What does it mean to take ownership of your professional development? In a previous post, I included tips and strategies to help educators grow their knowledge base. Self-paced learning activities provide a way for teachers to work through a certification or badging program at a tempo that works with their schedule and interests.
Badging Programs Aren’t New
Professional development sites like SimpleK12 let teachers earn badges for watching a certain number of webinars or engaging in their communities. Both Google and Nearpod have certified teacher programs. Google Certified Educator exams let teachers demonstrate their proficiency in using G Suite tools. Google has resources online that teachers can access, and a handful of organizations offer professional development to help educators pass these exams. The Nearpod certification asks teachers to demonstrate how they’ve used interactive tools in their classroom by submitting lessons they’ve created.
Programs like these help educators understand not just the nuts and bolts of a particular tool, but how to use it to reach their instructional goals and meet the needs of students. They provide an opportunity for teachers to develop and demonstrate a proficiency in using a tool that can energize teaching and learning in their classrooms.
Apple Enters the Badging Game
In addition to these programs, Apple Education introduced the Apple Teacher program in 2016. It gives teachers a way to explore iOS and Mac tools and integrate them into their instruction to create deeper learning experiences. The program uses badges to help teachers monitor which tools they’ve mastered—they can do that within a short time frame or decide to focus on just a few tools during the school year and revisit the program over the summer.
The Apple Teacher program is a terrific tool for educators looking to strengthen their understanding of educational technology. It has a lot of resources that teachers can explore at their own pace. Videos and animations show the tools in action, which makes it easy for teachers to understand how to use them on their own devices. The program is perfect for teachers setting their own professional development goals or simply looking to dive deeper into favorite tools. The resources Apple has created also let teachers learn how to use each tool even if it isn’t covered in their school’s traditional professional development workshops.
How It Works
The Apple Teacher program has a learning community and online portal you can access with your Apple ID (iTunes account). Once you’re signed in, you can pick a track to focus on—iPad or Mac. In order to become an Apple Teacher, you must earn badges in eight categories, such as Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, GarageBand, Fostering Creativity, and Enhancing Productivity. Users take a short quiz in each category to earn their badges. Once you’ve earned all of the eight badges for either iPad or Mac, you become an Apple Teacher.
Four Reasons to Check Out the Apple Teacher Program
- Find starter guides: The team at Apple put together an iBook for each category in the Apple Teacher program. These starter guides provide an overview of each individual tool with plenty of interactive content. They are perfect resources for teachers who are either brand new to a tool or just need a quick refresher.
- Proceed at your own pace: Badging programs like Apple Teacher let users take each quiz when they’re ready. You might set a goal for yourself of earning one new badge a month or start off taking quizzes for the tools you use most frequently.
- Gather ideas for your classroom: Spending time in the starter guides and exploring each of these tools is a great way to gather ideas for your classroom. For example, GarageBand isn’t a tool I use all the time, but after spending more time with it to earn my GarageBand badge I started thinking about different ways it could be used during a reading lesson.
- Join a community of educators: As an educator on Twitter, I love using hashtags to follow along with others. The #AppleTeacher hashtag is a popular way for educators to share their experiences with the program.
The Apple Teacher, Google Educator, and Nearpod certification programs are geared toward educators in all grade levels and subject areas. They are all free for teachers and are great ways to focus your professional development for the school year. As you dive into Apple Teacher or a similar certification or badging program, make sure to share your journey by using a hashtag like #AppleTeacher or by simply sending a message to a colleague who can benefit from your newfound expertise.