Education Opinion

You May Say That I’m a Dreamer . . .

By Susan Graham — July 21, 2008 3 min read
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Imagine . . .

What if classroom teachers were acknowledged as experts on what teachers should know and be able to do?

What if classroom teachers were critical partners in determining the quality of teacher preparation?

What if classroom teachers worked alongside university faculty as colleagues?

What if classroom teachers really did find a place at the table?

You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one… because two things happened this week that were beyond my dreams a couple of years ago.

On Thursday, my TeacherSolutions partners from The Center for Teaching Quality -- Nancy Flanagan, Patrick Ledesma, and Andy Kuemmel -- sat in the Sam Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, briefing policymakers on the research we did about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The trio represented our 10-person NBCT research team (and NBCT voices from across the country) in making the case for the value and continuing importance of a national standard for accomplished teaching.

Our report, Measuring What Matters: The Effects of National Board Certification on Advancing 21st Century Teaching and Learning is a meta-analysis of the voluminous NBCT impact research, from the perspective of teachers who have earned the credential. With support from the Center for Teaching Quality, we spent many months studying the research and participating in live on-line discussions with top teacher quality scholars across the country (something I never dreamed I would do) before drafting our research and policy suggestions. I wish I could have been there with them to share the fruits of our work.

Instead, I was on the West Coast with about 20 teachers and an equal number of college and university faculty who prepare teachers for the profession. We came from across the country and across the education spectrum from preschool to graduate school. We were all in training together to serve on the Board of Examiners for NCATE -- the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

We were in sunny California (I know this because we could see it through the hotel atrium roof), but this was no vacation. From Saturday till Thursday we struggled to wrap our heads around the Council’s accreditation standards. We dug through a mountain of evidence. We debated—sometimes forcefully—about the recommendations we would make. We wrote our report into the wee hours of the morning. We proofed and polished and then we faced a rather stringent review of our work. Teachers and teacher educators worked side by side as peers, learning to assess the quality of programs that prepare the next generation of teachers.

As I pause to reflect on all this recent professional activity, I realize that I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before. I’m doing quite a lot of it for little or no extra compensation, and I’m loving every minute of it. Why? What does all this mean?

It means I’m no longer “just a teacher.” I am surprised and humbled to discover that I have become a teacher leader and have the opportunity to a contributing member of the education profession if I’m willing to accept the challenge. It requires I be informed. It requires I keep an open mind and a respectful demeanor. It requires that I assume good intentions and live with compromise. I requires I never neglect my students in order to serve my profession.

It’s a lot to take on, and it’s a little scary sometimes, but there is important work on the table and good company around it. And I’m noticing that more and more of that company is made up of teachers.



I hope some day you will join us…….

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.