December 4, 2015
Do you remember when you were a National Board Candidate? Do you recall the first time you encountered “NBCT” after someone’s name? Feelings of longing most likely ensued. I recall that time. I was determined that when I achieved National Board Certification, the first thing I would do is add those 4 letters after my name. But, then I achieved, and I typed NBCT after my name, and I deleted it. I retyped NBCT, and once again, I deleted it. In that moment, I pondered, “Is it about the letters after my name, or is it about me?”
I decided that I did not need those 4 letters after my name. I decided that my thoughts, words, vision, and actions represented those 4 letters. After all, it is who we are and what we do on a daily, hourly basis that brings us respect and validates our accomplished teaching. My belief was that all the interactions that I would have with individuals along the journey of my life’s work would demonstrate accomplished teacher performances and behaviors. And, I believed that when individuals did discover that I was an NBCT their reaction would be, “Of course, she is an NBCT.” Never did I want someone to be surprised to learn that I was an NBCT.
I believe for the majority of my time as an NBCT my game plan has been successful. I have yet to receive any negative feedback about misrepresenting accomplished teaching and teachers. In fact, as the number of NBCTs continues to grow in my district, my greatest sphere of influence, I might think that perhaps my game plan has been sufficient.
But then you find yourself sitting at a table with your NBCT colleagues, your most treasured NBCT colleagues, the ones that you work with, play with, and dream with on a regular basis. And as you are sitting at the table, planning for advancing accomplished teaching, you find yourself asking your NBCT colleague, “Does your grade level team know you are an NBCT?” And you find yourself listening to your colleague describe a game plan that sounds very similar to your own. In that moment, you begin to recognize some flaws and question your game plan.
Now, I see that as we strive to impact all spheres of influence, we, NBCTs must always stay true to demonstrating we are NBCTs, but we must also own that we are NBCTs. We demonstrate through our actions what it means to be an accomplished teacher, but we also spread awareness by putting those 4 letters after our names.
This school year I decided to change my game plan. I revised my email signature. I typed my name, and I added NBCT. I stared at the screen for a while, but I did not hit delete. The first few emails that had my new signature line were still slightly uncomfortable to view — evidence that changing our long time beliefs and assumptions is difficult. While I processed my discomfort, I received an email from my district NBCT colleague, and noted that his signature line had changed too. All of a sudden, my discomfort faded and turned to affirmation.
As we continue to advance accomplished teaching, how might your game plan change?