What's Tayana Thadal's Why?
Even as an experienced teacher, I found it challenging to ascertain how to help my students to be successful. I needed answers to the practical questions, “How to bridge the gaps for my 4th grader who is on a kindergarten level?” or “How to teach reading to my 3rd grader who just entered this country in the middle of the year and feels lost?” I was aware that my instruction lacked something powerful because I could not always effectively address the needs of my students. My best was simply not enough.
I had heard of National Board Certification but never fully understood it, until a partnership with colleagues from a neighboring district introduced me to an important word during an awareness session. The facilitator asked, “Why are you here?” All I could think of was “Because my friend dragged me!” My silence prompted a series of questions that will change my teaching. “Why do you teach?” “Why do your students understand what you teach? Why don’t they?” As the group offered insights, I got lost into the effectiveness of this facilitator to generate answers in my mind to questions I had never asked. She consistently asked a simple “WHY?” to every answer offered as if to peel away layers of clouds that obstructed my judgment. As the group continued to chat my thoughts turned to my students. I was asking the wrong questions. I could not figure out HOW because I did not know WHY. I then began to ask, “Why did this student misunderstand the lesson? Why did he not complete the activity? Why did she misspell so many words?” The answers became a practical list of things to do, “Because she needs it hands-on. Because he could not read the questions himself. Because he lacks phonics instruction.” Only then was I able to answer “HOW.” Instantly, I made the decision to become an NBCT.
After becoming board certified, I quickly realized that teaching needed partnerships for success. I needed to answer the resounding question “What do these kids need at this time in this setting?” My students deserved educators who engaged in this type of reflective process in order to meet their needs. Board certification shifted my conversations about teaching and learning. They became rooted in building partnerships with colleagues, reflecting on practices, community involvement, advocacy, among others, not only for my students but all students.
My WHY prompted me to serve colleagues and students in various capacities - as a National Board Candidate Support Provider, as a Teach to Lead participant seeking solutions, as a building curriculum specialist supporting colleagues, as a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Recipient collaborating with other educators across New York State. National Board Certification helped me become an accomplished teacher and continues to guide my decisions and paths to support my students, my colleagues, and my profession.
Tayana Thadal, NBCT