By Frank Wickizer – “It’s not an award, but National Board Certification,” said Math Teacher Pat Janike.
Interestingly enough, as official as this sounds, it does not open a lot of doors for him, but what it does do is even better. This process of getting national board certification was one that led him to self reflect and improve his teaching. It did this by having him write reflections on his teaching, and by denying him certification the first time he applied for this certification.
This certification is decided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
“To get certified you have to demonstrate you are at a higher level of teaching.” Janike added, “I had to record a few lessons, write reflections about my teaching, I had to turn in evidence of lesson plans and activities in the classroom. It ended up being over 100 pages. It was a lot of work and took me a couple of years to compile all this.” Being certified is rare in Nebraska, only 3% of teachers in LPS have their certification, but in other places, it is much more common. Albuquerque Public Schools requires teachers to become certified after a certain amount of time of teaching.
By doing this rare Nebraskan feat, he reported, “…though it doesn’t open up any possibilities but caused me to reflect on my teaching and improved my teaching.”
The reflection he had on his teaching was deep. This reflection required him to rethink his teaching. This rethinking was caused by a few things, but foremost is the fact that he failed certification.
He said, “I had to really reconsider what I thought was good teaching and what teaching meant to me and what teaching meant to the National Board Organization. It allowed me to look more critically at how to become a better teacher in my classroom.” The board wasn’t searching for a lecturer that can do super complex math problems, they were searching for someone who engages with the students and allows the students to engage with each other. He says, “What I think it really improved was my dialogue, not just me being a lecturer but having students talk to students about the class. I wanted students to be explaining what things mean more and having more discussion and talking to each other.” This shows that what is important to the National Board is the engagement.
Though this certification doesn’t mean much to him in monetary value, it seemed priceless to him to improve his teaching in such a way. “I would definitely recommend this for other teachers. Just because of the amount of growth that I went through. I feel like it’s a worthwhile process.” He addressed. Although Nebraska does not require this certification, many states do for a reason, and that reason is the Board is wanting a higher level of teaching in our country to be a standard, it’s our choice to either take up the challenge or smile and wave as our education system falls at the wayside.