The other day I got the news that *yet again* I did not pass my National Boards.
I'm going to be honest here because I don't know how else to be and I feel like getting it all off my chest might make me feel a little better about it. I apologize ahead of time if it comes off sounding whiny or like I'm throwing myself a pity party. Perhaps I am.... I don't know.
I just feel like a failure.
Those words sting as I type them. Badly. There is one other time in my life that I felt this way; when I was a freshman in college and I didn't make the soccer team. I busted my butt that year, played basketball instead, and joined the soccer team my sophomore year becoming a starter. So, in a way, I redeemed myself.
But, for that first year, I felt like a failure. My heart was broken.
After reflecting, I realized I really hadn't put in the effort necessary to make the team. There were summer workouts that I had to do and I did them extremely nonchalantly. My coach had never seen me play because my high school was so far away he didn't travel to see so he had no background knowledge of my skill before I showed up to preseason. And I didn't prove myself that week.
I put in so much time, energy, money to get my boards. I completed the first attempt while in grad school. I completed my second attempt while caring for a premature baby. And my third attempt while raising a toddler. But all of those statements feel like excuses.
And I hate excuses.
There is all the "what if" stuff clogging my head and I just feel so discouraged by not passing. I know I'm a good teacher. I know I bust my butt in my classroom and I show up for my kids every. single. day. Even when it's hard. And there are a lot of hard days in a low income, high poverty, middle school in the middle of nowhere, NC.
I'm glad I can tell my son about this one day when something gets tough for him and he wants to throw in the towel; I can tell him about the time it took me 3 tries to get my National Boards and even though it was long, tedious, hard, and expensive, I did it anyway. But, then I will also have to tell him that I tried 3 times and failed. And I worry the story will lose all meaning.
A part of me wants to try again. But a big part of me doesn't want to fork out another $2,000. A part of me wishes I could have one more opportunity to write that portfolio and give it another go. But a big part of me is so happy it's finally over regardless of the outcome. A part of me has seen the growth and reflection this process has had on my career. But a big part of me has dreams that don't involve the classroom and questions whether or not it's worth it.
I know it's just an accolade and a piece of paper (and let's be honest, a raise), but maybe it was more than that to me? I didn't think so at first, but I just don't know...
I don't even know if I'll be in the classroom forever or if teaching is the career I will retire from, but I went for it and I didn't get it and that really just sucks. No other word for it.
I thought I would be devastated and cry and really let it bring me down. Surprisingly, there were no tears. I'm proud to say I didn't let it ruin my day, but I can't say it's not a big deal. I realize the certification in and of itself isn't that big of a deal, but the let down of 3+ years of work is one. big. deal. To me.
So, today, as my students complete an assessment, I find myself trolling the National Board website researching the newest changes to the process and considering giving it another go. I'm sitting here questioning whether or not I'm sane or if I just enjoy throwing money at this thing?
Does it matter enough to go another round? It is a pride thing? Am I crazy? Or just determined?