Here are the websites, support groups, and documents that provided the most help to me as a National Board Certification candidate.
My top 5 most valuable NB resources
I joined a support group now calledEC-Gen.Org.
Originally, it was just an EC-Gen yGroup on Yahoo for teachers going through the NB process for Early Childhood Generalist certification. My understanding is that now, there is a $35 fee for a full-year subscription and it’s totally worth it. An NB candidate support provider who’s unaffiliated with the site emailed me and wrote, “Kelly Mueller [the original moderator for the mail ring] has an amazing library of resources for all entries, weekly chats, and forums for each entry set up. She, and others who post, use a ‘coaching’ model when addressing candidates questions. You never hear someone tell a candidate to ‘do this or do that or don’t do this or that’. Instead they promote thinking through thoughtful questioning. It’s a first-rate, high-quality, highly reliable site for candidates. I believe it is money well spent and I’ve urged my EC and MCGen candidates to join it. Every one of my candidates who accessed the site said it was more than worth the money.” If you don’t want to pay to join, you can also visit the NBPTS message boards at Teachers.Net–they are less active than the ecgen.org site and they don’t archive old posts, but the boards are still a good tool to have). If you are not an EC-Gen person, try visiting the message board link above and searching for other groups. EC-Gen is the largest, but there are others!
I downloaded all the files from the EC-Gen ring.
(See directions for #1 above to access the site). There are TONS of files–archived chats and posts, explanations of concepts, study tips, and much more. It was THE most valuable source of info I had because it was coming straight from people who had gone through the process and knew what was expected.
I had mentors and a support group in my school district.
We met every week for 2 hours. They read over my entries, watched my videos, and helped me study for the AC. Their help was invaluable, especially since they knew my teaching context and we were able to talk in natural conversation (as opposed to over the internet). Now, I am NOT a study group type of person–I never joined anything like that for either my bachelors or my masters’ degree! But I quickly realized I was in over my head with the NB process and I needed help. It’s not like college when you have a professor advising you and classes to attend–without a group; it’s just you trying to make sense of it all on your own. You HAVE to find support, locally if possible. The NBPTS site has adirectory of NBCT’s so you can find someone near you.
I asked as many people as possible to read my portfolio entries.
In fact, I had 7 readers, and each one would make different suggestions and catch things the other ones hadn’t. I’m sure my portfolio work was a million times better after having so many people give me a fresh perspective on it. I revised each entry dozens of times, but the writing got progressively better, and it was worth it.
I assessed for NBPTS prior to undertaking the certification process myself.
Most people don’t realize that teachers are the ones who grade, or assess, all of the portfolios and assessment center exercises. This takes place during June and July each year. There are requirements about your teaching experience and degrees, but you do NOT have to be NB certified in order to assess. I was able to assess the summer before I started the process myself. That meant I was trained to look at my own work like an assessor. Plus, the pay is good, and assessing is a great summer job. It’s hard work and very intense, but I HIGHLY recommend doing it, especially if you’re about to go through the certification process. (Of course, you can’t assess during the year that you were a candidate so that there’s no chance of you scoring your own work). Visit theNBPTS assessor page for details.
Other recommended resources
Early Childhood Generalist
Mrs. Renz has an awesome page with resources for Inquiry Science, which you MUST know how to implement for the EC-Gen portfolio entry 3.
Entry 4, Documented Accomplishments, is the one entry that all NB candidates must complete regardless of certification area, and it’s also one of the most widely misunderstood. These Entry 4 Guidelines from WEAC’s NBPTS page is enormously helpful: I wish there were one for the other entries, too! There are also free online trainings you can view here.
Abc123Kindergarten has a collection of links and books you might find helpful.
Ann Bacon, a teacher in my former school district, has compiled a tremendous amount of resources–very informative.
Here are some popular resources–I haven’t read them but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s available to help you. If you decide to purchase them, please consider clicking through to Amazon from here. A portion of the proceeds will benefit this site at no cost to you.