Take a breather – and come back exhilarated!

March 4, 2016

For some of us, this is the most wonderful time of the year. The time leading up to the annual Teaching & Learning conference is exciting and exhausting – a time full of possibilities. I come to the office and colleagues are buzzing. Will major figure X be coming? What about policy leader Y? Will we meet the deadline for that or this deliverable?

The work is exhilarating because we know that thousands of people in the field will convene in Washington with one focus – stepping back for a couple days to improve their practice. The hard-working planning team seeks to build the best possible agenda to make educators think and be inspired, to introduce creative energy and to facilitate change, all in the name of quality teaching. This is the simple goal. We seek to provide insight, resources and inspiration so all attendees who attend T&L can return home with a broader network, enhanced knowledge and renewed focus.

I’ve spent years attending conferences – some for teachers, others for policymakers and yet others for school system leaders. Our conference, T&L, is unique because it brings together teachers, administrators, school board members, teacher educators and policy makers. In that regard, T&L belongs to the entire profession – it’s part of why the conference is so valuable. I look forward to hearing perspectives that reflect the great expanse of what education can and should be.

As a longtime classroom teacher and National Board Certified Teacher, my focus is the same as many in the education field. I work daily to improve the lives of students. I know that teachers across the professional continuum – pre-service teachers, experienced professionals and teacher leaders – have an impact on children that is incalculable. I believe deeply that our commitment to students, our subject matter expertise and our ability to manage student learning enable us to develop into accomplished teachers. Ultimately, it’s the students I care about most deeply – their learning. They drive my work to advance accomplished teaching and, more broadly, to leave an impact on the future of education.

My focus is unwavering. It’s the opportunity that the conference brings that makes this such a remarkable time. Thanks to T&L, I pause and reflect, just as the best teachers do regularly. I listen to experts, I think about my work and how I can be more effective. I speak with peers and I learn from them.

How do you refocus and refresh? Whatever your outlet, make sure that you step back briefly throughout the year. It will make you a better educator. 

Peggy Brookins, NBCT

Peggy Brookins, NBCT, is President and CEO of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Prior to this role, she was the National Board's Executive Vice President and also served on the Board of Directors. In July 2014, President Barack Obama named Brookins as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. In 1994, she co-founded the Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida, where she served as director and as a mathematics instructor until her arrival at National Board. Brookins achieved her certification in Adult and Young Adolescent Mathematics in 2003 and renewed in 2013. She has been inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame and is a Florida Education Association “Everyday Hero,”  and received the association's Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2013, Brookins was named an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar. Follow her on twitter @Pbrookins44.