This year I undertook the massive task of completing my National Boards, and I set two goals for myself. First, I wanted to complete the process and send off my box. Second, I wanted to complete the test as soon after submitting my box as possible.
I know, I know. My goals essentially were about completing the National Boards process and I did. However, this was no small feat for me since I have (no joke) 12 other outside-of-my-basic-teaching-assignment duties (coaching, bargaining, etc.) in addition to the National Boards attempt.
What ended up happening is that I planned out the process and completed all of the submissions in January, February, and March–not how I would recommend completing the process–and took the test in early April.
I feel good about the test. Four of the questions were much like what I give my students, and the other two covered ELL and struggling learner issues, which I haven’t had to deal with very often. so I hope I answered those well enough. I did review for those, and that definitely helped me.
Overall, I did not feel like the National Boards process forced me to change my teaching–I hope this is a good sign of what I had been doing–but it did cause me to be a bit more reflective on how I approach lesson planning, student interactions, and recording data. I feel like I’ve always done well in these areas, but the National Boards process made me sit down and detail the “why” of my decision-making.
- Why do I get to know my students?
- Why do I structure my lessons into small segments of individual, small group, and large group approaches?
- Why do I record who responds to questions, in what way, and with what frequency?
- Why do I keep so many records of student progress and social behavior?
These questions had to be answered in detail and had to be connected to my knowledge of my students.
Maybe the key here is that education is moving more towards extra record-keeping, more detailed data sheets indicating how much I know about my students. In the past I would have my evaluator pick a student, and I would explain the student’s strengths and weaknesses in reading and writing. Now I have to provide printed or written data showing the same thing, often in the form of assessment results rather than the more informal means of the past. My word is not enough; proof has to be provided. The National Boards process mirrors this change in education.
Wish me luck this November when the scores come out. The last couple of years the scores came out right after Thanksgiving, so I’m hoping that I’ll have one more reason to give thanks.