Hallelujah… Hallelujah… Nope, typing it just doesn’t have that cathedral ring. But I’m hearing it in stereo in my head right now, having just popped open an email on my computer that I waited two years to see.
The big news? I got it. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. Let me say it loud: I’m an NBCT and I’m proud.
Proud because I stayed with it, after getting one of the biggest kicks in the stomach I ever got in my professional life, a year ago. Not proud purely because I got the prize, if that makes sense. There’s some of that, but a lot of other emotions mixed in too: I’m worthy! Damn them! I got it!
For readers who may not have followed my National Board saga over the past couple years, the short short version is I blogged (“Certifiable?” was this blog’s predecessor), I built a canoe (“A Boat with Legs,” June 30, 2007), and I failed (“NUKED,” November 9, 2007). Here’s a longer version I wrote in the Washington Post Magazine last year (“Teaching for the Test,” February 17, 2008).
For loyal readers who have been on the bus long enough to understand why my forehead hit the desk and my eyes got moist when I read today’s score report, here’s another gory detail. The Documented Accomplishments entry that got a 1.0 on 4-point scale last time received a 3.5 (after I scuttled the canoe).
Way leads onto way, and I’m now at a place in my life where Natty Boards don’t get me a sixty grand bump in salary over ten years, as they would have in FCPS when I started (although that figure has gone down since then due to budget cuts). In fact, a lot of people in private schools don’t even know what they are.
And even in this moment of joy, I can’t forget The Ones We Left Behind—the darn good teachers that never got it, or didn’t get it this time, or had the self-knowledge to not even try in the first place.
On the other hand, there are the inspiring educators I met by taking the risk, and the doors it opened, especially in writing. The most important question is: Did it make me a better teacher?
I think I’ll have to think on that some more. I’m a different man in the classroom than I was then, but I’m not sure how much of that I would attribute solely to The Very Hard Test. To me, teaching has always been a process of evolution. One thing I can’t deny is that Natty Boards are now a part of the journey, for better or worse.
As much as anything, it feels like a great weight has been lifted, one that I didn’t even realize I was still carrying. I’ve got the letters, whatever I decide to do with ‘em. For that, and to all the friends who got me here with a thousand emails and wishes and hands, I truly give Thanks.
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