Teacher Appreciation: The Center for Research on Expanding Educational Opportunity (CREEO) Connects Equity and Justice to Education Policy and Practice

Our guest author is Melika Jalili, program manager at the Center for Research on Expanding Educational Opportunity (CREEO), UC Berkeley.

Whether it is a focus on the teacher shortage, a discussion of our public schools, or Teacher Appreciation Week, it seems everyone agrees that teachers deserve more respect and recognition. Making that recognition meaningful, by supporting educators to be the teachers they have always dreamed they could be, should be a priority for all of us.

Cue in, Dr. Travis J. Bristol, Associate Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Education, who announced the exciting launch of the Center for Research on Expanding Educational Opportunity (CREEO) at UC Berkeley last month.

Recognizing the structural barriers in education systems that keep adults, young people, and children at the margins, CREEO’s mission is to dismantle these barriers, and use research to shape policy and practice in service of creating opportunities for students and adults historically at the margins to move closer to the center in the United States and internationally through its various projects.

One program, in particular, the National Board Resource Center (NBRC) at UC Berkeley  (NBRC), strives to collectively transform the teaching and learning experience and to invest in and support accomplished practice. Dr. Bristol developed the NBRC to support teachers pursuing National Board Certification (NBC) via the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTs) -- the gold standard in teacher certification -- funded by a $1.62 million grant, in collaboration with Berkeley School of education-based 21st Century California School Leadership Academy  and partnering with the Nevada National Board Professional Learning Network

“Teachers continue to ask for high quality sustained professional learning opportunities. This project will support our teachers in earning the nation’s highest standard of certification in service of educating our historically resilient children: this is a form of repair,” said Dr. Bristol, who recognizes the benefits of NBC not only as an educator, but also as a researcher, and current Board Chair of the NBPTs.

The program’s main efforts is to support 75 Oakland Unified School District teachers (OUSD) in pursuing NBC over three years to boost teaching excellence and student learning in high-priority Oakland schools. However, in the NBRC’s first year, they currently have a diverse cohort of 32 teachers (28 OUSD), many of whom are people of color, in their Candidate Support Program, who are passionate, and eager to enhance their teaching pedagogy and better support students. The demographics are as follows: 28.1% Black or African American,18.8% Hispanic or Latino/a/e,  6.3% Asian or Asian American,  21.9% White or European, 3% Indigenous, American Indian or Alaska Native, and 21.9% Two or more races. This is an exciting achievement, as OUSD currently has 19 active NBCTs, and through the NBRC’s program this number will more than double!

The distinction between the NBRC at UC Berkeley from other similar centers, is it connects equity and justice to classroom practice through NBC and demonstrates a confidence in teaching and teachers that is the foundation of respect for the profession. Throughout the entire NBC candidacy support is provided to teachers, which includes support from National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) to complete the Four National Board Components and Five Core Propositions, writing and reading retreats, and monthly training seminars, support with the NBC application process, and a community of educators who are collectively striving to improve their craft and better support their students. This is at no cost to participants, while also creating the space for teachers to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered.

Dr. Bristol believes providing this opportunity is important, as teachers who have gone through the NBC process say that it is the most valuable and transformative professional development they have ever received. The research evidence is clear about  the direct impact on students and on professional learning for educators who pursue Board Certification. This opportunity strives to not only provide equitable access to all teachers to gain certification, but for students that have historically had the least, to have access to teachers that have the most. This is a priority, and through the NBRC at UC Berkeley Dr. Bristol strives to operationalize this goal and meaningfully support teachers and create change.

At the end of the day, while CREEO is the catalyst behind the change, the teachers serve as the driving force directly impacting students and professional development.

If you are a teacher interested in pursuing NBC, please visit www.creeo.berkeley.edu or email creeo@berkeley.edu.

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