Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Oh My! Teaching National Board Pre-Candidacy in my District

Caitlin Gawlowski National Board Certification, Uncategorized

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I am a ball of nervous and excited energy, bouncing on the tips of my toes. Internal dialogue is going on in my head ranging from “Don’t be too excited. You’ll talk too fast!” to “Let your passion and excitement show. They won’t want to learn from boring people.” to “Ahhhh! I can’t believe this is finally happening” I am trying to hide it by smiling behind my mask and standing still-ish. Teachers walk into the room and set their belongings down and look at me at the front of the room.

“Welcome to our first Pre-Candidacy class!” I say.

There it is: National Board Pre-Candidacy. After a year of preparation, promotion, and recruitment I am finally teaching this class to teachers in my district. I am equally nervous and excited, but most of all hopeful that some teachers will be ready to take the plunge into National Board certification this year.

What is National Board Pre-Candidacy? Think of it like “National Board 101”. We look at what certification entails, the beliefs and knowledge that National Board Certified Teachers hold near and dear, finding your support network, and more.

Amidst all the emotions of the school year, teachers are showing up and growing as educators. I can already see teachers looking at their teaching practice with a fresh set of eyes, and this is only pre-candidacy. This type of class or professional development is different than many others; it truly causes you to think. You start thinking about your students differently and getting to know your students on a deeper level. You think about your instructional strategies and activities differently, wondering why you have chosen this activity for this group of students at this given time. Instruction is not routine each year, and instructional strategies will vary based on the group of students you have in your class at different points in the school year. You start thinking about yourself differently, too; gaining more confidence as you realize that there are more aspects of accomplished teaching that you regularly engage in than you previously thought.

I see these teachers thinking each week of pre-candidacy. I know this type of analysis and reflection is not easy, and not only because this class is after school and we are oh-so-tired. Growing is not always easy or pain-free. These “growing pains” are worth the trouble. You will be a different (read: stronger) educator because of it.

It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get a National Board Pre-Candidacy Class going, and now I can see it is paying off. Although teaching a class takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I am not the only one who is putting forth this effort; the National Board Candidates that are in my class are putting in their own. I hope they feel it paying off for them, too.

If you are ready to take the plunge into National Board certification, click here for more information.


Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels


Caitlin was born to be a teacher, although she did not realize that teaching was her calling until she went to college. She has always loved to write, and began college with the mindset of becoming a journalist. Before beginning her freshman year of college, she changed my major to Elementary Education on a whim and has never looked back. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, and won the Outstanding Student Teacher Award during her student teaching experience in the Cave Creek Unified School District. Caitlin spent 9 years in the classroom teaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. She became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2018, and holds a certificate in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy: Reading/Language Arts. The 2021-2022 school year marks the beginning of her 10th year teaching, where she will be working as an Academic Interventionist, and supporting other National Board candidates on their journey toward National Board certification. If she is lucky enough to have free time, you can find her traveling Arizona with her husband and son, spending time with her friends and family, taking group fitness classes, or enjoying a good book.

Comments 1

  1. Rachel Perugini

    That’s my goal for the summer- get trained to so I can offer a pre-can class up here! I know we have teachers who are interested in National Board, and getting a class up here would help get them started!

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