Thursday, July 9, 2015

Changes to the National Board Certification Process

Hello bloggers! Chances are, if you've found this blog it is because you are thinking about National Board Certification or have already taken the leap. First, congratulations! This will be the most intense, frustrating, awesome, rewarding and terrifying thing you ever do in your career. Guaranteed.

First, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Raye and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Literacy. I first began the National Board process in the 2011-2012 school year when I taught 2nd grade. I missed certification on the first try by decimals (0.375 of a point to be exact). I pulled my big girl pants on and redid one entry and certified in November 2013. I am going into my 10th year of teaching in 2015-2016 and will be teaching 3rd grade (ironically enough in my old 2nd grade room where I began the National Board Process!). I have taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grades prior to this coming year. Currently I am a 2nd year doctoral candidate at Concordia University-Portland working on my Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership. Someone has to change the world and I figure it may as well be me :) My ultimate goal is to start a teacher-led school in West Michigan where I live.

National Board Certification is the most amazing thing I have ever done. To be 100% honest, people scoff and think I did it so I could add NBCT behind my name when I sign things (and yes, I do proudly add letters behind my name in a professional capacity). These naysayers do not understand. I did not go through this arduous process because I wanted to add letters behind my name. I wanted to make a difference in education. Period. No one can take away the growth I made as a teacher during the certification process. You are focused to objectively evaluate yourself and really look for areas where you can grow and in turn help students grow. I would say that for me, the biggest takeaway from the whole process is, it is not about you. It is about kids. Period. 

With that said, the National Board process is currently under revision. The biggest changes are in the timeline for completion and the names things are called. When I worked on National Board, there were "entries" and now they are called "components". At that time, you could complete all four components in one year; as of this writing, that is not possible as some components have not been released under the revision yet. If one was to begin National Board Certification process today (July 9, 2015), you would not be able to certify until November of 2017 at the earliest. This is because the final component will not be released until the 2016-2017 school year. 

You can find information on all of the available certification areas here. This page provides you with links to the information for Components 1 and 2 for all of the available certificates. (Component 3 is due to be released this fall.) I will mostly discuss the EMC Literacy certificate since that is the certification that I have and know well.

There are 4 Components total.
  1. Content Knowledge - This is a computer based exercise. It used to be called "Assessment Center" and was usually done AFTER the portfolio entries. For the EMC Literacy certificate there are 3 exercises (Analyzing Student Reading, Writing Development and Literacy Across the Curriculum). There are also 40 multiple choice questions included in this component.
  2.  Differentiation in Instruction - This used to be Entry 1 or 2 (depending upon the certificate). This component allows you to show your ability to plan instruction based upon a student's needs and provide work samples and written commentary to provide evidence of that. 
  3. Learning Practice and Teaching Environment (information available fall 2015)
  4. Effective and Reflective Practitioner (information available fall 2016)
Each component costs $475 so $1900 for the whole process (sounds like a lot but it was $2500 when I did it!). You can choose to take as few or as many components in a year as you want with up to three years to complete them all (this will be true even after all 4 components are revised and available).

Personally, I would have appreciated having the option to do two one year and two the next year. When I was a retake candidate and only had one entry to focus upon for the whole school year, it was soooo much easier on me mentally. I did not have to fuss or worry about all of the other components looming over me.  As more information becomes available about the revision process and as new components are available, I will update this information.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It's that time.....

We got an email last weekend letting us know that they are preparing for score release. No exact date yet...but if its anything like the past few years, we'll get our scores next Saturday. Last year they came out the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

I'm honestly not that nervous. If I certified, awesome-sauce. If I didn't...well, we'll come to that bridge when we have to. I truly think I will make it this time though. My entry from the spring was so much better than my entry the year before. And with only a half a point needed before the weight....I'm optimistic that I will certify this year.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today is the day!

After months of procrastinating, polishing, reworking, pulling out my hair and just generally being SO OVER THIS PROCESS, I am finally submitting my final retake of Entry 1. I feel much more confident about the entry this year than I did last year. My good friend read the entry and gave me some great feedback on it too. I think that more and more throughout this process I have had to realize I am a learner too. I'm not perfect by any means and this process really puts that in your face whether or not you want to admit it! I've made some great gains right along with my kiddos and I will never regret deciding to do National Board.

I only need a half point before the weighting to certify on this entry and I think by looking through what I had a year ago and what I've done this year...there just isn't any way that I won't make it. I'm cautiously optimistic though--I was SO SURE last year that I'd nail it and I didn't. By 0.375 of a point before the weight. So I'm not trying to be cocky. I'm trying to be realistic. I KNOW this entry is a million times better than the one I submitted last year. Is it perfect? I doubt it. But my insights toward my own teaching and the growth of my student are much better after having gone through the full process last year and being able to focus solely on one entry all of this year. 

I'm glad that I've procrastinated as ridiculous as that probably has allowed me to really step back, really read the entry again with fresh eyes, get feedback from someone else and then sit on it again. This is exactly how I did my master's project too. I was gung ho on it and then sat on it for almost a month before I submitted my final copy. 

It will be a huge relief to get this thing off my hands for the last time. I am so glad I did most of it last year when I had one solid grade because I don't know how I would have managed to do it all this year with a split grade. I probably would be in a padded cell. My biggest realization is that this is not the kind of writing that I like to do because you can't write it like a term paper--you HAVE to cut the fluff which means you are often grammatically incorrect and it drives me insane to write like that. Crazy insane. 

Alas, this is it. I'm not going to have to write like this again. At least not until renewal time and that's 10 years away. I may be willing to stomach it again nine years from now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's the final countdown!

It's been awhile since I've updated here on this blog and figured I would for the few people who read it :)

It's been both a blessing and a curse that National Board went to the electronic portfolio this year. Blessing because I have had an extra month and a half to gather materials, write and get some feedback (a very dear friend that I met through Round 1 of NB last year is reading for me and providing some feedback). It's also a curse because I have been able to put it off a long time and that isn't always so good.

I submitted my draft to my reader on Sunday and am just waiting for her to email me back. I only need a half point to certify and I can guarantee that my writing is much better this time around having been able to wait a bit longer and focus on only one entry rather than 4. This time last year I was prepping for the AC and it's been almost one year since I took that test. Hard to believe. 

It's been a crazy year teaching a 4/5 split but I've almost made it! I am really excited to get my friend's feedback, make my revisions and send that sucker off, hopefully for the last time! 

Then, of course, it is the waiting game AGAIN until November when I hopefully log in and see "CONGRATULATIONS".

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time to Move It...

I have been horrible with working on National Board this school year. Grrrr. I have all of my samples, my student selected and everything put into my paper template...I just need to write the entry now. It's hard to get started because there is always so much to do for my classroom (even with a student teacher who is greatly sharing my load).
Alas, it is time. NB announced earlier last month that they are no longer using the infamous blue box. Everything will be submitted electronically. That means I have from April 1-May 31 to submit my portfolio entry. That is crazy but awesome (ooooh how I could have used that last year!).
I am not going to wait until the last second. My goal is to (hopefully) get my entry written, proofed and read by a NB certified friend by April 1 so I can make corrections/clarifications if I need to and submit it when I get back from Spring Break. Then it's done, out of my hair and I'm happy.
I'm so glad I went through the big process last year because there is just no way it would get done this year with everything going on at work. Whew!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting it going

I have purposely put off working on my retry for National Board until now. I've gathered some samples and whatnot but I haven't really done anything  except read my directions again and then shove them into the folder I made for my retake and push it out of sight again.

I think when push comes to shove, that I'm ready to admit how disappointed I was to not certify last year. I busted my ass, neglected myself, my family and even my job sometimes in pursuit of this and I still didn't make it. It's frustrating to realize you can kill yourself and it doesn't matter because you're just a number in a big ole stack of entries that someone is assessing.

I don't like being a downer. It's draining emotionally and physically. So I've avoided my reality for awhile.

With 2013, I'm not avoiding anymore. My whole life tendency has been to push things under the rug and "deal with it later". Well, later is here as far as National Board is concerned. 

I am ready to bust out the instructions and go back over them again and again. I need to highlight and make note of areas that perhaps I didn't really quite answer last time. Then I am going to look at the samples I already have and decide on a student to focus upon. 

(Note I am only working on Entry 1 for my retake since I only need a half point higher on the entry to transfer to the 6 points I needed to certify.)

This is the entry that focuses upon Promoting Literacy Development through Writing. To begin with I gathered samples from about six or seven of my students, both grades from one of our weekly writing tests. The students have to construct an answer to a question and use evidence from the text to support their response. I thought this would be a great "baseline" paper to help me determine areas where the student(s) needed extra instruction or support.

The first actual sample will be the December writing prompt where my students had to write about a special person, place or event. I can use the baseline information from the weekly test to set my goals, then use the writing sample to show progress, growth and where the student still needs further instruction. 

For the final sample, I plan to use the February writing prompt that we use which is a compare/contrast essay. I think this will show a range of writing for meaning instances as well as allowing me to help  my students to make connections in their writing across writing genres (ie that you still can use the same strategies for a constructed response as for a narrative as for a compare/contrast piece). 

Who knows if this will make it this time but I'm gonna give it my all and be positive.

I have until April 15 (two weeks longer than first timers have) to turn in the entry. I am not going to wait that long. Depending upon when our final writing prompts are finished in February, I hope to send my entry off by  the middle of March at the latest. Then its back to the waiting game like last year--waiting eight months to find out if you've made it or not.