Texas District Sets Up PD, Micro-credential Program Through BloomBoard
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A Houston, TX school district has gone public with its use of a more personalized professional development program for its 2,400 educators. Spring Branch Independent School District has signed on with BloomBoard, a company that makes professional learning content available online along with a micro-credentialing program. The content is curated by experienced educators and organized around problems of practice.
Among several hundred topics available in the BloomBoard service, the district has set up six learning pathways for the current school year for its teachers to follow:
- New teacher induction;
- Leadership training;
- Blended learning;
- Instructional practices;
- Subject-specific content areas (including math, science, humanities and visual and performing arts); and
- Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS).
Each program connects teachers to curated collections of online learning resources and collaboration tools allowing them to connect with each other. The T-TESS program specifically is intended to train the educators on the school system's new teacher appraisal system, which is recommended by the state; individual lessons tie into each of 13 T-TESS dimensions. As individual teachers work through the T-TESS domains, such as planning or instruction, they'll have the chance to demonstrate their mastery of topics and earn micro-credentials.
"We are excited to move all our staff towards a competency-based professional growth plan," said Associate Superintendent Jennifer Blaine in a prepared statement. "BloomBoard gives us the flexibility to give support around important district initiatives such as T-TESS, while still enabling us to provide our educators choice and personalized professional development opportunities to support their individual growth goals."
Fifty-nine new teachers and mentors from the district are also participating in a pilot for a national program called, "Teach Like a Champion," and led by Uncommon Schools. The pilot is intended to equip teachers with a set of techniques, a shared vocabulary and a framework for practice that adheres to Doug Lemov's popular book by the same title. BloomBoard will serve as a platform to give Spring Branch access to collections of online learning and collaboration experiences tied to the techniques from the book.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.