When we started exploring various partnerships, we knew that we wanted to look at what it would mean to offer some sort of badge or microcredential to educators who completed the TD4Ed curriculum. This seemed like a route that could nicely accommodate the position that TD4Ed occupies somewhere between formal and informal learning. What we didn’t expect was how interested we would become in partnering with more formal credentialing programs to offer TD4Ed to teachers-in-training.
This surprise category (for me, at least) is closely related to blended professional development, and delivering TD4Ed-based training via credentialing programs would look similar to offering blended PD. The difference is the target audience: teaching graduate students who are training to become teachers means that you get to encounter them when they are in the most nascent stage of developing their practices, skills, and bag of tricks (Learning #2). They are hungry to learn and experiment with different ways of doing things, and that’s exactly the mindset we want for new TD4Ed users.
We started our research by looking at online credentialing programs to see how we might integrate TD4Ed into them, but as our approach shifted to more of an emphasis on blended delivery, we started having conversations with administrators of blended and in-person teacher training programs, with a focus on local institutions.
Here’s a drill-down into some particularly interesting programs:
To test what it would look like to use TD4Ed with teachers-in-training, we ran a design workshop for graduate students from Brown University’s Master of Teaching and Urban Education Policy programs. We were encouraged by how quickly they took to the design thinking process, the compelling questions they asked about solution implementation and getting buy-in from administrators, and the ways they were thinking about how TD4Ed could be used not only in classrooms, but also in crafting education policies that better serve students. A couple of the workshop attendees even put together a team to participate in our design jam and further explore a policy issue they were passionate about.
As we explored what it would look like to integrate TD4Ed into credentialing programs, our BMGF Program Officer, Wendy Sauer, raised an interesting question: how do you sustain interest once the students graduate and have their own classrooms? To think about how to maintain engagement, we looked into organizations such as High Tech High in California. High Tech High not only has teacher credentialing programs, but also runs public charter high schools and professional development trainings, and thus has potential for offering support for TD4Ed or similar programs not just while students are in school, but in their eventual teaching jobs, too. This model makes a lot of sense, and the question about sustaining engagement is important to consider even beyond credentialing programs.
We’re excited to see what’s next on the horizon for engaging teachers-in-training in TD4Ed. Getting educators-to-be to develop the mindset of creating teacher-driven solutions now has great promise for tackling education challenges in years to come.