Part Three: What if my child is taught by a non-NBCT?
In this series of posts about National Board Certified Teachers, I have extolled the benefits of certification for both teacher and student.
An inevitable and important question for parents: what if my child is taught by a non-NBCT? Does that mean my child isn’t receiving the best education possible?
A National Board Certified Teacher has demonstrated excellence in teaching, but that does not mean that NBCTs have cornered the market on excellence. Of course many excellent teachers are not Board Certified!
To be National Board Certified, a teacher must submit to a long, expensive, and voluntary process of evaluation. NBCT pre-candidacy classes (that prepare teachers for the assessment process) caution that weddings, small children, cross-country moves, and family obligations are very real reasons to postpone an attempt at certification. Additionally, some districts give incentives for teachers to pursue National Board Certification—and some districts don’t. If there is no incentive or financial support for NBCTs in a district, teachers may choose to attain an advanced degree or do additional coursework in their field rather than pursue National Board Certification.
Be aware that your child’s teacher must achieve high standards simply to become certified in your state. License requirements vary by state, but you know that a combination of bachelor’s degree in education, experience as a teaching intern, and qualifying scores on a statewide assessment figure into the mix.
There are other measures of teaching excellence: advanced degrees such as a M.Ed. (Master’s of Education), Ed.D (Doctor of Education) and Ph.D. in Education. You might be surprised at the advanced degrees your child’s teacher holds. I have known kindergarten and first grade teachers who held PhDs.
Many teachers enter the profession after a successful career in another field. Teachers might be former lawyers, accountants, or business professionals. Troops to Teachers helps eligible military personnel begin new careers as teachers. Your child’s teacher—even if it is her first year of teaching—could be bringing an amazing wealth of experience to the classroom.
Often, teachers come from a long family tradition in education. Many of my colleagues are second, third, fourth (or more) generation teachers. They enter the profession with incredible ranges of experiences and perspectives in education.
Bottom line: teachers care about children. Anyone who is that deeply committed achieves excellence as a matter of course.