The Future of Teacher Professional Development
We’ve all been there. We’ve sat in school libraries and cafeterias for the endless parade called professional development. The newest teachers sat at the front of the room. More seasoned teachers sat at the back where they could pin ideas on Pinterest or watch sports retakes on their smartphones.
“Professional development is exactly where I want to spend the next ten days instead of preparing lessons, learning about my students’ needs, and getting my room ready,” said no teacher ever.
Then why do administrators feel as though they must frontload the academic calendar with training that isn’t relevant or that teachers already know?
Here’s a secret: it’s no longer necessary to set aside groups of days for campus professional development. It’s better to offer training through micro-credentialing, especially if you’re looking to improve technology skills among your teachers.
Give your faculty edtech devices in whole-group training, and you will observe your teachers changing into 7th graders right before your eyes. They joke around, distract each other, and veer off-task. You’ll feel like you’re herding cats. No one will accomplish much of anything.
Micro-credentialing changes that.
Putting the professional back in teacher development
The American Institute of Research has noted that although American schools spend nearly $18 billion annually on professional development activities, there’s little to show for the initiative.
After all, teachers sign in at professional development sessions to prove they were there. Sometimes administrators ask teachers to share with their colleagues what they learned, but other than that, no certification exists. Teachers receive PD credit based on attendance rather than competency.
Your teachers would rather spend their valuable professional development time learning skills applicable to their classrooms and the students they’ll have this year. Micro-learning gives them this opportunity to learn and practice relevant skills. Teachers can access manageable pieces of information that relate directly to their teaching needs. They take a course that may be no longer than a mini-lesson, apply the skills being taught, and receive a badge that verifies the performance and date it occurred.
Micro-learning and micro-credentialing get teachers to take ownership of what, when, and where they access their professional development. Self-scheduling allows teachers to arrange their workload in a way that best makes sense to them.
Micro-credentialing for technology training
Micro-learning is especially appropriate for training teachers on how to use technology. There’s no more whole-class instruction that targets most but not all learners. Instead, the sequence of lessons can be customized. Administrators and teachers take micro-lessons that are pertinent to their specific needs. Like their students, teachers can develop digital literacy, explore cloud computing, and experiment with gamification. As they master skills in each area technology, the educators earn digital badges or micro-credentials that certify competency.
As a result, teachers become adept at using the same technology they expect their students to use. They can model technology skills because they have practiced them. Technology use becomes not only second-nature but also seamless in the classroom led by a micro-credentialed teacher.