National Board Certification

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15 thoughts on “National Board Certification”

  1. This makes me think of Robert Harrell. He is by far and away the most knowledgeable teacher I have met in this profession (in any field) and I somehow think he would ask you if your reasons for getting nationally certified is connected to intent and integrity of purpose. What does that mean?

    To me, it means that we do things for different reasons. Getting nationally certified is a huge effort. It brings a big adrenaline rush. It makes you feel better about yourself as a teacher. People are supposed to respect you more. But skip you already have all that.

    And I don’t think others care. I know they don’t. They would even resent that you have that qualification when they don’t. People are like that. And just because you would be board certified, it would not suddenly soften the position towards you of those who oppose TCI.

    And I know that spreading the word about TCI is your prime purpose, one that you have worked long and hard at for many years already up there in New England, who isn’t playing in the Super Bowl today (sorry! – I know I know, we’re not playing in it either). I’m saying that I see no professional value in terms of intent or purpose in your work if you get this certification.

    I think it’s about ego. I flirted with it in South Carolina, where they pay an additional $5-$6K per year to nationally certified teachers, and, yes, for that reason I would do it. In fact, I had started the process in SC but when I came to CO 12 years ago, I dropped it when I learned that in CO they pay nothing extra to board certified teachers.

    By the way, who makes up this “board”? Right?….

    My advise is to scrap this idea. With your background and talent, skip, you could easily do it. But let’s look at what it would get you. If it pays nothing in Maine, I strenuously object to your doing it. But if it pays, and I know how educators are treated in Maine (hello!) then do it for the extra income, certainly. You could be twice nationally certified and in Maine your salary would still be less than in most states – I’ve talked with Matava about this.

  2. OK – I see both sides to this…..Skip I can understand why you would want to…I think Maine pays an extra stipend, depending on the district – it’s not a state-mandated salary increase, is it? BUT…I know YOU – you would not be doing it for the money. After glancing through the Standards, I see that they are everything that we already DO with TCI!! which makes it “easy” – and which would give you an “edge” of being more of an ‘expert’ in language teaching pedagogy, thereby making the TCI/TPRS nay-sayers think twice before they dismiss your ideas. (because we *DO* have a lot of nay-sayers up here, and it’s because many of them are un-informed. THEY have not done the research into SLA like YOU have!) I do not think it is so much that they are ignorant or lazy…but rather, we do not have a State-created articulated curriculum like other states do. Each district is left to its own devices to write a curriculum. (although, that should change with all the PD going on now in regard to the new State Standards) So, Skip, I understand why you would want to do this.
    BUT….on the other hand…..
    I also agree wholeheartedly with Ben…..Why put yourself through this?…..I wouldn’t right now because I am still learning about TCI and my own teaching practices, while trying to “inform” my colleagues, which is very tiring – having to try to regurgitate the research that just ‘sunk into my brain’ because it made sense. Now I have to bring back up to the consciousness level at the drop of a hat when they ask me for “proof that it works.” I am also taking a Masters class and have to have my thoughts of pedagogy in my consciousness at all times to regurgitate onto a piece of paper. Ben is in a never-ending battle most times (it seems) to convince people around him that what he does makes sense. You, Skip, on the other hand, do not face the challenges that we face everyday, because you work in a collaborative environment, are given team planning time, and can have non-threatening conversations about pedagogy all day every day, thereby allowing your thoughts to evolve in a positive nurturing way. So THAT would make NBCT process so much easier for you.
    I say, if you are looking for a new challenge to keep you busy, if Beth and Gabe don’t mind the extra work that it is going to take from you and them, and if it doesn’t take you away from us newbies here in New England (we NEED you – our wonderful MENTOR — ok, I’m being selfish now! SORRY!), then good luck!
    I can see that you are itching for that “next step” in your career. I, for one, am too darn old – or I’m just too darn tired from going to school now for almost 30 years (in total — with over 200 credits! OMG! wow!!!)
    thanks for sharing the Standards!! I might not go for my NBCT but I will use those Standards to guide me in my teaching!! 🙂

  3. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


    I am glad you brought up the question as I was thinking about it myself.
    I agree whole heartedly with both Mb and Ben’s points of view.
    Ask yourself why you want to do it and based on your answers you’ll be better able to decide.
    One reason I decided not to do it is b/c if I’m going to do this hard work, I might as well go all the way , for a PHD where I could work on a thesis related to TCI.
    I’m not ready for that yet though…..

  4. I appreciate the thoughts….. I think 3 things motivate me to want to do National Board…

    1. MB hits on the first one when she says “after glancing through the Standards, I see that they are everything that we already DO with TCI!! which makes it “easy” – and which would give you an “edge” of being more of an ‘expert’ in language teaching pedagogy, thereby making the TCI/TPRS nay-sayers think twice before they dismiss your ideas.” Or, in other words, if would give credibility to the method.

    2. It would allow a LOT of collaboration with other teachers in my state.

    3. ego (I would hesitate to share this elsewhere, but I think you are right Ben)

    So, if reasons 1 + 2 are not compelling, I would probably pass.

    I would love to hear what others think, especially those who have gone through the process. Robert, would you care to add any thoughts?

    Thanks so much everyone

    So, if reason #

    1. I may not be the best person to listen to when it comes to doing things that will add extra work and stress to your life as my ambition puts me in situations I later regret (presenting at huge conference, por ejemplo). With that said, I’d say go for it, if for nothing more than another notch in your belt. I’ve toyed with the idea of going for it after finishing with my Master’s in the spring but I need to really put things on hold as I’m just a burnt out mess lately, trying to juggle work, grad classes, Masters Research Project, committees ive signed up for, conferences, and my wonderful family.

      1. Thanks for the additional comments…..

        Chris, I wonder if you received the email I sent with the attachments from our presentation last year…? If not, let me know and I can resend it… I may have sent it to the wrong address?


    2. Nothing wrong with a little ego my brother. I have always been impressed by the Middlebury sticker on the back windshield of your car. Once we fully shed the ego we’re not even here anymore, anyway, so nothing at all wrong with a little glitter on your resume. Name me one teacher sans ego and I’ll show you a liar. In education, that is.

  5. My dear Skip,

    Is this something that you want to do or something that you are being called to do? Try this:

    1. Imagine that you invest the time, money and energy to do this and in the end, you are turned down. (this happened to a very, very talented friend of mine) Can you picture that the process will have brought you something, or brought something through you to others that will have made it worth while?

    2. You reinvest, re-fund, and re-energize yourself to work through the kinks the second year….and the same thing happens. Can you imagine being in some way content with the new colleagues that you have met, the readings that you have done, the teaching that you have tried and the reflection that you have taken the time for so that you are not devastated and can live without the NBCT label?
    (yes…it happened to her two years in a row AND I cannot imagine how nor why.)

    If so, then you will have a better idea of whether this is a desire for the letters at the end of your emails or a calling to be connected with this process.

    Having said that, I know a number of people who have been through the process, some who ended up with the “endorsement” and an equal number who didn’t, for various reasons. I can’t recall any of them saying that they wish that they hadn’t done it. All of them were the better for having done it…in some way.

    However, they all also had to make some choices, and let some things go for at least a year to get it done.

    I love that you are considering it. I wish that it could simply be bestowed upon you for all that you already are and already do!!!

    with love,

  6. Thanks Laurie,

    As usual your words are most helpful.

    I guess I think that just going through the process and ALL of the reflection it requires will enhance my teaching. When I read through the standards they seem to describe great, effective teaching…. Would you (others) agree. This is why I would do it…. To become a more effective/reflective teacher….

    I do think that NOT passing would be devastating… even though I know that just going through the process would be beneficial…


    Thanks again..

    1. Skip, I am going through the NBC process right now. It is intense but I already feel I am becoming a more effective teacher because the process is so reflective. My state (WV) and district offer a significant stipend which will be very nice if I achieve certification. Another thing to consider is the cost of the process. West Virginia offers complete reimbursement, which is very helpful. If you decide to proceed, be sure to join a support group and/or work with a mentor. I’m not sure I could be doing this without support. Let me know if you have any questions.

  7. why don’t you just TRY it without going through the official process and see how it goes? Take a year and go through the steps of reflection — if you feel that you can handle it, then you’re already a step up! If you feel that you love the reflection but hate all the other steps, then just hang on to the reflection (I say this, because you are like me — you reflect, reflect and reflect some more!)

  8. They also have a program in which I can do just 1 standard the first year and bank it. I can then take on the rest the following year. I may do this. It would be a way to ease into it – a way to get “the hang of it” while being able to focus on just 1 thing at a time….

  9. My you have all been busy today. I’ve been grading papers and not even watching the game.

    Just for some perspective before I comment. I am not National Board Certified and do not intend to become certified, in large part because I am close to retirement and unwilling to do the work necessary to become certified just before I retire. (I am seriously considering looking for a doctoral program after I retire, though.) On the other hand, Jason Fritze is beginning to work on getting re-certified. (He has already been National Board Certified, but apparently you have to get re-certified every so often.)

    Jason says that the process is rewarding in itself, at least for him. It forces you to examine absolutely every aspect of your teaching. That makes him a better teacher and is worth the whole thing even without the “title”.

    So, I would echo what others have said: why do you want to pursue this, what will it take to do it, and are you able and willing to do that? (I am probably able but definitely not willing.)

    Pros and Cons
    1. The “title” will add to your credibility in certain circles; it may (as noted above) also add to resentment.
    2. The process itself has value for evaluating your teaching; it takes a lot of time and effort.
    3. Being Board Certified may add to your salary; it may not.
    4. Being Board Certified is certainly a bragging and ego point; there are other ways to get the same thing.

    Other considerations:
    Do you have a family? It will take you away from them for a while.
    Do you have caregiver responsibilities for elderly parents? You will have less time for that.
    How difficult will it be for you to carve out the time necessary for this? You will have to give up other things in order to do this. (I can’t imagine you are sitting around with huge amounts of time on your hands thinking, what am I going to do with my time?)
    How “valuable” are the things you will have to give up in order to do this? There are some things we can give up easily, but other things that we want to keep. Don’t put yourself into resenting the certification because you are giving up things that you don’t want to give up.
    (To echo Laurie:) Is the process valuable enough for you to do it even if you do not get the certification? When I went off to Madrid in 2001 to start working on the MA in Spanish (over a series of summers), I thoroughly intended to get the MA (and did). However, about halfway through the process I realized that if I never got that piece of paper, it was still worth it to me because of the things I had learned, the language I had acquired and the experiences I had had. I almost didn’t get the degree and had to take one summer off, but that was okay.

    So, I won’t give you any advice one way or another; I simply suggest that you think this through and then realize that you can never anticipate everything that will take place during this time, whether you go through the process or not. But you can make some decisions about what you are willing to go through before you say, “This is enough.”

    At one point I was working on the MA in Near Eastern Languages and Literature at UCLA with the plan to go for a doctorate and teach at a seminary or graduate school of religion. From the beginning of my attempt, there were roadblocks:
    – First, I had to go back and get a degree from an accredited school because my BA and MA in music were from an excellent but unaccredited university, and my MDiv and ThM were from a “professional school” rather than a “university” or “college”. So, I went to CSU Long Beach and got the MA in German, then got accepted to UCLA.
    – Just before classes started I was working at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament®. I was turned sideways in the saddle and leaning down to talk to a squire when the horse I was on chose to leap and perform a perfect capriole. While I had no trouble staying on the horse, the landing put my back out, so I started classes with someone driving me to school while I lay in the back seat of the car then stood or knelt during the class and returned home lying on the back seat of the car.
    – Traffic was a constant hassle trying to get from classes to work when I could finally drive and return to work.
    – Finally Medieval Times informed me I was going to Mexico City to do a series of performances in Aztec Stadium for the América Fútbol Club. The plan was for me to fly down for the weekend performances, then return to LA so I could attend classes, then return to Mexico City for the second weekend. That didn’t happen, and I missed just over a week of classes. On the quarter system at the graduate level, that is hard to overcome, so I was planning to ask for a leave of absence.
    -At this point, my brother took me aside and said, “Since you started this program, everything has been difficult. This, this, this and this have happened. If God were trying to tell you that this is not what He has for you, what else does He need to do?” The possibility that there were other reasons for the events was there, but as I analyzed the situation, I concluded that UCLA was not where I was supposed to be. I dropped out and returned to CSULB to get a credential in German. Everything fell into place. I got classes out of sequence but that have been key in putting me where I am today and working with COACH and at Pacifica. The entire process had a completely different “feel” to it; I knew I was where I ought to be. Do I regret my time at UCLA? ?? ??????? (me genoito – may it never be!) Not in the slightest; it was valuable, but I also do not regret being re-directed away from the doctoral program and into public school teaching.

    Take from this whatever lessons you wish. Sometimes you plan for Jerusalem and end up in Berlin.

  10. Thanks again ….This certainly was helpful in helping me make my decision.

    I think I am going to do the “Take-One” program. It will be a nice way to ease into it….It is only one Standard and costs only $400.

    Margie, I will be taking you up on your offer of helping me with the many questions that I have about the process. I will e-mail you okay?

    Thanks again

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