Justin Gorman
Justin Gorman: "You’re going to learn something about yourself and how to become a better professional."

  • First-time candidate for National Board Certification
  • School: Lt. Gen. William H. Harrison Preparatory School, IB MYP World School
  • Subject and grades taught: 7th Grade Social Studies
  • Certificate area: Early Adolescence Social Studies-History
  • Years in teaching: 5

Why did you decide to pursue certification?

You have the option in our state to pursue a professional certification or National Board Certification to maintain your credential. I found that what the National Board was asking for was similar to my master’s degree. And there is a financial incentive – a bonus for certification – in our state.

And I like titles. You don’t get many titles in teaching. It’s a way to distinguish yourself.  

How did the process change your teaching practice?

It made me a better teacher. I’m more aware of the process that’s involved. It provided me with ways to measure things. It’s easy to lose sight of that. Do they, the students, really get it, and do I really get it? With each National Board entry, there was an ‘a-ha.’ And conversely, I saw where I need the students to respond and what they need to be producing got a lot of clarification.

Did you have support from National Board Certified Teachers at your school or in your district?

I went through the process with another social studies teacher at my school. I liked the sense of community that formed from working with the cohort.  

The school district was super about giving time and support and allocating the resources to help us succeed. The teaching and learning superintendent at the district level met bi-weekly with candidates. She also provided one-on-one and email support.

Would you recommend that colleagues attempt Board Certification? Why?

Absolutely. You’re going to learn something about yourself and how to become a better professional.

Did ePortfolio meet your needs as a National Board Candidate? Any advice for candidates?

The most challenging part was getting into the codes. Once I was in and had the codes, it took about two hours. It was pretty easy. I reserved a morning for it and it was just a matter of uploading the data.

The key is you’re creating these docs electronically, so it’s not that difficult to change your Word documents into PDFs. When you are actually uploading, use an Ethernet cable connected right into your modem. Video files will take a long time or can get kicked off if you don’t use the Ethernet cable. Also, make multiple backups. Put the data in three distinct places.

How did you celebrate once your portfolio was submitted?

You celebrate the whole time. When you get an entry done along the way, you celebrate. I found that really worked for me. I had a schedule and deadlines, and rewarded myself for meeting them, like lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant.