What is Missing From Your PD Plan? It Could Be Educator Micro-credentials
April 13, 2018
When school districts and campuses plan professional development (PD), it is important that they address both the content and the format. While traditional one-day workshops are often the “go to” format for PD, there are other engaging and effective PD formats that should be considered during the planning process.
Planning PD Content
A comprehensive PD plan should start by defining needs and should include that and several other components:
- Evidence of Need
- Outcome measures
- Targeted participants (eg., teachers, instructional coaches, administrators)
- Specific content areas and/or grade levels to be addressed
- Recommended resources and formats
- Evaluation criteria
After initial planning, the next step for districts or campuses is often to develop a long-term plan for implementation over the course of one or two school years. Depending on the demographics of the school or district, comprehensive planning for educator PD may require input from several stakeholders and should reference any improvement or strategic plans that have already been developed.
The PD planning team should address all stages of professional development, including:
- Building capacity,
- Deepening knowledge, and
- Sustaining implementation.
This type of planning takes time and effort. The alternative used In the past was for administrators look at the school calendar and try to plug in random single-day workshops because they had to “find something to do on the PD day.” That approach was not only a waste of time for teachers, it did not produce meaningful, positive improvements in student learning.
Considering PD Format Options
As schools and districts engage in effective and comprehensive planning for PD, they can select various formats to meet educators’ needs during the stages of learning mentioned above. For example, when building capacity, it might be appropriate to conduct a needs assessment, provide some large group introductory sessions, and conduct a book study of relevant research or pedagogy. However, if educators are working to deepen or sustain their knowledge, individualized learning related to specific skills should be provided to targeted groups of teachers and other staff. For this individualized learning, micro-credentials are a perfect fit. They allow teachers to work at their own pace, collaborate with other professionals in live chat rooms, and focus on the areas where their knowledge might not be as deep. When PD is only provided in group settings and focuses on global or generic topics, it may be appropriate for an introduction, but does not give educators the information and practice to master specific skills.
Selecting and Implementing PD Models and Formats
PD format choices are expanding as new technology becomes available and several promising models of PD are a good fit for one or more stages of educator learning. Some of the most interesting and promising PD options include:
- Professional Learning Communities or Networks. PLCs or PLNs allow teams of teachers to review data, collaborate, and share information. Working together strengthens joint responsibility for all students’ learning and sharing information is often efficient and effective.
- Personalized Learning Plans. Teachers select a topic and focus on that topic but are given time on their own to study and access resources. When teachers set their own goals and take responsibility for their own learning, many of them deepen their professionalism and commitment.
- Peer observations and Feedback. Whether observations and feedback occur through highly structured “learning walks,” or less formal visits, this type of peer-to-peer collaboration is valued by many educators. Seeing strategies in real time is often more effective than hearing or reading about them.
- Online micro-credentials. Educator micro-credentials many advantages over traditional PD. They allow educators to learn at their own pace, require a demonstration of competency so it is clear that teachers have mastered a new skill, and can focus learning on specific high need/high impact strategies rather than global topics. Micro-credentials can also be directly aligned with state standards and curricula. Many educators and leaders are not familiar with micro-credentials but it is easy to learn more.
Sources of Information for This Post
DeMonte, J. (2017) Micro-credentials for Teachers: What Three Early Adopter States Have Learned So Far. American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from the Internet on April 10, 2018: https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Micro-Creditials-for-Teachers-September-2017.pdf
Gonzalez, G. (2018) OMG Becky. PD is Getting So Much Better. Cult of Pedagogy.
Retrieved from the Internet on April 10, 2018: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pd/