Master of Arts in Teaching 2008
School of Education
February 1, 2014
National Board Teacher Reflects on the Experience
My first exposure to teaching was in 3rd grade. I was partnered with the troublemaker of the class, Brian, and I was tasked with teaching him math. I rose to the challenge and found that I quite enjoyed seeing the “light bulb go on” as a student grasped an elusive concept for the first time.
Fast forward 10 years and I found myself getting my teaching credential at UC Irvine, along with my Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). I had successfully navigated a path towards the classroom: graduating from Newport Harbor High School as Valedictorian Scholar, majoring in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley as a Regent’s and Chancellor’s Scholar, and spending my summers teaching in the classroom of the great outdoors.
After graduating from UCI with my teaching credential and MAT, I worked for one year at TeWinkle Middle School teaching 8th grade physical science and then headed over to Early College High School (ECHS), also in Newport-Mesa Unified School District, to teach Chemistry and Physics. ECHS was the perfect fit for me: project-based, small and intimate, with really exceptional students and a devoted staff. I found a place where I could be the teacher that I always wanted to be.
One of my strengths as a teacher is my creativity and ability to make difficult concepts approachable. As a science teacher, I have always been devoted to making my classes as realistic as possible, with inquiry and problem solving at the forefront of my priorities. I want my students to get a sense of what science is really about: the chance to discover something new, the chance to pursue investigations of interest, and the chance for failure to be just as informative as success. I did not want my classes to be rote memorization and direct instruction. I wanted my students to be engaged in guided inquiry and to be solving complex problems via teamwork.
After five years of teaching, I continued to look for ways to improve and adapt my teaching, always striving to provide my students with the best education possible. I remembered hearing about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification process. I had first been introduced to it during pre-service training when I attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference and visited the NBPTS booth. It sounded like a process similar to the Teaching Event and to BTSA, in which you collected evidence of your teaching and reflected on how it was affecting your students.
I decided to apply for National Board Certification. The process took about a year, in which I had to film myself teaching various lessons, write reflections, analyze student data, and take exams. For the Adolescent and Young Adult Science Certification, I had to complete four main “entries.” In the first, I submitted student work and lesson plans from across a certain unit, demonstrating my ability to teach a major idea over time. The second entry concerned Active Scientific Inquiry, i.e. conducting student-led investigations, which was right up my alley. This required filming three segments of an investigation: the planning, the data collection, and the analysis. A teacher was allowed to submit only 30 minutes total, which actually made it more difficult to choose the best segments of each. The third entry involved filming a video of a whole class discussion about science. I filmed a Socratic seminar on nuclear power, in which students used evidence from articles to support their claims throughout the discussion. The fourth entry was a documentation of my accomplishments as both a learner and a collaborator and how they influenced student learning. All of the entries required documentation via film and/or student work, as well as extensive reflection on the evidence. The other component of the certification was the examinations, which consisted of six prompts that tested on scientific content knowledge, data analysis, and connections within science.
The process was grueling and the prompts were both detailed and a bit repetitive. Because of the rigor of getting certified, only about 50% of applicants pass on their first try. I was thus very excited to find out that I was among the 6 Orange County teachers to earn National Board Certification this year! I started the process with the hope of gaining some recognition for my teaching and for the chance to conduct some structured reflection on my teaching and I found that this prestigious honor was worth every hour I spent completing the entries and thinking about myself as a teacher.