What Does National Board Certification Mean To Me

Claudine James, NBCTOctober 19, 2020

To strengthen as well as improve the teaching profession, educators must become a spokesman for the profession. By highlighting the vast positive and personal rewards of becoming an NBCT educator, spokesmen are able to strengthen the profession by showcasing the success/advances of students who are taught and/or mentored by passionate NBCT educators. In all my projects and speaking engagements, my main objective is to strengthen the teaching profession by always shedding a positive light on the role teachers play in the overall growth of their students. Why? Strengthening anything makes it stronger and builds it up.

Completing and achieving National Board was a strengthening mechanism in my goal of becoming an effective and impactful educator. Not everyone thinks positively about the National Board process, but I’m constantly sharing with others of how becoming an NBCT educator helped me to become an even more passionate and effective educator.

To strengthen and improve the teaching profession, educators must become advocates for the profession. By highlighting the vast positive and personal rewards of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, advocates are able to strengthen the profession by showcasing the success/advances of students who are taught and/or mentored by passionate NBCTs. In all my projects and speaking engagements, my main objective is to strengthen the teaching profession by always shedding a positive light on the role teachers play in the overall growth of their students.

Completing and achieving National Board certification strengthened my practice and helped me achieve my goal of becoming an even more effective and impactful educator. As I speak with fellow educators, I regularly share how becoming an NBCT helped me and my students.

As an English teacher, I use a rubric to grade all of my students’ written assessments. I’m not unique in this regard —  having the rubric is a professional best-practice — serving as a guide for me and my students. Becoming an NBCT gave me a personal “rubric” to be able to evaluate my effectiveness as an educator; strengthening my daily work and making me more accountable.

Teacher accountability encompasses many critical issues such as conveying, modeling, and promoting positive standards of professional conduct. But at the forefront is having and using the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to be  effective for students. The two years I spent completing the National Board process helped me to envision and work towards the educator I wanted to become. The reflections I wrote and rewrote provided a template to help me improve and strengthen everything I did as an educator. 

Now if I’m asked to serve on a committee or sign up for a professional development, I instantly ask myself if it is going to improve or help student achievement. My actions as an educator are constantly guided by the National Board’s Five Core Propositions. By doing our very best and letting others (educators, students, and community) see the positive aspects of the professions and the rewards of becoming an NBCT, we are not only highlighting the noblest of professions, but the advantages students receive by being educated by an NBCT.

A student wrote this about me: “If she wouldn’t have been my teacher, I wouldn’t have become the writer I am today, and I wouldn’t have discovered that I am so much more than a regular kid. She pushes me to do better than I did the last time …” These remarks highlight my adherence to the Five Core Propositions.

The foundation of an NBCT is having and using the skills and resources necessary to be an effective and accomplished educator. However, I embrace the need to improve and strengthen the teaching profession and seek to be one who is always advocating for educators to improve their toolkit by completing the National Board process. It goes without saying: educators are powerful, but National Board Certified Teachers are even more powerful.

Claudine James, NBCT

Claudine Sanders James, NBCT, is in her 12th year of teaching 8th grade English at Malvern Middle School in Central Arkansas. James achieved Board Certification in Early Adolescence English Language Arts. She has awarded the 2020 James H. Atkinson Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Arkansas History. James has also received the 2018 Penguin Random House Teacher Award for Literacy, and the 2019 Sanford Teacher, Henry Ford Innovation Nation Innovative Teacher and WeTeacher awards. She also has an ESL endorsement and is a board member of the Arkansas Humanities Council. James was the 2019 HSC Community Service awardee and now serves as the district’s community liaison working within the district and community to highlight cultural awareness and to help other educators gain knowledge and skills related to building a platform for culturally responsive teaching.