May 23, 2016

As a National Board Certified Teacher, though you may not know it, you are already a TeachStrong Advocate.

As an Advocate, you should know that TeachStrong is releasing its first policy proposal tomorrow (May 24th)—on the importance of identifying and recruiting high-achieving, diverse teacher candidates—in Denver, Colorado. Tomorrow night, we will also be hosting our second TeachStrong Twitter Chat from 8:00 – 8:30 PM EST. As a teacher, you are invited to both events.

TeachStrong is a national campaign dedicated to modernizing and elevating the teaching profession. Sixty partner organizations have united in the belief that our nation’s students and teachers are not receiving the support and attention they need to thrive. The TeachStrong campaign centers around nine principles that address recruitment, teacher preparation, licensure, induction, compensation, collaboration and planning time, professional learning, and career pathways. There’s a reason why the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was the first partner organization to commit to the campaign: there are a myriad of similarities between the Five Core Propositions and the TeachStrong principles. The coalition now includes nearly 100 TeachStrong Ambassadors, teachers like me who champion the TeachStrong principles in our states, districts, schools, and communities.

We talk a lot about student needs when discussing education, and rightly so. However, to truly meet student needs and reduce the achievement gap, teachers must have relevant and rigorous preparation. This is especially true of early career teachers. I remember my first few years teaching and am envious of students in preparation programs who experience residency models and of teachers in states and districts that have well-structured induction programs. I spent an incredible amount of time and energy searching for mentors and resources as I began my career. Other professionals don’t have to do this, and teachers shouldn’t either. Imagine if a new doctor scrubbed up for surgery and was expected to provide his or her own scalpel and hygienic supplies—only after spending the night researching “how to perform surgery” online.

National Board Certification should be the norm among educators because all students deserve highly accomplished teachers. However, this won’t be the case until teacher preparation and licensure are strengthened and teachers are given the opportunity to grow as professionals with relevant, job-embedded professional learning and career pathways. This is where TeachStrong comes in. Each TeachStrong principle addresses a crucial stage of a teacher’s career path.

I am so passionate about TeachStrong because I had the chance to create a hybrid role with my principal that allows me to teach, work with pre-service teachers, coach early career teachers, and be part of the administrative team for our program. My career pathway kept me in the profession. As educators, if we want to change the narrative around education in this country, we need to continue advocating for effective education policies. Of the nearly 100 Ambassadors who joined the TeachStrong coalition, 13 were nominated by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and many other National Board Certified teachers were nominated by other partner organizations. The Ambassadors participate in policy discussions, connect with policymakers, and promote the campaign in their communities and professional networks. Most likely, you already advocate for the nine TeachStrong principles through your interactions in your community. Becoming an official TeachStrong Advocate will connect you with the NBCT TeachStrong Ambassadors and the greater TeachStrong community through weekly emails, social media events, and other activities.

What can you do to support TeachStrong? Sign the TeachStrong petition, talk with your legislators and community members about how the TeachStrong principles promote equity and access for teachers and students, and become an official TeachStrong Advocate today.

Gina Wilson, NBCT

Gina Wilson is a Lead Teacher and CORE Advisor at the Early College Alliance @ Eastern Michigan University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Mathematics and a director for the MI National Board Certified Teachers Network. She is also a Michigan Educator Voice Fellow through America Achieves, a Collaborative for Student Success Teacher Champion, and a TeachStrong Ambassador. Prior to her teaching career, she worked as an environmental engineer and earned a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Follow her at @GinaWilsonNBCT.