In November 2010, I earned National Board Certification in Early Adolescence Science. If you are considering a National Board Certification, my advice is DO IT. It was the best professional development activity because it taught me how teaching is a craft as well as a skill.
Here is my story…
I signed up in Illinois in 2008. I applied for a state scholarship that paid the $2000 fee. I paid about $700 out-of-pocket. At the time Illinois was offering a $3000 yearly stipend for all NBCTs. I signed up for a cohort group through our Regional Office of Education and met my Middle School Science soul mate, Cathy. We stayed with the cohort for a time but decided that we wanted to form a smaller group and began meeting as a group of six.
National Board Certification means that you have to be able to write efficiently. Just the facts, and they better be good. EVIDENCE,EVIDENCE, EVIDENCE. We submitted our portfolios, took the tests and waited. November 2009, I did not pass. I was one point off. It was the test.
What happened? There is a long, boring story about my testing experience so suffice it to say that if you have technical problems while taking the test, call the NBPTS organization and request to re-take it. I didn’t.
My friends all passed and they rallied behind me. We met another dozen times and we studied. I paid $350 to re-take one section of the test. One year later, I passed in flying colors.
By the time I passed Illinois had lowered the stipend to $350. A couple of months later, they removed the stipend.
Do I regret it? NO! Was my time worth it? YES!
So what did I get?
I learned how teaching is a craft. I learned how to individualize instruction and how to look at what the kids are doing with a much wiser eye. I did not allow failure. I found ways to reach the brilliant kids so they could learn more than I could ever teach them. At the same time I worked with lower ability students and demanded they understand core concepts. I learned how to teach children to use self-reflection and build in a love of learning. Their love of learning became self motivation. I learned to look at the 160 students INDIVIDUALLY as I analyzed evidence of their learning. Finally my students taught me that how I approached their learning had a huge impact on their motivation to learn.
I am quite proud of my National Board Certification.