*Mrs. Amy Siefken
I graduated from Wheaton College with a BA in Art Education in 1991. When I was in the 6th grade, I knew I wanted to be a middle school art teacher. I loved the art room, I loved making art, and I loved my caring art teacher. I started teaching in Coal City in 2012, and I am the Fine Arts Department Leader for our district. Throughout my 19 year career, I have taught art to students in grades K – 12.
After 7 years of teaching, my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our two young sons. Several years later, I went back to teaching. As I returned to the art classroom, I had the desire to improve my teaching skills. Throughout the years, I have learned much from colleagues and professional development opportunities. The National Board process was the next step to allow me to reflect and deepen my teaching and assessment skills in a collaborative, hands-on, practical manner.
The National Board process requires a lot of planning, reflecting, and revising. You have to be self-motivated and willing to look at your teaching critically. With all the work that is required, the most difficult part of the journey for me was when my father unexpectedly died during my second year of the process. Keeping on track with the work of the National Board and caring for my father’s estate was at times overwhelming.
The time spent collaborating and reflecting with peers was worthwhile. I have found that learning from teachers, of all grade levels and subject matters, has enriched my own classroom. Through the 2 year process, I also enjoyed interactions with past students who came back into my classroom to talk to my current students about art and to help me with videotaping.
The National Board process is an individual journey. Do what works for you. If you need something don’t be afraid to ask. Also, it is helpful to find someone in the cohort to partner with and encourage.
Working through this process has made me see how the daily decisions I make, with instruction and assessment, directly impact student understanding and student outcome. The importance of concentrating on my students’ needs and goals when creating lessons was emphasized. I daily use the framework to look at my lessons and reflect on what went well and what I need to change.