There are 150 more teachers in the process of becoming board certified in the San Francisco Unified School District.(Courtesy photo)

SFUSD celebrates nationally-certified teachers

We know our teachers work hard every day.

We know our teachers work hard every day, but did you know that each year dozens of San Francisco Unified School District teachers voluntarily put themselves through one of the most rigorous programs in the country – on top of teaching every day – to become even better at their craft?

This month the SFUSD is celebrating 36 teachers who have recently earned the distinction of National Board Certification. And, the number grows each year. There are 150 more teachers in the process of becoming board certified. In fact, the SFUSD has double the number of Board certified teachers than the national average.

How teachers achieve this distinction

Like board-certified doctors and accountants, teachers who achieve this certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review.

They build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videos of their teaching, and a thorough analysis of their work.

And, most important, these teachers must demonstrate an ability to meet diverse student needs and show that they collaborate with a learning community outside of their classroom.

Board certified teachers have to prove that they recognize students as individuals and adjust their teaching methods accordingly.

Teachers say it’s worth the effort

Here’s what Nia Ross, one of the co-coordinators of our national board support program says.

“Our students need educators who are focused on them as individuals, who know their histories, families, their likes and dislikes. They need their teachers to thoroughly know the content they teach and take the time to deeply reflect upon what is and is not working in their classroom. These beliefs are at the core of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.”

Ms. Ross shared an example of a cohort of seven teachers at Paul Revere who strive to embody the practices of the National Board. These teachers are committed to genuinely knowing children in a multidimensional ways in order to help them achieve a sense of belonging and academic success. They share video of their practice with each other and identify opportunities to better reach the diverse learners in their classroom.

Why we support teachers to become board certified

SFUSD teachers with Board Certification receive an annual stipend of $5,000. It’s not required that we provide this stipend — it’s something we budget for because this certification process is one way teachers demonstrate a commitment to improving their craft. We want to support teachers to continuously grow as professionals.

I don’t really have to tell you that teaching in the 21st century is as demanding as ever. Ours is a complicated and fast-moving world. What our students need to be ready to do upon graduation is very different than even a few short years ago.

The very fact that so many of our teachers are willing to go the extra mile to become better at their jobs is just one more reason so many of our students are thriving.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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