Master of Education in Teaching

Michelle Schneden

English Teacher

Geneseo High School

Geneseo, IL

"By earning my Master of Education in Teaching and studying the standards of the National Board, I have gained a clear understanding of why I was doing what I'd been doing all those years in the classroom. A lot of what we do as teachers is intuitive and difficult to articulate to others. St. Ambrose became my compass."

How to succeed

"I never do anything without first asking that all-important question: ‘What do I want my students to know and be able to do?'"

After earning her associate's degree from Black Hawk College and her bachelor's degree in English and secondary education from Augustana College, Michelle embarked on a career that fulfilled her passion for learning and reading. In 1993 she taught English to junior high school students in Rock Island. In 2001 she began teaching English at Geneseo High School. And in 2005 she enrolled in the St. Ambrose MEdT program to become an even more strategic teacher. After completing her degree in 2007 she earned her National Board certification.

Not only has becoming an NBCT improved her classroom technique, the credential has also opened up new professional opportunities. Michelle is a mentor for a cohort of teachers through the National Board Resource Center at Illinois State University, where she's guiding other teachers through the certification process.

In her own words

What attracted you to teaching?

I became a teacher because I enjoyed learning and I had many excellent teachers who were great role models. Most importantly, I teach because of the students. Year after year I'm amazed at their intelligence, creativity and compassion for others. I feel honored to work with such wonderful kids.

What's the most valuable thing you learned?

I learned to prioritize. Because the program is 100 percent practical, I would often be sparked by something we discussed as a cohort, and spend hours after class reworking an assignment for my students for the following day. The collegiality and support I received from my cohort members and instructors will stay with me forever.

How have you been able to apply what you learned?

I was pleased to find that everything we did positively impacted my practice, and most importantly my students. The books I read in my multicultural class completely opened my eyes to issues I'd never considered before. Everything we learned could be tailored to our personal experiences. For instance, in "An Island of English," the teacher gets her Chinese students excited about learning by telling them the plot of the story before tackling the language. I put this into practice when teaching Shakespeare and Homer. My students love the stories, and become engrossed with the language. Everything translates.

How did the program prepare you to become National Board certified?

Classes focus on everything you need for the test and portfolio submission. We spent a whole eight-week class on entry four of the portfolio: documenting our accomplishments of working with families and the community. We met as a cohort, discussed the attributes and brainstormed ideas. This was so essential, because when we finally applied for certification, we'd already worked through the process together.

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