David B. Cohen, NBCT

David B. Cohen is a National Board Certified English Teacher and the Blog Editor of The Standard. Cohen taught high school English for 12 years in Palo Alto, Ca. For several years, Cohen co-directed a teacher leadership network called Accomplished California Teachers (ACT). That experience gave him opportunities to learn about and work with teachers from all over California. Having worked with a variety of other networks and organizations, and having built relationships with individuals and groups around the state, Cohen is currently working on a book about excellence in California public education. Follow him on twitter @CohenD.
At Least They Didn’t Fire Me: Reflections on Work and Learning
David B. Cohen, NBCTJanuary 2, 2019

My earliest experiences in the workplace occurred back in high school, and each setting provided some memorable failures. As a volunteer in our local hospital, I made mistakes like goofing off in a wheelchair trying to improve my speed going up and down an isolated basement corridor. A more unsettling mistake was my clumsy and protracted effort to tell an elderly, agitated, blind patient why I was delivering a newspaper to her room. My first paid work was doing some filing in my dad’s medical office. I developed a crush on the office accountant and when work was slow I…

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7 Experiences New Teachers Should Seek Out for a More Satisfying Career
David B. Cohen, NBCTNovember 15, 2018

Congratulations, or belated congratulations, on starting your new (still relatively new) career! While teaching could certainly be a more lucrative profession, it offers a variety of rewarding experiences you can’t find in any other work. The relationships we build with students, families, and communities can be powerful, even transformative. Knowing the work our fellow teachers are doing, we also have the opportunity to make contributions to our profession, and indirectly affect the learning and the lives of even more students. If your teaching preparation was like mine, and like that of most teachers I know, you may have focused so…

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You’d Think We’d Have School Figured Out by Now, Right?
David B. Cohen, NBCTMarch 13, 2018

Thousands of studies, hundreds of thousands of schools, and millions of teachers, decades of practice… you’d think we’d have school figured out by now, right? And in many ways, I think we do. It’s not mysterious work. For every problem in schools today, there are answers. We have plenty of models to learn from, to improve literacy and numeracy, to start project-based learning and service learning programs, to institute trauma-informed schooling, to educate students with special needs, to integrate technology, maker-spaces, engineering and design, to improve teacher induction and mentorship, to foster professional learning communities, to redesign teacher evaluation, compensation,…

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Through the Years at the National Board Resource Center
David B. Cohen, NBCTFebruary 13, 2018

There’s a building on the Stanford University campus called the Center for Education Research at Stanford – CERAS – that holds a special place in my life. From the outside, it’s not especially interesting, and you can’t quite get a complete view of the building from any exterior vantage point. The interior has a unique open-center design, with all of the offices and classrooms arrayed on opposite sides and facing each other from a slightly offset elevation. I spent many long hours in CERAS while I worked on my master’s degree and teaching credential in the Stanford Teacher Education Program,…

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Taking responsibility for professional practices
David B. Cohen, NBCTJuly 29, 2016

This blog post is the conclusion in a series of three posts suggesting we can push accomplished teachers even further with regard to some professional practices. Part One suggested that teachers must be more willing to meet students and families where they are – online. Part Two focused on the need to improve practices around homework, assessment, and grading. National Board Certified Teachers understand and exemplify the drive to improve teaching, and the value of working with professional peers. The certification process demands clear evidence, convincing analysis, and consistent reflection that will lead to that improvement. Like most teachers, NBCTs…

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Letting go of “We’ve always done it this way” (Part 2 of 3)
David B. Cohen, NBCTJuly 5, 2016

If you want to start with Part One in this series of blog posts, here’s the link, though the sequencing is not essential. Being a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) is a source of pride for me, providing both a sense of professional accomplishment and sense of professional companionship with leaders in my field. The certification process provides us with a shared set of concepts and terms we can use to guide our ongoing learning and the improvement of our practices. Sometimes, the quest for improvement keeps us in comfortable territory, eager to try new materials and lessons that fit…

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Can we push accomplished teachers even further? (Part 1 of 3)
David B. Cohen, NBCTJune 16, 2016

The hallmarks of accomplished teaching are analysis and reflection, the disposition to think carefully about teaching and learning, past and future, with the goal of constant improvement. I think every teacher I know, and certainly every National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), has the drive to improve. After all, no one wants to devise and deliver an ineffective lesson, and it’s never a pleasant experience to pick up the pieces of fragmented instruction when we occasionally mess up. And when we see the positive results of our efforts, the sense of satisfaction and utter joy can last for days. I wish…

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What does a culturally competent classroom look like?
David B. Cohen, NBCTMarch 13, 2016

The Saturday [March 12] morning plenary session at the National Board’s Teaching and Learning Conference offered a powerful conversation about race and education. While I’m sure it benefitted everyone in attendance, I found it particularly powerful because it shows some continuity in focus from the National Board. Last year’s conference featured a similar panel discussion on cultural competency. During the summer academy in Scottsdale, National Board helped network leaders from around the country go deeper into those conversations. David Johns reprised his role as moderator extraordinaire, keeping the conversation balanced and well-paced, and engaging a large audience effectively as well.…

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Shifting the Culture
David B. Cohen, NBCTJuly 22, 2015

Visionary. Advocate. Transformative Leader. These words were on the screen Tuesday morning at the National Board Academy in Scottsdale, AZ, as Dr. Mike Lee asked us to consider the small steps, the decisions of individual teachers at their schools, that are necessary to transform our professional culture broadly. These particular words were widely used by people describing National Board President and CEO Ron Thorpe in the wake of his passing on July 1. For the teachers and education leaders attending this meeting, the challenge is to take on a some of those same qualities, to advance the goals Thorpe articulated so well. Thorpe…

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A Sense of Purpose and Direction
David B. Cohen, NBCTMarch 4, 2015

This week I was invited by a local community organization to speak at Career Night for a small group of teens. It was a first for me, and quite a different experience from other public speaking I’ve done. When I talk to teens, it’s usually as a teacher or advisor, and when I talk about the teaching profession, it’s usually to adults with some stake in the discussion. So, instead of preparing remarks about teacher leadership, evaluation, or career pathways, instead of talking about education policy or equity, curriculum or assessment, I had a much different set of questions to…

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