Shaping the Future: An NBCT’s Reflections on Student-Centered Education

May 16, 2024

By Jessica Malloy, NBCT – Las Vegas, Nevada

Although the National Board journey made me break into shingles, I would endure all the stress again in a heartbeat. This process stretched my mind, refocused my teaching pedagogy, and opened my heart. The Five Core Propositions challenged me to focus on my students. It taught me to see who they were as individuals, not just numbers in a chair. I set personal goals to talk to each student about every day. I found out about their hobbies, their passions, their motivation, and their backgrounds. With this knowledge, I could cater my state standards and teaching expectations to my student’s interests to reach proficiency while incorporating their interests. When I found out most of the students liked to draw, I added artwork to my lesson plans, and instead of doing worksheets to show plot diagrams, we used pictures and created comic books. The students were so successful when they could learn in their way.

As teachers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but when I started implementing the National Board questions, perspectives, and challenges, I found the students were more successful; they were having fun learning and were excited to come to class and work! This, of course, motivated me and rejuvenated my passion for teaching. When I learned the students liked sports, I changed my novel choices, and the kids became invested in the book. We did a collaborative Socratic Circle, and I couldn’t get the kids to stop talking about the book! They complained when the bell rang, and they had to stop! When I learned more about their backgrounds, I changed my essay prompts, and their writing improved dramatically. They began participating more in class since I used topics they were interested in. When I focused on the students and added more technology to my teaching and assessments, their scores skyrocketed because they were excited to work on new computer programs and implement iPad apps.

The National Board process took the monotony out of teaching and challenged me to find what would help the students in my class. I realized teaching doesn’t have to be the same activity every year or class period for every student; I can create learning catered to my students, and when they feel like someone cares about them and who they are, they excel academically! This focus on the kids unified my classes, created more respect through collaboration, and taught me that teaching isn’t one size fits all. Assignments can be tweaked for individual students and modified to specific goal-setting for students at different levels.

This journey to achieving National Board certification motivated me, and I was excited to go to work. I was happy to see the kids, and I wanted more than anything to make each one improve and become a lifelong lover of education. This journey put the focus on my students, and teaching became fun again because the students were excited to learn, and that interest made them succeed. The National Board journey was all-encompassing. My strategies increased, my students became my focus, and I fell in love with teaching again.

Jessica Malloy, NBCT

Jessica Maloy has a BS in English and an M.Ed in post-secondary careers. She has taught for 16 years in Las Vegas and earned her National Board in 2018. She has taught part-time at UNLV and is working on her doctorate while facilitating National Board candidates with the Nevada National Board Institute. She currently works at the state prison, teaching English and reading to inmates as they earn their high school diplomas. She and her husband have four fur babies.