Kirtland Elementary School 1st grade teacher Sharmon Wheeler was recognized for earning her National Board Certification by her school’s students, staff, teachers, and administrators during an April 6, 2016 school student awards assembly. She was also recognized and congratulated by the Central Consolidated School District’s Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Dr. Colleen W. Bowman at the Feb. 16, 2016 School Board meeting.
What’s the significance of getting your National Board Certification?
Kirtland Elementary School teacher Sharmon Wheeler: It doesn’t necessarily mean I can teach in any state. Each state has their own guidelines and rules as far as teachers receiving their own (teacher) licensing. Some states will recognize your National Board Certification and say ‘Great, wonderful. You don’t have to pass our state’s exam. Here is your license.’ Other states still want you to get your license. National Board Certification means you put in the work and the time and have proven you know the subjects you teach and know how to teach them to your students.
How does the National Board Certification differ from the state certification for teachers?
Wheeler: It takes it to a higher level. New Mexico does have their test. But the National Board Certification is an intensive, multifaceted and highly personalized process. I was able to hone my practice and showcase the talent that I have as a teacher, and to demonstrate my dedication to my students and my profession. It’s a higher level of certification.
The National Certification Board system is developed by teachers for teachers. Through that process they developed that system of this is what it takes to become a National Board Certified teacher. It is very intensive. To be Nationally Board certified, it’s a lot. You have to be a member of your professional learning community. You have to prove it through your writing, your documentation, videotaping (teaching in class) … you have to be able to think systemically about your teaching practice, you have to be able to analyze what you’ve taught to better yourself as a teacher for your students.
What made you decide to pursue a National Certification?
Wheeler: I had a colleague approach me and say ‘You should try this National Certification thing.’ She prompted that, and I started two years ago. The New Mexico network for National Board teachers came up and said, ‘It’s a one-in-four chance of passing your first year’—not very good odds. I didn’t make it my first year so I tried it again. The second year I submitted my paperwork and testing. … When I checked the website, it said ‘Congratulations. You are a National Board Certified Teacher.’
What area is your National Board Certification in?
Wheeler: This National Board Certification is in the area of early childhood generalist. That covers ages ages 3 through 8, preschool through 3rd grade. Because it is an early childhood generalist, I have to know how to teach subjects under literacy development, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education and children’s play—the whole gamut of education.
Why do you use a microphone for yourself, and for your students during class instruction?
Wheeler: I have students who receive speech services. The SoundField system enables all of my students—not just the ones receiving speech—to hear every sound in the words. It doesn’t matter where I stand, they can hear my voice. If I stand in the front of the room, the volume of my voice is not lost by the time it reaches the back row. That’s why I have a microphone and the students use a microphone.
It (also) allows the students to hear themselves, and some of them will self-correct because they heard that error over the speaker. Plus it gives them experience holding a microphone, so if they have to be in front of somebody, whether it’s our own class or performing for another class, or for parents, they’re used to holding a microphone and they’re not as nervous.