NBCT Spencer Olmsted is a new NBCT in Early Adolescent Mathematics and has been teaching 5th grade in Olympia, WA since 2006. He recently attended NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington, DC.
I’m a fifth grade math and science teacher. I spend most of my work day in the company of 10 and 11 year-olds, helping them develop critical thinking skills so they can learn how to read the world. We work on getting better at collaborating, accessing and analyzing information, and communicating our findings and questions to others. It’s good work, but all too often I work in isolation of other adults.
When I became a new NBCT this past year the thing that surprised me most was my sudden connection to new network of teachers and education advocates. I began to receive regular communication from people looking to engage and empower teacher-leaders. One of the emails that caught my attention was an invitation to attend the Teaching & Learning Conference in Washington D.C. I was instantly excited by the expanding line-up of impressive speakers, but as I live in the other Washington, on the other side of the country, and would need to pay for airfare, hotel, and arrange for a substitute to teach my classes (I had never considered the possibility of doing this during a school day!) I struggled with the decision. Around this time the Seahawks were imagining a Super Bowl win, and Russell Wilson was famously asking “Why not us?” I asked myself the same question, why not me, and decided to go.