My friends tease me about my stash of office supplies that I constantly carry, sticky notes raining in my wake as I walk and highlighters filling every pocket. My house looks like Mission Control as binders bristling with sticky flags line every surface. Lately, I’ve been known to stop teaching mid-conversation, shout “Aha!” and run over to jot an idea or reflection down on yet another sticky note.
What’s happening in my life? It’s National Board for Professional Teaching Standards time, specifically the time for me to renew my eight-year-old Early Childhood Generalist certificate.
A stab of cold fear runs through my gut at the very thought of renewing my National Board certification – will I be good enough this time? How embarrassing and devastating would it be if I didn’t achieve recertification? I’ve coached upward of 100 candidates a year throughout my school district and the state in the past eight years since becoming certified. But that almost encourages the nasty little voice in my head…sure, I can coach others. Do I have it in me to deeply analyze my own practice again?
Honestly, I feel a slight hint of pressure to successfully recertify as the co-president and founding board member of the Arizona National Board Certified Teachers Network. That mean little part of my brain envisions myself resigning from the Network in disgrace upon failing to recertify.
Are you an Arizona NBCT? Have you joined our network yet?
It’s easy! Join here.
To complicate matters, I no longer teach early childhood, so I have to “borrow” a different teacher’s class to videotape, which comes with its own unique set of challenges and rewards (Thank you again, Mrs. Enders!).
Months pass, with lots of planning in my head but no actual writing. The absence of any physical product leads to more fear and pressure as I semi-jealously watch my candidates and renewal peers churn out page after page of solid analytical, descriptive, and reflective writing. The little voice gets really nasty, explaining that it must have been a fluke that ever I certified in the first place and throwing around the F word: “fraud.”
But the fear and pressure disappear as the magic happens…
All of the sudden I AM a better teacher as I reconnect with the WHY and HOW of the standards and the 5 core propositions.
I feel more present in my teaching – able to exist mindfully with my students and reflecting on the WHY and the HOW while I’m in the moment of teaching. I become more attuned to my environment and my students, which in turn enables me to be more analytical and reflective.
New ideas flow as I challenge myself and my practice. As my enthusiasm grows, I begin to collaborate more with my peers. The nasty little voice in my head is drowned out in the rushing tide of new ideas and inspiration.
I reflect on my teaching practice and career over the past eight years and realize that even if I don’t achieve re-certification, I’m not a fraud because the process has been worth it again.
The National Board certification process is bigger than my personal teaching practice. The renewal journey allows me to redefine my commitment to my profession. It reaffirms how much I believe in the National Board process as a solution to teacher recruitment and retention and as the best personalized professional learning experience for teachers. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Now, back to writing…I’ll try to “keep calm until I click submit.”
This post is dedicated to Misha, Tim, Julie, and Beth,
my fabulous renewal coaches. Thanks for your support.