Seeking National Board Certification in New York state? Here are 11 tips to get you started and help you stay on track.
1. Get educated. Attend an awareness session, a two-hour informational workshop designed as an overview of the NBC process. Check out www.nysut.org/elt or check with your local teacher center.
2. Financial help's available. The Albert Shanker Grant administered by the State Education Department will cover the $2,500 cost of NBC. To be eligible, candidates must hold tenure in a state public school and a valid state teaching certificate. Apply for National Board Certification online before applying for the Shanker grant. Prior to the union-backed grant program there were only 49 NBCTs in the state. Now there are 880.
3. Stick your toe in the water. The program Take One! allows educators to "sample" the National Board approach on a smaller scale, guiding you through the process of preparing one portfolio entry with a classroom-based videotape and embedding the NBPTS professional standard in your practice. It's a great way to build learning communities and see if National Board Certification is for you. And you can apply your Take One! score to National Board Certification within two years. Visit nbpts.org/take-one.
4. Do your homework. Inquire about supports for candidates in your school district. Many offer release time and incentives for candidates. NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust offers support programs for inservice or graduate credit.
5. High-needs help. If you work in a high-needs school district with 51 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, you may be eligible to receive support though the Targeted High Needs Initiative Grant or even have the Take One! fee waived. Contact the National Board Council of New York Network for more information.
6. Team up! Joining a support group in your school, district or region maximizes the experience. Contact a New York State Teacher Center near you to see if there are support groups or National Board Certified teachers in your area.
7. Plan ahead. Don't count on all-nighters to finish the reflective pieces. Plan ahead and carve out some designated time. Participate in a NYSUT-sponsored Regional Writing Institute.
8. "The Box" containing your NBC materials will arrive about three weeks after applying to NBPTS. Do NOT throw out the box. You will need it to submit your portfolio entries.
9. When videotaping, be sure to enlist help from a tech-savvy colleague. Instead of using a script, set up an easel in the background, out of the camera's view, with a poster listing things to cover, ideas and possible questions. This will help reduce on-camera anxiety.
10. Videotape several classes before the actual class that you intend to use is taped. This gives you and the students a chance to get used to the camera being on. Check out background noise, have your material ready and identify any logistical problems like lighting.
11 Ask your students for ideas - they're very creative! Let them be a part of your journey.