The Road to National Board Certification Part 9: Moving On

Hey there, blogging world. For the tense and placement of time to make sense, I started writing this a month ago.

I just said goodbye to the kids today, and boyyyyy did it feel sweet. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll probably be glad to see them in the fall, but we definitely need some time apart.

This is pretty much how I feel:


This final stretch was so, so rough. Like “I don’t know if I can do this one more day, let alone a year” rough. As you can see, I haven’t blogged. I pretty much did everything in my power to not think about teaching, education, etc. when I wasn’t at work. Each week I had a new plan for my life. I resigned each negative thought to “oh well. I won’t be back next year.” And National Board Certification? Meh. 1000 bucks down the drain, but to hell if I’m spending any more time on it.

It was excruciating—even if I was trying to dull the pain of whatever it was pulling me away from teaching (I’m guessing it’s all the factors that make up burn-out), it still made me feel guilty/bad teacher/deviant. I know you all can relate. Anyone who does something for an extended amount of time can relate.

Unlike most schools where graduation is pretty much confirmed by the beginning of the last quarter as long as seniors sit there catatonically absorbing those classes they put off until the end, our program requires seniors to be wrapping up everything they need to, whether it’s the research paper they have to work on, or extra work they have to do to finish their points, or passing our math proficiency test. As a family teacher (which is like a home-base teacher that advocates for a group of students), it is stressful. Part of getting a student graduated is on me and my colleagues, and it requires time and energy in addition to teaching our classes and going to meetings. I stayed with one of my students until 10 pm one night to try to get her to pass a math test, and while she didn’t get to walk at graduation, she finished her requirements the next week and got her diploma. The hard work paid off, but I was in such a funk that I didn’t even think about what primary role I had in this student’s success (attending a ‘no-nonsense’ charter school before coming to ours, she most likely would have not graduated this year). Another student of mine almost didn’t graduate, then did, primarily because of me. I think this is just sinking in, a month and a half later.

Amidst all of this, the NB puts their portfolio submissions due May 18th, right in the middle of the end of the school year craziness. I could have avoided this by not procrastinating, of course. But I didn’t. I turned my submission in three hours before the cutoff. I used my own personal time to take the school day off to finish it. I waffled between not submitting it, but in the end I didn’t have it in me to quit. Many thanks to my husband for giving me the straight talk via Shia Labeouf:

If you’ve never seen that, you’re welcome.

A few weeks later, I took Component 1. Besides being shuffled around like livestock at the testing center by the Pearson Overlords, it was pretty uneventful. I “studied.” I woke up early and made sure to eat breakfast. I sat in a chair for three hours and clicked what I thought were the best answers. I wrote essays to what I figured the National Board wanted to hear. Then I went home and watched Damages.


(and Broad City)

I’ll know in December if I did well enough to keep my score, and I really hope I don’t have to take it again.

I’m finishing up writing this  mid-summer, unsure of how I feel about taking another year on again. Celebrations: I am done with the TEACH grant, and am hoping for some loan forgiveness after this year for teaching for five years. 

In about a month, I’ll start up again with the blogging thing, unless I hit some inspiration. Until then, I’m relishing every restorative day of summer spent with good friends and family, good food, outdoor things, and of course—my dog. If there’s one gift of teaching, it is summer break and all of the opportunities for rekindling relationships that get doused in the gasoline of the school year (did that sound too melodramatic?) Here’s an artsy dramatic picture of my dog to illustrate:




  1. Crossing my fingers for your board results! I was so excited when I finally finished last fall! But I could relate to your post about being burned out at the end of the year. After 8 years as a full-time teacher in my school, and 6 as an adjunct teacher there, I finally transferred from the alternative high school to our middle school for next year.
    I love my students – and cried multiple times at the end of the year – but I need a break from being immersed in the “risk factors” that way. I need to get some perspective on what other students experience as home lives and economic situations. Hopefully I’m more prepared to work with the students that have risk factors in their lives and be supportive, but I also want a chance to work with students in a more traditional setting.
    All of that was just to say – don’t let all the stresses of your experiences this year burn you out of teaching. Between national boards and the grant, it sounds like you had a lot on your plate – beyond all the emotional stress of working in an alternative high school!
    Best wishes – and have a great summer!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m always glad to know I’m not the only one experiencing these feelings, and that it’s not all bad if I am. Congrats on your move! Your new school will provide new and different challenges that will keep you going. Best of luck!

  2. I just started reading your blog. I am moving into teaching from funeral directing (hopefully next year) and I can honestly say that burn out is the case with every career, especially ones like teaching and funeral directing which require you to put so much of your emotions into it. Don’t give up, if it’s something you love, persevere. I fell into funeral directing when I was job hunting after college. I loved it at first but after 4 years, I know it is not for me. I should have followed my heart and went into teaching, but everyone said there wasn’t money in it. Money can’t buy happiness (although it can support my ridiculous makeup obsession). Burn out is real in any career that takes a piece of you to support it. Hang in there, if you decide you can do it you can. If you decide not, work your butt off to your next career.

    Good luck and keep your chin up. Teaching makes a difference. You’re changing kids lives.

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