A team of 30 teachers in Albany is studying to improve and assess their own teaching skills as part of a process that could lead to National Board Certification, thanks to the support of their local union.
Using a program called Take One! the teachers are being guided on how to analyze their teaching by planning a unit, videotaping it and describing their teaching.
They will learn more about standards-based practices to improve teaching. The process serves not only as professional development, but as a sample of the longer, more in-depth process that is required for full certification.
The Albany Public School Teachers Association paid the participation fee and purchased video cameras and laptop computers to help with the project, according to Rita Floess, one of two National Board Certified teachers in the district. Schools participating in groups are offered reduced rates by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Working as a group with Take One! is worthwhile because teachers will support one another, said Cathy Corbo, Albany PSTA president.
"We're very excited by this, and actually very encouraged," Corbo said. "That's the professional direction we want to move our people in."
She said the local union also has a professional development incentive for all members who take courses through the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said, "We support every instance, like this one in Albany, where our locals and their instructors take initiative to craft professional development that is meaningful and based on solid research."
The NBPTS offers Take One! to provide standards-based approaches for improving teaching practice.
Teachers prepare a video portfolio entry from a certificate area of National Board Certification. The score from this project can then be transferred for teachers who decide to pursue national certification.
"We were told by the national board that we were the only (large group) local supported by their union," said Floess. She noted that the Albany district supports the process by reserving a conference day for participants to pursue their improvement.
As New York Teacher went to press, the national board was notifying teachers whether they had qualified for teaching's gold standard. Watch future issues for reports on New York's national board achievers.
For more information
NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust helps those seeking National Board Certification with online discussion forums, classes and advice. Call (800) 342-9810, ext. 6040, or visit www.nysut.org/elt.