If you haven’t started thinking of National Board Certification for teachers as a developmental process, I highly suggest it, because this will help you decide when to start. For teachers who want a quick overview before considering the process, you can find it in our free resources.
What is a developmental process? It’s a process unique to an individual that you can’t rush or skip steps to complete. Each stage of your understanding builds on a previous one. Some teachers will grasp the big picture more quickly than others; some children walk and talk before others. It’s all about your own growth. My advice is that you don’t compare your National Board Certification journey to those of other teachers. There’s that old analogy of “swimming in your own lane.” With that being said, here are several options for when to start:
The only way to “make sure” you develop your understanding in time to upload everything the middle of May is to… give yourself more time. If you start the Spring of the year BEFORE you hope to complete your certification, you gain up to three months over just starting at the beginning of the school year. I suggest you begin to wrap your mind around the process in late May, early June, or even in July prior to the school year you want to complete your National Board certification.
Many teachers will be tempted to approach the process armed with a checklist—but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself yet. In May, June, and July you have time to do a lot of reading and thinking. You can even take a Prep Course like the one we offer at My National Board. Even if you only take one component, it’s best for you to begin as early in the school year as possible. Some teachers I know began preparing three years before they actually jumped in! You don’t really have to make a commitment until you need to pay in January or so, so go ahead and delve into learning all you can.
Many teachers begin when school starts in August, which means they have to balance getting the school year started with figuring out the National Board process. It can definitely be done—there are even teachers who wait until they’ve paid for their components in January before beginning! This, by the way, is why we invented the FastTrack™ Course—even though you can’t change how fast you learn and grow, you can change how fast you decipher the instructions. Maybe your district offers jumpstart courses or a nearby university offers a National Board cohort. These are all very helpful resources. Every candidate I know has purchased books, videos, and joined FaceBook groups for National Board candidates.
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