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Leftwich, Paula J.
Discourse and disconnect
h [electronic resource] :
b black teachers and the quest for national board certification /
by Paula J. Leftwich.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2005.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 227 pages.
ABSTRACT: Discourse and Disconnect: Black Teachers and the Quest for National Board Certification Paula J. Leftwich ABSTRACT Black teachers have been under-represented proportionate to their presence in the teaching population in both the application for and achievement of certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This study sought to explore the possibility of a disconnect between the discourses of Black teachers and the discourses of the National Board Certification process. Further, it was designed to investigate the effectiveness of targeted mentoring strategies to increase the participation rate and achievement rate of Black teachers in this complex and lengthy process.Using procedures for the definition and analysis of discourse outlined by Gee, the author dissected document-based and process-embedded data to define the discourse of accomplished teaching embodied in the National Board and its disseminated philosophy and process for identifying and awarding credentials to National Board Certified Teachers. Participant data was gathered using a qualitative research design and a heuristic phenomenological approach. Discourse information gleaned from participant-produced process documents and interview transcripts were analyzed using Gees methods. Field notes and recordings from direct observations were analyzed using Hycners approach for the interpretation of phenomenological data. Deleuze and Guattaris rhizomatic analysis was applied to the overlaid, separate discourses. Specific areas of both congruence and disconnect were clearly identified.Participant checks and inter-rater reviews of data and confirmed the findings and validated the conclusions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for the findings for the National Board, potential candidates, and advocates for each.
Adviser: James R. King.
Co-adviser: Roger Brindley
x Early Childhood Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Discourse and Disconnect: Black Teachers and the Quest fo r National Board Certification by Paula J. Leftwich A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Childhood Education College of Education University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: James R. King, Ed.D. Co-Major Professor: Roger Brindley, Ed.D. Mary Alice Barksdale, Ed.D. Larry Z. Leslie, Ph.D. Date of Approval: September 20, 2005 Keywords: African-American educators, di sparate impact, advanced credential, mentoring, phenomenology Copyright 2005, Paula J. Leftwich
i Acknowledgements Although this work was a labor of love for my chosen profession, it still would not have been possible without the contri butions of several dedicated friends, collaborators and mentors. Dr. Jack Haynes was the first professor to encourage me to consider graduate education, and in do doi ng, he showed me a hor izon I might otherwise not have aspired to reach. Dr. Marguerite Radencich, with a twinkl e in her eye, assured me that the kinds of questions I asked could indeed lead to Â“realÂ” research. Dr. Sherrie Nickell showed me that with sustained effort even the seemingly impossible is ultimately attainable. Dr. Mary Alice Barksdale affirmed the worth of one of my early efforts at inquiry, and has become my be loved friend and trusted adviso r. Dr. Roger Brindley and Dr. Larry Leslie kindly lent their expertise in support of my efforts. Dr. Perry Castelli encouraged me down the homestretch. Dr. Jim King extended an irresistible invitation to the feast of doctoral study, a nd has inspired me with his scholarship and his focused academic dedication to social justice causes. Many other educators have helped and encouraged me. Some of them know it and ot hers do not, but they are all important to me. To all of them, I express my fond respect and heartfelt appreciation. My family has been the most important pa rt of this quest. My parents, brother, husband, and sons have been my most steadf ast cheerleaders and supporters. They have not only assisted me in untold numbers of ta ngible ways, but have al so been the light I have aimed toward when the goal was someti mes cloaked in darkness. To my loved ones, I send my deepest thanks for helping me achieve this lifelong goal. Their belief in me made all the difference.
ii TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS....................................................................................................ii LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ix CHAPTER ONE.................................................................................................................1 Rationale and Context for Study.........................................................................................1 Background..................................................................................................................... 2 Teacher Qualifications Terminology..........................................................................2 National Board Certification.......................................................................................3 Incentive programs for Florida teachers.................................................................4 District-level candidate support programs..............................................................6 District Demographics................................................................................................8 The Research Problem....................................................................................................9 Next Steps..................................................................................................................... 12 The Circle of (Professional) Life..............................................................................13 A Preview...................................................................................................................... 14
iii About the Researcher....................................................................................................15 CHAPTER TWO..............................................................................................................21 Review of Literature.........................................................................................................21 National Board Certification Processes........................................................................22 Eligibility and Init ial Application.............................................................................22 Portfolio Entries........................................................................................................23 Assessment Center Entries........................................................................................23 Scoring......................................................................................................................24 Current Achievement Rates..........................................................................................26 The Problem of Under-Representation.....................................................................28 Certification as Consumer Commodity....................................................................29 Current Research Findings on Adverse Impact........................................................31 Barriers to Achievement...............................................................................................34 Where Writing and Culture Intersect........................................................................34 The Production of Text.............................................................................................42 Mentoring...................................................................................................................... 43 A Model for Assistance............................................................................................45 Philosophical Foundation..............................................................................................47 Constructs of Minority..............................................................................................47 Power and Authority.................................................................................................49 Demographic issues of power...............................................................................52
iv Critical Discourse Analysis...........................................................................................54 Tying it Together..........................................................................................................55 Refining the Questions..................................................................................................55 CHAPTER THREE..........................................................................................................57 Methodology.................................................................................................................... .57 Central Questions..........................................................................................................57 Epistemology................................................................................................................57 Participants................................................................................................................... .62 Method......................................................................................................................... .64 Epoch and the Role of the Researcher........................................................................69 Data Collection.............................................................................................................70 Data Analysis................................................................................................................74 Closing the Circle.........................................................................................................83 CHAPTER FOUR.............................................................................................................85 Establishing the Dialogue.............................................................................................87 Perceptions of the National Board Process...................................................................92 Barriers and Solutions...............................................................................................92 The Secret Club.........................................................................................................97 Process participants...................................................................................................98
v Defining the d/Discourses...........................................................................................101 Why National Board? Why now?..........................................................................103 An act of resistance.............................................................................................107 The power of the principal......................................................................................109 t/Teaching...............................................................................................................112 According to the Teachers..................................................................................113 According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.............117 a/Accomplishment..................................................................................................118 According to the Teachers..................................................................................118 Skimming and miming....................................................................................121 According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.............126 Reconciling the d/Discourses......................................................................................128 Mentoring....................................................................................................................13 0 Wrestling with Writing...........................................................................................130 Considering My Role..............................................................................................136 Learning the Language...........................................................................................138 Tasks and Standards................................................................................................139 Composing the Entries............................................................................................143 Continuing Challenges............................................................................................146 And so . .................................................................................................................... 149 CHAPTER FIVE............................................................................................................150
vi Discussion and Conclusions...........................................................................................150 Discourse Disconnects................................................................................................150 Looking for Truth...................................................................................................156 Knowledge, Power, and Authority..........................................................................159 Conclusions and Recommendations Related to d/Discourse..................................160 Mentoring....................................................................................................................16 4 Semiotic Building...................................................................................................167 World Building.......................................................................................................168 Activity Building....................................................................................................169 Situated Identity and Relationship Building...........................................................169 Political Building....................................................................................................170 Connection Building...............................................................................................172 Recommendations for Mentor ing and Support Programs......................................174 Conclusions and Topics for Further Study.................................................................177 Some Final Thoughts..................................................................................................181 REFERENCE LIST........................................................................................................182 APPENDICES................................................................................................................196 ABOUT THE AUTHOR.......................................................................................End Page
vii LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Annual ETP Participation a nd NBC Achievement (Local)............................... 11 Table 2. Relevance of Data Types to Questions............................................................. 74 Table 3. Barriers and Solutions Identified by Participants...............................................93 Table 4. Initial Survey Results........................................................................................101 Table 5. Continuing Interest Focus Group Participants..................................................102 Table 6. Categories of Reasons for Seeking Certification/Effectiv e Teacher Qualities.116 Table 7. CandidatesÂ’ List of Essential Teacher Qualities...............................................117 Table 8. Relationships Between Core Propositions, Standards and Tasks.....................129 Table 9. CandidatesÂ’ Concerns About the NB Process..................................................131 Table 10. Comparison of Focus Priorities.......................................................................151 Table 11. Correlation of Participan tsÂ’ Values to Core Propositions................................154
viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. NBPTS Core Propositions...............................................................................124 Figure 2. NBPTS Standards for Early Childhood Generalist Certificate.......................125 Figure 3. Key Phrases Selected for Proposition .............................................................130 Figure 4. Key Phrases Selected for Proposition #1.........................................................134
ix Discourse and Disconnect: Black Teachers and the Quest fo r National Board Certification Paula J. Leftwich ABSTRACT Black teachers have been under-represented proportionate to their presence in the teaching population in both the application for and achievement of certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standa rds. This study sought to explore the possibility of a disconnect between the discour ses of Black teachers and the discourses of the National Board Certification process. Further, it was designed to investigate the effectiveness of targeted me ntoring strategies to increase the participation rate and achievement rate of Black teachers in this complex and lengthy process. Using procedures for the definition and an alysis of discourse outlined by Gee, the author dissected document-based and processembedded data to define the discourse of accomplished teaching embodied in the Nationa l Board and its disseminated philosophy and process for identifying and awarding cr edentials to National Board Certified Teachers. Participant data was gathered using a qualitative research design and a heuristic phenomenological a pproach. Discourse information gleaned from participantproduced process documents and interview transcripts were analyzed using GeeÂ’s methods. Field notes and recordings from direct observations we re analyzed using HycnerÂ’s approach for the interp retation of phenomenological data.
x Deleuze and GuattariÂ’s rhizomatic analysis was applied to the overlaid, separate discourses. Specific areas of both congruence and disconnect were clearly identified. Participant checks and inter-rater reviews of data and confirmed the findings and validated the conclusions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for the findings for the National Board, potential candidates, and advocates for each.
CHAPTER ONE Rationale and Context for Study As a former Manager of Teacher Training for a large public school district in the southeastern United States, I frequently had the pleasure of facilitating celebrations of teachersÂ’ professional accomplishments. One of the highlights occurred each January when I presented to the School Board, in formal session, the teachers who had most recently earned certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. For those teachers, receipt of National Board Certification was the culmination of a long and arduous process. Black teachers have been under-represented proportionate to their presence in the teaching population in their rates of applic ation for and achievement of National Board Certification. As a result of my experience in coaching certificati on candidates, many of whom have exhibited difficulty, I understa nd that many benefit from mentorship to overcome their struggles with the writing de mands of the certification process. After studying the work of critical pedagogists, incl uding Freire and Finn, and reading the work of critical discourse analysts such as Fairclough and Gee, I have come to suspect that there may be, at least for some candidates, problems in aligning their own discourses to those inherent to the National Board and the certification process. This study explored the possibility of a disconnect between the discourses of NBPTS and a group of Black
2 teachers, and explored the notion that me ntoring may mitigate the effect of the disconnect. Background In this section of the chapter, I will pr ovide information about several factors that define the parameters of the proposed st udy: Teacher Qualifications Terminology, National Board Certification, Florida State Incentive Programs, District-Level Support Programs, and School District Demographics. Teacher Qualifications Terminology It is important at the outset to examin e the language used to articulate various levels of meaning when we speak or write a bout the topic of teacher credentials. Three terms come to mind almost immediately wh en this subject is raised: credentialing, licensure, and certification. Although these terms are used almost synonymously in general, there are important distin ctions between the terms. As No Child Left Behind (Elementary and Secondary Education Ac t [ESEA], 2001)Â—the Bush administration championed reauthorization of the Elemen tary and Secondary Education ActÂ—gains implementation across the country, with its spec ific requirements for a Â“highly qualifiedÂ” teacher in every classroom, the specific language employed in reference to teacher qualifications will carry new weight. Credential is a term used to describe, in general, the broad category of meaning that includes both licensure a nd certification. An analogy w ould be the use of the term car which encompasses such subcategories as coupe and sedan In general usage, the terms are almost nearly synonymous (Roth, 1996) but to a person seeking to acquire an automobile, the differences are significant. So it is with teachers seeking Â“written
3 evidence of status or qualif icationsÂ” (Morris, 1971, p.311). A further distinction deserves expl oration, that being the one between certification and licensure In the report that gave birth to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession recommended that licensure be a function of the state, while certification become a function of the profession (Carnegie Forum, 1986). In such a system, licensure would indicate a teacher meets statutory requirements for practice in a part icular state, often based on minimal competence determinations (Chinn & Hertz, 2002), while certification would be Â“reserved to the Board as profe ssional recognition that a person meets certain standards beyond those required to be lic ensedÂ” (Earley, 1987, pp 105-106). Similar structures exist for the certification of prof essionals in the medical and legal fields by relevant boards, such as the American Boar d of Medical Specialties, which maintains oversight for certification of physicians in 24 fields of medical pr actice (ABMS, 2003). It is against this backdrop that th e National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was established and teachers now seek to become National Board Certified Teachers. In a time marked by a renewe d emphasis on education standards and accountability, and with increasing calls fo r improved teacher compensation across the country, teachers may opt for advanced creden tials as one path to enhancing both status and salary. North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida are three among the many states whose education systems have provided support and incentives for teachers to move beyond basic licensure and seek a nationa l-level professional certification. National Board Certification The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was
4 established in 1987. Headquartered in Southf ield, Michigan, NBPT S is governed by a Board of Directors led by an appointed Pr esident. The NBPTS Board has 63 members, the majority of whom are currently practici ng classroom teachers. The central roles of NBPTS are to establish standards for National Board Certification in the various areas of teacher practice covered by NBPTS, to esta blish and oversee processes to assess and evaluate individual teachersÂ’ demonstration a nd achievement of those standards, to award National Board Certification to those who succeed in doing so, and to provide advocacy for related educational reforms. The inde pendent, non-profit organi zation is privately funded through foundation grants and publicly funded through federal legislative appropriations and government grants. Fees collected from applicants account for a negligible portion of the funding. (h ttp://new.nbpts.org/ press/quick_facts.pdf ). For the 2005-2006 cycle, the app lication fee is $2300. Incentive programs for Florida teachers. In 1998, the Florida Legislature appr oved a measure creating the Florida Excellent Teaching Program (Excellent Teach ing Program, 1998). The effect of this measure was to provide financ ial assistance for Florida teachers qualified to seek National Board Certification (NBC). Furthe r provisions of the program provide for subsequent payment of incentives to Na tional Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) who continue to teach in Florida public schools and provide mentoring services to their professional peers. The overall intent was to provide incentives that would increase the rate of retention of highly effective teach ers in classroom instructional positions. The Excellent Teaching Program is now housed in the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Teacher Recruitment. Pr ior to July 2002, it was part of the Bureau
5 of Teacher Certification. The Excellent Teaching Program is overseen by one fulltime person and 2-3 part-time employees in response to cyclical workflow fluctuations. Each of the 67 county school districts in Florid a and the 4 Special/Developmental Research school districts has a designated Excellent Teaching Program contact person. The role this person plays varies greatly from district to district. In some cases, the contactÂ’s role may be simply to serve as a conduit for information that is delivered and interpreted by someone else: a principal, cer tification staff member, or ot her designated person. At the other end of the spectrum, as was the case in the district where I was formerly employed, this responsibility has been formalized into a major component of a district-level job description for a person who has a measure of control of a designa ted budget to support National Board Certification candidates. Teachers meeting statutory eligibility crit eria (as detailed in Chapter Two) who participate in the Excellent Teaching Progr am (ETP) pay ten percent of the NBPTS application fee, while the state pays the rema ining ninety percent from budgeted funds set aside in the ETP trust fund. The 2002-2003 application fee was $2,300, meaning that teachers paid $230 to apply and state funds supplemented the remaining $2,070. Each Florida teacher certified by the National Board (National Board Certified Teacher/NBCT) receives a salary bonus equal to ten percent of the averag e Florida public school teacher salary. In December 2001, this bonus payment was paid in the amount of $3,813 per NBCT. A mentor bonus is paid each spring to NBCTs who have delivered the equivalent of twelve days of service outside of student contact time to fellow teachers who are not NBCTs. The mentor bonus is paid at the sa me rate as the salary bonus (FDOE, 2003a). Florida teachers who are NBCTs can, therefor e, qualify for ETP bonuses that last year
6 totaled $7,626 per teacher. In the 2001-2002 fiscal year, one-tim e legislative additions of $500 to these bonuses boosted total po ssible payments per NBCT to $8,626. In addition to the financial impact of this program, it is important to note that a National Board Certificate is valid for ten years, after which it may be re-validated through an abbreviated recer tification process. At current sa lary rates, this could result in a NBCT earning an additional $76,260 over a te n-year certificate validity period, and potentially more in the following ten-year cycle if the certificate is revalidated and funding continues. Another benefit for Florida NBCTs is the Florida Department of Education recognition of National Board Certification as satisfaction of the five -year recertification requirements for the primary coverage area of a Florida Professional Edu cator Certificate. National Board Certification is recognized as an advanced credential by all fifty states and generally affords holders gr eater portability for practice in the primary certification area. District-level candidate support programs. In Florida, although each district ha s a designated Excellent Teaching Program (ETP) contact person, levels of support vary widely on the basis of several qualitative variables. In my former dist rict role, responsibility for coor dination of details related to the ETP rested on me. This was due part ly to my position in the Human Resource Development Department, but was due more to the fact that I was interested in the process and committed to helping teachers ha ve the greatest possible access to the benefits accruing to NBCTs in Florida. As a recent classroom teacher and active member of a state Commission who enjoyed a good reputa tion and solid professi onal relationships
7 with influential decision make rs in the school district and the state Department of Education, I was well-suited to accomplish this goal, and I worked vigorously in its pursuit. The timing was also right, in that the ETP was entering its second year as I assumed the management role. During the first year of the program, my supervisor had taken proactive steps to encourage and support the cadre of applican ts. The support component included several large group meetings where information ha d been shared about such topics as professional writing, time management, and vi deotaping. With the support of my immediate supervisor, the Superintendent, a nd the School Board, we set about the work of organizing and formalizing support proces ses, utilizing resources made available by state and national groups such as the Flor ida Education Associat ion and State Farm Insurance. A small budget was set aside in district Human Resource Development funds to provide material resources for portfolio preparation and professional development time. During this first year, we also applied for a Goals 2000 grant to establish a formal local teacher professional development networ k. This network was anchored by six of the first district NBCTs. The goals of th e network were to encourage and support NB candidates, encourage and support beginni ng teachers, and provide opportunities for renewal and growth for veteran teachers. Funds from the grant allowed for additional candidate support opportunities such as a series of overnight retreats for work on portfolio entries and collegial interaction. Additionally, as the network matured, NBCTs re-constituted the core of the district t eacher training cadre. This facilitated the reallocation of monies previously allotted fo r trainer stipends to more pressing needs
8 (Polk County School Board [PCSB] 2002), while allowing structured opportunities for NBCTs to earn the necessary hours for the st ate Mentor Bonus. This resulted in a significant net financial gain for the school district (PSCB, 2002) and the program and participating teachers became valuable di strict assets for staff development. Over the first two years of program implementation, the program became financially self sustaining, and the network t ook on a life of its own under the direction of the teacher-leaders, includi ng many NBCTs, who worked cl osely with me and other district personnel to coordinate network activ ities. The composition of the central core began to trouble me as I realized that ther e were no Black teachers involved as core trainers. The only Black teacher trainers in the network were two school administrators. I noted the momentum developing in the netw ork, and I wondered what the implications were of such a skewed ethnic represen tation within the ranks of the network. District Demographics The study is situated in a central Florid a county that is one of the geographically largest in the state, comprisi ng an area somewhat larger than the state of Rhode Island. The economy is primarily agri cultural, industrial, and se rvice-related. The population, which hovers around a half-million people, is distributed in two small urban areas, several smaller incorporated towns, and a wi de rural and semi-rural area. The population and economy are in a state of flux from lo w-skilled rural to high skilled Â“urbalÂ” characterizations (Polk Workforce Development Board, December 2002). The public school district in Octobe r 2001 had 81,163 students enrolled, 23% of whom were Black, 61% White, and 9% Hisp anic. Approximately 52% of students qualified for free or reduced -price lunch (FDOE, 2003b).
9 The Research Problem In my district training role, and as ET P program contact, I was happy to promote a process by which excellent teachers could document their effectiveness, advance their professional credentials, and gain access to significantly higher compensation. This is especially important in light of research by Odden (2000) and Stinebrickner (2001) that links concerns about lagging compensation and increased accountability with teacher flight from the profession. Further, both studies documented a high percentage of teachers leaving the field before hitting their pr ofessional stride at 3-5 years, exacerbating growing teacher shortages by forcing a continua l dilution of the teacher talent pool with less experienced beginners. Although financia l compensation is but one consideration in charting job satisfaction, it is a useful tool to help promote retention of experienced, wellqualified teachers. From 1998-2001, 164 teachers in the school district had applied for NBPTS certification. Of this number, 72 had successf ully obtained the certification. It had been gratifying to introduce each of the three groups to th e School Board. I had enjoyed putting together a packet of phot ographs for a corporate sponso r to include in a laudatory newspaper advertisement (The Ledger, 2001). The school district and the teachersÂ’ union had collaborated to place plaques with phot ographs of each NBCT cadre in the main hallway of the school district offices. Groups of local NBCTs worked together to create presentations for state and national conferences. Perhap s most significantly, NBCTs formed the nucleus of a growing district training and mentoring corps. As training manager, I interacted with and, to varying degrees, supervised the activities of these groups. I knew each of the 72 NBCTs personally and could call their names and faces to
10 mind with little effort. This familiarity enabled me to note with increasing discomfort, as one year melted into three, one particularly disturbing aspect of the cadreÂ’s composition. The cadre was all white. It was also troubling that relatively few of the NBCTs were male or Hispanic, but the political and demographic conditions of both teachers and students in the school district cast an especially harsh light on th e lack of representation of Black teachers among this highly celebrated and richly comp ensated group of local teachers. Under a Federal Court-supervised desegregation orde r since 1992 (Mills & US v. School Board of Polk County, Florida 1992), the school district has been responsible to maintain specific ratios of balance (from fourteen to twen ty-one percent) betw een Black and White students. The district is also required to monitor the number of Black teaching and administrative staff members and to maintain c onsistent efforts to recruit and retain Black teachers and administrators. The court supervisor and representatives from local chapters of NAACP and the National Legal Defense Fund receive regular reports through the Federal District Court in Tampa regard ing the numbers of Black teachers and administrators at each school, among other stra nds of data. The district has been charged to work toward a goal of fourteen to twen ty-one percent Black re presentation in these groups to match the student population in each school. In May 2002, district personnel database records indicated that 443 of 4973, or 8.9% of local district teachers, were Black (non-Hispanic). In the 2001-2002 NBPTS application cycle in this school district, 116 teachers initially applied. Of these, 7 were Blac k, comprising 6.03 percent of the total (Polk County School Board, 2002). A summary of pr ior yearsÂ’ totals is shown in Table 1.
11 Clearly, local Black teachers are under-represented in both the attempt for and the achievement of National Board Certification. Table 1. Annual ETP Participation and NBC Achievement (Local District) Year Total Candidates Black Candidates % Black Candidates Total New NBCTs Black NBCTs Achievement Rate-White Achievement Rate-Black 19981999 32 2 6.25% 15 -046.8% -019992000 65 3 4.61% 31 -047.6% -020002001 67 5 5.1% 26 -038.8% -0Unavoidable Questions for Research Several questions arise from even a brie f contemplation of this data. Why are Black teachers not participating in the proce ss at a representative rate? Is this a local phenomenon? Why have so few of the Black participants suc ceeded in achieving certification? Is this representative of wide r state and national trends? Can intervention have a positive impact on this trend? Has su ch intervention been attempted elsewhere? If so, with what result? Is such interven tion warranted and appropriate? If so, by whom and on whose behalf should intervention be undertaken? What form should it take? Can it help achieve the desired outcomes? Wh at are those specific outcomes? These questions all relate to the broader discourses. Gee (1999) describes one type of discour se as Â“language-in-useÂ” to facilitate human activities and assert indi vidual human identities. Ho wever, Discourse (capital D) is the amalgam of human activ ities, incorporating language and Â“other stuffÂ” (Gee, 1999, p.17) that defines our shared or more genera l membership and participation in various elements of society. According to Gee ( 1999), discourse (with a lower-case d) is
12 language in use. Discourse (denoted by th e upper-case D) comprise s all of the varied contexts in which the use of language takes place. Prolonged contemplation of these issues led me to ask myself the following questions: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Next Steps In June 2002, I mentioned the gap in the National Board Certification rates between Black and White teachers during a Sc hool Board work session. A conversation ensued as part of a discussion about Pe rformance-Based Compensation, a project to which I had recently devoted most of my work time. Since National Board Certification was one possible requirement teachers could m eet in partial satisfaction of districtdeveloped criteria for eligibility for the Performance-based bonus, I felt compelled to mention the possibility that the legitimacy of this criteria c ould be challenged on the basis of the heavily skewed current achievement ra tes. There was heavy comment on this topic by the one Black member of the local school board, since it provided her the opportunity to comment on the trend she and I had bot h noted. This meeting provided her the opportune moment for broaching the issue in th e context of a broade r discussion to which it directly applied. Meanwhile, I had been offered a univers ity-based position that would allow me the opportunity to pursue this research interest from outside the politically-charged realm
13 of the school district. The decision to change jobs was simplif ied by the reaction of members of the district staff (who had b een so supportive and celebratory of the successes of the local NB effort to date ) when I made moves to establish support opportunities specifically designed to recruit an d assist Black teachers as candidates for National Board Certification. One exchange was particularly haunting. I was asked, Â“What are we going to do next, provide sp ecial help for men and Hispanics?Â” I responded that this was exactly wait we s hould do if support opportunities proved to be of value in making this professional devel opment opportunity more accessible to all of our local teachers. The end to this conversat ion was, Â“Well, it is meant to be something special, and if it doesnÂ’t st ay special, then that will be the end of it.Â” Special? What precisely did that mean, I wondered? There was so much more to this than there had seemed to be at first. I felt compelled to learn everything I could in order to address this disparity. The idea for th is dissertation was born at that moment. It was clear that I simply had to make a move to academic life to tackle this issue. The Circle of (Professional) Life Where one phase of life ends, another begins For me that has certainly been true. The end of each chapter of my career has felt like a little death, but the beginning of each new job in education has been a rebirth of sorts. This situation exemplified these characterizations. The conversat ion just related had Â“killedÂ” my hope that effective advocacy for non-majority candidates would be possible from within the district structure. Life as a university faculty me mber gave me a fresh point from which to launch this effort.
14 A Preview This paper describes a qualitative resear ch project designed to probe the questions raised in this introdu ctory chapter. The study was desi gned from a post-structural stance that led me to choose phenomenology as bot h guiding philosophy and action research as the emergent research method. An explanati on of these concepts and the route by which I arrived at key decisions will be undertaken in Chapter Two. By way of providing a hint of the structure to follow, I offer the following sketch of the study. Black teachers from the local school dist rict were invited to attend a meeting to receive information about National Board Cert ification. Those who decided to apply were invited to learn more about this study and to join the study as part icipants. From that focus group, a smaller group of candidates were purposefully chosen as subjects for indepth case studies. Case study subjects were followed closely duri ng the certification application process as they participated in large gr oup, small group, and individual support activities. A wide variety of participant data were collected through direct observation, participant-observation, interv iews, journals, text-in-progr ess, and other formal and informal interactions. Additional data included publicly available statistics program participation data and local, state, and na tional documents relating to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the cer tification process. These documents were analyzed for comparison and contrast with re spect to the various texts arising from the participant-driven side of the study. The da ta analysis focused on determining the level of congruence or incongruen ce between the two sets of text data in considering differences in participation.
15 Chapter Two includes literature on related topics: (a) National Board processes, (b) efforts to monitor and fac ilitate the achievement of Na tional Board Certification, (c) adult writing behaviors, (d) various aspects of qualitative inquiry, (e) pertinent elements of language philosophy, and (f) cultur al issues relevant to social justice in this context. Chapter Three provides a detailed account of each element of the proposed study method. Chapter Four reports study data, and Chapter Five discusses conclusions drawn from the data and possible implications for the findings. About the Researcher Black culture was something I had glimpsed only vaguely and through social dividing curtains that parted fleetingly and infrequently. Granted, I had interacted in some fairly significant ways with Black people throughout my adult life. When I managed my husbandÂ’s construction field o ffice, I had daily contact with Black craftsmen. Once, in Tennessee, I challeng ed an apartment manager who had no units available when a Black foreman inquired, yet hou rs later, rented an apartment to a white foreman. When I suggested that we involve the EEOC and Federal Housing Authority to clear up any confusion about what was available, a vacancy opened. When we moved to Florida, I became invol ved in a local effort to restructure the public schools as the school district struggled to settle a decades-long federal desegregation case. This was probably the firs t time that I realized how separate my life had been and the extent to which I had lived apart from other races. After the attendance zones were reconfigured and our neig hborhood schools incorporat ed representative numbers of Black children, I worked to es tablish a tutoring program for children whose
16 reading levels were impeding their success in school. I was horrified by the fact that nearly all of the students refe rred for tutoring were Black. When I went to work as a paraprofe ssional while I worked to earn a teaching degree, I wrote a grant to provide comput ers and tutors for Black girls in their neighborhoods to help them build projects for the Science Fair. My college supervisor warned me to Â“be carefulÂ” working in the housin g projects. To my surprise, I have rarely felt more welcome anywhere in my life. On Saturday mornings, when my car pulled up to the community center, a flock of young peopl e met me to help unload the computers, hook them up, rearrange the room, and distribut e the supplies for the session. A group of women, noting the activity, offered to provide hot biscuits with ham or sausage for me and the girls who were participating. When we finished the projects, we had people waiting in line outside our room to view th e girlsÂ’ work. There were too many to fit inside at once! I never had that happ en during open house in the years I taught elementary school! Why had I been warned to be careful? W hy had I felt nervous? During my years as an elementary sc hool employee, I peripherally observed the work of Black teachers, paraprofessionals, lunchroom workers, and custodians. There were only two Black teachers among the 30 or so at the school where I worked. There was one Black paraprofessional among a group of 7 or 8. Of three custodians, the lead position was occupied by a Black man. Two of the 6 lunchroom workers were Black. Both of the Black teachers had joined the faculty during desegregat ion, when the schools where they had previously worked had been restructured as magnet programs and the existing, largely minority, staffs had been displaced and redistributed. There were murmurs of resentment among the longer-term faculty members when vacancies at our
17 well-regarded school that would have previ ously gone to teachers who had waited their turn to come to the school were filled instea d with these Black teachers. It was muttered that if they had been any good, they would have worked someplace besides the schools where they had been. Criticism and disregar d characterized the vast majority of the conversation about these two teachers. The language had been couched in professional, non-racial words, but the message was clear: Black teachers were different, and they were lesser. In graduate school, I observed the same a ttitude to a certain extent. There were very few Black students in the classes I took : often none, and rarely more than one or two. Those who were there were rumored to have been admitted under academic waivers to promote diversity. In two cases with wh ich I gained more familiarity later, the students were, like me, working fulltime as teac hers during the day and going to school at night. Did they meet the same disapproval and lack of regard at their schools as did the teachers with whom I worked? Did they know what their fellow students and faculty members said about them? How did they carry on in the face of that adversity? These questions had not occurred to me then. I had a three-year stint as a school distri ct teacher training mana ger. It was during this time that I had my first unmediated intera ctions with Black educators. My previous interactions had been few, and always in th e context of situations controlled by others and where exchanges were largely tangential. Now, because I was acting with a degree of managerial autonomy, I experienced direct exchanges with Black administrators in the course of carrying out my various assignments. I met Black teachers who were serving as peer mentors to first year teachers. I oversaw an orientation program for new Black
18 teachers and identified placements for Black student teachers. I saw in them the same characteristics I observed in other professiona ls in our field. I wa s often taken aback by the lack of regard some of my white peers had for these people and the work they did. One of the worst moments was when a white principal returned two internship contracts to me for students from a historically Black co llege, with a written note advising me that these interns were Â“incompatible with the mission and vision of the schoolÂ” (Leftwich, 2000). The contracts had been accompanied by photographs, a customary practice at the time. When the contracts were resubmitted on different colored copy paper without the photographs, they were signed and the intern s accepted for placement. Having proved the point to myself, I reassigned the interns to a different school on the basis of providing more efficient travel for the college supervisor From that point forward, intern contracts sent to schools in our district did not incl ude photographs. To my discredit, I never challenged the principal (now retired) about this issue. This proposed study is an intensely persona l one. This is not surprising, when I consider that my career in education has been marked by an intense in terest in issues and efforts that impact people indi vidually, one at a timeÂ—even if the approach is through groups, be they large or small. Practically sp eaking, I would venture th at this is the first level of potential significance for this wor kÂ—to make a difference for individual teachers in their National Board candidacy efforts. On that same individual level, however the process of carrying out the study made a difference in me as a human being, I believe. I am a middle-aged White woman who has always inhabited the middle range of the socioeconomic scale. Growing up in the Midwest during the 1950s and 1960s, I led a life that was ostens ibly Â“unprejudiced,Â”
19 but which was, in reality, almost complete ly segregated in terms of both race and socioeconomic status. Black a nd White were descriptors of ra cial differences that were as marked as those between male and female. As already described, I have wrestled with the vestiges of that upbringing in my personal and professional lives, but especially so as a teacher-educator who works with students and school systems on issues of justice, equity, fairness, and conscience. I have embraced a post-modern philosophy that challenges societal constructions of race (All en, 1997). However, in order to explore the questions surrounding the differe ntial participation and achievement rates in NBPTS, I was obliged to acknowledge the prevalent racial categories, false though I believe them to be (Ignatiev, 1996). Facing these issues head-on in the effort to identify and set aside preconceptions at the outset of each episode of phenome nological data-gathering was a transformative experience of great personal significance. Autoethnography and heur istics (as described more completely in Chapter Three) we re the broad methodological frames for accomplishing this difficult but necessary ta sk, through which I was able to use the experiences of the study part icipants as a springboard (Bochner & Ellis, 1996) to establish my own past history, objectivel y inventory my current orientation, and purposefully shape my future direction as an educator-researcher. The shorter term, but perhaps more significant benefit of this appr oach is gaining a more informed perspective on self-thought as a tool to provide enough clarity about oneÂ’s own biases in order to objectify to a greater extent the subjective slant that coul d otherwise be inadvertently imparted to qualitative data. The pivotal point of signif icance, though, is this: the doctoral dissertation is the
20 culmination of years of work and sacrifice in pu rsuit of knowledge, wisdom, and truth. For me, this journey was begun at a relatively late point in life, but with a clear purpose, that being to prepare myself to be an effective contributor to the profession for which I have such a depth of passionÂ—teaching. One of the many joys of this journey has been the discovery of so many people who share that passion. I am saddened that some of them have had access to fewer resources through the years, and I am saddened by the inequity that is perpetuated by systems and pr ocesses that serve to distribute advantages and opportunities inequitably. It is my hope that this small study will generate and support findings and conclusions that w ill make the opportunities associated with National Board Certification more accessible to eligible Black teachers who are, at present, under-represented in the ranks of those who are reaping the benefits of those opportunities. The ultimate significance of a ttaining this goal will be most evident to individualsÂ—the teachers who reap the professi onal benefits of this process and the boys and girls they teach. If that means helping even one teacher and his/her students set and meet their shared teaching and learning goa ls, I would consider that a satisfying contribution to society and the pr ofession (Schensul & Schensul,1978).
21 CHAPTER TWO Review of Literature As noted in Chapter One, the research questions focus on issues of designated race related to local, state and national participation ra tes in the certification process and possible causes of under-represen tation of Black teachers in terms of both participation and success in program processes. The pro cess to which teachers submit themselves upon entering candidacy for National Board Ce rtification is well defined and constant across the various certificati on areas. Thus, that pro cess itself provides a logical structure, as well as a set of social practices, that are usef ul for organizing a review of literature that provides a foundation for the purpose, philosophy, and methods for conducting proposed study and analyz ing its results. Therefore, this chapter begins with a thorough explanation of those processes and a discussion of current rates of participation in and successful completion of National Board certif ication processes by Black teachers. Against the central process NB certi fication process founda tion will be laid discussions of research litera ture relating to the following key areas: studies of adult writing behavior and literatur e regarding the linkages betw een ethnicity and discourse; the impact of culture and associated barri ers to the achievement of certification; mentoring and mentoring programs; and a survey of literature that informs and bolsters the philosophical stance and methodol ogy for this proposed research study.
22 National Board Certification Processes Eligibility and Initial Application The process by which a teacher applie s for and achieves National Board Certification can take as little as three months or as long as two years. It begins each spring when a new application cycle is opened by NBPTS. At the same time, a new ETP cycle is initiated in Florida. Through distri ct contacts, ETP program information is made available for distribution to te achers. All teachers who meet the specified criteria are eligible to enter the process. Teachers are eligible to apply to NBPTS if they (a) have a bachelors degree, (b) hold a valid teaching certificate for the st ate where they are employed (unless a teaching certificate is not required for employment, as may be the case in some private or parochial schools), a nd (c) have completed th ree years of teaching prior to entering the NBPTS process. An additional layer of qualifications exists for ETP program participants, however. To be eligible for the applicat ion fee supplement (and applicable bonuses), teachers (a) must be employed by a Florid a public school district in a classroom instructional position and (b) must have receiv ed a satisfactory performance evaluation in the most recent prior year of employment. The signature of the local superintendent or designated representative must attest to these qualifications. Once the application has been submitted to ETP and NBPTS, the teacher (now referred to as a certification candidate ) has access to a 200-300 page packet of portfolio preparation instructions. These instructi ons are directly downloaded from the NBPTS candidate website.
23 Portfolio Entries The application process consists of ten separate entries. Candidates in the application year for this st udy (2002-2003) were required to prepare four practice-based portfolio entries and six Assessm ent Center entries. Each of these entries was designed to demonstrate one or more of the NBPTS Standards specifically applicable to the candidateÂ’s area of professional teaching practice. The standa rds are readily available for public review and download via the website or in hard copy for a fee from the NBPTS Material Center. The four portfolio entries are prepared over a period of mont hs during the middle of the school year. These entries focus on the candidateÂ’s processes of planning, delivering, assessing, and adjusti ng instruction to meet student needs and promote student achievement. Two of these entries require videotapes of instructional segments accompanied by 15-18 page written descriptions of activity shown on the tapes, as well as analysis of and reflection upon the effectiven ess of the instruction. One of the entries requires inclusion of artifacts of student work, along with a detailed written description of the instruction that resulted in the producti on of the student work, an analysis of the learning demonstrated by the work, and refl ection upon why the lesson worked well, as well as how it might be improved to facilita te even more optimal student achievement. Portfolio entries are due by specific midspring dates, dependent upon the original application date. Assessment Center Entries The six Assessment Center exercises are comp leted at a contracted testing site. In West Central Florida, these sites are contracted through Sy lvan Learning Centers and are
24 located in Winter Park and Tampa. Each ex ercise is a thirty-minute writing activity in response to a prompt. The prompt is deliver ed and the writing is done at a computer workstation. Like the portfolio entries, each of the prompts is designed to elicit a demonstration of one or more of the certifi cation area standards. Stimulus materials, such as reading lists, classroom scenarios, or pictures of artifacts are delivered to candidates several weeks in advance of the A ssessment Center date. Dates are scheduled by candidates within specific windows of time allotted for each certification area. Assessment Center activities are conducted from mid-spring through early summer, and are generally concluded by mid-July. Scoring Scoring of all entriesÂ—portfolios an d assessment centerÂ—occurs during the summer. For each entry, there is a rubric and scoring guide provided to candidates with the portfolio instruct ions. These rubrics provide sp ecific criteria for the various proficiency levels. The rubrics help ca ndidates answer such questions as: What constitutes quality? Do I understand the expe ctations? Will I know what I have learned when I complete the task? (Andrade, 2000 & Montgomery, 2002). NBPTS employs NBCTs as entry assessors. Before scoring begins, each aspiring assessor must undergo five days of intensive training, beginning with sessions designed to help scorers recognize and neutralize exis ting biases. Assessors are trained to work with one specific entry, and they score only those entries. NBCT s are paid $125 per day for scoring and are responsible for paying thei r own travel and living expenses during the process. Assessment work is considered by many to be service to the profession. Possible scores for each entry range from 1 to 4, and each entry is assigned a
25 specific weighing factor from 6-12. The scor e for each entry is calculated after the assessor marks a rubric during the focused revi ew of the submission. A holistic score is assigned to each entry, providing a single score to the entire entry rather than a more analytic system that would ascribe a score to each section of an ex ercise (Martin-Kniep, 2000). Each whole-number score may be s caled up or down by raters by .25 to denote work that is judged to be somewhat below or somewhat above the level indicated by the score (but not low or high enough to justify mo vement to the next higher or lower wholenumber score), meaning that true scores may range from .75-4.25. Once the scoring is completed for all of a candidate Â’s entries, an aggregate weighted score is calculated. An aggregate score at or above 275 results in the achievement of certification. One nod to the validity of this system, rely ing as it does on scores generated from a variety of scored exercise s for each candidate, comes from a study (Hayes, Hatch & Silk, 2000) in which it was f ound that it takes between five and ten separate assessments of writing to be able to accurately predict writing performance for any single student. This conclusion was gleaned from three se parately contributi ng studies in which successive statistical tests were employed to test the accuracy of predictions for future writing performance on the basis of numbers of assessments ranging from one to ten. With one to four measures, accurate predic tions were not found to be statistically probable. Depending on the statistical test ap plied, measures ranging in number from five to ten yielded results indicating that accurate predictions were more reliably probable. The ten measures provided for by NB proce sses falls at the high end of that range, lending credence to the assessment system. All results for an application cycle are reported at the same time via mailed
26 reports to candidates, posti ng of results on a secure webs ite that candidates can access with a password, and posting of new NBCT names by state on the NBPTS public website. Current Achievement Rates Statistical reports from the agencies ch arged with oversight of the certification process are critical to the understanding and definition of the current status of minority (Black) candidate part icipation and success. As Guskey (1999) said, Â“The effective solution to any problem begins with a ruthless assessment of current reality.Â” Current reports from the National Board for Prof essional Teaching Standards, the Florida Department of Education, and Polk Count y Schools have been cited throughout this document, updated as necessary during the cour se of the study. Where reports were not currently and/or readily availa ble, data were requested and/ or gathered via formal and informal means. Further, the data were re ad and analyzed to search for Â“between the linesÂ” contexts and disconnects. For instan ce, one news report states the following: Black teachers made up 13 perc ent of the applicant pool, but only four percent of them attained certification. In contra st, white teachers made up 85% of the applicant pool, but repres ent 94% of those who won approval (Education Week, May 7, 2003). What exactly did this mean? Did 4% of the Black teachers achieve certification, or did Black teachers comprise 4% of the total who did? Why was the obscuring language and structure employed? Was it unintentional or ot herwise? Why? Similar opportunities for critical analysis were abundant. For instance, in the school district where this study wa s situated, 280 teachers had
27 applied for certification betw een 1998 and the start of the study in 2003, as indicated in Table 1. Of these, 17, or six percent, we re Black. Two Black teachers had become NBCTs. Thus, 11.7% of the Black applican ts achieved certif ication, while 106, or 40.3%, of the White applicants became NB CTs. Of the 108 teachers who achieved certification, 98% (106) were White and 2% (2) were Black. This example shows how a closer look at numerical data can tell a more complete stor y than can Â“snapshotsÂ” which may prove confusing. On average nationally, 11% of Black app licants and 45% of the total number of applicants achieve certification (Serafini, 2002), perhaps implying that White teachers achieve certification at a rate exceeding the 45% average. It is further important to note that in the current studyÂ’s sc hool district in May 2002, as repo rted in Chapter One, Black teachers comprised 8.9% of district teaching staff while only 6% of NB candidates were Black. In Florida that year, 9.9% of Na tional Board applicants were Black. This figure closely mirrors the 1998 Nati onal Research Council account of the percentage of education doc toral recipients who were BlackÂ—582 of the 5817 for whom ethnicity was known (of the 5,866 total), or ten percent (Au & Raphael, 2000). This could foreshadow a situation where Colle ges of Education could find themselves competing vigorously for Black students w ho may choose, as their White counterparts are increasingly doing, to opt for National Bo ard Certification as a less expensive, quicker, and more financially rewarding professional development avenue than graduate studies (Johnson, 2001). National Board Certific ation, while it may take as long as three years if points are banked for the maximum period, can be accomplished in one school year. In Florida and other places where fee s ubsidy incentives are in pl ace, the net cost of
28 National Board is minimal for teachers. By contrast, tuition costs associated with traditional degree programs are not widely covered for teachers by their employing districts. Perhaps most significant in this di scussion is the fact that while National Board Certification may trigger e ligibility for significant additional compensation, compensation for additional and higher degrees for Florida teachers tends be at a much lower level (Leftwich, Minton, Moser, & Pa rker, 1998). Put simply, the return on investment (time and money), is both quicker and higher for Nationa l Board Certification than for advanced degrees. The Problem of Under-Representation Queries to the major academic database s yielded few published studies of the phenomena of minority under-representation in National Board Certif ication processes. Presumably this is due to the fact that th e phenomenon is nascent. A private, personal conversation with a researcher under contract to NBPTS for a nother project revealed that emergent participation and achievement data when disaggregated demographically, is creating some concern at NBPTS and at E ducational Testing Service, the assessment instrument contractor for NBPTS. Although this party prefers to remain unidentified while sponsored research is underway, the s ubstance of the convers ation was confirmed in June 2002 by viewing the NBPTS website describing new research initiatives, including requests for proposals for studies on the adverse impact of NBPTS certification processes (NBPTS, 2002c). The concern fo r equity appears to echo the commitment articulated in NBPTS publications to assure equitable access and to eliminate bias and discrimination in the standards developm ent and certification assessment processes (NBPTS 1999; 1999a; 1999b; 2000; 2002; 2002a; 2002b; 2002c.)
29 More recently, the US Department of E ducation funded a study by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles to investigate and disseminate methods by which African American teachers can be eff ectively supported in the effort to obtain National Board Certification. Slated for co mpletion in August 2005, results of the study are not yet available. It is hopeful that, when released, the results will inform the effort to promote greater parity in minority success rates in the National Board Certification process (http://www.nbpts.org/res earch/currentres_item.cfm?id=16 ). Data from another study (Wayne, Cha ng-Ross, Daniels, Knowles, Mitchell & Price, 2004) suggested several areas of possibl e disparity in minority achievement rates. Survey results that minority teachers may be more influenced than majority peers by financial incentives to apply. They may also feel a stronger drive to prove that they and their students are highly capable in spite of negative labels often applied to schools where minority teachers are more likely to be assigned. This report concludes with a recommendation for wider implementation of race-matched mentoring programs to increase the rate at which minority teach ers achieve National Board Certification. Certification as Consumer Commodity Since National Board Certification is, in effect, a consumer product dependent on positive public perception, at least among its education constituency, for sustained market viability, NBPTS has every reason to protect a positive image of proactive orientation toward the continued development of standa rds and processes for certification in new areas as well as protecting th e integrity of the image of ex isting certifications. Marketing research has shown that consumer perceptions about the ability of a company to produce a quality product impact responses to ne w corporate products (B rown & Dacin, 1997.)
30 Furthermore, gap analysis of service orga nizations has shown that companies with identified gaps between customer exp ectations (as formed through pre-service communication with the company) and actua l delivered service (as perceived by the customer) must take steps to close the gap in order to remain competitively viable (Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1988). Acco rding to this model, if one views the various certifications awarde d by NBPTS as consumer products (an appropriate analogy given that the process carries a fee, as do the many workshops and products available from NBPTS), and given that various other organizations are working on prototypes for certifications as alternatives, NBPTS must remain vigilant about the status of its corporate image to retain the value and credibility of present certifications and successfully market certifications in ar eas now under develo pment (Parasuraman, Ziethaml, & Berry, 1985). Further motivation for sustaining this positive image of commitment to equitable access to the benefits of National Board Cert ification is the NBPTS reliance on private foundations and the United States Department of Education for both significant financial and fundamental philosophical support. Through September 1998, federal funds accounted for approximately 48% of pr oject funding, while 52% came from nongovernmental sources (NBPTS, 1999). In a national political e nvironment marked increasingly by a focus on education issues, and at a time when significant federal legislation is being implemented with a focus on teacher quality, the NBPTS has much to lose should its primary product, National Board Certification, come to be perceived as biased, discriminatory, ine quitable, or otherwise funda mentallyÂ—and perhaps fatallyÂ— flawed. As with consumer perceptions of co rporate ability to deliv er, customer views of
31 corporate social responsibility also shape responses to co rporate products. Corporate social responsibility can be defined as the companyÂ’s positi on and actions with regard to important social issues (Brown & Dacin, 1997) As America continues to deal with perceived racial inequities a nd achievement gaps in educatio n, particularly in response to the requirements of No Child Left Behind (ESEA, 2001), these will be issues that merit attention from any organization dealing in education-related products or services. For all of these reasons, it is reasonable to expect a spike in the number of research reports on this topic in the near future. In July, 2002, NBPTS awarded 22 research grants, three of whic h are to specifically study minor ity teacher participation and achievement rates over the ne xt three years (NBPTS, 2002c). Current Research Findings on Adverse Impact From an in-depth study of minority ca ndidate achievement rates in North Carolina, (Goldhaber, Perry & Anthony, 2003) co me reports that Black teachers in that state have tended to apply for National Board Certification at rates that surpass their representation rate in the gene ral teaching ranks, but then achie ve at a rate that is lower than that of their White peers. Achiev ement of National Board Certification was positively correlated with other factors, such as standardized test scores, employment in schools with comparatively higher student ach ievement and socioeconomic status, and advanced degrees. In responding to this st udyÂ’s findings, Ann Harmon, the director of Research and Information for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards said, If we knew what was causing the adverse impact weÂ’d be able to end it but I donÂ’t think there is anything in our system [that accounts for the disparity]. It is a
32 reflection of some long-standing inequities in our society in general. (quoted in Education Week, May 7, 2003 [italics mine]). Since Black teachers in this area of Flor ida are not yet even applying at the same rate as they fill teaching positions, the social justice Â“inequitiesÂ” to which the NBPTS official referred become even more compelling when considering how to positively influence the participation a nd achievement rate for Black teachers. This study was designed to provide some insight into what is causing the adverse impact and help discover some ways to end it. Five broad factor areas were been identified by Bond (Bond, et. al., 1998) as possible contributors to the disparity in cer tification rates between African-American and white candidates: demographic differences, recruitment differences, differences in teaching contexts, biases or deficiencies in the assessment process, and differences in teaching performance rooted in discriminati on and historic societal inequities in educational opportunity. The examination for bias in the assessment process yielded, through statistical analysis, a significant eff ect for race in the writing tasks. This underscores my intention to focus on the wr iting and language processes employed by the participants in the proposed study. There is another broad question being aske d about National Board Certification: Are National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) more effective than teachers who do not hold this title? Although few studies have been published on this topic, one of the first to do so found a correlation between teacher demons tration of fifteen specific dimensions of teaching excellence and NBCT status among the teachers (NBCT and non-NBCT) whose practices were observed and documente d (Bond, 2000). An independent study by
33 Cavalluzo (2004) found strong correlations be tween mathematics gains among ninth and tenth grade students, National Board Certific ation of their teachers, and various other factors associated with teacher quality. Additional studies by Vandevoort, AmreinBeardsley and Berliner (2004) and Goldha ber and Anthony (2004) also documented statistically significant positive differences between the academic achievement of students whose teachers are NBCTs and those whose teachers are not. Conversely, a case study of six recently cer tified NBCTs found th at two of them demonstrated exemplary practice, two were judged to be average performers, and two were considered to be ineffective according to the study criteria (Pool Ellett, Schiavone, & Carey-Lewis, 2001). These findings challe nge the validity affirmed by Bond, et al, (2000) and suggest that it may be possible to succeed in the Nationa l Board Certification process without consistent demonstration of high quality teaching performance. Additional in-depth studies based on a wider variety of randomly sel ected subjects would be necessary to confirm these early findings. Over time, the combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches will yield a more complete understanding of the impact of National Board Certifica tion on teacher practice a nd student achievement. In the meantime, it is provocative to consider the relationship between student/teacher race and student achievement. In a study of student achievement and teacher assignment data in Tennessee, D ee (2001) found that both Black and White students experienced, on average, a three to f our percentile point incr ease in reading and math scores when taught by a same-race teacher Further, when factoring in additional criteria, Dee (2001) found that observable el ements of teacher quality (experience, graduate education, and merit pay status) also correlated with increased achievement.
34 The implications of this study are clear for the context of the proposed study. According to Dee, Black students may fare better under th e instruction of Black teachers, especially if the teacher possesses elements of quality that parallel those of NBCTs (as related to experience and merit pay status.) This seem s to be compelling evidence for the proposed studyÂ’s premise that there is ethical justif ication for actively re cruiting and supporting Black teachers to seek and gain National Board Certification. Barriers to Achievement Where Writing and Culture Intersect Preparation of portfolio and Assessment Center entries for the National Board process requires facility with three distinct modes of writing: descriptive, analytical, and reflective. Descriptive passa ges set the stage for the assessor/reader to be able to envision the instructional occu rrence(s) on which the candidate has chosen to be judged. This writing provides the only opportunity for the candidate to help the assessor form a clear mental picture of the instructional se quences and settings in which the assessed practice is situated, which is particularly important for the entries that do not rely on videotaped teaching/learning sessions. Anal ytical sections provide insight into the candidateÂ’s thoughts about the effectiveness of the submitted instruction. Ideally, this mode affords the candidate an opportunity to Â“think out loudÂ” (albeit in written form) about the flow and results of the described pe riod of sample instruction. Reflective text provides a window into the personalization of the analysis. It is in these passages that the candidate speaks to the way in which the resu lts of instruction inform the revisitation and/or extension of instruction to optimize pr esent or future student learning outcomes. These are outgrowths of a reflective appr oach to teaching in which a practitioner
35 considers the results of an instructional seque nce and reteaches or extends instruction on the basis of the perceived success of the le sson. It provides an opportunity to think critically about what to change and what to retain in the t eaching practice. (Swain, 1998). Each entry has strict page limits within which the candidate must fulfill all of the descriptive, analytical and reflective task s to demonstrate Â“clear, consistent, and convincing evidenceÂ” (NBPTS, 1999b) that th e candidateÂ’s teachi ng practice meets the specific certification area standards assigned to that particular entry for performance. The high-stakes context of National Board candidacy includes the demand for production of convincing written and visual textual eviden ce that individual teaching practice meets the established threshold stan dards. This creates a rhetorical problem based in argument and evidence (Burroughs, 200 1). Such writing is seldom called for in the teacherÂ’s routine professiona l practice. Further, difficult ies associated with writing apprehension, knowledge representation, standards negotiation, sampling logic acknowledgment, and evidence usage contribut ed to the intimidating nature of the rhetorical tasks called for in NB processes (Burroughs, 2001). Confidence in writing ability has been found to correlate positively with the achievement of certification in at least tw o studies (Burroughs, Schwartz & HendricksLee, 1998; Moore, 1999). Earl-Novell (2001) found that womenÂ’s writing was frequently characterized as less bold, less confident, less ri sk-taking than that of male peers, with the male writing characteristics being those most valued in the awarding of highest undergraduate degree status in argumentbased subjectsÂ—whose writing tasks are routinely most aligned with the expectations of the type of writing demanded by the NB process.
36 A study by Palmquist and Young (1992) f ound that many writers believe that writing ability is relatively static and little improvement can be expected if one does not write well. In the context of National Bo ard, this could have a negative impact on teachers who do not earn sufficient points for cer tification on the first attempt. Since the initial achievement rate for Black teachers is relatively low, this argument could be extrapolated to hypothesize a magnified negativ e effect on their overall achievement rate if writing confidence is an i ssue (Hayes, Hatch, & Silk, 2000). The additional layers of personal background, teaching situation, culture, et c. all contribute to the resulting rich intertext (Witte, 1992) that, wh en systematically documented and analyzed in this study, could lead to some interesting and enli ghtening conclusions about how successful candidates approach and accomplish their que st for National Board Certification and about how others can be supported as they empower themselves to do the same. A thoughtful consideration of th e interaction betwee n culture and writing practices might provide insight. Exploring Discourse Au (1993) studied the written and oral di scourse style of native Hawaiian children and found that these children tended to rece ive lower grades in school and that their written and oral communication was frequen tly regarded by their teachers as needing remediation. She found that writing produced by these children tended to follow a rather winding narrative path, reflective of the analogy -based oral style that dominated the oral language in the childrenÂ’s home and nei ghborhood environments. Brice-Heath (1983) made similar observations when conducting rese arch in the Carolina Piedmont. There,
37 the oral language of minority students and th at of students from minority and low socioeconomic backgrounds tended to be more narrati ve, even in situations calling for an expository approach, than did that of white and upper socio-economic children. Again, this tended to be reflective of the language styles generally employed in the childrenÂ’s homes and neighborhoods and frequently had the effect of branding them as less competent users of language than their peers from higher socio-economic strata. Gee (1999) describes discourse in two ways: discourse and Discourse. Discourse is the context with in which day-to-day language use (discourse) occurs. A family conversing at dinner in their home would be exchanging words and an array of nonverbal signals in the course of that conversation. The actual verbal and non-verbal signals compose the dinnertime discourse. For exampl e, a teenage son might ask his mother if she had a good day, while laying his hand on her arm. The words and gesture are discourse. The familyÂ’s history (short a nd long term), its customs and culture, the presence of people other than immediate family members, the time of day, the menu, the location of the conversation, and myriad othe r factors of Discourse all influence the coding and interpretation of discourse. If th e mother and son had exchanged harsh words earlier in the day, there would be distinct shades of meani ng in both the inquiry and the touch, and the nuance would be perceived differe ntly by participants and witnesses to the exchange of discourse, dependent on their relati ve position in the Discourse at each point. Although it is an oversimp lification, it may be helpful to think of discourse as the content of communication, while Discourse is the context in which th e communication takes place. Language exchangesÂ—the observed communicationsÂ—are reported as discourse,
38 while they are situated and in terpreted within the broader boundaries of Discourse. Each shapes the other in a cycle of mutual interdependence. For this study, one discourse was the da y-to-day communication and texts that serve as bricks with which the Discourse of the quest for National Board Certification is built. Similarly, another relevant discourse was the texts of enacted teaching and learning in the typical, situated sens e, while the culture of teachi ng and the education profession formed a more overarching Discourse. For exam ple, there are descriptions of routine, day-to-day teaching (to put it in terms of Gee, Â“teaching in us eÂ”) that typify discourse in this sense. This contrasts with broade r descriptions of teaching theory, social organizations and systemic constructs that co mprise the more amalgamated experience of Education as a Discourse. In many cases, they overlap and seem to morph during observation and analysis, and therefore may be most accurately termed d/Discourses. It is perhaps reasonable to theorize that many of the Black teachers applying for National Board Certification in this southern state devel oped language skills in the environments described by Au (1993) and Brice-Heath (1983) as those privileging narrative-reliant oral and written language styl es. Given the relative ly low rate at which Black NB candidates achieve NBCT status, a nd given the specifications for the written elements of all NB entries, one might postu late that there is an inherent disconnect between the day-to-day discourse of individua l Black teachers and the Discourse which is rewarded in the NB processÂ—and of which the NB process is a defining element. Indeed, this disconnect is one experien ced by most people as they navigate the boundaries between private and public discourse We often speak differently at home, with family and friends, than we do in public or professional situations. Thus, this sense
39 of disequilibrium is frequently experienced by teachers endeavori ng to craft written portfolio entries, as I have observed while working with previous groups of candidates. Because this study is focused on the broad disc ourses, and specifically because this type of code-switching is inherent to the pragmatics of socially s ituated language use, I choose not to dwell here on the Ebonics debate or ot her examinations of di alect associated with Black communication. Purcell-Gates (2002), for example, documented the assumptions made by teachers about students upon hearing th e dialect of their southern Appalachian parents. The challenge for some Nationa l Board candidatesÂ—White and BlackÂ—and those who would make efforts to assist them is to successfully br idge the gap between the discoursesÂ—mend the disconnectÂ—in order to engage in the discourse most likely to be rewarded by completion of the language task at hand. In other words, in following a style highly valued in the Black culture (Smithermann, 1977), Black teachers may write in a way that may frustrate non-minority readers (Smithermann, 1977). This is bor ne out by Michaels and CazdenÂ’s finding (1986) that Black graduate students more accu rately interpreted me ssages composed in a culturally-familiar narrative style than did non-minority peers to whom the composition style was less familiar. Conversely, we s hould be informed by Terrebonne (1977) that the use of Black English Vern acular (BEV), although stigmati zed, is not correlated with SES, standardized test scores, or motivati on to write in Edited American English. However, more recent research by Bond (1998) implies that Black cultural markers may impact how assessors score candi date entries. Since I am to serve as a facilitator and mentor for Black candidates who will be pr oducing large amounts of written text as evidence that their teaching meets standards for National Board Certification, I will need
40 to learn to identify these markers and devise strategies to help writers make informed decisions about the extent to which they in clude these elements in their edited, submitted entries. In addition, teaching style may be a bi asing factor, with the National Board process perhaps favoring student-centered approaches (Bond, 1998) over the culturally specific style of pedagogy termed Â“warm de manderÂ” (Irvine & Fr aser, 1998). LadsonBillings (1994) labeled teachers who assume high degrees of responsibility for student learning and who seek excellence and improve ment as conductors and tutors. These teachers, by retaining rather than sharing responsibility for inst ruction, run classrooms that are more teacher-centered than studentcentered. This is a hallmark of culturally relevant instruction according to Ladson-B illings, however, and wa rrants consideration by a researcher seeking to enter into mutu al professional relationships with Black teachers seeking an advanced credential. There is some concern that the writing demands of the NB pr ocess, specifically the inherent demand for persuasive power in the writing, may be in conflict with the demands for content accountability (Burroughs Swartz & Hendricks-Lee, 2000.) This need to juggle the persuasive pursuit with the more linear descriptive expository format could create Â“double jeopardyÂ” for Black candidate s, especially at the secondary level. Candidates will need to simultaneously descri be students with sensitivity and objectivity; describe teaching situation and practices with precision; provide evidence of standards persuasively, and portray academic content (especially in subject-specific secondary certificate areas) with accuracy. The Â“double jeopardyÂ” may occur for candidates, Black or otherwise, who attempt this daunting task with an unpracticed capacity for these types
41 of writing and who employ the use of vernacu lar markers (regional, racial, ethnic, or cultural). Another lens through which to view the various text demands of NB comes from Kinneavy (1971), who described four modes of discourse. These modes are based on the kinds of answers to two fundamental questions about a text: What is it and what is it about? The modes are labeled ac cording to the key word in the response: narration (ItÂ’s a story aboutÂ…); classification (It tell the kinds ofÂ…); desc ription (It describesÂ…); and evaluation (ItÂ’s a critique ofÂ…). In terms of the specific texts cal led for in the production of NB portfolio entries, Kinn eavyÂ’s modes could certainly be applied. Descriptive tasks fall into KinneavyÂ’s description category, but ma y also include elemen ts of classification. In some cases it may even have narrative char acteristics, especially when retelling a classroom instructional sequence, which woul d certainly have elements of a good story. Analytic writing would usually be genera ted by employing the modes of classification and evaluation, but might rely on descriptive and narrative bolstering. Reflective writing could also depend on all four modes, based initially on the classification and evaluation forms, but verging into description and narra tion when outlining responsive potential next steps. Since National Board Certified Teachers form the bulk of the assessor corps for NBPTS, and since Black teachers are currently under-represented among NBCTs, it follows that the vast majority of the assesso rs are likely to be non-minority raters. Since the recently cited authors have clearly correlated race-ori ented perceptions and textproduction styles with complications in the interpretation of text perceived to be divergent, it also follows th at Black candidates are perhaps more likely to produce written
42 texts that diverge from the certification-leve l expectations of the assessors and the NB scoring process. This hypothesis is curre ntly under study by NBPTS, focused on such previously noted biases that may impact the va lidity of scoring pro cesses. Those studies will likely yield important information about the effectiveness bias-recognition training currently received by all NB scorers. The goal, of course, is a truly unbiased scoring process that will render reliable scores for all candidates, regardless of demographic classifications of either the candidates or the scorers and w ithout impact of any overt or subtle cultural identifiers or markers. The Production of Text Fundamental elements of writing competence and the various background experiences and expectations candidates bring to the process bear examination to gain a fuller understanding of how and why their portfol io texts evolve. Emig (1971) described a variety of elements in the writing pro cess employed by high school seniors. She identified two key types of text production: re flexive and extensive. Reflexive writing is that usually produced in the course of daily private life and by choi ce (self-sponsored), such as grocery lists, personal letters, journa ls and diaries, notes and the like. Extensive writing, however, was more closely defined as that produced in the course of accomplishing school tasks (school sponsored): reports, papers, essays, and formal written answers to questions. The specific sk ills, organizational structures and cognitive processes demanded in composing reflexiv e and extensive writing are different. Although there was some Â“overlapÂ” between the self-sponsored motivation and the school-sponsored task specifica tions of the portfolio wri ting work, some disconnect between the skills required for successful navigation of the various simultaneous
43 d/Discourses inhabited by candidates was re vealed as this work was observed. Hayes and Flower (1983) studied the cogni tive processes adult students used as they produced expository text. They observe d that skilled and novi ce writers tend to use distinctly different approaches to their work. The strategies employed by more efficient, skillful writers can be specified and taught. Thus, systematic observation of National Board candidates in writing situations and systematic review of the resulting texts revealed opportunities to suggest and activate interv entions that helped the writers gain confidence to meet the expository demands of the writing tasks required for completion of National Board portfolio and assessment center entries. The information gained through careful observation and analysis of writerÂ’s needs was vita l to the task of implementing effective mentori ng for the study participants. Mentoring It proves fruitful to turn to literatur e on teacher mentoring. Much has been written in recent years about the effectiv eness of pairing new teachers with more experienced peers to scaffold the pred ictable developmental processes commonly navigated by entry-level teachers. The prem ise of mentoring, named for the mythical Greek master teacher, is that a willing fiel d initiate can be guid ed to successful and relevant learning by a more experienced and knowledgeable partner who is willing to take the less experienced mentee under the wing and provide readil y accessible and onpoint guidance as it is needed This Â“point of need teachingÂ” (Nelson, 1991) characterizes the activ ity undertaken when NBCTs shar e their experience with other teachers who are entering or considering the pursuit of National Board Certification (NBPTS, 1999). Experienced in an atmo sphere of care (Noddings, 1992) designed to
44 meet mutual needs, this can be a most produc tive mentoring situation as mentioned in the Chapter One explanation of the teacher prof essional development network. An example of this would be the case of a candidate w ho seeks help to unders tand the link between a portfolio task and the standards to be docum ented in the completion of the task. In a mentoring relationship anchored in a climate of care, the me ntor would feel a level of investment in meeting the needs of the mentee, and there would be a cooperative collaboration to seek the needed information ri ght at the time it is required. This is in sharp contrast to a Â“supportÂ” system struct ured to provide script ed information in a predetermined sequence through group sessions deliv ered by detached trainers with little stake in the outcome. A survey conducted by NBPTS in Sept ember, 2001 indicates that 80.8 % of Florida candidates participated in an or ganized support group duri ng the certification process. In the local distri ct previously referred to in this study, 89% of candidates accessed mentoring support at some poi nt in the process during the 1999-2002 application cycle, but more significantly, 97% of those who achieved certification received mentoring support. An indepe ndent, unpublished study of the relationship between the use of mentoring services and the achievement of certification (Leftwich, 2000) established a correlation coefficient of .81 and an effect size of .67, suggesting a significant link between participation in me ntoring activities and the achievement of certification. A future continuation of th is study will examine whether the amount of mentoring (i.e., number of hours) and the ment oring mode (i.e., face-to face, telephone, group, individual, email, etc.) im pact the achievement rate. While the NBPTS process was designed to be accessible and achievable for
45 teachers working in any setting under any conditions, including extreme isolation (NBPTS, 2000), the social nature of constructivism s eems to be at work in the process. This is supported by studies on the effectiv eness of peer coaching (Emrick, 1989; Joyce & Showers, 1982), in which it was found th at supportive inter action among partner teachers resulted in positive professiona l development outcomes. Effectively implemented mentoring programs (Shipper-C ordaro, 1995) were found to have an interactive effect with the so cial nature of teaching culture (Little, 1990). These findings seem to support the establishment of a supporti ve mentoring program as a first step in working to increase NB/ETP participati on and achievement for any given group of teachers. A Model for Assistance In considering how to assist candidates in reaching their certification goal, I find it useful to consider an approach explaine d by Au and Raphael (2000) as the basis for planning how to deliver ment oring assistance to the Nati onal Board candidates in the proposed study. The model utilizes four compon ents (situated practi ce, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice) th at align readily with the overall process employed by NBPTS. Situated practice occurs when learners interact with others in circumstances where they can assume various roles based on prior experience. This certainly is analogous to the situation in wh ich a new candidate finds herself when first undertaking to comprehend NB tasks through participation in support group exercises such as those described in subsequent chapters Next, overt instruc tion scaffolds attempts by the learner to navigate new experiences. This may be accomplished in a one-to-one mentoring session or in a large group support event. These tw o first stages of mentoring
46 were times when code-switching between th e various social languages (Gee, 1999) were taught and practiced, because mentees were called upon repeatedly to explain their decisions and choices, increasi ngly in terms of the standard s. Then, critical framing enabled learners to place their new knowledge and skills in the c ontext of the larger world, or Discourse. This takes place in National Board processes when candidates analyze their practices against the certification standards. Finally, in the transformed practice stage, learners cons istently apply new knowledge and skills while seeking new ways to confirm and improve the effectiv eness of their practices. While the NBPTS application process may provide opportunities for engagement in each of these four stages of practice, mentoring based on this model and the applicati on process diverged as the certification process itse lf moved toward conclusion/ decision, while the reflective practice cycle repeats as transformed pract ice leads to newly situated practice. Code-switching is an area that was specifically addressed during mentoring sessions. People employ a number of social languages, each appropria te for particular situations, audiences, and co-p articipants in the communicati on. I, for instance, speak differently when conversing with my childre n than I do with my husband, or my major professor, or with my elected governmental representatives. I write differently when composing an email to a coworker than when crafting a letter of recommendation for a student, a final grant report, or a thank you note to my mother-i n-law. When, as noted in the previous section, vernacular language or other cultural markers may be a contributing element (as they may be when working with any specific group configured on the basis of any demographic factors), and when the st akes are high (as they certainly are in the case of National Board entries), a mentor seek ing to assist candidates with writing must
47 be alert for the presence of those elements and employ strategies to help writers make careful, deliberate, and producti ve composition choices with the audience, situation, and goal for the writing exercise firmly in mind. Care was taken in structuring activitie s, however, in light of the findings by Hartman and Everson (1996) revealing that Bl ack college students are less likely to access tutoring due to feelings of self-reliance and the fact that they rarely studied with classmates. Hartman and Everson (1996) found a correlation betw een these practices and factors of self-concept rooted in a participantÂ–stated cult ural value of independence. Workshops designed with these factors in mi nd bypassed the resistance to interdependent support activities; however, by acknowledgi ng and subtly accommodating independent self-reliance, resulted in improved academic performance and enhanced college program retention rates. Similarly well-design ed support activities could increase both perseverance in certification processes and ce rtification achievement rates. This means that I needed to be prepared to offer a vari ety of participation structures for candidates: large group, small group, and individual mentorin g formats. I needed to be ready with structured, sequentially pla nned mentoring support activiti es for candidates who sought such assistance, while accommodating candida tes who sought help, but who were more receptive to a candidate-driven agenda. Philosophical Foundation Constructs of Minority Ogbu studied minority-majority relationships in schools, particularly as those relationships shaped school achievement (Ogbu, 1991). He differentiated between immigrant minorities and involuntary minorities, and found that members of involuntary
48 minorities tended more than majority and immigrant minority group members to adopt oppositional attitudes and to resist assimilati on as Â“acts of freedom and defianceÂ” (Finn, 1999). Ogbu used todayÂ’s Asian immigrants as an example of a voluntary minority group. Asian immigrants, upon arrival in th e United States, often find themselves achieving a long-term goal. They want to be here, and they want to succeed here. They may not seek total cultural assimilation, but they generally acced e to the adoption of English as a new language and mainstream cultural norms as defining parameters for day-to-day social interactions. Conversely, he wrote of African-Americans as an example of an involuntary minority group, citing the slave tr ade as the route by which most of the first Black arrived on the North American continent as eviden ce of the unchosen nature of this groupÂ’s initial immigration pathway. Ogbu built upon this in explaining why, for instance, Black youths may be more generally resistant to th e adoption of traditional literacy practices and social norms, noting that for group me mbers with this motivating mindset that cooperation and assimilation are viewed as traitorous acts of collaboration with oppressors. While it is inappropriate at best, and da ngerous at worst, to generalize OgbuÂ’s ideas as a frame for predicting or interpreti ng the behaviors or motiv ations of individual members of any demographic group, his theory provided a stance from which to consider the possible point of view of participants in the study whose racial, ethnic, or cultural heritage and societal experience differs from his/her own. It can also provide a lens through which to view ecologica l factors that impact achieve ment, in this case, of the
49 goal of National Board Certification by teacher s who Ogbu would classi fy as members of an involuntary minority. In an effort to examine the school expe riences of minority group members, Anyon conducted detailed observations of school experi ences of students from all walks of life, and determined that the social class of students, teachers and the adjacent school community were key determiners of the qua lity and outcome of those experiences (Anyon, 1997). Students in lower socioeconomic level schools tended to have teachers, families, and neighbors who inhabited those soci al strata. Finn (1999) asserts this pattern (which tends to promote self-perpetuati ng poverty or wealth, de pending upon location) can be broken by educators who are willing to empower students to recognize and serve their own best interests. Teachers who ma y be enmeshed in a demographic pattern of low participation and low achievement (Black NB candidates) within a process designed to serve their professional and economic self-interest (NB/ETP) can be equipped for empowerment to promote that self -interest (Finn, 1999; Freire, 1993). Power and Authority Foucault viewed language in post-modern so ciety as a tool in a pervasive power struggle between levels of society, betw een groups and individuals, and between competing interests within individuals (F aubion, 2000). Using power/knowledge as a structure, he took Sa ussureÂ’s notions of langue and parole to the next level. Langue is the language system itself, as enacted through the use of parole, observable in the act of oral or written communica tion (Spivey, 1997). Power a nd knowledge are similarly intertwined, inseparable from one another. Power cannot be gained or employed meaningfully in the absence of knowledge, which cannot be apprehended nor applied
50 without employing the tools of power, however peripherally. However, due to its polarized, binary nature, pow er/knowledge requires negative counterbalancing concepts against which it can continually be defined (Appignanesi & Garratt, 1999). While such contrived structures as these are antithetical to poststructural analysis it may be useful to temporarily impose a binary-based structure to aid interpretation of the chaotically interwoven network of d/Discourses inherent to the complexities of the quest for NBPTS certification. A possible application for th is line of poststruc tural thought is the provisional binary construction of accomplishe d/teaching, the foils for which all serve to give education advocates pause. An example of this type of provi sional construction is the commonly accepted model of the atom, wh ich is not intended to be an accurate rendering of atomic structure, but rather an apprehendible, concrete representation of an abstract concept. Foucault described five characterizations for the analysis of power relations (Marshall, 1990): the differen tiating systems that provide the frame for the enactment of power relations; the objectiv es pursued by those employing power; the means by which power comes into play; the form of the in stitution housing the enact ment of power; the level of rationalization required to justify the use of power in any given situation. This may be a useful frame for analyzing the emerging power of the National Board for Professional Standards. Appli cation of these characterizations to the structure of power as it relates to the subject at hand would pl ace NBPTS the Florida GovernorÂ’s Office, and the Florida Legislature as the primary differentiating systems framing the enactment of power relations; the development and rete ntion of a highly qualified and highly credentialed teaching force as the goals of those employing power ; legislation and rule
51 development processes as the means by which the power comes into play ; The Florida School Board and the Department of Education as the institutions housing the enactment of power; and the teacher shor tage coupled with the demands of education accountability as the primary rati onalizations for the use of power Freire identified literacy as a political and economic to ol that was deliberately withheld from certain groupsÂ—and a tool th at could be delivered by deliberately choosing to teach the oppressed to use it (Freire, 1993). Shannon has explored the relationships between literacy instructional pr actices and perceived social class to some depth, and has found that literacy is indeed a power tool withheld (overtly and otherwise) from lower social class inhabitants (Shannon, 1992.) Members of lower social cl asses and of minority groups (e.g. races) are frequently viewed as Â“othersÂ” in the broad discourse Â“OthersÂ” are those who are different, strangers, outsiders. From a critical perspective, Â“otheringÂ” is a necessary first step to the establishment of justification for inequity (van Dijk, 1997). This is often accomplished through a process of Â“doublingÂ” (Fasching, 1993) whereby Â“othersÂ” are ascribed to Â“theyÂ” status in a we/they dualism. Examina tion of the extent to which Black teachers are viewed as Â“othersÂ” were critical in cen tering both the problem of under-representation by Blacks participating in the NB process a nd in formulating proposed approaches to dealing with it. The success of the effort re sted, I believe, partly in my ability as a participant observer to identify Â“otheringÂ” within both myself a nd the larger context within which certification is sought, overcom e it with respect to my own beliefs and behaviors, and articulate it clearly enough to warrant attent ion for redress within the broader context.
52 A societyÂ’s willingness to meet Â“strange rsÂ” with a response of Â“hospitalityÂ” (Fasching & DeChant, 2001) is a hallmark of its ethical climate. It is appropriate to introduce the topic of Ethics, given the harsh, dismissive statement that sent me headlong into this study. In consideration of the disp arity in certification ra tes for Black teachers, and recognition of the importance of writing sk ill as facilitative in the achievement of National Board Certifica tion, this researcher felt an oblig ation to ground actions in ethical reasoning to bolster the like lihood that the results were significant enough to have a positive impact on the social justi ce factors inherent to this study. Demographic issues of power. Power is energy and authority is cont rol (Price & Cutler, 2001). Authority is dependent upon power because authority alone has nothing to control. Likewise, power without authority is devalued, because ungoverned power is dangerous. Power and control balance issues are typified in three ideal situations: Adult-Adult, Adult-Child, and Child-Child. In the former, power and control are shared equally for mutual benefit. In the Adult-Child relationship, the adult actu ally abdicates power to the child, while retaining control duri ng the process of matu ration. In a Child-Child relationship, both parties struggle for power in a situation wher e there is no control. The implications for NB candidates are clear. Highly accomplished t eachers would ideally interact with peers in mutually beneficial Adult-Adult relations hips of equal, although shifting, power. They would be adept in maintaining Adult-Child re lationships with student s as they learn and grow. Teachers practicing at th is level would be facilitators of studentsÂ’ transitions from Child-Child to Adult-Adult rela tions with peers over time. According to Harris and Hill (1998), western women are expected to assume five
53 defining roles, albeit to varying degrees. Th e first is that of Wife. The second role, extending from the first, is Mother followed closely by the third, Nurturer. The fourth role, Career Woman, can foster identity if th e demands of the role or expectations of others force a choice between role s. Finally, they are expected to be aesthetic qualities of feminine beauty in fulfillment of the role as Sex Object. For Black women, these roles exist, but with additional laye rs of stereotyped and potential ly oppressive expectations. The role of wife carries an expectation that men will be supported at all costs (Harris & Hill, 1998). The roles of Mother and Nurturer do not necessarily derive from the role as Wife, and indeed, they carry community expe ctations that the woman will nurture not just her own family, but the community as a whole. As Career Woman, the Black woman is expected to assume responsibility for Â“race upliftingÂ” through such avenues as education for the purpose of improving the w hole race, both locally and globally. The part Black women play as Sex Objects is c onstructed differently than for White women, insofar as its primitive, savage image may also be rooted in stereotypes that were developed to justify slavery (Harris & H ill, 1998). These differences in social construction were important to consider wh en undertaking female-to-female interaction on an issue with as much intensity as the pursu it of NB Certification, as they manifest in the enactment of social language while navi gating the d/Discourses of the process (Gee, 1999). Maher (1999) builds on the description of these roles, noting that teachers, operate in the traditional role of Nurturer, wherei n women are required to walk a tightrope between the invisible exercise of authority and the passive en actment of nurturing. Both are illusions, given that teachers must indeed exert some tangible authority while actively
54 rendering caring nurturance. Post-modern id eas of positional pedagogy place teachers in the position of sharing power with other me mbers of the d/Discourse community along an ever-shifting continuum. In such an arrangement, the teacher no longer inhabits a traditional hierarchy, but reflectively fac ilitates the development of evolving, contextualized knowledge for herself and her st udents. In this study, the challenge was to create a supportive environment through which the candidate-participants became empowered to intentionally enact a greater share of power. Critical Discourse Analysis Language both shapes and articulates our perceptions of realit y, regardless of how they are constructed or oriented (e.g., con cepts of hierarchy, k nowledge, certification, etc). Choices about language-in-use (disco urse) derive from a nd contribute to the broader Discourses in which our discourses are situated. A careful analysis of languagein-use can reveal much about the broader Discourses, as a thoughtful examination of Discourse informs us about the mean ings of our various discourses. Critical discourse analysis was outlined by Fairclough (1995) as an approach to the study of specifically situated language The language employed by candidates in building their cases for certifi cation will inevitably rest on the shifting foundations of the language chosen to tell the story each teacher has to tell and the language of the National Board Discourse. The achievement decisi on is determined by whether these languages intersect or collideÂ—whether the Discourses connect or disconnect. Language usageÂ— specifically, the use of written languageÂ—is im bued with gatekeeping status with respect to the power and privilege associated with the National Board d/Di scourse. The stakes are high. According to Riggins (1997), by at tempting to describe, explain, and critique
55 the interacting d/Discourses, the researcher may act as advocate for those who Â“lack the institutional levers to produce counterdiscou rsesÂ” and in the hope that the work will Â“contribute to social emancipationÂ” (p. 3). Tying it Together The central structure of National Boar d Certification pr ocesses provides a framework for a re-examination of the key elem ents of the literature by way of summary. The processes by which candidates enter into and complete application for National Board Certification were detailed. Evidence was provided to show that Black teachers are currently under-repre sented in the quest for and th e attainment of National Board Certification. Barriers to achievement we re explored and mentoring proposed as a possible solution, including a proposed model for the mentoring program. The philosophical foundation was outlined, ending with an overview of the concept of discourse and discourse analysis as for data and data analysis. Refining the Questions As Chapter One ended, these questions ha d emerged: Why do so relatively few Black teachers enter the process for seeking National Board Certification? When they do apply, why do they succeed in atta ining the certification at a rate lower than that of White teachers? How can these two trends be reversed? In light of the information presented a nd discussed in the preceding review of literature, it seems appropriate now to revisit the questions to narrow them and refine the wording to more accurately reflect the focu s of the inquiry as shaped by previous academic work and research findings. As Chapter Two draws to a close, the cen tral questions bear reconsideration in
56 light of the reviewed literatu re. Language and literacy issu es discussed in this chapter can be framed by the constructs of d/Discourse For the purposes of trying to gain an understanding of factors that inhibit participation and success for Black candidates, we can be guided by the literature to focus on the elements present in the broad general Discourses of National Board and Teaching that facilitate and/or block the achievement of certification. How are these Discourse elements enacted through the day-to-day deployments of discourse within those two realms as well as the others in which candidates routinely function? Where do these elements of d/Discourse mesh to facilitate success and/or collide to inhibit it? Can mentoring help? How? The ideas conjured by the words Â“meshÂ” and Â“collideÂ” evoke competing images of smooth functioning as contra sted with jammed gears. The machinery works or it doesnÂ’t. The pieces connect properly, f unctionallyÂ…..or not. Connect/Disconnect. Worlds that mesh or collide. Discourses that connect or disconnect. Processes that can help? The research questions raised at the outset can now be more specifically and clearly stated as follows: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Building on the information gained from a re view of the literature, a discussion of methodology for conducting the inquiry follows in Chapter Three.
57 CHAPTER THREE Methodology The proposed study was qualitative, with special emphasis on the use of discourse analysis. The broad study formats will be action research utilizing participant observation (Jorgensen, 1989) and lim ited case study, undertaken within a phenomenological framework. Central Questions The central questions in this study, de rived from and supported by information outlined in the preceding sections and definitively stated on that basis at the end of Chapter Two, are as follows: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Epistemology Phenomenology is a qualitative approach th at allows the researcher to examine related occurrencesÂ—or phenomenaÂ—as connected sets. Phenomenologists use standard qualitative research techniques, such as in terviews, observation, and document analysis to systematically record and analyze the observerÂ’s and the participantsÂ’ perceptions of events, situations, and processes. Phenom enological researchers operating in the
58 traditions of holistic ethnography approach their subjects and topics not with the intent to discover hard and fast facts and truths (J acobs, 1987), but rather with the goal of discerning and understanding the phenomena from the viewpoint of th e participants who are involved to varying degrees in the enactme nt, the habitation, and the incorporation of the phenomena in day-to-day life (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998). In other words, phenomenology is a method by which research ers strive to accurately and fully apprehend the lived experiences of their subjects (Stone, 1979). Phenomenology is rooted in a philosophy ar ticulated by Husserl in its later form in a series of lectures between April 26 a nd May 2, 1907. These five lectures outlined the parameters of the reasoning system Husserl wa nted to develop as a rigorous science of essences (Lauer, 1965), equal to other natural sciences (Kockelmans, 1967). This science was to establish an Â“essentia lÂ” knowledge of things (Lauer 1965). Through the practice of this discipline, Husserl intended to capture pure data about the perceptions and experiences of observed others (Husserl, 1964). This involves a multi-step process beginning with the practice of e poch, or the setting aside of all natural belief about the object of study and the world in which it is situated (Kockelmans, 1967; Lauer, 1965), or the adoption of a completely neutral att itude regarding the su bject (McKenna, 1989). Previously held conceptions about the subj ect are bracketed, or suspended, while the essence is discerned (Stone, 1979). The resu lting perceptions are then subjected to a series of analytic reductions (Stone, 1979), th rough which patterns and relationships from those related to oneÂ’s innermost private life-world, through in ter-subjectivity and interpersonal experience, to the self-ref lective realm of personal consciousness are observed and confirmed (Stone, 1979).
59 Wagner (1983) explains the process de scribed by Schutz as a progression through a series of concentric lenses through which the recorded experience is examined from the viewpoint of the situated soci al act, reciprocity, intersubjecti vity, relevance, typification, scheme of interpretation, a nd province of meaning. In the case of National Board, SchutzÂ’s structures can be a useful fr amework for organizing the systematic deconstruction of a phenomenon, or specific mani fested experience as it relates to the broader structure. For instance, an anal ysis of a candidateÂ’s perception of her relationship to the National Board proce ss might proceed as follows (Wagner, 1983): Province of Meaning: The whole, br oad schema of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Scheme of Interpretation: The more speci fic, situated experi ence of National Board Certification. Typification: This narrows the focus, but still comprises ve ry general response classes. This might include such categor ies as certification area or related school level (e.g., Early Childhood Generalist). Relevance: The current status relative to a given standard. In this case, likely to be current status relative to the scheme of interpretation (e.g., banking candidate). Intersubjectivity: Knowledge, beliefs or unde rstandings requisite to participation in a social interaction (e.g., ability to articulate standards pertinent to certification area). Reciprocity: Accepted flexibility of pers pective. In this case, may facilitate composition of test with audience in mi nd (e.g., Â“If I writeÂ…Â…the scorer will think that Â…Â”).
60 Paramount Reality: How one perceives pers onal reality as it relates every day life (e.g., lesson planning, student assessment, etc. Finite Reality: Related to liner time pr ogression, involving a beginning, middle, and end (e.g., It is 6 weeks until my assessment center appointment). Perceptions of reality may carry additional frames of reference, such as emic (self-description of perceptions ) and etic (otherÂ’s perceptions). This emic/etic binary relates not just to paramount a nd finite reality as described above, but also to the implied similar relationship between paramount reality and reciprocity of perspective. A dialogue that interrogates discrepancies between emic and etic can serve to clarify perceived elements of experience (Stone, 1979). A dialogue of this sort occurred within or during the composition of descriptive-analytical-refl ective written text associated with a portfolio entry. Certainly such a dialogue was prompted internally every time the researcher invoked an attitude of epoch as described later in this chapter. Heuristic inquiry is a phenomenologi cal approach that incorporates the experiences and interpretations of the obs erver in addition to those of the study participants (Patton, 1990). This is an appropriate choice when the researcher is deeply enmeshed in the subject of the inquiry. Wh ile the personal feelings and experiences of the observer are considered to be Â“cloudingÂ” factors in pure phenom enological research, they serve the heuris tic inquirer as tools for discerni ng and explaining the fundamental spirit of the observed phenomenon. Heuristi cs respects the persona l connection between the observer and the observed, while pure phe nomenology values the detachment of the observer from the observed. Also, the heuris tic approach leads to a synthesis of the researcherÂ’s objective observat ions and subjective experience -based interpretations while
61 a purely phenomenological approach yields a refined view of th e experience itself. (Patton, 1990). Heuristic inquiry is an appropriate choice of method when the topic lends naturally to subjective inte rpretation (Lee, 1996). When researchers are intimately engaged with the subject of or participants in an inquiry, frankl y qualitative methods may, in fact, yield not only more data, but richer data (Bloomgarden & Netzer, 1998). Heuristic phenomenology provides a frame with in which the researcher can fully explore the role of context and relationships from a personal point of view in order to develop more complete understandings of obser ved phenomena (Sumsion, 2001). The new understandings, based on reflection and intuition, can be validated through carefully conducted heuristic inquiry (Krippner, 1985). Action research is practice-based inqu iry focused on the improvement of ongoing processes (Johnson, 2005). It is often used to study and a ddress specific problems in classrooms or programs (Johnson, 2005; Patton, 1990). Action research goals may be either political or practical in nature. Polit ical action research s eeks to improve policies and the programs they impact, while prac titioner research seeks to improve the effectiveness of the prac titioner (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998) Because it is focused on finding solutions for specific problems, genera lization of findings is less important than for more traditional research approaches (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006). Action approaches are characterized by the commit ment of researchers to the improvement of conditions for the participants in the curre nt study (Shank, 2006). Action resear ch tends to blur the lines between observers and particip ants, often resulting in th e role of the participantresearcher (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006). The va lidity of action research findings can be
62 increased through the use of systematic data collection procedures and rigorous attention to processes for data analysis (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2005). The emergent method, which became clear as the study progressed, proved to be a hybrid approach. While the broad frame was phenomenological, and originally sought to express the participantsÂ’ lived experiences it became apparent that it would be impossible to completely disregard the perspe ctives of the researcher. Indeed, it would have been counterproductive to have done so, given the researcherÂ’s depth of previous experience with candidate mentoring. Additi onally, the intensity of the researcherÂ’s involvement with the process and the participants in the study naturally narrowed the method to a heuristic phenomenological a pproach. Finally, the focus on improving the success rates of Black participants, with limite d expectations of ge neralizable findings, made it necessary to consider the structur es, constraints, and cautions for validity associated with action research. Participants There are approximately 450 Black pub lic school teachers in the local public school district who are eligible to apply for National Board Ce rtification. Potential study subjects self-selected for participation after expressing interest in receiving information about the process, indicating interest in rece iving advance preparation for the process, or upon actually applying to enter the process. Teachers who elected not to seek certification were included in broad focus gr oups, while those seeki ng certification were be the subjects of small group observation a nd case study. Details regarding these steps are found in the following section. A focus group of approximately 30 teachers were interested in participating at
63 varying levels of involvement and with vary ing expectations regard ing the immediacy of benefit from such participation. From a group of this size, two subjects were purposefully selected for more in-depth case study. The issue of random vs. non-random selecti on as it related to validity for this study was important to consider. While ra ndom selection is highly prized in most experimental research traditions, it is not a factor in studies guided by a phenomenological perspective. Studies of this type, as has already been noted, seek to understand specific phenomena from the par ticipantÂ’s perspective, not to create generalizable conclusions (Hycner, 1985). Therefore, randomness is not only inconsequential; it is highly unlikely to occur, since participants will have the experience of the examined events or experiences in common from the outset. Further, randomness was not a productive selection criterion, b ecause it wasnÂ’t a facilitating study design element for the necessarily high level of sensitiv ity to participants' characteristics that are of particular interest in this study. Random selections could, for ex ample, result in the choice of a candidate from the focus gr oup who, although she was productively engaged in the focus group mentoring and NB certi fication processes, did not tend toward reflective interview conversation and did not wish to be a case study participant. Such an unfortunate random selection w ould have robbed the study of th e vitality that could only have resulted from a more purposef ul, non-random selection process. Patton (1990) discusses circumstances wh en it is useful to employ purposeful selection strategies. Among other options, in tensity sampling is especially appropriate for heuristic studies where participants and co -researchers provide particularly rich veins of data to be mined for the study. In such studies, participants w ho have self-selected on
64 the basis of certain criteria (in this case th e desire to seek NB certification) tend to be concentrated sources of data. Method The proposed study was planned to proceed according to the following sequence: Invitations were issued to area te achers who meet study group criteria A letter was sent via school courier service to all teachers in the district personnel database whose records matched the prim ary search criteria. The two queried fields and criteria were Â“RaceÂ—BlackÂ” and Â“ExperienceÂ—greater than or equal to 3.Â” A copy of the invitation memo is recorded in Appendix A. Initial focus group meeting This meeting was held at a local school to administer the initial survey, sh are NB and ETP information and conduct an informal initial group conversation and observation. The in itial survey form and meeting agenda are recorded in Appendices B and C. Facilitated assistance to pot ential candidates parallel to and collaboratively with existing district support mechanisms This set of activities consisted of both formal and informal assistance to teachers as they considered applying to become candidates for National Board Certificat ion. This involved personal and group conversations about the processes an d rigors of seeking a National Board Certificate, answering questions on the a pplication form, clarifying requirements of the state fee subsidy program, provi ding information about various support groups, and myriad other assistances as dive rse as the individuals seeking them. Ascertained participantsÂ’ needs, desire s, and expectations for scaffolding Applicants were asked to complete a shor t survey indicating wh ether they prefer
65 to meet for support based on geography, on certification area, or both. This was necessary due to the large physical size of the school district and the fact that, in my experience, some teachers prefer to meet with others seeking the same area of certification, while others choose to meet near their work location or home. This was a good time to learn which candidate s had interest in group support and which preferred to work alone or in a one-to-one mentoring situation. The Support Preference Survey is provided in Appendix D. Organized and conducted regular small group support meetings to facilitate delivery of indicated support and assistance The school district Human Resource Development Department coordinates a program to organize and conduct regular small group meetings based on both geogra phy and certification area. Potential applicants were informed of plans for th ese support efforts in addition to those planned as part of this research study A schedule of study-related events, a sample of which is provided in Appendi x E, was provided to school district program coordinators. Study participants were eligible to attend all districtsponsored support events, and non-particip ants were welcomed to attend studyrelated events. Data were collected fr om study participants at both types of meetings. No data was collected fr om non-participants, and if collected inadvertently or peripherally (such as when audio taping conversations) the data were not transcribed, the participants we re not identified, and the data did not factor into any aspect of data analysis. All of the steps listed above are ongoing and/or routine activities that occurred in conjunction with my former role in the sc hool district, and are efforts in which I
66 remained integrally involved for nearly si x years. The following steps in the planned research sequence were sp ecific to the proposed study. Obtained IRB approval and successfully defended research proposal These formal institutional approvals are designed to assure adherence to protocols that protect the integrity of the study and the rights of study participants. The Institutional Review Board Request for Review, Study Approval Form, and Continuing Education Certificate ar e recorded in Appendices F-H. Invited eligible candidates to be formal study participants From among the initial focus group participants who elect ed to become candidates for National Board Certification, I obtained informed consent from those who expressed interest in being study participants afte r hearing a detailed description of the proposed study. Conducted regularly scheduled support group meetings for study participants These meetings were held initially at lo cal university facili ties, although changes in location occurred at the will of the group member s. Although the initial schedule was arranged for weekly meetings of 90-120 minutes, this plan remained fluid in order to flexibly accommodate pa rticipantsÂ’ varying and evolving needs. Meeting agendas generally incl uded 45-60 minutes for structured presentation of material directly applicab le to a portfolio preparation task. There was also 60-90 minutes allotted for subgroup interactions and informal whole group conversations related to general que stions, current topics relative to National Board candidates, and regrouping for activities that met candidatesÂ’ individual or group needs.
67 Structured activities involved such topics as videotaping equipment and techniques, clarification of specific gene ral processes and timelines, aspects of writing (organizational schemes; writing m odes or genre; exp licit instruction in descriptive, analytical and reflective wr iting expectations; audience awareness; editing conventions), mentoring matt ers and manners; getting and giving feedback; interpreting and applying standards; time and stress management; priority and goal setting; interpreting and meeting task specifications; and understanding and using scoring rubrics. Concurrently with meetings, observa tions were conducted of participant interactions, field notes we re recorded, researcher j ournal was maintained, writing samples were obtained, and audiotape reco rded as appropriate. While continuing to hold small group meetings, the group also melded with on-going general school district support meetings. I observed, recorded, and compared participantsÂ’ interactions in the small group and large-group settings. Identified potential case study participan ts and intensified ob servation of these subjects From among the study group, I id entified two individuals whose experiences represented those of the gr oup at large, but w hose participation exemplified a commitment to both the st udy and the pursuit of certification. These attributes were demonstrated by c onsistent attendance and participation in support meetings, a willingness to communi cate with other participants and the researcher, and assent to case study focus. The participants who met these broad criteria were polled indivi dually and privately to ascer tain whether or not they were willing to be case study subjects. Had more than four possible subjects
68 emerged from this initial screening, I w ould have endeavored to choose a sample that was as broadly representative of th e groupÂ’s geographic, certification area, gender, experience level a nd other identifiable demogr aphic, professional, and personal characteristics as possible in orde r to generate a sample that would lend the greatest possible credibility to th e study method and the resulting findings. Continued to meet until all portfolio a nd Assessment Center deadlines had passed These deadlines are established on a ro lling basis according to certification area and application date. The key deadlines for the purposes of this study were those that pertained to the case study subjec tsÂ’ applications. A sample of the certification cycle deadlines is included in Appendix F. Conducted exit interviews A final interview, conducted according to the guide recorded in Appendix G, was held with each study participant. This set of interviews sought to provide closure a nd an opportunity for participants to summarize their reactions to the study e xperience and suggestions for improving any subsequent, related candidate su pport and/or research activities. Completed compilation of data Journals and field notes were finalized, interview and observation audiotape transcripti on completed, and individual candidate process completion status determined. Participant checking and inter-rater conferencing provided a cross-check on the accuracy of data recording, transcription, and analysis. Analyzed data Details related to data anal ysis can be found in the following section and are reported in Chapter Four. Reported findings Findings, conclusions, implica tions, and further questions are
69 discussed in Chapter Five. Epoch and the Role of the Researcher Examining my own biases was not easy. I was not sure what it would be like, or what I expected to learn about my biases and other preconceptions. I knew what I hoped to accomplish, thoughÂ—to gain a data-based enlight enment that will better equip me to act as advocate for a group of teachers for wh om I gained an ever-increasing respect as well as a growing affinity. I also harbored a deep curiosity about a culture that functions parallel to mine and about which I had little personal knowledge. Tillmann-Healy (2001) embarked on a similar journey when she ente red the world of gay men in a similarly motivated long-term study. She employed friendship as a research methodÂ—something to which I also aspired, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree, consideri ng the smaller size of the participant group and the narrower scope of the study. Also like Tillmann-Healy, in striving to wo rk as an Â“insider,Â” I hoped to strike a balance and navigate the tension between ethnography and autoethnography in order to observe closely, listen empa thically, participate in the developing experience, and advance the welfare of the study participan ts (Tillmann-Healy, 2001). The goal was to write about them, but also write for them and with them (Fine, 1994), that is, on the participantsÂ’ behalf, as thei r friend and advocate (Schensul & Schensul, 1978), to tell our shared story: to supplementÂ—not supplantÂ—thei r own unique authorial roles. While this intention was not autoethnographic per se, I us ed autoethnographic stance to help me find a grounded personal perspective from which I could work to interpret the various phenomena I observed (Neuman, 1996). To do this, it was necessary for me to record and examine every instance where
70 my action, my attitude, or (most particularly ) my bias was a possible influence, as I encountered it, so that I coul d attempt to set it aside when observing or interacting with the subjects. This does not mean that the bias es were disregarded or eliminated. Heuristic research honors and incorporates the perceptions or the obser ver. Bracketing them means identifying them and then setting them as ide to make room for the participantsÂ’ perceptions to gain sp ace (Hycner, 1985). To do so, I ma intained a private journal, and discussed specific elements from time to ti me with my coding partner (whose role is described in the Data Analysis section of this chapter) or even with my personal counselor (whose professional services I rou tinely employ for the purpose of maintaining a balanced perspective and a healthy emotional outlook). This necessitated engaging unexpected feelings regarding racial differe nces, teaching practices, motivations, writing processes and myriad things previously unimagined. What mattered is that I worked diligently and consistently to recognize, identify, and set aside to the greatest possible extent biases as they became evident to protect the integrity of the st udy. This was, to be sure, an uncomfortableÂ—perhaps painfulÂ—proce ss, but an invaluable journey of selfdiscovery and growth as a researcher. Data Collection This study relied on the collection of a wide variety of data types, utilizing a wide variety of qualitative data co llection techniques. The choice of tools was determined to a large extent by the phenomenological philosophy guiding the study. Because phenomenology rests on a determination to de scribe as accurately as possible study subjectsÂ’ own perceptions of reality, tools fo r gathering these perceptions were of prime importance. For this study, participant da ta will be gathered by direct observation,
71 interview, audiotape, survey, a nd from artifacts of the portfolio entry preparation process. Direct observation took place during focus group and support group meetings. These observations were collect ed in double-entry Cornell-st yle field notes (Pauk, 2001; Sanjek, 1990) recorded by the re searcher. These notes were very detailed in order to record nuances of sett ing, participants, intera ctions, and subtle factors such as non-verbal cues, seating arrangements, groupings, etc. (Merriam, 1988). Audiotapes of oral interactions were recorded intermittently during interviews, mentoring sessions, support group meetings, and other conversations of par ticular interest to th e researcher and/or participants. Written survey responses were collected using the forms in Appendices B and D. Artifacts of the portfolio preparati on process included such items as drafts of written work in progress, notes, outlines, revisions, edits, and copies of submitted work. Personally identifiable data, such as the aforementioned in-progress portfolio work artifacts, relating to each subject were da ted and kept in separate, secure files. Surveys and other data not identifiable to particular participants are maintained in lockable file cabinets in my home office and/ or in my college office. Audiotapes of groups, individual work sessions, and inte rviews were labeled by both date and participants, and filed by date Transcriptions of taped gr oup sessions were prepared by the researcher and filed in a binder by date. Transcriptions of taped individual conversations were filed in the binder by da te and a copy maintained in the relevant subjectÂ’s file. Participant checks (Hycner, 1985) were conducted, whereby participants were asked to confirm the accuracy of the recorded conversations or to provide amendatory input before any analysis was carried out. Members we re provided copies of
72 transcriptions and invited to comment, conf irm data, or suggest changes to enhance the accuracy of the record. Field notes of observations were re corded in log books, with each entry dated and marked to record other relevant contextual information. Filled logs were dated and filed sequentially. Participants were invited to read and comment upon field notes and the developing research report to help assure the accuracy of my interpretations and observations. Phenomenology also requires the collection of data by the researcher about the researcher. This is important in documenti ng the process of epoch (Kockelmans, 1967; Lauer, 1965; McKenna, 1989; Stone, 1979) as th e researcher attempts to identify and bracket personal preconceptions in order to prepare to be optimally sensitive to participant information. Autoethnography, a version of this approach, demands the collection of information about the researcher by the researcher in order to become more intimately acquainted with the personal world that shapes personal perceptions. In so doing, the researcher is equipped to challeng e prior assumptions, see oneself through the eyes of study subjects, and become an obser ver of oneÂ’s own acts of observing (Bochner & Ellis, 1996). These autoethnographic steps al ign with the layers of phenomenological reduction theorized by Schutz (Wagner, 1983), previously described in Chapter Two. These data were collected in a personal study journal by the rese archer, using a twocolumn Cornell note format (Pauk, 2001). Journal entries were made intermittently as the observer reflected on proj ect activities and routinely following group and individual mentoring sessions. The journal was mainta ined privately, and was not subject to member checking. Documents related to the National Board Certification process were gathered for
73 analysis of construction and c ontent. These documents came from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website a nd publications; Florida Department of Education website, publications, reports and memos; and Polk County School Board memos, website, and staff development publi cations. Documents came from my personal collection of books, binders, and publications ga thered during my years of work in this arena; from candidates as they received new information during the application process; from the Department of Education listserv to which I subscribe and through which a wide array of DOE communication is disseminated; and from the school district as we collaborated to assist candidates. The pur pose for gathering these documents was to establish the textual context of the Nati onal Board d/Discourse. Documents were catalogued in a master spreadsheet, noting the type, format, source, key content and date. Storage varies by document type. Previous ly owned materials and those already in routine use are maintained on bookshelves and in files, in typical fashion. Documents collected for and in the course of the st udy were, if necessary, be printed, dated, and stored as appropriate to type and format. Together, the various data types will fo rm the basis for addressing the studyÂ’s central questions: 1. Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? 2. What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? The relevance of each data type is summarized in Table 2.
74 Table 2. Relevance of Data Types to Questions Activity Data Type Question 1 Question 2 Focus Group Meeting Interview X X Observation X X Survey X Personal Journal X X National Board Documents X Support Meetings Observation X X Interview X X Survey X Personal Journal X X National Board Documents X Mentoring Session Observation X X Conversation X X Artifacts X X Personal Journal X X National Board Documents X National Board Documents Websites, portfolio instructions, standards, brochures, process forms X X Data Analysis Survey data were analyzed using qualita tive strategies to identify patterns and themes among the responses. Although the su rvey used a numeric scale response format, the data were not quantitatively analyzed with the goal of ge nerating statistical information. Rather, I looked for trends acro ss the groupÂ’s responses to try to gauge the range and predominance of attitudes with resp ect to each item. This early data helped guide my plans for initial support activities and helped me establish some first impressions of the overall receptiveness of potential study participants to the proposed project. I also gained some early indications of issues that might have helped and/or
75 hindered the study as initially conceived. Fi nally, I hoped to identify major components of general attitude toward National Boar d and National Board processes among this group of teachers. The key focus of each it em was listed in an analysis table, and numeric responses tallie d for each to gain the overall impression I intended as the goal for this activity. Observation and interview data were coded using HycnerÂ’s guidelines for analyzing phenomenological data (Hycner, 1985). Data were analyzed by a fifteen-step process beginning with transcription of reco rded interviews and observations, followed by bracketing of the specific instances and occurrences of bias or preconception identified during the epoch. The entire situa tion was then revisited as a whole, listening to the entire conversation or reviewing session field notes, before identifying discrete units of general meaning within the transcription. These initial meaning units comprised individual words, phrases, sent ences, gestures, affect, or a ny element that expressed clear and coherent meaning (Hycner, 1985). Then, meanings were examined and coded to identify their relationships to the central research questions. This was accomplished by looking for clusters of related meaning within emerging patterns or th emes (in this case, examples of expected patterns included su ch topics as concerns about writing, time management, videotaping, assessment center, expressions of stress, worry about perceptions of other teachers, et c.). At this point, verifi cation of the units of meaning occurred with the assistance of an independent outside co-rater. The record of each interaction was coded to identify recurring categories, strands, or themes in the communication. Initial impr essions were cross-checked with a co-rater and after we negotiated rarely occurring di fferences (less than ten percent of coding
76 required negotiation), participants were asked if they agreed with the general course of the analysis. In a few instances, the data we re further reviewed to identify tracings of Discourse against which mapped iterations of discourse could be compared, using the rhizomatic technique discussed in Chapter Three. Member-checking, a vital part of phenomenol ogical data analysis as detailed in Chapter Three, was undertaken with car e. To achieve the primary goal of phenomenological researchÂ—to fa ithfully capture and relate the lived experience of the study participantsÂ—it is essentia l to check the observerÂ’s per ceptions against those of the members. Whenever data related to particip antsÂ’ experiences was transcribed, coded and analyzed, I asked one or more of the member s whose experiences were directly involved to read over the resulting notes to confirm or offer suggestions to improve the accuracy of the interpretations. Although the participantsÂ’ input was respectfully valued, care was taken not to impose undue time demands of this aspect of the study on top of the significant and high-priority dema nds of the certification tasks. To that end, the memberchecking work was often accomplished via email, although it was occasionally done during mentoring sessions. For example, I so metimes read candidatesÂ’ portfolio entries while they read over study notes and then we would exchange feedback. The feedback was usually oral, but sometimes took the form of written commentary. Again, I tried to minimize the burden of the member-checki ng work on participants, so I accepted whatever mode was easiest for them. A third party, a Black doctoral student from another institution, collaborated in the text coding to validate the inter-ra ter reliability of the results. Using a phenomenological approach to ethnography re quires a departure from conventional
77 thinking about the reliability and validity of data, however. Phenomenological data can be best confirmed by the participants themselv es, checking with them to ask if what has been perceived by the researcher is, in fact, what the participants experienced. Another way to provide this form of triangulation is to ask a third pa rty to provide an observational perspective to confirm or shed new light on the obser verÂ’s perceptions of participantsÂ’ experience. In this study, the choice of this particular third part y was made for a number of reasons. The woman who assisted in this asp ect of the study is an elected official in a Florida public school district who shares my concern for equity in professional development opportunities for all teachers. The f act that she is also Black (defined by her own public avowal and through verbal affirm ation and acceptance by participants in the study) helped assure me that any of my inhe rent biases were perh aps more likely to be revealed and countered by the advantage of he r perspective on the emerging data strands. Finally, she was also a late-stage doctoral st udent familiar with research protocols and sensitive to the interpretive demands a ssociated with qualitative analysis. All of these factors were cons idered as I strove to add a layer of credibility to the study through this selection of a co-rater. This reveals my sense that, because I am a White woman attempting to accurately record the lived experience of Black candidates, I realize my data may be considered by others to be more credible if co-rated by another Black woman. It assumes that there is someth ing about being Black th at she Â“gotÂ” simply because she is also Black. This implies that there is something about being Black that is inherently different from being White. This is of course, an importa nt piece of emic/etic information, and was included in my personal journal. This was less important to me,
78 given my own previously discussed philosophic al disavowal of the validity of race as a human categorization factor. However, I ac knowledge that the inclusion of a Black corater may lend additional credence to the anal ysis of certain study data for others who consider the results of this st udy. The possibility of bias is in itself, important data, and perhaps the most important role this co-rater pl ayed was to help me stay alert to similar instances and remind me to capture them as data. Another level of analysis was to closely examine the program literature (described earlier as documents from NBPTS, DOE a nd the school district.) A limited document analysis was conducted to identify patterns in vocabulary, themes, content presentation, tone, authorship, or schemes of interp retation (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998). Fairclough (1995) proposed critical disc ourse analysis as a tool fo r studying the use of situated language. In applying this method to the docum ents related to National Board processes, I sought to identify patterns of language th at could reveal institutional attitudes or approaches that contribute to the present leve ls of participation and achievement in those processes. Texts generated by participants (portfolio drafts, etc.) were analyzed in similar fashion. Transcripts of participant interactions were an alyzed by comparable processes. This critical analys is of discourse provided clues to perceptions of participants and process gatekeepers regarding mutual expectations of both the process and its outcomes. Hycner (1985) recommends specific techniques for the analysis of phenomenological data that were very importa nt for the purpose of critical discourse analysis. Just as interaction transcripts can be analyzed to determine fundamental meaning units, documents can be parsed to find the basic elements of their meaning.
79 This process involved taking an in -depth look at the text with an eye to various aspects of meaning construction. For example, voca bulary might be an important clue in identifying a specific meaning unit. Sentence structure, phrasing, and other elements of syntax can also affect the readerÂ’s percepti on of meaning. The repetition of key words, phrases, and structures give differential weig hts to meaning. The overall presentation format provides another layer of meaning. Instructions for preparing National Board portfolio entries are presented in several diffe rent formats: narrative paragraphs, bulleted lists, and tables, for instance. This is the essence of critical discourse analysis as it was utilized in this study. Once this step was accomplished, redundancies were identified and evaluated to determine varying emphasis levels and the resulting weights of messages. Related meaning units were clustered together and the broader themes of the discourse were labeled. A summary was developed to rega in a sense of the whole interaction or document. For this study, analyses of i ndividual documents and interactions were compared to the aggregating body of data and to the specifically stated purposes and intentions of NBPTS in its core documents. It was important to discover how the meanings that are emphasized within specifi c candidate-generated texts relate to the meanings that are projected in messages purpor ted to state the central goals and purposes of NBPTS. Texts, in this case, are instantiated in a number of different ways. There are the foundational cultural texts of femininity, teac hing, and race. These are embedded in the current study as systems of ideology in the pa rticipants, the program and the researcher. For the participants, interview data were anal yzed for evidence of the influence of each of
80 these overarching ideological structures. Pr ogram documents were examined for clues that the text functions to ac tivate one or more of the t hought systems associated with those elements of culture. For the researcher personal logs were in terrogated to search for the influence of those Discourses on the creation or interpreta tion of study-related texts. Additional layers of founda tional text are those of family, personal background, and interactions with the various communities in which subjects act and interact. There is the emerging text of what it means to s eek, gain, and hold a Nati onal Board certificate, i.e. a Â“National BoardÂ” culture into which a pplicants (consciously or unconsciously) seek admissionÂ—cultures that are deve loping at the local, state, an d national levels. There are the printed and web-based texts inherent to the mechanics of applyi ng to the process and directing the preparation of th e portfolio. Centrally, there ar e the actual textual artifacts gathered and written by the individual can didates. Finally, peripheral, but not insignificant, are the texts of congratulations to successful candidates and the redirective texts oriented toward those eligible for resubmission of entries with scores below that required for the awarding of the certificate. Documents produced for and by each of these social event structures help define the resulting d/Discourses. These varying d/Discourses are described by Gee (1999) as cultural models for the purpose of organizing the inquiry. Each of these texts will need to be considered and closely analyzed independently, interactively, and intertextually, usi ng procedures detailed above, in order to yield a fully contextualized d/Discourse analysis. Content (vocabulary, concepts, analogy, presentation structure, etc.) were analyzed for evid ence of overt, explicit themes
81 or patterns in the presenta tion and prioritization of info rmation (Spivey, 1997). This work mirrored that performed in the analys is of program document texts. The texts previously analyzed (conversat ions, interviews, and written portfolio entry drafts) were re-examined through the extratextual lenses of family, background, community, and other personal experiences the partic ipants communicate as relevant to the tasks at hand. A new layer of coding was applied to the texts to highlight where these contextual elements impact the constructed meaning. Critical discourse analysis, as described by Fairclough (1995) and reinterpreted for this study, reve aled more subtle, implicit patterns of meaning. These identified Â“between the li nesÂ” meanings, made possible by embracing the action research method that emerged fr om the initial phenom enological approach, yielded a rich new understanding of the candidacy process, the resul ting written products and, perhaps, the certification ou tcomes. An example of this t ype of discourse analysis is found in Chapter Four, beginning on page 104. Through application of a rhizomatic anal ysis (Deleuze & Gua ttari, 1987) of the emerging texts, fundamental disconnects in the d/Discourses, became evident. In rhizomatic textual analysis, text-based persona l understandings that ha ve been previously rendered by the researcher are pl otted as tracingsÂ—an initial starting place for exploration of meaning. These traces ar e the Â“commonÂ” meanings cons tructed by the Â“everypersonÂ” reader, even while recognizing that such a reader does not exist. Then, the text is Â“minedÂ” for meaning to be plotted as maps. These maps are the understandings that are constructed while reading a nd analyzing critically from a specific standpoint (e.g. feminism, race, etc.). Finally, th e maps are compared to the original tracings to see where gaps and overlaps among and between mean ings and intents (Deleuze and Guattari,
82 1987). It is much like laying a current, clear overlay map of a town on an old map to see what elements of the locale have changed over the years: to discover where new things exist where nothing existed before and vice versa. In this case, the original map would be represented by NBPTS documents and their meanings from a generalized sense. The overlays represented candidate-produced texts or additional situated readings from a critical standpoint. Additional overlays were th e previously discussed texts of femininity, race, teaching, family, background, and community. Each of these overlays, when placed over an emerging understanding of NBPTS text, yielded new interpretations of process expectations and process results. This functioned almost as a form of active Venn diagram, facilitating a dynamic comparison and contrast process. A sample analysis is provided in Appendix H. Rhizomatic analysis of these texts and intertexts illuminated where supplanting has taken place; where one idea or text has replaced or gained precedence over another; and where gaps a nd overlaps exist. Supplanting was of particular interest, since it may indicate the s ublimation of one idea in favor of another or the replacement of one idea by another. R easons for the occurrence of any detected instances of supplanting were important to inte rrogate in the course of the data analysis and during participant checking. In the case of the texts to be explored during this study, it was interesting and informative to di scover not only where understandings were missing or incomplete, but to find where th ey were in conflictÂ—to learn where the d/Discourses disconnect. In this case, I placed deconstructed text s from various data sources in parallel charts to see where congruencies and disc onnects emerge. For example, I had occasion to place dissected text from National Board publications about the standards alongside a
83 parsed transcription of a candidate conversati on in which the standards are interpreted. Gaps and overlaps were readily apparent. Gee (1999) distinguished be tween discourse as Â“language in useÂ” and Discourse as Â“language plus other stuffÂ” (Gee, 1999, p.17). Therefore, it is reasonable to conceive of teaching in terms of both discourse and Discourse. The notion of accomplishment was similarly considered. For instance, the day to day acts of teaching are situated in the more encompassing context of the Teaching pr ofession and all of its various contributing factors. Day to day accomplishment is sim ilarly situated within the broader realm of Accomplishment, in this case as defined and administered by NBPTS. There was a sense of fluctuation between discourse and Disc ourse when the texts of t/Teaching and a/Accomplishment intertwined in the midst of the NB process. When this occurred, it was appropriate and productive to step back from th e effort to interpret or understand the text and/or process itself, and to endeavor instea d to find where the examined text connected with other elements of the d/Discourse (Grosz, 1994). A final, simple, yet critical element of analysis was to create a simple graphic representation of the number of participants and the number who persevered to completion of the process. Once this phase of the study was reached, it was time to wait to learn who among the group achieved certific ationÂ….a decision that was months away. Closing the Circle This study was designed to help answer tw o questions that are important to those who are interested in the range and impact of National Board Certification as first discussed in Chapter One:
84 Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? There has been a systematic attempt in this chapter to spell out in detail the methodology proposed for this study. The liter ature reviewed in Chapter Two explored topics of writing behaviors, mentoring suppor t, disparate impact, and issues of culture, power, and authority. The proposition of phenomenology was introduced as the philosophy to guide the action research base d use of document analysis, ethnography, and discourse analysis in the search for answer s to the central questions. Chapter Four reveals the data gathered in this quest.
85 CHAPTER FOUR Data and Analysis Data related to three distinct areas were gathered in the effort to address the two research questions on which this study focused: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Information was gathered to comprehend and explain participantÂ’s perceptions of the process by which National Board Certifi cation is pursued and achieved. The d/Discourses of Black certifi cation candidates and the Natio nal Board for Professional Teaching Standards were interrogated and co mpared, and the impact of a candidate mentoring program was evaluated. In this chap ter, data for each of these three categories are presented. Any attempt to analyze d/Discourses depends heavily on careful observation, recording, and interpretation from multiple perspectives. The ro le of the researcher as a participant observer becomes crucial in the d/Discourse cycle expl ained above. While it is the intent and purpose of a study rooted in phenomenology to apprehend and report the experiences of the subject pa rticipants, in this case those observed experience were heuristically filtered through the simultane ous and cumulative experience of the
86 observer/recorder/reporter. Therefore, in orde r to assure as fully as possible that it was the participantsÂ’ experiences, and not those of the observer, that achieve prominence, it was necessary for the observer to continually examine her perspectives for evidence of bias, overt or otherwise. Through this self-e xamination, biases and personal perspectives were to be discerned, not for their own sake but so they could be considered and set aside to the extent possible. The conscious and deliberate act of discerning and cleansing specks from the lens through which the observe r observes the particip antsÂ’ experiences is the heuristic phenomenologistÂ’s essentia l tool of Epoch (Moustakas, 1994). This data account seeks to be faithful to both the context and content of the participantsÂ’ experience of Na tional Board candidacy. The fundamental role of context in this study justifies the use of narrativ e reporting. Discourse (with a capital D) is as explained previously, context. The narrative genreÂ—one of several alternatives proposed as appropriate for ethnogra phic reporting by Bochner and Ellis (1996)Â— provides the most natural form for describing the contex t in this instance, and while it may be perceived by some readers as inappropriate, What may be seen by strict methodologists as reportorial Â“gravyÂ” (verbiageÂ—self conscious, poetic, or otherwise) in fiel dwork texts can be important for other reasons. One is establishi ng context, which, of course is practically everything for determining meaning. Another is opening the door for richer comparative studies by potentially increasing the range of ethnographic information available to us, about ourselves as well as the people we study (Brady, 1998, p.516) Brodkey (1987) proposed that reports of observed experiences could be best rendered through the telling of stories, and that those stories could f unction analytically to
87 reveal discovery and interpretively to cons truct new understandings of that which had been observed and narrated. There are two primary d/Discourses to be i nvestigated for this study: those of the participants and those of Na tional Board. The participants Â’ d/Discourses were defined through observation, interview and review of candidate produced documents. The d/Discourses of National Board were defined through review of documents obtained from the NBPTS website and published NBPTS program materials. Each is discussed in turn in this section. Although the d/Discourses of National Boar d could perhaps be construed as the more authoritative, this study seeks to de scribe the candidacy experience of the participants. Therefore, thei r perceptions and definitions of teaching and accomplishment (as recorded by the observer) are detailed first. The participantsÂ’ de scriptions of those d/Discourses form the basis for comparison ag ainst the same d/Discourses viewed from the perspective of National Board. In order to accurately recount the assembled d/Discourse information, it is necessary to first establish the context in which the data collec tion occurred, beginning with the first meeting where the foundation for the study was laid and the tone for observer-participant relati onships was established. Establishing the Dialogue I had arranged for space in a middle school where we could meet and eat. The administrator, a Black woman who was as eager as I was to be sure things went well, had juggled the custodial schedule to be sure the floors would be buffed before we arrived. This was no small feat, considering the array of tasks awaiting cust odial attention during
88 these early days of the summer hiatus. Box l unches would be delivered by the caterer by late morning, along with plenty of iced tea and a couple of big lemon ice box pies. I had delivered easels, chart tablets, markers, and the few overhead transparencies the day before, when I had stopped by the school to be su re all was in readiness for this big event. I was heading into a foreign situation. Ye s, I had delivered this program, or some version of it, a few dozen times in venues rangi ng from grocery aisles to classrooms, to auditoriums with audiences numbering from one to several hundred. I had sat in the governorÂ’s office lobbying for enhancements to the legislation that funded the program. I arrived at the school about 90 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. I wanted to be sure to put my best foot forw ard, and I felt a strong need to be the first to arrive. This meeting was very important to me. Finally, the first three teachers arrived, and they greeted one another warmly, asking about children and other family members. I was glad IÂ’d listened to Annette. All three of the new arrivals were dressed up. It was one of the first days of summer break, but they had on dresses, stocki ngs and heels. One of them wore a hat. We exchanged names, and I led them to the sign-in sheet. As they settled, others began to arrive in groups of one, two and three. Every single pe rson was dressed up. As people gathered, I felt less nervous. At starting time, everyone was seated and it was time to proceed. No other expected participants entered after this time. After introducing myself, I asked the atte ndees to share their names along with the school and grade level where they taught. I went through about 15 minutes of standard information about the process for applying to the Excellent Teaching Program and the National Board. I answered a few standard questions, as I would expect to do in a
89 meeting of this type. Then, at the side of the room, up came a hand. I nodded in that direction and said, Â“Yes?Â” Just then, the door opened, and in walked two middle-aged White women, wearing jeans and T-shirts. I in vited them in and they sat tentatively at the edge of the room, looking around as if tryi ng to figure out if they were in the wrong place. I nodded again toward the woman I had acknowledged just prior to this small interruption. She cleared her throat and looked at the newc omers before proceeding. She said, Â“The invitation to this meeting sa id we were going to talk about minority participation issues. Is that right?Â” Â“Yes, absolutely,Â” I replied. Again looking at the two new arrivals, she went on. Â“Well, IÂ’m wondering why I havenÂ’t ever heard the information you just shared with us. You said this is the third year for the program, and this is the first time IÂ’ve heard this. Why is that?Â” Another hand went up, this time from the older of the two women who had entered late. Â“Is this meeting about National Board Certification?Â” Â“Yes, it is,Â” I answered. Â“You missed the information part. We started about 15 minutes ago,Â” a nearby woman whispered sotto voce, leaning toward the inquirer, but looki ng at me. There was an almost undetectable stir in the room. Â“Oh. IÂ’m sorry. A teacher we work w ith told us there was a meeting about National Board today, and we wanted to hear about it.Â” Â“You are certainly welcome to stay if you want. WeÂ’re going to be discussing some other issues, but if you want to join us, IÂ’ ll be glad to fill you in as time allows.Â”
90 Looking at the room, then back at me, sh e asked warily, Â“Is this just for Black teachers?Â” Â“Not expressly,Â” I said, thinking quickly and somewhat defensively. Â“It is about issues that face Black teachers in this progr am, but the program and the meeting are for everyone who wants to be here.Â” Again, Â“Oh.Â” She looked at her stillsilent companion, shrugged, and said, Â“Maybe weÂ’ll just take a sandwich and go then, since we missed the information so fast.Â” Â“Unfortunately, the caterer has not de livered lunch yet,Â” I said, feeling ice threatening to creep into my voice. Forcing my self to smile, I went on, Â“It will be here in about half an hour. Why donÂ’t you pull your chai rs up to one of the tables with these other folks and join us for conversation and lunch, too?Â” Â“Well, I guess weÂ’ll just go and try to catch this later when thereÂ’s less other stuff going on.Â” She said, rising and mo tioning her friend to the door. Â“Whatever you decide. Would you mind si gning in before you go? That way, I can send you the handouts from the meeting and make sure we notify you when weÂ’re going to be having a sess ion near your school.Â” Â“No, no. WeÂ’ve interrupted enough. Go on and weÂ’ll come another time. Please excuse the interruption.Â” And they were gone. Â“Well, where were we?Â” I started. Â“Riff-raff. Makes us all look bad.Â” I h eard, just barely, from the side. I made a conscious effort not to look at the speaker, but it was the same pitch and from the same direction as the previous sotto voce utterance. I felt a sense of alliance, and it felt good.
91 Â“Oh, yesÂ…issues. If youÂ’re ready, letÂ’s talk about those. First, are there any more questions?Â” There were none, so we entered new territory. I decided to be direct. This was due in large part to the signals IÂ’d been getting from the whisperer. SheÂ’d drawn a fen ce around our proceedings by telling the two interlopers that they were late. SheÂ’d identi fied them as Â“riff-raffÂ” so I could hear the opinion. The only other sound had been a va gue shifting in the room. I took it as agreement. I felt as if a ball had been pitche d into my area, and they were waiting for me to toss it back. Show time. I told them IÂ’d worried each year as t eachers walked to the school board dais for recognition as new NBCTS, and thus far, th ere had been no Black faces among them. I looked to the Black school board member who had been gracious enough to lend her name as co-inviter on the memo these teachers had received. She was at the back of the room. She agreed that we had shared this con cern. I went on to tell them that I worried about the fact that not only were Black t eachers not getting the certification, not very many of them were applying, and I thought we n eeded to try to find out why. So here I was, asking, Â“Why are you not lining up to go after this certifica tion and the money it brings?Â” Silence. Not the scary kind where doom threatens. The kind, instead, that lets you know you need to do something to break it. I shifted from foot to foot wondering what to say or do. Finally, after what seem ed to be ages, I grinned at the lady who whispered and said, loud enough for everyone to hear, Â“These shoes are killing me! I bought new shoes to wear for you today, but th ey are pinching like crazy. Would you be offended if I took them off?Â”
92 Â“Not unless you mind if I take off mine,Â” she said. And we both did, and so did others, while everyone laughe d and relaxed. We were talkingÂ—beginning a dialogueÂ— building the foundation on which all of our shared discourse duri ng the study would be built (MacDonell, 1986). Perceptions of the National Board Process There were 30 people in the room: 28 teachers, the school board member, and me. The teachers divided themselves into table group s of five or six, and I set an easel with chart paper and markers next to each table. I asked them in the next twenty minutes or so to list barriers to their participation in th e NB process and any solutions they could propose to help eliminate those barriers. I pos ted a two column model for this at the front of the room. Sandra (the school board memb er) and I made ourselves available as a resource to any group who wanted or needed our input, but we did not inject ourselves into conversation at any table. I occupied much of the time in assisting the caterer with the delivery and set-up of lunch, which a llowed me to circulate unobtrusively while remaining alert to table activity. The only time I was approached for advi ce during this time period was when one group asked me if they had to record their names on their char t. When I told them they did not need to do so, one member turned to her tablemates and said, Â“Then write it down.Â” Barriers and Solutions As groups began to wind down their discus sions, I invited them to take a quick break and collect their box lunches. When everyone had returned to a seat with lunch and a glass of tea or lemonade, I suggested that we talk while we ate. I asked them to
93 think about any additional ques tions, concerns or suggestions they had. We all ate and just chatted for a few minutes, then I asked for each table to talk to the rest of us about what they had recorded. Results are su mmarized in Table 3. There was a brief reluctance for anyone to go first. Then, one la dy pointed to another ta bleÂ’s chart and said they should go first since they had written the most. Everyone la ughed and the targeted table agreed to share. I sat and listened w ithout writing anything in a deliberate effort to remain absolutely focused. Table 3. Barriers and Solutions Identified by Participants Barriers (in listed order) Solutions (in listed order/unmatched to barriers) Uncertain funding Support groups like this Information not made public quickly to minorities Help meeting deadlines Too many family responsibilities Help with planning and scheduling Seeking other degrees Make technology available to candidates 30% passing rate Have sincere mentors Too expensive, no financial help Help in certain cert areas Rusty writing skills Get rid of the secret club Penalty for not finishing if something comes up School based support Is program here to stay? Minority contact letter Have to recertify after 10 years Paycheck flyers No technology at home More accessible meetings No access to videotaping equip or help More information on courses Lots of negatives expressed Tutoring FEAR Cover withdrawal fees for reasons besides death Wrong information spread around Mentor to help with writing, provide feedback before submitting final work Personal issues Ideas for utilizing time effectively Change in grade level PrincipalÂ’s support Grapevine/Rumors bonus Intimidation Knowledge is power Too many other school obligations and deadlines Increased local standards No teamwork or support at school Too little time Barriers were discussed first, and I got an education right from the beginning. As can be seen from Table 3, the first two issues shared were fairly t ypical, with personal obligations and school changes such as gr ade level assignments mentioned. In my experience facilitating NB information sessions personal issues almost always emerged
94 as primary concerns among teachers, followe d closely by practical concerns about the demands of the application process. Next for this group, though, was Â“Grapevine.Â” When I asked what this meant, I was told that this meant that the grapevine rumbled that this was another in a long line of efforts from which Black teachers were excluded. I asked them to explain. Surely todayÂ’s meeti ng was a sign that this was not the case, at least not now and not during my term in th e position I heldÂ—a posit ion responsible for oversight of this process in our district. Teachers shared instances in which school administrators would place not ices of NB meetings in Wh ite teacherÂ’s boxes, but not make them available to Black teachers. On e teacher recounted a time when an assistant principal had approached a grade level te am and had specifically invited the White members individually by name to an orga nizational meeting while not acknowledging or inviting the Black teacher. Still another told of an incident where a district official had told her, when she indicated an interest in applying, that she should be careful not to get herself in over her head. It was, after all, a difficult proce ss intended for only the best of teachers. Word of stories lik e this, transmitted over the distri ct grapevine, had sent an unofficial message to these teachers that this was by invitation only, in spite of appearances or policies to the contrary. A specific incidence of active dissuasion is recounted in detail la ter in this chapter. A group at another table mentioned that they had not received information about this opportunity. This was, in fact, the issue that had been raised just as the final two meeting participants had arrived (and in terrupted) earlier. Si nce I had personal responsibility for the dissemination effort, I knew good and well that I had made diligent attempts to get the word to every teacher vi a multiple channels: email, written notices,
95 video announcements, etc. When I mentioned this, they said that when they get something from the district office on Â“that le tterhead,Â” Â“Â…we just throw it away.Â” I laughed and said that th is meant theyÂ’d thrown away a good bit of information from me about NB, and maybe that was why the school board was fussing about our departmentÂ’s copy and stationery expenditures. Sandra joined in this banter. I ended by shaking my finger good-naturedly at the group and said, Â“I f you are going to throw away district office memos, just check first to see if th ey are from me. Those are the good onesÂ—read those!Â” We had a laugh, and we moved on, but I was learning. Looking back, with guidance from a valu ed and trusted mentor, I now recognize this as a pivotal moment in the study. Just as the activity structure ha d been tested, so too were the boundaries in the in teraction being exploredÂ…..and st retched. Ever since I had taken off my shoesÂ—and had adopted a dire ct approach to the dilemma we were discussing, the climate had changed. There ha d been a proverbial elephant in the room, and by acknowledging it, we had been able to begin moving toward each other in a series of feints and dodges. In the process, I had b een able to move from a position literally at the front of the room, delivering didactic info rmation (the sole White person in the room, who was, not inconsequentially, also in charge of the proceedings), to a spot at the side, from which I felt safe risking a good-humore d jab at authority by wagging my finger at them. It was a risk, to be sure. If I wa s wrong about the strategy, they would cross their arms over their chests again, a nd the conversation would be ove r, perhaps forever. I had gambled that they would understand that I, too, had much at stakeÂ—much to riskÂ—and that by being willing to risk failure, they w ould see that we were, in fact, all in this togetherÂ—and that I believed in the possibili ty of our partnership enough to take the
96 chance. That finger wag had been a preambl e to the whole process we were about to enter. But I had gauged correc tly and the ploy had worked. They had laughed with me, and we had set another brick in a developing foundation of mutual trust which was to be so crucial to the success of our future work together. When we talked about proposed solutions, I was in for more enlightenment. Although we had organized and deployed a size able contingent of NB mentors in our district, there was a feeling among the meeti ng participants that there was a lack of sincere interest among the existing mentor cadr e for the candidacy of Black teachers. To date, all of the NBCTs were White, and the table group members felt the NBCTs had little connection with or regard for their Black counterparts. As evidence they mentioned the absence of personal invitati ons to candidate recruiting ev ents. Not one teacher in the room related an instance of being offe red encouragement by a NBCT or another candidate to enter the process. They reiterated the stories to ld earlier of the opportunity being offered to others in their presence wit hout being included themselves. My personal observations lent credence to this grievan ce. I recall with shame the many strategy sessions during which efforts to encourage t eacher participation had been discussed. I could not recall a single occasion when specifi c strategies to include Black teachers had been discussed, although I remembered more than one discussion regarding how we could increase the participation of other gr oups such as males, secondary teachers, and teachers in particular certification areas. The oversight was not deliberate, but exclusion resulted nevertheless. The groups proposed inviting a few Black NBCTs from other locales to visit the districtÂ—a productiv e suggestion which I agreed to pursue.
97 The Secret Club But the words from that day that resonate with me most solidly are these: Secret Club. Â“Get rid of the Secret Club!Â” one tableÂ’s spokeswoman said emphatically. Â“White teachers, especially those who are National Boar d, act like this is some kind of secret club that we canÂ’t join, not now, not ever.Â” I had heard this criticism lobbed at NBCTs in our area before, so the words hit home. Events were held each year to celebrate candidatesÂ’ achievement of certification. This was, of course, designed to reflect laud atory light on the growi ng group of district NBCTs. This generated some grumbling resentment each year among candidates who had not achieved certification as well as among other teachers who had elected for whatever reason not to seek certification. When ETP bonus ch ecks were distributed, there was always a fresh round of negative re marks about the NBCTs who received the payments. This took the form of email me ssages, phone calls, pers onal conversations and even the occasional letter to the Departme nt of Education complaining about the unfairness of the large bonus amounts in a c limate where so many considered teachers in general to be underpaid. Of the 23 complaints I reviewed when writ ing this recollection, all of which had identified authorship (I discarded anonymous messages upon receipt), all were from white teachers. Several included remarks such as Â“What makes these teachers so special?Â” or Â“Why does this group dese rve so much attention?Â” and Â“No group of teachers should be granted such elite status.Â” All of these responses carry a whiff of Â“Secret ClubÂ” resentment. I ndeed, one group of NBCTs in another county proposed that they wear a distinctive blazer as part of their professional at tire. This evoked a hue and cry among ETP stakeholders across the state, echoes of which can still be heard in the
98 occasional scornful reference to the Â“Blazer B unch.Â” It is important to remember that National Board Certification means that N BCTs have been able to provide clear, consistent, and convincing evidence that their practice meets the standards. It is not a guarantee of exemplary performance, as documented by Pool, Ellett, Schiavone, and Carey-Lewis (2001). This stigma of Â“Insider/OutsiderÂ” is unpl easant but very real. If White teachers feel that way, I could see how the impression could be magnified for Black teachers who perceive themselves not only as excluded fr om Â“The ClubÂ” but who also, as described above, perceive themselves as being excluded from opportunities to seek membership. It was becoming clear to me that in our district at least, there was room for improvement that presented an opportunity to work on the demonstrated values of humility, respect, inclusion and service to the professionÂ…the whole professi on. And this extended across lines from fellow teachers to school-based ad ministrators to district office personnel. Process participants The last item on the agenda that day was a survey (Appendix B). I explained that I was thinking of focusing my dissertation wo rk on the problem we had discussed that day. I distributed the survey, asking the attendees to please complete it (while they enjoyed a piece of pie.) The survey results w ould help with planning for district support activities, to inform my study proposal, or both. I designa ted a location for it to be turned in as people left the meeting, and I left a sheet where people coul d record their names, phone numbers and email addresses if they were interested in more information or the formation of a support group. As people finished filling in the survey, they turned it in and signed the follow-up sheet, bu t most didnÂ’t leave. They asked me, in groups of four
99 or five, if they could talk to me for a minute. We returned to our chairs and resumed our conversation. Several teachers indicated that they w ould like to begin preparing to apply for National Boards, but they were not ready to do so during the current cycle. Could we maybe begin a group to wade into this one step at a time? A group of about the same size said they would like to appl y if they could plan to wo rk together, apart from the mainstream NB support group. The remain ing few had interesting inputs. Two womenÂ—media specialists for whom there was no available certificateÂ—offered to provide help with videotaping. Two others, bo th older teachers near retirement, indicated that they did not feel they would pursue this opp ortunity at the late st age of their careers, but they would be willing to help others in whatever ways might be found to be useful. One said she did not know if she would ever pursue the certificat e, but she thought it would be a good thing to learn more about, so she would attend meetings if we kept her informed of them. A young pregnant woma n said she could commit neither time nor energy for the next couple of years, but sheÂ’d try to keep up with the effort if the group would keep in touch with her in the mean time. The last person said sheÂ’d soon be qualified for entry into the administrative pers onnel pool, but she want ed to keep abreast of any group effort so she could encourage teachers under her leadership to pursue the National Board opportunity. The survey results (Table 4) mi rror these stated intentions and preferences for involvement in the process. Table 4 illustrates the high number of t eachers in this group who valued the idea of being able to work with other Black teachers on this undertaking, and the lure of bonuses. I have observed the bonuses to be important inducements for all teachers, so
100 this did not surprise me, although I was intere sted to note the rela tively low number who listed the opportunity as the top reason for seeking certification. Later findings explain this dichotomy. I was happily surpri sed, though, by the number of teachers who expressed interesting forming differentia ted support groups, th ereby validating the premise of my study questions, at least in part. Encouragement by peers and administrators received low marks, for reasons that are perhaps illuminated by the encounter detailed beginning on page 108. The astonishing thingÂ—the outcome I had not dared hope forÂ—is that absolutely every person who had attended indicated an in terest in continuation of the dialogue weÂ’d begun that day. I thanked the group for their attendance and for the enthusiasm they had shown for the information IÂ’d shared as well as for the study I was thinking of proposing. In turn, they thanked me and th e school district for the lunc h and the opportunity to talk this over in more depth. One woman, who hugge d me as she left, told me that she had felt Â“the spiritÂ” in me as the meeting had unfolded. With a big smile, she also reminded me to not forget my shoes. Baselines and Beginnings When the day dawned, I had wondered if I should even be holding the planned meeting. As the sun set, I had confirmed th at there was interest among a core group of district Black teachers in applying for Nationa l Board Certification. We had formulated a frank list of barriers to pa rticipation by Black teachers along with some potential solutionsÂ—a list that would be helpful in de monstrating to district administrators the potential value of demographica lly specific support efforts. They had affirmed the notion that targeted support would be a welcome a nd potentially helpful intervention. I had
101 identified a base focus group (Table 5) whic h had indicated serious interest in pursuing certification and in becoming study participan ts. A few of these teachers had made personal connection overtures to me and seemed like they might be candidates for the indepth case studies I was begi nning to envision. We had a l ong, long way to go, but weÂ’d taken a few starting steps. Table 4. Initial Survey Results. Survey Item Response (5 high, 1 low) 5 4 3 2 1 Receiving a personal invitation 2 16 8 1 1 Being invited by a School Board member 1 12 4 6 5 Being invited to a meeting of Black teachers 9 8 10 0 1 Being invited by a Black school district official 3 4 7 13 1 Receiving informati on in a customized meeting 17 6 2 3 0 The location of the meeting 15 6 6 1 0 The time of the meeting 15 7 6 0 0 Knowing someone else who is applying 5 4 7 3 4 Being able to discuss barriers 8 9 6 4 1 Learning about available support opportunities 7 13 6 2 0 The opportunity to work with other Black teachers 18 7 2 1 0 The salary bonus for NBCTs 22 5 1 0 0 The mentoring bonus for NBCTs 22 5 1 0 0 The recognition NBCTs receive 10 8 8 1 1 The professional development opportunity 4 5 4 2 2 The opportunity to pioneer NB among local Black teachers 6 4 2 6 3 Being part of a national effort 5 5 9 5 4 The opportunity to examine my teaching practice 7 8 7 3 3 Being encouraged by peers to apply 0 1 2 19 6 Being encouraged by my Principal to apply 0 0 1 25 2 It was not until I was most of the way home, reflecting on how much I had learned that day, that I realiz ed how comfortable I had ende d up being as the only white person in the room. It had been a day worth dressing up for.....pinchy shoes and all. Defining the d/Discourses Description and analysis of data continues in this section, the second of three devoted to different aspects of this purpos e. Here, the participantsÂ’ perceptions of various elements of localized professi onal discourses regarding Â“teachingÂ” and
102 Â“accomplishmentÂ” will be examined and compared to the encompassing Discourses defined and embodied by the National Bo ard for Professional Teaching Standards. Table 5. Continuing Intere st Focus Group Participants Name School Level Certificate Area Monique Elementary Art Felicia Elementary Middle Childhood Mae Middle Language Arts JoAnn Elementary Middle Childhood Annie Elementary Middle Childhood Dotty Elementary Exceptional Needs Selena Elementary Early Childhood Dee High Social Studies Marilyn High Vocational Roselle Middle Music Mandy Elementary Exceptional Needs Shonda Middle Social Studies Our first formal work group meeting took place a few weeks afte r the first contact in June. We had kept in touch via ema il and phone in the meantime, and a couple of teachers had paid me a visit when they were at the district office on other business. I had received approval from my doctoral advi sory committee for the study I intended to conduct. In the course of my job, I ha d processed, on average, a dozen or more applications each week. Si x of the teachers I had met earlier in the summer had submitted applications and were beginning to make their way through the thicket of newly received portfolio materials. I ha d surveyed each new applicant to assess preferences regarding the structure of support group stru cture, schedule, activities and location. Things were humming right along. Twenty-eight teachers had attended the fi rst lunch meeting. Of that number, ten had decided not to seek certification at the present time. Eight others had decided to Â“wait and watchÂ” while they prepared themselves to enter the process in a future cycle.
103 Six had applied and were chomping at the bit to get started. Six othersÂ—the remaining four, plus two friends they had persuaded to consider joining usÂ—wanted both more information and some help with the initial ap plication. Some of th e twelve had attended various district-facilitated applicant and candidate information and support sessions during the summer and as the school year ha d begun, but they still wanted to meet and work as a separate small group. After our m eeting in June, I had followed up with those who had indicated the intent to apply, and I had conducted a survey (Appendix D) to gain information about participantsÂ’ preferences for support. We had agreed to meet on a local college campus the second week of Septem ber. This was in a relatively central location with convenient parking where a comfortable work space had been made available to us at no charge. Why National Board? Why now? At 4:00 sharp, recalling the punctuality of the group that had met in June, I jumped right in. There were eleven of us in the room: ten tired teachers and me. Â“Why do you want to go after National Board Certification?Â” There was a little bolt of electricity that went through the r oom. People looked at me, shuffled a few papers, and cleared their throats. One wo man dropped her large, and apparently heavy, purse on the floor with a thump. Another, wi th a familiar face, leaned back, frowned and crossed her arms firmly across her chest. She narrowed her eyes and then, with a glimmer of humor in her voice, said, Â“If you donÂ’t know that, then weÂ’re in trouble.Â” WhewÂ—that was over. We all laughed, a nd then I turned to her and, with my arms also folded, went on to say that it wa snÂ’t what I knew or t hought that was important from here on outÂ—it was what they knew and thought. It was more than that. It was
104 about what they wanted and what they believed. I began to record the things they said in response, as follows: Bonus; Bonuses ; Respect; Chance to learn more; Be a better teacher; Way to connect with teachers in other places; Be a good example; Renew state certificate; State pays the fees; Alternative to graduate school (Field Notes 6-3-2002 ). At this point, only two or three minut es after 4:00, two mo re teachers entered, effusively apologetic about their tardiness. One of them pointed to a woman, already seated, and warned her Â“Do not say it. I know you thinking it, but do NOT say it.Â” Â“No lunch here, so if you thinkinÂ’ to gr ab it and run, you got no luck.Â” They both looked at me, and then light dawned. Â“YouÂ’re in the right place, and if sandwi ches are what it takes to get you to stick around, IÂ’ll get Â‘em while you work this after noon.Â” I picked up a small notepad and walked over to one as she seated herself. Â“WhatÂ’ll it be?Â” I asked, mocking a diner waitressÂ’s hand-on-hip posture. Â“IÂ’ll take one certificate, hold the grief. Â” Howls of laughter ensued. The ice was surely broken. This brief encounter encapsulates a ri ch quantity of illuminating d/Discourse, apparent in a line-by-line analys is. This deconstruction of the exchange was determined by two raters each breaking the conversa tion into discrete units of meaning. Then, we compared our dissecti ons and agreed after one minor change involving Line 10. In the following section, each unit of meani ng is annotated in italics with our shared interpretation of its rela tionship to the unfolding d/Di scourse of the work group.
105 1 Â…only two or three minutes after four, two more teachers entered, I had expected 12, and 11 had been present. Now there were 13. Who was the extra person? I had acted on the assump tion that punctuality was an expectation of the group. The late a rrival challenged this assump tion, but not severely, given the fact that it is only two or three minutes. 2 effusively apologetic about their tardiness. The tardiness was something to apologize for. The apology was extended to everyone in the room via eye contact. 3 One of them pointed to a woman, already seated, and warned her This is intended for the peer particip ant, and was reinforced by the gesture and the speakerÂ’s jokingly stern tone of voice and facial expression. 4 Â“Do not say it. I know you thinking it, but do NOT say it.Â” [hand upÂ—palm out} Implies unspoken communication linked to previously developed understandings between the speaker and audience. Th ey had a history outside the current situation. Is the not-to-be-said message not intended for others to hear? Is the speaker signaling pre-acknowle dgment of an unspoken rebuke? 5 Â“No lunch here, so if you thinkinÂ’ to grab it and run, you got no luck.Â” Yes, a previous communication has taken pl ace. Reference to episode at June meeting? 6 They both looked at me, I think the two speakers are including me by looking at me. Am I being invited to participate ? 7 and then light dawned.
106 Oh. It is my turn to talk! It IS about the June latecomers. 8 Â“YouÂ’re in the right place, The tardy attendees had questioned whether they were in the Â“rightÂ” meetingÂ… 9 and if sandwiches are what it takes to get you to stick around, IÂ’ll get Â‘em while you work this afternoon.Â” Â…and had asked to take lunch with them when they left. I signaled that I shared their recollection and the tone of their response to it. There was still Â“no free lunch.Â” 10 I picked up a small notepad and walked over to one as she seated herself. However, we canÂ” doÂ” something else with thisÂ… 11 Â“WhatÂ’ll it be?Â” I asked, mocking a diner waitressÂ’s hand-on-hip posture. I am comfortable with a servant role in this community, and am willing to take a risk in order to try to diffuse othersÂ’ discomfort with that through humor. IÂ’ll playÂ… 12 Â“IÂ’ll take one certificate, SheÂ’s telling me that sheÂ’s here for a purposeÂ… 13 hold the grief.Â” Â…but wants to minimize the aggravati on, maybe? LetÂ’s get on with it? 14 Howls of laughter ensued. WeÂ’re on the same page. We can laugh with and at each other. A group reaction. 15 The ice was surely broken. Relief at having read the signals right I think. A private response.
107 This exchange, even though it is a de parture from the previously initiated discussion of reasons these te achers were moving ahead w ith their inquiries into the application process, merits attention for thr ee reasons. First, it i lluminates the process by which conversational discourse data was anal yzed throughout the course of the study. Second, it provides an example of how la nguage exchanges were mined for their connections with the broader Discourses in which they occurred. Third, it provides insight into the evidence that trust and rapport began to develop early in the study between the observer, the partic ipants and the co-rater. This has implications for the mentoring explored later in this chapter. Now that everyone was present, we t ook a minute to re-introduce ourselves. Present (besides me) were Monica, Felicia Mae, JoAnn, Annie, Dotty, Selena, Dee, Marilyn, Roselle, Mandy, and Shonda. Selena asked if we could continue th e topic of why they were seeking the certificate. She had not been at the meeti ng in June, but had been invited by her friend Mandy to come with her today. She had not come in June because she did not know who else might be there from Â“downtownÂ”Â—the district office. She was only here today because Mandy had told her it was okay to come. She did not want her principal or her fellow teachers to know she was at a Nationa l Board meeting. Squaring her shoulders, she said, Â“I know this is pridef ul, but I want to do this at least partly because so many people think I canÂ’t do it.Â” An act of resistance. This created a bit of a stir. The ot her women nodded their heads in agreeable understanding. They felt there was a general consensus among their principals and their
108 fellow teachers, both White and Black, that theyÂ—these teachersÂ—should not be seeking National Board certification. The White teacher s and administrators emanated an attitude that these Black teachers were not qualified to seek that credential, and the Black teachers had told them that there were two big risk s. One, that they would Â“fail and prove everyone right,Â” (Leftwich fiel d notes, 9-13-02) making it harder than ever for Â“us [Black teachers] to get respect from other [white] teachersÂ” (Leftwich, 9-13-02). Two, (and this surprised me), they would be Â“taking time aw ay from teaching that I should be spending on boys and girls instead of on portfolio work Â” (Leftwich, 9-13-02) This became an element to consider in attempting to define Â“TeachingÂ” from these teachersÂ’ points of view. Looking at this exchange analytically, ra ther than narratively, it becomes apparent that the decision to seek National Board, for these teachers at least, marked an act of resistance. In fact, for many of them it enga ges a battle on two fronts. First, they had pressed forward in spite of their perception of a pervasive attitude among their white peers that they were unequal to the task. Additionally, they f aced opposition from the community as they were admonished not to steal time from their work as teachers to pursue NB certification, a goal perceived to be dubious among their Black peers and neighbors. Finally, for members such as Sele na, there was an internal battle against the perceived threat of pridefulness. The NB cer tification is arduous in the most facilitative of circumstances. I had not expected to meet resistance fighters on this journey, but I had increasing admiration for these women who were willing to engage the quest in the face of opposition on multiple fronts.
109 The power of the principal. The relationship between race and admini strative support for teachersÂ’ candidacy is not a straight line. Although the situati on for Dotty, mentioned ear lier in the chapter, involved her estranged relationship with a Wh ite administrative structure, I encountered another that was more surprising to me. As I first conceived the study, I approached a Black principal at a school with a relativel y high representation of Black teachers on the faculty. This school had been lauded for its results in elevating the academic performance of students who scored in lower quartiles on the state achievement test. She and I had talked about how this might be s een to imply that th ere was a wealth of teaching efficacy among her teachers and that th ey might benefit from the affordances of the Excellent Teaching Program. Together we planned a set of information sessions for her teachers. The first of these was held in the late spring before the first meeting of Black teachers in June. In fact, two of the June participants were teachers from that school who had been unable to attend the day of the school site meeting. The second of our meetings at her school was scheduled for a preservice planning day in early August. Sadly, one of my long time professional colleague s, a teacher in the school district, died unexpect edly and tragicall y, and her funeral was scheduled for the same time. Naturally, I asked for our meeting to be rescheduled for a time slot in one of the other four planning days. Rather than responding with compassion, the principal chose to interpret this as evidence that the di strict office consider ed this meeting as a second-tier priority, and she said so. She did agree to announce the meeting for the following day, however. When I arrived, sh e had her assistant accompany me to the
110 assigned room. On the way, I heard an announc ement: Â“Mrs. Leftwich is here from the district office if anyone wants to talk with her about National Boards.Â” Fifteen people had attended the meeting in May, and fourteen gathered this time; eleven from the May group, the two who had attended in June, and one additional teacher. Of these, nine were Black. I apol ogized for the change in schedule, but the group warmly and kindly told me that they understood, and that if one of their ranks had passed away, they would have attended the funeral with Â“scarce thoughtÂ” of a certification meeting. One of them later me ntioned to me that I should not take her principalÂ’s tone personally: Â“She always tries to protect us from the district office. ThatÂ’s just her way. I know she probably gave you a hard time about not coming yesterday, but just let it go. WeÂ’re glad youÂ’re here.Â” At the conclusion of the meeting, I arranged for a NBCT and me to come back w ith application packets the foll owing week when they were due to arrive from NBPTS. That meeting took a surprising turn. I had invited a Black candidate who had not achieved certification on the first attempt, but who had banked a significant number of points and had resubmitted two entries during th e previous cycle. She could relate the experience directly to the interested teacher s, and could give them practical help in completing their applications. Her interchange with the teachers during our informal session was encouraging and frank. The princi pal joined us a few minutes after we had begun, sitting at the side of the front of the room, listening carefully. When the questions subsided, we distribut ed application packets to the teachers who intended to applyÂ—seven who wished to begin the paperwork then, and two who wanted to take packets with them and think ab out it. Two others indicated they wished to
111 engage in some preparatory work related to word processing before trying in a future year. Two teachers had confided to me at the end of the previous weekÂ’s meeting that they did not believe they we re ready to engage the Nationa l Board process yet, and one had indicated that he did not wa nt to take on this level of wo rk with retirement eligibility Â“just around the corn erÂ” for him. As the on-the-spot applicants began ope ning their packets, the principal stepped up and said, Â“I need a minute of your time befo re you start this, please.Â” She went on to say that she had been listening to what th e guest teacher had said about the amount of work involved in certification. She reiterate d that writing had been a problem for the candidate, and that she had needed to work w ith a mentor to overcome this obstacle. Even now, she did not know whether or not sh e had made it. This principal pointed out that she might have even more work ahead of her. Â“Are you ready to face that kind of load?Â” Then she urged the teachers to not be lured by the promise of Â“high-flying credentialsÂ” and Â“big money bonus esÂ” to enter into Â“something they might not be ready for.Â” She reminded them of their mission to Â“teach these little boys and girls that nobody believes in but us.Â” She asked them to please take the packets home Â“and pray about themÂ” before committing themselves or Â“the rest of usÂ” to Â“something that might or might not pay off.Â” Then she delivered the coup de grace : Â“Mrs._______ [speaking in third person about herself] donÂ’t want to see you set yourself up to disappoint yourself or anyone else.Â” The meeting was over. When I talked with her about this later, after she had he rself received an award for leadership, she told me, Â“I have really good teach ers here, but they need help if they have to convince someone else they are good. They canÂ’t write like they need to without help.
112 They donÂ’t have that help and I donÂ’t know how to get it for them. Even if I did, we donÂ’t have time. They have jobs to do. I should never have asked you to come out here with this.Â” Not one of these teachers applied. t/Teaching Gee (1999) distinguished between discourse, meaning Â“language-in-useÂ” (p.17) and Â“DiscourseÂ”Â—with a capital DÂ—referring to what he calls Â“l anguage plus Â‘other stuffÂ’Â” (p.17) related to comm unication about any topic. An illustration of discourse, in this context, could be a group of teachers ch atting about curriculum over lunch. In this instance, DiscourseÂ—the contri buting contexts that impact nuances of intended meaning and resulting interpretationsÂ—might perhaps comprise the level of school where the teachers work, the community in which it is lo cated, the conditions of their contract, and an almost infinite range of other possibl e factors influencingÂ— and influenced byÂ—the conversation. Using this frame, I attempted to define the work of these educators along similar lines. I refer to their day-to-day Â“in useÂ” pr actice as Â“teaching.Â” The broader context and implications for their workÂ—Â“all the other st uffÂ”Â—is Â“Teaching.Â” To illustrate, consider a person helping a group of second-graders le arn to alphabetize lists of words. The actions, attitudes, and words employed duri ng the lesson comprise the teaching. The pedagogy that guided the selec tion of materials and the a pproachÂ—the philosophy that determined when, how and why to teach this sk illÂ—the contextual interactions that shape and are shaped by the developing understa nding between and w ithin student and instructorÂ—all compose the broader realm of Teaching.
113 According to the Teachers It was important to draw these distinc tions from the point of view of these teachers in order to be able to compare them to the view of teaching espoused by, disseminated by, and rewarded by the Na tional Board for Professional Teaching Standards in the National Board Certification pr ocess. The data analyzed to distill the teachersÂ’ views of their craft was gathered fr om the teachers themselves. It came from 28 teachersÂ’ survey responses; field notes from nine support group meetings, 19 small group sessions; several dozen one-on-one interactions; nearly 60 ema il exchange strands; and 7 audio-recorded entry development and/or portfolio feedback conversations. The opportunity to examine teaching practice, fo r example, was rated by teachers as an important factor as they considered the deci sion to seek certification. Field notes from work sessions frequently documented conve rsations focused on the dissection and evaluation of work in the classroom. Em ail messages focused less on instructional practice than on evidence decisions and entr y construction, but tape d conversations and feedback conferences tended to refocus on classr oom practice. This is likely due to the nature of mentoring decisions to direct can didatesÂ’ attention when ever possible to the questions in portfolio instructions, which cen ter around instructional decisions, practices, and results. The central role of the port folio expectationsÂ—the direction in which developing entries were aimedÂ—was vital to consider when working to focus both mentoring efforts and candida te attention (Kinneavy, 1971; Searle, 1997; Walker, Joshi & Prince, 1998). Several distinct themesÂ—discernible strand sÂ—began to emerge from the very first meeting. During the June meeting, teacher s had identified tangible and intangible
114 barriers to their pa rticipation. They had also complete d a survey enumerating a collection of attitudes about and motivations for their inte rest in pursuing the ce rtification process. The first fall meeting had included a convers ation focused on partic ipantsÂ’ reasons for entering or considering candidacy. They had enumerated several reasons for considering candidacy, as noted ear lier in this section. I worked to find patterns within thes e first data streams. Compensation, Community, and Collegiality emerged as them es when the data were analyzed by two raters and subsequently confir med with participants, as outlin ed in Table 6. I set these categories aside to wait and see what a dditional evidence emerged from future interactions. At our second meeting, in October, the pa rticipants had made firm decisions about candidacy, since the deadline for applications had been late September. They had portfolio instructions and standa rds for their certification areas. In working with previous groups of candidates, I had observed that th eir attention became much more focused when they began working to learn the standard s associated with their chosen certification areas. The goal of our work in the Octobe r session was to reinforce knowledge of the content of the National Board Standards releva nt to the certification areas they were applying for or considering. We undertook a deliberate process for st udying the standards, delving into them one layer at a time. This strategy, whic h I learned while attending a National Board Facilitators Institute in 2000, begins w ith an activity in which candidates list characteristics of their own most memorabl e teachers. The lists are compared and combined to create one group list of characte ristics the candidates already associate with
115 effective teaching. Finally, candidates work together to categorize and label those characteristics. This activity, taken as a w hole with the resulting ta ble talk, generated an expanded and revised set of strand labe ls: Community, Compassion, Character, Classroom and Curriculum. The alliteration of Cs was an initially unintended coincidence. As the participants worked to categorize the expanded list of elements in October, they started with the earlier agr eed-upon labels. When additional labels were needed, Marilyn suggested continuing the use of C-words for the sake of alliteration. When the final list was decided, she rema rked, Â“Look what we didÂ—the Five Cs of Teaching. We ought to spread this around.Â” Compensation was gone from the listÂ—it was not among the categories generated, sin ce we were now discussing the broader scope of Teaching rather than just their reasons fo r seeking certification. I chose to use these labels, validated by the fact that they had been generated by the teachers themselves, to categorize data from ensuing conversati ons and observations. The co-rater and candidates agreed with this decision. As the months passed, as meetings occurr ed, and as teachers generated portfolio entries, additional data were amassed. Field notes from meetings, conversation transcripts, emails, and teachersÂ’ documents were sorted, sieved, and coded according to the Â“5CÂ” categories. I charted the trends in these tallied occurrences The first posting in September was for Compensation, Community and Collegiality. Compassion, Character, Classroom, and Curriculum were first menti oned during the October meeting described above. The only overlap between the first tw o meetings was Community. By December, the occurrences for Classroom and Curriculu m had overtaken Community. Character and Compassion, while mentioned frequently, were lo wer priority than the other categories as
116 measured by number of iterations. By Ma rch, when the first portfolios were due, however, the graphs were nearly even, w ith character and compassion lagging almost imperceptibly behind the other three categories. (Table 7). Table 6. Categories of Reasons for Seeking Certification/Effective Teacher Qualities Reason for seeking NB (Sept) Teacher Qualities (Oct) Researcher (Sept) Co-Rater (Sept) Participants (Sept) Participants/ (Oct) Bonus (cert) $$ Financial/self Compensation Not rated Bonus (mentor) $$ Financial/self Compensation Not rated Respect Community/ Profession others Community Community Connections Community/ Profession others Collegial Community Better teacher Profession students Classroom Classroom Good example Community/ Profession Students/others Community/ Classroom Character Renew cert Profession self Classroom Classroom Alt to grad school Profession Self/students Community/ Classroom Classroom State pays fee $$ Financial Compensation Not rated Learn new skills Community/ Profession students Classroom Classroom Trade ideas Community/ Profession others Collegial Community Prove myself Community?/ Personal Self/others Challenge/ Community Community Something new Personal? self Challenge Classroom Smart Curriculum Kind Compassion Â“Tuned inÂ” Community Organized Curriculum Hardworking Character Dedicated Character Loving Compassion Caring Compassion Involved Community Helpful Character Firm Character Role Model Character Grounded Curriculum Available Classroom Selfless Character Good lessons Curriculum Interesting Curriculum
117 According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards One goal of this study was to explore whether or not there is a fundamental disconnect between the d/Discourses of t/Teach ing as they were defined, practiced and valued by the study participants and the National Board. Havi ng identified these essential components of Teaching with the ag reement of the participants, I sought to do the same from another vantage pointÂ—that of the NBPTS. Table 7. CandidatesÂ’ Ranking of Essential Elements of Teaching Collegiality Community Compensation Character Classroom Compassion Curriculum September 3 2 1 October 2 1 3 5 4 November 1 2 3 5 4 December 1 4 2 5 3 January 4 3 1 5 2 February 3 4 1 5 2 March 2 4 1 5 3 This was more straightforward than ha d been the Â“up close and personalÂ” work with teachers. The NBPTS website (www.nbpts.org ) lists on its first page a link to its original founding manifesto, What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do This document is true to its title. In a nutshe ll, it reports that proficient teachers harbor individual blends of Â“human qualities, expert knowledge and skill, and professional commitmentÂ” that Â“together compose excelle nce in this craftÂ” (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1999, p.4). Si nce two aspects of the mission of NBPTS are to identify high standards for accomplis hed practice and to award certification to
118 teachers who exhibit accomplished practice, th e NBPTS criteria for such practice will be detailed in the next section describing pe rceptions of what constitutes Â“accomplishment.Â” a/Accomplishment According to the Teachers Our group effort to examine accomplishment, sometimes a touchy subject, continued over several meetings. I asked th e teachers, at that first fall meeting when weÂ’d discussed their reasons for attempting to run the NB gauntlet, what they believed constituted excellent teaching. JoAnn, moving he r arm in a broad sweep to indicate all of the charted characteristics of their own memo rable teachers, said simply, Â“All of this here.Â” One woman, Dotty, the arm folder snorted and asked me what I meant by Â‘excellent teachingÂ’: Â“The kind that is really good or the kind that gets you famous?Â” I half-shrugged and waited for her to go on. Sh e reiterated that she had been put on notice by her Black peer group that theyÂ’d be watching to see if she Â“stoleÂ” time from her kids to do NB work. In her communityÂ—her im mediate neighborhood and her churchÂ—it was considered unseemly for girls or young women to seek attention for their hard work. Â“Beauty might be worth a few strokes, but ha rd work was what most folks did to get ahead, and by Jove, [sheÂ’d] better plan ah ead and get to it and stop fooling aroundÂ—and donÂ’t be messing with that National-what ever-it-is!Â” (Leftwich, 9-13-02). This was an enlightening conversation. We continued: Me: So how does this affect your th inking about whether or not to go after this certification? Dotty: It worries me a lot. It makes me question my reasons. Shonda: We all have different reasons, I think.
119 Marilyn: We do, but I hear what Dotty is sayinÂ’. I say something about it at the [sorority] meeting the othe r night and WHAMÂ—people was all over me about it. Me: What do you mean? Annie: Yeah, thatÂ’s right My sister teaches, and she Â‘bout went sky-high when I told her I was doing this. Me: Why? Shonda: Because of the reasons. Th e reasons bother me, and I guess IÂ’m pretty much like everyone else, so they probably thinking the same kinda things. Me: Like what? Shonda: Well, itÂ’s a little pr ideful. I would like to be one of the first black folks to get this here [in this district]. Monique: MmmHmmÂ—me, too. And so me of you want that, too. And thatÂ’s a whole lot prideful, not just a little. Pride goes before a fall, you know. Annie: But thatÂ’s not really it. Pride is about looking good. I am good, and this is a way I can prove it, no t just to her [gestures toward me] and the rest of the county, but to myself. Felicia: Yeah, thatÂ’s it for me. I been at this for a while, and I do a good job year in and year out. I donÂ’t want to be a principal. I donÂ’t want to move up that way. But I want to move somehow. This seems like a way.
120 Me: Okay, I hear these reasons from lots of people. Lots of teachers want to grow, and prove to themse lves that they are good at what they do. Why are other people giving you a hard time about it? Dotty: Wanna hear my version? You asked us to come to that first meeting because Black teachers were nÂ’t involved in this, and that worried you. ThatÂ’s cool, and I a ppreciate what you meant, but in my circle, this kind of stuff donÂ’t count for much. This is not what teachers do. Felicia: SheÂ’s right. Especially for us older teachersÂ—the younger girls feel different I thinkÂ—we were given the chance to go to college and learn to be teachers so we could go back to the schools and just teach, not think about promotions and stuff. Sometimes we were sent out like missionaries almost Good teachersÂ—the kind we was supposed to beÂ—go to school every day, go to church every Sunday, and set an example every waking minute. Nothing about this kind of prize. Ever hear of a Missionary of the Year or a National Board Certified Missionary? Several important elements of Discourse emerged from this exchange. First, the teachers were experiencing active resistance among their close support groups: sisters, friends, churches and so forth. For anyone who is undertaking significant additional work, this can be a major hindranceÂ—another big obstacle to be overcome on the way to a goal. Second, there was the sense of being in conflict with a pa radigm. The group had mentioned missionary work as a model for how they perceived their work. They had
121 been selected and sent forth for training w ith the expectation that they would provide faithful service in the field. Seeking rec ognition for exemplary work was perceived as incompatible with this schema. And this l eads to another importan t finding from this discussion: The candidates viewed National Bo ard Certification as a Â‘prize.Â’ This single insight would guide me perhaps more than any other in considering how to approach mentoring this group. Skimming and miming. This concern among the teachers for the perceived need to Â“steal timeÂ” for NB work is not without basis when I consider the work I have observed among candidates over the past few years. Good teachers, according to these candida tes, plan their lessons, procure and distribute supplies, manage behavior, act as role models, and keep orderly classrooms. Great teachers are too busy doing that to go after any recognition beyond the kind that occurs naturally: the grateful familyÂ’s es teem and good recommendation, the respectful studentÂ’s efforts to remain in touch long after graduation, acknowledgment in church, a community memberÂ’s call for assistance with a public effort, the sa tisfaction of watching children complete one step after the other on the educat ional path. Some wanted principal jobs, but manyÂ—mostÂ—were spe nding long careers in cl assrooms where they believed their workÂ—their callingÂ—to be. Reward and advancement associated with NBCT status were relatively inconsequentia l to these teachers. The only time I heard what I recognized as passion about that pa rticular topic was one night when we were working on application packets. The follo wing summary is the product of a process
122 detailed in the analyzing the conversation about the white visitors to the first group meeting. A young teacher finished packing up her papers, saying, Â“Lord, I would like for one of us to be the first Black NBCT in this district.Â” Shonda had said something similar that day we had talked about what cons tituted great teaching, but now Monique had uttered this thought with some palpable longing. JoAnn, my whispering supporter, told her sweetly that sheÂ’d do well to keep that thought to herself. Dee piped up with, Â“ThereÂ’s thirteen of us here, just like at th e Last Supper. No Juda s, maybe, but best we depend on ourselves and keep it among us for now.Â” I said, Â“We all have things at stake here. IÂ’m writing a dissertation that will be the most important part of my final degree. Th is project is important to me. It is my National Board, in a way. IÂ’d like for some of you to be among the fi rst, too. I think it is okay for us to talk about that here. In fact, letÂ’s write it down.Â” I wrote Â“We want to be the first Black NBCTs in Polk County!Â” on a big piece of chart paper in red, with blue and green and purple stars. Dotty grabbed the paper and danced around with it, moving toward Monique. Then she said, Â“I have a bett er idea. Monique, cÂ’mere.Â” They took the chart tablet and some markers and moved to a corner of the room. After a few minutes, they came back, each holding a sign that said Â“The Pathfinders,Â” in the same colorful style. Â“This stays between us, right?Â” Dotty looked at me. I nodded. Â“Girls, we got our own Secret Club.Â” I didnÂ’t know whether to laugh or cryÂ…s o I did both. So did they. Whether a private or a public effort, the pressure to document accomplished teaching for the National Board process can be intense. Candidates need and want to provide the highest quality ev idence of their teac hing skill in order to leverage their
123 chances for success in the proce ss and achieve certif ication. This need to put the best foot forward was a frequent topic of convers ation when discussing th e videotape-oriented portfolio entries. Candidates feel intense pressure to showcase ex emplary instructional performances on videotape. I had often witne ssed exchanges similar to this one recorded at a meeting in February. Because of the sensitive nature of the content, I have elected not to identify the c onversants specifically. Candidate 1: Â“I want you to watch both versions of this lesson and see which one you think looks best.Â” Candidate 2: Â“OkayÂ—what do you want me to watch for?Â” C1: Â“Well, in the first one, the kids we re really watching the camera, and one boy kept coughing. I had to let him go get a drink of water, and he knocked his backpack off the back of his chair when he stood up.Â” C2: Â“That is real life, though. Did it mess up the whole lesson?Â” C1: Â“Well, I kept right on teaching if thatÂ’s what you mean.Â” C2: Â“How did the kids do? Did they get it?Â” C1: Â“Mostly, but there were a couple who were goofing off a little, and I had to spend more time with that group, and I di dnÂ’t get to help every single student before the time was up for the tape.Â” C2: Â“If you were teaching the whole time, though, maybe it wasnÂ’t a problem.Â” C1: Â“Yeah, but the second time I di d it, things went better.Â” C2: (giggles) Â“Practic e makes perfect. So why do we need to look at the first try at all?Â”
124 C1: Â“The kids are paying attention be tter the second time. They knew what to expect, since we had kinda rehearsed itÂ—al most like the Christmas pageant, I told Â‘em. But one girl who had some great an swers the first time ha rdly said anything the second time around. And I thought I pi cked a better-looking dress the second time. I near died when I saw myself in stripes on that first tape. Girl, whoever said stripes do you a favor was wrong, wr ong, wrong. Anyway, I need to pick one of these, Â‘cause I donÂ’t think these kids will sit through this le sson again, if they are on tape or not.Â” The first candidate clearly had repeated a lesson twice for the same group of children, for the sole purpose of capturing the best example of her teaching on tape. A secondary, but mentioned, priority was her own recorded appearance. The following exchange is an example of anothe r type of Â“repea t/rehearsedÂ” lesson. Candidate 3: Â“I hope some of this stic ks until we actually get to autobiography.Â” Candidate 4: Â“What do you mean? They ar e right with you in this discussion.Â” C3: Â“I knowÂ—they did great, but I just h it the high points for this entry. We arenÂ’t planning to cover autobiography un til after [state testing], but this lesson works great every year, so I wanted to get it on tape. IÂ’ll prob ably have to do the whole thing again when we really get to it.Â” C4: Â“How far did you take it? Didn Â’t you have them write after this?Â” C3: Â“Not really. They just did the br ainstorming. I had them put it in their writing folders until later. IÂ’ll remi nd them when we start it then.Â” C4: Â“But what did you do for the student work part?Â”
125 C3: Â“I just worked with my enrichme nt group for a day or two. They could go ahead and give me enough to work with fo r now. It worked out. They can flesh them out later. I know itÂ’s not the be st, but I wanted to do something I could count on. I didnÂ’t want to try somethi ng new and take a chance it would flop.Â” Candidates 1 and 3 used tactics I have come to call Â“skimming and miming.Â” They skimmed the cream from prior pract ices, choosing and re-creating successful lessons from past practice, whether from recent classes rece nt or from prior years. Candidate 1 chose to skim a recent instructi onal instance and repeat it to enhance the videotaped product, even noting that she had encourag ed the students to consider the first lesson a Â“rehearsalÂ” for the performance that was filmed during the second staging. Candidate 3 skimmed a successful, reliable le sson from past experience and Â“mimedÂ” a performance of Â“just enoughÂ” of the seque nce to capture a videotape of what she considered an exemplary sample of her teachi ng practice. She worried that it would be wasted and would have to be repeated when the planned time came for coverage of the curriculum content touched upon during the videotaping and follow-up analysis of student work, but had settled for the compromi se in order to produce the quality of entry she felt was required to succeed in the NBCT process. These Â“skimming and mimingÂ” practices lend credence to the kinds of worry harbored by the Dotty when she said sheÂ’d b een cautioned by peers not to Â“steal timeÂ” from her students and by the Black principal wh o told her teachers th at they didnÂ’t have time in their work days to pursue National Board certificates and do the job they were expected to do. In a recent qualitative study undertaken by the Florida Education Standards Commission (2004), several district administrators, while noting the high level
126 of expertise and accomplishment of National Board Certified Teachers, also commented that the year of application was a Â“wasted ye arÂ” of teaching filled with Â“time-consuming activitiesÂ” for some candidates who Â“focused on portfolio preparation rather than on quality teaching.Â” According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards NBPTS defines accomplished teaching quite specifically, and with astonishing consistency, using the five Core Propositions, as shown in Figure 1 below: Figure 1. NBPTS Core Propositions 1. Teachers are committed to st udents and their learning. 2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students. 3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. 4. Teachers think systematically about thei r practice and learn from experience. 5. Teachers are members of learning communities. NBPTS further elaborates on accomplished pr actice in details of the standards for each certificate area. The Core Propositions are central to every set of standards, since the various certification area standards derive fr om the Core Propositions and are linked back to them in the language of portfolio developm ent task instructions. Entry 4 of the Early Childhood Generalist po rtfolio is titled Engaging Young Children in Science Learning and focuses on Standards 1, 3,4,5,6, and 9 for that certificate area. Figure 2 lists the Standards for the Early Childhood Generalist Certificate (NBPTS, 2004). Table 8 (p.129) shows the relationships between the Core Propositions, Standards and Tasks (NBPTS, 1999a) for this portfolio entry. Next, small groups engaged in a close ex amination of the Core Propositions of NBPTS. Each of these five propositions compri ses a belief statement; the values of which
127 are embedded in every certificateÂ’s standard s. These propositions provide a powerful tool for categorizing effective te acher attitudes and behaviors. Small groups created charts and repo rted the key elements of the Core Propositions, focusing on key words and phrases. Teachers were encouraged to highlight these terms, using a different designated co lor for each of the five propositions. Words from the previously charted characteristics we re compared to see if and where there were similarities and differences. This formed th e basis for the rhizomatic analysis discussed later in this paper. More importantly, it provided the foundation for conversations during which the standards and processes of National Board were interprete d, re-interpreted, and applied to the work of portfolio preparation. Building on this activity, during which the candidates related characteristics of their own memorable teachers to the Core Propositions, candidates then linked core propositions with standards a nd standards with tasks. It is important to note these activities as an illuminator of the clear path that does exis t between the core propositions, standards and tasks. This is vital to my position that th ese elements form a clearly definable central discourse of NBPTS. The published mission of National Board includes a call to integrate National Board Certification in the pro cess of school reform, and to us e the expertise of NBCTs to help guide that process. This being the case, and considering the taut linkages illustrated above, I feel justified in using these Core Propositions, the Standards, and language from the portfolio task instructions as the ba sis for defining the Discourse of Teaching Accomplishment from the National Board perspective.
128 Figure 2. NBPTS Standards for Earl y Childhood Generalist Certificate I. Understanding Young Children: Accomplished early childhood teachers use their knowledge of child development and their relationships with children and families to understand children as individuals and to plan in response to their unique needs and potentials. II. Equity, Fairness, and Diversity: Accomplis hed early childhood teachers model and teach behaviors appropriate in a diverse society by creating a safe, secure learning environment for all children; by showing appreciation of and respect for the individual differences and unique needs of each member of the learning community; and by empowering children to treat others with, and to expect from others, equity, fairness, and dignity. III. Assessment: Accomplished early childh ood teachers recognize the strengths and weaknesses of multiple assessment methodologies and know how to use them effectively. Employing a variety of methods, they systemati cally observe, monitor, and document childrenÂ’s activities and behavior, analyzing, communicating, and using the information they glean to improve their work with children, parents, and others. IV. Promoting Child Development and Lear ning: Accomplished early childhood teachers promote childrenÂ’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and linguistic development by organizing and orchestrating the environment in ways that best facilitate the development and learning of young children. V. Knowledge of Integrated Curriculum: On the basis of their knowledge of how young children learn, of academic subjects, and of assessment, accomplished early childhood teachers design and implement developmentally appropriate learning experiences that integrate within and across the disciplines. VI. Multiple Teaching Strategies for Meani ngful Learning: Accomplished early childhood teachers use a variety of practices and resources to promote individual de velopment, meaningful learning, and social cooperation. VII. Family and Community Partnerships: Acco mplished early childhood teachers work with and through families and communities to supp ort childrenÂ’s learning and development. VIII. Professional Partnerships: Accomplished early childhood teachers work as leaders and collaborators in the professional community to improve programs and practices for young children and their families. IX. Reflective Practice: Accomp lished early childhoo d teachers regularly analyze, evaluate, and synthesize to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of their work. Reconciling the d/Discourses This section has provided an expositi on of some of the various d/Discourses central to the process for thos e seeking National Board Certification. This is by no means an exhaustive listing of the many other dyna mic d/Discourses in which the candidates were concurrentÂ—and sometimes simultaneous Â—participants. Having identified examples of how the d/Discourses connected w ith one another in some respects and were disconnected in others, questions arise as to howÂ—and ifÂ—the disconnects can be bridged by certification candidates to facili tate their success in the process.
129 Table 8. Relationships Between Core Propositions, Standards and Tasks Task Standard(s) Core Proposition(s) Videotaped Lesson (Written Commentary) Instructional Context What were goals for sequence? 1, 4, 5, 9 1, 2, 3 Why were goals selected? 1, 3, 4, 5, 9 1, 2, 3, 4 What experiences comprised the sequence? 1, 4, 5, 6 2, 3, 4 How do experiences illust rate your approach to helping children acquire scientific ways of thinking, observing the world, and communicating? 1, 4, 5, 6 1, 2, 3, 4 Videotape Analysis Context What was context for videotape? 1, 4, 5, 9 1, 2, 4, 5 What linked events preceded and/or followed those shown on tape? 3, 4, 5, 6 1, 2, 3, 4 What were goals for taped experiences? 1, 4, 5, 9 1, 2, 3 Learning Community How did you stimulate childrenÂ’s thinking and learning during taped experiences? 1, 4, 6, 9 1, 2, 3 Are you satisfied with how you interacted and responded to unfolding taped situation? 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Reflecting on Videotape How would you conduct the experience differently if you did this again? 1, 3, 9 1, 3, 4 How did resulting learning influence subsequent lessons? 1, 3, 4, 5, 9 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Evaluating the learning To what extent were learning goals met? 1, 3, 9 1, 2, 3, 4 What questions did the taped lesson/learning sequence raise about your teaching or students? 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 The very language in use makes clear the need to reconc ile the disconnected discourses. The National Board fo r Professional Teaching Standards has established standards which must be met by those seeking a certificate from that organization. The candidates in this study have identified from w ithin their experiences a set of core beliefs that connects only partially to those of the certifying body. T hus, it seems clear that the candidatesÂ’ core principlesÂ—their professi onal d/DiscourseÂ—will need to move toward those of NBPTS if the candidates are to be successful in their quest. At the outset of this project, as an obs erver, I recognized that I was in some respects a translator, clarifyi ng the intents and mechanisms of the certification process to
130 the participant group. This was not an unf amiliar role, since it was one I had often undertaken in working with cert ification candidates and proce ss inquirers in the past as part of my district work assignment. It wa s also a role fulfilled by formal and informal mentors who worked with certification ca ndidates each year. Now I began to see mentorship in a new light, one which revealed to me more clearly the mentoring roles of translator and interpreter that I ha d previously only dimly perceived. Mentoring National Board Certification candidacy is an arduous process. It begins with a lengthy traditional appl ication form that details an array of personal and professional information. Next comes a series of fo rms to verify employment, education, and experience. But the real app licationÂ—the real work of ca ndidacyÂ—is the preparation of the entries to document that classroom teach ing practice meets the standards for the area of certification sought. It was during this phase of candidacyÂ—when writing was the primary taskÂ—that the focal d/Discourses converged, providing opportunities for comparisons. It was then when the impact of me ntoring could be put to the test. This is when the core of the study took place and th e period from which the richest data were gleaned. Wrestling with Writing In the fall days just before and after the first support group meeting, I had visited with each of the dozen teachers who attended. This visit took the form of a structured interview, the protocol for which is available in Appendix G. This set of interviews and the conversation during the first meeting re vealed clearly that writing was the chief concern of the candidates a nd potential applicants.
131 As seen in Table 9, which lists primar y concerns noted during interviews, writing was not the only major worry. In a previous section, teachersÂ’ perceptions of barriers were listed and discussed. Table 9 notes concerns recorded after the teachers had actually entered the certification process and had be gun preparatory work. Candidates were uneasy about the time demands of the certification process and their abilities to balance those pressures against existing work and family duties. They fretted to varying degrees about how they would be perceived by other educators if their candidacy became known. More than half of them felt ne rvous about the required videotaping of instruction. Those who taught in grade le vels where FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test) is administered were anxi ous about the overlap of the portfolio due dates and the stat e testing window. Table 9. CandidatesÂ’ Concer ns About the NB Process Concern Times Mentioned Writing 24 Time 22 Other teachers, Principal 8 Videotaping 16 Computer skills 4 FCAT, Program 6 In our first and second planning meetings, we spent considerable time discussing strategies to manage and overcome these an ticipated stresses. We developed group and individual timelines to help guide comple tion of each candidateÂ’s four entries. The general timeline for support activities can be seen in Appendix E. A timeline created by an individual candidate is seen in Figure 3. Although this particular candidateÂ’s timeline extends through June, it is important to note that formal data collection for this study
132 ended when portfolio entries were shipped in April, signaling the end of that yearÂ’s portfolio preparation cycle. Figure 3. Individual Candidate Timeline ( transcribed from handwritten copy ) Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June Apply Download from site Read stds. Plan Doc. Acc. Finish Doc. Acc. Plan class entries Video camera? Video #1 Video #2 LAST entry Edit Panic Pack UPS Study for AC AC wait At the outset, I asked the part icipants what kind of help th ey needed and expected from me. Comments such as these were the response: Â“I know I am going to need help with writing. Everything I hear about this comes back to writing.Â” Â“I agree, but first I just need help go ing through all of the stuff IÂ’m getting off the website and in the mail.Â” Â“All those forms. I think I have thos e mostly doneÂ…except for the ones about the video and all. But now I got to figure out thos e standards and all that I donÂ’t even know where to start.Â” Â“MmmHmmm. And the rest of that stack of instructions, too. I started readinÂ’ about those assignmentsÂ—the entries? Lord, I come near packing it all right backup and mailing it backÂ—or putting it in the garbage. (laughs) Course by now, they got my moneyÂ…Â…Â” Â“And the stateÂ’s money, tooÂ…..Â” Â“So, I guess what I needÂ—wha t lots of us needÂ—is help figuring out how to get started.Â”
133 We went through a Â“boxÂ”Â—the red and blue box of process-related materials sent to candidates after the application has been forwarded by the state to NBPTS. We explored the various packets of standards booklets, portfolio instruction, individualized bar codes for identifying submitted entries, and so forth. Participants began to rummage through the materials they had brought with them to the meeting. Some had not opened the box yet. Others had opened the box, but had not yet removed the plastic from around the various packets of papers and booklets inside. They began to sort materials and arrange them in various piles, each person in her own fashion. It reminded me of how people often rearrange the silver ware and tableware when they sit down in a restaurant. It was almost as if these teachers were st aking a claim on their individual materialsÂ— taking ownership of their involvement as th ey did so. The conversation in the room became more animated and the volume rose. The mood lightened. Then I got to have some fun. The school district, conti nuing a practice started while I served as the NBPTS contact, had purchased for each candidate an assortment of materials to assist with portfolio preparation. Items such as file fo lders, binders, index di viders, sticky notes, highlighters, and so forth were packed in shopping bagsÂ—one for each teacher. On behalf of the district, I passed these out to the recipients who were quite delighted to receive them. I assured them that this was a gift from the distri ct (one woman thought I was the giver), and that other candidate s upport groups meeting in other areas of the district were receiving identic al Â“goodie bags.Â” Dotty, who had rebuked the late arrivals at the first June meeting, held up her bag and nodding her head sagely, said seriously
134 Â“Well, we really are in the club now, I say.Â” Â“Nah,Â” chimed in Marilyn, Â“weÂ’re just waitinÂ’ to be initiated.Â” A candidate asked, Â“Where would you star t?Â” I reminded the group that I was not a NBCT, but that I had worked with quite a fe w candidates, and had an idea for them to consider as a group The candidates agreed to complete the entry related to professional outreach and the development of classroom community first, since documentation could be gathered from the past few years to support this accomplishment. Other portfolio entries relied on current activity, so it made sense to all of us to get the Â“old businessÂ” off the table first, and then concentrate on the cu rrent classroom practice related entries. We expected that while work was underway on the outreach and community entry, candidates would work to become thoroughly fa miliar with their resp ective standards and assigned portfolio tasks. Long-term inst ructional planning fo r the participantsÂ’ classrooms would begin with the portfolio requirements in mind to facilitate the completion of tasks as they became due. This general plan coincided with my previous work to support candidates in the school district. When I discussed it with the candidates, I emphasized that working on the same entry together at first could help us get to know one another while they became more familiar with the portfolio process. The district decision to encourage this approach to group support was derived from input gain ed from the first group of teachers who had navigated the process. That input was solicit ed as part of a project I completed while receiving training in the design of professional development. As a result of the training, I organized a group of NBCTs to develop a f our-week inservice course to familiarize teachers during pre-candidacy with the expectat ions of the portfolio preparation process
135 and give them practice with tasks that mirror those required for completion of the portfolio entries. During that same tim e period, several members of the inservice planning cadre and I completed a three-day f acilitator training se ssion delivered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Sta ndards. The model for support which we subsequently developed, and which I adapted for use with this cohor t, is the product of those staff development activities. Our group study began with a concerted effort to comprehend the Core Propositions and their relationship to the standards and tasks of each candidateÂ’s certification area. Using a st rategy I had learned from Nati onal Board Certified Teachers in the NBPTS facilitator training, small groups of candidates were instructed to carefully read the Core Propositions (one per group) and highlight recurring words and phrases, along with other words and phrases the teachers felt carried key meaning. It is important to recall that these five Core Propositions are foundational to every area of National Board Certification. Then, group members compar ed notes to see if they had marked the same text. Where there were differences discussion ensued, during which deeper understandings developed. While I was presen t during that discussi on, I quite literally moved to the side to watch and record. The teachers took complete charge of and responsibility for the direction a nd outcome of this activity. Figure 4 reflects the results of this exercise for on e group. Underlined words were highlighted by one member while italicized words were highlighted by the other in this two-person group. Bold terms were nego tiated as the final de cision by the pair as those imparting the most important meaning to Core Proposition #1.
136 Figure 4. Key Phrases Selected for Proposition #1 Teachers are committed to students and their learning. Accomplished teachers are dedicated to making knowledge accessible to all students They act on the belief that all students can learn They treat students equitably recognizing the individual differences that distinguish one student from another and taking account of these differences in their practice. They adjust their practice based on observation and knowledge of their students' interests, abilities, skills, knowledge, family circumstances and peer relationships Accomplished teachers understand how students develop and learn They incorporate the prevailing theories of cognition and intelligence in their practice. They are aware of the influence of context and culture on behavior They develop students' cognitive capacity and their respect for learning Equally important they foster students' self-esteem, motivation, character, civic responsibility and their respect for individual cultural, religious and racial differences The underlined words indicate that this participant chose sparingly, focusing on verbs primarily, but also incl uded Â“treat students equitabl yÂ” and most of the final sentence that emphasizes character issues. The italicized words expand most choices to phrase length, still including most of the fi nal character-focused sentence, and also marking the many student characteristics upon which teachers adjust their practice. Neither teacher marked the phrases Â“accomplis hed teacherÂ” or Â“in their practice.Â” After negotiation, the pair settled on terms which one or both of them had marked initially, with the exception of the introductory phras e Â“equally important,Â” which was noted as important only after the convers ation between the two teachers. Considering My Role What would I do if there were expres sed misunderstandings of the Core Propositions? This is a question I asked my self as I sat listeni ng to and watching the group discussion. Once again, this is a manife station of the notion of epoch. The goal of phenomenological research is to apprehend and record as accurately as possible the lived experience of the research subjects. In this instance, the experience of the teachers
137 revolved around their negotiation of the comprehension of the Core Propositions. That collective comprehension grew out of the various backgr ounds and understandings that each teacher brought to the process, the situ ated contexts of ea ch of their teaching practices, and the groupÂ’s work to confirm their individua l and joint knowledge of the Core Propositions. Their comprehension was a unique and shifting entity that would have been altered by my participation in its construction, and I made the conscious decision as a participant observer to step aside from the participant role in this aspect of the group interactionÂ—to avoid th e role of arbiter of the ongoing negotia tions of meaning among the candidates and between them and th eir perceptions of the intentions of National Board. Further, the fact that I have not completed the candidacy process myself means that I would almost certainly hol d a different stake in the developing understanding, and I told the group exactly that. We shared, at least to some extent, the collective experience of teaching, but the candi date experience belonged strictly to the rest of the groupÂ…not to me. This placed me in an advisory role, with their developing experience squarely at the center of the fo cus and with an acknowledgment that their invested involvement trumped any perspect ive I might have on the process or their movement through it. During the first meeting in the summer, I had held an authority role, both as hostess for the lunch and as the central offi ce source of process information. But during the second support group meeting, when th is comprehension activity took place, I stepped aside in three ways I believe to be important. First, our meeting on university property reminded all of us that I had a new a nd much less direct job role related to our shared work. In fact, I had become somethi ng of a supplicant, appealing to the group for
138 permission to observe their candidacy work to inform my disserta tion work. Second, we discussed that they were de veloping immersed expertise in a process I had experienced only from a support perspective. Third, thei r increasing understandings were proprietary to them and not to me and were inherently cr itical to the process. In each case, power and authority had devolved from me, where it had originally and br iefly resided, to the teachers as individual candida tes and as a focused group. Not insignificantly, these structures had concurrently transferred from a White locus to a Black locus. Learning the Language Next, each candidate read and similarly highlighted one of the certification area standards identified in the portfolio entry di rections. Once again, key phrases and words were identified, but this time they were li sted on a separate paper, grouped by those appearing in each standard. This list was co mpared to the key phrases distilled earlier from the Core Propositions, and solid linka ges made between the standard and Core Propositions. The final part of this activity involved the candidates readin g the portfolio task for professional outreach and commun ity building, once again highlighting key words and phrases. Then, the standards specifica lly tied to that entry were linked to that task by color coding matching phrases and word s. Thus, the candidates could now track the usage of language by NBPTS from the Core Propositions through th e standards to the specific writing tasks they were called upon to perform. This provided a thorough initial immersion in NBPTS-originated discourse. An example of the resulting cross-reference can be seen in Table 8 (p. 129). To follow up on this meeting, I suggested that each candidate do the same linkage work with the remaining three entries before we met next time. I was explicit in
139 explaining the reasoning, reminding them th at they would have a similarly deeper understanding of the language a nd expectations of the tasks if they did so. Using the work they had completed in the session, I showed them, by pointing out the links they had established, how they would confirm for themselves the focus of the entries in calling for demonstration of specific standards by completion of each task. Knowing exactly how and where they would be expected to de monstrate each standard could help them focus both their planning and their writing. Tasks and Standards Candidates expressed enthusiasm about getting started on the first entries. The next week, several of them brought notebooks papers, photos and other items to be considered for their potential value in s upporting the entries. A few of them had completed the standards/tasks matrix (Appendi x L) I had given them as a template the previous week. Others had made margin notes on the standards booklets themselves. There was evidence of intervening engagement with the standards and task directions from every candidate. I happily saw this as an indication of the impact of the initial mentoring efforts. The candidates discussed among themselves how to prioritize the choices they made for the entry. Several factors impacted their decisions. How long ago had the considered activity occurred? In some cas es, the teachers felt that the more recent activity should be showcased, even if the ol der activity was more si gnificant. In this case, the matrices they had completed served as useful resources to guide decisions. I reminded them that their overriding task was to demonstrate that their practice met the standards and, therefore, th ey needed to choose accomplishments that could most
140 efficiently document that to be the case. It was at this point that things heated up considerably. The teachers began to stridently make cases to one another about how certain activities demonstrated effective teaching. They talked passionately about the value of butterfly gardens, tutoring programs, Family Night events, book drives, and a variety of other extramural applications of their teaching role. They detailed how their plans had impacted individual students, particularly thos e who had been struggling or at-risk. They spoke of how they had conducted many of th ese activities quietl y and outside normal school activity cyclesÂ—apart from the genera l Open House and Family Night events. Often, the support activi ties these teachers arranged and conducted were community efforts held for students other than those they normally served and were at locations other than at school. The help was sometimes gi ven to individual children who were members of communities inhabited by th e teachers, such as their neighborhoods or churches. When asked to help decide which activ ities should take priorityÂ—which ones should be included in limited reporting space Â—I asked the group members to take out their portfolio entry instructions and r ead the guiding questions posed throughout the directions. I suggested that they find a way to be sure they addressed each of the questions. I told them that the scorer would be equipped with an organizational sheet enumerating the specific task s of the entry, and would be searching each section of the entry for evidence of the standards referenced for that particular en try. Then, we looked at the scoring guides, which included specifi c rubrics for each score level. Selena suggested that they might benefit from an e ffort to correlate these documents (standards,
141 task instructions, and scoring rubrics) and form outlines for their written entries. She and Mae agreed to work on those befo re the next group meeting. I also urged the candidates to pay par ticular attention to the Core Propositions when making these decisions. I reminded them that there had been only partial agreement/connection between their view of community and that of NB when we had compared the two in an early group session. They would need to make decisions about which activities would provide the clearest demonstration that their practice met the standards called for in the entry. Those deci sions would necessarily have to be theirs. Two of the other candidates present b ecame a bit sullen at this point, crossing their arms over their chests with deep fr owns on their faces, and wondered aloud why I couldnÂ’t just provide them with the kinds of organizational tools I was suggesting, since I Â“evidently had them already in mind.Â” We ta lked briefly about how we viewed my role as a group supporter. Felicia expressed surpri se: Â“Lord, I forget that you arenÂ’t doing this [seeking certification], too.Â” Reflecting on this statement later, I wrote in my journal, Â“IÂ’ve always worried about whether someone who hasnÂ’t been through the process could be seen as a credible mentor but this has become a transparent issue for me with this group. Now I can focus on whether or not I can navigate the Black-White aspects of this journey without worrying a bout my non-NBCT status.Â” In fact, this formed the core of our resulting chat about a mentorÂ’s role. We talked about how, since I had not lived through the entire candidacy process (I had exited NB candidacy to pursue my Ph.D. residency), I could serve as a guide, but not as a firsthand authority on portfolio building. I told the group about the trai ning I had received from NBPTS during two summers of facilita tion workshops, and about a few successful
142 mentoring experiences I had shar ed with past applicants. I truly believed, though, that as inhabitants of their own teach ing practices, and as navigato rs of their own candidacy journeys, they each possessed a unique expe rtise and perspective. I could listen attentively, observe intently, and record diligently, but I could not hope to gain a completely congruent view of their teaching situations any more than I could hope to fully apprehend a Black viewpoint I could share strategies to help interpret the standards and tasks associated with each portfolio en try, but they each would choose and use the strategies according to thei r perceptions of th e process and their preferences for negotiating it. At this point in the process, I could move with them and provide support from the side, but they were each following their own path, and I could not lead them thereÂ—I could only go with them. I could he lp, but I couldnÂ’t make decisions for them. This launched us into a final exchange on this topic. Felicia mentioned that she had been at a small meeting where she had been told she Â“had it madeÂ” to be working with Â“Mrs. LeftwichÂ—she can wr ite circles around anyone else in the district.Â” She said had felt a little Â“put outÂ—kinda sidewaysÂ” at hearing this. SheÂ’d had the impression that the person whoÂ’d told her this felt she was rece iving an unfair advantage. Â“If I get this, I donÂ’t want nobody thinkinÂ’ I didnÂ’t earn it,Â” she growled. Â“I wish they was hearing what you just said.Â” We decided to write an informal agreem ent that we all signed in accord with the following simple terms, and which conti nued to define our group relationship: WeÂ’ll share ideas and strategies. We wonÂ’t write material for each other. We will read each otherÂ’s work, and make suggestions, but not corrections.
143 We will pray for each other, ask each other questions, encourage each other, and help each other with deadlines. We will be accountable to each other, but responsible for ourselves. Later, when this section was submitted to participant-checking, one of them said, Â“At first, we all wanted someone to just te ll us how to do it. Finding our own ways was the powerful part of writing the entries.Â” Composing the Entries Enthusiasm waned quickly when the wr iting really began. The candidates had worried about their writing skills, and it s oon became clear that the worries were not without basis. Of the ten members who cons istently attended small-group support events, not one of them claimed or demonstrated an a ffinity for writing. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everything changed when our focus shif ted to writing tasks. Non-verbal communication stiffened considerably. The warmth that had begun to develop between al of us seemed to cool. There was a heavin ess in the air, and the light familiarity that had characterized our weekly encounters fade d into the background. Whereas, in the first few planning-focused meetings, members had openly spread their notebooks and plied highlighters and pens with unselfconscious abandon, when we began to focus on the actual written composition, candidates sat with notebooks and papers cl osely held. When I at first suggested that candidates engage in peer feedback sessions, there was stiff, albeit polite, resistance. Writers declined for va rious reasons: handwr itten drafts, faintly printed copy, small font size, and single spaci ng were all reasons not to burden peers with unnecessarily difficult reading. A few mentione d that they had made notes or had begun
144 writing but couldnÂ’t decide how to organize th e ideas they had placed on paper. Some were quite forthright about not wanting to expos e their text to outside scrutiny yet. They said things such as, Â“IÂ’ve been writin g and writing, but not anything good enough to readÂ” and Â“Is it okay if I work on this some more before I show you?Â” Some candidates had notes or ideas, but did not re veal written texts in the supp ort sessions. Each of these struggles provided an opportunity for mentoring. When I reviewed field notes from this session, it seemed that the most efficient approach would be to tackle the organizationa l issue first. Some writers had mentioned this problem directly, while others had all uded to it through apologies for notes, sketchy text, or shyness about having others read thei r compositions. Maybe if I could help these writers feel more confident about the conten t of their text productions, they would relax and settle into collaborative feedback structures. It is important to note here that these a nxieties about writing we re reflective of the kinds of anxieties I had noted in other candi datesÂ—white candidatesÂ—in previous years. Without mentioning race, I told the participants that, in my experience, most writers felt worried about having other people read their wo rk, especially at first, and especially when they were dealing with draft work. We turned to the outlines discussed at the end of the sta ndards-tasks linkage session. Although two of our members had intend ed to work on this project, that work had not yet occurred, so we took it on as a group. Everyone looked at me for direction, but I pointed to chart paper and markers and suggested they use the meeting time to work on the outline for the community/professional outreach entry together. While they adjusted to this schedule ch ange, I reminded them of the previous weekÂ’s conversation,
145 and of the linkages between the tasks, standards and core propositions. We reviewed the scoring process that would link the evid ence provided by candidatesÂ’ answers to questions in the task instructions to standard s referenced for the entry. Annie volunteered to record for the group and she began to write on the chart paper abbr eviated versions of the questions in the entry task instructions. Candidates agreed to draft responses for the questions before the next meeting. When we reconvened the following Thur sday afternoon, there was considerably more paper, but it was still pr etty closely held. There were papers face-down, folded, or in covers at nearly every place around the tabl e. I asked if they minded if I got things started, and asked them to each share the topic sentence from the text they had composed for the first section of the outline. This proved very productive. Confiden t writers readily shared their key sentences, which varied in emphasis. Frie ndly debate developed over what should be the focus for this section. The arguments relied on knowledge of the task s and standards, so the dialogue in itself was inst ructive and/or reinforcing de pending on the degree to which the tasks were understood and the standard s had been internalized. The portfolio instructions and standards books were much in use, and papers were openly referenced. Notes were being written in margins and revi sions were being drawn with arrows, lines, circles and line-outs. Almost imperceptibly, candidates began to lean across one anotherÂ’s work and to pass papers back and forth. Resistance was retreating in the face of open communication. A palpable change could be felt in the room as the warmth of open communication returned. Rather than offering short reasons why they chose not the share their writing,
146 as had preciously been the case, they bega n to lean in to listen to and look at one anotherÂ’s opening sentences. Mae, frown ing to understand what Shonda was reading aloud, asked to look at it so she could read it si lently. After doing s o, she said, Â“I think I understand where you are heading. IÂ’m worki ng on that part, too. Would you look at mine and see if you think so, too.Â” Soon, they were side by side passing papers back and forth so readily that they had to stop briefly to sort them out When I laughed and offered a staple or paper clip, Shonda rolled her eyes at me and said, Â“I guess weÂ’re over the shy thing now.Â” How interesting that, for this group of women, writing had initially been so counter to this goal. The closed demeanor of the group had dissolved when the focal mode of interchange switched from writing to talking. This char acterizes a shift in language function from a trans actional transference of info rmation to the interactional exercise of relationships (Brown & Yule, 1983). This was much more pronounced in this group than in groups with whom I had worked in prior years. Previous groups, while expressing reservations initially about sharing their writing, ha d moved from resistance to cautious sharing very quickly, with relatively little conversation. The focus remained on the written text. For this group, however, the move to sh aring their writing came only afterÂ—and when accompanied byÂ—a high level of conversation. The importance of this became clearer through an expe rience I had with Marilyn. Continuing Challenges Organization proved to be a continuing ch allenge for this group of writers. At almost every meeting, whether with a group of candidates or one-on-on e, this topic arose as a concern. Where should I begin? How s hould I arrange the writin g? The strategy of
147 relying on the structure of the entry instruc tions became a mainstay. Once, when I was asked to work with a group in a candidateÂ’s home, I arrived before any other members. Upon ushering me into her study area, the hos tess candidate, Marilyn, sheepishly moved a large Raggedy Anne doll from the chair she i nvited me to use. Taking note of a number of showcase dollsÂ—all BlackÂ—on shelves around the room, I asked about the Raggedy Anne dollÂ’s place in the ranks. Marilyn grinned and told me th at sheÂ’d needed a coach to get her to answer the questi ons like we had done during the early group meetings when weÂ’d discussed writing. She and I had talk ed about this, and I had suggested that she read the questions out loud and record her answers on tape, then use the transcriptions to help guide her writing. Tryi ng this, she had been imagining me asking her the questions in an interview format. Her neighbor had pl aced the big rag doll out for a garage sale recently, and sheÂ’d bought it so sheÂ’d have a Â“smiling White faceÂ” to talk to, and maybe IÂ’d keep her on her toes. We laughed at this but then she said, Â“Y es, I talk different when I talk to youÂ….more like what I need to be writing for this work.Â” When I asked her what she meant, she answered, Â“We-ellllÂ…..no offense, but I have to write White for this, and I can do that easier if I talk White, and I can do that better if IÂ’m talking to a White personÂ—white teacherÂ— like you. So Professor Paula, meet Raggedy Paula.Â” We both hooted with laughter but MarilynÂ’s message is both insightful and sad. Not sad because she had to switch discourse st yles to meet a professional needÂ—most of us are faced with that need on a daily basis. Rather, it was sad because for Marilyn, this process meant adopting a discourse style she identified as belonging to a race different from her own in order to succeed. It was also sad because she felt the need for translating her Black discourse into White discourse to the extent that she used a prop to facilitate
148 the act of translation. She felt she had to translate her own normal discourse into a different one to leverage her chances to achieve certification by National Board. How would I feel if askedÂ—requiredÂ— to perform a similar transformation in order to gain full access to an opportunity purported to be open to a full and representative range of teachers in our state and elsewhere? Mari lyn helped me understand how significant oral language is as a text unto itsel f, and how useful that text form can be as a tool for translation between modes. More importa ntly, MarilynÂ’s intuitive understanding of the role ethnicity can play in situating discour se within Discourse was a powerful lesson to me. In effect she was practicing the kind of multilingualism described as a somewhat sophisticated translative skill by Baker (2002) Marilyn had strategically and cleverly leveraged this intuitive knowledge to help hers elf navigate the task of portfolio writing, and her trusting generosity in sharing that ploy with me had given me a new tool to assist others in future mentoring scenarios. Word choice, text construc tion and text length were also persistent vexations. These candidates tended, when anecdotally compared to others with whom I have worked, to rely less on tools such as a thesaurus to vary word choices, although dictionary use was commonplace, usually for spelling confirmation. Incomplete sentences, run-ons, and confusing clause re ferents were frequent occurrences. Mixed verb tenses were common, as were and subject-verb disagreements. Parallel constructions were inconsistent, paragraphs tended to be loosely constructed, and complex sentence structures were not the norm. The application of conventions such as punctuation and spelling was uneven. Alt hough these factors were stressors, they provided rich opportunity for mentorship in tercession. However, if mentoring of
149 candidates focuses strongly on these fundament al elements of writing, there may be little chance that it will also be able to hone in on more substantive elements of preparation for and pursuit of Nationa l Board Certification. And so . Chapter Four has described representa tive interactions w ith Black teachers attempting pursuit of National Board Certifica tion. These descriptions have included glimpses into the candidatesÂ’ personal circumstances, their views of teaching and accomplishment, and their approaches to written composition processes. Contrasts have been drawn between the candidate sÂ’ views, expectations and approaches and those of the systems with which they must engage in this pursuitÂ—broader school communities, school district structures, and the process of seeking certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Now that the data have been gathered and explored, what conclusions can be drawn? What answers can be formulated fo r the questions around which this inquiry has been organized: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? In Chapter Five, the data are discusse d from an analytical perspective and findings from the study are synthesized into a set of conclusions, practical recommendations, and questions for further investigation.
150 CHAPTER FIVE Discussion and Conclusions Nearly a yearÂ’s work by the researcher and the st udy participants has been undertaken in an effort to address the following two questions: Is there a disconnect between the d/Discourses of NBPTS and Black candidates for National Board Certification? What aspects of d/Discourse are medi ated by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Although numerous other aspects of human inte ractions in the teaching-learning process have been encountered, described, and consid ered, the discussion of the whole of the accumulated data shouldÂ—and willÂ—center on the two guiding questions. Each was considered in turn. Discourse Disconnects As mentioned in Chapter Four, there we re significant differences between the way the certification candidates in the study defi ned the central focus of their work and the Core Propositions of the National Board. The teachers identified the five areas around which their roles were defined as: 1. Community 2. Compassion 3. Character
151 4. Classroom 5. Curriculum The National Board rests its certificat ion structure on five Core Propositions: 1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning. 2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students. 3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. 4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. 5. Teachers are members of learning communities. Table 10 illustrates th e fundamental disconnect between how the study participants and the National Board define th e most central aspects of teachersÂ’ work. These core elements form part of what Gee calls the Â“Big DÂ” Disc ourse of teachingÂ—the context within which day-to-day language use, or Â“little dÂ” discourse takes place. However, this may be interpreted in several wa ys. In conversations with the participants about this apparent gap between the core valu es of the two groups, they took stances that both supported this conclusion and minimized the importance of it. Table 10. Comparison of Focus Priorities Candidates NBPTS Connect Disconnect Source: Interaction Themes Source: Core Propositions Classroom 1.Commitment XX Curriculum 2. Knowledge XX Community 5. Community XX XX Character 3. Responsibility XX XX Compassion 4. Reflectivity XX XX
152 CandidatesÂ’ views of classroom work correlated closely with the NBPTS proposition of the commitment of teachers to students and their learning. CandidatesÂ’ definitions of effective teaching encompassed notions of focused attention to students and their learning needs. This rested on the t eachersÂ’ mastery of a body of knowledge and the pedagogical skill to deliver an effective curriculum. These two areas of Table 10 align tightly, forming points of connection be tween the d/Discourses of t/Teaching. The context within which t/Teaching occurs is less perfectly aligned, however. As illustrated in the analysis chart in Appendix H, candidatesÂ’ notions of community contrasted sharply with those of NBPTS as expressed in the Core Propositions. In these differing contexts, the candidates viewed th eir primary mission to be development of character in a climate of compassionate care, while NBPTS promotes the value of developing responsibility in an atmosphere created, monitore d and adjusted by reflective teachers. These areas of disconnect may provide important clues to the reasons behind the present disparity in certification ac hievement rates among members of varying demographic groups. In one afternoon session late in November, we spent considerable time discussing this central issue. Two of the teachers, sitti ng at first with folded arms, somewhat balkily held that it should come as no surprise that there would be a difference between what a Â“big national group like NBPTS thinks matters and how things really are.Â” One of them elaborated, saying You see, these teachers that gets on panels like this arenÂ’t like the rest of us. I mean, how many folks down here ever he ard tell of such a group before now, much less when they was writinÂ’ these Propos itions? I tell you, a different kind of
153 teachers gets asked to those meetinÂ’s, and a different kind of systems gets asked to send Â‘em. TheyÂ’d never ask this count y to work on somethinÂ’ like that, and if they did, they wouldnÂ’t do it, and even if they did, it sure wouldnÂ’t be none of us who was asked to do it. No, maÂ’am. S o, why would what we think about workinÂ’ with our kids look anything like what they put out? How could it? WeÂ’re talkinÂ’ completely different worlds here. In a chorus of agreement, heads nodded and a low thunder of Â“MmmmHmmmsÂ” rumbled from among them. But then, one of them said, Wait, though. Maybe weÂ’re talking about the same things, just in different ways. Like, the subject of community. WeÂ’ve talk ed about that before. Their list talks about learning communities (she rolls her ey es and the group giggles). That was a joke here, but it could be meaning more like what we mean when we talk about community. And maybe it rolls more over on what we said about classroom and curriculum. We talked about comm unity like it was our townsÂ—our neighborhoodsÂ—but this is about us more. And we went over and over that, talkinÂ’ about needing to keep learning curriculum and so forth. I think maybe it laps over more than it looks. Do you want to see? LetÂ’s see if we can map it out. It might help us do this box better. Pulling a big chart onto the table, she be gan to create a table, while telling the group to think how their ideas could Â“plug intoÂ” the Core Propositions, with the following result shown in Table 11:
154 Table 11. Correlation of ParticipantsÂ’ Values to Core Propositions THEM US Community Compassion Character Classroom Curriculum Students x x x x x Subjects x x Managing x x x x Thinking x x x x x Learning Community x x x x From this discussion and the effort to chart the overlaps between their own meaning of the five areas they had identified and the Core Propositions of the National Board, the teachers both gained and more cl early articulated their understanding of both lists and the relationships be tween them. In so doing, the foundation for a rhizomatic analysis had been laid. In this case, the textual basis was comprised of the study groupderived list of central focus areas and the National Board Core Propositions. Those two lists are the previous unders tandings described by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) as tracings. Tracings are representations of pre-exis ting understandings. In creating Table 11, the participants drew an interlocking ma p of their evolving un derstanding of the relationship between the tracings The table format provided a vehicle for side-by-side comparison of the defining elements of accomplishment, showing both gaps and overlaps between the tracings and the maps. The ga ps, or ruptures, rev eal disconnects between previous understandings, or de finitions, of the texts being compared. The resulting map,
155 according to Deleuze and Guattari (1987) is highly changeableÂ—negotiableÂ—depending on the conditions of and part icipants in its rendering. The ruptures constitute opportunities to establish new connections, forge new understandings, and grow in new directions (Hamann, 1996; Sussman, 2000). The candidates discovered, for instance, that they relied on CommunityÂ—the actual towns and neighborhoods where they and their students lived and workedÂ—as sources for the students they taught and for th e milieu in which they thought about and learned about their work. This definition and use of community differs in important ways from the National Board statement about teac her membership in learning communities. While Core Proposition #5 cont ains a closing statement on the need for collaboration between teachers and parents, it is neither as d eep nor as wide as the participantsÂ’ view of the role they occupy within the community a nd the role they believe community plays in the successful performance of their work with students. By the same token, the candidates could see that the National Bo ard notion of Learning Community touched their own categories of Community, Comp assion, Character and Curriculum. While similar agreements and ruptures c ould be seen among the other elements of the compared lists of core elements, the aspe ct of Community was the most prevalent and the most discussed. The participants asked me to type Tabl e 11 (p.154) and copy it for them so they could add it to the charts weÂ’d made to correlate the portfolio tasks and certification standards. As one woman put it, Â“We might not see things completely eye to eye with the National Board, but we arenÂ’t as far apart as it seemed like before we did this.Â” For me as the observer, this is an important summary statement. There are obvious
156 disconnects between the basis for accomp lished practice as defined by NBPTSÂ—the Discourse of teaching accomplishmentÂ—and as it is viewed by the members of this study group. But there are more agreements than we re first apparent, and perhaps the roots of the disconnects are more sub tle than first perceived. Looking for Truth The demands of an academic study carry with them an expectation of a search for Â“truth,Â” which is, in this case is acknowledge d as a subjective end to pursue. It may, in fact, even be negotiable, particularly am ong members of a resear ch-directing team of scholars who embrace personal academic stances hovering at varying points along a postmodern/post-structural philosophical conti nuum. At a more elemental level, the emerging truth is subjectively negotiable w ithin the psyche of the researcher, as dependent on the researcherÂ’s evolving persona l understandings as th ey are developed in and refracted through the obs erved and partly co-experi enced reality of the study participants. Guattari (1998) explained this form of negotiated and constantly emerging understanding in his concept of schizoanalysis by describing the shifting definitions in terms of assemblages. Each new amalgam of experiencesÂ—as perceived by their various experiencersÂ—constitutes an assemblage Those unique intersections provide opportunities to explore new representa tions and explanations of reality. That reality is constructed of a series of phenomena. According to one dictionary, in the realm of philosophy, a phenomenon is Â“t hat which appears real to the senses, regardless of whether its underlying existe nce is proved or it s nature understoodÂ” (Morris, 1971). This study endeavored to describe, as accurately as possible, the experience of the participants as they went about the wo rk of seeking National Board
157 Certification. The descriptions were deri ved from observations of the participantsÂ’ activities over a period of more than a year The researcher attempted to capture as accurately as possible the experien ces of the participants and relate them in this paper in narrative form. In this case, the effort to accurately recount the participantsÂ’ stories invoked countless hours of reflective t hought on the researcherÂ’s part. This was often achieved by writing journal entries, but al so frequently involved uninter rupted hours of reverie while making the long, solitary drives to fulfill work travel duties and to carry out extended family responsibilities. But the most reflectiveÂ—and reflexiveÂ—episodes took place during conversations with ca ndidates during member checking. Over and over again, I found myself asking participants Â“Is this what you meant?Â” or Â“Did you see it that way, too?Â” and later, Â“Did I get it right?Â” It wa s during those conversations when I felt most connected with the candidates, perhaps because it was at those times when I made myself most vulnerable to them, much as they had made themselves vulnerable to me, and to each other, when they shared their own wr iting, often asking Â“Did I get it right?Â” One afternoon late in th e study, in the lull between submission and score reports, Selena was reading a section I had written and giving me feedback. She was laughing about how reading back the conversations made her see the gestures and hear the voices of her friends. Her remarks were very kind and affirming, but I pre ssed her about whether the picture as a whole was Â“rig ht.Â” She leaned back and sa id, Â“One day you told us we had to be the ones who decided what to put in and what to leave outÂ—to decide when the entry was right. It made me mad then, but I know now how it worksÂ—really worksÂ— when you dig and choose and decide what to say. So, girl, youÂ’re gonna have to decide if
158 itÂ’s right.Â” I grinned back at her, feeling a degree of satis faction, but a greater degree of need for someone to tell me I was on the right track at least. I di dnÂ’t say so, but I could feel my facial expression and my shoulders sag. Selena sat up, scooted over toward me, and rested her hand on my arm. She said, Â“I read the part where you wondered about us while you went on that website that time. Remember? You was thinking about us at home or wherever. Well, we been thinki ng about you, too, and I think you been changing right along with us. You ques tion everything about all of th is. DonÂ’t question what you write so much.Â” She was right. I have changed. I have questioned everything, many of them ideas quite fundamental to my upbringing and prev ious life experience. My exploration of these teachersÂ’ candidacy experience has led me on an intense personal journey, one that returned me to a different place than the one from which I embarked. Looking back at the report manuscript, I realize how much it relies on my attempts to undergo the process of epoch to properly distill my understand ing of the candidatesÂ’ experiences. The heuristic phenomenological le ns, through which the participants experiences were filtered along with my own, has helped me assure faithfulness in repo rting our mutually constructed perceptions in what I believeÂ—and the participants have affirmed to beÂ—a literally reflective account of our shared work. Many issues of authority arise during the implementa tion of such a process. There is the matter of oneÂ’s dominion over one Â’s own cerebral stores. How much control do we actually have over the throng of inform ation bits inhabiting our neurons? Do weÂ— Dare weÂ—Dare we notÂ—apply our full faculties to the vigorous challenge to what we believe to be Â“true?Â” This question implies a conflict between existing truth and possible
159 truth and calls into question the very concept of truth at the outset. This brings us back, as if by mobian circuit, to the negot iable quality of poststructural truth. In this cas e, the truth that is so hard sought can only be perceived through a set of shifting lenses held by the evolving particip ants and the observer. The clarity achieved depends, at least in part, on the navigation of aut hority boundaries that wind between the observed and the observer. Knowledge, Power, and Authority In this study, there was a thicket of au thority boundaries to be navigated in the effort to stabilize the positi on of the wobbly lenses long enough to capture credible observations of the work at hand. There wa s the issue of the re searcherÂ’s previous authority role as district-level manager, as it was acknowledged, respected, rejected or ignored by both the teachers and researcher. There was the matter of the teachersÂ’ views of the authority structure w ithin their own ranks, as determined by school level, grade level, tenure, and by demographics such as race and gender. The authority of Â“the systemÂ”Â—the state, district and building-leve l regulations and expectations that are so inseparable from the daily rhythm of teach ersÂ’ workÂ—were omnipresent aspects of the context of this project. There was also the overarching issue of the National BoardÂ’s authority that resides in the power to pres cribe standards, mechanisms and evaluative processes requisite to the achievement of Na tional Board Certification. Finally, although not inconsequentially, there is the matter of the academyÂ’s power over the studentresearcher and the members of the directing committee. While perhaps not immediately apparent each of these power and authority negotiations situates the participants and the observer differently, both as separate entities
160 and in relationship to one another, and each also creates subtle tensions that highlight or mask disconnects inherent to th e processes being observed. This is particularly important if one takes the Foucauldian view that power is not an entity unto itself, but is rather an activity in which one engages (Gauntlett, 2003). Further, knowledge is a prerequisite condition for governing or managing somethi ng (Feldman, 1997), in this case, the outcome and process of candidacy. Foucault (1 980) proposed that power is an immutable result of knowledge. Knowledge is a prereq uisite condition for governing or managing something (Feldman, 1997), in this case, th e outcome and process of candidacy. This reinforces again the justification for focu sing intently on context, since contextual analysis is a necessary antecedent to the in terpretation of power relationships (Hall, 1997). Conclusions and Recommendations Related to d/Discourse What does this mean for the outcome of the study? First, it became clear quickly that all of us were, to some degree, some what poorly equipped to negotiate authority issues, since we, as womenÂ—mostly middleaged womenÂ—and all but one of us Black womenÂ—were not predisposed by prior experien ce to do the kind of work required to challenge authority, as the ca ndidates were required to do when they decided to seek candidacy in spite of discouragement from th eir communities, their principals, and their peers, and as I chose to do in deciding to pur sue the project in the face of more subtle (although perhaps equally formidable) resistan ce from my employer. And we could not negotiate authority issues without first id entifying them and then being willing to challenge both our understandings of the pow er structures and our relative positions within them. This work has carried us a distance along the road to full assumption of
161 these skills, but it will require more work for th ese to become internalized as more natural ways of thinking and acting for this demographic, at least those of us who represent it in this study. It is important to note the disconnect between the participantsÂ’ notions of community and those of NBPTS. This is pa rticularly pertinent when one considers the role the Learning Community playedÂ—or faile d to playÂ—in the teachersÂ’ decisions to participate in the National Board Certification process itself. From this, the first recommendation I would pose as a result of this study would be to more carefully inform teachers of research-based reasons to partic ipate as members of learning communities as described by the National Board, and to mo re carefully prepare school and district administrators with skills to expand inclus ive participation in the learning communities under their care, to the professional advantag e of both the individuals and the community at large. This could help prevent future ep isodes of explicit and implicit administrative dissuasion such as those described in Chapter Four Meanwhile, the employment of strategies rooted in FreireÂ’s (1993) liberation pedagogy, empowering people to optimize their learning (remembering that knowledge is power!) by equalizing the teacher-student relationship may prove useful in promoting critical approaches among teachers for analyzing and structuring responses to their work. To borrow from Finn (1999), teachers, partic ularly those from underrepresented groups, may benefit from opportunities to think critically about thei r practicesÂ—both in terms of discourse and DiscourseÂ—in ways that will embolden them to act Â“in their own selfinterest.Â” This environment existed in the shared workspace of this study, wherein the candidates and I became co-learners, pursuing different yet related learning goals, but
162 doing so side-by-side in a symbiotic fashion. Th ese skills and strategies can be embedded in and strengthened during in service programs, particularly those based upon supportive structures such as learning communities, which are so prominently mentioned in the Core Propositions of the National Board. A specific skill that would perhaps boost both the belief by candidates that they possess the capacity to participat e in the power associated wi th National Board and in the perceptions by others that such is truly the case is the skill of writing in a confident, bold style. While the vast majority of candidate s for National Board Certification are female, and the perception of gendered wr iting styles (Earl-Novell, 2001) is not likely to be an issue of bias in scoring, there is evid ence that individualsÂ’ beliefs about their capabilitiesÂ—their feelings of self-efficacyÂ—are predictive determiners of their achievement (Bandura, 1997). This returns us to the situation where the principal discouraged her teachers from participating in National Board in order to forestall the possibility that they would not be successful. This exercise of what is in effect an inappropriate use of parent-c hild authority (Pri ce & Cutler, 2001) served to oppress potential candidates by viewing them as power less. The implicit message was that the teachers were ill-equipped to succeed, particul arly with regard to the writing demands of the process. Whether this was true, or whet her is was an assumpti on, it served in either case to render the attendees powerless. Pr ecandidacy inservice training that includes support for writing skills could be helpful in moving potential candidates from a position of powerlessness to one of increased power through the sharing of knowledge. Â“Power is energy: author ity is controlÂ” (Price & Cutler, 2001, p.479). With increased knowledge (and therefore power) a bout the National Board process, such as
163 that gained through participation in group and individual mentoring sessions, teachers acquire tools to help them control their move ment through that process. This may be as simple as learning where to look for inform ation about application deadlines or as complex as making decisions about the kinds of evidence to choose in order to document achievement of the standards associated with a particular portfolio entry. Whichever the case, the power gained from the knowledge f acilitates the building of personal authority for the individual involved. This fuels th e acquisition of new knowledge and the cycle gains strength. The empowered individual no t only feels increased self-efficacy, but is also likely to project it in ways both subtle and overt. Ov er time, this changed behavior may impact stereotyped judgments about the ab ility, power and authority of a previously oppressed demographic. This can be especi ally important for groups who have been impacted by race-based oppression coupled with gender oppression, such as Black women have historically experienced (Harri s & Hill, 1998). The benefit of increased power and authority could certainly extend to other teachers, too, since the issues of power and authority have traditionally been areas about which female teachers have experienced conflict and oppr ession (Maher, 1999). Efforts, such as those undertaken in this study, to bridge the gap between preparatory instruction and wr itten demands and expectations of NB could help mend a set of broader disconnects in the Discourse of teaching, such as those between black candidates and supportive infrastructure, betw een community expectations of Black and White teachers, between administrative expect ations for Black and White teachers, and between perceptions of power and au thority by White and Black teachers. In summary, there are a nu mber of significant disconnect s in the d/Discourses of
164 the National Board for Professional Teachi ng Standards and the Black teachers who participated in this study, ranging from de finitions of accomplished teaching and access to infrastructure supports fo r the process through perceptions of community and varying administrative expectations of teachers. Th e disconnects have been there all along, but as with the Magic Eye pictures popular with children in the mid-90s, it was only with a change and intensity of focus on the part of the observer that the disconnects became apparent. The revelation of the disconnects in unexpected places is evidence of the success of this aspect of the study. Mentoring The disconnects having been revealed, it now becomes pertinent to examine the impact of study efforts to bridge them th rough the process of mentoring. Although many factors in the certif ication seeking process were addressed through mentoring, the specific question on which this discussion focuses is: What aspects of d/Discourse are mediat ed by mentoring to facilitate the achievement of National Board Ce rtification by Black candidates? Two discrete D/discourses emerged as topi cs during the course of the study, those dealing with t/Teaching and a/Accomplishment. As covered in previous passages, the candidates worked hard, initially following my leadership but in creasingly on their own, to reconcile the disconnects in those discour ses. They did so by cross-matching their own categories of effective teach ing characteristics against those elaborated in the Core Propositions of the NBPTS, a process described in earlier in this chapter. The teachers negotiated individually and among themselves as they made decisions about the kinds of evidence they chose to present in written a ccounts in which they described, analyzed and
165 reflected upon their classroom practices a nd their impact on student learning. For example, Mandy longed to base one portfo lio entry on a year-long outdoor project, during which her class had created and tended a bu tterfly garden. Â“There is just so much I can say about it,Â” she insisted to herself. As she worked with her fellow candidates, however, she realized that an extended peri od of intense intervention for student with a host of social and academic problems provide d a more comprehensive demonstration of how her practice met NB standards. She convi nced her self that was a better choice for that particular entry, even though is was not wh at she considered to be her best work. This compromise was difficult for her, but yi elded a score of 3.25 on a four point scale. When Mandy shared this result with me over the phone, she snorted and said, Â“It was worth it, but I loved that garden project.Â” Mentoring activity was most evident in tw o areas of candidate concern: process navigation and construction of written portfolio entries. Process questions were addressed intensely in early sessions, while initial application decisions were being undertaken and process steps in itiated. This aspect of mentoring faded quickly once the application deadline had passed and all form s were submitted. Then, the mentoring focused almost exclusively on writing, to one degree or another, until spring during the last two weeks of the cycle. Then, wh en writing was winding down and portfolio packing began as submission deadlines appr oached, process once again became a primary concern. The aspects of discourse associated w ith the process are overwhelmingly onesided in favor of the National Board, si nce the process rests almost entirely on prescriptive steps, forms and paperwork th at pass through district, state and NBPTS
166 procedures. The discourse is very direct and not subject to interpretation or choice. Candidates simply follow step-by-step directio ns. However, even this seemingly cut-and dried aspect of candidacy has been impacted by what amounts to an indirect form of mentoring. The initial assistance tends to be delivered almost exclusively from the front, under the direct control and leadership of the mentor. When I was the district contact for the Excellent Teaching Program, I had worked to clarify the process at every opportunity. Th is was, frankly, an attempt to simplify my own work and reduce the number of repetitive inquiries about vague points. In the process of making the applicati on process transparent, I deve loped a very detailed stepby-step set of directions that accompanied ev ery application information packet. This packet, which my office staff assembled every spring, included published information printed by both the Florida Excellent T eaching Program and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, along with the necessary district state, and NBPTS application forms. It included a glossary of terms and a list of relevant web links. I did not know it at the time, but I had placed myself in the role of process interpreter, and in so doing had fulfilled a mentoring role. Only during this study did I realize the impact of this effort, when seven of twel ve exit surveys indicated that the clarity of the introductory steps had been an encouragement to continue in the process. Those tools had been used and found helpful by the candidates. This work, although more transparent and perhaps more consistent with what would appear to be the role of a helper-mentor, as seen from the MandyÂ’s situation and those described in Chapter Four, the more potent assistance was that shared from the side as co-learner, as opposed to that offered from the front as authoritative interpreter.
167 Additionally, especially with the teachers targeted for possible inclusion in this study, the early efforts to build trust pa id dividends. As evidenced by numerous exchanges related in this paper, there was a high level of trust betw een the participants and me, anchored partially in our mutual ne ed, and we counted on it from both sides. The participants counted on me to Â“stick with themÂ” through their candidacy, and I counted on enough of them comple ting the process to yield va lid results of this study. We all relied on one another for honesty, confid entiality, and collegiality. By the end of our work together, we counted on each othe r for mutually caring friendships, some of which are still active. Along the way, the teachers navigated the six building tasks enumerated by Gee (1999). Taken separately, they illustrate the scope of the cons tructed understandings developed during the study. Taken as a whole, they constitute the basis for judging the overall validity of the findings. As such, they are important to review, each by turn. Semiotic Building The signs and symbols of communication systems are keys to understanding how meaning is constructed. For our group, this was manifested in body language: the way Dotty crossed her arms when she made an adamant point, way Selena pressed her lips together and paused before disagreeing out l oud, or the way I squinted my eyes if I was getting lost in a fast-paced run of colloquial dialogue. The system was based on a set of diverse background experiences rooted in a va riety of shades of family, color, creed, education, work assignment, and myriad ot her aspect of personal and professional culture. The system was comprised of vary ing casual language forms into which we lapsed only after we had covered the key topics of group concern. This contrasted
168 significantly with the formal, professional language used by National Board. Also, the communication among the study group was almo st always oral, while communication with NBPTS was almost entirely in writing. Interestingly, I sometimes transcribed our speech with its informal variances, while at ot her times I transcribed it more formally. I did not notice this until a candidate men tioned it to me during member checking one afternoon. Upon revisiting several tapes, I de duced that the transcription mode depended on whether I was approaching the task primarily as a participant or as a researcher. The role I played as a listenerÂ—the audienceÂ—de termined the mode in which I transcribed. Mentoring impacted semiotic building rath er directly, in that I offered direct advice to participants on th e topic of code-switching, to emphasize the importance of maintaining a consistently professional tone in their portfolio writi ng. MarilynÂ’s use of the Â“Raggedy PaulaÂ” doll is an example of this. In this respect, as mentor I served as what Amrein (2000) calls a Â“la nguage broker,Â” much as bilingu al students often serve as interpreters bridging the divi de between the English language world and the one in which their native language is dominant. World Building This was a key function of our work toge ther. I was looking for clues to how the participants defined their prof essional world, particularly wi th regard to the task of teaching and the characteristics of accomplis hed teaching. The candidates sought clarity regarding the expectations of NB. The viewpoints espoused by NBPTS and the study participants, especially at the outset, were very dissimilar, as evidence by the crosscompared elements of effective teaching. Once again, as mentor, I sought to help the candidates bridge the gap between
169 their own constructions and t hose of NBPTS. With the standards and core propositions established as the basis for determini ng each candidateÂ’s success in achieving certification, this was high-stakes work. I c hose to move aside for the most part with respect to this aspect of their work. Ho wever, the work I organized to assist the candidates in the study of the standards and their relationship to both the core propositions and the portfolio tasks was well received. Activity Building The entire effort in our case revolved around the central activity of the candidatesÂ’ quest for National Board Certification. All of our efforts were driven by the centrality goal for the candidates. The goal of comple ting a dissertation study was central to my own personal work, but that quickly assumed a supporting role relati ve to the primary goal of facilitating the candida tesÂ’ achievement of National Board Certification. All of the mentoring activities undert aken were developed and carri ed out to meet this goal. Situated Identity and Relationship Building This was an interesting and ever-shifti ng aspect of the study. At first, I was a district-level program manage r, viewed with intense skepticism by the Black teachers because I was from the main officeÂ…and because I was a White woman calling a meeting of Black teachers. As detailed in num erous interactions reported in this paper, this changed during the first meeting after the two white teachers arrived late, again when I took off my shoes, and again when we talk ed about barriers to participation by Black teachers. It continued to shift as I changed jobs, as they entered the process of candidacy, as they developed portfolio entries and as we began to really know one another. Mentoring touched this element of our work more indirectly than it did some
170 others. It became apparent in the lesson I le arned from Dotty when I attempted to be a supportive mentor by connecting her with the seller of an affordab le car. In that case, and in many others associated with this el ement of discourse, I was the one who was mentored. This became more overt as the study progressed and the participants gained confidence. As it progressed, I also became more willing to quickly admit when I was confusedÂ…or cluelessÂ…about an issue or topic where I was clearly on the outside looking in. Likewise, the candidates became mu ch more open to talking about how they made decisions whether or not to adap t to the NBPTS discourse. Mandy made a deliberate choice in favor of NB when she chos e to write about another line of instruction over her outdoor class garden project. On the other hand, Dee elected to focus on her conviction relative to the importance of char acter education as she composed one of her entries. She worked diligently to craft an en try that promoted her pa ssion for this topic, and while in the end it clearly articulated her approach, it did not answer the guiding questions for the entry in a way that demonstr ated her achievement of the standards. Dee was chagrined when she earned only a 1.5 of the possible four points. However, she consulted with Mandy during the following appl ication cycle as she prepared to resubmit the entry, and increased her score to 3.0. Political Building This is the area of great potential in this study. As described previously, the issues of knowledge, power, and authority perv ade this study. It is founded on a personal concern for fairness and equity. The recommen dation made earlier to deliver writing and process training to a more inclusive audience of potential program participants focuses on those areas.
171 The first meeting was called because of a concern I had about the underrepresentation of Black Teachers from our school district in the Excellent Teaching Program. I frankly told the attendees of my wo rry about the fact that, as of then, there were no Black NBCTs in our district, meani ng that no Black teachers in our county were receiving the recognition or financial reward asso ciated with that credential in our state. At an early support group mee ting, one of the teachers c onfessed aloud that she would like to be the first one in our area, and others agreed. There is political capital in that status, and in the interest of fairness and equity, it was a goal I embraced. My mentoring efforts, and those of other mentors who work ed with the candidates, were all focused on helping these teachers achieve certification (for this group as it had been for previous groups I had facilitated). There were over 400 invitations issued for the initial meeting, and 30 teachers attended. Of those, 12 became candidates or pr e-candidates that first year. Eight of those teachers completed the entire application pr ocess, and five of those teachers are now NBCTs. Two are in their final year of advanced (banking) ca ndidacy. District efforts to encourage participation by members of under-re presented groups continue, and each year there are more male, Black and other minor ity group candidates and NBCTs. Many of the Â“first 30Â” are mentors for candidates a nd early-career teachers and all of Â“The PathfindersÂ” (as the group called itself afte r a pivotal conversati on related in Chapter Four) are active trainers or pres enters in our district. Th is emboldening as an apparent by-product of invitation and encouragement is a satisfying outcome from the work accomplished during the course of this study, and evidence of the impact mentoring can have.
172 Connection Building The connections between the six different elements of discourse are numerous and fluid. They, in fact, form a rhizome of their own! Semiotic building is closely related to world building and identity and re lationship building. Identity and relationship building connects to political building and activity building. The work associated with each connects to the others in some way, large or small, obvious or covert. Mentoring efforts helped to capitalize on the interrelations between each of these elements of the discourse network centered on this group of candidatesÂ’ work to achieve National Board Certification. Mentoring wo rk was, in turn, facilitated by the connectedness of the varying aspects of disc ourse. For example, when the candidates pushed for answers about what activities to include in their entry for Documented Accomplishments, they were advised to consul t the task rubric. Rubr ics are useful tools for mentors to consult to help clarify what is expected, a nd to what extent since they specify both the criteria and the various possi ble achievement levels for tasks (Andrade, 2000; Martin-Kniep, 2000 & Montgomery, 2002). This particular interaction (described in Chapter Four), which threatened at one point to become prickly, wa s one in which the semiotic building provided a background of body language clues that were familiar to us and which signaled before trouble surfaced that there was tension in the air. World building made available the tools to parse the program documents and participants experiences to gain understanding of how the views of the two posed a conf lict that would need to be a ddressed in order to facilitate success in the certification process. Activ ity building centered the attention of all involved on the certification goal as the end toward which the current task was only an
173 end. Socioculturally situated identity and relationship bu ilding helped provide a forum from which we could discuss the competing defi nitions and expectations in order to craft a workable approach for reconciling the disc onnect, and political bui lding kept us aware of the stakes involved. In summary, our shared navigation of GeeÂ’s six build ing tasks through the process of mentoring served to reinforce my devel oping notions of the d/ Discourses of t/Teaching and a/Accomplishment. Semiotic Building re vealed the contrasti ng symbols of formal and informal differences in languages and expe ctations relative to the d/Discourses of National Board processes. World Building provided a framework within which the Â“worldsÂ” of NBPTS and the candidatesÂ—th e d/Discourses of t/TeachingÂ—intersected, sometimes smoothly and at other times with jol ting collisions, as in the case of differing views of Community. As we pursued Activ ity Building tasksÂ—the candidates working toward certification while I worked toward graduationÂ—we formed deepening relationships that gradually moved me from the front of the room as leader to the side of the table as mentor and, finally, to a positi on behind the lines as cheerleader for their blossoming professional involvements. Once again, our views of t/Teaching and a/Accomplishment were impactedÂ—this time on a very personal level. As the process moved toward its conc lusion, my initial efforts at political building, wherein I had initiated the st udy, were supplanted by the candidatesÂ’ strengthening advocacy for themselves. This was perhaps best illustrated by the groupÂ’s co-opting of the secret club format when they identified themselves as The Pathfinders. Taken in sum, the building tasks served not onl y to structure our dayto-day work, but my analysis of its results as they were reveal ed in our evolving shar ed understandings of the
174 d/Discourses of t/Teaching and a/Accomplishment. Recommendations for Mentoring and Support Programs This study has yielded new levels of efficacy for the participants, new professional understandings for me, and new in terpersonal insights for all of us who took this journey together. We shared experien ces and stories, and we forged the common hope that the work we did and the obstacle s we tackled would not only make our own lives better, but would serve to facilitate progress for othe r people. To that end, in consideration of the knowledge gained during the course of this study, I offer the following recommendations for the improveme nt of candidate mentoring and support activities to further the goals of this work. Relevant current research informati on should be routinely disseminated among local facilitators of programs to support Na tional Board Certification, such as the Dale Hickam Excellent Teaching Program in Florid a. In Florida alone, there are 71 program facilitators who, if a pprised of developing research fi ndings about topics related to National Board, would be better equipped to make data-based decisions to assist the forward movement of area candidates through the process. Research data would also be useful to facilitators and ot hers who craft and deliver prof essional development courses to teachers seeking to optimize their classroom results. Facilitators should be encouraged to communicate with building administrators and other district officials who can tran slate program resources and findings into improved classroom practices and resources for instruction. This should include information about the impact of advanced te acher training on student achievement. All such information should be made available by building administrators to teachers on an
175 inclusive and equitable basis, and all eligible teachers should be equally encouraged to avail themselves of advanced training and cr edentialing opportuni ties. Further, efforts to support professional development initiatives among teachers should be extended equally to all participating teachers. Activities to recruit and support candidates for Nati onal Board Certification should be advertised widely among all teacher gr oups. This includes teac hers at all levels of school, in all covered certification areas in all geographic regions, and in all demographic sub-groups. Information shoul d be made available via consistent and equitably accessible means. Program facilitators should be encouraged to develop and deliver comprehensive systems of pre-candidacy training to fam iliarize teachers with the requirements of National Board candidacy, and to provide opportu nities for development of skills called for in the process of portfolio construction. This includes training and practice in the writing genres (description, analysis, and reflection) required in the documentation process. This type of preparation for ca ndidacy should provide a forum for facilitated and differentiated translation and interpreta tion of NBPTS standards and principles for application in daily teaching practice before, during, or in lieu of pursuit of NBPTS certification. A system of support to provide transiti on from pre-candidacy into candidacy, through the application process, and finally into the role of mentor could be an effective strategy to boost teacher part icipation and success in the process as well as provide a mechanism to both manage program size and access and monitor the impact of National Board Certification on student learning and sc hool effectiveness. This model would
176 focus direct resources on the initial program application processes, refocus efforts on critical pedagogical strategies during actual portfolio developm ent, and revisit the direct clerical approaches as each program cycle draws to a close, when paperwork and forms tend eclipse instructional decisi on-making as a primary concern. This study explored this approach as its model. Professional development activities that promote and support practices facilitative of achievement of National Board Certificat ion should be made available on a fair and equitable basis. This includes all opport unities for teachers to assume formal and informal teacher-leadership roles as trainers, presenters, action researchers, team leaders, and other activities a ssociated with professional out reach and community building. Learning communities should be monitored to assure membership and participation are fully representational of all demographic s ub-groups, and that all members have equal opportunity to engage in various and flexible levels of activ ity in the learning community. This would facilitate the developmen t of practices in which Documented Accomplishments can be readily situated, a nd would serve to broaden the Discourses of teaching and accomplishment locally. Program authorities should consider the implementation of bias training for all facilitators and other persons with responsibility for program oversight. This would increase awareness of issues related to unde r-representation in this highly remunerative process, encourage an environment where Â“oth eringÂ” would be irrelevant, and promote a climate in which opportunity for full participation in the NB processes and rewards would be equitably accessible. Concurrent with this effort, additional research should be
177 conducted to document the National Board expe riences and certificate achievement rates of other under-represented groups. Finally, a thoughtful and careful effort s hould be undertaken to boost the level of National Board stakeholder attention to a full range of issues precl uding application and achievement rates among under-represented grou ps, not as a specific effort to alleviate disparate impact (since this woul d be de facto Â“otheringÂ”), but as an effort to positively impact the profession (and thereby the impact of the profession on student learning). The focus on student achievement is, after all, one shared by all conscientious teachers. This central concern is the common ground inhabited by all of us who pursue our profession. Conclusions and Topics for Further Study The questions have been asked and answer ed. For the group of candidates whose experiences were observed for this study, a hos t of disconnects were identified between the d/Discourses of their teaching practic es and those of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Mentoring served to mitigate various aspects of those disconnects as the teachers worked toward completion of their individual application processes. Continued reflection on the study and its results, in consultation with my mentor, has yielded some additi onal interpretations that could give rise to future study in this area. Four of them are partic ularly pertinent at this point. First, the mentoring approach undert aken was grounded in critical pedagogy, linked largely to Freire and several re cent adherents: Anyon, Finn, and Ogbu. This approach incorporated elements of my past wo rk that had been directed chiefly from the front, and which was designed to provide clear and authoritative in terpretations of the bureaucratic aspects of the in itial application pr ocess. Once beyond those processes,
178 however, I chose to engage in mentoring act ivity planned to advance the participantsÂ’ confidence and efficacy by placing me, as mentor in a role parallel to that of the mentees. I became, in effect and in reality, an authentic co-learner. I served as an advisor on aspects of candidacy about which I had knowledge, and occasionally provided candidates with tools and strate gies to facilitate their self -directed work. On the other hand, the candidates taught me what they we re doing, thinking, f eeling, experiencing as they pursued certification. We shared real vu lnerabilities and risks: the teachers risked failure in a high stakes somewhat public pro cess. By the same token, I worked alongside them, having opened my self to risk by touting to district officials the need for increased equity in NB effort in our area and staking my terminal degree quest to this quest. We were, in a fine sense, co-dependent. And it worked. I believe this approach holds promise for a wide spectrum of professional development activities. Second, I was surprised to find the prev alence among this group of the view of National Board as elitistÂ—a Secret Club, as it was described in Chapter Four. The further feeling that the club is private and closed make s this a particularly pernicious perception. Secret, private clubs are in many ways antith etical to the ideals of public education, and this obstacle is one that requires work in or der for full and open access to the process can be achieved. The extent of the resentment at being excluded continues to surprise me. The teachers in this group rebounded so strongly from the resentment as they proceeded through the certification gauntlet that they, in fact, formed one of their own: The Pathfinders. The secret club mentality is a barrier that warrants sustained assault. In fact, the revelation early on of the candi date groupÂ’s disdain for the elite status of the countyÂ’s NBCT cadre contrasts sharply with its later co-opting of that same
179 structure for what came to be known as The Pathfinders. As the group replicated behaviors that had initially made them feel shut out of the process and its rewards, they appeared not to recognize that they were doi ng so. Generalizing GeeÂ’s notions of d/D to the field of identity politics, th e actions of the group in this regard could be construed to define a structure of s/Se cret c/Club, through which th eir increasing empowerment becomes apparent. Further exploration of the phenomenon could provide insights into ways in which minority group achievement of National Board Cer tification might be more effectively facilitated in the future. Third, another closely relate d aspect of mentoring that took shape rather subtly involved the need to address with a few of the candidates their sense of guilt about pursuing candidacy and achieving certific ation. The personal and professional communities within which the candidates in the study lived and worked were not supportive of their goals. In fact, they were actively discouraged not to proceed. They were pressured to feel guilty about steali ng time from their students (a valid concern, given the skimming and mining documented in Chapter Four). They felt guilty about coveting certification, and they felt guilty about feeling pride when they scored well and achieved certification. This was an unexpect ed factor, one made apparent through the qualitative, phenomenological research methods employed. Future work to discuss this tendency at the outset with students and implem entation of efforts to revisit the concern routinely in mentoring sessions throughout th e process seem indicated as a promising strategy to study. Fourth, it seems likely that the disposition of the mentor may have been a more significant factor than I expected. This is corollary to the impact of the critical
180 pedagogical philosophy that shaped the study. In seeking to engage in a realm that was largely foreign to me, I took a riskÂ—in fact a number of risks, which have already been detailed. Making those risks apparent to the participantsÂ—making it clear that I was Â“in it with themÂ”Â—emerged as a f actor that influenced the trust that facilitated the development of the relationships upon which the study so clearly relied. Additionally, the researcherÂ’s willingness to engage in a habit of rigorous and ruthless selfexaminationÂ—as my mentor put it, to Â“turn [my]self inside outÂ—and submit that self examination to the participants as a part of member checking, imparted credibility and promoted a sense of community among the observed and the observer. Without a high degree of credibility, mutual tr ust, and shared regard, the da ta available for consideration might have been of a far different quantity and quality. The certification achievement results were reported earlier in this chapter, but those results are not considered by this researcher to be a prim ary outcome of the project. The numbers were included only as a coroll ary indicator of the impact of the study activities. While there was an acknowledgm ent among candidates that they would savor an opportunity to pioneer the ce rtification among Black teachers in our district, and while I initiated the project out of concern for the under-representati on of Black teachers in the local process, the achievement rate was less important to me than increasing the rate of participation in the process and the promoti on of greater parity of real and perceived access by Black teachers. Also important to me was the goal to promote social justice in our community. The Â“win-failÂ” binary is in consistent with those broader goals and the philosophy from which they are derived.
181 Some Final Thoughts This study grew out of a deep concern for the perceived disparity in the rates of application for and achievement of National Board Certificat ion by Black teachers in the area where I live and work. The results ar e both encouraging and gratifying. The procedures undertaken to addre ss the inquiry facilitated succ ess in the process by a small group of participants. These teachers have c ontinued to demonstrate increased leadership involvement in district professional deve lopment activities. Several are reaping significant financial rewards as an accompan iment to their enhanced credentials. The personal growth I experienced was profound a nd the relationships I developed during the pursuit of this work are enduring. When I first began to explore the ideas that led to this study, I was asked by a district official if Â“ Â…..we are going to have to offer spec ial help to every minority group.Â” Our present political and educational climat e is suffused with concern for underachieving student groups, and we operate in an environment where s ubstantial resources are being marshaled and employed with the promise that within the foreseeable future, there will be Â“No Child Left Behind.Â” It is my earnest hope that the positive results of the modest and inexpensive efforts described in this paper will encourage authorities with power to impact policies that govern National Board Certification and similar educator advancement processes to take actions that will likewise help assure that there will be no eligible teachers left behind.
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197 Appendix A Initial Focus Group Meeting Memo
198 M E M O TO: Selected Teachers FROM: Paula Leftwich Sandy Stephens DATE: (to be determined) SUBJECT: Information Session Greetings! WeÂ’ll come right to the point. We are conc erned about the fact that so few of the minority teachers in our school district ar e applying for and gaining National Board Certification. We want to talk about this, try to find out what the reasons are, and work to turn this situation around. You have been identified as a minority teacher with the basic qualific ations to apply for National Board Certification: at least three years of experience, sa tisfactory performance evaluation, and valid certificat ion. Additionally, as a teacher with these qualifications teaching in a Florida public school, you are eligible for the state to help pay for it! With those things in mind, you are invited to a special meeting on (dat e to be determined) at (place to be determined) from (starting tim e) to (ending time). At that meeting, our goals will be as follows: Share information about National Board, support programs, and how to apply Hold a frank discussion to identify barri ers to participation and success in the process Consider formation of a group effort to boost minority participation and success Share information about a relate d university research project Brenda Reddout and I have worked with th e Human Resource Development Department to arrange for lunch to be provided. Please call Jane Doe at 555-5555 by (date) to let her know we can expect you, so we can be sure to have lunch and a material packet with your name on it! We really want to know what you think about this issue, so please plan to join us on (date). Your opinions and view points are important to us and to the effort to build on the districtÂ’s strong local program to include a wi de representation of th e teaching excellence at work in all of our schools. See you on (date)!
199 Appendix B Initial Survey
200 National Board Candidates Support Group Initial Survey Please respond to each item using the following scale: 5=Very Important 4=Moderately Important 3= Slightly Important 2=Not Important 1=Not Applicable In thinking about your decision to consider ente ring the National Board process, how important is each of the following to you? 1. Receiving a personal invitation 5 4 3 2 1 2. Being invited by a School Board member 5 4 3 2 1 3. Being invited to a meeting of Black teachers 5 4 3 2 1 4. Being invited by a Black school district official 5 4 3 2 1 5. Receiving information in a customized meeting 5 4 3 2 1 6. The location of the meeting 5 4 3 2 1 7. The time of the meeting 5 4 3 2 1 8. Knowing someone else who is applying 5 4 3 2 1 9. Being able to discuss barriers 5 4 3 2 1 10. Learning about available support opportunities 5 4 3 2 1 11. The opportunity to work with other Black teachers 5 4 3 2 1 12. The salary bonus for NBCTs 5 4 3 2 1 13. The mentoring bonus for NBCTs 5 4 3 2 1 14. The recognition NBCTs receive 5 4 3 2 1 15. The professional development opportunity 5 4 3 2 1 16. The opportunity to pioneer NB among local Black teachers 5 4 3 2 1 17. Being part of a national effort 5 4 3 2 1 18. The opportunity to examine my teaching practice 5 4 3 2 1 19. Being encouraged by peers to apply 5 4 3 2 1 20. Being encouraged by my Principal to apply 5 4 3 2 1
201 Appendix C Sample Support Meeting Agenda
202 National Board Certific ation Support Meeting University of South Florida-Lakeland Room 1276 Wednesday, September --, 2004:30 PM Purpose: To gain familiarity with NB standards and tasks A G E N D A Introductions/Welcome Review of September 2 meeting Overview of Core Propositions Overview of Sample Standard Overview of Associated Portfolio Tasks Plot Inter-Relationships Create Standards/Tasks Matrix Open Discussion/Open Topics Next Steps? Dismiss
203 Appendix D Support Preference Survey
204 Support Preference Survey Please answer the following questions to help in planning support activities that meet your needs. I prefer to: _____work alone. _____work with a group. _____a combination of individual and group work. I would rather meet: _____near my home. _____near my school. _____at USF. I would rather meet with: _____candidates from my own school level (elementary, middle, high). _____candidates from my certification area. _____candidates from my area of the county. _____a mixture of the above. I prefer to meet on: _____Monday _____Tuesday _____Wednesday _____Thursday _____Saturday I prefer to meet: _____late in the afternoon. _____early in the evening. _____morning (Saturday). _____afternoon (Saturday).
205 Appendix E Sample Schedule of Study-Related Support Events
206 Sample Calendar of Candidate Support Events September 11 Initial Organizational Meeting September 18 Application Assistance September 25 Application Assistance October 2 Understanding Standards and Tasks October 16 Process Planning October 30 Entry 4 Brainstorming November 6 Writing WorkshopÂ—Descr iption, Analysis and Reflection November 20 Feedback Session for Entry 4 Drafts December 4 Videotaping in the Classroom January 8 Videotape Critiques January 22 Forms Check/Process Benchmarking February 5 Entry Work Groups February 19 Entry Work Groups March 5 Entry Work Groups March 19 Wrap-Up Details April 1 Portfolio Packing Party
207 Appendix F Sample of Process Deadlines
208 2003 National Board Certification Assessment Calendar Application/Eligibility Periods, Assessment Center Testing Windows and Portfolio Due Dates After reviewing the Assessment Calendar, sel ect the deadline for portfolio submission and the assessment center testing window that is most appropriate for your situation, and find the corresponding dates for applyi ng and paying your candidate fee. You may apply at any time between January 1 and December 31, 2003 However, in order to be able to submit your portfolio a nd attend the assessment center on the dates you prefer, you must apply and submit the appr opriate fee amount with in the application period that corresponds to your select ed dates. Missing the eligibility/fee deadline for your chosen testing window will alte r the schedule for your candidacy. Candidates complying with th ese deadlines will receive re sults no later than Dec. 31, 2003. Candidates who meet the deadlines listed in all other application periods will receive results no la ter than Dec. 31, 2004. APPLY JANUARY 1 MARCH 31, 2003 Application and $300 nonrefundable payment received by NBPTS during this period Full fee payment and all eligibility forms must be received at NBPTS by To be eligible to test in this Assessment Center Testing Window Portfolio due at NBPTS on or before And receive your results no later than Mar. 31, 2003 Apr. 1 Sept. 30, 2003 Jun. 30, 2003 Jul. 1 Dec. 31, 2003 Sept. 30, 2003 Oct. 1, 2003 Mar. 31, 2004 Jan. 1 Mar. 31, 2003 Dec. 31, 2003 Jan. 1 Jun. 30, 2004 Jan. 16, 2004 Dec. 31, 2004 APPLY APRIL 1 JUNE 30, 2003 Application and $300 nonrefundable payment received by NBPTS during this period Full fee payment and all eligibility forms must be received at NBPTS by To be eligible to test in this Assessment Center Testing Window Portfolio due at NBPTS on or before And receive your results no later than Jun. 30, 2003 Jul. 1 Dec. 31, 2003 Sept. 30, 2003Oct. 1, 2003 Mar. 31, 2004 Apr. 1 Jun. 30, 2003 Dec. 31, 2003 Jan. 1 Jun. 30, 2004 Feb. 16, 2004 Dec. 31, 2004
209 APPLY JULY 1 SEPTEMBER 30, 2003 Application and $300 nonrefundable payment received by NBPTS during this period Full fee payment and all eligibility forms must be received at NBPTS by To be eligible to test in this Assessment Center Testing Window Portfolio due at NBPTS on or before And receive your results no later than Sept. 30, 2003 Oct. 1, 2003 Mar. 31, 2004 Jul. 1 Sept. 30, 2003 Dec. 31, 2003 Jan. 1 Jun. 30, 2004 Mar. 16, 2004 Dec. 31, 2004 APPLY OCTOBER 1 DECEMBER 31, 2003 Application and $300 nonrefundable payment received by NBPTS during this period Full fee payment and all eligibility forms must be received at NBPTS by To be eligible to test in this Assessment Center Testing Window Portfolio due at NBPTS on or before And receive your results no later than Oct. 1 Dec. 31, 2003 Jan. 31, 2004 Jan. 1 Jun. 30, 2004 Apr. 16, 2004 Dec. 31, 2004 APPLY FOR NEW CERTIFICATE AREAS IN EMC/LITERACY: READINGLANGUAGE ARTS, EAYA/HEALTH EDUCATION OR ECYA/SCHOOL COUNSELING JANUARY 1 DECEMBER 31, 2003* Application and $300 nonrefundable payment received by NBPTS during this period Full fee payment and all eligibility forms must be received at NBPTS by To be eligible to test in this Assessment Center Testing Window Portfolio due at NBPTS on or before And receive your results no later than Jan. 1 Dec. 31, 2003 Jan. 31, 2004Jan. 1 Jun. 30, 2004 Apr. 16, 2004 Dec. 31, 2004 *Approval of the assessment for this certificate is scheduled for consideration by the NBPTS board of directors in Jun. 2003. Assuming board approval in Jun. 2003, portfolio instructions for this certificate area are expected to be available for download from the NBPTS Web site by Oct. 1, 2003. Information about preparing for the assessment center for this certificate w ill be available prior to the scheduled Jan. 1-Jun. 30, 2004, assessment center testing window. Check back for updated information. Source: wwwnbpts.org
210 Appendix G Interview Guides
211 Sample Initial Interview Script Please tell me a little about yourself. Where do you teach? What grade? What subjects or content do you focus on? Is there anything you want to tell me about your students? Which National Board certificate are you seeking? Why did you decide to apply for National Board Certification? Is there any special reason you decided to apply this year? Have you done anything specifically to get ready for this process? Is there anything that worries you about applying? What? Why? Do you think you face any special barriers to achieving certification? What? Why? How are you planning to deal with those issues? What do you think would be the biggest help to you? What do you need the most? Do you plan to adjust your teaching to meet the demands of candidacy? Have you made specific pers onal or professional plans because of your candidacy? Have you talked to other people abou t National Board much in the past? What were those conversations like? Are you planning to participat e in local support efforts? Do you think National Board will change you as a teacher? Why? What are you hoping to gain from this process? Is there anything else you want to talk about, ask me, or tell me now?
212 Sample Exit Interview Script Tell me how things went. What surprised you the most? What was the biggest Â“Ah! Ha!Â” ? What was the biggest challenge? Do you think you met it successfully? Was anything easier than you expected? Why do you think this was so? What was the biggest help? What proved to be the biggest hindrance? How did you deal with it? Did you work with others? To what extent? For what purposes? Did you lack any resources? Please explain. Did this process affect y our classroom work? How? Do you feel you gained anything from this process? What? Why? What would you do differently? What advice do you have for others who are considering candidacy? What advice or input would you offer the pr ocess as a whole (lo cal, state, and/or national)? Is there anything else you want to talk about, ask me, or tell me?
213 Appendix H Rhizomatic Comparison Sample
214 Rhizomatic Comparison Sample CandidatesÂ’ Definitions of Effective Teaching COMMUNITY NBPTS Core Propositions Unique to A (Potential Disconnect ) Common to Both (Potential Connect ) Unique to B (Potential Disconnect ) Caring, nurturing Serve community, fill role Continue learning/Attend training Interpret and follow rules Give and receive respect Communicate with families Find ways to connect student needs with sources of help Focus on character development Bridge from school to real life Servant leader Self-sufficient Knowledge of students Focus on responsibility Concern for academic growth Concern for emotional growth High level of involvement Work toward excellence Learning community Collaboration with other professionals Policy decisions Question status quo Professional development/trainers Leading activities Conducting research Partnerships with parents Focus on intellect Balance social needs with academic needs Find ways to harness resources
215 Appendix L Standards/Task Matrix Template
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Paula Leftwich entered the education pr ofession at mid-life. After several years as a parent volunteer in her sonsÂ’ schools, she initiated a program to tutor struggling readers. The principal soon em ployed her as a paraprofessional in a reading support program. While working in that capacity, Paula completed her undergraduate teaching degree. After several years of highly successf ul classroom teaching, during which she earned a Masters degree, Paula emba rked on a course of doctoral study. Concurrently, she served as a district-lev el teacher training manager. She is now Director of Teacher Education at Flor ida Southern College, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate l iteracy-related courses. Paula was recently elected to serve as Chair of the Florid a Education Standards Commission. Paula is daughter of Bud and Mary E llen Fielder, wife of Jim Leftwich, mother of three adult sons (Hank, Sam and Jake Leftwich), and grandmother of Lainey and Zoey Leftwich.