By Dr. Mary Ann Manos
Faculty, College of Education
Excellent teaching has many levels. In a single classroom moment, competent teachers make decisions on many aspects and levels of learning. They must adequately judge content, student interaction, curriculum, assessment levels, school policy implementation, legal impact and interpersonal skills all in the same decision.
No one can doubt the act of teaching is rich and vibrant. On the other hand, some will say that the art of teaching is innate and intuitive. They say that effective teachers are born, not made.
National Board Certified Teachers shreds that myth. National board certification describes the skill of teaching as knowing what helps students learn, as well as being able to explicitly unpack those finite skills in a professional setting- among teaching peers. National board certification is predicated on identifying high standards for best teaching practice and requiring the demonstration of a keen understanding of content, the learning process and kids.
I sought NBCT certification AFTER completing my doctorate – not the usual flow of post-secondary education. I wanted to hone my teaching skills from a 20-year classroom career. I was also drawn by the challenge of the first nation-wide board certification in the teaching profession. If there was more to know about best teaching practice, I wanted to experience it. I am so glad I did. I was board certified in 2001. Then, the process was less than 15 years old. Now, longitudinal research studies of four decades describe more about the way NBCT certified teachers impact students in the classroom and their home school districts.
The current research shows NBCT teachers have an overall effect of raising teaching expertise in their home districts, establishing watermarks of professional accomplishments, improving the learning process and increased learning gains for their students. The NBCTS site – nbpts.org – provides ample rigorous independent studies based in large school districts – Washington State, Chicago and Kentucky districts. The studies seem to show students’ learning gains of as much as four months or more in NBCT led classrooms.
The Chicago studies show high schools students’ (led by NBCT teachers in English and Math) standardized tests scores are improved over those students led by non-NBCT teachers. Improved high school test scores translate to better education opportunities for high school graduates, as well as increased earnings and enriched lives. Better teachers mean brighter futures.
Why do students, especially low-income and minority students, increase learning gains in classrooms led by NBCT teachers? The answer – use of best practice techniques based on informed teaching.
We know action research and clinical practice has shown the following statement to be true. Effective teaching results in increased student learning. How can one be an effective teacher if no one in their classroom is learning? Students benefit from teachers who are competent, informed and surgically accurate in assessment. Students benefit from teachers who show they care in positive manner, stimulate student interest thru guided inquiry and insist on inclusion and accountability of learning for all students. Kids benefit from active involvement in the lesson, as well as the guided practice that follows. The NBCT candidate must be able to show what they know and describe how those decisions impact learning in their students, community and profession.
NBCT teachers earn certification by intensive scrutiny of their actual practice, including detailed verbalization of their teaching process, their students and the content area they teach. The certification portfolios, built around established standards and dispositions of effective teaching, inspect all classroom instructional decisions.
Further, the candidate for NBCT must be able to describe and demonstrate the savvy interaction of curriculum content, positive discipline, effective teaching and informed decisions in their daily practice. Candidate teachers must demonstrate expertise in the act of teaching through teaching narratives and classroom videos. Self- reflection shines a light on the critical decision- making in the flow, planning and implementation of lesson.
Finally, teachers describe professional involvement, community understanding and their own continued teaching improvement. All these elements add to the environment of learning in the classroom. The candidate videos and portfolio narratives are assessed by NBCT certified teachers. Intensive is an inadequate word for the process.
National Board certification encourages teacher excellence. The successful NBCT commits to raise the bar of teaching in their home districts and schools, impacting state policy and enhancing the science of teaching. The NBCT process results in life-long learning for those who diligently lead learning every day.
If you hope to inspire minds and change lives through education, consider enrolling in Grand Canyon University’s prestigious College of Education. Visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page to get started on your academic journey today.
More About Mary Ann, PhD
Dr. Mary Ann Manos has 25 years as a classroom teacher in Elementary and middle school levels. She has also served in the public school Principalship and Superintendency. She has taught university classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels for more than 16 years. She is the published author of two books and many articles on classroom teaching. Dr. Manos holds a PhD. from the University of Texas at Austin. She was NBCT certified in 2001 in Early Adolescent /English Language Arts. Dr. Manos serves Grand Canyon as a Site Supervisor for student teachers.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.