Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What I meant to say!




Last night I was lucky enough to introduce Billings NBCT’s, goo.gl/JZ1gc4, to our board of trustees. I was more nervous than I ever have been speaking to others and in reflection it’s because what our Billings NBCT’s have accomplished is humbling and I wanted to honor them. Just read what their peers say about them at goo.gl/bOheoz.

But, what I meant to say last night was...

National Board Certified teachers, we call them NBCT’s, have stepped up and taken a risk of time, money and vulnerability to improve education by going through the process of National Board Certification. The process is portfolio based and includes video, student work, student assessment evidence, extensive pages of written reflection and lastly a test that assesses content knowledge, the NBCT 5 core propositions and the NBCT standards in the certificate area chosen. It’s hard to describe the process because it is unlike any other assessment I have had of myself, not only is your knowledge assessed but so is your ability to work with students and to give beyond the walls of your classroom. The passing rate the first time is only 40% and the process is completely voluntary.

As a professional teacher that's been through the process, and is now renewing, I can say it’s the greatest professional growth experiences I have been a part of. NBCT Rod Gottula recently said….”There's no way to go through the process and not improve”. And his statement is supported by much evidence, shown in the impact brief shared with you, goo.gl/KAx91h.  You can see knowledge gained by a student in a National Board Certified Teachers classroom is up to 1-2 months more than in a non-certified teachers’ class. We have many highly qualified teachers but due to all the risks and costs mentioned prior many don’t attempt the NBCT journey. Today we are celebrating those with who not only attempted but also achieved the outstanding title of NBCT. Only 1% of teachers in the state of MT have earned the title National Board Certification and only about three-quarters of those are still working in education. But, Billings is lucky enough to have 23 working National Board Certified teachers due to great support of colleagues, administration, our union and family and friends.

Just as earning the title of  Certified Public Accountant or American Board of Surgery Certified becoming board certified as an accomplished teacher is the summit. NBCT and TOY Craig Beals recently shared the statement “When you or a family member get sick you want the best medical care you can find. You will seek out the best doctor, hospital or specialist because you expect nothing less. This is his same expectation in education for all students.” And to emphasize his point let me ask this question? “Who would you want to do surgery on a loved one, or yourself? A certified surgeon or one that you have heard is nice?”. Of course there are many nice and amazing teachers but if my loved one is going to spend hours with in a classroom that shapes their thinking, confidence and personality I want that teacher to be highly qualified.

Billings students spend about 15,824 hours in our schools and Nationally Board Certified Teachers ensure each of these hours focuses on academic growth. Community members, parents and the student can know they are in excellent hands when entering nearly all classes in Billings but especially those of an NBCT. The 4 R’s of rigor, relevance, relationships and results is systematically planned, reflected upon and proven by achieving board certification.

Most importantly NBCT’s focus on relationships with parents, students and the community to ensure they provide the greatest holistic opportunity for success. Not only do they do all this for their students, they are also leaders and active participants in their learning communities.

But why are we celebrating? As mentioned Billings currently has 23 working NBCT’s and originally I wanted to share all the outside activities that build positive relationships and prove (beyond board certification) they are the cream of the crop. But the rewards, peer comments, activities and extracurricular service would go on and on. Here is a brief highlight of the gifts they have given beyond being absolute gems in the classroom:
  • Coaching various sports
  • Coaching Forensics
  • Leading STEM society
  • sponsoring student council or career and technical organizations for students,
  • sitting on school response to intervention teams,
  • being department leaders,
  • training others in technology, pedagogy and content
  • leading other National Board candidates,
  • being awarded Golden Apples and BEA Teacher of the Year awards,
  • earning Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Math and Technology,
  • Serving as Teacher Leadership Fellows,
  • Participating as Early Career Coaches,
  • serving on Advanced Placement National Committees,
  • earning the title of Teacher of the Year
  • and more
If I were to continue on the many treasures to education we would be here all night. The amazing dedication these teachers bring to our system inside and outside of the classroom is truly a representation of being an accomplished education professional.

I’m going to use some acronyms so let me start by sharing what they stand for: EC is Early Childhood, MC is Middle Childhood, EA is Early Adolescence and YA is Young Adult. Several of our folks have certification that are in more than one area. Alright then, let’s introduce these folks!

  • Erin Augustine is an extended studies' teacher at several schools and is certified EC to YA in Exceptional Needs
  • Margaret Aukshun is a Math Teacher at West High and certified in AYA Mathematics
  • Dan Bartsch is a Science Teacher at Senior High and certified in AYA Science with an emphasis in Biology
  • Craig Beals is a Science Teacher at Senior High and certified in AYA Science
  • Julie Blakeslee is a general music teacher at Boulder and Broadwater and is certified EMC in music
  • Kim Busch is a Reading and 5th grade teacher at Big Sky Elementary and is certified EMC Literacy
  • Kate Cordes is an English teacher at Senior High and certified in AYA English Language Arts
  • Deanne Gemmill is a Math Teacher at West High and certified in AYA Mathematics
  • Rod Gottula is an administrator at West High and certified in AYA English Language Arts
  • Kerry Gruizenga is a Math Teacher at Skyview High and certified in AYA Mathematics
  • Deb Kelley is a Foreign Language Teacher at Skyview High and certified in World Language EAYA
  • Larry McMullen is a Science Teacher at Senior High and certified in AYA Science
  • Kate McPherson is an English Teacher at Senior High and certified in AYA English Language Arts
  • Dr. Jeff Meide is a Tech Ed and Wood Shop Teacher at West High and certified in EAYA Career and Technical Education
  • Lora Pederson is a Reading Intervention Teacher at Meadowlark Elementary and certified in EMC Literacy
  • Kathy Pfaffinger is an English Teacher at Skyview and certified in AYA English Language Arts
  • Karen Rice is a Reading Specialist at Bench Elementary and certified in EMC Literacy
  • Tiffany Rodriguez is a 1st grade teacher at Ponderosa Elementary and certified in EMC Literacy
  • Shelly Stanton is a Technology Integration Specialist and certified in EAYA Career and Technical Education
  • Nate Talafuse is an administrator at Riverside and certified in AYA Science
  • Cindy Welch is a 7th grade Teacher at Lewis and Clark and certified as an MC Generalist
  • Shirley Waldron is a special education teacher who runs the pre-school at the Career Center, she is certified EC to YA Exceptional Needs
  • Janelle Wilson is a 2nd grade teacher at Arrowhead and is certified in EC Literacy
#NBCTstrong