Saturday, June 15, 2013

National Board Certification: What Was I Thinking?-- or, The Real Purpose of NBPTS


  As I've said before, I am currently a candidate for certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).  It's a voluntary advanced teaching credential, based on five core propositions about what constitutes an "accomplished" teacher.  It costs $2,500 to apply, and takes an estimated 400 hours of work to complete the certification process.  In other words, it's the hardest thing ever.  Seriously, getting my Master's degree was far easier.

  In addition to all the time and money, only about 40% of candidates pass the first year.  Although it isn't necessary to re-do the entire process the second time around, it has to be incredibly frustrating to work so hard, only to turn around and do it again.  Never mind that the money I paid already made my teacher-wallet cry.

  The certification process consists of two chunks-- a 4-part teaching portfolio (complete with videos of my classroom in action, samples of student work, and somewhere around 10,000 pages of writing), and an assessment test.  I completed the portfolio in May, and took my test two days ago.  Somehow, I also signed myself up for a graduate course just for fun in April and May.  It goes without saying that I performed a huge happy dance as soon as I recovered from the post-traumatic stress disorder exhaustion caused by the process.

  So-- you might ask, "M, what were you thinking?"  Well, to be honest, I was thinking that the money that comes with NB certification is awesome.  I was also thinking that I sometimes miss being a student and making A's, so this is something I could do to bring back that feeling again.  Admittedly, I'm a bow-head: the little girl who sits at the front of the class and always raises her hand.  Otherwise known as a teacher's pet.

  The process put a huge strain on my life.  I was borderline psycho in the end, and I think my poor husband was bewildered at my behavior.  I know my friends and family were glad to see me finish so I'd stop whining.  But, and here's the real point for today-- the process also really, honestly, made me a better classroom teacher.  So while I was thinking about money and academic glory, and then whining about hard work and exhaustion, I was being challenged in ways I had never been before.  I had to learn to think about my classroom and my students-- and thus my own teaching practices-- in depth.  I learned how to better manage my time, how to think more reflectively about my work, and how to stop being so darn wordy.  The process certainly revolutionized what I'm doing in room 146 . . . so, pass or fail, I'd do it again.  It was worth it.

Let's see if I still feel that way when scores are released in November/December.  

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