I was Barbara Walters for a day.
I spent a morning interviewing National Board Certified Teachers in our IEA office in Lombard. I came up with a list of interview questions to ask them ahead of time written on my notepad, a pen to jot a few thoughts down and a cup of coffee in hand. The one item that I didn’t expect to need was tissues; not just a few, I should have brought an entire box along with me.
I began the interviews asking the basic questions about the when and why they decided to become Nationally Board Certified. The interview proceeded with the questions about how they felt it made them better teachers. They were all very articulate and thoughtful in their responses. But it was the last question… you know the question Barbara Walters always left until the end of the interview to make them cry. I honestly didn’t know that it was going to have that affect until we were doing the interviews. I didn’t intend to make them cry- it just happened!
Each interview, one after the other, when it came down to that last question, their raw emotion came out. The question was, “How did you feel when you received the notification that you had passed and you were now a National Board Certified teacher?” They got choked up. They needed a moment. They needed a tissue. It was apparent to me how much the process meant to each of them, how hard they worked and what a true accomplishment it really is.
I am not a National Board Certified Teacher, but it is now on my agenda at some point in my career. These teachers taught me how valuable the process was, not only for themselves as educators, but for their students and their success. I have asked some of the teachers who were interviewed to share their thoughts with you on becoming Nationally Board Certified.
“Learning that I had earned my National Board Certification was what I like to call a gold star moment, one of personal pride. In every interaction with my students, I think about what I learned when I went through the certification process. I question each decision I make and figure out why I am making it. Teaching is a balance of knowing both the standards that students need to meet and the students that you are teaching. This process allows me to say, with confidence that I measure up to high professional standards.” – Kathleen Risolvo, reading specialist at Washington Elementary
“As I started the process, I connected with two awesome NBCT mentors. One of them told me, ‘If you are not a, NBCT caliber teacher when you start this process, you will be by the end of it.’ She was exactly right. The process asks you to reflect on your teaching practices. Writing about your reflections helps you identify what you can modify for better student understanding and achievement. Don’t let anyone fool you. The NBCT process is a lot of work, but when you get your notification that you have achieved National Board Certification you feel so proud. As I think back about the experience, I relate it to our new teacher evaluation tool. Are you willing to do what it takes to be a four?” — Nancy Turner, Math, Fieldcrest High School
“National Board Certification has helped me think about what I teach and why I teach it. I learned so much just by going through the process. I see myself now as a stronger teacher leader and stronger advocate for the students I teach. Since becoming a NBCT I have become more involved with my union on the state and national levels. I want to grow in new directions, focus on positive change, and connect with others who choose to accomplish what some people think is impossible.” — Louise Stompor – Reading Language Arts, Washington Elementary
“The decision I made in the spring of 2011 to attempt the National Board Certification process is a decision I can reflect on and say I am truly proud of. The challenge of the process that had me examine my craft and how I engage with students, colleagues and parents pushed me in a multitude of ways. Studying my own actions throughout that school year, led to new approaches in my teaching and leadership styles that continue through today.” – Bridget Lahart, Special Education, Medinah Primary School
“After a quiet spell of several years due to various budget cuts, it’s time to reconnect as NBCTs and teacher leaders of Illinois. With IEA support, our group can share ideas and take action in ways that leverage our skills for our students and our profession. Look for us at the RA in Rosemont and at a social event at the SLA in Bloomington. Sign up to be part of this dynamic new group! For those of you who achieved National Board Certification in the early 2000s, you may remember the conferences and professional development opportunities offered through the National Board Resource Center at Illinois State. Being in a room full of educators who are passionate about their work was exciting, and we’re determined to bring that back!“ – Betsy Gutstein, World History, Evanston High School
Pam Reilly is a second grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich and was the 2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year. She blogs about teacher leaders for IEA.
Watch the video that highlights these amazing Nationally Board Certified Teachers!
For additional information of becoming Nationally Board Certified visit http://www.nbpts.org
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