Certified teacher’s take on the National Board


The Board of Education recognized 11 teachers in the district that completed their recertification for the National Board Certification: Lauren Schoepp, Robert Seidel and Kurt Weisenburger.National Board Certification is achieved through a series of recordings, reflections, and standardized tests that look over teachers’ expertise on their content area.“The National Board Certification Process really asks teachers to look at their practice and to articulate why they do what they do…they have to be able to identify why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they know it affects student learning,” history and English teacher, Heidi Rockwell, said.This is a long process that needs to be completed outside of school, adding onto teachers’ daily duties.

“Ten years ago, when I first got certified, it was a one year process,” said Weisenburger. “It’s four parts: there are two exemplary lessons you have to tape and long reflections you have to write about what you taught, why you taught it, how you taught it, and how it benefited your students.”

To ease this process, National Board has a mentor-based system that aid and give advice to teachers throughout the years. Rockwell is currently serving as a mentor for the process.

“It’s a reflective practice and a professional development that asks teachers to examine their practice, its sequence, and the effects of their practice,” Rockwell said.

Taking the time to become certified is much more than simply relearning and reflecting one’s craft, though it’s an achievement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 3% of teachers in the US are National Board certified, and statistics show that students in those classrooms receive better test scores and overall grades.
Teachers must also reflect on their contributions to their community outside the classroom. Due to the many requirements, the original one year timeline was daunting.

“It was such an involved process and commitment outside of what we already do–teaching, planning, prep, grading– that teachers were shied away from it,” Weisenburger said.

Since then, the process stretched out over two to three years for original certification, while the recertification process is a lighter and more condensed version, requiring a single tape recording and reflections.

No matter the workload, though, teachers that take part in and are involved in the National Board reap the benefits.
“It’s a very valuable exercise because it requires you to stop and think ‘why do I do what I do? Why am I teaching that lesson? Why that sequence? How do I know that the students are actually learning it?’” Rockwell said. “It’s appealing to me because I see myself equal to the students in terms of learning, just down the road a little but further. We’re all still learning.”

With pandemic complications, less teachers have been willing to embark into the process as they juggle in person and distance learning and any readjustments necessary.

“Our numbers are lower in terms of getting new teachers and new recruits right now, just because there’s way too much on teachers’ plates,” Rockwell said.

Weisenburger completed his recertification in the midst of hybrid and distance learning, and was forced to make adjustments based on the situation.

“The program was pretty understanding that what teachers were going through was unprecedented, so they allowed us to use recordings we did on Zoom. Actually, my exemplary lesson recording was taped fully on Zoom,” Weisenburger said. “So it was challenging in that regard, and everything was changing in education last year.”

Despite the unfavorable circumstances, teachers renewed their certification.

“There was a time when I was thinking about how much more challenging it was last year than it would have been otherwise, but it’s something that was very meaningful to me,” said Weisenburger. “It’s something that I honestly see myself doing for the rest of my career.”

Being involved with or certified with the Board also allows teachers to make an impact on not just on their classroom, but on the profession as a whole.

“I’m involved in a lot of things to do with my profession, and National Board is one of my favorites. Barrington has dedicated professionals, and I really enjoy working with them and getting to know them,” Rockwell said. “I really want to raise the professionalism of our craft and the respect accorded to us. I want us to be viewed as professionals and not glorified high school students who never left.”

The level of rigor and reflection throughout the process also leaves room for tremendous personal growth.
“The vulnerability required of the process is what allows you to grow. Embrace it and it will remind you of what your students are feeling in class. I think teachers can forget what it’s like to be a student all too quickly,” Rockwell said.

“Going through the National Board process puts you back into that mindset of being the learner. It reinvigorates your teaching; you start seeing it from multiple perspectives. Everything you’re doing for that process is for your growth, but it’s your growth for your students.”