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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Opening Up New Ways of Thinking: One educator’s experience with micro-credentials

Being a social studies teacher for 23 years, I have seen a lot and covered a lot of content with my students. I consider myself an effective educator, as do my peers and students. With each passing year I’ve become more seasoned, making small changes to improve in my practice. But until recently, I hadn’t been stretched much. That is, until micro-credentials came along. 

Micro-credentials are professional learning badges earned by educators in recognition of skills and competencies that they demonstrate through evidence of learning. Micro-credentials offer teachers personalized, flexible, and rigorous professional development.

The Kettle Moraine School District uses micro-credentials as a form of professional development as well as a compensation incentive for teachers. Since the District adopted micro-credentials three years ago, educators have been encouraged to challenge ourselves both in and outside of the classroom with innovative approaches to teaching, curriculum and assessment design and instructional delivery practices. These micro credentials are not mandatory and not every teacher takes advantage of them. I began my micro credential journey because I was interested in flipping my classroom and my school district offered a credential on it. Once I finished my credential I received a stipend for my work on my next paycheck.  I thought if the learning I was doing was going to help me grow as an educator and raise my pay, I will take advantage of both. 

Most of my career has been standard practice -- single teacher, 28 students, basic assessment blocks. Over the last three years my educational world has been opened up to new ideas and challenges that I would not have seen myself doing. Because of micro-credentials, I am thriving in a new teaching and learning environment. 

I currently work with a team of teachers in a collaborative classroom setting. Collectively, we cover language arts, reading and social studies in a block we call ‘inquiry.’ These inquiry blocks are designed by our team around a theme that provides work around goals and assessments to meet our common core standards. Students are given ‘foundation’ time to receive mini lessons and direct instruction. Then, during ‘inquiry’ time they explore and dive deeper into the theme, determining which path they want to take to meet the goals before them.   

Our school district hosts several micro-credential opportunities for innovative ideas and practices such as text based discussions, collaborative classroom teaching and personalized learning. We have also partnered with Digital Promise to increase our resources and ideas for creative design and teaching. My experiences with Digital Promise and the Center for Collaborative Education have helped me become a more creative teacher in design of assessments and instructional delivery.   

I have taken three micro-credentials from the Center of Collaborative Education in assessment and rubric design. These three micro credentials (called a  ‘stack’) have given my team and I the resources we need to design rubrics and assessments to meet the needs of students in our collaborative format. We’ve had engaging discussions around the micro-credential resources, which have enabled us to design curriculum that we are eager to introduce. I also like the fact that there is help on the other side to provide feedback on the artifacts and design that we develop. 

I look at the Center for Collaborative Education as a partner where my team members and I can find resources and feedback on our efforts to create and deliver curriculum that inspires our students. The micro-credential initiative is not about changing effective teaching; it is about expanding ideas and delivering resources for teachers who want to improve their already great classroom ideas with new ideas, new paths, and new paradigms.  

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