A National Board Certification Reflection

Below is a paper I have written for a class at Marryville University reflecting my National Board Certification process. I wanted to share how this process has deeply impacted my teaching practices with the #PhysEd community.        

The National Board Certification process was an extremely worthwhile experience in my development as a physical educator. I have found that it is extremely important for physical educators to seek various avenues for self-improvement of our teaching practices. Without this, teacher practices become stagnant, which leads to students underachieving and teachers becoming complacent. With no direct, step-by-step path out there for teacher improvement, it’s up to us as physical educators to seek out this improvement. The National Board Certification is an excellent way to do just that.

While applying for the National Board Certification, I experienced a roller coaster ride of thoughts and emotions. I started out eager and excited, but as I got further into the process I began to feel the desire to quit and questioned why I needed to prove once again that I was an effective physical educator whose lessons included high quality content. After much reflection, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t necessarily need to prove myself or my teaching but rather to continue my journey of improving myself as a physical educator. I also believe that the National Board process is great way to advocate for quality and effective physical education. I wholeheartedly believe that I am in charge of my own growth as a teacher, and I came to realize that applying for the National Board Certification was a great opportunity for professional development.

After pouring my heart into this process I was able to earn my National Board Certification at the end of 2013. Since that time I feel I have really grown as an educator and learned so much about myself and my teaching. Below are a few of my reflections on how my teaching practices have changed.



Assessment has always been a very difficult task for me. As a physical educator, I feel as if this has been the weakest point of my teaching. During the National Board Certification process, I focused much of my time and energy on the specific entry related to assessment. With this focus, I was fortunate enough to receive a perfect score on the assessment portion of my certification. The National Board process pushed me to deeply reflect on what I desired for students to learn and how I wanted them to demonstrate this to me. It improved my ability to assess students at a high level. Because I went through the National Board process, I can now help my students have a greater cognitive understanding of grade level outcomes and assess their ability to succeed.


The National Board Certification has greatly increased my ability to advocate for myself as well as my physical education program. As a physical educator in a time of budget and program cuts, it’s crucial to be able to advocate for your program and display what quality and effective physical education looks like. Since my certification I have established myself as a well-respected leader within my district. My superintendent is now on a first name basis with me, and my building administrator as well as others at the district level have a great deal of appreciation for myself and my program. I feel that because of the effort I have taken in receiving my National Board Certification I have brought attention to effective and quality physical education.

Video Analysis

As teacher candidates pursue their Undergraduate and Masters level degrees, they participate in video analysis. However, I have found that once teacher candidates become professional teachers, they move away from video analysis as a form of self-improvement and reflection. Before applying for my National Board Certification, I hadn’t used video analysis as a teaching reflection tool since graduate school. The certification process reminded me once again how useful video analysis can be and how valuable using it on a regular basis to assess and improve my teaching is. Since receiving my certification, I have become an advocate for using video analysis to improve teaching practices. I have written multiple blog posts for the website PHYSEDagogy on this topic. I have also purchased a SWIVL, which is a robotic mobile accessory that holds my iPhone and follows me around the gym, recording me while I teach. Video analysis is a very powerful tool, and the National Board process really springboarded me back into using it to analyze my teaching.

I would highly encourage my fellow physical educators to consider applying for the National Board Certification. The three topics discussed above are justification enough for applying for the National Board Certification. I know that the process has greatly elevated my teaching and assessment practices and that any educator who goes through the National Board process will come out a better and more well-rounded teacher.

8 Comments on “A National Board Certification Reflection

  1. I totally agree that National Board Certification is a valuable experience. Achieving NBC was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it was also the most meaningful professional development I’ve ever experienced.
    I certified in 2003 and again in 2013 and highly recommend the process to anyone wanting to take their teaching to the next level.

    • Terri,
      thanks for your thoughtful comments! I am on a quest to encourage as many physical educators as possible in the United States to become Nationally Board Certified.

      • Hi Collin
        It’s definitely a worthy goal. I coordinated a support group for NBC candidates in California for 4 years. We supported over 60 PE and Health teachers and had 46 certify. Raising awareness is an important step. Do you have any thoughts about how to get more teachers involved?

      • That’s great that 46 were certified! I think state and national SHAPE need to step up an support their members in pursuing this endeavor. Giving scholarships would be a great start for teachers. I think that other insentives should also be in place to encourage physical educators. I plan on experimenting with this as Oregon SHAPE President.

      • I agree. Both state and national organizations need to do more. I’d like to see something in Seattle for NBCTs.

      • I would love to start the process but I am terrified of failing. There are very few physical educators in my state who have certified and I don’t understand why. There’s a huge pay incentive that makes it seem like a no-brainer. That makes me worry that it’s too hard and that people quit. I really need someone to talk with further about it. Please contact me if you are willing to offer advice. Whitt.jennifer@live.com Thank you!

  2. As Physical Education professionals, I view pursuing a NBCT a valuable part of developing our craft. My two huge takeaways from going through the process was assessment and reflection. Assessement has always been a challenge for me, but a must for skill development and student understanding. Having a reflective teaching practice keeps me on my toes, always questioning myself (maybe too much at times) of what worked?, what can change?, etc.

    Our district gives some grant funding to accomplish certification, workshops, assigned a mentor, and salary incentive if a teacher becomes certified. It would be really neat to set up a nationwide mentor program for physical educators wanting to work on their certification.

    Thanks for the article Colin. Enjoyed reading your thoughts Terri.

    Lisa Frangipane

  3. Hi Collin,
    Thanks for posting this. I also went through the National Board process and received my results on Saturday indicating I missed my certification by one point. Although I’m quite discouraged, (really one point!?! Which is actually less than that based on the way the scoring is processed) I’m looking for advice and resources on retaking one of the entries. My options are entries 1, 2, or 3. Which entry did you find to be the “easiest?” What would you recommend?

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