Push or Pull: What do you need?

February 17, 2016

Truth be told, I needed both. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t always know if my teaching was good. But there I was, regardless of the self-doubt, standing in a room every day with 30 third graders. I was their teacher, the one who was supposed to impart wisdom and a love of learning. I was the one who was charged with preparing them and learning with them every day. Who thought that was a good idea? My principal, for one, and my teacher husband was another.

Let me give you some backstory and this might make more sense. I had left Ohio and taken a position in Arizona following an over the phone interview. My principal obviously heard something of promise in what I was saying. Once I packed up and moved, I realized I had landed in a nearly perfect place. I had a supportive principal who helped to build talent and encourage me. I was on a wonderful grade level team that pushed my learning and helped to enhance my content knowledge and understanding of third graders. I was in a school that truly did the best for all of our kiddos, every day. I know that at this point, our stories may have diverged, but hang with me.

So, why was I still doubting myself? Honestly, I wasn’t sure if my practice was good enough. I had people tell me that I was a great teacher, but I didn’t know what that meant. Did they just like me? I am pretty funny. I’m sure their kiddos came home from school and had great stories to tell.

My principal was a National Board Certified Teacher and a few of my colleagues had gone through the process in the first few years that I was in the building. I heard the rumors, it was hard and time consuming. My principal kept telling me that he thought this would be a great process for me, but I kept sloughing him off. Thank goodness for the distractions of a wedding and a couple babies (beautiful, loving babies, I would like to add). That bought me a few years of reprieve from his insistence. But after all of those major life occurrences, I will still doubting my practice. I wanted to learn and I wanted a challenge, or quite honestly, I was ready to pack it up. If I wasn’t a good teacher or making a significant impact, I didn’t want to do this job anymore. Being a parent made me realize what I wanted from a classroom teacher and if I wasn’t delivering that, than I shouldn’t hold that responsibility.

So, I had one last conversation with my principal that put me on the path to becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. He asked if I didn’t do this, this year, time would pass regardless and at this same time next year, I wouldn’t be any closer to being an NBCT or being more aware of my practice. That was it. I was sold. I wanted to learn what accomplished teaching looked like, and if I was anywhere close to that. I wanted to know my strengths, but more importantly my weaknesses. I wanted to be better.

The push to pursue candidacy came from my principal, but the pull was inside me. The pull was all 30 of those third graders who were depending on me every day, every year. So…what do you need to consider candidacy? Consider this your push!

Stacey Hicks, NBCT

Stacey Hicks, NBCT, serves as Director of Outreach and Engagement at the National Board, focusing on recruitment, communication, and principal stakeholder groups. Prior to joining the staff at National Board, Hicks served as the NT3 Project Director with the Arizona K12 Center, where she oversaw the implementation of the Network to Transform Teaching (NT3) award from the National Board. In 2013, Hicks achieved National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist teaching for Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona. Hicks taught third grade as a Teacher Innovator at the Pinnacle Peak Center for Teacher Development, acting as an exemplar observation classroom for the use of teacher development using live observation, video broadcasting and collaborative telepresence. She taught for seven years in Arizona and taught for two years prior to that in Ohio, where she was born and raised. Follow her on Twitter @staceyhicks81.