This is the season of hope, and as I was rereading my diary from December 2004, I was overcome with my own sense of renewed hope for our work at Brighton School.
Last year at this time, I wrote about one of the teachers telling me I had lost my smile and how this had broken my heart. I did not realize my despair was so transparent. I deeply questioned my choice to work at one of our state's most challenged schools. If you read my last blog, you know I still struggle with the challenges of being at Brighton. This is the hardest work I have ever been a part of during my teaching career.
However, last Thursday, I had an early Christmas gift. The first-ever National Board Certified Teacher in our school system, Becky Doblestein, began a National Board Pre-Candidates Program for Brighton teachers. What a positive step!
She and I have been talking about doing this for sometime, and it has finally come to fruition. I had prepared the teachers for this opportunity, and I thought maybe five or six teachers would come to the meeting. Twelve teachers attended the information session and one more is interested. This was over one-third of Brighton's faculty. I am amazed and delighted.
As a National Board Certified Teacher, I know the grueling work this involves. I also know that going through this process changed my teaching practice like no other professional development. I believe the standards set by the National Board are the standards all teachers should adhere to daily.
I listened as Becky led the teachers through a conversation about their teaching practice and the NB standards, and it came to me that this was one of the few times I have actually heard the teachers discuss in detail all they do to meet the needs of our students. Why don't we have more of these discussions? Simple. We are under so many mandates after being an Alabama "school under improvement" for five years that our lives pretty much revolve around meeting NCLB's Adequate Yearly Progress. Our grade level meetings address what it is going to take to meet these goals. As much as we need time to reflect on the deeper implications of our teaching, that time is very, very hard to come by.
I so admire the teachers for having the courage to even consider pursuing such a process with all the demands they have on them. In all honesty, I have to say if I were still in the classroom it would terrify me to be under the pressure they face daily at Brighton. My heart will always be in the classroom—it is the place I am the happiest. But I do not know how long I would survive in this age of accountability as a full-time classroom teacher. This is why I see my position at Brighton as very necessary. We must provide every bit of support we can for our teachers.
As I look to the New Year, I think there is hope that Brighton will make AYP, but more importantly that with the various professional development programs we have in place the teachers will be given the tools they need to become successful and become the educators they aspire to be.
My wish for the New Year is that success will become synonymous with the words Brighton School.