Leah Faris

  • Renewing a Reflective Mindset

     As Bob Jones history teacher Leah Faris began the process of her National Board renewal, she recalled her initial certification experience. "As I look back, the process was a maturing move in my career."

     The National Board process emphasizes intense professional reflection. Faris added, "I think all teachers are reflective on their practices, but this takes it to another level. You think you are a rock star teacher? Video yourself and write a reflection. It's harsh, but it's real."

     The Five Core Propositions of the NBPTS outline what effective teachers know and do in their classrooms. For example, Proposition 3 states, "Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning." Faris shared her approach. "Proposition 3 in my APUSH class might look different from others due to the nature of the course. My goal is to make students responsible for their own learning. I am just the guide. I give them the tools, and they build the bridge. For example, students have a reading assignment guide and Critical Thinking Questions given to them at the beginning of a new unit. There are no surprises. They know the expectations. During class they explain to me (and their peers) what they have learned. I do not spoon feed the information to them. I do not lecture and use PowerPoints. I am there to clarify and give additional information, but they are responsible for their learning experience. I think if teachers can give students ownership to the learning process that is a success story. My favorite assessment is a group quiz. Yep...a group quiz. The level of engagement that comes out of that is just what an assessment should invoke...arguments of varying levels of understanding. This assessment benefits weak and strong students. It's a win-win. I can make a quiz really tough and still look like I'm the nicest teacher in the building for giving a group quiz."

     Both earning an initial National Board certification and renewing a certification impact student learning. Faris concluded, "You are not the same afterward."