As more companies lean into micro-credentialing and badges, the opportunity to leverage such programs is easy to keep on the back burner. Going it alone can be intimidating and time-consuming if you do not have a partner/expert to lean on. So, when I was reviewing the Apple Teacher and ClassFlow Educator badge programs, I thought I’d add a social component to them. The result? The Apple Teacher and ClassFlow Educator cohorts.
The design was inspired by my participation in the Apple Learning Specialist event in Cupertino, CA in 2017. Apple intentionally brought together Apple experts from districts across the country for five days to learn from each other. Apple’s execution on this was excellent. The focus on nightly individual reflection, reflection with peers and the sharing of produced material was inspiring.
I took some of the activities and meeting formats back to my school and blended them with the Apple Teacher and ClassFlow Educator certification processes. The design itself had three face-to-face meetings. First, we had an orientation that talked about dates, expectations and what’s available in the online trainings. We set deadlines for completing certain benchmarks. We also set times when I would come visit them and coach them through those training checkpoints. We met a second time after going through their training, and we brainstormed how what we learned could turn into a lesson. Finally, the culminating event was a showing/sharing event where these new experts shared what they learned with their colleagues.
The format allowed teachers of various content areas to have a shared goal. It was so impressive to see high school teachers make bonds beyond their hallways. The format had benefits beyond the social learning, too. Teachers re-applying for National Board certification found the format fit perfectly for their professional growth requirements, especially since we took video and pictures of them presenting to others!
There’s definitely room to expand. My next cohorts will probably revolve around the Microsoft Innovative Educator badge in some form or fashion. I also think there’s room for a Common Sense Media/Educator cohort, too. For now, however, I’ve identified some “core” teachers who know a technology well who can even serve as mentors for my next cohorts!