I spent time today with our newest group of members preparing to become Nationally Board Certified Teachers. They have come together for a program we borrowed from our sister organization in Washington State, WEA, called Jump Start.
This is a time for members interested in growing their professional expertise by taking an in-depth look at their practice. The national teacher standards form the basis of an identifiable skillset and candidates proceed through a comprehensive review of their own work using these ideals as a lens. The group is facilitated by three NBCTs who are committed to helping and supporting others in their work to become the very best teachers they can be. Throughout the year, the group is encouraged to serve as a support system and sounding board for those working their way through this extremely rigorous process. Many teachers I know who are NBCTs have stated that this is the best professional development they have ever experienced. I think this is because the process is personal and individual to each teacher. Taking a real look at our practice as educators is invaluable!
So, why are we investing this effort and resources into candidates for NBCT? Times are changing and we must keep pace. Those coming into the profession recently cite professional development as their greatest interest in how being a member of the union can help them. Yes, the fundamental needs of the union, bargaining contracts and rights concern, are still important. Those newest in the teaching ranks want more professional offerings from us and we are working hard to meet the need. This is why our Fall Event conference is now squarely centered on professional development offerings for all categories of members. Local associations can still request bargaining and rights training through their UniServ Directors, but our statewide focus has changed to meet the needs of members.
I wish the very best for those beginning the process of becoming recognized as National Board Certified Teachers!