Being a teacher means continuing to learn

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Amelia Brown
Amelia Brown

We ask our students to do challenging things every day, shouldn’t we as teachers do the same?​ More than 3,000 teachers in Kentucky say yes.

​In February, the state of Kentucky took time to celebrate the accomplishments of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) across the Commonwealth. ​This increases our total NBCTs by more than 10 percent, with 316 Kentucky teachers achieving certification just this year. Two of these newly certified teachers come from my own Kenton County School District. Congratulations to Emily Harmon (Hinsdale Elementary) and Jennifer Phipps (Piner Elementary)!

There are now currently 3,601 National Board Certified Teachers in Kentucky schools serving our most precious asset across the Commonwealth. Kentucky ranks 5th in the number of NBCTs nationally. This is reason to celebrate. The more highly qualified teachers we have in our classrooms, the more students that will benefit and reap the rewards.

Seeing all of the excitement on social media surrounding last month’s celebration has me reflecting on my own certification process six years ago. I love to learn. I honestly can’t get enough of it. So after completing my master’s degree, I was eager for the next thing.

A dear friend and teaching partner asked if I was interested in going to an information session about National Board Certification. After learning more, I knew this was my next step. It was a big step and not a decision to be taken lightly. It would take a lot of time.

I realized it also would take a lot of money. The total cost for the initial attempt at all four components is $1,900. However, the process has been revised to make it more accessible for teachers’ budgets and schedules. You can now pay only for the components you plan to take in an assessment cycle and you can take from one to three years to complete all four.

Knowing the benefit highly effective teachers have on students, Kentucky also supports certification with a rank increase and salary stipend. Other than time and money, I realized this decision would require a great amount of effort and energy if I was to be successful.

The process was so meaningful. It was a professional development journey that completely involved my own students, in my own classroom, using my own relevant lessons in real time. I wrote and wrote and wrote about my practice. I took videos of myself in my classroom with my students and analyzed, analyzed, analyzed.

With the help of the Northern Kentucky Extension Office, I joined a community of teachers from around the tri-state area who also were pursuing certification. With them, I was able to share and my pedagogy and receive genuine feedback. This, in turn, led to a deep appreciation of the value of collaborating with teachers from a variety of backgrounds and expertise.

But for me, the thing that had the biggest impact was how much completing National Board certification required me to reflect. This process required me to scrutinize my teaching at an intensely detailed level. Every day of the process I learned to ask myself deeper and deeper questions about how my students were learning and how effectively I was teaching. I do believe this is what spurred some of the biggest takeaways for me. A teacher’s reflective practice undoubtedly leads to both professional and student growth.

These practices – writing, analyzing, collaborating and reflecting – they weren’t just practices that I refined for the certification process. These became practices I naturally incorporate into my teaching every day. This is true of all National Board Certified teachers. Imagine the effect this is having on student learning.

As a teacher, every single day counts and every moment matters. We should all be seeking more and wanting to be better than yesterday.

If you are a teacher, get to know the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards at the organization’s website​. National Board Certification is a choice, but it’s a choice I highly recommend.

 

Amelia Brown is a kindergarten teacher at Taylor Mill Elementary School (Kenton County). She is a National Board Certified Teacher in early and middle childhood literacy. She is a 2017-18 Hope Street Group teacher fellow.

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