One way of advancing your career as a teacher is to enroll in the National Teacher Certification program. This does not mean that you will be certified to teach in all of the 50 states. It is a complement to the teaching certification regulations of each state and you do have to abide by these regulations and be certified by the state. In order to be eligible for this certification program, you do have to already hold a teaching position, have a Bachelor's degree or higher and at least three years of teaching experience.
In the National Teaching Certification program your teaching practices in the classroom are measured against high and rigid standards. Although enrollment in the program is voluntary, it is quite expensive. When you apply you do have to pay $65 for your application to be processed and a $500 deposit on the assessment part of the program. The total assessment fee is $2500. There is federal funding in place to help you offset this cost by giving you back half of the cost of the program. You do have to pay the fees up front and then apply for the rebate. This has to be done as soon as you enroll because each state has a limited amount of money for this purpose and those who apply first are accepted first. In addition, many states also offer incentives to their teachers to join this program in the form of payment of the other half of the fees or a bonus structure paid out over five years.
There are two major components to the National teacher certification program. The first consists of a portfolio of your teaching, which you assemble on your own. The portfolio should contain videotapes of you teaching in your classroom, samples of student work based on these lessons and other items that you deem will give a true picture of you as a teacher. The assessment component of the program focuses on your portfolio as you attend meetings at an assessment center with other teachers in the program. The assessments are organized around challenging issues in education and are designed to complement your portfolio. Through this process you will develop and further refine your skills, abilities and knowledge of handling a variety of situations.
Your school district has to approve your application to enroll in this teacher certification program, even though it is voluntary. This is because the district usually provides some release time for the teachers to allow them to be absent from the classroom. This involves the cost of paying for substitute teachers and the districts that offer incentives also want to make sure they are sending qualified teachers who will really benefit from the program. You also must demonstrate that you have the financial ability to pay the cost of the program if you cannot get the federal funding.
While participation in the National Teacher Certification program will not give you your initial teaching certificate, it does help you meet the requirements of pursuing continuing education for your professional teaching certificate in the state. In addition, you can strengthen your teaching skills and gain valuable information about current educational research and instructional methodologies that you can bring back to your classroom and the other teachers in your school.