Recognizing Remarkable Teacher Accomplishments

By Dr. Jennifer Williams, Literacy Specialist, Professor at Saint Leo University, Board of Directors for International Literacy Association
In education today, teachers are in a constant state of exploration and discovery.
With shifts of practice aiming to harness the power of new technologies and innovative forms of instruction, professional growth has become an essential practice in the daily lives of educators. Modern forms of professional development that allow educators to customize learning environments have the potential to not only shape and propel practice forward, but also to empower teachers to redefine their identities as professionals.
Charged with both agency and authority, teachers deserve recognition for their newly acquired skills and knowledge. More often, educators seeking to improve their understandings and abilities should have a say about when and where learning will occur and how it will be demonstrated and validated for recognition.
Teacher empowerment movements acknowledge the importance of both formal and informal professional activities, and systems focused on the needs of educators are moving beyond the walls of schoolhouses to create global pathways for recognition.

Making Learning Visible

As professional learning is increasingly diverse and personalized, transparent documentation of learning is allowing for thought and practice to be shared, extended and celebrated. Teachers can proactively develop networks of peers and experts to authenticate work and instantly, through social forms of showcasing and publishing, the world can become an interactive audience for feedback and recognition. 
Collections of multimodal artifacts, including text, images, audio, videos and graphic representations, can document understandings and perspectives and can be shared across platforms. As a natural extension of learning, evidencing practices such as micro-credentialing and digital badging can serve to document professional growth in ways that are relevant, practical and, ultimately, motivating for educators.

Teachers as Recognized Resources

By taking responsibility for their own growth and determining ways in which they want to be recognized for accomplishments, teachers are positioning themselves as valued resources within learning networks. 
The meaningful validation of achievements paired with the freedom to customize paths of professional growth have the power to positively affect teacher identity — creating a culture of autonomy and confidence, risk-taking and resilience — and positively guide the future of professional development and recognition of educators.
This post is part of a blog series titled “Professional Development: Learning Through Collaboration” produced in partnership with VIF International Education (@vifglobaled). Join the conversation on Twitter using #collaborativePD. For more, check out Professional Development: Learning Through Collaboration and:

Dr. Jennifer Williams is a Literacy Specialist, Professor at Saint Leo University a member of the Board of Directors for International Literacy Association. Follow her on Twitter: @JenWilliamsEdu.

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