Tuesday, January 12, 2010

National Board Certification in DC

Maria Angala, NBCT '09

I remember Chancellor Rhee saying that "...with a wonderful teacher there is no doubt that all the barriers will be overcome. This is where 100% of our focus is right now" in her Charlie Rose interview in July 2008.

I was very disappointed that Chancellor Rhee discontinued the supports for National Board Certification.

In today's WaPo article Bill Turque writes that according to Chancellor Rhee, "although she considers board certification a valuable form of professional development, it was difficult to justify the annual expenditure of about $600,000 because so few teachers were making it through the process".

Why is there a low number of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in DCPS? The same is true in fact in most high-needs schools across the nation. A Teacher Solutions report by 10 National Board Certified Teachers Center for Teaching Quality on the effects of National Board on Advancing 21st Century Teaching and Learning states that:

High-needs schools tend to have much more rigid requirements for curriculum instruction. There is considerably less trust among administrators in teachers' abilities to positively impact student learning. As a result, there is less opportunity for teaches to demonstrate that they can tailor instruction to student needs -- they are not even allowed to do so. It is typical to see scripted curricula and/or rigid, closely monitored pacing guides. All these reduce the amount of time and effort that can be committed to National Board Certification.

Another congressionally-mandated Research shows that the National Board Certification has a positive impact on student achievement, professional development and teacher retention. Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the 2009 Class of NBCT's as "an extraordinary group" that has "demonstrated a commitment to taking their teaching practice and the teaching profession to a different level."

Isn't it more detrimental to DCPS that the supports to the National Board Certification were cut?
The report further relates that...

The National Board Certification process should be viewed through the lens of increasing human capital, not strictly from the perspective of short-term costs and benefits. Smart state and local policies will support candidates as they go through the process and then capitalize on the leadership and skills of those who successfully complete it. Once this dynamic environment is created and sustained, we are confident that teaching quality will improve.

I was a struggling teacher before I started out with the National Boards process. Coming from a foreign country with a different educational system, I was in the dark with how to teach the "American way", how to run a classroom and how to give an effective lesson to my students. I wanted to make a difference, my intention was good; what kept me in the classroom was my passion for teaching. Going through the National Board Certification process was life changing not just for me but for my students. It made me a reflective teacher, strengthened my instructional and behavior management skills, and made me a collaborator and a teacher leader. For me these are the qualities that set a good teacher apart from a great teacher.

For me a good teacher teaches content and is compliant with her professional duties. While a great teacher does not only teach, she is not only religious with fulfilling her professional duties as a teacher. A great teacher reaches-out, connects, communicates, and collaborates with the students, their parents, colleagues, the community; she knows how to gather resources and supports to maximize the potentials of each and every student in her classroom; a great teacher consistently reexamines her teaching practices and she learns from her experience.

In my phone conversation with Bill Turque last week, I mentioned to him the technology and financial supports from DCPS during the leadership of Dr. Clifford Janey that helped make the process more convenient for me during my candidacy. I also told him about the National Board Orientation and Professional Development sessions sponsored by The Washington Teachers Union (WTU), and the mentorship from our NBCTs in DCPS in collaboration with the American University and the George Washington University. These things made us teachers, most especially the aspiring candidates, feel valued that the administration is supporting our quest to become great teachers.

I believe that there are many excellent, outstanding, and effective teachers in DCPS that need to be identified and be rewared for the exceptional job that they are doing who need to join the cadre of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) and be in the forefront as teacher leaders in this education reform.

I can attest to the fact that the National Board Certification helps make good teachers become great teachers.

Isn't this what Chancellor Rhee wants for her teachers? I am hoping that she will reconsider her stand in this matter and decide to support the National Board Certification.

* This is a repost from Teacher Sol's blog.

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