I, however, can’t...


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