Like many independent schools, Parker has a committed faculty who are content savvy and who love working with students. Like many independent schools, Parker does not require that faculty hold a valid state-issued teaching credential. I heard from several faculty that they wanted to build up their pedagogical tool kit but not have a “one and done” or piecemeal approach to that work. I began thinking about how we might meet needs of those who wanted to either obtain similar learning as would be obtained in a credentialing program, as well as meeting needs of folks who already had a credential but who wished to hear the latest and greatest research-backed pedagogical information. I had heard a bit about “micro-credentialing” or “micro-certificate” programs that had met with good success. As such, the natural solution as I saw it was to find a way to provide a credential program of some manner that would both provide the pedagogical took-kit information as well as validate the time spent on the work by participants (via the demarkation of a certificate completion on a transcript). To do this, it would be important to partner with an accredited university program.
Our Middle School Head had a relationship with USD, and he helped me make introductions with the right folks. I then spent considerable time forging a partnership between Francis Parker and the University of San Diego last year, including developing the program from the ground up in tandem with their team. The net result was the creation of the “Independent School Educator Certificate Program” – an eight module, one-year program that mirrors the pedagogical training encapsulated in most required credential programs for teachers who obtain their state licensure. Our first cohort will be finishing the program in mid-May, and it has received rave reviews from the 15 faculty who are participating. We already have people inquiring about next year’s program, as well as taking the opening steps towards crafting a summer intensive version of the program that will be open to independent school educators from around the nation.
We are moving forward with putting together another program for next year, and already have several interested faculty for that cohort group. We have also heard from other schools that doing something like this on an accelerated summer time frame would be very helpful and popular. As such, we are currently formulating how we could put a similar program together for the summer of 2017. It would be hosted here at Parker with participants staying at USD. Stay tuned!