This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the EdCamp Organizer’s Summit in Pennsylvania. In one of the sessions that I attended, there was a discussion around whether or not teachers should be issued professional development hours for attending an EdCamp. Some felt that doing so would attract more teachers to the events, but most agreed that doing so is not the spirit of EdCamp. While I completely agree with this sentiment, I am proud of my contributions this past weekend, and would love to have an artifact that captured what I had done. I think that this conversation at EdCamp this past weekend was a meaningful one and that it started an important dialogue that is even bigger than just EdCamp.
We can all agree that the traditional professional development system is broken, and that receiving credit for ‘seat time’ does not impact student achievement. We are, however, starting to see conversations beginning to shift to professional LEARNING, rather than development. Development indicates that something is being done to you, while learning indicates seeking out knowledge to improve one’s practice. School districts are now, more than ever, encouraging teachers to chart the path for their own professional learning.
This includes educators being encouraged to seek out both formal and informal professional learning opportunities. These informal events include things like EdCamps or Twitter chats. While these are all positive steps in the right direction, and this line of thinking has been proven to accelerate student growth, things still aren’t perfect. Innovative professional learning opportunities provide teachers with new ways of learning, but with that, needs to come new ways of acknowledging that learning. Not having a way to acknowledge that learning strips away the ownership of those experiences and in some cases, limits what choices a teacher has, in order to improve their professional practice.
Microcredentials have been proven to be a powerful means for acknowledging a learner’s learning. I think they shine most brightly in relation to informal learning. Rather than having these experiences become just memories, learners can now capture and celebrate those experiences. Documenting a learning in this way allows teachers model and be transparent with their own learning.
We can all agree that issuing credit for ‘seat time’ is not the correct approach. It is important that the educational community moves away from the stigma that acknowledging professional learning somehow waters down the experience. What it does do, is give teachers the ability to document their learning journey and to be able to share and celebrate those experiences. It is this culture that lead to systemic change and one that will propel professional learning into the future.