Okay, so back to National Board...which is also crazy-good PD, in my opinion.
National Board Certification bills itself as the "gold standard" in teaching. You submit written commentary about your teaching in 3 areas (differentiation in instruction, teaching practice & learning environment, professional growth) with documentation, and you take a standardized test to demonstrate content knowledge. The goal is to demonstrate what NBPTS calls the 5 Core Propositions:
Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
Teachers are members of learning communities.
This is the question that everyone asks when I tell them about NBPTS. I answer with a smile, "For the glory!" Because teaching is just not that glorious sometimes, and I love the idea that NBPTS is out there fighting for our reputation and our greatness. I know that some states hike teachers' salaries when they achieve, but that's not the case in Massachusetts. Comme c'est dommage!
But it's not just for glory. As a teacher, I don't get a lot of feedback on my work. My students are in middle school, which is not exactly the best stage in life for expressing appreciation of adults. Since attaining professional teaching status (aka what-was-formerly-known-as-tenure) 15 years ago in my building, I've had just short observations and little critical feedback on my work. I'm the only full-time French teacher in my building and the only teacher of French 8, which means that I do almost all of my planning in a vacuum. Over the past year I've found an informal community online that inspires a lot of my work. But that doesn't mean that I get to deeply consider the teaching of a particular lesson or examples of my students' work on a regular basis. And I love doing that kind of stuff. And, no way do I have the discipline to initiate it on my own.
So National Board has forced me to examine my teaching in a very complex (sometimes painful!) way. Last year I completed Component 2, Differentiation in Instruction. Since I happened to be in the midst of completing changing the way I teach, it was a huge challenge to try to describe my planning, goals, materials, and feedback with any coherence. What's more, I had to make changes in my teaching in order to meet NBPTS standards: survey students about their language-learning backgrounds and experiences with other languages, write much more proficiency-based rubrics, and track students' learning more carefully from assignment to assignment.
It's tough, people! But I have to admit that I became obsessed with the challenge.
Starting in August, I met with my mentor (a NBCT who was an administrator in our district's central office) monthly for an hour or two, initially to learn about the 5 Core Propositions and to study the World Language Standards set by NBPTS. Next I started doing some practice exercises about different students whom I considered studying for my work on differentiation. Eventually I settled on the two students I'd study. I chose to focus on projects they completed in February and March, and wrote most of my entry in April.
Since my mentor was a NBCT in HS English, I sought out French NBCTs as additional readers. The AATF National Bulletin flags NBCT in its newsletter, which is a good place to find out who's who. Having two readers who were extremely generous with their time and deeply committed to helping me with the process was essential. My district allowed me to take a professional day to get started on my written commentary, which really helped - teaching full-time with two young children doesn't leave me a lot of free time at full brain power. Vacation gave me a few more days to focus, and then it was just a matter of ruthlessly editing my draft, over and over again, whittling it down to the pithiest examples of the standards.
I posted some links on Pinterest that I found helpful. I also like the chatboards here and here, although you won't find many candidates in World Languages on either site. There is a new Facebook group for WL candidates, which is great. Pursuing National Board Certification can easily eat up all your free time, so it would be best to figure out up front how you're going to make time for it. I loved having a mentor to hold my hand and motivate me during Year 1 (and have missed her ever since she left my district...), so see if you can find someone experienced to put you on the right path.
Are you a NBCT? Was it worth it? Are you considering National Board Certification? Why?