So I have had this thing with my teaching certification…it expires next June. There are 2 different levels of teacher certificates around here: Provisional and Professional. You get your Provisional right out of college. The state of Michigan, in order to collaborate with the colleges to squeeze as much money out of its teachers keep up with No Child Left Behind standards for teachers, require that a teacher needs to either take at least 9 credits to renew her Provisional certificate within 5 years, or take 18 credits (or a Master’s Degree) to get her Professional certificate.
For the last several years I’ve looked and looked and tried to see how on earth I could possibly budget to take some classes to renew my certificate in June of ’09, but it just wasn’t happening. I didn’t want anymore debt…I had a peace that it wasn’t God’s plan for my life. I’ve looked for different ways to try to get grants to pay for it-or at least help-but with no such luck.
Last year when I started the Literacy Project with some great professionals in my field, I thought for sure that it was going to open up a door with Grand Valley State University to receive some sort of credit to help me out with my certification…but nada. So here I learned all this wonderful stuff, applied it, saw myself grow as a teacher, and I’ve known all spring that I wouldn’t be able to teach after this school year. Part of me, honestly, was kind of burnt out and I wasn’t too sad about stepping out of the classroom.
Something happened at the end of the school year (and I was encouraged by a WONDERFUL woman named Susan…one of my teaching mentors and friends) to not let go of my dream to keep teaching. Susan really did play a great role in this, because the woman had nothing to gain or lose by me stepping out, nor staying in…but she’s seen me in my classroom, with my kids, teaching my kids…and she really, truly believes in me as a teacher! I seriously can’t deny the power that happens when someone who knows what they’re talking about, tells you that you have a true gift for something…it does something in your heart. (Don’t ever forget that when you’re speaking into someone’s life! Especially if you know what you’re talking about…what you say really means something:)
Anywho, my heart was rejuvenated, and I began to really seek God again for further direction. I started jumping down a few different thought paths that after a day or two, definitely didn’t seem like the paths that were meant for me. And then one day, less than 2 weeks ago, (and literally 1 day after asking a group of friends to pray for my decision-making in this area of my life-thanks friends!) I landed on this website, for the National Board Certification for teachers.
I think I’d heard of national teacher certification before, but I’d never known anything about it (although I figured that it would probably be a big deal). I’ve never known anyone that had it, and after these past couple weeks, have only found 1 person who’s ever even heard of it! I spent some time on the website, asked some questions to other educators and people at the state department…oh yeah, and I prayed about it:) In three days I’d had my decision (I knew I had to move quickly because of deadlines) and I applied to go through the process to become nationally certified as a teacher!
The process doesn’t cost nearly what it would cost for me to take the credits I was needing, and the state of Michigan gives out grants that will cover half of it (not many people actually apply, so there’s a good chance I’ll receive the grant). It will give me my Professional certificate in Michigan for 10 years!
I’m sure that I’ll have lots of things to say about the process, but for now, you can know that it’s going to take a lot of planning, organization, mad teacher skills ;-P, reflection, time, patience, and God’s creativity to pull off. The odds are actually against me…only 40% of the teachers who apply for this ever get it, and typically teachers have 3 yearly teaching cycles to complete each part well enough to pass (if you don’t do well on one of the 5 parts, you could always pay to retake that part the next year)…I only have one year of teaching left, so this next year is my only chance! I have until March 31st to complete my entire portfolio (many teachers have been working on this since January) and I also have to take a 6 hour long assessment on things that aren’t covered in the intensive portfolio pieces.
It seems like I’m a touch on the crazy side right now…but I have to admit that I’m running with some serious adrenaline to walk through this intensive process, and to do it well. Only having one chance at this is very risky, but I honestly feel that God led me to this place. I don’t believe in gambling, but I do believe in taking risks. Risk-taking isn’t necessarily my forte, but I do value it and know that sometimes it’s just what God is calling you to do.
Needless to say, I’m excited about this opportunity to step into something a bit bigger than I’ve ever expected. But, remember that Literacy Project that I’ve been working through?…yea, everything I need to know for this certification process I learned through the project. Can’t help it but think that God was setting me up. 😉 All this, not to even mention the fact that I’m moving up with my students to teach 5th grade this next year, which will end up being amazing because I get to jump right into the year (and the cert process) already knowing my kids!