22 June 2014

Transforming Teaching and Leading in Kentucky

Kentucky is one of six states and/or districts participating in a new project with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  We are a network of states and districts leading the transformation of the teaching profession by developing and strengthening systems to make board certification the norm and capitalize on the instructional expertise of board-certified teachers.  As a member of Kentucky's #NT3 team, I had the privilege of traveling with our team to Palo Alto, California recently for a week of planning and networking with the teams from the other states and districts.  Our week was filled with long days of intense conversations and planning, but I'm certain it is all worthwhile because I believe in our two aims.

Our meetings were held on Stanford University's campus

The aims of this project are to:
1) increase the number of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs)
2) capitalize on instructional leadership of NBCTs

By increasing the number of National Board Certified Teachers, we can make national board certification more the norm rather than a group of a few nationwide.  Over 200 research studies have shown the effectiveness of national board certified teachers in classrooms across the country. NBCTs demonstrate they are highly reflective and capable of teaching at high levels for all students to learn. Since the NBCT process is notoriously difficult to complete (50% pass rate), and it's incredibly expensive on a teacher's salary, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards organization is revamping the timing of the process and the payment requirements to make the process more accessible to a wider range of teachers.  The 5 Core Propositions will not be changed, and the standards for each content area will not be lowered.  However, now candidates will have more than one year to complete all the required components, and the cost will be more evenly distributed over the three year time period for completing the process.  In addition to these financial and time supports, external organizations will increase the mentoring and support options for candidates pursuing the NB certification process.

After I achieved NB certification, I distinctly remember a time when I asked my principal if I could serve in other leadership capacities and was told no because my expertise was needed in the classroom.  The second aim of the #NT3 is to capitalize on the instructional expertise of NBC teachers so that NBCTs serve in more leadership roles. This particular aim pushes on the need for system leaders to recognize that teachers are an important improvement resource, and it also requires a shared understanding of the strong connection between board certification and instructional leadership roles.  Not all NBCTs have the same exact leadership strengths, so this second aim also strives to match NBCTs and their instructional expertise with the right teacher leadership roles.  For example, some NBCTs are effective with facilitating adult learning, so they work well with their colleagues in professional development settings or in instructional coaching roles. Other NBCTs have more expertise working with the community and parents, so they might serve in roles as community liaisons for a local school or district.  These two roles represent a tiny fraction of the leadership opportunities NBCTs deserve.  You see, all NBCTs (by virtue of completing the NBCT process) have demonstrated their ability as leaders because Entry 4 of the NBCT portfolio requires us to prove our leadership capacity to impact student achievement.

 NBPTS is looking at the medical profession model when seeking to transform the teaching profession and to make board certification more the norm.  Ron Thorpe, CEO and President of NBPTS, talked to us on the last day of our meeting about Paul Starr's book The Social Transformation of American Medicine.  The book is next on my reading list because according to Thorpe, it provides a model from which the teaching profession can learn.  In the nineteenth century, the medical field professionalized itself by changing the social structure of physicians.

I am hopeful with these two aims of  #NT3 that we will transform teaching and leading in education not only in Kentucky but in our entire country. Our students deserve equitable access to board certified teachers who have demonstrated mastery of content knowledge, the ability to design learning experiences that advance learning, the use of assessments to inform instructional decision making, and a commitment to parent, community, and colleague partnerships.

I believe we will see better teacher preparation and support to meet aim one, and that we will  begin seeing more hybrid roles for teachers and more NBCTs leading the education profession to meet aim two. Since Kentucky decided to participate in this important work with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, I believe we are demonstrating our state's commitment to advancing the work of committed and effective teachers who desire for all students to learn.

he reflective analyses that they submit must demonstrate:
1) A strong command of content;
2) The ability to design appropriate learning experiences that advance student learning;
3) The use of assessments to inform instructional decision making; and
4) Partnerships with colleagues, parents and the community.
- See more at: http://www.nbpts.org/national-board-certification%C2%AE#sthash.X51VlIpa.dpuf