The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards tells its candidates when they submit their portfolios each spring that they will get their results by the end of the year. On December 30, 2017, it crossed my mind that I hadn’t heard anything from the NBPTS yet. Like so many high school seniors seeing that the big envelope didn’t arrive, I was pretty sure I knew what that meant.
The NBPTS organization administers the National Board certification program for teachers. To achieve the rank of National Board Certified Teacher, a candidate needs to demonstrate excellence across multiple domains of teaching practice (in my case, Content Knowledge, Differentiation in Instruction, Teaching Practice and Learning Environment, and Effective and Reflective Practitioner). These candidates elect to pay a few thousand dollars for the program and spend months of testing, collecting artifacts, analyzing their effectiveness, and documenting their findings all in hopes of being deemed an NBCT.
I began working on my certification program in January 2015 at the insistence of my IMSA colleague, Dr. Lee Eysturlid, who had himself recently joined the NBCT ranks. The year I started, the program was under revision and the NBPTS was releasing the updated components on a delay. Had I started in 2014, before the revision, I could have completed all 4 components in one year, but instead, I was on a 3 year schedule. In retrospect, I appreciate the slower pace I was forced to take, since completing even just one component per year was still difficult to balance while working full time and having a family. But it also gave me triple the time for anxiety, self-doubt, and general agony as I awaited my results.
When I didn’t get the big envelope, I knew I had at least another year to go. I’d need to select a component to re-do, revise my first attempt for weaknesses, and spend scores of hours this spring in late nights and weekends trying to produce a better package. I wasn’t ready to face the disappointment just yet, but with the registration clock ticking for the 2018 program cycle, I didn’t have time to waste with self-pity – I needed to start poring over my score report to begin strategizing for the next year. So, I called my wife over, logged in to the NBPTS webpage, turned away, and asked her to give me the bad news. Facing away from the screen, all I saw was her wide-eyed gasp. I looked back to the screen to see this banner.
Achieving NBCT status stirred up a lot of emotions – gratitude for lessons learned and supportive mentors, frustration over unclear instructions and technical limitations, and pride of accomplishment – but mostly I just feel relief to be done with it all. At some point in the spring, I’ll write more about the work I did for each component in hopes that it can encourage some new candidate. I’ve got some unexpected time on my hands now.