Teachers. Great teachers. Lots of them. Thousands of them, literally, all across Washington state. What do I think of when I think of National Board Certification? I think of all those effective teachers, in all those classrooms, teaching all those students in our state. This week on Stories from School, we are celebrating National Board Certified teachers and candidates with a series of blog posts. So what does National Board Certification mean to me?
1. Deprivatized practice: As a candidate it was a new experience for me to share my classroom videos and writing very publicly with a group of teachers I did not know particularly well (or at least I didn’t know them very well at first), and I became a better teacher because of it!
2. Teachers supporting other teachers: Teacher support is the heart and soul of the National Board process. In my district, one candidate said to another as our cohort meeting started last week: "I came to this meeting today because I wanted to watch your video!" In another district, a retake candidate wrote after finding out her scores, “I’ll tell you what was a big motivating factor when I was feeling terrible after learning my results. The response of NBCTs. I wasn’t entirely convinced before, but now I know this is a community I very much want to be a part of. Every single person I know who is National Board certified has offered to help me redo my portfolio. Every single one.” While the response this candidate received was extraordinary, without a doubt NBCTs are as a group generally very helpful to other teachers.
3. Organizational Support: Not only do individual teachers support each other, but organizational support is available in a variety of forms available as well--from local districts and local education associations, to the statewide Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington Education Association. There is teacher designed and led professional development at district level cohorts and at state level trainings like WEA JumpStart and HomeStretch. Our state even has a nonprofit, this blog's own Center for Strengthening the Teaching profession, in the action!
4. Teacher identity: Are teachers professionals? The National Board process does a lot to answer that question. There is a set of standards put together by a committee, the majority of whom are classroom teachers. Entries are scored by other teachers. Teachers have often been eager to compare their practice against a set of standards, and have wanted to do this in the company of other teachers. The National Board process is a great example of teachers taking responsibility to help each other become better teachers.
One final thought: I'm feeling some state pride. Go Washington! We have a great program of professional development for teachers, and we have been successfully able to work as a team across our state to advocate in the legislature for our program and its impact on student learning. This two-pronged approach, advocacy and professional development, makes us a strong group! Welcome, new NBCTs.