Finding Motivation Before Winter Break

It is 11:30 (p.m.) on a Saturday night, and I’m thinking about teaching. I’m thinking about how last week was more downs than ups, but the ups helped me rationalize that maybe I can survive (the next two days). I’m thinking about how Monday and Tuesday are going to be long and probably reincarnations of last week (I’m not sure what our district was thinking when they decided to end the semester on a Tuesday). I’m thinking about how achieving National Board certification could be less than a year away from me, and then what? I’m thinking about a conversation I had with my friend today who is in law school and is working for a clinic as a public defender intern. She inspired me that people are still fighting the good fight and that it’s possible to change things, if only one case at a time. I’m thinking about what teaching strategies I’m starting to get better at, and just wrapping my head around what works. I’m thinking about the goals I have for myself and my students and reflecting on how I lose sight of them under the weight of the usual suspects: exhaustion, pressure, annoyance, and time.



The Road to National Board Certification: Scores Are In

I received an email a couple months ago from the National Board that I swear said “Your results will be available on Saturday, November 5th.” I swear. And then when I kept refreshing my email as I was on a little vacay with my husband, I never saw any scores. I searched for the email, and it was gone. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not that crazy. Nor did I really care, as I was on the fence about continuing certifying anyway.

Then, a couple days ago, I got another email that said I would be receiving my scores on December 10th. I was expecting this email to disappear too, because at this point with National Board, they have no deadlines for themselves. I opened my email up this morning to see an email from them that redirected me to my account, and saw that I received a 3.4 for Component 1 and a 2.0 for Component 2. To retake, I would need anything 1.75 and under. So, I guess I passed those two components. I was relieved to see a little validation that I didn’t bomb anything, and now I’m thinking “damn. Maybe I should try to finish the other two this year since I actually have a chance to pass.”

Let me air my frustration with this process, and with my current situation. Component 4 was just released in November, so I’m not behind so much with that because they just released it (and released it later than they said they would–see above about deadlines). Also they require me to pay yet another 75.00 “registration fee” when there is no way I could even do the registration in one year because 2/4 parts weren’t available yet. Since I’m getting no financial support from my school district or the almighty State of Colorado for this, I’m not exactly jumping at the opportunity for paid masochism. Frustration 3 is the phantom Component 5, which is: “we make it as hard as possible with our website and online platforms, and zip files of zip files with directions all over the place, and you have to show that you can even find the directions—if we even give them to you.” It is  disorganized and there has just got to be a way to make everything more user-friendly. They are transitioning to a new certification process, but boy are they making everything harder than it needs to be for everyone else.

So you can see why I’m feeling ‘meh’ about the whole thing. I question each day whether I’ll keep teaching, my husband just got a job as an attending doctor which would allow for me to pursue other things in a financially safe way, and I have to say that not worrying about boards has given me time to just enjoy teaching and try to salvage what I started teaching for.


To have the title of NBCT would be propelling my career in a way that nothing else could right now (well, maybe a Master’s program but do you have 15000 lying around that I can have? No?  😦 ) I’ve been validated by the first two components, so there’s a pretty good chance I’d certify this year if I buckle down. And I wouldn’t have basically thrown away 900.00. Also, if I don’t submit the rest of the components, I would have to do the whole thing over again and I do not want to go take that test or write those analyses all over again.

So, I’m eliciting the advice of the internet: NBCTs out there–what would you do?

In other  news, Winter Break is about a week a way and ol’ Michael Scott says it best:




The Road to National Board Certification Part 6: Teaching While Grieving and Learning More About Formatting Than I Ever Wanted to Know

December was probably one of the worst months of my life. I have lived a privileged one in that I had never, up until this month, lost someone near to me due to tragedy.

It’s 7:30 a.m. A green bubble on my phone says, “Missed Call-Dad.” It’s not like him to call me this early, but he’s a man of idiosyncrasies—maybe he bought a Christmas gift for someone and he can’t contain the secret—so I call back. My mom answers (why would she call me on his phone?) She asks me if I’m driving right now. I’m not. The first thought in my head says dad is gone.

She sobs the news, news that I receive in front of a group of high schoolers.  The juxtaposition of it is too much and I make it to the front office.  I learn that I’ve lost the equivalent of an uncle (my dad’s cousin, but more of an uncle to me). Relief washes over me, horrifyingly bittersweet. Not my dad—but my cousin’s.

Collecting everything–thoughts, tissues, breath, I explain what happened to the first person who sees me in the office and then say, “I’ve got to teach in ten minutes.” I decide that I would teach, by God—especially after being absent a day last week due to a cold.

I’ve never had to try to function at school in the immediate shadow of devastation. One of the first things on my mind was “I have to teach today because I don’t have my National Board evidence yet and time is ticking so I’ll suck it up and get through the day.” I open up my laptop in my office and I can’t do anything. I don’t even remember what my first hour is doing.  I’m convinced when my principal pulls me in and begins the ‘now what?’ process of phone calls, buying plane tickets home, somehow contacting my husband who is at work and unable to talk on the phone, that I need to go home.

I feel guilty and angry that my life’s got to eat into what I do for a living—and often. Sickness, death. In an ongoing quest to overcome perfectionism and embrace the screwed-upness of life, this is a lesson in taking care of myself and picking up the pieces when I return to school. And although I’m at school for the next four days before flying home for the funeral, I let teaching take the back-burner. I had to turn my head to the wall often because the tears kept coming at random. Not much comes to mind when I think, what did we do that week? It was a wash. After I came home from the funeral, it was time to wrap up the semester. I was backed-up on getting feedback to students form their final projects, and honestly did not get to treat everyone equally with thorough feedback. And I feel really, really guilty.

I had spurts of productivity in the past couple of weeks with board stuff. One second I think “I’ve got this!” and the next I think “I don’t got this! No way!” I spent half a day figuring out what formatting I should be using for my component two submission. After reading posts on proteacher.net about candidates failing it because they accidentally submitted one blank page instead of their writing and FREAKING OUT about the horror of that feeling (and paying 300 bucks to resubmit!), I am making sure that I cover it all.

Google Slides–Did you know that if you want to print out Google Slides with comments, you can’t? Now you know. Did you also know that if you print out the “handout” version with 4 slides on a page, it will shrink the slides down way more than they need to be (to the point where you need perfect vision to read it) and there’s nothing you can do about it? Now you know. Did you know you can import Google Slides into Powerpoint, but it will pretty much give you no benefits because it’s Powerpoint and basically worthless? Maybe you already knew that.

Dochub–I discovered this because I needed to get around Microsoft Word’s clunkiness. Upload your .doc/x to Google Drive and it will offer to open it through Dochub. It’s basically a cross between Microsoft Paint and a word processor. You can edit PDFs and all that jazz–cool!

Microsoft Word–Did you know that Google Docs won’t let you print out a doc with comments, but Microsoft Word will? Probably its only redeeming quality.

All in all, I have had an unproductive working week at home but a relationally productive week at home. I saw family and friends I haven’t seen in years. I looked at many, many photographs. I sat and watched tv with my sisters and snuggled my dog. I drive home this week to Colorado to spend time with more friends, and I am planning on getting a couple days in (hopefully) at work before we start back. The balance is hard with unstructured vacation time, but I’m thankful for it.

Amidst that, I started studying for the GRE. I am crazy. Goodnight.