How a microcredentials hub supports teacher learning communities

Apr 18, 2018 | Hapara Champions, Leadership

WRITTEN BY

Blair Mishleau

Director of Personalized Learning | Hapara Champion Trainer

For the number of buzzwords in the education sphere about being student-centered (see: personalized learning, differentiation, individualized learning, culturally-relevant pedagogy, teaching the whole child, 21st century skills, etc.), the state of teacher training and development is still pretty old-fashioned.

I’m sure we’ve all sat in trainings that have approximately 0% to do with the subject/grade we are teaching. It, frankly, is the worst. In a field where time is the hottest of commodities, there’s no excuse to not do better in this arena.

The Power of Relevant Professional Learning

Something I noticed was that trainings I went through on my own time, like the Hapara Champion Trainer and the Newsela Teacher Trainer, had powerful trickle-down effects on my ability to share knowledge at the school level. For example, after being trained on Newsela’s tools, I was able to bring that knowledge in to content team meetings and data meetings at my school. The more I thought about the flow of skill-sharing from external training -> teacher leader -> a group of teachers, I started to think about how I might replicate that on-site.

At my school, I noticed that while most of our weekly Friday PD was relevant to everyone (e.g. updates to our testing software), there wasn’t much in terms of choice or voice for our educators. In particular, in my role as Director of Personalized Learning, I saw a tragic lack of training on content-specific educational technology programs.

Creating a Microcredentials Hub

Thinking about the power of skill-sharing in our learning communities, I created a microcredentials hub. It includes a variety of options – from What is Personalized Learning? 101 to an overview of Hapara Workspace! (Fair warning: this is a minimally-viable product. You won’t see fancy bells and whistles – I made it via Google Sites, Google Docs, and the assessment is a Google Form.)

Launched a few months ago, it has already led teachers at my school to take direct action to better personalize learning for students. It has also give me, as an administrator with little control over formal school-wide PD, more power to bring relevant resources in front of teachers without working through bureaucracy.

In addition, because there is a brief assessment component at the end of every microcredential, it allows me to identify early adopters around a specific program or concept (like personalized learning), and connect with them and/or provide them additional in-person support. I’ve already had 5 meaningful conversations with staff simply because they completed a microcredential and I had further resources for them.

What’s next:

Longer term, my hope is that I can connect folks who have completed the same trainings with each other, to build informal learning communities. This has already started on a very small scale – with me connecting teachers who have an interest in flexible seating to collaborate on it together. I hope to be able to do this more frequently as the training hub grows more popular.

I’d love your thoughts on the hub – it’s open to all teacher everywhere, with the hope of creating experts on specific topics in each department of your school!

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