This spring I completed my National Boards Certification in Teaching for 6-12 Vocal Music. I submitted my porfolio in May and find out if I passed this December. Yes, it's a long wait time. I'm undecided how I ultimately feel about it. I'm not sure if I'll pass, I think in retrospect I could've done things better/ differently when picking lessons, filming, and writing. But, I do feel as though I effectively organized everything. As I have a lot of friends looking to complete this process soon, here are some tips and the story of my process.
I honestly don't know why you wouldn't pursue getting your National Boards (NB). It pays for itself in the first year. I realize we're teachers and a couple extra grand around is a typical, but sometimes you have to spend money to make money. You can also go for the loan repayment option through the state (NC). I didn't because I couldn't get my act together in time.
There are 4 components. Component 1 is the test portion. Component 2-4 are portfolio portions.
You have 3 years to complete all 4 components, but every year you submit a component you pay the registration fee (70-80 bucks). I did component 1 / the test first. I wanted to see if I could pass it before doing all the portfolio components. Year 2 I did components 2-4 and re-took a part of the test. More on that below.
Component 1 - The Test
I didn't study for it beyond reading how the test format would be and going through the practice questions from the general website. While I passed the test (I took the test in May and found out in December), I learned that your overall passing score is dependent on the number of total points you receive. The test is comprised of 4 parts and I did the worst on the composition section. I learned I could retake any portion(s) of the test for $125 this second year, so I decided to re-do the composition.
Overall tips - the multiple choice section encompassed a lot. I was glad I had recently finished grad school and certain things were relatively fresh. I wouldn't even know where I would begin to start studying if it had been several years. For the listening and giving feedback on what you heard and how you would fix it - I struggled to hear things because the headphones weren't as loud as I would've preferred. For the composition portion, this is what I practiced the most - setting up my paper. I do most of my compositions on the computer. To actually pencil to paper compose is something I rarely do. Practicing setting up my paper at home really helped when I was in the testing environment. I also really liked being able to do the composition section completely fresh on my re-take. The first time it was the last thing I did and I was mentally spent.
Google Drive. Google Drive. Google Drive.
From Day 1 I organized everything in there. I'll put a sample of what my drive looked like.
I also kept a 3-ring binder of everything printed out in there, including the forms. I really do best with hand writing before typing. I would make notes in my binder and then transfer online.
As soon as I put my forms in the Google Drive, I added my candidate number to the brackets. I didn't want to have to be doing that the day I'm submitting everything. I tried to do as much formatting from the beginning before worrying with the content.
Did I mention organizing everything in Google Drive? Seriously. Do it.
Next, when the portal went live to be able to upload documents, I was no where near being able to submit anything. However, I went online to familiarize myself with what it looked like. I also made sure I had everything labelled like it said on the site. Then, when I went to upload everything on the day it was due, it was really really easy to see what and where to update everything.
I also made a basic Excel spreadsheet of everything with columns that told me what level was I at.
In regards to content, NBTC is super strict about what you talk about so I'm going to skip over this. I also don't have my results back and don't want to give any tips that might not be tips! Ha!
There is a LOT to this process. It's also an emotional rollercoaster. At times I would think, "I SO have this. I am killin' it." and 2 seconds later, "I have NO idea what I'm doing. Why am I even a teacher?" From what I've read to who I've talked to - that sentiment is shared by all.
Below is a link to a replicate of my Google Drive Folders I used. Everything is labeled and organized. All of my data has been removed. I'm hoping this helps someone else and if I have to re-do anything, it will help me next year!
Link to my Google Drive Template