Micro-credentials are getting lots of attention lately as an alternative to traditional, one-size-fits-all models of professional development (PD). While a recent study by Digital Promise showed that few teachers know about them, some early adopters across the country are blazing the trail for micro-credential implementation. 

Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin, for example, is implementing micro-credentials as part of its personalized, competency-based PD plan with a direct impact on teacher compensation. We reached out to one Kettle Moraine educator who is earning recognition through micro-credentials for the skills she is learning and using every day in the classroom, and we asked her to share her experience.

Katie Hoff teaches 8th grade social studies in Kettle Moraine School District, is currently in her fifth year of teaching, and is dedicated to her professional growth. Not only has she completed her Master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Stout, but she is also working towards her 316 certification (Reading Teacher License program), and she has applied for—and earned—multiple micro-credentials during this school year.

Here’s more about what it’s like to earn a micro-credential from Katie, in her words:

What made you want to become an educator?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. My mom, both grandmas, and great-grandfather were all teachers, among other family members. I love working with students, and I especially like middle-school-aged students.

What inspired you to apply for a micro-credential?

I didn’t know anything about micro-credentials until Kettle Moraine School District sent us some information about Digital Promise and BloomBoard. I decided to apply because I wanted to learn more about how other teachers use some of these strategies.

Why did you apply for the micro-credentials you did?

I chose micro-credentials that fit seamlessly into my curriculum. Some of them I found really beneficial to students and some I found beneficial to me in terms of how to teach or introduce a topic. 

What was your process for gathering evidence for the micro-credentials? How long did it take you to complete the entire process?

It didn’t take long to gather the evidence because the students already created it. I have my students use Google Classroom, so all of their assignments are organized in there for me to retrieve. Completing the entire process varied for different micro-credentials. Sometimes I incorporated them into a larger, more time-consuming project, and some were more like day lessons. Once the projects were complete, it only takes about an hour to do all the write-ups and link the student examples and reflections. 

How has the process of earning micro-credentials had an impact on your practice?

I think it is less about actually earning the micro-credential and more about what I learned while doing it. I learned different ways to have students organize their sources while researching, how to better plan their time when working with partners, key words to remember when writing persuasive speeches, etc. These are all skills that I will continue to use and perfect throughout my teaching career. The resources provided in these micro-credentials have been extremely helpful and they prevent me from spending time creating organizers and guides.

Editor’s Note: Each micro-credential contains suggested resources and research to help educators successfully prepare evidence for their micro-credential.

Has your Kettle Moraine School District recognized your micro-credentials in any way? Have they incentivized or encouraged other educators at your district to apply?

They have attached increases in salary to micro-credentials. They encourage us to earn them through BloomBoard, and they recognize those [earned micro-credentials] as automatic increases. When we choose to learn and do professional development in different ways, we have to submit much of the same required components to a district review committee.

Do you plan to showcase or share this micro-credential as proof of your professional expertise going forward?

I do not plan to showcase my micro-credentials, but I do reference them when working with my team. When we are planning, I reference resources, guides, and organizers that I have obtained through BloomBoard and talk about how we can integrate them into our lessons or projects.

Learn more about how micro-credentials offer meaningful professional learning for teachers »