The National Board Wait

by Maren Johnson

The Wait. It can be stressful. One National Board candidate-in-waiting said a few days ago: "Just rip the band-aid off!" A renewal candidate emailed his thoughts in the week before renewal decision release–here's his exact quote: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggghhhh!"

It's a bit like Christmas Eve, but you don't know what kind of present you will be getting in the morning. All across the country right now, National Board candidates are waiting for score release, the day they find out if they certified, or did not certify yet.

National Board Certification has a cycle. First candidates make the decision to pursue the rigorous certification–it's extraordinary professional development, but also a lot of work! The next phase of the cycle? Completing a portfolio based on a set of national teaching standards. Finally being able to hit "submit" on the ePortfolio is a big moment. Taking the assessment center exercises can be intense, and often happens near the end of the school year. The shared experiences throughout this cycle contribute to National Board teachers having something of a group identity–when meeting for the first time, they know they have a background in common!

We are now in the waiting portion of the cycle. The wait is a unique time. A few years ago, in the last few weeks of waiting to find out if I certified, someone pointed out to me that adults don't always get as many opportunities for anticipation as kids do–and waiting to find out the results of National Board Certification is one, so try to enjoy the period of anticipation! It wasn't bad advice.

Then, of course, the ever-cheerful candidate support providers weigh in with a chirpy, "It's a three year process!" And it is a three year process. And while it may sound trite, simply submitting a complete National Board portfolio is in and of itself a huge accomplishment–it's almost impossible not to develop as a reflective practitioner just by pursuing certification. Candidates who do not certify the first time face disappointment, but often those who decide to continue a second or third time report even greater professional growth. Score release is a time to congratulate those who certify. It's also a time to support those who do not certify in providing more evidence next time if they wish to continue.

So there is a cycle, and with National Board 3.0, that cycle is going to be changing. What will that look like exactly? Well, we should be finding out more this upcoming year. For the moment, however? Let's put our thoughts towards the candidates, the individuals who have worked so hard this past year. Good luck to all those current candidates-in-waiting!


5 thoughts on “The National Board Wait

  1. Mark Gardner

    The waiting is almost as hard as the writing… and it seems like the time between certifying and having to renew is shorter than the time from mailing the box to score release day. Best of luck to the candidates in waiting!

  2. MM

    I’m in waiting!!! I missed certification by a hair last year and only re-submitted one portfolio entry. 9 months of waiting to see if I got those five tiny points is ridiculously hard!! Morale in my district is so low this year, and we are under such scrutiny, that I have often felt FAR from worthy of National Board Certification… if I make it, it will be so validating and give me a major boost to keep doing what I know is best for kids!

  3. Mrs. D.

    MM, I missed certification my first and second try by a mere.875, but that in itself has made me a better teacher. The feedback provided little help, but my review of the material has made me a better teacher. I’m praying for that sweet “.875” as we speak. Since it was my third and final try I re-took a test and re-submitted the only portfolio that I could.
    The “.875” was likely the greatest accomplishment though. It taught me that there are cut-offs for a reason and high standards are worth working for. I used to wrestle with points for my students. I’d almost always cave when a student said, “But Mrs. D, it’s ONE point.” Now I say, “Painful, huh, let me tell you a story…”
    Now I just hope I can practice what I preach if the .875 continues to elude me.
    Good luck!

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