Renewing my certification was meaningful to me, important to my students

October 26, 2016

This week 3,384 National Board Certified Teachers learned that they renewed their certification. I want to offer my congratulations to those educators for their notable achievement. They teach to high standards, they are committed to continually improving their teaching practice and, perhaps above all, they are committed to students and their learning.

This is the time of year that I think about my renewal, why I did it and how I think it made a difference to me and to the students I taught.

When I began my NBCT renewal process, I expected to revisit the standards and reengage with those important documents that, for 10 years, drove my classroom practice. That was certainly part of the process. As part of the reflection I undertook during my renewal experience, I looked at the student impact I had. I taught a great number of students over those years and all but the youngest had moved on – to college, to work and to experience the world beyond my classroom. In many cases, I picture their faces and remember their stories. Notably, I remember the practical ways I helped them on their journeys and I know that my impact changed their lives for the better.

My work teaching to the National Board Standards helped make their lives better.

My personal growth and what I brought to school each day helped me bring students a new perspective, the ability to address issues from a slightly different angle. That’s one way to look at why I renewed my Board Certification and why I think all NBCTs should do the same.

When I was in the classroom, I loved teaching. I believe I delivered important content to students, helping them understand the material, learn it, absorb it and address issues to change their lives. Like all accomplished teachers, I regularly reflected on my practice, seeing weaknesses and refining it to improve for both me and my students.

The course correcting comes daily in teaching but the renewal part seemed self-evident. There was never a question because my goal was to make sure I was at the top of my game. I knew that having a reminder of the Standards and working to keep the Five Core Propositions at the front of my mind was going to benefit my students. There was never a doubt.

When I picture all those faces and those meaningful stories, I experience the rewards of teaching. It’s being able to deliver practical and valuable knowledge to young people and teaching them in a way that impacts them for the rest of their lives.

So here’s what I encourage. Think of the renewal process as a way to highlight all the incredible work that you’ve done over the past 10 years. Renewal is your chance to renew your commitment to your students, to your craft and a chance to remind yourself of what is most important: your students and their learning.

I knew that I always wanted to become better and better every day. Those faces I still see in front of me drive me to engage more strongly in my work, with the goal of advancing accomplished teaching across the country – so I can continue having a strong impact on students.

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.