National Board Certification

When I started doing National Boards, I had
already gone through a pretty intensive Curriculum and Instruction master’s
degree. And I was fairly fresh off of that…probably only out of it a couple of
years, and really using a lot of the reflection tools and things that I
learned during that. But I cannot say enough about National Boards. If I had to
pick professional development that is the best thing that ever happened to me,
it would be National Boards. And it’s not that I passed those tests, and it’s not
all of those things…it’s the reflection piece. And you might think you’re
reflecting, and you might think you’re analyzing, and you might think you’re
doing a lot of these things with your students. But National Boards really
focuses you, and it teaches you how to do the most effective things, in the most
effective way, with individual students. It makes you feel that more
individualization is possible because it asks you to do that with two students.
And once you do that (or at least it did in mine), once you do that with two
students for one component, you start thinking, “Hmm…I need to do that a little
more.” And so it kind of bleeds out into other students, and pretty soon you’re
doing it for whole classes, in a small way. I would encourage anyone, even though
it’s a fairly pricey thing to do, the amount of reflection and the amount
of…just personal growth that you have. And you really learn what your strengths
are. You learn that certain ways that maybe you were doing things weren’t the
most efficient or effective for students. And you’re analyzing data, and you’re
doing different things, and so you really grow as a teacher. It’s not that I feel
sad for the students I had before because I was a very dedicated teacher.
But I feel…I would say it’s more of a level of confidence. And also, I went
through it with another language arts teacher that was my next-door neighbor
teacher. She now teaches social studies on my team.
And the two of us did it together. And so just the amount we already collaborated
because we do lesson planning together because we share one group of students
and then have blocks of other students. It taught me to do that as well. And so
we took the National Boards into that, and we both went a different way. We both
picked different kinds of things to emphasize, but we grew together in that.
And then were able to share our experiences. And if you talk with someone
who did National Boards…that level of reflection is there, and that
examination of what it means to be a professional. And so they
require you to do that. I would tell people, don’t get really set
on getting there the first year because there is a cut-off. And I felt
like I had done a really good job, but I think having to go back and redo a
couple of things…I only missed it by a couple of points, and that was really sad
for me, as kind of…what I don’t like calling people overachievers…but that’s
what people might have called me when I was in high school and college.
And it just really, almost, at first…and I thought, “No, if this is the kind of
thing that’s what they’re saying it is, I should be really polished. And so I
should see this as a learning experience.” And so we went back, and we practiced in
front of each other, and we did different things. And so it was very, you know, eye-opening. And I would say, don’t expect to get through it the first year. If you do, I
would, you know, really congratulate you because most people do not. They usually
go back and fix a couple of things. And that year where I had to fix those
things, I really feel like I grew even more. And so I would recommend it to
anyone. It really examines who you are as a
teacher and gives you a hyper focus. And for me, it became reflection, and really
reflecting on lessons. And now I don’t reflect at the end of
the week. I reflect each day: what went well, what didn’t go as well. And
sometimes I take that reflection back in to students. If I feel like an entire
class…if we do a journal entry, and two of my classes do well, and my third one,
my third block doesn’t do as well, I will look at myself, and I will look at what
was going on with them, and I will sometimes take it back to the class. And
I will say (I have eighth graders)…I will say, “Did you notice anything different?”
And so I will ask them questions as a whole. And at first they’re kind of
weirded out by that. But then they get used to it. And it doesn’t have to happen
all the time because hopefully a lot of times things go more smoothly because of
that. But I think that gave me the independence, the courage, whatever…I
don’t know exactly how I would call it, what I would put a name to it, but…or the knowledge to know that it’s okay to go ask because sometimes the best person
to tell you is the person that went through it with you. And so sometimes
that’s the students. So I would recommend it to anyone. You will learn so
much because it’s your own growth story. It’s your own journey.

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