The Journey Through National Board Candidacy Part I

Never heard of it?

Well, here is what you should know:

National Board Certification is an advanced credentialing program with standards for what teachers should know and be able to do. Teachers are certified after passing a four part rigorous assessment. Candidates have to be licensed to teach with three or more years of classroom experience and at least a bachelor’s degree.

It took a few years to actually find the courage to just go for it.

I had downloaded and printed out one of the components and I was beginning to study it. I wasn’t ready to actually commit to registering for National Board Candidacy, but I wanted to just get my feet wet by reading through some of the materials on the NBCT web site. I wanted to find out what I would actually have to do if I went for this. I listened to a National Board Certified music teacher speak about board certification a few years ago. I was enthralled by the program he was presenting. There was only one downside: It costs a lot of money!

I’m not going to sugar coat this: It’s a pricey hill to climb. There are four components involved in the process and each component is priced at $475 plus there is a $75 registration fee every assessment cycle (basically every year). A candidate can submit multiple components in one year, but all four components must be attempted within a three year period. Components can be re-submitted if they don’t score high enough, but that also costs money. It’s highly recommended that all candidates seek out a support group either on-line or in person. Support classes, such as the one at Stanford University, can cost up to $400 per year. These groups have NBCT mentors and coaches who help candidates understand what each component is asking for. Candidates also have the opportunity to read each other’s work and give feedback. Many school districts will either pay for the classes or offer yearly stipends that reimburse the costs once a candidate is certified.

So far I’ve submitted one component- Component 2: Differentiation in Instruction.

In this component I had to demonstrate how I use strategies to differentiate my instruction in order to support students with various backgrounds and skill levels. Luckily, my school district had implemented a new professional development program designed to train teachers how to effectively use differentiation strategies in the classroom. Several of these strategies were featured in my submission. In Component 2, I have to design a unit overview featuring the scope and sequence of the lessons in the particular unit I was presenting. I also had to submit two 3 minute videos: One video showed a beginning point in the lesson and the other video showed a later point in the lesson. Both videos had to feature a student focus group with various types of learners. I submitted a 12 page written commentary which described what was happening in the videos and answered questions related to NBCT’s Five 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.

How did I do all this and go through cancer treatments?

We luckily I had recorded the videos before I went on medical leave. I had also started the written commentary before I was diagnosed last November. After that, it was just a matter of sitting down and doing the writing and attending the support group meetings. I was also lucky that I had a NBCT support coach who was also a music teacher! She knew exactly what this component was asking for and gave me great feedback. I enjoyed the process, even though I had to stay up until 1 a.m. some nights or get up before the sunrise to work on it. I love writing, so this was a nice break from the crazy and chaotic pandemic world outside. Watching my videos over and over again and deep diving into my own flaws and successes was a great way to step back and reflect on who I am as a middle school teacher. I needed this! I can’t wait to continue this journey next school year, although it will be interested with the COVID school structure! The plan is to complete the entire process next year with components 1, 3 and 4.

I’ve got this!

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