keep calm

Keep Calm and Click Submit: Tips for NBCT

Leah Clark Professional Development

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018 was a historic day in the Clark household. No, we didn’t buy a new house or bring a baby home. In fact, most people outside of education probably have no idea what I am talking about. But on Wednesday, May 16, 2016 at 8:12pm I clicked submit on my first National Board Certification component.

This triumphant moment came from nine months of roller coaster emotions. One moment I felt like the queen of the world and in complete understanding of exactly what I needed to do to be successful. The next moment, I wanted to throw in the towel because it was too hard. But I plugged along and through the process, learned more about my students, myself, and my teaching than ever before.

I learned some valuable lessons for anyone thinking of starting the best professional development out there or for those of us that are somewhere in the process.

Tip #1 Find a friend or two!

While I am the only teacher at my school going through NBCT, my best friend in Henderson, Nevada happened to be submitting the same component in the same content area this year. She became my lifeline. During the weeks leading up to submission, we called and texted dozens of times. We bounced ideas off of each other and encouraged each other not to give up.

I also found a friend who already completed certification to support me through the process. She read my work and gave me priceless feedback. We met weekly the last few weeks before submission day to go over my evidence and writing. She became my cheerleader during the grueling work that I desperately needed.

Tip #2 Give yourself the gift of time

Understand that NBCT is completely self-guided which means you manage yourself. No one telling you to turn something in or checking your work and giving you completion points. Nope, you are on your own.

This is both a blessing and a curse. At the beginning, I thought, “I’ve got this. I’ll just write a little here and there. And viola! I will be done in no time.” Not so much.

I started attending every Coaching Saturday put on by the Arizona K12 Center. Six hours of uninterrupted time became key to finishing on time. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions from nationally board certified teachers. PS The food is really good too!

If you can’t attend a Coaching Saturday, create your own. Go somewhere with limited distractions and just work. Don’t bring grading! You deserve quiet time. Give it yourself!

Tip #3 Keep Calm and Click Submit

Looking back, I know there are aspects of my evidence and writing I could have improved. I wish I could reteach lessons to gather better examples of student growth and ways I could be more clear and concise (Thinking of starting NBCT? These two words will become your best buddies). But alas, I cannot. However, through the process, I learned so much about my students, myself, and my teaching. This is real value of NBCT.

While I anxiously wait for my scores and study for the test component, the real value of clicking submit is the professional development I gained during the process. Reading the NBCT standards, evaluating my students’ learning, reflecting on my teaching, setting goals, and making student centered decisions are the real reasons I am going through this process. Because at the end of the day, I know I am a better teacher because of NBCT.


Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

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Comments 6

  1. Jess Ledbetter

    Good for you, Leah! Congrats on your journey and thanks for such a great piece to encourage others. I will definitely be sharing this to recruit new candidates in my district!!!

    1. Leah Clark

      Thank you so much! I still feel like I have so far to go before I am certified. But I am happy to be done with one component! :)

  2. Mike Vargas

    Thank you Leah for this insight into the process. I have been debating for the last two years on whether or not to pull the trigger. I know my biggest fear is the time commitment. What I love hearing from everyone who has gone thru the process is the growth factor. Congrats on your achievement. I know it is no small task.

    1. Leah Clark

      Just do it! It is a huge time commitment, but it is 100% worth it. I learned so much this year and I am excited to learn next year as I tackle components three and four. I know a lot of people tell candidates to learn to say no to things while you are working on boards. I didn’t follow their advice. In fact, I work better when I have a ton on my plate. The best advice I can give is to take the pre can class and learn about the process. This will help you decide when the time is right. :)

  3. Lisa Moberg

    That brought back so many wonderful memories of my year pursuing NBCT. I learned to set aside one night and every Saturday morning to go write at a local Starbucks. Even if I didn’t feel like writing, I would take a chunk of the requirements and work at it to feel successful at something!!! Discipline and time management are so critical. Congratulations on submitting!! Enjoy the journey.

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