Thinking of Becoming Nationally Board Certified? What it Will Take?

By | December 9, 2019

Submitted By:

Patricia Zemke

NBCT- Health Education Early Adolescence Through Young Adulthood

Sixth Grade Health Teacher

Wausau School District, [email protected]

“Because I know this…..I do this…. It impacts my students by this….” That train of thought will be your new mantra if you decide to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). Becoming NBCT in your subject area is the best way to truly get in touch with your profession; getting in touch with what you value as a teacher and how you impact your students. I am going to be bold and say that it will not only change the way you teach, it will change the way you live.    

Deciding to become a National Board Certified Health Teacher began years ago in the back of my mind with thoughts of, “Wow! To be recognized nationally is a great achievement for a teacher! It must take a lot of work…”  Then my district changed its requirements for salary increase and becoming board certified was an option; I decided to look into it more thoroughly. I found out that the state of Wisconsin also offers a stipend each year for NBCT.  This however, really did not answer my questions of what it was really going to take. Could I really do this while raising three children, teaching, coaching, and trying to get some time for myself? Not to mention it was my summary year for  Educator Effectiveness. Can I afford to take this risk? Afterall, each component costs $475 with no guarantee of a passing score.

 There are four components to complete and you must attempt to complete all four within three years; completion of all components with a passing score needs to be done within five years. 

  • Component 1: a written test that you take in a testing center (usually in June) so besides studying your topic area, not much to do there.
  • Component 2: Differentiation of Instruction- You have to prove that you have student growth in your classroom through three different activities.
  •  Component 3: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment- video taping two of your lessons and proving that you support a safe learning environment in ALL that you do. 
  • Component 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner- How do we collaborate our knowledge of students with family, community, caregivers and colleagues? 

I decided to take on all four components in one year. My trick was, I knew I was going to be doing this so I picked up a NBCT colleague as a mentor and she helped me whittle through ALL of the directions- seriously,19 plus pages of directions for each of the components 2, 3 and 4.  My mentor gave me the basics and told me what I needed to start thinking about and what I would want to start saving as evidence the following school year when I would officially begin my journey. Questions to think about:

  • What are some of my favorite lessons? Are they a favorite because I like teaching it or because the students are learning from it? 
  •  What lessons will you video tape and how?  (I used a great gadget that followed me around the room as I taught). I video taped more lessons than needed so I had some flexibility in picking what would work. 
  • How do I reach out to others? Staff, parents, community. 
  • How can I show measurable student growth?  
  • What kind of data does our school already have so I am not reinventing the wheel?  

My biggest concern was getting this done with a class that meets every other 

quarter.  Planning and thinking ahead was invaluable for me.  Although I didn’t spend as many days by the pool pouring over my huge binder of instructions as I thought I would, my mind was gearing up for the challenge.  

When I was fully vested in the process, I would spend an hour or two each day working on a component.  On most weekends I spent about 4-8 hours. I worked really hard to have a rough draft done in one component, and a good start on my other components for the “Writer’s Workshop” put on by WEAC in February.  There were many mentors at this workshop who answered questions, read material, and gave excellent feedback. The weekend started on a Friday night writing from 7:00-9:00, 7:30 AM- 9:00 PM Saturday and 7:30- 1:00 on Sunday.  You can come and go as you please but the weekend is geared towards uninterrupted writing time. I used every minute taking 15 minute walks outside when I needed it. I had my comfy clothes, favorite music, snacks and beverage.  When I left I had a component done and felt good about what I had going with the others!  

Then came the revising, cross checking with the rubrics, and filling out the forms for all of the components. UGGG! THE FORMS!  Do I have the evidence that coincides with what I am writing? Does my form information match what I wrote? Are my videos clean of any identification of where I teach or who I am? How am I going to fit all of the information in the allotted space? Do I have the right spacing?  Am I following the rules? Why am I throwing out all of the lessons I learned about writing-transitions, spelling, spacing, and supporting detail?  Did I mention revising? That was the months of March and April. May is submission month. I submitted two weeks before the due date just in case there was any technical difficulties- it took me over an hour with the help of a district technology person. Then comes the long wait……once you submit, you do not find out your scores until December.  Watching the website for updated score release dates will consume the month of November. The morning of the score release date, I was awake at 3 AM wondering if it was posted. Finally at 5:45 AM, I got up and logged on. Fireworks blasted my screen telling me that I was Nationally Board Certified!  I passed!  

If you have the gumption to take on this challenge, and have been teaching for 3 years you can register. Registering for NBCT begins in April and ends the following year in February (dates change so watch the website for updates) I am more than happy to help anyone through the process, just reach out! Above all, good luck. YOU can do it!