The Road to National Board Certification: Part One–Getting Organized

If you’re a teacher and you don’t like school supplies, well—I just don’t understand.

As I was sifting through all the documents NB requires you to read—forms, standards, hundreds of pages of directions—I came to a realization, looked up at my husband, and said:

I’m gonna need a bigger binder. 



Clear to Neutral

I read somewhere that to be ready to teach every day, you have to practice
“Clear to Neutral.”

The practice of “Clear to Neutral” relates to procrastination and disorganization. If you leave a kitchen messy the day you plan to make a large dinner, it takes more time to clean it up and get ready to make a quality meal. You could cook in a messy kitchen, but then you risk contamination, you can’t find counter space, you get stressed out because everything’s dirty and you have to keep rewashing the same spatula. You clear your kitchen to neutral (i.e., restore it to its normal state) before any good productivity can happen.

More extrapolation on this here.

Once I read this, I began paying attention to the small things—my binder storage area in the classroom was a wreck, I had no system for my kids to get notebook paper, I hadn’t vacuumed my carpet in about a week, and it just looked straight up messy up in room 102.

There is, as well as physical neutrality, mental neutrality. These are the menial tasks: grading, grade entering into Progressbook, taking care of myself, packing my lunch the night before, making sure I get in bed at a decent hour, putting effort into how I dress for school. I don’t enjoy doing these things, so I tend to put them off. Really, it just builds up and affects my work performance. If I’m not prepared for class or not “there” that day, my energy is shot and therefore the class period is a waste.

I have been attempting “Clear to Neutral” for the past few weeks, and it’s paying off. My planning has been a lot more focused, my attitude has been better, I feel more prepared, I have more energy, and my general overall feeling about teaching has improved. I’m able to get to that deeper level of reflection when I have more time for it; as a first year teacher, reflection is crucial. The more I get to reflect, the more I learn about myself and my practice.