Congratulations on certifying as a National Board Certified Teacher! There is nothing more rewarding than logging into the NBPTS website the day of score release and seeing that congratulations banner. If this is your second, or third attempt, then multiply that feeling by about 1000. You put in the hard work, and now you can call yourself an NBCT!
But what now?
Back in 2009 when I certified, I assumed that the new letters behind my name would automatically open up opportunities for me as a teacher leader. I thought that leadership positions and the ability to leverage change would magically fall on my doorstep. Imagine my disappointment when a year went by, and other than those letters behind my name, nothing in my world had become any different. Before I knew it, seven years were gone. And while I was a much more effective, reflective, and deliberate practitioner because of my certification, I still craved something larger than that.
What I failed to realize at that time was that opportunities were there, but they weren’t going to present themselves to me in a shiny package tied up with a red bow. Instead, I had to be vulnerable and put myself out there to find them. I have always had a little case of “imposture syndrome.” That is the feeling that maybe they made a mistake when issuing me the title of NBCT. Somehow the evaluators at NBPTS mixed up my components with another, more deserving teacher. My fear of being “found out” as a fake or phony, was holding me back from my true potential as a teacher leader. Once I reflected on this for a week, I realized just how much it was impeding the work I could be doing.
Within that same week, I received an email from Dr. Kathy Weibke at the AZ K-12 Center asking for NBCTs to come coach new candidates at one of the state’s Coaching Saturday events. I saw this as a sign, and immediately signed up for every coaching Saturday event in Tucson. Even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into (including the new certification process that I knew nothing about!), I put myself out there and haven’t looked back. This one opportunity has led to so many more, and I am thankful for each and every one that has come my way.
So what can you do as a newly minted NBCT?
- Trust yourself and be vulnerable. If opportunities flow into your inbox, take them; if not, find them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only been an NBCT for five days. Your expertise and opinions are needed.
- If your area has an NBCT Network, join it. Networking with other NBCTs is a powerful way to stay involved and learn about new opportunities.
- Locate the organization in your state that funds and supports National Board Certification. Typically, these organizations rely on NBCTs to help coach new candidates.
- Become a leader in your school or district. Do you see a need that is not being met? Step up and fill it. Don’t wait for others to take charge. Instead, offer to be the agent of change and build a team of people around you that can get the job done.
Congratulations as you embark on this wonderful new adventure! May you always remember that you are worthy of those letters. The question is: what are you going to do with them?