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My Journey Towards a National Board Teaching Certificate



*Elizabeth B. teaches 8th grade math and is currently pursuing her NBTC in Early Adolescent Math.
August, 2011
As I sat through a week long leadership training at my district at the beginning of August, I realized that I was ready for a professional challenge that would push me as a teacher in a way that I had not been pushed before.  I had thought about pursuing National Board Teaching Certification for a couple years but felt intimidated by the amount of work I kept hearing it would take in addition to the hours needed to just do my job on a regular basis.  I had also gave birth to two children in the last four years (totally 4 children now) so my extra time has been very limited.  Well, for some reason, it just clicked while I was sitting there that I was going to do it this year and I was going to try to pass all four entries this school year.  And so it began...
I happened to be in the training with our district NBTC facilitator and was quickly introduced to her.  We exchanged information and the plan became a reality for me.  I went home after the week long training and printed out every document from the NBTC website that I could get my hands on.  I then organized all of the directions and rubrics into binders so that I could find everything easily.  I read all of the portfolio directions over the rest of the summer whenever I had a free hour to read, highlight and process. I knew that I was going to pursue the Early Adolescent Math Certification because I have been teaching middle school math for almost 10 years and feel that it will be my home for a long time to come. 
September, 2011
As school got underway, I could not keep myself from thinking about all of the entries I needed to complete.  I spoke with as many teachers as I could find that completed their NBTC to pick their brains and find out what I should be doing.  It seemed that Entry 4 was a logical place to start because I could start gathering evidence and brainstorming what I have done as a teacher to support learning.  I had one meeting with my NBTC cohort and solidified what I should be focusing on for entry 4.  I spent at least 4 hours every Saturday reading, organizing, writing, and thinking about entry 4.  I had a rough draft by the end of September but knew that I would probably end up changing a couple of the activities that I was going to include. 
October 7, 2011
I decided to start videotaping my classes to get ready for entries 2 and 3.  I felt that having the videotaping done might ease my stress about how I was going to get everything done.  I handed out the video release forms at the beginning of the year and had most of them back. I also have a student teacher this year who has been great about helping with the video taping.  After several failed attempts (one that I could have used except the camera shut off 2 minutes short of the 15 minute requirement and one with muffled audio) I was feeling a little discouraged.
I skipped a couple weekends of work this month too with all of my kids' birthdays and activities so I started to wonder how I was going to pull this off by the end of March.  My husband was great at encouraging me to just keep going and it would all come together.  So... I kept planning lessons that I could videotape.
I finally captured a group lesson that seems to meet all of the entry 3 requirements (groups of 3-5, using some type of manipulative, 15 minutes long). While playing it back and analyzing my teaching, I could have screamed with joy when I found 15 minutes of great math discourse with my students working in groups.  Yayyyyyy!! This feels like a major accomplishment and I am actually excited to start the writing process.  I plan to work on this over the next two weeks and then focus on capturing a video for entry 2. 
October 30, 2011
Starting to write...
I met with my cohort group yesterday and looked at some examples.  This really helped me understand what my writing should include for the first page at least.  I sit here today in Starbucks before my son's football game trying to write anything I can get out of my head on to paper.  I think I am off to an ok start. Wrote about 3 pages of it and plan to work on it some more tomorrow.
October 31, 2011
Ok, I am on roll now - two days in a row of writing!  I took a day off from teaching to work on writing so that I can move on to another entry.  My goal is to have a rough draft for all four entries by the end of December.  I spent all day finishing up a draft of entry 3.  I plan to look at it again in a couple of days and edit myself first before finding people to read it for me.  
I am hoping to tape a whole group lesson on this coming Monday or the following one.  I am not sure why this entry seems harder to me.  I feel like whole group discussions usually go well in my classes but sometimes it is hard to plan and write about all of the components that I have been naturally incorporating for the last several years.  I know it is going to take me a month to plan, videotape, process and write so I am anxious to get this next entry started.
November 6, 2011
I have plans to videotape for entry 2 tomorrow.  Wish me luck!
Later November, 2001
I lost track of time so I am not sure when I actually started writing entry 2.  The videotaping went ok.  A few glitches but useable.  I also sent my entry 3 to some friends to start reading so I could gather feedback on if I answered all of the questions.   Plunging ahead...
December 11, 2011
Oh boy!  It feels like it is getting closer and closer to the March deadline. I am feeling good about my small group video and writing.  I have had two very knowledgable NBCT certified friends give me feedback and I was able to make some changes to make my writing stronger.  I am going to put this aside until I have my other drafts done and then fine tune everything.  So now I try to finish up my whole group lesson video write up.  I have somewhat of a draft as of today but it is very rough and missing parts.  I planned on working on it more tonight but I'm not sure my brain is going to cooperate.  I will probably take some time in the middle of the week to look at it again so I can send it out for friends to read over the break.  My entry 4 (accomplishments) needs a lot of fine tuning - I plan to spend several days over winter break to look at that one again.  Entry 1 is waiting in the wings.  I plan to focus on that one in January.  I have been creating activities but I'm not sure they fit the entry requirements.  I have found that trying to juggle too many entries doesn't work well for me.  One thing at a time...
January 12, 2012
January came way too fast!  I had to rewrite my whole group entry several times - it took me 12 hours to write the 2nd draft.  It is off to be read by some friends and then I will work on it some more.  Entry 4 is still a work-in-progress but I am pretty close to being done with everything but the reflection.  Entry 1?  Oh, haven't started that yet.  Creating the materials over the 3 day weekend and hoping to use the work from next week for it.  I also signed up for the assessment center for the end of May.  I am feeling hopeful that everything is going to come together.  It is such a different experience writing so analytically about teaching.  So much of what I do is a natural response to what my kids need - it is hard to put everything into words. I am pretty sure that I have about four pages to shave off of each entry.  That should be fun (sarcasm).  
January 22, 2012
Well, I am still waiting to use the instructional materials I created for entry 1.  We missed a week of school due to snow so I am planning to use them this week in class and then start writing this weekend.  I am actually looking forward to writing this one because I enjoy analyzing student work.  I have solid drafts of entry 2 and 3 and am still feeling a little overwhelmed about entry 4.  I am going to put it aside until I have a good draft of entry 1 and then really focus on it.  I know there are a lot of bits and pieces that I need to put in place with the entries so I am hoping to get to that stuff by mid-February.  I am not good at procrastinating so the more in advance I have a handle on things - the better my nerves will be.  I had no idea how many details there are with this process.  I wonder how teachers that struggle with writing can accomplish this certificate.  A lot of it is making sure that the writing is addressing the questions correctly.  It isn't enough just to be a good teacher, you have to be able to put every detail of your teaching in clear writing.  Hopefully one week from now I am writing about how I have a draft of entry 1 or at least some of it written...