NBPTS Reflections

I didn’t pass my National Boards.

So there’s that.

Welp, I think I’m finally ready to start reflecting on not passing. I’ve also registered to resubmit my portfolio, so I guess I’m also ready to GET BACK ON THAT HAWS.

Not to complain, but I wish people had told me “this is a three-year process” earlier in the game. It seemed like people started saying that around February or March, but by then I had already worked myself into a lather of my own view of what the certification process was. And my view did not involve my 2012-2013 school year looking like this:


There are, of course, a few positives to be found in this situation. Number one: the lovely, talented, and charming Liz Willard is now a NBCT.

Congrats, Liz! She’s in the middle, in black. Kimmie Choi, second from the right, is also a NBCT.

She joins the ranks of several other respectable colleagues who are also certified. When people found out I didn’t pass, I received many (well-meaning) comments to the effect of “You’re a badass teacher; if you didn’t pass, the process is broken.”

I disagree. I had no freaking clue what I was doing through most of the past year, despite fearless cohort leadership by straight-shooting, no-holds-barred NBCT Diane McSweeney. I’m bummed, but I’m TOTALLY FINE with the fact that I didn’t play the game the way it was meant to be played. In many ways, I respect the process MORE because I don’t feel like I just got a free pass. Besides, I got a perfect 4.0 on my documented accomplishments entry, so I must’ve done SOMETHING right, no?

Many people also said, “Wow. If YOU couldn’t pass, I don’t even think I’m going to TRY.” or “I don’t know how you’re managing to redo everything all over again.” Come now. I know you think you’re complimenting me, but you’re notttttttt.

I’ll tell you what WAS a big motivating factor when I was feeling terrible after learning my results. The response of NBCTs. I wasn’t entirely convinced before, but now I know this is a community I very much want to be a part of. Every single person I know who is National Board certified has offered to help me redo my portfolio. EVERY SINGLE ONE, even if I haven’t talked to them in two years. Well, Rob hasn’t offered yet, but he was busy getting engaged, so I’ll forgive him.

NBCT Rob Stearns, marrying us the day after he submitted his portfolio in 2011.

The National Board folks themselves could have been a squeak more helpful, I suppose. This is what I saw when I accessed my scores last week (actually, it’s not EXACTLY what I saw because when I logged in today to get a screenshot I couldn’t see what I saw before, so this is the closest I could get):

Wat. I couldn’t remember the cut score for passing, and nowhere on the main page did it say “YOU TOTALLY PASSED” or “YOU TOTALLY BOMBED,” which was probably intentional, but it made me panic for a minute. Until I realized my fate. My crappy, crappy fate.

The feedback I received on the entries I didn’t pass was taken directly off the NBPTS four-point rubric. So it was directly aligned to the scoring, which was helpful, but it wasn’t terribly specific, which was not helpful. It also did not help my soul to read that my entries indicated I wasn’t reflective and wasn’t knowledgable about my content areas, the two areas I thought I was strongest.

So here I go. But it’s not just me this time through. Garrett, who was in my cohort last year, is trying again as well. So is one of my favorite Seattle U cohort members, Adrienne. And a few other folks are trying their luck at National Boards the first time around, including a few other Seattle U MITFEEs, like Melinda and Julia.

Me and Julia at graduation, June 2007.

I’ll be in good company if I pass next time, but it’s nice to know I’m in good company even though I didn’t pass this time. Thank you all for your continued support.

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