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Phew.

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No one else has done Entry Four either. At least, none of the people that I talked to on Wednesday night at the first meeting of the NBPTS candidates support course had finished documenting their “Contributions to Student Learning.”

Several dozen of us gathered in the cafeteria at Edison high school after a hump day to “begin” in earnest the process of board certification that will culminate with the submission of a four-entry portfolio in May and a one-day battery of online essays at a testing center in June. Among those dozens were more than a handful who, like me, had taken the county’s introductory course last spring, and who probably had the same high hopes I did then that Entry Four would be complete and in the box by this time.

The main difference between those of us who had taken the intro course and those who hadn’t seemed to be that on the friendly self-assessment worksheet, “How Am I Doing?”, the newbies checked mainly “no’s”, while we seasoned veterans had most of our checks in the “yes” and “sort of” columns:

“I have read the entire standards booklet.” Umm, well, no. I’ve read a few standards though. Can I get away with a “sort of” on that, even if “entire” is in bold?

“I know which standards Entry 4 is assessing.” Yes, definitely. I wrote five blog posts on that one. I just didn’t, technically, do it. Yet. (NBPTS candidates: for a recap of these posts, see "Reuse, Recycle, Reflect" from September 2).

“I know the difference between a score of 2 and 3.” Sort of. It’s in my notes, I’m sure. I mean, I vaguely remember discussing that, around the time of the Winter Olympics. I was stuck on the couch back then and wrote something about twizzles.

Okay, okay. So maybe I’m not as prepared to begin this process as I should be. Nevertheless, I stick by the sigh of relief in my title. At least now, I have structure. A plan. A room full of people who are as anxious as I am.

The way this support seminar will work, from what I can tell, is that we show up every couple weeks for a few hours to meet with other candidates and a few already board-certified “readers” to workshop our entries. And we bring food. Perfect.

Other than that, there’s only a no-nonsense assignment schedule (“October 11: Bring 4 complete accomplishment write-ups... November 8: Bring a video clip of you teaching... March 14: FINISH YOUR PORTFOLIO!”) and a well-designed blackboard site complete with groups based on our certification areas and pictures of our instructors with their contact information, which is a snappy touch that gave me just a tad of blackboard envy.

Oh, and there’s Gail. Every one who goes through this process should have a Gail Ritchie, Fairfax County’s own mother hen when it comes to all things NBPTS. She’s smoothed the road for me several times already-- most recently, last Tuesday, when she helped me enroll late in this class even though I hadn’t, ahem, quite kept track of the details.

As well as concierge, Gail is a liaison with both the state and NBPTS, snipping red tape where she can and drawing clear lines for candidates about ethics and ethos. She emphasized the idea, from the syllabus, that Board Certification is a process and not just an end in itself: “There is no formula for a successful entry, and no one style of teaching or writing that can guarantee a passing score.” No right answers. Phew. For some reason, that makes me feel better.

4 Comments

Aw, shucks, Emmet. Thanks for saying such nice things about me! I agree that we are fortunate to work in a county that has such strong supports in place for National Board candidates.

Emmet-
Keep those entry standards by your keyboard for constant reference. As you know, each entry has standards that they want specifically addressed. Ditto for the scoring criteria and rubrics. Compare (as you are writing) to make sure you are including them in that particular entry. “Knowing them” and writing them are different. You can have wonderfully written and meaty essays, but if they can’t see what they want, you aren’t going to score a 3 or 4. Don’t worry about not being “done” with Entry 4. If you are like most of us, you will change it countless times anyway before the end of March, as you refine your understanding and personal definitions of the standards. Look at the winter holidays as the timeline absolute to “get serious”.
Marybeth/CA ‘05

Thank you, Emmett. We had our first cohort meeting yesterday, and I'm pleased to hear that you all are at about the same point that we are. An NBCT at our meeting also gave Marybeth's suggestion that we post the standards around our computers, so I'm definitely going to do that.
We are very inspired by the posts about the canoe.
Much love and Best wishes.

Hey, Just to clarify: The write up for Entry four is due Oct. 25. It's a nice and sunny day. I want to wait until the cold weather force me inside to complete it all.

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  • S Lawrence: Hey, Just to clarify: The write up for Entry four read more
  • Beth Virginia Beach: Thank you, Emmett. We had our first cohort meeting yesterday, read more
  • Marybeth NBCT: Emmet- Keep those entry standards by your keyboard for constant read more
  • Gail Ritchie: Aw, shucks, Emmet. Thanks for saying such nice things about read more

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