As a National Board Certified Teaching candidate, it was to my great relief and growing apprehension to receive the anticipated e-mail last week, informing me that I will receive my scores on November 17th, 2012. I have been waiting for this e-mail since March 28th, after excitedly shipping my “Blue Box” (containing the four required portfolio entries) and subsequently not sleeping for a week, obsessing over every “What if….,” “Maybe I should have…..,” and “Oh NO!!!!” National Board Teaching Certification has been a goal of mine as a teacher for years, and it is vital to achieve this recognition of being an effective and accomplished teacher. Therefore, this weekend is very important to me…… but it’s also important to my friends who are completing Ironman Arizona this weekend as well.
I wonder, if you had a choice, what would it be?? You could either be an Ironman and swim 4,224 yards, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles; or, you could be a NBCT (National Board Certified Teacher) and attend pre-candidacy classes and candidacy workshops, write extensive units of instruction, videotape yourself teaching for about 5 months and analyze each lesson, write 14-page descriptive, analytical, and reflective papers for four entries, and complete a timed short-essay assessment that takes hours to complete. They sound so vastly different, but I feel that being an Ironman and NBCT are not so different after all. Both of these important accomplishments have a great deal in common:
First and foremost, it must be YOUR goal and no one else’s. You need to have ownership of this accomplishment to maintain a passionate (yet sometimes grim) determination to make it to the end.
- The training and completion of these endeavors involve at least one year of your life. You have to learn to maintain a full schedule with new priorities. Time management becomes your friend!!
- Endurance is key for completion. You must persevere when you’re dead-tired and unmotivated. Knowing that just completing these accomplishments is the greatest reward for yourself.
- Both journeys have bumps in the road, probably more literally for an Ironman. Expect to have your “This is IT” video to be mysteriously silent or your 10 pages of typing deleted when the computer died. You have to pick yourself up and keep going.
- Both the Ironman and NBCT have three parts to complete: 1) Swim= Immersion in the National Teaching Standards, 2) Bike= Create/Teach/Assess/Reflect/Reteach/Write as a Cycle of Accomplished Teaching, and 3) Run= Complete a Timed Assessment to make it to the finish line.
- Building a network is vital to being successful. Finding fellow teachers who have the same goal of achieving National Board Certification provides teacher candidates with the dialogue to promote creativity, self-reflection, and motivation. I was positively impacted by the support of the Arizona K-12 Center, which provided monthly Cognitive Coaching sessions to support my NBCT candidate needs.
- Growth will occur throughout the lengthy process of both achievements: mentally, emotionally, and academically. But as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” Throughout the journey, you will maintain self-discipline to promote this growth.
- The Finish Line is dramatically looming before you, but sometimes you won’t make it. Becoming an Ironman or NBCT is not automatic just because you entered and began the race. You might not make it—either your PR or receiving your certification. Do you give up? I won’t say what to do, that’s your personal decision and shouldn’t be judged.
But when I receive my scores on Saturday, November 17th, and possibly find out that I didn’t achieve certification, I will be ready to print out the 2012-2013 Portfolio Instructions and try again. Although I am determined to become a NBCT, I enjoyed the journey and will be honored to go down the road again. I am becoming an effective and accomplished teacher through the journey, not the finish line.
Goodluck to all of my fellow aspiring NBCT candidates, who are probably not getting much sleep this week like me! I hope that you found this journey as rewarding as I did, and that you don’t give up on yourself as an effective teacher if you need to travel this path one more time.