Mar 15 2010

National Boards

National Boards are taking over my life!

For those of you who don’t know much/anything about National Boards, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is an independant, nonprofit, national organization that provides a certification program to teachers that goes above and beyond the usual coursework/ student teaching model. A National Board certification says that a teacher is accomplished/ advanced in their craft. In many states, including North Carolina, National Board teacher are higher on the pay scale (in fact, in NC, you actually make more with a NB certification than with a masters degree). National Board certifications, because they are accepted in many different states, can also help streamline the process of transferring your credential to certaian states.

To become National Board certified, as you might imagine, is a bit of a hassle. Right now, Chris and I are deep in the throes of preparing our portfolios, which are due at the end of March. The Social Studies portfolio consists of four parts:

1. Teaching Reasoning through Writing – I have to provide writing samples from two different kids across three assignments that show how I teach critical thinking and analytical skills through writing. Written Commentary/ Analysis = 13 pages max.

2. Fostering Civic Competence – I have to submit a fifteen minute, continuous, unedited, video of me teaching, in a “whole class” setting a social studies/ history topic which links to the world outside the classroom and be able to explain how it help develop students’ civic competence. Written commentary & Video Analysis = 12 pages max.

3. Promoting Social Understanding- I have to submit another, continuous, unedited, fifteen minute video of me teaching. This one focuses on the students in small groups (I have to interact with a least two groups of 3 – 6 students) and how I facilitate their discussion of a social studies/ history topic. Written Commentary & Video Analysis = 12 pages max.

4. Documenting Accomplishments – In this entry I have to provide evidence of “accomplshments” that show how I interact with parents (and other “stakeholders”, to use a TFA term), how I function as a learner, and how I function as a leader/ collaborator. I have to explain/ describe how each of the accomplishments directly impact my students’ learning. Documentation = 12 pages max.; Written Analysis of Accomplishments = 10 pages max.; Reflective Summary = 2 pages max.

The portfolio is due at the end of March and then, on May 17th I take the subject matter test, which consists of six written responses to prompts dealing with various content specific issues. As far as I can tell, it is somewhat like the written PRAXIS SS pedagogy test, but on steroids.

Anyway, with three weeks left until the portfolio is due, I am eating, sleeping and breathing National Boards. I have horrifying dreams about my portfolio box getting lost. Every time a student says something moronic/off-color I think “at least I wasn’t taping!”

Despite all of this, I have to say that I am enjoying the process tremendously. I haven’t really been this reflective about my teaching practices in a long time. As horrifying as it is to see/hear myself on video I am finding that I am now catching/reducing some of my verbal ticks (“Ok guys”). The video taping also caused me to change my seating chart *cough cough* ‘nuf said.

If this sounds at all interesting to you, check out the following:

National Boards website: 

For those CMs out there who are intrigued, but without the required three years of teaching under their belt, check out Take One! A pre-National Boards program that any teacher can complete, where you complete on portfolio entry and get back extensive commentary on your teaching. If you pass you can bank your score!

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