I think the time has come for me to write about my National Board experience. This past school year was a roller coaster filled with highs and lows. It was a year unlike any other I had experienced in my ten years of teaching.
For several years I wanted to take the dive in and begin my NB journey. Each year wasn't the right year, until this past school year. They were offering a scholarship and who doesn't like free money? I decided that no time was better than now... or so I thought. :)
I remember when that Blue Box first arrived. (The Blue Box is the box that contains all the parts you need for your NB portfolio and is what you mail your portfolio back in). I excitedly opened it up and went through all the parts. Of course, when you first open up that box, everything might as well be written in another language because at first you are not going to understand a dang thing. Luckily, I had someone to guide me through and discover what each of the parts were inside that "lovely" blue box.
I decided to persue the Literacy certification. The portfolio portion for literacy contained four entries: Reading, Writing, Listening/Speaking/Viewing/ and then you as a professional. Each of the four parts is based off of something you do in the classroom and then reflecting on it.
My journey had a few bumps along the way. All was going well until January when I injured my knee. Let's just say writing and pain do not go hand in hand. Somehow I managed to grin and bear it and managed to mail in my portfolio on the day it had to be postmarked. Nothing like getting it done at the last minute! :) Six days later... I was in surgery. My surgeon wanted to take me in earlier but I said, "NO, I have to get my portfolio in on March 31st, any day after that!" Although, the inside of me was screaming (or my knee was screaming) take me now, cut me open and fix me!
I had some time after the Blue Box to recover and end the school year. Luckily, I was able to schedule my assessment center test on one of the very last days it was offered, which gave me plenty of time to finish the school year and then study.
This past Monday I completed the assessment portion of the process. Now everything is complete and all I can do is sit and wait until the scores are released in November.
Here are some things that I wish someone had told me beginning the process.
1. It will take you at least a half a school year to understand what the heck you are doing and what is required of you. You will feel stupid and question everything.
2. No matter how many times you read the directions on a portfolio requirement, it will never make full sense and everyone has his or her own opinion on what the questions mean. I told you, it is all written in code and in a different language.
3. This is not a one year process! A very small few (last I read, a little over 30%) actually fully pass their first year. Don't push yourself to be perfect the first year, complete everything to the best of your ability but don't kick yourself for not passing the first try. It is ok to retake!
4. You will cry and have more break-downs that any other time in your life. I would go into school in the morning and inform my teaching partner (who also was doing the process) that I had break-down number 5,497 last night. Of which she would then admit to me that she cried in her car that morning (Thank you for making me feel normal Ms. W!)
I think the national board candidates in my building and I officially scared off anyone else in our building who was thinking of doing the NB process. You know even though the process was hard, I cried over 10,000 times, and probably got permament eye strain from staring at my typing on the computer... want to know my first thought when I left the assessment center on Monday... "That wasn't bad, I think I would do it again!"
I feel good for taking on a huge feat and more accomplished for doing so. I did something I said I wanted to do, I took it on full force, bum knee and all! If you are thinking of doing the NB process, I encourage you to do so! Don't let the thought of all that work scare you, you are stronger than you think and can do it!
Well, here's until next year, when I have to do retakes :)