30 November 2010

Proposition 1

As you may have read, I've decided NOT to pursue National Board Certification, at least at this time. I've not written the process off completely, but I won't be doing it as a part of this Master's Program. However, that doesn't mean I am immune to the good practice that NBPTS promotes and cultivates. Thinking about the core propositions is a good idea. So, what about Proposition 1?

It states the following:

Proposition 1: Teachers are Committed to Students and Their Learning

  • NBCTs are dedicated to making knowledge accessible to all students. They believe all students can learn.

  • They treat students equitably. They recognize the individual differences that distinguish their students from one another and they take account for these differences in their practice.

  • NBCTs understand how students develop and learn.

  • They respect the cultural and family differences students bring to their classroom.

  • They are concerned with their students’ self-concept, their motivation and the effects of learning on peer relationships.

  • NBCTs are also concerned with the development of character and civic responsibility.

I'll take it one bullet point at a time:

"They believe all students can learn." Do I really believe this? Well, I struggle with this for two reasons (actually one, but it sounds better to say two). As a science teacher, I don't believe anything! I either accept the evidence or reject the evidence, there is no room for belief in science (other than a basic belief that most people are honest and are not out to fleece their fellow man/woman). So, what does the data say? Where is the evidence that all students can learn? I have run across a few students who seemed not at all interested in learning what I was trying to teach. So, does that mean they weren't able to learn? I doubt it. What it probably meant was that they were being "taught" by a teacher who was bull-headed and very inexperienced. As I move further into my teaching career, I am building a fantastic toolbox from which I can pull more and more specialized tools. I am learning to engage learners as they come to me, instead of trying to engage them as I come to them. I can see growth in my teaching methods, specifically in my engagement of difficult and un-motivated students. In fact, I'm trying to learn what motivates students by asking them that exact question.

"They treat students equitably." I strive for this in every aspect of my student engagement. Whether it is harassing every student who is roaming the halls during my plan (harassing is too strong a word, more like challenging) or whether it is recognizing that my students come from a variety of backgrounds with a multitude of worldviews. This really seems like a no-brainer since we begin the year talking about perception and how that colors your worldview and affects the way in which students observe their surroundings. For instance, what I might perceive as yellow might look more orange to another person and this is based on both nature and nurture. In the same way, students might perceive the importance of an education in different ways. It's my job (and privilege) to engage them on in a way that makes what we are learning relevant to their lives.

"NBCTs understand how students develop and learn." If a teacher doesn't understand the basics of human development, specifically as it applies to the age they are teaching, they have absolutely no business being a teacher. Teachers must understand this or students will be getting instruction that might not be age (or developmentally) appropriate. Enough said.

"They respect the cultural and family differences students bring to their classroom." I personally have had a difficult time with this issue since I was just a little blond-haired kid, growing up in Southwestern Louisiana. I was not necessarily brought up to respect those people who were different from me. I was raised to notice those who were different than I, but taught to believe they were inferior to my "type". It was very difficult to realize this as an adult. I firmly believe that education, at least for me, has been the Great Equalizer. My education has taught me tolerance for others and respect for those who "look/act/believe differently" than I. My students do not come from the same culture as me. My students do not have the same experiences I had as a child. My students do not come from the same cultural/socio-economic/religious background as I. However, that doesn't make them "worse" than me. Who in the world can define "worse" anyway? It's all about perception! (Please see previous paragraph.)

"They are concerned with their students’ self-concept, their motivation and the effects of learning on peer relationships." As a person who has sturggled (and still does struggle) with self-concept, I can empathize with students. Maybe it's the result of self-imposed doubt or environmental factors that cause students to not be able to see that they are important and have something constructive to add to every situation. No matter the reason or cause, every student is able to achieve their best. I recognize "best" means many different levels. This is why teachers must differentiate instruction to meet each students needs. As a result, teachers need to know what student's needs are before they can be successful at meeting those needs. I have recently been discussing the issue of student motivation with students. Many of them aren't even sure what motivates them. As a teacher, its extremely difficult to motivate students when they aren't even sure what makes them want to be their best.

"NBCTs are also concerned with the development of character and civic responsibility." Surely there are not teachers who still are in the profession who don't want their students to be upstanding citizens with some sense of civic duty? After all, don't taxpaying citizens pay teacher salaries? I know, this isn't a legitimate reason to be concerned with this. Character and civic responsibility begins with classroom behavior. A classroom is a community and student's have to learn to how to be a part of that community. If they do, this can put them on the road to functioning as citizens who add value to the community of which they are a part.

So, what grade would I give myself on these issues? I would say "Needs Improvement" and say that with pride. I would say that I always need improvement in every area of my practice. However, that's true of any teacher and the best teachers are the ones who recognize it and do something about it. That's the reason I write on this blog. Reflection. It helps my students and it helps me.

No comments:

Post a Comment