This past Saturday I received my scores for my National Board Certification. I achieved! I can now say I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts.
I am very proud of this achievement, but I do not plan to stop here, however. I plan to continue to grow my practice and strive to become a leader in the field of literacy. The process I went through to achieve will continue to be a process I use daily. Teaching is about continuous reflection, goal setting, and growth for your students and yourself. I want to make sure my practice is always at the highest level and accomplished!
My principal included this in his morning email today. I know NBCTs challenge themselves daily.
You have to challenge yourself to grow professionally. The National Board process helped challenge me. It was not overwhelming but challenging. I had to reflect on myself, my students, my school, my community, and all the other factors that I encounter daily teaching in a Title One school. Reflecting on your own teaching and beliefs is not always easy but a must as an effective teacher or educator. You cannot change and grow without reflection and acceptance of your own, and your students needed areas of improvement. I think the National Board process is well worth it because of this challenge!
This is a post from the National Board’s blog site. This teacher summed up some of how I had been feeling waiting for results.
“I got an email this evening reminding me that the scores for the components I submitted for National Board Teacher Certification would be available December 1. It’s not as if I needed this reminder. It’s not as if ANY teacher working toward achieving NBCT status needed that reminder. We’ve all been acutely aware of the date and waiting with bated breath for score release. We’ve been counting the months, the weeks, the days, and now the hours since submitting last May.
So this Saturday I will know if I certified. For that I am grateful. It will be the end of the anxiety. But let me tell you what I am more grateful for: the journey.
No, I don’t mean the Selected Response and Structured Response test that I fretted over or the three written portfolio entries and the weeks of gathering data or the days of poring over it. I don’t mean the hours upon hours of filling up form upon form in single-spaced, bracketed rigidity. Nor do I mean the double-spaced analysis of every choice I made that was always too long before it became an acronym&ersand-riddled code to save space and fit into the regimented required page limit. And I certainly don’t mean the part about deciphering hundreds of pages of instructions that were paradoxically both meticulously precise and entirely vague. I could have done without that part.
What I mean when I mention the journey is the process all those requirements forced upon me….the poring over student work….the making meaning of all that data….the better effort to communicate with my students and their families….the hours of planning lessons that never were finished without my asking myself why?….why am I teaching this?….why am I approaching my lesson this way?….what are my goals for my students?….where are they now?…how can I best move them toward the mark????? So many whys and hows that have become an integral part of every lesson (even the ones I don’t get all typed up and turned in on time). I am grateful for the discussion board I created in Canvas this week…the one that made students respond to scholarly articles and each other. I’m grateful for the more meaningful approaches to feedback and the guidance I am better able to give. I’m grateful that all this has made me a more thoughtful teacher…and I think a better one, too.
So tonight, when I got that email while reading through student responses on the discussion board, I felt so thankful that I had taken this journey. Whether I make the cut or have to retake some portion, I know I have grown from this experience. I know my students are benefiting from my increased awareness of what it means to teach. For that I am immensely grateful.
Waiting for results was challenging to do at times. It did give me more time to reflect on what I could have done differently to improve upon the work I submitted.
I understand this teacher’s sentiment and understand the main point they were trying to make and agree with it. It is going through the journey and process itself that will help strengthen you as a teacher, the certification itself, and being able to put the letters NBCT by your name are not most important. I question one thing this teacher says, however. The journey this teacher talks about is something all exceptional and successful teachers already do informally. I cringed a little bit when this teacher said “What I mean when I mention the journey is the process all those requirements forced upon me.” I hope most of them were not forced upon this teacher. I hope they were already doing most and refined them through the journey. The requirements for completing the boards that were forced upon me were not those dealing with the pedagogy of teaching but getting the writing style down and formatting my writing and forms correctly. Pouring over student work….the making meaning of all that data….the better effort to communicate with my students and their families….the hours of planning lessons, the teacher mentions, are a constant of successful, accomplished teachers, not something you are forced to do. Those are things I feel I must do. For me, they come from within and are instinctual things I do for my students and myself. Most were things I was already doing, but my National Board work helped me strengthen how I do those things and helped me find better and more effective ways of doing them. It did help me spend more time reflecting and planning for some lessons. I think I have become a more strategic planner and efficient planner through the National Board process. It helped me make sure all my decisions are sound ones based on student needs and or building, district, and state requirements. Based on my own needs as well. I see my teaching in smaller pieces and more significant pieces. I can focus on little details and see the big picture of where I want my students to go with more clarity now. Practice and accountability are great things! Accomplished teachers hold themselves accountable, and the Board’s process can help you keep yourself responsible with more vision and clarity. Thinking about and referring back to the National Board standards overall and standards for my certificate area in literacy helps me hold myself accountable. I will not lose sight of those standards as I continue to incorporate them into my district and state standards. I will hold true to the National Board’s 5 Core Propositions!
The National Board’s journey has helped me grow as a teacher in my educational practices, but also specifically in literacy practices. I am definitely a better teacher after going through the process.
I was able to hone in on some of my instincts and build up new ones through the process. I have changed, strengthened, and acquired new teaching skills and methods as a result. National Boards help good teachers continue to grow their practice.
To achieve, I feel you have to already have in place a lot of what is required of you through the process and be willing to work on strengthening and improving those. Going through the journey, even if you do not achieve your first try, can and should be a learning experience to help you grow your practice. Exceptional teachers and successful, accomplished National Board teachers already have a good foundation in place for themselves and work continuously to improve it! The process definitely helps you improve it and allows it to become part of what you do naturally.
There are schools and districts out there that require much of what is necessary within National Boards. I believe I work in one of them.
I am lucky to work in an environment where continuous growth and reflection is expected just as it is within the National Boards process. I will continuously strive to meet board standards.
Teaching is a continuous process, and National Boards respects and expects that process! They teach you to hold yourself accountable when making the many daily decisions we make as teachers. The National Board process is for all teachers who want to grow! All schools and districts should embrace it and encourage it for their teachers.