This post originally appeared at Next Generation Learning Challenges on October 21, 2016.
While competency-based learning is not new to the education industry, there are still challenges in implementation. The biggest impediment to launching such a model is not the technology, content, or standards mapping—it is in how we train our teachers. To effectively deliver competency-based learning strategies in our schools, we also need a strategy on how to best teach the teachers those particular strategies.
At Matchbook Learning, a national non-profit charter management operator, we have continually revised and refined our professional development training for teachers at three levels: the charter schools we operate in Newark and Detroit, the schools we’ve partnered with, and the schools we will be indirectly partnering with through “Spark,” our virtual competency-based learning platform. In our explorations, we have learned that training teachers on competency-based models requires three design principles:
1. Design for Form (Not Just Function)
The form training takes is as important as its function. When teachers receive this training, it should be experienced in a competency-based manner. From the outset, this requires identifying the core competencies for every core position in your organization (i.e. teachers, deans, principals, operations, etc.).
We have identified seven macro competencies or domains that every person in our organization should master, modeled after the national criteria used by organizations across the country in search of world-class distinction. Whether you use Baldridge or some other industry analog, competency development must be mapped against pathways with multiple entry and exit points. If you are explaining your training in whole group seminars or singular pathways, you are NOT delivering the training in a competency-based way. Competency-based training must happen in both form and function. The medium is the message.
For our work, we anchor the start of our journey in the seven core criteria of the Baldrige excellence process below: