What's Danielle Brain's Why?

The year was 1998, and I remember bringing the idea of going for National Board Certification back to my colleagues after attending a session at the NCTE Convention. What spoke most to me was how National Board Certification is not about others’ (meaning administrators or even peer coaches) assessment of my practice, but actually all about my own assessment as a path to deep reflection, professional development, and understanding of my practice. How empowering!!


Since I initially achieved NBC in 2001, I have walked a path focused on that sense and awareness of empowerment that comes from developing a professional sense of self from examining and assessing one’s own practice. That path has led me through work with NYS English Council, National Writing Project, NB Candidate Support Provider training, a C.A.S. for Teacher Leadership from Clarkson Graduate School (formally Union Graduate School) which focused on National Board Certification, and most recently to completing doctoral research studies on teachers’ professional narratives related to APPR evaluations.    


Jump ahead to 2021, and I am embarking on my second renewal submission, right on the heels of completing my doctoral program at Syracuse University. National Board Certification was an integral piece of my dissertation study and will continue to be integral for my continued research endeavors. Pursuing a second renewal was not a hard choice to make, even with my impending retirement (after 32 years of teaching) at the end of this year. I feel that each step of my path has fed, and will continue to feed, my professional soul that results from self-reflection and engaging with teachers around understanding and being reflective/reflexive about practice. Going for NBC renewals, and even post-doctoral research studies, is not a question of “Why?” but more “Why not?” 

To question, to search, and to research are parts of the nature of teaching practice. What is necessary is that, in their ongoing education, teachers consider themselves researchers because they are teachers.

.…there is no such thing as teaching without research and research without teaching. One inhabits the body of the other. As I teach, I continue to search and re-search. I teach because I search, because I question, and because I submit myself to questioning. I research because I notice things, take cognizance of them. And in so doing, I intervene. And intervening, I educate and educate myself.

      (Paulo Freire, from Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage)

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