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Let the Healing Begin


I’m done. Certified, stick a fork in me, mail that sucker off with every kind of insurance the post office has to offer… Finito. If I were a more high tech guy, this entry would merely consist of a grainy self-portrait taken at arm’s length with my cell phone camera, depicting a haggard shell of a man clutching a blue box packing-taped to oblivion. And a sound file with the Hallelujah chorus.

I will not even try, at this moment, to assess the long-term impact of this process on my teaching. For now, I simply want to reclaim my life. I started Wednesday night, cracking a second beer after the boys went to bed… because I could. Because there was no nagging voice in the back of my head saying, You really should go down to the computer to type up the cover pages for the Entry Three evidence.

It will be a while before the rest of me thaws. I did a little more healing Friday, allowing my Humanities classes to throw a celebration of the “BTB’s” (Big Travel Books) we’d been reading. No student achievement in sight, but there was a side-splitting skit depicting a day in the life of a TJ kid (nine rows of seats during the class on Dante’s Inferno; in English with Gulliver a spelling test with the first word, “Houyhnhnms”).

Refreshments included deviled eggs (har, har) and sugar cookies shaped like the gold coins Candide clinked in El Dorado. After that, we had a full slate of entertainment including a computerized game of “Whack a Yahoo” on the whiteboard and a Canterbury Tales-style tale-telling contest that required students to act out one-minute fairy tales. Oh yes, and there was the baroque quartet’s happy birthday serenade to my Hum partner Jen, who is marking a quarter century by hosting a Model UN Conference this weekend.

The next step? Make it one more week to spring break, when I can do the house chores I’ve been putting off for six months. Maybe steal a day to go fishing. Try not to worry about the grades due when we get back. Give my wife a break by watching the two-year old. Lots of baby steps.

Then? After tending to home and hearth, reconnecting with the family, doing some me-time… what’s next, you ask?

Not yet, friend, I reply, feebly holding up a hand.
Please. Just let me feel the sun.


I so want to be there. I have an entry and a half left to write and all the packing and all the forms and, and, and... All my to do lists need little plus signs beside them for the 15 things left to get done that the one item represents. Light candles, pray for me, and make sure not to be ahead of me in traffic on the way to the FedEx office next Saturday.

Thank you for being so open with your experience of this process. You have kept me from burying myself alive in ungraded papers and videos so bad that there isn't a rating yet devised for them more than once.

See you on the other side.

AYA/ELA candidate #000000000000

Congratulations Emmet on submitting your portfolio. You've come a long way from the Orientation Course to that trip to the post office. And sharing your thoughts on this blog has been a helpful and inspirational resource to many.

A year passes by quick doesn't it? :-)

I think I'll show this post to the potential candidates sitting in the same room you did last year. Last class this week- then they begin!

-Patrick from your NB Orientation Course

Congratulations! As I finished up MY portfolio today, I kept checking to see if you'd posted anything, and assumed you were working so frantically you didn't have time. I finally wrote the last ID number, checked off the last form, and forced my husband to take me out for sushi to celebrate. When we returned, there was your post. Great timing - it feels like you're part of my celebration! Tomorrow I'm photocopying and mailing, then more celebrating. My kids are begging for a home cooked meal...

Your blog has been a real inspiration. It's almost impossible to explain this process to someone who hasn't been through it, but you've succeeded.

Emmet, Congrats! You won't soon forget this experience! Celebrate completing the process. I just checked the NB webpage and saw your name. It's coming and you deserve it. Best Wishes, Brenda ELA/AY NBCT 2006

Congratulations! I can only hope to someday be where you are now!
-- a second-year teacher

The NBPTS Blues

I’ve got those NBPTS blues
‘Cause I’ve done paid my dues.
I shipped the BIG BOX off to Headquarters in San Antone
Got the right address... 180022TEACH told me on the phone.
Yeah, I’ve got those NBPTS blues!

Told the UPS Man to ship it there on time,
Said that I’d gladly hand over my last dime.
Yikes! With deadline approaching and my commitment made,
I plumb forgot the ton of English essays and tests to grade!
Yeah, I’ve got those NBPTS blues!

Way to go, Emmet! Now go out there and do your best to reclaim your life! You have put into words exactly how I felt three years ago. Unfortunately, my house has never quite recovered with "stuff" still everywhere. It is like I can't "let go."
But, I did acquire NBCT status. I am confident you will too! Best of everything to you!

Hi Emmet,

Thanks for writing the realities of what it is like to go through the NB process. I am also going though the NB process...oh, they joy...

Also, JC I loved reading your NBPTS poem. It's very clever. : )

Best of luck fellow NB candidates.

Kind Regards,
Mechelle : )

Hi Emmett,


So, will I see you later at the NWP Spring Meeting here at the Capitol? Please do not worry about your Assessment Center, we deserve a break! *wink.



Watched you go from curious to gleeful to downright cynical over the course of this process with alternating feelings of empathy and bewilderment. What makes this process so darn stultifying to so many teachers? It's an out and out celebration of what you do every day - a statement to the world that you are damn good, even outstanding at what you do for a living. If you chose to make it less so - I'm so sorry for you. If you found it exhausting to share why you do what you and how you do it - my sincere regrets that you missed the point.

For those who have chosen to turn a creative, reflective and truly engaging experience into yet another set of bureaucratic hoops to jump through with no value other than finishing - shame on you. The standards DO NOT require you to write the maximum on every entry. (I thought we taught our students to be clear and concise - but it doesn't apply to us, right?) You DO NOT have to have a "perfect" video of a well mannered class -it reeks of manipulation and "teaching to the test."

Calling the instructions a "bible" lets me know just how off base you got in the process - for goodness sake - do you really feel there's only ONE way to do something correctly? Pointing out inconsistencies in packing instructions and wondering if those will affect your certification efforts? Come on, Emmet - if your submissions are that weak - you won't certify anyway. Having served as an assessor for several cycles, I've seen meticulously organized garbage still be called garbage and somewhat out of order revelations be richly rewarded.

You lost sight of the prize somewhere along the way - you forgot what this was about. Its not about putting NBCT after your name. Its not about the bonus $ you may or may not get (although its a definite plus). Its about defining yourself as a professional, and having the courage and confidence to defend who you are and why you do what you do in the best job anyone could ever hope for.

I hope you realize that somewhere down the line, for now - who knows? Maybe you serve as a cautionary tale for those who follow.

It's nice to hear now that "somewhat out of order revelations" are scored on their merit, but that certainly hasn't been what I've been told for the last 10 months. Even when I call the magic hotline, no one can even tell me what the maximum amount of points is, just that if I get 275 I'm certified, and if I don't, there's always next year. As one of the hordes of teachers agonizing over whether my entries will go straight to the trash because they are left-aligned instead of justified, I can tell you that I don't think the problem lies with earnest teachers attempting to prove their worth to a jury of their peers, but rather in a packet of instructions that weighs as much as my final portfolio, which we are told wastes no words.

A student’s ability to confidently handle an electronic environment is an added skill in the workplace.

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