The following is a repost from the Microsoft UK Teachers Blog
We are always expecting our students respond well to the challenges of exams. But, how often to do we take up that challenge ourselves. Rachel Jones , ‘Curator of Lightbulbs’ and teaching and learning co-coordinator at King Edward VI School, Southampton has done exactly that.
In her own words, she takes us through the story of how she came to take the Microsoft Certified Educator exam:
In 2013 I applied for the Google Teacher Academy. I was pretty staggered to get in, and remember jumping around the room with @girlyrunner1 when I got the email saying I had been accepted. Attending #GTA2013 was for me the start point of quite a long journey. I had never really consider having my skills as a teacher (especially in the area of using technology) as something you could certify. Being able to quantify skills in this area felt at odds with my have-a-go- hero kind of attitude. I am entirely self-taught and almost pride myself in a lack of formal IT qualifications, I enjoy learning how to do things by having a tinker with them. However – once I had attended the #GTA I felt much more confident in my own abilities. This also coincided with sharing a lot of what I do at conferences and TeachMeets, where I often found myself saying that:
‘What technology you use isn’t important. What’s important is the impact that it is having on the children’s learning. If you would be better off using pen and paper, then do that. ‘
Now – part of the consequence of saying this is that I started to reflect on myself as a practitioner. I had pretty much signed up lock-stock to Apple and Google, and actually this meant that I wasn’t actually practising what I was preaching about being a platform atheist. Something shifted in my approach to how I think about educating myself as a teacher. I decided that rather than focus on one platform, I would educate myself about all the options open to me, and make decisions of use based on an educated opinion rather than a personal preference. This entailed putting myself through other professional certifications. I have applied for the upcoming ADE course (please keep your fingers crossed for me) and this week I also took The Microsoft Certified Educator exam.
My school very kindly paid for me to take the exam, and it was really quite nerve wracking sitting in a room, knowing that if I failed I should probably do the whole modelling resilience thing – but would instead probably have a cry. It’s funny how much of ourselves we invest in our professional capabilities, and I was reminded afresh how terrifying the exam system must be for the students in our care. Prior to taking the exam I had worked through all the sample materials that Microsoft provide, and passed them all, (sometimes without quite so much of the study time recommended) however over half term the looming imminence of the exam provoked some full on revision. I can now tell you all sorts of useful things, like what some error messages actually mean – as can my 8 year old as he tested me all week.
However, much of the content of the exam is based on actual classroom practice and pedagogy, so it came under the remit of the job that I do all day. I was *really* pleased to pass the exam first time, like so pleased I would not have to go to work and say they needed to pay for a re-sit and also that I could tell my boys that the relentless testing had not been in vain…. But I was also pleased to pass for myself- every time I do something outside my comfort zone, and it goes well, it helps to build my confidence as an educator.
I would encourage others to consider taking exams such as these for these reasons:
1 – It is good for you to have empathy with kids in exam halls. Know what it feels like to be afraid that you might not pass.
2 – It won’t hurt in your next appraisal to have a new professional qualification.
3 – If you work in edtech it gives you credibility that you know what you are talking about across
4 – I have been told (still waiting on it) that the Microsoft teacher network is really awesome. If they are anything as cool as the Google Teacher network this will be endless brilliant to be a part of.
5 – As teachers we should also be learners. Not peddling knowledge for a 20 year old degree. We do need to learn new things – even if this falls under the skills category.
6 – It feels brilliant to pass exams. I actually skipped back to the car park. For those of who have to work at building self-confidence, this this could be an excellent step.
7 – Teachers often build their sense of self-worth based on what SLT or OFSTED say. I think having a more detached professional criteria to see how valuable you are, and what your skills are worth is very important indeed. You are more than your last observation score.
8- I felt valued by school in that they paid for my exam. In a week of report writing and the other usual stressed, this certainly kept me going. Schools get buy-in from staff based on valuing them as teachers and human beings. This part of my development will certainly benefit the school, maybe not in pay back in terms of my IT knowledge, but certainly in how loyal I feel to the institution.
I hope that by continuing to challenge myself I am not just collecting certificates, but acquiring knowledge and skills that will benefit those in my classroom. I would encourage other teachers to consider taking professional certifications, it is certainly something that has changed my practise for the better.
You can find more out about Rachel’s great work on her blog - http://createinnovateexplore.com/
If you are interested in becoming a Microsoft Certified Educator, you can find all the details here - https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/mce-certification.aspx
Check out how these teachers in a Welsh local authority have developed their professional development and the impact it has had on their learning and the learning of their students: