Wednesday, December 28, 2011

National Board: Portfolio Progress & Scheduling

Today is my big fat 11th anniversary. Unreal. I can't believe it, although I guess I should be able to since our oldest together is 10! 

It's been an interesting day. The Husband almost always has to work on our anniversary so I am used to spending it at home with the kiddos since it also nicely coincides with my winter break! I took Middle Child to the doctor this morning and we had lunch out (which will end VERY soon with my 2012 goal to take care of myself which is going to mean eating out a lot less). 

I ordered myself this fabulous DayTimer planner on Amazon (seriously I buy almost everything there!). 

Tickle me super happy when it shipped yesterday and arrived today (turns out they have a distributor about 20 miles from me but I'll take it!)! Happy anniversary to me. Oh I LOVE this thing! It is H-U-G-E with a capital Gigantic but fortunately it does fit in my purse. Otherwise I'd just buy a new one of those!

What in the world does this have to do with National Board you might be asking yourself? The planner came with a full year of undated inserts (monthly spread and weekly pages). They were separated with all the monthly spreads together and then the weekly spreads together -- so not going to work for me. I am way too lazy to do that much flipping. I like my month and my week view together. So I rearranged them and then put in dates and information for the rest of the school year (holy potatoes!).

I also decided that I would give myself some deadlines for my National Board entries. I don't feel behind or stressed or anything (at least not yet!) but giving myself an ending time should help me. At least I hope it will. I think I was smart in doing my videotaping first. I read this book called WHAT WORKS!: Successful Strategies in Pursuing National Board Certification and it is super helpful. She says that a lot of people videotape blindly and "hope" they get something useful that they can use. I suppose you could say I did that. I did not plan my lessons out to be anything stellar -- they would see through a Dog-and-Pony Show, you know? So I taught the way I normally would except that there was a video camera in my classroom at the time. After losing my first set, I reread my directions so I knew what I needed to do in terms of the entries and I just went in, told the kiddos what happened and retaped. I taped two small group lessons and a social studies lesson and that was it. I did not tape over and over and over. 

I refuse to obsess (too much) about it. I am actually still debating which of the two videos I want to feature for my Entry 2 because there are good things and things I could improve on with both of them. One features of group of young ladies who are on grade level with their reading and one features a group of 3 boys and one girl who are above level. I honestly kind of want to use the  latter because I am tickled pink that most of my highest readers are BOYS! =D

That said, I have been working pretty diligently on my Entry 4. I have one accomplishment left to write about and one to finish which I can't do until the end of January when I get my MAP results (I am using last year's and this year's DDI strategy use has helped me to majorly boost my students' achievement on that test). I began working on my Entry 2 today. I have watched my videos several times since I still can't decide which I like best. I also did all of the "forms" work for both of those entries (that in and of itself is time consuming because of all of the labeling and putting into the right envelope, etc).

I will finish Entry 4, as much as I can of it anyway, by tomorrow afternoon. My goal is to have a rough draft of Entry 2 done preferably by Monday the 2nd but realistically by the 8th of January. Then I will have from January 8 - January 31 to work on Entry 3. I am only giving myself until the end of January so that I can't put it off too much. I ordered a keyboard case for my iPad so I can actually work on my entries from anywhere (school, while I'm waiting for Middle Child at therapy, etc). That should make it easier to get that one going. Plus I get MLK off and my kids don't so I will be home all day and can use that day as a work day for NB as well.

Once February hits, I plan to push forth with Entry 1. I have waited the longest on this one because I want to make sure that I have writing samples that show enough growth from point A to point B. I want to be finished with Entry 1's write up by Leap Day. 

Once March hits, it's proof-reading, editing and getting feedback from others. Once I have a draft of each entry, I actually plan to print it and pass it along to my readers but  I don't plan to necessarily look at their feedback until March. Portfolios have to be postmarked by March 31. I am shooting for a goal of packing mine up and sending it off on the 23rd so it's done and I can breathe a sigh of relief!

I am taking the entire month of April off. I will start preparing for the assessment center in May. Honestly I am way more paranoid about the portfolios than the assessment center exercises. When I took my ESL certification test I thought I was doing so horribly -- and a ton of the questions were procedural (what would you do if....) just like the NB prompts seem to be for this certificate. I will not study for the center over spring break or in the couple of weeks after that. No way. I plan to schedule my center appointment the week after we finish school for the year so I don't have it looming over me when I am trying to focus on my little friends. I believe the deadline for the tests is June 15 and our last day is the 8th so that will hopefully work out (assuming, of course, that they have appointments available when I want them). 

I find it mildly ironic that I, the most paranoid/anxious person in the world (okay so that's an exaggeration), am NOT freaking out over this process at this point. I doesn't mean I won't later...and I am already thinking of how I can strategically plan a personal day or two over the next couple of months so I can stay at home and work on my entries, but I feel good. Had I waited and done my videos after Christmas, I think I would be feeling the panic right now. At this point I just need to decide which writing samples to use for Entry 1 but otherwise all of my other materials and evidence are ready. I just have to write the papers. And for a lover of English like myself, it isn't going to be something that kills me. Will it be easy? No. I don't delusion myself to think that. But I do think that because of the work I have done in my short career, I know how to show student impact and that's what it is all about. 

Maybe I will do all of this and not pass -- or maybe I am totally on the right track and will do fabulous. I do not have a mentor or really a support group (aside from the Yahoo Group for my certificate area). I am more or less on my own. I don't mind. I am choosing my readers carefully and will just hope that putting my best foot forward is enough.



  1. Hi Sunny,
    I just started reading your blog last week and decided to start reading from the beginning. I can relate to so much of what you expressed after your leave in Feb. It helped me see that I am not alone in how I felt last year (by far my worst year of teaching).
    I am finding so many resources for my 3rd grade class on your blog/blogs linked to yours.
    I was trying to download the multiplication worksheets you talked about last year that were previously under teacher resources.(June 27th, 2010 post) However, the link does not exist anymore. Your excitement is infectious and I am so excited to get back to my kids and use some of the new activities.

  2. Thank you for this post! Since receiving my results in November, I've been meaning to ask you what book you had found to help you. I'm going to be doing my last retake and am going to try a different approach this time. I wish I'd seen the literacy specialist when I first decided to apply because it is my strength. Good luck on your entries! I'd better go make myself a plan as clear as yours so I can get those last few points this time!

  3. Happy anniversary! Wish I could be that organized and self-motivated! I did my entire Master's online (pre-child) and now that I have a kiddo, I have AADD (adult attention deficit disorder- self diagnosed lol). I think it's awesome that you are pursuing this goal!


  4. @teacherjenn -- I will post the links again in a post today! :)

    @BusyLogan -- When I was deciding which certificate to do, I took one look at the generalist ones and said "No way"...they seem almost made to make you not do well :( Take a deep breath and go into it with fresh eyes. I got that book for my Kindle so I had immediate access to it and I read through the first half of it in about an hour or so. It's a quick read that is PACKED with helpful stuff. Hopefully the 3rd time is the charm for you! :)

    @Haley -- I actually DO have ADD! I have learned to cope over the years by being ultra organized (even though most people with ADD are NOT organized at all). It's almost to the point of being OCD about some things so I can stay on top of stuff. If/when I pass, I will be the ONLY National Board certified teacher in my entire district (1700 teachers)!