The State of the Profession

Anticipation is building for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) inaugural Teaching and Learning Conference coming up March 13-15th in D.C., and for good reason. In many ways, this gathering heralds NBPTS [finally] stepping into the role which its founders envisioned 25 years ago.

Over the past year or so, many of those founders, including Lee Shulman, Marc Tucker, and others have come back to share with NBPTS Directors and staff about that original vision.  These reflective discussions were not just for the sake of nostalgia, but rather a conscious effort on the part of NBPTS leadership to refocus the work of National Board in tighter alignment with its mission and purpose. The Teaching and Learning Conference is a very public expression of that reaffirmation.

This conference differs from other major education conferences in several important ways.  First, like National Board Certification, it is open to the broadest range of educators in the U.S.; whether they work in public, private, or parochial schools. It beckons teachers, librarians, counselors, and administrators from every grade level, subject area, or geographic region; whether they are members of NEA, AFT, or the non-union Professional Educators organizations. Such a deliberately, diverse gathering of educators is itself historic.

Equally significant, is that the conference puts teachers and teaching at both the head and the center of its focus. As if to underscore that intentional emphasis, this Teaching and Learning Conference, opens with 14 pre-conference focused, small group (most have limit of 20 persons) workshops which use the setting of Washington, D.C. as a learning opportunity for attendees. For example, those interested in teaching science will “discuss ways to get [their] students to think about the impact of science on society [and]….explore the physics of flight” at the National Air and Space Museum. Meanwhile, history and geography folk will get to preview a new 3D film at the National Geographic Society.

The heart of the T & L Conference, of course, will be a wide range of speakers and National Board Certified Teacher-led workshops in which thought leaders and policy makers will have to present and defend their ideas on education to the most important audience of all: the profession. The T&L Conference represents a too-rare opportunity for us to step back and zoom-out to examine our profession in at least some of its amazing complexity.

As an NBCT, [and a member of the NBPTS Board of Directors], I am very pleased to see this event coming together, and hope it marks an important turning point for our profession.

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  • CherylSuliteanu

    great teachers, great conversations

    I cannot describe how thrilled I am to be attending the conference.  I love every opportunity to be surrounded by colleagues learning and leading together.

    The opportunity to also be face to face with CTQ colleagues is the icing on the cake.  It’s sure to be an exceptional couple days!

    (Where do we go for good calamari in DC?)

    • ReneeMoore

      Wear Your Critical Hat

      Can’t help you with the calamari. But do look at the T&L Conference through your best reflective teacher lens and share your take on what worked and what didn’t afterwards. Sadly, I cannot be there due to prior major obligations, so I’m depending on all my Collaborators and tweeps to give feed my need to know about how it goes.

      • JoseVilson

        This Is Dope

        Glad that it’s happening, and Ron Thorpe was the right man to push this T&L conference to the next level. In any case, let’s hope it goes well. Sad you won’t be there. Really.

        • BriannaCrowley

          Will you be there?

          Although I’ve been in some webinars with you and read your work from afar, I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting you in person! I’ll be there–hope to run into you!

          • ReneeMoore

            Gather the Collaborators!

            Should be quite a few CTQ folk at the conference. I’d be shocked and disappointed if there wasn’t a meet-up of some type (with food and good talk involved). Did somebody say,

  • marsharatzel

    Geography matters

    I’m excited about this conference and all that NBPTS does.  What is sad for me personally is that I’m never in a position to attend or present.

    Everything is very East Coast and Washington DC centered.  I get why.  But it does mean that loads of teachers who are not from the East Coast or from Washington DC and who do not have personal wealth that allows them to pay for their attendance/registration/hotel fees….can never attend.

    I remember the days when the conferences moved around the country.  That afforded someone like me a chance to go every few years….

    I miss the chance to participate.  Now it seems like you have to have loads of personal $$$ and ability to take time off in order to attend, work for a district that has loads of $$$ for Professional Development so they’ll send you or live on the East coast so you can drive and maybe stay with friends.

    Geography matters.  Wonder if anyone ever factors that into the equation?

  • ReneeMoore

    Yes it Does!

    Marsha, I hear you about the geography. Getting from Mississippi Delta to anywhere is a hassle and a strain on me physically and my family financially (even when the trip is being reimbursed in some ways).

    Yes, somebody is thinking about that—I know the teachers who serve on the Board of Directors have discusssed it, as well as the NBCTs who now make up a majority of the key NBPTS staff (like COO, Andy Coons from Washington state).  Because this conference is the first of a new type of conference for us, the decision was to hold it in DC. Assuming this goes well, the plan is to make future conferences even more accessible–including more digitally accessible!  But keep making this point; it’s important.

  • Ramona Lowe

    I’ll be there!

    I am excited to be attending. The speakers’ list looks interesting and, in part, because some of the names I was hoping to see aren’t present. I’m wondering if this conference will truly address what is happening in education and give voice to the NBCTs that I have come to respect as leaders. 

  • ReneeMoore

    Speakers’ List

    Glad you’re going Ramona. As for the speakers list, I know for a fact MANY people were invited to speak (like Diane Ravitch) who simply could not fit it into their schedules. Heck, I won’t even be able to go myself. I think because this is the inauagral conference, and was planned on a very tight schedule. Next time, we’ll have a full year to line people up. Still, I think the crowd will be diverse enough to generate some real conversations. Also, think of this not as presenters coming to talk “to” teachers and tell us what to do or think, but more as them coming to defend or examine ideas before a large audience of mostly NBCTs and other teacher leaders.

  • Julie Matz


    Greetings from New Jersey.  I am interested in gaining national cerification as a school librrian media specialist.  Will this conference include those of us who serve as information sherpas for students?  Many thanks!

    • ReneeMoore

      Yes for Librarian/Media Specialists!

      Apologize for the delay in my reply–technical difficulties on my end–so I do hope you see this.  There absolutely will be information and connections at this conference of interest to you. You might especially want to check out some of the pre-conference workshops–like the one at Library of Congress or the Newseum.  Should also watch for the coming changes to the Certification Process, which will also be discussed there.

  • pwcrabtree

    In my backyard!

    I was so excited when I got an email about the conference this week!  Since it is in my backyard ( I live in Northern VA), I immediately signed up that day and invited my principal the next day.  Unfortunately, my admin is unable to attend but I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues and learning ways that we make a difference in our students’ lives and our profession.  I do have a question… so far I haven’t been able to figure out how to sign up for the sessions.  Any advice? 

    • ReneeMoore

      Like Southwest Airlines

      Glad to know you’re going. The sessions are open to all (there is no sign up for individual sessions)–like how Southwest Airlines lets you on the plane then you grab whatever seat is open. More info on sessions and registrations HERE. You can sign-up for the pre-conference workshops, but better hurry; several of them are already filled.

      • pwcrabtree

        Descriptions and lists?

        Hello Again, 

        The set up sounds wonderful to be able to pick and choose!  Unfortunately, I am still not able to find a list of sessions with the descriptions so that I can begin to plan for what I would like to attend.  Am I missing something?  Thanks so much!!

        • ReneeMoore

          Start Here

          Go to the conference website and click the Conference link at top of the page. Drop down should take you to the list of sessions and speakers.

          • pwcrabtree

            Thanks!! 🙂

            It is just general info, but I will keep checking back for more details!  Can’t wait!  Thanks for your help!

  • BarnettBerry

    How far have we come?

    Your post, Renee, begs the question of how far we have come in advancing teaching as a profession. As y’all may know the  work of CTQ grew out of my role with LInda Darling-Hammond with the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future — and our 1996 seminal report (Take a look at

    In 2002 I wrote an unpublished piece on the progress that our partner states made (or did not) in advancing the recommendations of NCTAF. It was more promising than today. 

    Now is the time to take stock – and I would to see the teachers leaders of the CTQ Collaboratory lead the way. 





    • ReneeMoore

      History Matters

      Thanks, as always Barnett, for pointing us to our history. It is important to know how we, as a profession, got where we are now (and why we haven’t gotten farther by now). So many people both in education and in the general public really don’t know the backstory of the fight teachers have waged for recognition and real voice and power over our own work.

      More important, there is (and has always been) a strong push in this country to degrade teachers and teaching as a “non-profession.”  Just yesterday, I was reading responses to a public discussion of teacher pay, where otherwise intelligent people insisted that teaching requires no real specialized knowledge or training; one just has to like being around children!  The twisted cousin of that logic, of course, is the argument that the current state of affairs in U.S. schools is the fault of teachers.

      Glad you are one of the conference speakers, and that CTQ teachers will be there to help raise these and other key issues with our colleagues.

  • SusanGraham

    We’ve Come a Long Way!

    I was a good teacher before I encountered NBPTS, but the process of building my  National Board portfolio transformed my practice. Attending the 2004 Teaching and Learning conference  rocked my just-a-teacher world as I began to see over the classroom wall into the possibility of a teachers as professionals. That started me ona journey of teacher leadership that I never imagined. Sometimes change is so incremental that we don’t even notice, but in documenting my professional growth for my NBCT renewal in 2002, I was sort of overwhelmed by how far I had come personally and how much closer we are to the vision of a true profession.

    National Board changes every teacher I’ve ever met who has gone through the process, whether they’ve achieved or not. That’s why I’m planniing to  be there for the Teaching and Learning Conference. 

    And,of course, there’s always the calamari!


  • ReneeMoore

    Importance of National Board

    Thank you for that, Susan. Like you, I rank my NBC process as one of the most significant in my career. Having National Board Certification is important to our profession for so many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for teachers ourselves to define the standards of highly accomplished teaching and to be measured by our peers on where we are in relation to them.  Can we push our profession to the next level of development by making highly accomplished teaching the goal of every educator?