National Board Certification - Understanding the 5 Ws to be successful on your RETAKE journey!

Uncategorized Jul 05, 2021

Finally understanding how to connect the dots and bring everything you do back to impacting the student is the critical component of earning National Board certification. It is a learning process. It’s all about the right focus and being intentional (plus specific) with your written commentaries.  Think about things differently and you will be successful!

What went wrong? As the pass rate for initial certification with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is only around 40% on the first attempt, many teachers find themselves asking this very question.  While coaching teachers through the NBPTS process for the past 23 years I’ve found particular themes that seem to encompass the work of most teachers who seek my support for figuring out - What went wrong? Why did I receive this score?  In no particular order these mistakes are as follows:

  • Teacher was focused on the larger picture instead of providing the assessor with specific details and evidence to pull for the rubric.
  • Teacher used academic writing as if he/she was writing a dissertation instead of writing about his/her practice toward the rubric.
  • Teacher wrote one or more components in a hasty, last minute style using a “cramming style” writing that allowed very little time to connect to the rubric or judge the writing against the provided rubric
  • Teacher didn’t use the 4.0 rubric at all
  • Teacher didn’t become one with (or use) the NBPTS standards in his/her work 
  • Teacher focused on his/her OWN classroom way too much and not enough on his/her collaboration outside the classroom walls 
  • Teacher didn’t follow specific instructions for one or more components
  • Teacher had (or used) limited candidate coaching support 
  • Teacher did what he/she had always done instead of growing into the standards given by the National Board
  • Teacher wrote a fairy tale of sorts full of lots of fluff and none of the right stuff that could be pulled for the rubric. 

Where should I change my planning, thinking and writing? You must do different to have different when retaking components for the National Board Certification process. This seems like a no-brainer until you get to those very vague feedback statements sent to you on your NBPTS score report.  It is so much easier said than done - I get it!

My advice to you on your retake attempt is as follows:

  1. Be transparent and vulnerable enough to allow others to read over what you have written against the rubric. Work with a coach if that makes you feel more comfortable.
  2. Recognize that there IS a 4.0 rubric and use it as if it is a checklist to make sure it is added to your writing.  Most teachers focus solely on the questions and forget you have the rubric to use.
  3. Become the standards for your certificate-specific area and use them in your writing
  4. Invest the time that is required - lots of time!  Don’t waste time running in a hamster wheel, invest time growing and changing your practice where EVERYTHING you do consistently impacts the students' learning and remember that all students don’t learn the same way.

What should I retake? Preview your score report and think about your attempt/s prior to this retake experience.  Where do you feel confident that you can/will grow? Which area will offer you the most points on the weighted scale to reach the overall 110 score? Use the scoring calculator to determine what you will need to get on the component/s you choose to retake.

Review those 4.0 rubrics to make sure you understand what it is you will have to provide evidence of and that you feel confident you can adjust the way you attack the process this time. 

Why should I trust I will not make the same mistakes again? Hopefully, at this point in this blog post, you recognize (at least loosely) what your initial mistakes were to not certify.  Now you have to realize that your assessor has the rubric for your entry with BLANK BOXES to fill in with evidence that YOU provide them.  The assessor cannot infer things or summarize what they think you may have meant.  It is either there or not there.  So, you must begin to plan and write with that information in mind.

❏ Trust yourself to provide the evidence towards the rubric.

❏ Point out how significant your work is by attaching the standards to your writing to embody that significance.

❏ Go deep into your practice and expose WHY you do what you do.

❏ Why do your methods work and why do some of your strategies fail? It is important to note that pointing out changes/additions and next steps is an extremely important part of meeting any rubric for the National Board Certification process.

❏ Make sure to let the assessor know how you use your knowledge of students and sound pedagogical practices to guide and redirect your instructional decisions.

❏ Expand your classroom walls to collaborate with many and indirectly impact more than just your own students

❏ Remind yourself that your written commentaries are the only eyes the assessors have into seeing your classroom - don’t be fluffy!

Who can help me see things differently? If you are still feeling unsure about how you will trust yourself to embark on this journey again, find a cohort to join and a coach to support you through the retake process. Never Work Alone - www.traceybryantstuckey.com

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