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Virginia Journal of Education

On Point

Why I became an NBCT

by Kerdene DePriest

There are over 82,000 board certified teachers in the United States; Virginia ranks tenth in the overall number of board certified teachers.

One of my graduate professors invited the members of my class to pursue national board certification. After receiving my degree, I attended a local Rep Assembly where Mary Hatwood Futrell was the keynote speaker. During her address, Dr. Futrell encouraged teachers to become involved in the national board certification process. Later, I participated in a teacher researcher conference where the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was again promoted. After these experiences and talking with some teachers in my school who were NBPTS candidates, I decided to pursue becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT).

During my 20+ years of teaching, I had used my strengths as a “doer” to continue postgraduate study and make several professional accomplishments in my practice. However, I determined that the time was appropriate for me to analyze and closely examine what I was doing in my classroom to improve student learning. I also saw an opportunity to explore the impact my teaching had on my students and be able to make thoughtful reflection. So, I began my two-year pursuit for certification and prepared for what was one of the most demanding and rigorous professional tasks I have ever undertaken.

I wanted to learn more about NBPTS eligibility requirements, so I attended an informational session my local VEA district offered. The presenter highlighted the process and told us that applications are taken once a year, but recommended a course for those who were highly interested in applying. The course, taught by a NBCT, fully reviewed the application procedure, the NBPTS standards, and the requirements necessary to meet the standards. I learned that in order to meet the standards, the teaching evidence I presented needed to be clear, consistent and convincing.  I took the next step and became an NBPTS candidate.

The cost for board certification is expensive and the application and assessment fees can be a big deterrent. VEA has always been in the political forefront, lobbying the state legislature to continue incentives and fee subsidies for all NBPTS candidates. This political action has helped candidates receive assistance with fees not only from the federal and state governments, but also from the local school district. Consequently, most of my fees were reimbursed or covered by the state and local district.

I enrolled in an NBPTS candidate support seminar (also taught by NBCTs) which was designed to help candidates meet the portfolio requirements. The course provided information on the process required to complete the portfolio, identified the certificate standards, and also focused on writing and assessment strategies. I was assigned a proofreader and editor to review my entries and given information on classroom videotaping techniques and use of other technology. I was taught to constantly document my teaching experiences and expertise in the classroom, and to continuously reflect. In this instance, boasting about the instructional strategies and techniques I used in my classroom was absolutely acceptable!

Throughout the school year, I worked hard to describe, examine, and evaluate my teaching methodology and how students learned in my classroom. I kept journals, logs and examples of how I contributed to the unique needs of my students. I recorded my understanding of effective and appropriate use of technology and my professional accomplishments.  I felt that no stone could be left unturned as I explored the complexities of my teaching practice and nature of my classroom. I capitalized on the variety of ways education could be shaped in my classroom while remaining optimistic that I was collecting the evidence and data suitable to meet the NBPTS standards.
The journey to becoming a NBCT was a time-consuming effort. I spent many hours writing and revising my portfolio entries, videotaping lessons, and practicing strategies for the mandatory online assessment. Additional time was used to assemble and pack the infamous “portfolio box” in just the right way so that it would not be rejected after it was received by NBPTS. Though this was an intensive challenge with anxious moments and several hurdles to cross, I never felt that my time was wasted. The experience was valuable to my professional growth. I received a better understanding of my practice and who I am as a teacher. I had the opportunity to expand my leadership and advance the quality of my profession.  My journey will continue with a deep commitment to encourage those seeking board certification, to continue to invest in the work of mentoring the next generation of teachers and, most importantly, to use what I have learned in this endeavor to help improve the achievement of my students.

DePriest, a member of the Fairfax Education Association and a teacher at one of the county’s Interagency Alternative Schools, was certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2009.



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