*This post was written by Jennifer Anders, school librarian at West Jefferson Elementary School.
Over the past two years, the feeder pattern that my school is part of has been participating in a three year research study conducted by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the Southeastern Regional Education Board. The researchers are trying to find out if marketing Take One! as a school transformation model is viable. Take One! is a process where a candidate can elect to do one National Board entry and bank the score, but also get a feel for the process before completing the full boards. This has been an intense, often frustrating, but for the most part, worthwhile project for me and my colleagues.
The first year of Take One! ( 2010-2011), I'll admit that I was not on board with the project. I was frustrated and because I'm the school librarian, became responsible for helping everyone edit and burn their videos. We were walking around confused and I was resentful that I was being "forced" to participate although I had an underlying belief that at some point I would want to become certified. I turned in a poor entry that I completed in about a week's time, and was rewarded with a score of 1.75. Compare that to a 1.75 on the ARMT. Red box! Year two would be different.
Over the summer of 2011, the researchers, organizers and school administrators met to re-organize and better meet the needs of the teachers for year two. They offered more support that was specific to certification field, bought us all kinds of cool DVD burning equipment and video cameras, but most importantly organized us into PLC's according to certification and gave us four, four-hour sessions to collaborate during school hours. I was named the teacher facilitator for the librarians. ( Yes, me, with the 1.75.) They also offered to pay for any candidate who wanted to pursue full certification. I talked with my husband, and we agreed that there may not be a better offer for me to certify, so I decided to complete the full National Board process.
I know several librarians who have certified with National Boards, and I have heard them talk about how difficult it was. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but no one could have explained to me what the process would be like. One friend compared it to having a baby, and that may be the closest description for it. There were times during the process when I was glowing because I was creating great lessons, working with teachers and librarians and my students were engaged and learning. There were times when I had terrible nausea and headaches. They type of writing required was so alien and difficult. The page lengths, standards, and questions swirled around in my brain like the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz and the time, time, time! Towards the end, I felt bloated and fat and tired, but not able to sleep. (This may have been a direct result of the stress M&M's.)
And then I was finished, and I knew I had completed something that would transform my teaching practice.
Although I have not been scored yet, or taken the assessments, I know this process was worth the trouble. There is one main idea I have really taken to heart from this, and that is to stop and ask myself, as it relates to my job, "Why am I doing this?" and "What will my students learn?"
If you are considering National Board Certification, I would recommend that you not travel this path alone. I didn't. I had support from the Candidate Support Person provided by the research group, great friends, and most importantly from the ASLA National Board Mentoring group administered by Tywanna Burton.