Individualized instruction. Differentiated instruction. Personalized learning.  Student voice and choice.  Creating lifelong learners.  Buzz words for students, but what about teachers?  Most of the time, our professional development is a “one size fits all”, “sit and get” experience—even though we know that isn’t a way to engage learners or increase potential.

What if we could customize our learning to align with our individual passions and needs?  What if our professional development could be delivered digitally so we could study and learn when the time is convenient for us?  What if the assignment required us to create a tangible artifact  (videos/audios/plans/student work/reflections) to demonstrate our growth?

Perhaps a micro-credential is the solution to some of these needs. We want to introduce you to the idea, in hopes of encouraging you to become involved by completing and submitting one for evaluation.

WHAT IS IT? A micro-credential is just that:  another notch in your belt to indicate you are growing as an educator.  Focused on the mastery of one specific skill competency that you need or want to acquire, you can complete a micro-credential within a relatively short amount of time.  The skill sets are in thematic stacks, and you can complete an entire stack or pick and choose.   Almost like choosing a personal training plan to get in shape.

The Center for Teaching Quality, in partnership with Digital Promise , has written several stacks of micro-credentials including those focused on collective leadership, virtual communities, and going public with writing and speaking.  We assembled a rock star group of teachers to draft these micro-credentials.  This included writing the key components and activities, locating supporting research,  determining required evidence/artifacts, and crafting rubrics to assess the submitted products.

The process itself was eye opening as we recognized the need to “peel the onion” in trying to get to the essential skill we wanted to address.

As Brianna reflected, “Breaking large skill sets into ‘micro’ chunks was challenging. Like many concepts in our classrooms, we need to understand how each discrete skill intersects and may build on another to form a larger skill set. It was rewarding because we were creating concrete, clear ways for teachers to communicate the complexity and depth of their skills to those within and outside of education”.  And Marsha added, “not only did it allow us to develop real work for others, but it was the highlight of my professional development this year. ”

Our team’s feedback on their work with micro-credentials might help you further understand the process, as well as pique your interest in pursuing your own professional learning:

  • ACTION: Valuable form of professional development rooted in action. The actions you take as a lifelong learner are recognized and rewarded.
  • TRANSFERABLE: Micro-credential badges are a transferable system that can be done anytime, anywhere, and supported with classroom evidence to help develop your educator skill sets.
  • SPECIFICITY: Certification identifies a very specific skill in which you have demonstrated mastery.
  • TIMING: Tackle at your own pace and time. They don’t require a long time commitment, but can keep you moving towards a larger goal. They act as small steps to developing a larger skill set in a certain area of your professional growth.
  • MASTERY: Earning a micro-credential is job embedded and, as a result, provides teachers the opportunity to deepen their practice as they develop mastery of a particular skill. Developing a skill in real time with real students is the best and fastest way to improve practice.
  • PERSONALIZED:  Valuable PD because it is personalized and deeply rooted in student outcomes.


We are looking for teachers who might be interested in pursuing a micro-credential.  Not only for your own personal growth, but also to help us continue to move forward and hone the process and evaluation.  Professional development for and by teachers means we want teacher involvement throughout the process: as writers, as participants, and as evaluators.


From Brianna: Teachers can use this process for authentic professional learning in an area of passion or need, to formally demonstrate skills they have acquired outside of a traditional certification or graduate program, or to develop new skills for a future career step.

From Lori:  Traditional PD usually means that you have learned ABOUT a skill, not proven that you have mastered it.


From Val: High-flying educators are eager for additional learning experiences and feedback. The micro-credentialing process allows educators to receive both on their own terms.


From Marcia:  We are looking for professionals interested in helping us test and hone their skills.  Are you ready for the challenge and excitement of teacher choice in your next professional development?

From Ali:  Teachers participating in the micro-credentialing process will emerge with a better sense of metacognition—knowing what they know about their work and what matters to them as teachers.


Will you join us in this important work?

We are looking for professional educators who are interested in personalized professional development focused on demonstrating expertise. Learn more about micro-credentials for educators and the badges issued by CTQ—Going Public with Policy & Pedagogy, Collective Leadership, and Virtual Community Organizing. Keep an eye out for a paper authored by Karen Cator of Digital Promise and Barnett Berry of CTQ to be released Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

>We want teachers to benefit from the same learning environment we offer our students, including individualized, differentiated instruction aligned with our passions and needs.  In the 21st century, we have a means to support lifelong learning for all of us!



Digital Promise website

Blog from Edutopia

Ed Surge article


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