By Heather Jung
When I told my mother that I had completed my National Board Certification, after 2.5 years of work, this was her response:
“Congratulations! So, what does that mean?”
I responded with the typical NBCT reply: “It’s similar to doctors. All doctors have been to medical school, but some take the next step to become Board Certified. Which one do you want doing your knee surgery next month?”
“Well, as much as I am paying my surgeon he had better be Board Certified,” she said, “But you teach in public school and in public school kids just have to take what they get. So why does it matter that you are Board Certified?”
Though it is funny to imagine a sign in the front of the school saying: “Welcome to public school! You take what you get and you don’t get upset!” with families in front of it nodding in acceptance, my mom was not completely off base. In public schools the quality and competency of any student’s teacher can vary greatly, and many teachers are looking for meaningful ways to grow as professionals.
When I started the National Boards process I wanted to be inspired by my work inside the classroom! I wanted more opportunities to participate in high-quality professional development, to meet and network with hard-working, inspirational teachers, and to participate in leadership and decision making at my school without leaving my students. I wondered if there was a way to do this without getting another graduate degree.
Then I found the National Board of Professional Teaching and its mandate for teachers to lead from the front of the classroom. Still, taking on the challenge of a 2 to 4 year process with a 70% failure rate was a daunting thing for me, but now having gone through the process I can see that it was just what I needed.
So how do know if you should consider going through the process? Let me tell you what I gained:
- I am a reflective teacher. The planning, videoing, and writing that I did to prepare my portfolio entries made reflecting on my practice a routine part of my teaching life.
- I apply an in-depth knowledge of the five core components of literacy (Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Visual literacy).
- I have autonomy at my school as I gained legitimacy with administrators, teacher leaders, and parents. They trust that I know what I am doing and why.
- I participate in decision making at my school.
- I have leaderships roles such as: mentor teacher, teacher coach, and professional development presenter.
- I network with inspirational educators both locally and nationally. Through new professional development opportunities.
- I continue to develop my voice as a teacher advocate for audiences beyond my school.
If you haven’t already considered embarking on the National Boards process, now might be the time for you!