As a dual educator family, we decided pursuing National Board Certification together was the best way for us to stay committed and support each other through the process. It turned out to be the best decision we could have made!
During the month of December, my teammates and I were privileged to participate in a #togetherisbetter challenge initiated by my principal. When it comes to seeking National Board Certification, I can think of no better phrase than that. Together truly is better. When I decided to apply for candidacy, I wanted someone to join me on the journey. Much to my excitement, my husband, Andy, decided to jump in with me, and we registered for our first two components just before the deadline in January 2015.
We lead a pretty active life. We have five children, teach full time, and are both avid runners who enjoy training for distance races. Many of our family and friends thought we were adding something “unnecessary” to our already busy lives, but we were both excited about the prospect of growing professionally and growing together in the process. Though they were right, and pursuing certification made our family’s schedule a bit more hectic for a few months out of every year, I attribute our ultimate success to us walking the journey together.
Because we made the decision to become candidates when we did, only 1-2 components were released each year. The three-year certification timeline was perfect for us with our family obligations, as we were able to balance family, teaching, and candidacy requirements. It was priceless to have such significant support right beside me throughout the process. I felt that someone completely understood what I was experiencing, thinking, and feeling. Because we sought certification in different areas, we were able to bounce ideas off each other. The requirements for each component were similar enough for us to understand the expectations, but our work and processes in the classroom were different enough for us to offer valuable feedback to each other.
I am grateful that our children were able to witness us both working hard toward a common goal. They saw us encourage one another to take the time needed to work on the components, and they celebrated with us the morning after we found out we had both achieved certification. It was fun to tell them we had stayed up late into the night to view our scores together and celebrate our mutual success!
Having the support of my wife throughout the journey toward National Board Certification made all the difference for me! I had considered pursuing certification several times before but had always come away from the orientation process feeling overwhelmed. It was impossible for me to imagine how a father of five children could have the time to complete the components and still be a participating member of his family. When Carol asked me if I would be willing to tackle certification together, it gave me just the push and support I needed to work my way through the process.
The three-year process was ideal for us and by tag-teaming our parenting duties, we didn’t miss out on much family life. Beyond covering for each other as we completed writing, we also shared our ideas and sought each other’s input about strategies for students and communicating our efforts through the components. We concentrated our work each winter and spring from 2015 through 2017, culminating each May when we submitted our components.
It was a challenging road for me and I had many doubts about my efforts. Carol was a calming presence that continually supported and guided me along the way. Early in our process, Carol placed an inspirational message on a post-it note on her computer for us to remind ourselves of why we wanted to achieve this distinction. There were many times I looked at that post-it and thought, “You will become a better teacher, and your commitment will benefit the family.” I think most teachers could benefit from having a good friend or two who are seeking the same goal. I owe much of my success in the board certification process to my BEST friend, who happens to be my wife!