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More Meaningful Than Master's Degree Work

Read About National Board Certified Teacher Barbara Grogg

 Barbara Grogg

NEA member Barbara Grogg, a National Board Certified teacher, answers questions about the certification process and how it has affected her practice.

Barbara Grogg, a fourth grade teacher in New Castle, Delaware, is the first National Board Certified teacher to be elected state president (Delaware State Education Association, DSEA). Grogg is currently taking leave -- after 34 years in the classroom -- to fulfill her duties as president.

Here is how Grogg described her experience with the National Board Certification process.

Why did you pursue National Board Certification?
I have a very close friend who went through the process. She asked me to comment on her plan of attack for her work, discuss with her ways to complete the requirement, and read what she was submitting. She is an excellent teacher and she inspired -- and cajoled -- me into pursuing certification too.

I also wanted validation that I was doing the right things for my students. After more than thirty years of teaching, and very little affirmation of my competence, this was important to me. No one else, during my career, ever asked me the questions about my practice and my knowledge of kids -- I loved someone wanting to know about my thinking, the successes I was having as well as the (a few) failures.

What was the experience like? What were the high and low points? Was it worth it?
The National Board Certification experience was amazing. I learned so much about myself. I had to think about all the reasons for the things that I do automatically after years of teaching. I focused on my students as individuals, in aggregated groups, and as a class.

The most difficult thing for me was gathering the confidence in myself to push forward through the process. I think two things kept me going: (1) the need for recognition that what I had been doing and learning to do all of my career was good for students -- there is so little encouragement that you are doing a good job and that what we do makes a difference and so much public opinion that is negative -- and (2) the inner need to accomplish this important challenge as a teacher.

I feel like the National Board Certification was actually more meaningful than completing my master's degree work. It was intense and required much more self-reflection.

It did take over my life until everything was finally completed and mailed off, which was a "hurts so good" experience. It was difficult and challenging and time consuming -- and the best professional development project I have ever taken on.

It was worth it -- first, because I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, and, second, because it gives me another dimension of recognition that I can use in my work supporting teachers and the amazing jobs they do every day.

Did the process impact your career?
As president of the Delaware State Education Association, I have many opportunities to help educators in their efforts to improve student achievement. Groups outside the association look at National Board Certified teachers a little differently. We get a little more recognition. I enjoy being able to use this accomplishment to get people -- who might not otherwise listen -- to hear me when I discuss the important issues that teachers are facing today.

What do you say to NEA members in Delaware who contemplate NBC?
To any potential NBC candidate in Delaware, I say go for it! It is a wonderful learning experience that you will not find in any other place. It will help you know yourself, your practice, and your students better. It will make you feel prouder than ever to be a teacher.

I would also tell them that our state has a very strong support system for candidates. DSEA partners with Delaware's Department of Education to provide a support group made up of National Board Certified teachers. This group meets regularly with candidates to help them through the process, to provide insights into what is expected, and to encourage them through the toughest times when they are doubting their own abilities. 

This group pairs candidates with NBCTs and provides mentoring that includes everything from what type of microphone to use in your tapings and where to find one -- to packing up and mailing off the finished product. 

Barbara Grogg has taught school for 34 years, 31 of them in the Colonial School District in Delaware. She has received many honors over the years, including: Colonial School District's Teacher of the Year, local association vice president and president for the Colonial Education Association, member of Phi Delta Kappa, and member of the Delaware Professional Standards Board. She earned her national board certification in Middle Childhood/Generalist (teaching students ages 7-12).


Other Profiles of National Board Certified Teachers

» NBC Brings New Leadership Roles  -- Teacher Tom White enjoys the challenges. (Washington)

»  NBC: An Opportunity to Give Back to the Community -- Read about NBC Teacher Julie Hutcheson-Downwind. (Minnesota) 

» A Great Adventure and the Chance of a Lifetime -- Find out more about NBC teacher Katherine Wright Knight. (Arkansas)

» Certification Was Pivotal Point in Her Career -- Find out more about National Board Certified Teacher Linda Edwards. (Colorado)

» Profiles in National Board Certification -- Meet Rhonda Hale -- Teacher, Mentor, and Local Prez. (Kentucky)