Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Newbie's Reflection on the Alabama NBCT Conference

When I arrived at Spain Park High School for the ALNBCT conference on Saturday, January 25, I was not looking to be convinced that national board certification is the next step I want to take as an educator and a learner.  Nearly every moment of the day, however, confirmed the high regard in which I hold national board certified teachers and reaffirmed my commitment to work toward that goal.

Keynote speaker Rick Wormeli, a member of the first class of National Board certified teachers, kicked off the conference by asking us all to confront our hypocrisies.  He challenged us to align our actions with our principles even when doing so demands that we take on long-held traditions, habits, and public perceptions.  Wormeli’s words have offered guidance to many in my school as we have shifted our assessment practice this school year, and his charisma, vast knowledge, and many accomplishments are worthy of respect and admiration.  It is that self-reflection and brutal honesty in the service of students, though, that I see in both him and the other NBCTs from whom I learn each day and that I strive toward myself.

The first breakout session included a discussion from Tammy Dunn on revisions to the national board certification process, which will affect educators that begin their application during the 2014-2015 cycle.  As I plan to become a candidate myself this year, I was particularly interested in learning more about the requirements.  Truth be told, prior to the conference I worried that I would feel rather underqualified among such accomplished educators.  However,  as the session began, my anxiety quickly dissipated.  Though they may represent the elite of our profession, the NBCTs that I have met have led me to believe that they are not content with remaining the 1%.  They are inclusive leaders encouraging, persuading, sometimes cajoling other educators to dive into the challenging process of certification and supporting them along the way.      

After lunch, I was honored to partner with Shelly Abrams to host one of the conference’s Tech Playground sessions.  This was a new session format for the conference, an informal roundtable discussion that allowed participants to ask questions and share ideas about digital tools and technology integration best practices.  Nearly all of the questions we addressed focused on collaboration, from how to develop supports for curriculum development across districts to strategies for developing a professional learning network, and I loved the opportunity to discuss ways that digital tools help both teachers and students to connect and learn from one another.  

This year, the network’s tenth anniversary, was my first trip to the ALNBCT conference.  It will most certainly not be my last.  I will continue to go and learn from these extraordinary teachers, and hopefully some day in the not-too-distant future I might count myself among their ranks.

~Laren Hammonds
Rock Quarry Middle School
Twitter: @_clayr_
Blog: http://gametolearnblog.wordpress.com/

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