Worth It

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I pursued National Board Certification ten years ago. I was in my 9th year of teaching the same grade, in the same district, at the same school, and I had lost my purpose. My support system for candidacy consisted of my principal, a district colleague pursuing National Board Certification, the Arizona K-12 Center, and my family. My family support was primarily my mom. My daughter, Maya, was 3 years old at the time. Maya spent a great deal of time with my mom during the 2006-2007 school year. Our ritual was every Saturday and Sunday I would take Maya to her nana’s house for the day. I would head to the library to be immersed in the Core Propositions, the Architecture of Accomplished Teaching, and my Standards.

One weekend in February, as my portfolio submission date was quickly approaching, my mom came down with the flu, and just like that, my National Board weekend ritual was altered. I figured I could work and take care of Maya. I arranged Maya’s toys and books in the loft next to my binders, bins, and student work samples. Each time I began to type Maya would talk to me. I would stop, turn around, talk, play for a bit, and then tell her that mama had to work. I would turn my chair back around and begin to type…and the cycle would begin again. After about 2 hours of attempting to work, I hit a wall. My heart began to ache, my eyes welled up with tears, and the thought of quitting the process ran through my head, over and over. And, then I allowed the question to enter my mind, “Is this worth it?”

As that question filled the room, I looked at Maya. I thought, “What if every teacher Maya has commits to this process? What if Maya’s future teachers look at her through the lens of who she is as a learner, not just her test scores? What might the possibilities be?” Imagining Maya’s future filled with accomplished teachers was all the motivation I needed to know that “Yes, this is worth it.”

Year after year, I hoped that Maya would have a NBCT as her teacher. Year after year, she didn’t. In all honesty, I began to think that her mama being a NBCT would have to be good enough. Until, an email appeared in my inbox describing a new and innovative program at Maya’s middle school. A program designed to cultivate thinkers, writers, collaborators; a program led by not just one NBCT, but two. The idea that Maya would have accomplished teachers filled every inch of my soul. Maya having accomplished teachers brings my life’s work and the possibilities for her back to that weekend in February of 2007–when her future gave me the encouragement to continue my National Board journey.

I could be frustrated that it took 11 years for my daughter to experience accomplished teaching. I could be dismayed that parents across the country wonder if their children will have an accomplished teacher, not when their children will have an accomplished teacher. But, I’m not going to frustrated or dismayed, because Maya comes home every day recounting the learning experiences her accomplished teachers create for her with intense enthusiasm. And, I am going to continue to dedicate my actions to advancing National Board, so that every student in America has an accomplished teacher.

Why? Because this is worth it.

 

Daniela A. Robles

Daniela A. Robles

Phoenix, Arizona

I am a teacher and beginning my fourteenth year of teaching in Arizona’s public schools. The greatest lessons I learned were from teaching first grade for ten years. My inspirations stem from these past few years where my classroom has ranged from the Intervention Room to the Coaches’ Room.

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