I have, I think, an above-average number of friends who have doctoral degrees, at least for someone who doesn’t have one. This is something that having spent your twenties in grad school does to you; if you don’t actually finish your program, a lot of your friends do, and while there has never been a single second where any of my Ph.D-holding friends have looked down on me for not reaching a terminal degree (I decided not to move forward after my MA in Divinity school, having discovered that I didn’t enjoy the research nearly as much as I thought I would, and finances fell apart at the last minute for my planned doctoral work in ed school) it has always sort of rankled that I never got one myself.
Now, note how I’m phrasing that: I’m treating a doctorate like it’s something you get and put on a shelf, like a trophy or a Batman statue or some shit like that. I have no intention whatsoever of becoming a professional researcher, nor do I really want to be a college professor, so at this point even getting a doctorate in education would literally be something done to soothe my ego and nothing else. And that’s … really not a good enough reason, unless I can do it for free, and that seems unlikely.
Enter National Board certification. This is really exactly what it sounds like; teacher certification is handled on the state level, and so there’s an insane patchwork of different requirements from state to state, and some states are much more restrictive than others about who can become teachers. Moving from state to state can be a hell of a mess, especially if you go from one with low requirements to one with higher requirements. NBC circumvents all of that; it’s basically the highest level of certification a teacher can reach (as opposed to being an educational credential like an MA or a doctorate) and most states end their certification requirements with “… or you could get your National Board certification” and leave it at that.
Most states also give you a hefty salary bump when you reach that level. Indiana, unfortunately, is not one of those states, and part of the reason I’ve not gotten my NBC in the past is that Indiana wants their teachers uneducated, young and cheap and I am none of the three already. I’m kind of stuck in my current district because the way state salary guidelines work, districts aren’t allowed to recognize irrelevant things like education when determining teacher salaries any longer, and most neighboring districts won’t recognize any more than five years of service if you’re from out of district, so I’ve been stuck in this position where if I were to change districts I’d be guaranteed a pay cut. Which … nah. I do not want a pay cut. No thank you.
There was a brief informational meeting today about a new initiative my district is setting up to try and get more teachers NBC certified. Turns out they’ll pay all of the fees for the certification (about $2200, apparently, if you don’t end up having to redo anything) and while they want a cohort (certification usually takes 2-3 years) you do the certification at your own pace, so in theory you could get it done very quickly or if you needed to put parts off you could do that as well. One of the parts is subject matter knowledge, which, pff, and another is reflecting on practice, which … well, look around. You need ten essays about my teaching practice, that’ll be done in a week. So that’s half of the four domains that I really don’t think will require a lot of work on my part unless I have to learn calculus or something; I’m not sure how expansive the math test would be. (Even if it would, an excuse to relearn upper mathematics would actually be a plus.)
Someone asked the presenter at one point how many teachers in the district were already NBC-certified. The answer, which surprised the hell out of me: zero. None. There are 16,000 kids in this district and who the hell knows how many teachers. Zero? Seriously?
And suddenly, between those three things: free, at my own pace, and one of the first teachers in the district to get this certification, and I think I’m in, when I was only attending the meeting to help talk myself out of this.