Sunday, April 13, 2008

Teaching and Self-Loathing

Entry #2 from a periodic series on National Board Certification

For all the buzz of past decades on self-esteem for students, teachers could use a boost. When I got to my second installment of NBPTS pre-candidate classes, I was nearly stymied to find that cancelling the program was a real possibility. Why? Lack of funding? No. Lack of teacher interest in taking the challenge of becoming National Board Certified.

I was crushed. I had tried to get into last year's class to find I was too late. Now that I was in, was I going to be denied the chance because no one else wanted to?

Fortunately, the happy few of us that showed up were able to commit, cross our hearts and hope to die, and convince the leaders to hang in there with us.

But this got me to thinking why? Why aren't teachers clamoring to become Board Certified? With the promise of state funding, money can't be the excuse? Time? Sure, time is always precious for good teachers. Yet, I think it has to do with fear of not measuring up and low self-esteem.

Teachers have so many nay-sayers to their talents. Media, administrators, parents, even students' criticism can get a teacher down. (Why this week alone, I was obliquely called a "goat," " a fool," and "cruel" by students.) So, of course, why would they want a National Board to give 'em one more hit? It's easy to see their view.

Ironically, that's exactly the opposite of the NBPTS's intent. It's to take account and certify all of "what teachers should know and be able to do." It's portfolio assignments and assessments are aimed at acknowledging the great things teachers who become candidates already are doing well.

Our National Board advisor tells me we are thirty years away from when National Board Certification will have established itself as the hallmark of educators' professionalism. Maybe by then teachers will be less fearful and more proud.

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