Today, Human Restoration Project launches its course platform: RestoreHumanity.school (RH.) RH is part microcredentialing program, course platform, and asynchronous conference tool aimed at instilling progressive educative systems in classrooms everywhere. Within, educators can access all of our materials for free and interact with our resources. There’s no hidden fee, and we don’t sell or distribute anyone’s data. We are sustained through our Patreon supporters and donors.
Below, I’d like to outline our why and how of RH, and our goals with the platform going forward, as well as how we can help revolutionize PD from the ground up.
We all know it: most professional development is absolutely terrible. Not only is it dated in content, it lacks the same principles that guide engaged practices in our classrooms. Almost all PD is top-down, PowerPoint driven, over topics that only a few in the room are engaged with, and driven by pre-packaged initiatives that rarely lead to anything meaningful. In fact, most educators feel that PD is drawing away from their time to actually do their own PD — the type of learning that happens while collaborating at a coffee shop or checking out a new library book.
The following information is from our website:
The majority of teachers use substantial amounts of their time honing their craft and most of that effort goes unrewarded. In our reliance on workshops, conferences, and initiative rollouts, we’ve lost sight of the true learning experts: the teachers. Our microcredentialing platform is designed to empower teachers in making decisions that actually impact their classroom, centered on their interests and the incorporation of student perspectives.
The data surrounding professional development is stark. Despite PD initiatives set by districts, only 29% of teachers indicate they are satisfied with their formal PD opportunities. Even though the vast majority of educators are presented with ample PD, most feel it isn’t worth it. And, most educators do not have time to reflect and improve on their practice. Frequently, educators state that the best learning outcomes are when they have time to plan and collaborate with others — on their own terms.
Microcredentialing offers educators the ability to set their own learning objectives and be rewarded for their individualized efforts. Learners can demonstrate evidence of their competence in any way they see fit. This incentivizes the commonplace formal and informal research and planning occurring outside of school regular hours. Educators prefer and desire this method.
By regularizing and documenting this practice, participating schools can document and track the expert work of their educators, allowing for detailed data on what each teacher excels at. This opens up further opportunities for professional teaching networks, identified experts, and the ability to share, reflect, and improve on the practice of everyone involved. With this, educators are valued for their inherent knowledge and ability to seek out their professional goals.
Because these microcredentials require teachers to research, speak with students, place plans into practice, and reflect on the process, all teachers will see the benefit of their labor in the classroom. Through teacher action research, educators will be able to repeat these steps in further learning endeavors.
Further, this practice is more effective and financially stable than traditional professional development. A plethora of free professional development resources are available online, including all of Human Restoration Project’s microcredentialing programs.
- Only 29% of teachers are satisfied with formal PD. (1)
- Traditional PD rarely connects or leads to understanding of content. (2)
- Less than half of teachers feel PD has value. (3)
- 57% of teachers had less than 16 hours of PD over 12 months. (4)
- Only 11% of teachers feel they have a say in their PD opportunities. (5)
- Teachers in high-poverty schools lack access to quality PD. (6)
- New teachers with little to no preparation are 2 1/2 times more likely to leave the classroom. (7)
- Incentivizing and individualizing PD opportunities is valued by educators. (8)
Teacher training programs may be a starting off point for many of us, but they rarely present even close to the amount of information necessary to navigate our classrooms. When teachers lack professional development opportunities, and the few PD opportunities are boring and/or a “pump up” speech over anything substantive, it’s no wonder that new and veteran teachers alike are struggling.
That means in many ways, it is up to the teacher to find their own professional development resources. It’s no small feat. There are tons of free and paid PD options online, many of which are quality (Teaching Tolerance, youcubed, Zinn Ed Project) and many of which are not (Teachers Pay Teachers, random scavenged lesson plans.) In my experience, the vast majority of my planning time is spent finding places to turn to in order to create my own lessons, rather than figuring out specific ways to implement an array of readily-found resources.
RestoreHumanity.school is a location for educators to begin transformative, systemic change toward progressive education in their classrooms. We don’t offer specific strategies that will work in every context. Instead, we lay out the case for specific systemic changes and provide materials to help you synthesize and implement radical change.
It is our view that the vast majority of problems in our education system are rooted in the system itself, rather than any one teacher’s fault in “engaging” students through the existing constructs. Our guides, microcredentialing process, and Summits are tools to reconstruct the system of school to make each classroom radically student-centered. (And, these practices can work at varying degrees in any context, although the educator may need to “creatively noncomply” more in certain districts.)
Outline of Coursework
All HRP resources, including RestoreHumanity.school, are free of charge and offered under a Creative Commons, Share-Alike license.
There are three types of content on RH:
- Guides: These are interactive versions of our existing resources. In addition to a guided “handbook” of instilling progressive practice, we supplement our resource with videos and reflective activities to help guide you on your journey. We’re launching with two Guides: Ungrading and Path to Purpose.
- Microcredentialing: As outlined below, our progressive microcredential leads educators through teacher action research, where one analyzes a system in their classroom and works with students to transform that system toward human-centered practice. This component will launch later this Summer.
- Summits: HRP has been hosting free webinars each month over the past year, and we’re thrilled by the engagement we’ve had. In early August, we’re going to experiment with an asynchronous Summit. This is both to counter the exhaustive nature of Zoom meetings (please…no more), but also to model how we can create collaborative practice, all at different times, to potentially utilize with our students in the Fall.
We highly encourage you to check out our initial guides and sign-up for our Summit on liberatory pedagogy and the hidden curriculum!
The following information is from our website:
What if we designed professional development that mirrored the rewarding experiences teachers had planning their class every day? Why not reward teachers for group meetings at the coffee shop, or developing a new exciting project?
Microcredentials document the process of learning that educators engage with outside of the classroom. Educators choose a specific progressive education centered credential, then fulfill specific evidence-based goals to showcase their understanding. Unlike traditional PD options, microcredentials are self-paced, self-chosen, and can be demonstrated in countless ways. Our goal is to create learning opportunities that improve educational systems. These credentials allow educators to learn from ideas that inspire them and actualize them in a classroom setting.
A digital, individualized credential is issued to an educator that can be traced back to what they’ve achieved. These credentials can be displayed on profiles, resumes, websites, and social media.
As an educator collects microcredentials, they can demonstrate continued learning aligned toward leadership positions and increased compensation for their efforts. We’ve organized our microcredentials into specific groups to help guide users toward specific outcomes. Further, our microcredentials build into and are utilized by our graduate level courses.
Each microcredential lays out the specific goals, tasks, and evidence required to obtain accredited competency. There is no timeline, nor required seat time or coursework, to obtain a credential. The educator will develop their own learning pathway, guided by our recommendations, to complete their objective.
Each HRP credential has five requirements:
- Evidence of pedagogical knowledge (e.g. a portfolio, video, reflection, book notes.)
- Empathy mapping (interviews with students to understand their perspective.)
- Strategic planning (determining efficacy vs effort)
- Evidence of “learning in action” (e.g. a plan for a lesson, classroom, school, with documentation of its implementation.)
- Student and teacher reflections on the process.
After the educator has fulfilled these requirements, they will submit to Human Restoration Project for evaluation. After feedback, potentially revision, and approval, the microcredential will be issued. This credential can be displayed on portfolios, resumes, websites, social media, and more.
While engaged in the microcredentialing process, educators will have access to weekend office hours, accessed through our website, as well as a direct line to HRP facilitators. Drafts of work may be submitted throughout the process for feedback-only evaluation. In addition, HRP offers a variety of media, research, and articles for each microcredential to help guide one’s planning.
HRP microcredentials are differentiated from other microcredential programs as they not only promote systemic progressive pedagogy, but are supported by progressive methodology, such as remediation and student interviews.
All HRP microcredentials are aligned to LearningForward’s professional development learning standards, ISTE standards, and Teaching Tolerance’s social justice standards.
(*Tech stuff: The HRP Microcredential is issued using Open Badges, an open-source and responsible practice credential issuer. After obtaining certification, one’s issued credential can be tied to any resume or web platform (e.g. LinkedIn), which holds everything one did — including the content itself. This is a great way to demonstrate knowledge beyond well formulated sentences on a resume!)
HRP microcredentials offer the unique opportunity to engage educators in the same, research-backed ways that engage students: self-directed pacing, purposeful work, and collaborative efforts. By tying our microcredentials to teacher onboarding, continuing education credits, leadership positions, and/or stipends, educators will be consistently engaged in practices that actually are utilized in the classroom, as opposed to a one-and-done workshop. Because these practices are user-driven, school administrators can tie specific initiatives to certain concepts.
Developing knowledge with the use of microcredentials ensures that educators are guided toward implementable outcomes that keep everyone within the values structure of the school. And because this work is evaluated, educators will receive consistent feedback to specifically improve their implementation of each idea.
This process may be used for meetings, discussions, and presentations in a school’s professional learning community. By basing staff meetings on the expertise of those in the room, educators can collaborate on what best serves their needs and what they are most interested in.
Each HRP guide and Summit issue a certificate of completion and microcredentials are issued via Open Badges for use with school districts.
Our goal is not to replace all professional development with individualized and small group initiatives. We believe that there are some PD opportunities that must be presented to all staff, as otherwise educators might not seek it out — especially in relation to social justice and equity, although these ideas can be presented in a progressive way (e.g. targeting teacher action research toward social justice related initiatives.) We’re seeking out potential partners to offer even more perspectives, progressive coursework, and ideas to RH.
Our goal with our professional development platform is to engage educators in the work they already want to be doing: practical, meaningful dialogue about the purpose of education that’s intertwined with their students. As opposed to being a separate, logarithmic package, RH consistently asks educators to speak with their students and offers systems to lessen and/or eliminate the barriers between relationships, trust, learning, and school. We want to develop realistic ways to lessen the nemesis that schooling has come for far too many, both student and teacher.
At its core, we deeply believe in the need for a strong public school system that builds foundational democratic citizens who are purpose-oriented, empathetic, and critical thinkers. And, in our view, the only way to do that is by educators demanding and taking radical actions by dismantling the old system and instilling progressive practice.
There are multiple systems being questioned right now in the “abolish” vs “reform” debate. Although “abolish” would not be a great word to use with schooling, the concept of abolishing traditional education is perfectly apt. There is still a place for traditional ed. — but only when other systems work to humanize and legitimize the practice. (For example, when students choose and desire and have the freedom to act within a traditional structure, and alternatives are provided, assessable, and free.)
We have seen efforts to “reform” dehumanizing practice in schools: changing letter grades to numerical rubrics, trying to “assess” for creativity to bring soft skills to the classroom, bringing in mindfulness to counter standardized test pressures, making learning “fun” while ignoring the curriculum itself, and other shallow efforts that aren’t counteracting the serious, fundamental issues. We’ve listed these systems on our website.
That being said, if you think this new platform is cool — first off, use it! We’d love to hear your feedback on how to improve. Second, please share it! The more people that see this and access our site, the better our outlook for the future. And finally, consider supporting us on Patreon or donating! As mentioned before, all of our resources are free and we don’t sell your data. Therefore, we need your help to constantly push the status quo and produce quality content. We appreciate you. Let’s restore humanity, together.