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Applying for National Boards: An alumni perspective

Applying for National Boards: My Experience of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Application Process

Angela Pearson

NBPTS Certified Art Teacher
Sanderson High School, Raleigh, North Carolina
Summer, 2008

Eager to share her experience of preparing documents for NBPTS certification, Angela (who is currently enrolled in the MATC program) wrote the following description shortly after submitting her materials for review. The good news? Angela received word in December 2008 that she passed review and is now officially certified with the NBPTS! Congratulations, Angela!

Ok. So now I have a lot more questions!

After getting an idea of what National Board Certification means, what I had to do and needed to know to get started, and discovering it was not going to be as easy as it first sounded, I had a lot of new questions.  I feel that my story is not the only one to tell.  Since so many colleagues at my school have been through the process, I gathered their questions prior to beginning the process and asked for any tips and suggestions to help someone considering National Board Certification.

Tips and Suggestions

Everybody is different.  Hearing how I did it, my strategies for working through the process may not be the best solution for you.  You have to know yourself as a learner and worker.  Do you work best with someone else there or do you need alone time to concentrate?  Do you tend to write too much or too little or struggle with writing all together? I’ve pulled together some tips and suggestions from different teachers who have passed, not passed, retaken, or are awaiting their scores to hopefully help you be successful.

Gayle Perkins

My National Boards Experience

When I began teaching in North Carolina, I met many teachers who talked about this project called National Boards.  I was always curious about it, and noticed that all of the teachers I knew that had completed it appeared very accomplished and confident.  The district in which I worked, Wake County Public Schools, holds the National Boards process in high regard, and offers a great deal of support to the teachers who choose to complete the process.  As an additional bonus, the state pays the fee for the process as an incentive to recruit teachers for this journey…and a journey it was.

Upon completing my initially licensed teacher years in North Carolina, I went to the meeting the county offered about signing up for National Boards.  My colleagues and I had discussed what the requirements are and I decided I wanted to challenge myself and what I knew to be quality teaching.  National Boards was the process to do just that.

National Boards has two requirements.  First, you must complete a teaching portfolio, then you must take an assessment of best teaching practices.  The commitment is a large one…the portfolio portion took me almost six months to complete.  It consists of four entries that are based upon the subject matter and ages of the students you teach.  If awarded my certification, I will be certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist (students ages 7-12 or 3rd through 6th grade in all subject areas).  The entries I completed were ones that focused on narrative and expository writing, science integrated with math, social studies, and accomplishments I have made as a professional.  Two of the entries, science and social studies, required a video taped lesson with student involvement in a thought provoking lesson.  All entries are outlined with specific requirements and specific questions for reflection.  Each entry also required that student artifacts be gathered to prove that the lesson was valid and worthwhile, and that the students were making the connections discussed in the entry.  Each entry required at least 12 pages of typed discussion in which you reflect on the choices you made as a teacher and the alignment to national curriculum.  It forces you to look at standards and justify what you are teaching to your students.  Each entry also asks you to examine the successes and failures of the lessons and what could be done to improve upon what you are teaching in the classroom.  The assessment is one that is taken over a period of four hours where you are required to respond to prompts based on different teaching scenarios.  You must discuss the correct portion of the curriculum you would teach to your students and how you would help them learn it.  Some of the scenarios involve academics, while others may require your insight on how best to handle a social situation with your students.

For me, it forced me to become a more focused teacher.  The process is one of great self-reflection, and one that makes you question the validity of what you are teaching your students…not just from the standpoint of district and state guidelines, but also to what we as a nation expect our children to know.  It also makes you take a much closer look at the students you have in the class you use for the portfolio entries.  I felt as though I really knew my students and what they needed from me…more so than any other year I taught at my school.  This reflective practice continued throughout the year and I was able to make some drastic and fundamental changes to the way in which I was educating my students.  It was a priceless experience…one that I will credit the change in my teaching and the level of success of my students last year to.

I highly recommend this process to any teacher.  It is a very rewarding process…one full of self discovery, and one that will turn you into a better teacher.  It is an experience that requires much time and effort, and not to be taken lightly.  I now know why my colleagues at school felt so confident and appeared so accomplished.  They too have changed through this process and become the best teachers they can be.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Select Websites

Related Links

Teachers.net Chatroom
http://teachers.net/mentors/NBPTS/