Education Opinion

National Bored

By Emmet Rosenfeld — March 09, 2008 3 min read
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I confess I’m tapped out at this point with writing about the Boards. My recent Post article was cathartic and now I want to move on. For example, a good topic today would be the six-figure teacher.

Imagine that. A charter school in New York that gets rid of all the administrators so it can pay teachers closer to what they’re worth, at the same time paring things down to the basics: 3 R’s plus Latin and music. Beautiful. I hope it succeeds with flying colors.

But I will drag myself away from this attractive shop window, for now, and return, despite my ennui, to my own unflagging attempt to increase my income by achieving National Board Certification. After your flood of letters and comments, you deserve an update.

I ended the Post piece on an ambivalent note, you’ll recall. Something about feeling like Macbeth, halfway there and covered in blood. The bottom line, after all the drama: I’m going for it.

By that I mean I’se paid my $365 and am going to take my second chance by redoing one portfolio entry, Entry 4 (pronounced in the tone Jerry Seinfeld used on his TV show when greeting his apartment-building nemesis: “NEW-man”).

I almost missed the boat. It was probably just my silly subconscious that led me to sign up for the retake on the NBPTS website one day after the deadline, which resulted in me having to write a letter to petition the NB powers-that-be for permission to register late.

Now that I’m on the boat, again, I’m fishing the same waters with different bait. In other words, I’m using the same accomplishments (building a canoe, being a Teacher-Consultant with the writing project, and bloggin’ for Teacher), but taking a different approach.

For instance, I started with evidence of student achievement first, and am writing my entries backwards from that. And instead of being creative with documentation, I’m going to use the Board-provided validation forms and parent contact logs.

As far as the endless peer-review and revising, I plan to keep that to a minimum. Dozens have offered their help as readers, for which I’m grateful. But frankly, my goal at this point is to raise my score from a 1.0 to a 1.8 (on a 4-point scale), which is all I need to git ‘er done according to the handy dandy score calculator on the NBPTS website.

Ironically, bonus money in my district is drying up as I type, thanks via Rube Goldberg complexity to the mortgage crisis, or something like that. So, if I do manage to pass next year, the $64,000 questions with which I started this quest, oh so many moons ago—Can I do it? Am I nuts?—may have cheaper answers than I bargained for.

Until then, if you promise to keep reading, I promise I won’t write again about you-know-what. After all, if I’m bored writing about it, I can only imagine how you feel.

P.S. My subconscious weighs in. Click on if you want to read about an Eduholic dream I had at 5 a.m. the morning after I wrote this.

I Dream I’m Turning Japanese

I’m at a table with four Japanese men. It is an examination—I am being tested. One man is clearly in charge. We are all given a passage to read; I remember clearly the act of reading it, but I can’t say now what it was about. Then we are all given questions. For some reason, they are printed on the lining of blue down parkas.

Three of the men start discussing the questions sequentially, talking rapidly and poking their fingers at the parkas, then eventually arriving at answers they agree on. I follow along, silently. I know all the answers that they say, but am under the impression somehow that it would be impolite to speak.

Finally, I decide to interject. I answer one of the questions, but in a very different way. Instead of referring directly to the parka, I speak more broadly, more synthetically. It is a question about a character from the story, and I offer an exegesis on the forces that acted upon her.

I remember thinking, in the dream, that the head examiner, the one who has been observing us, is either very impressed or thinks that I am bullshitting. I think to myself, in the dream, that this is some Harvard stuff I am laying on, and maybe I should answer the questions more like the others.

So, I decide to dive back into the discussion and do a parka-based answer. The group is on question 32. I run my finger along the lining of the parka, searching for 32. The group has fallen silent; the head man is looking at me sternly through his glasses.

In a flash, I realize that somehow a piece of white fabric has been pinned or sewn over the question, obscuring it. There’s an awkward moment of silence as my finger scratches at the fabric. I know I could answer this, I remember thinking, if I could just read the question.

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