MOC picture

Three Little Letters

Caitlin Gawlowski Elementary, National Board Certification, Uncategorized

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Did you know that teachers can have an entire conversation consisting of acronyms? The SEI teacher has an SST meeting for a student who may need an IEP for his SLD. The OT, SLP and SPED teacher need to do evaluations on the student before the meeting can take place. Who is the LEA for this meeting? The child has a diagnosis of OHI, DD, and ADHD. OMG, SOS!

The last two might not be exclusive to teachers, but can come up a lot in conversations, especially during a full moon. I digress…

This year, a different set of three little letters will occupy a large part of my mind and time: MOC. Maintenance of Certification. This year my window to maintain my National Board certification opens and I am full of all kinds of emotions but mostly surprised. How did it get here so fast?

In all honesty, my first emotion was panic, thinking about all the time (read: blood, sweat, and tears) that went into my initial certification. I spent the summer reading the instructions and rereading the standards to start wrapping my head around what I will have to do. Compared to initial certification, MOC seems to be much more manageable. I would like to encourage NBCTs who are going to go through MOC this year or in the upcoming five years to listen to the 3Ps in a Pod podcast about the process.

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the process in which one becomes an NBCT and my time as a candidate. I have found that many of my questions about going through MOC are similar to questions new National Board candidates are asking me as they get ready to take the plunge this year.

I ask, “Will I have grown enough as an educator to go through MOC this year?”
New candidates ask, “Am I a good enough teacher to achieve certification?”

I ask, “Will my professional growth experiences these past several years be enough to maintain my certification?”
New candidates ask, “Will my videos be good enough to become an NBCT?”

I ask, “What am I supposed to do with all of these standards, component directions, rubrics, videos, work samples, data, and that one other thing that I can never remember?” New candidates ask… the exact same thing.

So if you are working on those three little letters this year, or those four big letters for the first time my word of advice is to be confident in your abilities as a teacher. There is a reason you started teaching, and a reason you became interested in National Board certification; you would not be here if you were not ready yet. Read your standards, read your component directions, read the What Teachers Should Know and Be Able To Do book, and then read them again. You (read: we) can do it!

What advice do you have for teachers attempting MOC for the first time?


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.

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