Saturday, January 7, 2012

Growing their craft, growing their culture

Toni Konz at the Courier-Journal has a great story up on teachers at Atkinson Elementary pursuing National Board Certification. Seven teachers have already completed the extensive process of study, reflection, expert feedback, and peer review that leads to recognition as a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), and they are now mentoring two more colleagues working through the same process.

Leila Smith, one of the teachers working toward NBCT now, is quoted as saying “It’s been pretty stressful... but this is something I decided to do because I want to grow as a teacher. It’s important for me to be the very best teacher that I can be for my students.”

What stands out most in this story, though, isn't that wonderful individual push to develop deeper skills, but the team approach to changing a profession and a building in ways that work for kids.

Atkinson is moving toward a culture where NBCT-style excellence moves from being a rarity to being a familiar part of a professional career. It won't ever be a step that everyone on the faculty has to take, but it may well become a part that everyone will consider taking.

The Atkinson team is also using that team work as a direct response to the school-wide challenge of historically rapid teacher turnover.  It's a high-poverty school where it has long been common for teachers to transfer out after two or three years.  Supporting NBCT work is a way to make the school a better place to work and a more appealing place to stay.

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