20 November 2011

National Boards is a humiliating process for language teachers

Two failures about broke me, but maybe these tips could save some other people the same heartache: So You Want to Be a WLOE NBCT.

UPDATE: I re-submitted a second time, this time Entry 4. I fully expect to earn the last 2 points separating me from National Board Certification this time. Though I cannot deny the growth this process has more or less forced upon me, I still find it an unnecessarily abstruse ordeal. To anyone considering seeking certification in World Languages Other than English, I suggest seeking out a formal class on the subject to avoid some of the heartache and frustration that has characterized my journey.

UPDATE 2: I blew it out of the water the last time! I got 22 points more than I needed to pass and a perfect 4 on Entry 4! It's a relief and vindication of sorts. I have a better idea of what's expected, but I do not wish that guessing game on anyone else. Seriously, find a mentor in WLOE and a course if possible!

It was twenty-two points last year. It was two points this year. Apparently my lesson on Afrolatinos with the debate did not meet their standards. The Narcocorridos lesson took me from a a 2/4 to a 3/4, but the Afrolatinos lesson took me from a 1.875 to a 2. That's it.

I had to wait an extra 2 days to find this out, too, after waiting 6.5 months.

What did I do wrong?

Apparently, my failing is primarily "Engaging All Learners":

You may wish to provide clearer evidence of your ability to foster a purposeful learning environment in which all students are encouraged to participate. 

I guess candy bribes weren't enough, and they were more impressed with the video of a girl sniffing her boot than one where students at least had to move to demonstrate an opinion, even if they were not ready to respond in Spanish yet.

You may wish to provide clearer evidence that you develop a relevant learning sequence. 

Discussing race is not relevant, but drugs and music are.

You may wish to provide clearer evidence that demonstrates your ability to employ effective instructional strategies to facilitate individual participation. 

My strategies suck.

You may wish to provide clearer evidence that you are able to describe your own practice and reflect on instructional decisions. 


It feels like there's some magical answer in their heads that I still can't figure out. My practice has improved, okay, but it would have done the same improvement with guidance and feedback with grad school--which I cannot afford now. My choices after giving up my ex-husband's child support so my husband, the only real father my son has ever known, could adopt him were basically to get National Boards to fund grad school, or to quit grad school.

Retakes are turned in in mid-April. I will be out with my new baby through mid-February, most likely. And apparently I don't know what I'm doing, much less have another $300 to throw away on not knowing what I'm doing.

I have "met" a total of two WLOE National Board certified language teachers online, ONE in real life, for Latin, which isn't even offered anymore.

And I am very, very upset.

HINT: this is NOT the time to tell me how close I was, or to try one more time, or that it's a three-year process.


  1. I am sorry for your disappointment and frustration. You are a great educator and someone that inspired me to be a better teacher, and hopefully to start blogging and reflecting more. I appreciate all that you do here on this blog and on Twitter. Keep doing what you are doing!

  2. Senora,

    I am in the same situation as you are, except that it was my 1st round being humiliated. I am still going through the crushed self-esteem and anger. Not having someone to share ideas with in regards to WL adds to the frustration of wondering what the heck they want us to do! I will not tell you to try again, or that you are a great teacher. I have no right to do that because I do not know you, and because it is YOUR journey. However, please know that I feel for you.

  3. The comments that they give you come from a list; they are not personalized. Have you had a mentor helping you through the process? NBPTS offers training for people to become mentors to support candidates, so they are out there. I myself went through the training last summer. If you choose to re-take, I encourage you to find a mentor.
    Wendy Brownell

  4. There are a total of, I think 6 WLOE NBCT'S in my state. I have been working with an untrained special ed NBCT informally and a Latin teacher online who is trained bit not my mentor. I do not have access to these miraculous trainers in any real sense, and I do not think a legitimate process actually aimed at rewarding goo teachong would REQUIRE such a thing to pass.

  5. I have briefly toyed with the idea of NBC purely as an addition to my qualifications - it gets me $0 extra income and I doubt anyone at my school even cares. I do believe you have cemented my impression it would frustrate me more than it's worth.
    I do really, really hope November brings you very good news.