Is This the Year to Start NBCT?

Is this the year to start your National Board journey?

It’s a challenging year already. Do I want to take on more?
GREAT questions that need significant time to ponder. I would also suggest finding a thought partner (or two) to explore the topic with you.
This could be a great year to begin the journey. You’re already reinventing the way you get to know your students, deliver content, and assess knowledge. That gives you A LOT to write about!
My journey to National Board Certification was a bit bumpy. In the following piece, originally published on the blog, I share my journey.

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 the National Board Certification process. 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.
I worked tirelessly: writing commentary, video recording my teaching, studying for a written test, plus keeping up with 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 said, “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 talk 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.
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 stay away from 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!”


What are your plans for THRIVING and not just surviving the 20-21 school year?



Susan Collins

I began my teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. I served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. I stepped out of working full time in the classroom for 9 years when my children were very young but never left teaching. I set up an early childhood music studio and taught music for children ages birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). I moved to in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where I teach k-5 general music.

I achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016 and began my relationship with the Arizona K12 Center for Professional Development. I have served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. I am passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education provided by passionate and qualified educators.

When I am not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, I am outdoors with my teenage children. I love hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. I can usually be found off the grid pondering my next writing piece!

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