In 2007, I achieved National Board Certification. In 2007, a National Board Certificate was valid for ten years. At ten years, I would renew my certificate, or go through renewal. In 2007, the idea of the renewal process seemed far away and completely in my wheel house. In 2007, I was serving a class of students every single day. The idea of demonstrating my standards and providing evidence of student learning over time supported by video and student work samples made perfect sense.
My how time flies. My how my wheel house has changed. I now serve 2500 students and their 150 teachers every single day.
I decided that 2015-2016 would be the year for renewal. In great anticipation, I discussed the renewal process with a colleague, and asked her if she would share her students and classroom with me during the school year. She agreed. Right before the first day of school, I connected with my colleague again and confirmed her commitment to being a part of my renewal process. She wholeheartedly confirmed.
First Day of School Eve, I tossed and turned as I wondered about the students that I would come to know during the year. I wondered what their personalities would be like, how inquisitive they might be, and if I would be good enough for them. I planned to visit my new context by the end of the week. I was committed. And then, an unexpected event occurred. By the end of the first day of school, news was out that a certain grade level, in a certain school, had numbers that were extremely high. And in one particular classroom, there was also a behavior situation that was off the charts. It was my colleague’s room, home of the students I would learn with and teach.
The week ended and I never went to visit room 201.
It took 3 weeks for me to visit room 201. When I finally did visit, my visit was long enough for me to marvel at my colleague manage, monitor, and teach 37 five year olds, with a high level of passion, knowledge and skill. As I marveled at her craftsmanship, I felt a familiar feeling–the feeling of fear, anxiety, and inadequacy. How quickly the self-doubt cocktail began to course through my veins and erode my excitement for renewal. I tried to shake off the feeling. I attempted to focus on the students. Nothing worked. In a matter of 20 minutes, I was convinced that I would not be successful at the renewal process. I walked out of the room. I have not returned.
There are no longer 37 students in room 201. The behavior situation is now manageable. My colleague gently asked me last week when we were going to begin collaborating and planning for instruction. I used a self-preservation tactic. I used the excuse that I had yet to register as a renewal candidate, therefore why set a date, time, and topic for collaborative endeavors. While it is true that I am not an official renewal candidate, the real truth is that I do not know if I can successfully renew my certificate. Yep, I said it. See, this isn’t about taking a reading group for a few lessons, or modeling a lesson, this is about demonstrating the performances and behaviors of an Early-Middle Childhood Literacy National Board Certified Teacher.
This is about my craft. This is about finding out if I can still walk the talk. Is serving a classroom of students still in my wheel house? I suppose this is the purpose of the National Board renewal process, right?