Thursday, March 10, 2011

I will see it through...

Our profession is in a dire situation. There are so many questions in my mind but the answers are so few and so vague, perhaps you can help me? 

At this moment, I feel the need to stand up for the professional organizations that made me the teacher leader that I am today. I wrote this reflection in 2009 (before I became a National Board Certified Teacher), a few trusted people read it, but I never got a chance share this with my readers. Now, I feel the urge to post this as my entry. I do believe that many teachers across the nation who went through the same meaningful journey share my sentiments...

When I came to DCPS six years ago, I was a struggling teacher coming from a different cultural background, new to the country, but armed with passion and determination to make a difference with my students. I found a public school system that was so dysfunctional that it was almost impossible for the teachers to teach and for the students to learn. It was a long, painful journey just trying to survive each day with the absence of support from the administrators in my school, with no resources and supplies in the classroom, and without the rigorous training that was needed to become an effective special education teacher.
Who helped me get through all these challenges and shaped me to become the teacher that I am today? The DCPS veteran teachers of the DC Area Writing Project (DCAWP is one of the 228 local sites of the National Writing Project). They saved me from darkness and gave me the wings to fly; they believed in me and sent me to national conferences and conventions to professionally collaborate with teacher leaders across the country in integrating writing and technology in the classroom. It was life-changing for me and for my students. I was becoming a successful teacher while my special needs students were reaching their maximum potential. The DCAWP Teacher Consultants have trained hundreds of DCPS teachers on integrating writing across the curriculum which is essential for writing meaningful brief constructed responses (BCRs) in state assessments. Did the current administration recognize its positive impact on teacher effectiveness and student achievement? Sadly, the funding and support was terminated, and some of the DCAWP Teacher Consultants were among those who were RIF’d.

I was so inspired and motivated by the teacher consultants to be the best teacher that I can be, that I went on another journey to become an accomplished teacher. Immediately after my third year of teaching I went through the National Board Certification process. The National Board is part of a growing education-reform movement; it has produced many of the most outstanding and the most effective educators across the country and I dreamed of joining this cadre of accomplished educators in the nation. The National Research Council has confirmed that National Board Certification has a positive effect on student achievement, teacher retention, and professional development. I am an effective educator now, a lot better than I was three years ago before I started this process because of the rigorous research and reflection focused on my instructional strategies and student achievement that was required of me by the National Board. Did the administration recognize the National Board’s impact on teacher effectiveness and student achievement? Sadly, the funding and support was terminated once again. There was no regard for teacher effectiveness and skills. One of the few National Board Certified Teachers in the district was among those who were RIF’d.

I worry about what I am experiencing and witnessing now because I could be the next in line. The chaos, as a result of education reform, is negatively impacting the schools and is making it impossible for the teachers to teach and the students to learn. I see the majority of the new teachers struggling that it is a long journey for them trying to survive each day with the lack of respect and supports, absence of innovative technology tools and classroom resources, and the rigorous training needed for us to become competitive 21st century educators. Is there a difference from the public school system that I found six years ago when I first came here?

I believe that we can make things better for the sake of the students that we all serve. Why can’t we all work together?

Despite all this, I still hold on to the principles that made me the teacher leader that I am today. If the worst is bound to happen despite of all that I do, with the help of my union the (Local 6 of the AFT) WTU, I will see it through.

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