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Hallelujah… Hallelujah… Nope, typing it just doesn’t have that cathedral ring. But I’m hearing it in stereo in my head right now, having just popped open an email on my computer that I waited two years to see.

The big news? I got it. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. Let me say it loud: I’m an NBCT and I’m proud.

Proud because I stayed with it, after getting one of the biggest kicks in the stomach I ever got in my professional life, a year ago. Not proud purely because I got the prize, if that makes sense. There’s some of that, but a lot of other emotions mixed in too: I’m worthy! Damn them! I got it!

For readers who may not have followed my National Board saga over the past couple years, the short short version is I blogged ("Certifiable?" was this blog's predecessor), I built a canoe ("A Boat with Legs," June 30, 2007), and I failed ("NUKED," November 9, 2007). Here’s a longer version I wrote in the Washington Post Magazine last year ("Teaching for the Test," February 17, 2008).

For loyal readers who have been on the bus long enough to understand why my forehead hit the desk and my eyes got moist when I read today’s score report, here’s another gory detail. The Documented Accomplishments entry that got a 1.0 on 4-point scale last time received a 3.5 (after I scuttled the canoe).

Way leads onto way, and I’m now at a place in my life where Natty Boards don’t get me a sixty grand bump in salary over ten years, as they would have in FCPS when I started (although that figure has gone down since then due to budget cuts). In fact, a lot of people in private schools don’t even know what they are.

And even in this moment of joy, I can’t forget The Ones We Left Behind—the darn good teachers that never got it, or didn’t get it this time, or had the self-knowledge to not even try in the first place.

On the other hand, there are the inspiring educators I met by taking the risk, and the doors it opened, especially in writing. The most important question is: Did it make me a better teacher?

I think I’ll have to think on that some more. I’m a different man in the classroom than I was then, but I’m not sure how much of that I would attribute solely to The Very Hard Test. To me, teaching has always been a process of evolution. One thing I can’t deny is that Natty Boards are now a part of the journey, for better or worse.

As much as anything, it feels like a great weight has been lifted, one that I didn’t even realize I was still carrying. I’ve got the letters, whatever I decide to do with ‘em. For that, and to all the friends who got me here with a thousand emails and wishes and hands, I truly give Thanks.


Congrats, Emmet. Me, too.

Congratulations, Emmet!!!!!!!! I still think your canoe project was an amazing teaching and learning strategy, but whatever...Congratulations, NBCT! I hope you celebrate all weekend!

BRAVO! Well deserved! I am thrilled for you and your family.

Emmet, I'm so happy for you. I have so enjoyed reading your blog about your journey through Nat. Board. I again tried for NB and failed again. I'm glad you had the strength to persevere. I, however, do not. After having several NBCTs look at my video and commentary and tell me I had it clinched, and then to have NB tell me it only deserved a 2.125 (up from 2.0 last time), I have decided it is simply not worth the stress, heartache, and slap in the face to try to 18 points. Good luck to you in all your future endeavors. I will continue to read your blog because you really are truly a professional teacher.

Super! It took me two years also...and I remember the great dread as I waited for that screen to load...and then the great relief.

This year, a peer and I are hosting a share group site at our school...it's interesting being on this side of the process.

Did I grow as a teacher throughout this process? Yes. Only because of National Boards. No. Good teachers are life-long learners.

I look back now and share this with any one who will listen...especially those candidates in our share group...I, as an English teacher, went into this process a little (maybe a lot?)arrogant and did not study my Standards as I should have. Should have begun "with the end in mind!"

Celebrate your success!

Congrats! I too passed today. I too did not pass last year. Your blog really did get me through it. Your words echoed what I was feeling, and I know how you felt this morning. Except that I had another teacher read my scores while I waited in the hall. When I heard the shouts of joy from my classroom, I broke down in tears. Tears that had been held back since last November. Thank you so much for making your journey public, and one that I could seriously relate to on every level.

Emmet, Congratulations! I have followed your escapades through the NB process as I too was an NB candidate this past year. As I read what you do with your children, I worried that I was nowhere near qualified to be an NBCT. (The canoe project was above and beyond!) But lo and behold, I certified as well yesterday. To answer your question, "Did it make me a better teacher?" I think the answer is both yes and no. Personally, I thought I already was a good teacher, this process just validated that thought for me. What it means for the future of my classroom is that I will continue to plan logically, constantly look for better ways, question new methodology, and adapt new ideas for the benefit of my kids. What it means for our profession is that I will pursue more vigorously the presentations and publications that will help and/or motivate teachers of any age that I have had rambling around in the back of my mind. And it will be done with a renewed confidence. Way to go on your accomplishment! I look forward to reading your future posts as an NBCT!

Congratulations! That word does not seem to convey enough in this situation, but I can't come up with a better one.

Congratulations Emmet!! How amazing that the day I check out your blog I see this great and so well-deserved news! Hope all is well with your next gig--I miss you and the previous life at TJ!


Way to go, Emmet!! What do you get, besides satisfaction? We miss you,

I appreciate the way you were willing to share your journey, including all the tough spots and uncertainties along the way. That is what makes life rich, and why you are an outstanding teacher for all of us. That would be true with or without the certificate on the wall, but I agree, that pursuit has been an amazing journey for us all to share.

Yay, Emmet!

Hey, Emmet! What great news--I always said you were cheated out of it the first time! The 4 of us knew what you did and how fabulous your [our!] canoe project was. At last the Board came to its senses and recognized what we all saw to start with. I miss seeing you across the hall and at lunch. At the end of this school year our "canoe kids" will graduate and then our little boat will definitely be just a memory....one of these days I'm hoping to get down to the Indian school and paddle out in her again.

I'll add my congratulations as well, Emmet. For what it's worth, speaking as an NBCT and as a former support provider for candidates, I would remind everyone that a low score should not necessarily be seen as a reflection on the candidate's teaching. The score reflects the extent to which the evidence and the writing address all of the relevant standards (in a clear, consistent, convincing manner). Most of us involved with NBPTS could probably name several incidents - our own, or others' - where it seems that great teachers have failed to certify or score well on a particular entry. I've told many candidates about my own struggles during certification, and to borrow from Dr. Strangelove, "how I learned to stop worrying and love the standards."

Emmet, thanks for contributing so much of your time and energy to share your experiences on this journey.

Congratulations Emmet. You crossed the Potomac and the Styx.

Emmet, I'm so happy to hear that you achieved. Certifiable!

Congratulations Emmet! You continue to model true professionalism for the profession. Trying and failing - at least in the first draft - in such a public way took true courage and grit. Having to be a two-year role model has done much to keep others plugging away at finding ways to articulate their practice.
Making the invisible work of teachers visible is the true goal of certification - so that others might see the complicated work we do.
Enjoy the stamp of approval. You deserve it.

Wow! Well done, Emmet! I wish you were at TJ so you could here my "whoop, whoop, whoop!" in person.

I also wish you were at TJ to teach me how to spell - "hear"

Congratulations, Emmet!
I hope you send this to the Post reporter.

Congratulations Emmet!
I am so glad you decided to continue your journey this year. It is a wonderful accomplishment that should be celebrated!

Congratulations and I mean that sincerely. I just failed and was deciding if I wanted to get back in the 'canoe'. Your sharing has given me encouragement but I'm still thinking.
God Blesses your students!

Congratulations Emmett! Whenever I support candidates, I recommend they read CERTIFIABLE! Last week I celebrated with one candidate who made on his third try. I mourned with another who is not sure she's willing to become and advanced candidate. I've worked on a project with a former candidate who did not achieve, but says her candidacy has turned her into a renewed and improved teacher. Your experience helped all them along the way. Thanks for trailblazing.

Congratulations, Emmet! What a relief.

I've enjoyed your blogging on the subject over the years.

Congratulations, Emmet! I know exactly what you're feeling now, because I just found out last week that I passed too! And like you, it was my second year trying. It pays to hang in there, doesn't it? Feels great to be a NBCT!

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Recent Comments

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