It’s that time of year again. National Board Candidates in waiting learned their fate yesterday at 9 AM eastern time. I waited to hear from several that I worked with this past year. In 1999, library media became an endorsement, and I was hesitant to join the ranks of those working to receive the title. Then the next year I relocated, so again I passed on the opportunity to set that as a goal, rationalizing that I would not know my teachers, students, or community well enough to strive for it, especially considering that was important in order to be successful. I finally did it, but not without a lot of self induced stress. I credit a Yahoo NB group, friends, and family who supported me and helped me. In particular the Yahoo group for candidates gave me insights I would never have gotten from face to face meetings, study groups, or reading books, guides, standards, or anything else. This was actually my FIRST professional learning network that I joined and contributed to. Shared knowledge is amazing.
Scores are out
So Friday the scores were released. Of the four I worked with this year, two achieved their goal. NOTE I did not say “passed.” This process is not a pass/fail endeavor, but instead a self-induced performance of endurance. The NBPTS has their tenets and standards for which one completes a portfolio and assessment. The work that goes into the portfolios and assessments must be ground in these tenets and standards, and oh, by the way, showcase that students are the reason for it all.
While I did feel for the most part that the Library Media certification matched most of the way I think about my job as a practicing librarian, it was frustrating none the less to find that after submitting portfolios and completing assessments, I still had no clue, not even a gut feeling on how I did. The year that I worked on mine, I remember that Friday before Thanksgiving. I was reading on the Yahoo message board of the many I had been following online since the previous May when I began my own journey, feeling their elation for accomplishment and worse, even their pain and confusion at the lack of accomplishment. I had lunch duty that day at school, and I remember vividly being in the cafeteria wandering amongst the tables with tears streaming down my face, all over the fact that people I had networked with in my journey from across the United States—ones I’d never met before face to face—had been devastated after visiting the site to find out their fate. Note that I wasn’t a candidate waiting scores, I was still a candidate working on portfolios, no where near the end of the journey.
But after my “melt down” that day I decided to put scores and what not out of my mind. I decided to focus on what I could control, and not dwell on the things I could not. I even had my husband check the scoring site for me on the day my fate would be known (truthfully I could not get in, I had classes all morning, and had no free time to worry.)
So to those candidates that learned you have not quite met your goal, I just want you to know I applaud you. Bravo. If you tried, you deserve an award just for effort alone. I apologize up front for the lack of any kind of feedback from NBPTS on your scores. It just seems so unfair in this day and age of education where we rely on feedback to become better that the NBPTS provides none. But I want you to think about this—the National Board Program is designed to be a three-year process. So if you have not achieved that goal after one year or two, you have nothing to be ashamed of. If you still do not make it after three years, hold your head high. I’m pretty sure you are a better teacher for going through it. I wish that those who do not make it after three years could get feedback. But that is not how this program works.
Do NOT Give Up
If you are a retake candidate, use the calculator from the NBPTS site to figure out what you should bank and what you should retake. And DO NOT try to only redo one. Minimum, retake two components (portfolio entries or assessment questions, or any combination.) Select at least the two lowest scoring items, but factor in their weight as well. USE the calculator to try out any score possibility. It will help you decide what to do. If you’d like, I have a spreadsheet with the formulas I can send. (I’m at cathyjonelson -at- gmail….) Read the scoring guide for insights too.
And remember this—if you tried to achieve National Board certification, then in my book you ARE an accomplished teacher. NBPTS is not a test of will or endurance, or even something to pass or fail. It is a professional goal. And we all bring our gifts to the table at school. Celebrate that you had what it takes inside to set such a lofty goal.