In recognition of "Score Release Day" the writers here
at Stories from School are focusing this week on National Board Certification.
We're recognizing and connecting with the new NBCTs, offering our congratulations
and welcoming them into the community of accomplished teachers.
Achieving National Board Certification is incredibly difficult. At
least it was for me. So to all the new NBCTs out there, congratulations! You’ve
done something amazing, not only for yourselves, but for your students.
Celebrate. Live it up.
But I want to focus on a certain subset of National Board
Certified Teachers: the retakers. (Or as the National Board calls them, the “Advanced
Candidates”) As you probably know, the National Board essentially gives
candidates three years in which to certify. Those who don’t certify the first year
can bank their higher scores and redo the parts in which they fell short. And
if they need to, they can do it again the next year.
I am in
awe of those teachers.
because I’m one of them, but precisely because I’m not. When I went through the
process, twelve years ago, I certified – not by much – but by enough. Had I
fallen short, I’m pretty sure I would have turned the page on the whole sorry
episode, chalked it up to unfounded hubris, and moved on. Sort of like my
failed attempt to climb Mt. Baker. (See figure A)
certifying, I’ve had the opportunity to work with dozens of candidates. Some of
them certify and some don’t. And of those who don’t, some try again and some don’t.
Those who try again - who go through the anger and grief of not certifying; yet
ultimately dust themselves off and go through it again; those candidates are my
favorites. I admire their grit; their persistence, their perseverance
and their endurance. And thier humility
everyone wants to certify the first time around. That’s the goal. Not only is
it more efficient, but it’s cheaper. NB certification, however, is an
assessment. And like all assessments, it doesn’t always accurately measure what
it’s supposed to measure. In my experience, the biggest barrier for most
candidates is their ability to clearly communicate, in written form, how their
teaching measures up to the standards. Being a good teacher is one thing; being
able to write about it is something else altogether, and it’s that “something
else” that frequently prevents good teachers from certifying.
National Board Certification is more than an assessment. It’s also a very
powerful process of professional development. By mandating self-analysis and
reflection, it makes teachers better, whether they certify or not. It stands to
reason that those teachers who spend two or three years immersed in this process
get more out of it than the rest of us. Not that they’d want it that way, of
course, but still.
to you guys. The retakers. The advanced candidates. You tried to climb that
mountain, but failed. Then you tried again and made it. Some of you had to try
three times. You’ve shown persistence, perseverance and endurance. You’re role
models for the rest of us who worry about trying something difficult; something
we might not accomplish.
the kind of people who should be teaching.