In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the effort required to attain National Board certification. It was seriously grueling, in part because I started the process in the second half of the school year. Organized teachers start to prepare before the year even begins. Even with a full year’s focus on the process, the effort required is daunting.
Is it worth the effort to become National Board Certified? Oh yes! The effort, and its consequent reward, comes first as teachers dive into the NBCT 5 core propositions:
Proposition 1: Teachers Are Committed to Students and Their Learning
Proposition 2: Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How to Teach Those
Subjects to Students
Proposition 3: Teachers Are Responsible for Managing and Monitoring Student Learning
Proposition 4: Teachers Think Systematically About Their Practice and Learn from Experience
Proposition 5: Teachers Are Members of Learning Communities.
Next, teachers explore and apply (and read and reread and analyze and reread) one of 25 unique standards for their certification area. Here’s a link to the Exceptional Needs Standards. It’s 79 pages of gold! The bar is very high but well worth the effort. It’s been a few years since I read this document, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to appraise my teaching compass.
The National Board certification process is a marathon of alignment, exploration, validation, and presentation. I lived and breathed that process, discovering that I was solidly on track in many areas and relatively weak in others. I applied considerable effort to understand the complex questions and develop portfolios to demonstrate my skills. And there were glitches. On steroids following a serious poison ivy encounter, I compulsively cleaned my classroom and threw away important documentation of my achievements. In one portfolio, I realized I’d misunderstood the primary question only a few weeks before the submission deadline. About that same time, I was waiting in my car when a dump truck plowed into me and the doctor advised me not to sit at a computer for a few weeks! Crazy suggestion!
What reward was gained from my effort to organize and present my teaching skills, to incorporate new techniques, to analyze, to write, and to videotape? My teaching advanced to a new level. Seriously. I felt both exhausted and exhilarated as I completed the process, like standing on a mountain top and surveying the complex and sometimes rocky path that led me there.