Thursday, April 3, 2008

Midway in My Career

Entry #1 from a periodic series on National Board Certification

I've decided to record some of my reflections on a process toward National Board Certification for Teaching. I considered starting a separate blog for this, but have decided to have it be part of If Bees Are Few, color code it blue and tag it "National Board." In this way, perhaps it will show how the process integrates with other aspects of my reveries.

This is my seventeenth year in the classroom as a career. Sixteen down and sixteen to go, God-willing. I'm not sure I'll stop teaching then, but I'll probably retire from the public school system as I reach 60. Thus, if all goes well, this is my hump year.
This week I "celebrated" by beginning pre-candidate classes for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The first step was printing nearly 400 pages of standards and portfolio requirements and the panic of "what am I getting myself into? I'm an award-winning teacher, lead of my department, consultant . . . why do I want to be board certification?"
Well, I love teaching and I express my love through the quality of my teaching. I also like reflective practice. So this seems like an arena in which I can heighten my reflection, challenge myself, and improve the quality of what I love and do well. So binder in hand I head off, a bit daunted by the work ahead I know it represents.
Locally, Duquesne University is a host center for NBCT/NBPTS. At our first meeting which previewed the foundation and five core propositions, I was reassured to find out that "Standards" for our profession are much more authentic than "standards and standardized testing" that is been limiting education's scope, creativity, relevancy, rigor, and ways we assess students. Here they are:

Policy Statement: What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do
1. Teachers are Committed to Students and Learning.
2. Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How to Teach Those Subjects to
3. Teachers are Responsible for Managing and Monitoring Student
4. Teachers Think Systematically about Their Practice and Learn from
5. Teachers are Members of Learning Communities.

Moreover, I was reassured by the level of inquiry I sense in a half a dozen fellow teachers in our class. What we lack in numbers, we will make up for in quality. After three hours of working with them and our experienced and enthusiastic leaders, I may not have yet have a clear idea of "what I'm getting into," but I'm more confident I want to "get into it." What an incredible boost to one's motivation to have the time and space and structure and interest with colleagues to talk about "what teachers should know and be able to do." I left heartened that the NBCT process will be an exhausting but energizing experience. Sort of like teaching itself.

1 comment:

Kelvin Oliver said...

Congrats! This is very good news to a person such as me who wants to become a high school English teacher. Seems like a ton of work, but its worth the time and effort.