Editor’s Note: Java Robinson, NBCT, teaches second grade in Montgomery County, Md. She supports her colleagues in pursuing and achieving Board certification as a coach, recruitment coordinator and candidate support provider. She is also a Teach Ambassador, working to recruit minority candidates into the teaching profession. The views expressed in this blog are her own.
“Hi, I remember you from National Board support sessions. How can I help?”
That was refreshing to hear from a newly certified NBCT. But what can we do to keep the enthusiasm up for others? Unfortunately, once they become NBCTs, many teachers never consider doing more to advance the profession, if they were even asked. Life goes on. But what about those that come after?
So what really happens after you become Board certified? In Montgomery County, Md., we say that once you have achieved, you need to pay it forward.
As educators for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), we are blessed with the level of support that is provided to us. The state of Maryland is invested in having NBCTs in every classroom. Therefore, a scholarship is offered to every educator interested in achieving Board certification. This is the first reason an NBCT might feel inclined in paying it forward.
From there Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) works closely with MCPS to form a National Board candidate support group, to help guide new candidates through the certification process. Two sessions are offered during the summer — a one day session called Ignition (to spark candidates’ thinking), and a four-day session called Launch (to give candidates an in-depth look at components, standards and rubrics). Then, throughout the year, Saturday sessions are offered to help candidates delve deeper into these areas, along with topics such as the three types of writing for portfolios, and effective videorecording. Every candidate has a coach available to support them through the process.
So what is the problem? Well, of the 700 NBCTs in Montgomery County, only about 150 ever answers the call to be more involved with recruitment, coaching and supporting candidates. And of those who respond to request, only about 50 actually follow through with action. I understand that teachers get so bogged down with everyday tasks that they feel overwhelmed, making it difficult for teachers to take on other responsibilities such as recruitment or candidate support.
What can we do to change this trend? It starts with recruiting our most recently certified teachers and getting them involved. Newly achieved NBCTs have a fire that burns in them and they are willing to share that fire with others. They are inclined to become the leaders we seek in their schools, their communities and throughout the district. By staying engaged, the NBCT can help to transform education on local, state and national levels.
When I achieved in 2012, I answered that call, as that burning fire drove me to become actively engaged. I have found it a rewarding experience to work with candidates, as well as those thinking about becoming candidates. This experience has given me the opportunity to leave my classroom and work with adult learners. Just like many educators, I found working with adults to be a slightly scary and daunting task at first. I overcame my hesitancy and have since come to view the work in a different light: working with adult learners is similar to classroom management, focusing on the individual needs of your students.
So when does recruitment end? NEVER! It just takes on a new meaning and a new purpose. National Board Certified Teachers are needed in schools, in communities and throughout the nation, to continue to help others on their path to becoming the accomplished teacher that their students deserve.