The initial process of National Board Certification can seem overwhelming. I think about my “box” that arrived in the fall of 2001 and how it evolved into a smaller package that arrived for 2012 renewal. But the big ideas remained the same.
I had a lot of sticky tags and highlighting on my first book of standards. But a jump-start session at Western Kentucky University helped me process the renewal a bit differently.
Looking back, here’s what I would do, knowing now, what I did not know then.
1. Internalize the 5 Core Propositions – what I mean, is to read them, pause and think about what these mean to me, what they look like in my classroom, within my professional learning community. Each and every decision I make as a teacher and how that decision will impact student learning eventually ties back to these 5 Core Propositions.
2. Initially, read the standards for my area of certification. No notes, no jotting ideas. Just reading.
3. After a day or two, I would skim the standards again – highlight cue words, but in the margins, add post-its that include the standard in my own words or create questions to ponder for that particular standard. Even jotting things I may currently do to support this standard.
4. Step away from the standards, get post-its or index cards and list individually – accomplishments in the classroom, professional arena, within my school and community – that link to student growth. By accomplishments, this could be: strategies used in classroom, structures/routines to improve student engagement, ways I’ve strengthened my content knowledge, events/training/collaborations I’ve participated in, initiated/organized – and how they impact student learning within my classroom, school, community. Events could be anything from an RTI structure, tutoring, parent nights, community support, etc.
- In the classroom – suggest an area of need and specific strategies / structures I learned about to improve as a teacher in order to meet this need. How did these strategies impact student learning? What evidence do I have to support this claim?
- In the school – suggest an area of need within your local learning community – what role(s) did I take to help improve this? How did this impact student learning? What evidence do I have to support this claim?
- In the professional community – how do I lead/learn with other colleagues – either within my local community or in state/national/online networks? How does my participation impact student learning? What evidence to I have to support this claim?
The above questions are important because I could write about some cool technology or app I used that was fun or even a colorful foldable. But if I could not show evidence of how it impacted student learning, it was useless.
5. Sort my accomplishments – creating a web in a sense connecting these to the specific standards.
6. Look for gaps, where are standards I have nothing or very little? Ponder – is there anything I already do to impact student learning in this sense? If not, then that would be an area of growth.
7. Create a file for evidence of me as a teacher, learner, leader. These may be certificates, agendas, anything that supports my work in these 3 roles. I would tag each artifact with a post-it briefly explaining how it impacted student learning and what standard it supports.
8. In choosing student work samples, I looked at different types of learners – one identified with a specific learning disability and another who was GT. This allowed me to show how assessment and learning tasks were modified to support each learner. The whole idea was to show growth, so its not necessarily about the best student work, but how you can use their work, identify misconceptions and help them move forward.
9. As I begin to plan for first entries – in each entry, I literally typed and highlighted each question that needed to be addressed. When writing my response, I had to remember to be concise- say what you’ve got to say, tying back to student learning and support with evidence. In my writing, I answered each question connecting my response to appropriate standards using common terminology. After having a couple of colleagues – one math, one non-math, read my responses, I would delete the initial questions.
10. The entire process is about looking at where I was as a teacher/learner/leader, using reflection and analysis to determine what’s next.
Always, always, always asking myself: What impact will this have on student learning? How can I improve this learning experience next time?
My take-a-way from the entire process…which still stands today…
I became a reflective, more purposeful teacher with students truly at the center of every decision I made.
Advice: set apart a time each week to commit working on the process. Treat it just like you would any other teacher-education course. I highly recommend you are away from home/distractions during this work time. By beginning early, you will allow yourself time to step away from the process as well. Closer to submission, you may wish to increase the time.