National Board Certified Teacher-Teresa Tarter

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Teresa Tartar: A Validation of Existing Best Practices

Even with the state's $5000 annual stipend as motivation, some teachers still hesitate to pursue National Board certification because of the additional workload. In truth, quality teachers are already doing much of what is required in the certification process, though it does require documentation and reflective analysis. Teresa Tartar, an AP Calculus teacher, said, "I think it primarily just validated what I was already doing."

Tartar's approach to Proposition 1: "Teachers are committed to students and their learning" could be evidenced by any normal day in her classroom. Tartar stated, "I am passionate about my role in helping students to understand calculus. One of the ways I do that is by constantly modeling problem solving steps while asking my students questions that help them think deeper."

Some teachers think they have to develop new material or devise new class procedures for the certification process. Tartar's handling of Proposition 3: "Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning" is already part of her classroom routine. "I incorporate daily quizzes so that I not only get feedback on what they know, but also so that I can give feedback to them on their problem solving and communication skills. I am committed to making sure the feedback is timely by always returning quizzes and tests the following school day with my comments and corrections. I assign grades based primarily on their understanding of the material rather than just correct answers. Students keep their corrected tests and quizzes because I want them to have time to really look at my comments and corrections so that they can make improvements. I allow students to re-take exams, which not only takes some of the stress out of testing for them, but it also gives them an incentive to learn material that they may not have mastered the first time."

Another perceived barrier to certification is time, but one professional development experience can provide evidence for multiple National Board propositions. For example, Proposition 4 states, "Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience." Tartar said, "I have been participating in the Advanced Placement Calculus Reading for 12 years, and it is by far the best professional development that I have experienced. By grading AP exams, I learn common mistakes so that I can help my own students avoid them." Attending the AP Calculus Reading also meets Proposition 5: "Teachers are members of learning communities." Tartar added, "Perhaps the greatest benefit to me though has been the opportunity to network with fellow high school and college calculus teachers from across the globe. Not only do I get to share valuable resources and teaching strategies, but I have a built-in support group of calculus experts."

The National Board certification process is much more about documenting and reflecting on a teacher's existing best practices rather than creating "busy work" for teachers.