Sunday, November 27, 2011

I now have letters after my name!

They don't mean much to the average person, but they mean a TON to me! After a very, very long road ... I am proud to say I am now a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. I waited a while to write this post, because I went on quite a roller coaster ride the weekend I received my scores. This is a lengthy post ... but not nearly as long as the journey I've been through :)

This entire process started almost 20 months ago. In February of 2010, I went to meetings that my district provided to learn about the National Boards process. At that point, I was still unsure of whether or not I was going to go through with the process. I had to make a final decision by July. I took a few months to think about it and did sign up that summer. In early August, I received information from a mentor in Emporia who runs a center to help teachers through the NBCT process. I went to a weekend workshop in September of last year and learned even more about what I would be expected to do, how to start the planning and I met other teachers from around the state who would become a great source of support.

I spent many days and hours last year working on my Boards. I drove to Emporia almost once a month for work days with other teachers. My teammates were supportive and often helped to calm me down during particularly rough days. I seemed to live at Panera at night and on the weekends to work on my laptop. My paraprofessionals in the room helped during video taping of lessons. My friends understood when I was too tired or busy to get together to hang out. I received care packages in the mail from friends and my family treated me throughout the process. My parents helped by watching Minnie for me during busy weeks. I had friends to help with the technology pieces of my portfolios. I had a mentor in Emporia and one in the district who answered phone calls & emails late at night, read through my papers and watched countless videos and gave endless emotional support. I met an amazing teacher who was working towards the same certificate as I did. We spent days upon days sitting at her dining room table, typing away and studying for the exam portion of the Boards. She is now a wonderful friend. I spent almost my entire spring break working on my laptop to complete everything on time. By the time I finished & sent off my NBCT box on March 30th, I was drained! Then, the studying for the exams started. Lisa & I took our 3-hour exam in June, just a few days after the school year was over.

And then ... I got to pack everything up in June ... and wait. At some point, I forgot about getting my results. Then the emails started coming. People began asking if I had passed. Mom went to Emporia again with me for a celebration lunch (on having completed the work) and a workshop on understanding our scores and what to do if you don't pass this first time around. We learned that the candidates would all get an email about a week out from the day they will definitely post scores. That email came on Friday, November 11th. I immediately put in for a personal day, because I'd decided that I didn't want to see my scores at school and wanted to celebrate my hard work (regardless of my scores) with a day off from work.

I woke up about 2 weeks before with a ridiculously stiff neck. After many, many trips to the chiropractor, I realized my neck pain is part to blame from a spine that is curved the wrong way ... but I think another major part is based on stress. This is always a stressful time of year. This month was no different. Because of this, I didn't make the appointment for the massage I really wanted on the 18th. I did make plans for lunch with Mom & Dad for after I found out my scores. NBPTS told me on Twitter scores would be posted for sure before noon.

I went to the doctor that morning and was home by 9:00 where I promptly parked on the couch & refreshed, refreshed, refreshed my computer on the NBPTS site. Things quickly went sour ... the site crashed. I couldn't seem to log on. Neither could anyone else I knew that was looking for scores. I kept emailing Mom & Dad, texting Molly, and responding to texts from friends at work ... "I haven't heard anything yet. Site seems to be down. Waiting patiently. Should know before noon." At 12:30, I was frustrated and decided just to head to lunch with Mom & Dad. I was nervous and upset and could barely eat or concentrate. While I was there, I received an email from them saying the site was down, but we should check back at 4:00pm for scores. I did, and the site was still down. The next email said to check at 6:00pm. I pulled myself together to head to dinner with family around 6:00. Still no scores. By the time I left dinner, I had received the last email for that day saying scores would not be posted on Friday, and they weren't sure when they would be up.

So ... I attempted to sleep that night. I had hardly slept in weeks, waking up with bad dreams about me getting scores that weren't high enough to pass. I didn't sleep very well that Friday, but I tried to keep myself busy the next day. I had dinner with friends, and when I got home, I read the latest email from NBPTS stating the scores would be posted by 6:00am Sunday morning. Before I went to bed, I decided I would try to sleep in and then I'd check the scores whenever I woke up. I had waited long enough ... what was a few more hours?

Early in the morning, my phone rang. It was my friend, Lisa, who went through the process with me. I answered and heard, "Betsy! The scores are online." I told her I was trying to sleep in, but wanted to know how she did. The great news was that she had passed! I asked her what time it was. She told me 6:50am and said she would wait on the phone with me while I checked my scores if I wanted. I decided that I wanted to check them by myself, and so I stumbled downstairs in my pj's and flipped on the lights. I logged in. I was confused. What was this pop-up screen that wouldn't go away? I just wanted to see my scores on the window that was hidden! Why wouldn't it close or minimize?

Then, I read that window: "What name would you like printed on your official certificate?" WHAT!?!? What did this mean? Oh, my goodness! I immediately started crying. I saw my score {A 307 out of 400, for those who care. A 275 is passing.} and could hardly see straight. I called Mom & Dad at 7:00am and they were both THRILLED for me! Then, I called Molly & woke her up. Then, a call back to Lisa. And then ... I was on a high until I finally went to bed around 11:00pm that night. I cannot believe I passed. Only 40% of teachers pass on their first try to become a NBCT. I started this journey with 14 other teachers in the district. 2 of us finished. Both of us passed. I am happy. I am relieved. I feel better. I am sleeping better. I am proud. I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher.

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It's time ...

... for this year's annual Christmas/dog/shopping video. This one is really sweet ... and a tear-jerker, too!

Minners got her hair cut yesterday and when I was waiting to pick her up, I saw a group of 5 dogs that were there, looking for their forever homes. If you are looking for a dog to join your family this year, you should check out the adoption events at your local PetSmart. Such cute babies!

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