When you reach out of your comfort zone to do ‘something crazy’ life changes. You are never the same person after such a process. You take what you’ve learned and unconsciously integrate it.
I became most aware of that change the fall after I had submitted my components for National Board Certification. That fall I began to really communicate more with students about their learning. We talked about the challenge embedded in learning new material, being comfortable with the uncomfortable process of developing a solid understanding. We talked about how learning happens; where in the process we were at various points and strategies for coping with our current states.
I had internalized the National Board Standards. I was acutely aware of impact of what I was presenting on student learning. We developed an open dialogue about lessons; the good, the bad, etc.. My view of lessons shifted to a focus of impact on student learning, not my own personal love for the lesson. In fact, I’ve had to put some of my initial favorite lessons on the back burner because they were not as effective as I had hoped. The communication and reflection has resulted in significant change that has bettered my teaching.
While I began to do this the fall after I had submitted my components it really accelerated once I found out I had earned certification. I began to put myself out there. It started as being ‘that guy’ asking the tough questions at faculty, pd, and union meetings. It grew to include writing guest commentaries, articles, blogs,and even tweeting about education. It continues to grow as I apply for small grants, large grants, fellowships and teaching awards that once seemed ‘only for the lucky privileged good teachers’. Those items were now within reach. More importantly I feel it is my responsibility as an educator to be the voice for my rural district, the voice for high quality practices, and truly the voice for what ‘really matters in education’.
I contribute my much of my recent success (involvement in: NY Ed Voice, #TeachStrong, Hope Street Group and awarding of an Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award along with being a state finalist for the Presidential Award of Excellence for Math and Science Teaching) to the intangible things I learned during my Certification process. It is hard to state the many things I continue to learn because of the doors being an NBCT has opened. From conversations to conferences, talking to tweeting I continue to pick up so much. It continually reinforces my belief that the educators role in learning never ends.
I recognize that there are many high quality teachers who are not NBCT’s. I struggle with why those teachers don’t take a little step forward and pursue the process. I understand the reluctance. Regardless I am working in my immediate area to encourage teachers to just give it a try and check it out. Take a baby step to open the door for intangible and hard to explain growth. It is certain to pay off in their work with students, within their building and within the educational community as a whole.