In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.
It’s been 16 years since I was first National Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. I applied for certification in the 2nd year of that category’s availability, with only one other special ed teacher in my district having completed the process. I had little idea what impact this certification would have upon my practice or how much effort would be required!
Why was it worth becoming National Board Certified? I had started teaching in 1970 and much of my career had been reactive. I was desperate for solutions, so I read, took classes, and experimented with approaches. I participated in many leadership roles related to special education. My kids made progress but I was always searching for that magic bullet, a perfect set of materials or scope and sequence.
What was missing in my practice? REFLECTION. In the busyness of teaching, I was assessing student performance but didn’t spend much time analyzing my teaching practices. Sure, if I had a terrible-horrible-no good-day day, I would dissect every word and action. But that wasn’t the daily norm for me. During and after the NB process, I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back to that “disaster” style of analysis or a fruitless search for the perfect curriculum. I now spend much more time thinking about where the kids and I are going and how my decisions impact student learning. I’m processing information on a deeper level and encourage kids to do the same.
Did I enjoy that learning curve on reflection? Honestly, it was a bit too steep for comfort, but I needed to be shoved out of my “routine” teaching. The NBCT process changed my trajectory forever. It’s delightful to reflect on my teaching practice and see how mindfulness is the new normal for me!