Switzer completes two year journey

“The final step in this journey was to self-reflect and become a better teacher,” said art teacher Mrs. Judy Switzer.

After two years, Switzer has received her National Board certification. Having applied and been denied her board the first time, Switzer pushed even harder to become certified the second time around.

“You have three years to complete the portfolio; some people make theirs in one, but I screwed something up, so I did it in two,” Switzer said. “[The application process] tears you down while it’s building you up. It’s like boot camp for teachers.”

The process of becoming a National Board certified teacher consists of building a well-rounded portfolio, testing and providing evidence of being a expert level teacher.

“It’s almost like writing a research paper; you may focus on one aspect of the paper at a time, but you’re always collecting data and you’re always trying to apply that data to become an accomplished teacher,” Switzer said.

Teachers, regardless of the subject they teach, put together a well-rounded portfolio, make recordings of themselves teaching and take an exam. Parts of the exams include performance events; for art teachers, these events can be extremely challenging.

“They gave me three pieces of paper – all different shades of tan – and gave me five minutes to construct something meaningful, then reflect on it,” Switzer said.

The process of applying was not just a part-time thing for Switzer. Every day was spent with focus on this process.

“You have no choice but to examine every single thing you do in your classroom; where you put your desk, how you plan your lessons, how you build relationships with your students,” Switzer said.

Having turned in her portfolio for review in April, Switzer had become extremely anxious to find out the results of her second try.

“We got an email that said we would be able to see the results on Nov. 18,” Switzer said. “I started checking the website by 7 a.m., but it continued to say, ‘Scores not available yet.’”

Switzer had not yet found out that the National Board’s website had actually crashed and it was unknown when the website was going to be working again. Switzer spent the next two days checking the website almost every 45 minutes. Finally, Sunday morning the website and the results were up.

“I did that thing where I thought, ‘Maybe I’m reading this wrong.’ I looked again and again; I was in disbelief,” Switzer said.

Even though Switzer made it through the program, she still lives in the mindset of a teacher who is still learning.

“I still go through the process of reflection and self-evaluation all the time and I think that has made me a better educator,” Switzer said.