National Board Certification
Are you an instructional coach? If so, have you encountered teachers who don’t think they need your services? You know, that old, cranky teacher whom you assume pulls out the same copy of a lesson plan each year because they’ve “always done it this way;” the teacher who doesn’t jump at every new app or piece of hardware, the teacher who eyerolls when new methods are introduced with more excitement than practice? Before you make assumptions about why that teacher is resistant, here are some questions, in no particular order, you might want to be ready to answer before you walk into this teacher’s classroom:
It’s no secret that I have scorned the term “professional development” and the acronym for years. I love learning about science, nature, how the world works, how we learn, my craft, food, people, many things. I love talking with other teachers about our practice. It’s not the learning I resist, it’s the failed attempts to “develop” skills in professionals with no acknowledgement of what or how professionals prefer to learn.
Again this summer, I had the opportunity to take part in some genuine learning with groups of accomplished teachers. Each time, our work together took place over 3-4 days. The leaders were not administrators, or university professors, or edu-experts who are no longer in the classroom, or techno-geeks with apps or gizmos purported to make learning happen. They were all simply incredibly accomplished classroom teachers.
Something truly wonderful happens when accomplished teachers are leaders of professional learning. The very skills that are the foundation of their classroom awesomeness drive their work with other teacher-learners. There is no sit-n-git. No one leaves with the feeling that they are to “do as I say but not as I did.” There is no time for participant web-surfing or Facebooking. No time for phone games. Everyone is engaged and learning because they are doing the learning, not listening to the leaning. Every teacher makes meaning of and owns the leaning. And when teachers return to their classrooms, they will certainly implement their work in their own classrooms.
Here’s a partial list of the engaging strategies we used during our work together. If you are a teacher, you’ll probably recognize some of them.
I field-tested the National Board v3.0 AYA Science Constructed Response and Selected Response Assessment Center components. I was then invited to the Item Review, to happen here:
Know thine enemy, I’d been told. Besides, if I didn’t go check this out, how would I ever be able to comment with credibility on the process?
I field-tested the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards assessment center exercises that make up Component 1, Content Knowledge, Adolescent and Young Adult Science, Chemistry. While I can’t tell you about the content, other than it was exactly as outlined here (Note: The documentation is not yet complete as the item review is still in process), I can tell you about the testing experience and give you some hints on scheduling and taking the assessments.
The assessment has 2 parts: Constructed Response and Selected Response. The Constructed Response section has 3 “exercises.” You have 30 minutes to complete each one, so allow yourself 2 hours and 15 minutes at the testing center, including arriving 30 minutes early to check in. The Selected Response section has approximately 45 Selected Response Items (SRIs) to be completed in up to 60 minutes. Here’s my experience. DISCLAIMER: This was a field test. There may be changes before the actual roll-out. There may be differences in the test center check-in and process. Read your own cert area directions and test center protocols carefully.
I’ve been pretty amused by the mania to turn our science and math curricula into “STEM.”
My path to the science classroom was unconventional. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from The Ohio State University straight to a chemistry lab. I used atomic absorption spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and Kjeldahl digestions to analyze everything from the protein content in alfalfa to pesticide residues in soil. I had to be creative. I had to invent things. I had to mess things up, to do things that didn’t work, and then I had to make them work. Then, I ran the quality control department in a food production facility (human, this time.) If someone had gotten sick or died from consuming our product, I would have been responsible. I got pretty good at creative troubleshooting. I left that job when our first son was born. A bit bored, I joined up with 3 other scientists and a salesman to start a company. We collected soil and crop samples from dairy and hog farmers, analyzed the samples for nutrients, and then manufactured custom fertilizer for the soils and nutritional supplements for the animals based on the feeds they grew. I remained a partner until Baby Number Last was ready for preschool. I was at work until about 4 hours before his birth. I returned to work with baby in tow when he was 5 days old. But I digress. And, by the way, was any of this STEM?
UPDATE February 27, 2014:
I’ve been funded to attend the conference. Thank you, Oregon Education Association!
I worked every possible angle to attend the T&L conference, but it’s not in the cards this year. I was very disappointed that I could not attend,
and then I saw the email about Bill Gates as a speaker. I’ve been a long time supporter of NBPTS, having certified in AYA/Science in 1998 when the certificate was first available and renewing in the 2006-2007 cycle. I’ve supported initial cert candidates and renewal candidates, having written the renewal workshop materials for Washington State (WEA). I am working hard to promote certification to potential candidates in Oregon. I was watching the revisions as carefully as an outsider to the process can watch, and was very much hoping that the process would maintain the rigor and standards I’ve known since 1997 when I began the process. Associating Bill Gates with our profession, no matter how much money he might give, has alienated a good many potential candidates and has many of my NBCT colleagues across the nation questioning whether they will bother to renew. We do not want anyone who is not an educator in the position to offer financial incentives for following their decisions about what they believe is best for our profession and our students. I don’t remember a time I’ve been so disappointed in the direction my profession is taking, and it’s not my nature to watch in silence as it’s destroyed.
With that in mind, below is my letter to Bill Gates as he prepares to address my colleagues at the National Board Teaching and Learning Conference on March 14, 2014.
For kicks today, I looked at my site stats. I normally don’t bother checking, because I write here to document my thinking for myself, when I actually write anything. I looked at the search strings that brought people to my blog. Here’s a sample of what I found:
In a previous post, I described a scenario in which an administrator clearly did not understand the impact on student learning a teacher must demonstrate to renew National Board Certification. If you’re wondering, too, read on. And if you’re a renewal candidate, here are the files you’ve been looking for.
I’ve answered more than 100 emails this past week, asking for renewal help. As I write, there are almost 300 hits to this blog from searches for national board renewal help – just in the last month. As a result, I’ve decided to post a few items from the Renewal workshops I facilitate and a rationale for renewing.
I had the opportunity to view an important movie this week. I’ve seen it once before. Both times, I watched with a group of the finest educators I’ve ever met. The movie was especially hard-hitting for us because we’ve shared their journey, their tears, and their triumphs.