We set out in a big red van with a fiery primary school teacher at the wheel. Watch out! This teacher sometimes uses her van to haul her miniature horse, but today, she hauled us, the local National Board cohort. Our destination? WEA Home Stretch, an opportunity for National Board candidates to give and receive feedback on an entry and prepare for the assessment center exercises. The intrepid candidates from our local cohort have only a short time left before their final deadline.
We picked up a math teacher hanging out alongside the highway and we were on our way. Oops, we're missing the band teacher, but not to worry, we finally found him on the ferry. We drove over hill and dale, canal and bridge, and then set sail on the 6:25 am boat across the Puget Sound.
We arrived for breakfast provided by the WEA, which, as I'm sure you all know, stands for We Eat All the time. We made new friends and renewed old acquaintances, and then cut off the morning social hour in time to gather in certificate area groups.
The amazing truth? Over 10% of the certified staff in my school district is currently pursuing National Board Certification. Three cheers for these teachers, who have been meeting on Saturday mornings throughout the school year, on their own time and on their own dime. They have put their own instruction on the line, deprivatizing their practice by sharing videos and reflections. They have demonstrated heroic acts in their own classrooms (I'm not kidding on this), and captured many of those moments on film.
A few lessons from the Home Stretch day? The science teacher received some good feedback. The early childhood teachers, with their videos featuring darling 6 year olds, learned "Cuteness is not one of the three Cs"--nope, instead of cute, evidence of accomplished teaching would need to be clear, convincing and consistent. More seriously, candidates came away with feedback, assessment center preparation, and, for the most part, a can-do approach for the home stretch!