I’ve been a social studies teacher for 23 years. As you might imagine, I’ve seen and experienced a lot. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, from the many students who come into my classroom.
I am always looking for ways to ensure I’m being the best educator I can be for my students. As an experienced teacher, I know how important it is that I constantly improve my practice with each passing year. But until recently, I hadn’t been stretched much. That is, until micro-credentials came along.
Micro-credentials are professional learning badges educators earn in recognition of skills and competencies they demonstrate through evidence of learning. Micro-credentials offer teachers personalized, flexible, and rigorous professional development.
Kettle Moraine School District (KMSD), the district where I teach, recognizes micro-credentials as a form of professional development through a compensation incentive for teachers who earn them. Since KMSD adopted micro-credentials three years ago, we have been encouraged not only to rethink our daily classroom practice, but implement new strategies and approaches in our practice to better support student learning.
Educators opt into micro-credentials at KMSD. I began my micro-credential journey because I was interested in gaining the skills to “flip” my classroom to one where students drove the delivery of instructional content and the educator facilitates learning experiences for students to explore that content. Luckily, I came across the Student Voice and Choice micro-credential to do so.
As I gathered evidence to submit for that micro-credential, I was able to reflect on the shifts happening in my teaching to be more student-centered. Because of how my district recognizes micro-credentials, once I earned the Student Voice and Choice micro-credential, I received a permanent increase to my base salary.
As a KMSD educator, the payoff for earning micro-credentials is clear to me. I’m able to grow as an educator and be rewarded financially for my commitment to do so.
Most of my career has been standard practice – one teacher instructing a class of 25 students in a single content course. Recently, that educational world has been flipped on its head. Currently, I work with a team of teachers in a collaborative, interdisciplinary classroom setting. We cover language arts, reading, and social studies in a block we call “Inquiry.” These “Inquiry” blocks are designed by me and my colleagues around a theme and student learning goals that align to Common Core State Standards. Students are given “foundation” time to receive mini-lessons and direct instruction from teachers. Then, during “inquiry” time they dive deeper into the theme, determining how they want to meet the goals before them. Even with this new teaching and learning environment, because of micro-credentials, I am thriving.
Through KMSD’s continued partnership with Digital Promise around micro-credentials, I have been exposed to powerful resources and ideas for creative and effective teaching. In particular, my experience as a Digital Promise Micro-credential Teacher Ambassador has helped me become a more courageous and reflective teacher as I encourage other KMSD educators to incorporate micro-credentials into their professional learning.
I see the Digital Promise micro-credential ecosystem as my own teaching partner where I can sharpen my own efforts to create and deliver learning experiences that inspire students.