17 March 2014

Will all the National Board Certified Teachers in the Room Please Stand?

Sandwiched between big name leaders such as Secretary Arne Duncan and North Carolina's former Governor Hunt were delightful speeches from former National Board Certified physical education teacher--Barbara Kelly, and Susan Hopgood, President of Education International.  Delightful speeches by these women brought inspiration amidst political and controversial conversations that  take much of the stage in the follow up blogs and news articles about the Teaching and Learning Conference last week in Washington, D.C..

With tears rimming my eye lids, I listened intently as Barbara Kelly shared a story about a recent tennis match where her tennis partner asked her to come to net because they were about to lose if she didn't step out of her comfort zone and approach the net. She spoke of the early years of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards where at meetings they regularly asked all NBCTs to stand, and then she asked us all to stand if we were NBCTs.  Hundreds of teachers stood and were then encouraged by Kelly to step forward as teacher leaders and raise our voices to make an impact on education in our country.  Barbara Kelly was honored with the James A. Kelly (no relation to Barbara) Award for demonstrating clear, consistent and convincing evidence of her ability to foster the legacy of accomplished teaching.

Just when I thought my tears would dry up and I could move on to listening to the politicians speak of education reform in our country, Susan Hopgood from Educational International approached the podium to speak.  Her comments about gender equality struck a chord with me given my study and efforts over the past year.  Her call for a global campaign around more just, peaceful, and tolerant societies to set the stage for education goals around the world appealed to my interests as well.  In America, it's easy to get lost in our own world of education reform and to forget about the millions of women and girls around the world who have no access to education.  When we consider the statistics, we realize we must do something at this critical time for the world to make decisions that will affect children for many years to come.

"Together we can make a difference for the education of girls around the world" 
                                                                        ~~Susan Hopgood

Hopgood's organization believes teachers are at the heart of education, so it was fitting that she spoke to thousands of teachers because quality education for all cannot be attained without investment in teachers.
Children from Lexington perform in event planned by Mahika

Because her short speech was so inspiring on day one, I selected to attend another session where Hopgood served on a panel day two.  In this session on Lessons Learned from High Performing Countries, Susan Hopgood, Pasi Sahlberg Mary Cathryn Ricker, and Dan Montgomery talked about the lessons we should learn from other countries.  Sahlberg suggested instead of comparing our PISA test results from country to country like a competition or beauty pageant, we should dig deeper into the patterns and trends of our own systems. 

 One of the biggest differences between America and other countries is that many other countries hold teachers in higher regard than we do here, and if you have been reading my blog since I started it, you will recall that one of the reasons I left the classroom was because I was tired of the lack of respect for the profession.

 A lack of respect was not obvious at the Teaching and Learning Conference.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Over and over there was a celebration of teaching and learning by everyone, and there was special recognition for all National Board Certified Teachers, especially when Barbara Kelly asked us all to stand.