Wednesday, May 03, 2006

National Board Certification

I've been reading the Edweek blog Certifiable since its inception with great interest. I was looking forward to seeing if the journey of a colleague might be similar in any way to mine. The blog description reads as follows:
Emmet Rosenfeld is an English teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. He has 13 years of experience as a teacher and writer. In this blog, he is chronicling his experiences as he works toward certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
For the first weeks, there were numerous comments on his posts and reflections. Recently there have been few.

I remember my certification process as the most difficult thing I have ever attempted. I recall saying at different points that this is really about what they want and not how I teach. And I think in many ways it was. BUT, I learned an incredible amount about my practice during the process, perhaps because I saw that as one of my goals. I had a sense of my practice but hoped I could feel more validated. My reading of the standards really excited me. I saw myself; I saw areas in which I felt there was lots of room for improvement. Had I had those standards when I began my career I would have been a much better teacher much sooner and for much longer! From the portfolio entries, I looked for the first time systematically, analytically, and reflectively at my practice. I watched myself with young people on the videos. And I worked to improve the area of assessment; one for which I knew there was great room for improvement. I was extremely proud of my demonstration lesson, although never convinced that I would pass. My extraordinary mentor was a wonderful coach and I truly enjoyed the collaboration that NBPTS encourages among it candidates.

The assessment center exercises were challenging. I'm not a "high stakes testing" person. And I left feeling that what they would read didn't really let them know what I knew, that 3 hours of testing couldn't represent what I had learned over the course of many years of teaching.

The day the scores were posted late in November brought great joy to me. I had accomplished board certification, had scored well above the minimum required. I had completed a strenuous, rigorous process successfully. Tears of joy overflowed.

Since my retirement in July of 2004, I have ementored 3 teachers as they worked to achieve certification. Each of them has viewed the process as demanding, overwhelming, yet important to their practice.

I guess I am wondering if I really don't understand Emmet's humor and seeming sarcasm in his blog, or why then he is attempting what many teachers see as a special process to validate their accomplished teaching, since he views it with seeming disdain. And if it is his perspective on this process that has left him without commenters? I am finding his journey doesn't resemble mine at all-- and I am finding I'm losing interest except in how his readers respond to his writing.

I am glad that standards have been identified to help teachers improve their practice. I'm happy that a respected national certification is available to so many accomplished teachers! And I'm proud to be able to use the acronym NBCT.


Unknown said...

I am going through the process now. I am an Exceptional Needs Specialist candidate, and like Emmer, I've been documenting my journey towards the process in my blog:, please see the right sidebar for more of my entries on this. I know I am still a rookie, a 4th year teacher in DCPS, but I believe I am doing the right things for my students and I want to validate this through the NBC. Would you guide/ mentor me too? Please *blink, blink...

Unknown said...

Hi! I am Emma, Ms. Mateo, as fondly called by my students. I am, like teacher Sol, also on my fourth year teaching in the inner city public school here in the USA (coming from Little Rock AR). I have just received a blessing of funding for NBCT. I am pursuing certification in the area of Exceptional Needs Specialist. I am now exploring all possibilities and venues to get support. Help please!!!!!Thanks...

Anonymous said...

I am going through the NBCT process right now and although it is time consuming and sometimes overwhelming, it has been a tremendous experience. I tell my colleagues that are going through this with me - that "it's the journey - not the destination" that is important. Now, I am working extraordinarily hard to get my certification but I have learned a lot about myself, my abilities, my teaching and most importantly, my students!