I wanted to love teaching. I wanted to be creative and enjoy watching my students learn. I had hit mid-career burnout, and I hated it! I needed to find my purpose and passion again. Was it possible?
I knew about National Board Certification. Colleagues told me how it changed their teaching and they encouraged me to investigate. I wanted to be a better teacher but didn’t want another degree. I wanted to dig deep into what I do and make it better.
I became a National Board Teacher Candidate.
During the first year, I worked tirelessly: writing commentary, video recording my teaching, studying for a written test. Plus keeping up with two active kids and full time teaching responsibilities. There was a lot of schedule juggling, asking for help, meetings with a mentoring group and late nights editing and revising. Finally everything was submitted.
I felt good about what I submitted. I was confident that I put my best work out there. I waited for the scores to be posted and dreamed of how the increase in salary would help my family.
When I logged in to see my score, I read, “We regret…” I sat there and cried. I finally got up, found a cup of coffee and turned on the morning news. I just sat there, not absorbing anything. Then the phone rang.
My mom was calling. I took a deep breath and said, “Hello.”
She knew right away that I was not happy with my score. She let me be disappointed for a few minutes. Then she directed me, “Decide how long you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, then get on with your day.”
I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, but I didn’t wallow in my disappointment. I talked with fellow candidates. My friend and coworker, Cathy, had not certified. Neither of us knew what we were going to do; we were just trying to process the fact that what we had put forth as our BEST, was not good enough.
Over the next weeks, I debated my decision. I went from being completely defeated and ready to quit, to being determined to certify. It was quite the roller coaster ride! Just before the deadline to register for retake, I talked to Cathy. I wasn’t going to do it. Seventy-five points was too much.
Cathy sat back in her chair, and said “We are both going to retake. And this is why: in 10 years it WILL matter. It will matter to your certification, to your salary, to your retirement, and most importantly to how you see yourself as a teacher.”
That day, I started on a plan to retake specific components. I did my retakes over the next two years. The first year, I retook one classroom component and raised my score by 48 points. More than half of what I needed to certify. The second year I retook one assessment center exercise, and my professional accomplishment portfolio entry.
I needed the failure. I needed that length of process. This enabled me to persevere.
I needed to look at my BEST practices, completely break them down, and figure out what was essential in them.
When the last retake was submitted, I knew that I had changed. I now knew why I stayed in teaching. I love watching kids learn and discovering their power to learn for themselves.
I knew what I needed to avoid burnout. I had to reach out to other teachers, be vulnerable, ask for help, and accept redirection. I had to look at my success and say, “That was great. How can I make it even better?”
When the scores were released, I was initially confused. What was wrong with the website? That didn’t look right? I’d never seen that screen before. Then I scrolled down and in HUGE letters it said, “Congratulations, NBCT!”