These past four days I attended the AZ K-12 Center's Summer Institute for National Board Certification. I talk a lot about National Board Certification on Facebook and previously on this blog, so here I present a more detailed explanation of exactly what I'm doing.
National Board Certification is a challenging assessment program where teachers present their practice for evaluation against high national teaching standards. Those not in education need to know that teachers are currently judged by state teaching standards, and even that is not consistent across the state because individual school districts create their own teacher evaluations.
Through National Board Certification, I prepare four portfolio entries that document my work with students in Math, Science, Social Studies and Literacy. The portfolio entries are intense. Each requires a 12-14 page written commentary addressing specific areas of my teaching practice. Two of the entries require a video of my teaching in action. One entry asks me to analyze student work and prove how I helped develop students as writers. One portfolio entry also requires me to document my contributions outside of the classroom. Honestly, the process is like my Masters Program times four.
After I assemble my portfolio entries and ship them off for assessment by March 31, 2012, I will take a written test where I demonstrate my subject area knowledge - which I will also do in each portfolio entry. Both the portfolio and my test scores are combined to determine if I am bestowed the honor of becoming a NBCT - National Board Certified Teacher. There are many teachers who do not acheive NBCT status their first year and must redo their work to submit again. This a definite hard-core and worthwhile process. I am an NBCT wannabe.
Less than 5% of America's teachers pursue National Board Certification. Currently in my district, I get a one- time stipend, but really no other incentive. In fact, NBCT's used to get a stipend each year, but due to the budget crisis, the funding for that was just cut. So why do it? Simple answer: I want to be a better teacher. The certification process will compel me to judge my teaching against national standards. I have ten standards in my certificate area (MC_GEN - Middle Childhood Generalist, basically a teacher of students through 2nd through 6th grade). The standards cover how a teacher should know her students, Assessment, Family Involvement, Knowledge of Subject Material, and Instructional Strategies. As I read through the standards, its affirming to see I already practice many of accomplished teacher qualities listed within them. However, I am lacking in a few areas and look to focus on those areas more throughout the year.
So I start my National Board year concentrating on exactly why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I want to change student's lives. I want to excite kids about learning. I want them to experience success. Pursuing National Board Certification allows me to focus all my energy, all my focus on achieving those goals.