In two days, National Board Certification portfolio boxes need to be mailed out to a weird address in San Antonio. As a first-time candidate, I can’t wait to send this thing away, but I must say that putting it together has been the best professional development experience of my teaching career.





I got through my first four years teaching in both public and independent schools before I had ever even heard of National Board Certification. At my current charter school in DC, I leapt at the opportunity for a subsidized (it costs $2,500) application for this prestigious distinction.

What’s involved? A portfolio containing about 60 pages of written analysis and reflection on my craft, 2 videos of me leading whole-class discussion and small-group activities, 8 examples of my students’ work, 16 pages of artifacts testifying to my impact on student learning and my continuing work as a leader, learner, and collaborator with students’ families. It’s a beast— not to mention the 6 essay tests that come later. Yet the delineated standards by NBPTS (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) that guide my portfolio entries offer the clearest vision for what accomplished teaching in my content area (English Language Arts – Adolescentce and Young Adult) looks like. This makes Teach Like a Champion look like child’s play.

Whether or not I score highly enough to earn the title of “National Board Certified Teacher”— candidates have to wait until November to find out— it’s definitely made me a better educator. I’ve investigated and interrogated every element of my craft and found ways to improve.

National Board Certification bonuses are on (or were) on the chopping block around the country. I think this is exactly the kind of professional development that needs to be incentivized, not cut. We spend zillions on professional development, much of it on one-time “drive-by” workshops, but this gets real bang for the buck.

Have you applied National Board Certification? Do you think it’s the best PD you’ve experienced?


Share this post: