National Board Certification Has anyone completed the Take One! course offered by the NBPTS? I just started looking into National Board Certification and it seems very overwhelming. I am wondering if taking the Take One! course would be a way to get my feet wet before I dive into the actual certification process. If you have taken this course could you email and let me know what you think. Is it worth it? Or is it better to just get started with the certification process? Did you take a class (other than the Take One!) to prepare for certification? If you have already gone through the certification process I would love any advice you can give. Does the whole process have to be completed in one year? If I applied now could I take 2 or 3 years to work on everything? If you could do it all over again is there anything that you would do differently? How much time outside of the school day (and the usual after school prep time) would you say working on the certification occupied? I've heard that it can consume all of your time during the process - I'm wondering if I should postpone this until my children are older (I have two kids under the age of 5). Thanks for you help! ***************************************** I am a national board certified librarain. I was certified in Nov 2007 - I began the process in 2004. I would definitely absolutely recommend the Take One process. I only wish they had had that option when I was doing the entire certification process. It would have made it much easier. You can get a feel of what the certification process is all about, how much time it consumes etc. I will tell you this, I found it consumed my entire weekend when i was writing up the portfolios. I usually spent all day on Sunday doing nothing but the writing of the portfolios. I was lucky in that I am single so didn't have to worry about little children. I didn't achieve certification the first two years but I did learn a lot about the process each year. I am certain that the Take One would have made the next year easier. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely begin the entire process earlier. Now it is much easier, in that you can download the standards and the portfolio requirements etc from the website. I would recommend that you do that and start to read them to get an idea of what is required and to brainstorm what lessons you can use or how can you tweak some lessons to fit the requirements. You can start to do lessons or be videotaped as soon as school starts so both you and the students will be comfortable. I will say this -- it is definitely worth it. I cannot describe the thrill when I saw Congratulations on the website. It surpassed getting my Masters degree. So if right now with little children isn't the right time, I would still do Take One, or download the requirements etc and get familiar with them and begin doing lessons that can be used so when the time is right you are ready. *********************************** I took mine and found it to be a disheartening program. If you do not pass the first time, you receive absolutely no feedback and yet are expected to guess at what you did wrong. I did not take it the second time as my husband passed away while I was waiting for the results. I simply lacked the passion to work that hard again. And yes, it was all consuming. I am now working on my EDD and am not spending near the time I did on the Boards. One other consideration -- this state has decided not to honor the pay raise for Board teachers any longer due to fiscal problems. Look into it carefully before you commit to it. *********************************** I am curious, too. I have a friend who has been working on her NBTC in high school English. Shedidn't quite make the cut the first year and spent this past school year re- doing certain parts of the process. She will not know if she has"made it" until next fall, but she feels confident that she most likely will achieve the certification. From what she has told me, many people end up taking two years to accomplish certification. Part of the reason (in her opinion) is that you have to really "play the game" when doing the written reflective pieces and use all the proper "buzz words." If you don't, you won't score well. Sounds a lot like what is expected on state teachers exams and under-grad education course work (in my opinion). If you can "play the game," however, the certification is highly respected nationwide and will most likely give you a pay raise. Plus, many colleges and universities will hire people as professors of practice if they hold this certification (my friend just got hired at a stat e university to teach secondary intro. to education courses on faith that she will receive the certification in the fall). I think this is well worth the effort. By the way, my friend started doing this when her children were the following ages: 3, 5, and 7. They are now 5, 7 and 9. She is a very hard worker and admitted it did consume a lot of her "free time." However, she still managed to keep up with her scrapbooking addiction and her kids are all doing great! You know yourself better than anyone else. You have to decide if you can let certain things go in order to do this. For example, maybe your home is a bit dustier and messier than you would normally like... *********************************** I've read the other responses and feel I must give you another view. While I wholeheartedly agree that it is an enriching professional experience, there are definitely some negatives. 1) Financial: Unless your state/district is providing the initial fee, it is very expensive. In my state/district promises of continued financial reward have been broken and/or compromised. What one school board/administration promises, the next can easily take away. 2) Personal: I did not do Take One so I can't speak to it. I did pass in one year and I believe it is because I spent a great deal of time working on it. I began the summer before and during the school year weekends were devoted to it. My children are grown and out of the house. My husband was very patient that year. This is just my experience and may not apply to you at all. I just feel you deserve another opinion. *********************************** In my area of Richmond, Virginia I was able to take a graduate level class designed to help achieve NBCT. I chose that approach, because even if I didn't achieve, I could count the hours towards my state required coursework for recertification. Therefore I did not choose the Take One option. The process IS expensive, both financially and timely. We tell our candidates in Virginia (I participate in mentoring candidates) to plan on between 400-800 hours of writing and studying time. Honestly, I am a slow worker so I would say it easily took me 800+ hours. Our NEA affiliate here in Virginia offers a three day inservice (during the summer) to provide an overview of the process, so check to see if that is an option in your area. As far as choosing the Take One verses the whole process, I can't really address that except to say that you have THREE YEARS to complete the entire process. You could choose to complete one phase of the four phases in the Take One process in the first year, and then complete the other three pars in the remaining two year. My worry about this is that if you don't do well on the take one then you have only two years to redo and complete that part plus the rest. Maybe that is just the pessimist in me. With regard to waiting until your little ones are bigger, I would say that depends on your at home support system. My hubby was wonderful when I went to get both my Master's and my NBCT. He was the driver and bather and house cleaner during those times. You will need his support and to have kids that are good sleepers (and go to be early). I hope my experiences help you decide. If I can add one post-script that isn't good news, I will say that while I went through the process and learned a lot about my philosophical beliefs and teaching, I think my students and school were a little shorted. During that year, our mentors advise (and rightly so) that you drop out of all extra curricular activities in school. I did this and felt that my lessons that year were a little less sharp becuase I was always thinking about if this lesson could be one for the portfolio or helpful to the process. *********************************** I am an MLS but four years ago I was an Secondary English teacher and became NBPTS certified. I had three children at the time (living at home), my box was lost in the mail due to hurricane Katrina, and 15 family members were living with us because they were homeless. I completed all of my work at school because I could not bring home work (I had plenty of papers to grade on top of NBPTS). My state pays an additional $5000 so that was my incentive -- does TN? Since I became certified, so many doors have opened for me to consult and mentor teachers in my state for additional money. It was the best thing that I could have done, so I highly recommend it for you. How many years have you been teaching? How old are your kids? Do you have a support system? (my husband was very supportive) *********************************** My children were pretty much grown when I attempted this. I only had a 17 year old in the home at the time. It did consume my life and I don't know if I could have done it with little ones, or rather if I would want to share my little kid time with NB. Those are cherished days. My suggestion is to mesh the standards, questions and the rubric, know them inside and out. I made it the first time with a good score and I think this is why. You can do it and it is a lot of work. I am getting close to renewing my NB. We have a big support group in my county which I did not have when I first submitted. Check to see if your area has a support group. NB support is a line item budget here. But I don't know about the class you mentioned. *********************************** I didn't take advantage of the TakeOne option, so I can't comment on that. There are a few things that I would do differently, if I were to do it again. First mistake I made was not joining a study group or the discussion boards. I'm in NJ and there was a group that I found out about too late into the process. I did it completely on my own using the guide you get when you register and a book that was written for librarians. I received my certification November 2008, so I mailed my box in March of that year - details are a little murky. I registered the July before and realized that I could've had six extra months to prepare within the maximum window they give you - had I registered in January. So, when you are ready, make the most of the time they give you. The hotline that they run is very helpful. I called a few times and emailed a few times. It is VERY time consuming. I sent my family away for both the Christmas break and the February break and spent the entire break working on it in addition to time spent working during the school day/week. Leave plenty of time to revideotape your lessons. I really messed up one class. I got so-o nervous for some reason - it wasn't the first time I videotaped myself for the exam (you hand in two) and kept saying "um." I was distracting myself with all the "ums." I fessed up to the class when the video was unusable and they all told me that they noticed and one girl piped up that she tallied the number of times I said, "um." You have to get consent forms signed. Get them out early. They were mostly returned to me, but one parent didn't give permission to have her son videoed, so I had to plan around that. I was very touched to received some notes of encouragement written on the permission forms by the parents. Tell your students about the exam - even the ones you're not videotaping. The kids were very interested and supportive. Keep focused on student outcomes. The materials that they give you are very detailed. You have page limitations on each narrative, so there's no room for filler. I have definitely changed the way I approach lesson planning having gone through the process. Even if I failed the exam, I learned so much. I didn't do as well as I hoped I would, but I PASSED on the first try with only 8/9 months of preparation. (Remember, register in January for the full 15 months possible to prep.) The application process is very involved as well. I was the only candidate from my school. My principal and superintendent didn't even know what it was or what was involved. I was at another school at the time. When you successfully complete the application process, you receive "the Box" in the mail. It contains everything you need to create the four portfolios you will put into "the Box" before March 31 of whatever year you are testing. The portfolios have to be in by March, but you can take the written portion of the exam any time up to June. I chose to take it after I completed the portfolio. So I used the time from March to June to reread my library school textbooks. I write really well, but I'm really slow. I nearly blew my written because I ran out of time before completing the first question. You get a half hour to answer 6 questions about managing a school library. They aren't that hard, but they are detailed and that 30 minutes goes by quickly. You can't go back to any earlier sections. There are only 7 school library NBCT's in NJ. Last fall, the very first successful candidate organized us into a panel for our state conference. Each of us echoed the feeling of satisfaction having gone through the process. A few final comments: Find out from your state education dept. if there's money to subsidize the cost of the test. NJ set aside funds for a certain # of candidates. You have to be a tenured teacher in ordered to take the exam, but conventional wisdom advises at least five years of experience. I did it in my fifth year of teaching. My kids are older. Teaching is a second career for me. I don't know how anyone with young kids could do it. It's kind of all you think about for a year. There's a banking of test scores up to a certain period of time. I'm not sure how that works. Advocate for yourself. Find out from your union if there's any way to negotiate for movement or credit on your salary guide. We got 6 credits from our board. When I finished the process, I thought it should be an entire step, personally. 6 credits was better than nothing. When I passed it, I had the opportunity to purchase 9 graduate credits. I did and took that to my principal and the board and they gave me the credits. That's all I can think of now. I'm at the beach now, so I don't know the title of that book I purchased, but it was helpful in clarifying the manual you get. Feel free to email me back with any questions. Does your state's association of school librarians have a listserv? You should find out who in TN has taken the exam. *********************************** If you decide to do part of the process, see what the state can offer - Grants are available and the state also provides a mentor. Look on the website for financial support - We had monthly meetings - coordinated by MCS - I didn't really work with a group - I wanted to, but couldn't find anyone in my area - you really don't need someone working in library media - the 4 parts are basically the same concept... *********************************** I haven't signed up as of yet for the Take One; there's not really a deadline but obviously the earlier you sign up the more time you have to work on it. They will not send you the official information until the fees are paid. I plan to enroll in August after I get paid for my summer school work :) If you sign up for the complete process, you have to turn in all of the portfolio entries by March & then take the computer exam (I think there are 6 parts but could be wrong) right after that. You then get those results in November. If you do not score high enough, you can redo the parts & resubmit (although you do have to pay again to retake the parts). After you have submitted everything,, you have 2 years to retake the parts. After the 3rd year, you have to start all over again. With Take One, I believe the portfolio deadline is the same although you don't have to take the computer exam at that time. The one problem with Take One is that it starts your 3-year period. So after you do the Take One, you have the next year to do the remaining portions. If you don't make high enough, you only have one year to redo it. But my thinking is that I'll have a better feel for it after I've done one portion & received my scores. Then I know if I'm on track or need to do something very different. *********************************** It is a LOT of work and must be done all in one school year. Unless you have a good support group, I would wait until your kids are a little older. When you are ready, just jump right in and do it.It helps if you have mentor groups, too. I worked with two other women. It may take you two or three tries. I'm on my second attempt. I passed the portfolio sections the first time, but had to retake some of the tests.
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