The hot new trend in education? Micro-credentials.
Preparing students in the latest reputable, research-based approaches isn't easy. It takes time, money, and effort to bring teachers up to speed, especially in districts where the professional development, for whatever reason, is not available. We want our students (and their educators) to think critically, take on challenging and multi-faceted problems, and effectively use communication to share ideas and explain their processing, including the ever-important phase of reflection.
What we know of professional development is that the job-embedded approach is THE MOST EFFECTIVE out there, including coaching and follow up. But again, that comes at a cost.
What we also know is effective is when teachers have a voice and choice in their own professional growth. Novel idea, eh? We talk voice and choice with students in the project-based learning model. The same needs to apply to our staff, mostly teachers but some administrators and often with our classified staff too.
The micro-credentials movement is one that allows teachers to become focused experts on specific skills or curriculum. They can use work samples, videos, interviews and many other bits of evidence to demonstrate the depth of their growth, learning and expertise.
Four key areas have emerged as traits in the micro-credentialing movement, all of which help move educators from the sit and git traditional approach to professional development to a more modern, innovative, demonstrative model:
Personalized - teachers (and could we say administrators?) select a micro-credential area of study based on their own interest, needs of students, strategic plan (or LCAP here in California) goals, and shifts a district may be making in instruction or assessment
Competency-based - teachers must show evidence of their competence in an area of learning (think project based learning, design thinking, SAMR model, Reader's workshop, social-emotional learning, mindfulness - got it?)
Shareable - the microcredential movement expects a level of social sharing, very much like that of designing and learning through one's professional learning network
On-demand - the learning takes place when it works for the educator, so it may be established in an online class with flexibility of learning or in another less rigid, less structured approach for an added level of ubiquitousness.
So, how does the micro-credential approach foster teacher learning and engagement? Imagine being paid to have a focal area that helps you grow personally and professionally (a characteristic that research shows correlates highly with employee retention). The teachers are paid a small amount, usually ranging from $200-600 on their base salary.
Many other states have expanded the micro-credentialing approach, such as Tennessee and the District of Columbia, to help teachers with options for advanced learning, highlight and promote their portfolios of learning, and allow them to become "credentialed experts" in an area that makes a difference in the classroom.
Makes sense to me.