I Survived National Board Certification

I should make a bumper sticker with that phrase and pass it out to NBCT’s everywhere 🙂 If you follow Whimsicle on Instagram, you might have seen this:

Cheer #nbct #countdown2xmas

A photo posted by JoAnn (@awhimsiclelife) on

I became a National Board Certified Teacher!  It was a long, challenging, stressful process where I analyzed my classroom practice and proved I met the board’s standards through student writing samples and video of myself in the classroom.  We’re talking four 14-page papers, two 15-minute videos and then 6 30-minute essay questions at Pearson (the Fort Knox of testing centers, I swear).

Less that 50% of teachers certify on their first try. You get three years to retake your low-scoring portions. If you don’t make it (attain a score of 275)  in those three years, you must begin again. Start all over.

It took me all three years.  But…it was worth it.

I admit that now 🙂

National Board took me through the wringer.  I admit, I thought I was a pretty good teacher going into the process.  I thought it would be a given. I put in a year of work and get my reward.  Easy.

On that November night of score release, my stomach twitched and I couldn’t fall asleep.  All I wanted to do was sit at my computer and hit refresh.  The next morning, I awoke at 5:30am to check.  My score: a 260.  I didn’t stop crying for an entire day.  Dramatic? Well, maybe.  But that’s me.  I indulged in my first bit of retail therapy that weekend and bought an amazing pair of boots which I still wear to this day. National-Board-pity-party-boots

At school, I hung my head in shame.  I couldn’t talk to other teachers about it for fear I would break into tears.  Those people I did talk to witnessed my face crumpling as I revealed that I didn’t make it.

I really let the failure define me.  I couldn’t even consider my retake until I resolved me *strong* feelings.  It took me a month and a half to pick myself up and figure out my next steps. 

I decided to redo two of the portfolio entries.  One required me to analyze my students’ writing and how my actions improved their work.  The other was a Social Studies lesson in which I filmed myself teaching and dissected my performance about how the lesson helped build classroom community through the standards.  Thankfully, my school had just adopted a new writing program and for the first time in my teaching career, I finally understood how to teach writing.  My writing portfolio rocked.  Social Studies? Meh.  I went through the motions and I hoped and prayed that the assessors liked it.

November rolled around again.  My son was 4 months old and I was out of the classroom as a stay-at-home mom.  Please, let me get it, I thought, I have no classroom to redo another portfolio. 

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

274.  I missed by one point.  ONE POINT! My writing portfolio evidently did rock.  My Social studies portfolio didn’t change at all.

I decided to retake an assessment center test.  I bought a book on reading theory and miscue analysis (analyzing the mistakes in student reading).  In May, I took the test.  I felt confident.  It was really my last chance, so whatever happened, I was done with the National Board.

November again. 283.  National Board Certified Teacher!  Yes!!

Was it worth it?  Most definitely.  Although it brought me a lot of stress and a little heartache, I became a better teacher by going through the National Board process.  It focused me on what is important in teaching: the goals I set for students and how I help them reach those goals.

Now that I “achieved” (National Board lingo for becoming certified), I’m itching a little to go back to the classroom.  I miss the rigor.  I miss the challenge.  I miss the feeling I get when a student finally gets something they have been struggling with. 

Hats off to all the teachers in the classroom right now.  You are doing truly important work.

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. I missed by one point my first try. What a challenging process-I hung in there and achieved my second try. Congratulations!!!

  2. Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment. I *might* have given up, but you hung in there — that’s awesome!

    Also, LOVE the boots – they might just have been worth it!

    1. Do it Theresa! At times I felt like I pursued it too early in my career. However, I grew so much as a teacher in those 3 years. I don’t think any other professional development would have pushed me as much as National Board Certification.

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