Missy Flanders’ quest for National Board teacher certification came about because of a very difficult choice she made.
“I had over 20 hours from WKU (Western Kentucky University) in administration and curriculum/instruction, but made the decision not to complete that a few years ago,” said the veteran teacher. “I decided that I wanted to stay in the classroom with my students.”
When she mentioned her decision to her principal, the late Amber Thurman, Flanders said Thurman was ecstatic.
“She always wanted the best for all of us,” said Flanders. “As I would consider chickening out, she would keep motivating me and during the process I found out that I could do it and really wanted it more than I thought I would.”
She received her certification in 2012, and now at Abraham Elementary School into her 20th year of teaching, she has no regrets.
She admits, however, the process was a learning curve about her as a teacher.
“The whole process changed my way of thinking about teaching,” she said. “National Boards’ philosophy is to look at everything you do in the classroom and think about the impact that it will make on your students.”
As she plans lessons and teaches throughout the day, she is aware of the impact that the lesson or activity is having on her students.
“Throughout the day, I am also constantly assessing myself,” she said. “Many times the activities are successful, but sometimes I have to go back and start all over.”
She found herself teaching more with small groups of children and often pulled in individuals in order to make more of an impact. Even during those times, she was evaluating herself as a teacher.
“I focused on the teaching standards from National Boards and used them to evaluate myself in many areas,” she said. “Through this self-reflection process, I was able to work on the areas that I needed to grow.”
As a result, Flanders said she feels much more confident in what she is doing.
Being at a school with a large supply of resources, she sometimes faces the enviable problem of choosing from among the many items available to find what is best for her students.
“But, that is exactly what I’ve learned to do,” she said. “I use the materials that I have and a variety of assessments to learn my students’ strengths and weaknesses, then I teach them based on their needs.”
Flanders’ bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in elementary education with a minor in English. Her Rank 1 is in early childhood literacy.