Many candidates get hung up working on entry 4 and spend a lot of time on it when other work can be done. Many mentors suggest starting work on Entry 4 first. But, in my opinion, until you begin to understand the Standards and the purpose of the entry, it is really a hard one to work on.
If you are just starting your National Board journey, it is good to spend time now gathering information and thinking about what you have done and what you might want to do more of or differently in the upcoming school year. It doesn't even hurt to start gathering documentation. But, until you are familiar with the Standards, it is difficult to begin actually writing this entry.
Do not get hung up on Entry 4. Remember that it does not carry as much weight in the scoring system as the first three entries. But it does carry more weight than the individual assessments at the assessment center. For the most bang for your buck, focus on your first three entries then on entry 4.
As you begin to look at your accomplishments for this entry, look at your work through the lens of impact on student learning. Entry 4 is not a personal resume of your accomplishments. It is not about what you need to say to sell yourself. Entry 4 is all about how what you do improves your teaching and has a direct or indirect impact on students.
There are many things that may make you look good, like being getting an advanced degree or even being named as Teacher of the Year. Keep in mind that the single most important consideration as you work on this entry is the impact that your documented accomplishment has on student learning. If you cannot make a strong connection to student learning then they do not belong in your list of accomplishments.
You can group accomplishments. Let's say that you attended a workshop on inquiry based science, then you took an on line class or did some research in inquiry science. Maybe you presented the information to your colleagues and worked with them to improve your science curriculum. Perhaps you helped plan and carry out a science fair and conducted a parent night before hand. All of this could be tied together because it focused on inquiry science. This would certainly be a very strong accomplishment. Showing you as learner, leader, and a collaborator with colleagues and the community.
As you think about your documentation, be strategic. Showing an agenda or flyer from a workshop that you attended or conducted is evidence that you did it. But it is fairly shallow documentation. A letter or documentation form from a student, a parent, or an attendee can serve dual duty. The writer can confirm that you attended or conducted the workshop and go on to discuss how this information was used and how it had an impact on students. It is great if your documentation can show impact on a whole class, but impact on one student is good.
If you use a Verification Form, don’t be afraid to as a verifier to say what needs to be said. Tell them what you want them to verify and ask them to be strong in writing about how it had an impact on student learning.
If you went to a workshop, show a sample of the student's work that they did after you attended. This shows the impact that it had on the students in your classroom.
Everyone does a
newsletter, so if you are going to use a newsletter, it needs to be interactive. The newsletter must show two-way communicaton-- with a portion that comes back to you from the parent (not permission slip).
If you do a family activity, send a questionnaire for the families to respond to. Ask: How did this activity impact your child and your family? Do you feel that this activity should be continued next year?
Writing this entry is often hard for candidates. One problem is that candidates often have a lot of personal ownership in their accomplishment, which causes their writing to be heavy in description, including the minutest details of the work that went into this accomplishment. While this is may feel important, it does not provide scorable information.
Look carefully at the rubric. Read and reread the Standards associated with this entry. Keep your descriptions focused and to the point. Your entry is kind of like a pay-by-the-word document. You want to make sure that your words keep the focus. You should spend most of your words on evidence that supports its significance and the impact on kids.
Think of your writing about each accomplishment as a triangle. The smallest section at the top is the "nature of the accomplishment." The wider middle section is the "significance." The widest bottom section is the "impact on student achievement."
When you write about the "nature of the accomplishment," you simply tell what you did. For "significance," you tell why this activity was important, mentioning if it fits in the partner/ learner/leader/collaborator. For "student impact," you describe how it impacted student learning.
Make sure that your focus is on the impact your accomplishment has had
on your student and PROVE IT. By spending just a LITTLE time telling what you
did and the rest on how it had helped the children or how it has
helped you help your children, you will prove your point. As you reread
each accomplishment, ask yourself if someone else read this, would they be convinced you help your students because of this experience? Remember these words: Clear and convincing evidence.
I can't stress enough the importance of specific details when stating impact on both yourself and your students. Name names--"Johnny, who never liked to read, now loves...", give examples, make the faces you've impacted come alive through your words.
Your description could be as little as a couple of sentences.Your
student impact needs to be rock solid results you saw in your
learning as a result of what you did. For example, did Sally's mother
tell you that Sally
is much more excited about reading since you implemented a new reading
program? In what way has your accomplishment made a difference in the
lives of your students. THAT is where the heavy scoring is done. No matter what you have done, how many hours you have put into something,
how prestigious the activity/honor/ recognition is....if a student or students did not change as a result of it, then it is not a strong accomplishment.
Here's a simple example:
You show direct or indirect impact on student achievement. Direct impact might be shown through test scores or other numerical measurements--number of words per minute read, time to recall math facts, number of books read, etc. Indirect impact could be shown through observations or anecdotal evidence.
Cite test standardized scores before and after (if applicable to your accomplishment)
Use a pre- and post-test on a unit
Get other teachers you taught a workshop to write a letter saying how it impacted their students
Use samples of student work-before and after
Show parent notes stating how a certain strategy or communication helped
Use surveys of parents
Include sample of journal entries where student tell what they learned in an activity or presentation
More specific examples of student impact for entry 4 might be: