Endings and Beginnings
No matter how many last days of school I have, I am always gratified by the kids who stop by to say something to me–whether it be a simple “I’ll miss you” or a heartfelt “You were the best teacher I ever had” kinds of comments. This year was special, though, in many, many ways.
Yesterday one of my 5th grade boys came in and I showed him I had just gotten the 2nd book in a series we began this year. He was SO excited, so I handed it to him and asked if he wanted to read it. He took it gratefully, and asked if it was good. When I told him I hadn’t read it yet, he tried to give it back–“It’s your book, you should read it first.” Nope, kid, it’s yours to read now…think I’d squelch that excitement you showed? No way, no how.
I got an email from another boy’s Mom, this one a 4th grader–“We bought Neptune Challenge and he’s already started it.” (Another book we read the first one together- the second one just came out.) This kid talks to his MOTHER about books, he goes home so excited! They read books together now…and that just began this year.
A girl came in this afternoon to make sure she still would have access to our ebook library this summer–and was wanting to make sure I didn’t remove her. Two of my kids are planning to make a movie this summer, two others are planning to co-write a book together, they told me today. Another Mom–“Thank you for helping K LOVE to learn!” Another 5th grade boy–“I was worried I was not going to be prepared for 5th grade, but then I went to you every week and I know I’ll be prepared for 6th grade.” A complete tear-jerker from a special helper this year-“You were a blessing that fell from Heaven and was given to me.”
As I reflected today on the end of my day, I realized that in August, I’ll begin the school year for the first time as an NBCT, since my certification began in November. I then thought that kids should be part of the National Board Certification process…and then I said to myself–wait a minute, they really are already. When we who aspire to get that special certification videotape in our classroom, we show other professionals our kids, and how we teach. When those same already-recognized-with-this-honor teachers read our case studies and see our kids’ work, the kids are speaking to them as well as I did when writing those studies. The kids speak by how they act when learning–by what they say when they are with other kids, and how they grow and change as they work throughout the year.
Being an NBCT is humbling, as I am, with this certification, a teacher recognized nationally as being able to teach in any state because I have those kinds of skills. I am the only Gifted Resource Teacher in my division with this certification. (One other got it, but he moved out of the gifted field.) I am the only NBCT in my school, but not our county–we have a high number of teachers here who have also done the work to be certified. It is hard work to become one–to earn the licensed credential given by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. One has to prove in a multitude of ways that one is not just a good teacher, but an excellent one-one worthy of receiving the highest honor our profession bestows. These standards have been years in the making, and are rigorous, acknowledging the teachers with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform the role of being an educator. Being an excellent teacher means constantly reflecting on what we can do to become even better–to move from “Yeah, I do that pretty well and kids get it” to “Gosh! What I did made a real difference in how deeply the kids learned and understood that material.”
As we end this school year, we educators always begin thinking about our next school year. We all need to show our kids we are lifelong learners, and not rest on our laurels. I encourage anyone who reads this who has not gone for their board certification to do so–yes, it is a lot of work, but every bit of it is worth it. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace a change–big or small, but do something you’ve been thinking about, or wondering, or talked with a colleague about trying. As I begin my 42nd year, I will look to my kids and their families as my support partners–because that’s when miracles happen–when families and educators work toward a common goal of excellence, hard work and achievement. That’s when kids say things like “You have inspired me to push my limits and allways think outside the box. I hope you inspire many other students in the future the same way you inspired me. I am so grateful for everything you have taught me and will miss you so much.”
That’s my “new beginning” goal–to do what that kid wants me to do–inspire others to push their limits and think outside of the box.