Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) can seem like an insurmountable task. It is a process that pushed me out of my comfort zone as I began to write and reflect on my teaching practice. I quickly learned I need to allow myself to be “teachable” to be successful through the process.
An important step I took in reaching out to others was to join my district cohort. Here, I met people going through the same process. We were fortunate to have many excellent NBCT’s leading our cohort, including Bobbie Faulkner and Susan Leonard. Faulkner is one of the most knowledgeable people I encountered in the National Board assessment, having written several books for candidates seeking advice. I read them, asked her questions, and invited her to read portions of my components. Why not, I thought, learn from and grow with the generous help of this incredibly knowledgeable person?
“Coaching Saturdays” hosted by the Arizona K12 Center allowed me to gain more insight. While at times this was uncomfortable and even intimidating, I knew it was important. I needed to embrace constructive criticism. Instead of fearing that asking questions would make me look weak, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and teachable.
To improve, I knew I had to have an open-mind. Being teachable is a characteristic as important in adults as it is in children. I teach my students that there is always room for improvement. I point out that even the best athletes in the world can improve each day, if they allow themselves to be teachable. Author Israelmore Ayivor once said, “Just be silent, humble and teachable. If you ever think you know it all, that is the beginning of your troubles.” To succeed in the NBCT process and in teaching my students, I needed to be teachable and to model this trait for my students.
Being teachable has not only supported me in achieving National Board Certification, it has informed my practice in a positive way. After reflecting objectively on my practice and taking time to observe quality teachers, I discovered there was more I could be doing to impact my students. I have since adopted a growth-mindset and realized that asking for help would allow me to learn more and increase my likelihood of success. My learning would, in turn, ultimately benefit my students.
Using a growth mindset has not only improved my teaching practice, it has helped me recognize the value in collaboration. I am a member of several groups that meet on Twitter regularly to discuss ways to improve our PE programs. The creative ideas I’ve learned have helped re-shape my teaching. When I was a child going to PE, I remember doing the same activities over and over again. By having an open-mind and seeking guidance from respected PE teachers, I know my students will never think that. By getting out of my comfort zone, seeking support, and allowing myself to be taught, I not only became a National Board Certified Teacher, but was recently honored as Arizona’s 2018 Elementary PE Teacher of the Year.
Legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino tells the story of a star player who told him that the practices and training sessions were too hard and that basketball was no longer fun. The player was thinking of quitting. Instead of comforting him, Pitino was direct. He told the player that the training and conditioning weren’t supposed to be fun. “The fun comes when you run out on the court in front of the greatest college basketball fans in the world."
That is the reason for taking the time and doing the work to complete the NBCT process. You get to take the learning and share it with your students. The fun comes when you see their faces light up when they grasp a new concept. Then you remember, this is why I worked so hard. This is why I reached out to so many for help. I get to teach and coach the greatest group of kids in the world.