* #teamNBCT: professionals

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In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

When I first heard about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, I was a bit doubtful that it would impact the teaching profession.  I’d been around long enough to know that my salary didn’t reflect my graduate degree and experience, that I had no opportunity for advancement unless I became an administrator (heaven forbid!), and that I would work many more hours than a 9-to-5 profession.  And what did novice teachers face?  Exactly the same, if they actually stayed in the profession.

What could the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offer?   It has helped reshape our profession into a Profession.  I couldn’t have imagined the effect of a certification process that is clearly associated with better student outcomes!  And salary!  And improved resources and support for novice teachers!  But not shorter working hours, at least for me.  That’s why my dearest teaching widower spent so many nights with me at school.  Even NB certification has not fixed that glitch in my approach to preparation.

I am particularly thrilled that NBCTs have impacted the performance of minority and low-income students.  Do we have miles to go before we rest?  Indeed.  I’ve written at length about the racially predictable test scores and low minority achievement which plagues our country.  (As we go brown and gray in the US, it won’t be minority achievement anymore.)  Our failure to teach ALL of our kids is dreadful.  How can we encourage blacks and Hispanics to enter the teaching profession?   The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards could reverse the current trend of fewer minority and male teachers with higher standards, higher salaries, and support for novice teachers.  I hope I am around to see that happen!

 

* #team NBCT: reflections

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In honor of this week’s celebration of 112,000+ National Board Certified Teachers, I will focus on what NB certification, the gold standard for the teaching profession, has meant to me.

It’s been 16 years since I was first National Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist.  I applied for certification in the 2nd year of that category’s availability, with only one other special ed teacher in my district having completed the process.  I had little idea what impact this certification would have upon my practice or how much effort would be required!

Why was it worth becoming National Board Certified?  I had started teaching in 1970 and much of my career had been reactive.  I was desperate for solutions, so I read, took classes, and experimented with approaches.  I participated in many leadership roles related to special education.  My kids made progress but I was always searching for that magic bullet, a perfect set of materials or scope and sequence.

What was missing in my practice?  REFLECTION.  In the busyness of teaching, I was assessing student performance but didn’t spend much time analyzing my teaching practices.  Sure, if I had a terrible-horrible-no good-day day, I would dissect every word and action.  But that wasn’t the daily norm for me.  During and after the NB process, I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back to that “disaster” style of analysis or a fruitless search for the perfect curriculum.  I now spend much more time thinking about where the kids and I are going and how my decisions impact student learning.  I’m processing information on a deeper level and encourage kids to do the same.

Did I enjoy that learning curve on reflection?  Honestly, it was a bit too steep for comfort, but I needed to be shoved out of my “routine” teaching.  The NBCT process changed my trajectory forever.  It’s delightful to reflect on my teaching practice and see how mindfulness is the new normal for me!