HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Badges of Excellence in Professional Development

by Sarah Blattner and Samuel Abramovich Issue: Excellence

Teacher professional development is one of the most consistent and reliable tools available for improving schools. Because teachers are increasingly recognized as the single most important factor in making change within a school, professional development programs can lead to increased student learning by providing teachers an opportunity to reflect on their practices and develop new pedagogical skills. However, providing quality teacher professional development remains a significant challenge for all educational organizations. Time and financial constraints often limit professional development opportunities to a one-and-done, one-size-fits-all model, which in turn provides little opportunity for teacher improvement. Research reveals that when asking teachers about their professional development experiences, they will likely reflect that quality learning opportunities are outnumbered by ineffective workshops.

High-quality teacher professional development is job-embedded, meaning it is “teacher learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice and is designed to enhance teachers’ content-specific instructional practices with the intent of improving student learning.” Job-embedded PD naturally supports sustained, ongoing learning, that may include coaching; mentoring; action research; observing a class and reflecting on those observations; working collaboratively on a team to examine a problem or student work sample; or shadowing a colleague. These kinds of opportunities help teachers make more relevant connections to their actual classroom teaching, integrating with a teacher’s prior knowledge of effective pedagogy. In addition, Internet communication technology has changed the paradigm for teacher professional development, opening up a whole new world of learning. Globally connected communities of practice enhance teacher learning by providing opportunities for sharing collective wisdom and dialogue about real-world examples, which helps in removing the isolation barrier of the classroom that many teachers experience as professionals.

Teachers are no longer limited to the workshop model of teacher professional development, even when financial and time constraints are paramount. Among the new technologies available, open badges, a novel approach to micro-credentialing, offers the opportunity for personalized professional learning for teachers. A number of Jewish educational organizations, looking to meet the unique needs of their teachers, have been among the first to exploit this technology. In order to better understand the opportunity to reboot Jewish day school teacher professional development with open badges, we must first define open badges and examine some examples of how digital badges are being used to strengthen learning opportunities for educators.

Open Badges

More than a graphic icon, a digital badge is a micro-credential that signifies an achievement. Open badges, created by a team led by the Mozilla Foundation, is an Internet protocol for a digital badge that has embedded metadata, detailing information about the achievement (e.g., the issuing institution, a rubric or set of standards for merit, an artifact demonstrating the accomplishment). Consequently, badges can tell the story of a learner, mark achievements, and reflect a learner’s knowledge, skills, habits and learning pathways in more detail than what is possible with traditional assessments, like grades or certificates. Open badges, because they are an Internet protocol, are portable and easily sharable through a variety of social media interfaces. Badges also have the potential to transparently recognize granular levels of learning that traditional forms of assessment may not.

The MacArthur Foundation launched an open badges project in 2001 with the Digital Media and Learning Competition, where a total of 2 million dollars was awarded collectively to winning entries that would ignite the development of an open badges ecosystem, including organizations like the Smithsonian Museums, NASA, Disney-Pixar and the Girl Scouts. Badges are also catching on in other settings such as the corporate world, where Deloitte uses digital badges to level up staff development, and higher education, where the University of California at Davis uses a competency-based badge system for an undergraduate sustainable agricultural and food systems program. Open badges are increasingly employed in K-12 education through projects such as Digital Promise, which seeks to recognize competency-based teacher preparation and professional development for educators throughout their careers.

Serendipitously, Jewish educational organizations have also been using digital badges to strengthen learning opportunities. TAMRITZ, a badge-empowered learning network for Jewish educators and their students, currently offers an annual “Summer of Learning” for secondary teacher professional development. As online professional development, TAMRITZ focuses on immersing teachers in a community of practice that wrestles with leading edge pedagogy and new media tools through hands-on tinkering and experimentation. Educators move through Levels (macro badges signifying overarching learning outcomes) and Quests (micro badges or distinct skills supporting the Levels) as teachers make choices about how they will demonstrate and apply their skills and understandings. Immersed in a connected community that breaks geographic and time constraints, educators share ideas and lessons from the trenches, post comments and reflections on learners’ blogs and digital journals and share their learning artifacts.

Paramount to the success of the TAMRITZ model is the opportunity for educators to be immersed in a safe learning community that encourages tinkering with new media and leading edge pedagogy while sharing generously with colleagues. The centerpiece of TAMRITZ’s Summer of Learning, the Digital Age Teaching badge, includes three main learning pathways or levels: Learner 2.0, Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) and Digital Citizenship. Each level is tied to a few essential questions that promote professional development. For example, the PLNs badge asks, “How can a professional learning network support my growth and practice?” and “How can a personal learning network support my students’ learning and my own?”

For each level badge, teachers choose two additional micro badges to complete, such as Blogs, RSS, Social Bookmarking and Twitter. As an example, one rabbi in the learning community chose to explore Twitter for the first time and connected with other Jewish educators in the weekly #Jedchat tweetchat. He also chose the Social Bookmarking Quest and created his own social bookmarking group for collecting and sharing resources around Jewish studies and Hebrew instruction. He used his social bookmarking group to invite members of the TAMRITZ learning community to follow him and to suggest additional resources. In another example, a Jewish day school language arts teacher applied her learning experiences from the Blogging Quest to create a blogging campus at her own day school, where she trained her colleagues in utilizing blogs as learning portfolios in the classroom, both in Jewish and secular studies.

Open Badges for Teacher Professional Development

TAMRITZ’s Summer of Learning is only one model for implementing a badge system for teacher professional development in Jewish day school education. Building upon the successful elements of the TAMRITZ program and providing even more opportunities to personalize the educator experience will further empower teachers to design their own professional development that is relevant, self-directed and connected, which will ultimately impact student achievement.


Badges transparently and comprehensively document skills, training, specialties, experiences and interests relevant to a teacher’s toolkit. By designing badge learning experiences with input from teachers on their goals, interests and needs within their discipline and/or content areas, the learning is immediately applicable, job-embedded and relevant. The badges are valued by the learner and tied to their learner identity.


Badges amplify the opportunity for learners to make decisions about their own learning processes, pathways, goals, resources and outcomes. Badge learning supports self-directed learning, which research tells us comprises 70% of adult learning.


The Digital Age affords us with anytime, anywhere opportunities to learn. We can chat with colleagues and experts from around the globe and collaborate synchronously and asynchronously by co-creating dynamic multimedia and artifacts of learning. When designed within a connected learning community, badge learning for teacher professional development integrates interest-driven, academically grounded and peer-supported learning—the foundation of connected learning. The badges’ value is augmented by being connected to a learning community dedicated to improved teacher practice and student achievement.

Open badges have the potential to reboot educator professional development in Jewish day schools. It is time to take advantage of the affordances of digital age learning, where we can personalize learning experiences, provide agency and choice and make the entire learning journey relevant.

Sarah Blattner is the lead badger at TAMRITZ. sarah@tamritz.org, @tamritzlearning

Dr. Samuel Abramovich is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo SUNY. samuelab@buffalo.edu, @samabramovich


Resources and References

All are available online.

Cator, K., Schneider, C., and Vander Ark, T. “Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning: Competency-Based Teacher Preparation and Professional Development (White Paper).”

Croft, A., Coggshall, J.G., Dolan, M., Powers, E. & Killion, J. “Job-Embedded Professional Development: What It Is, Who Is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well.” National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality

Digital Promise Educator Micro-Credentials: digitalpromise.org

Gulamhussein, A. “Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability.” Center for Public Education

Hart, M. “Badges: A New Measure of Professional Development.” Campustechnology.org

Learning Forward. Standards for Professional Learning.

Mozilla Open Badges. openbadges.org

TAMRITZ. tamritz.org

Wardrip, P.S., Abramovich, S., Bathgate, M. & Kim, Y.J. “A School-Based Badging System and Interest- Based Learning: An Exploratory Case Study.”

Go To the Next Article

Cultivating Pedagogic Excellence in...

Cultivating pedagogic excellence in teachers clearly impacts students, schools and the field of Jewish day school......


At redskins jerseys Pixar, the versace outlet online Braintrust under armour shoes is cc beanies the jerseys from china meeting free running of prada shoes the minds where a lunette ray ban draft of nike air force a nike air max film air max 2015 is knockoff handbags screened, problems browns jerseys are identified, bengals jerseys and lacoste shoes numerous air max schoenen solutions burberry sale are brainstormed. sacramento kings jersey The Braintrust nike shoes is patriots jerseys no long champ ordinary polo outlet store meeting plein shoes of nike air jordan colleagues. colts jerseys It is hogan outlet a mechanism veneta for www.tommyhilfiger.nl taking an idea, givenchy outlet a plan, a work in coach black friday progress and making new balance canada it texans jerseys better. rolex watches Instead armani outlet of timberland femme scrutinizing pandora bracelet the polo ralph lauren creator, cheap nba jerseys candid comments nba jerseys are directed air jordan at coach outlet store online the dsquared2 sale project north face under review. Conversation is governed beats headphones by an operating levis jeans assumption that azcardinals jerseys the smart people hollister kids in the juicy couture outlet room minnesota timberwolves jersey have a shared investment in enhancing nike free run the tommy hilfiger outlet quality longchamp outlet of the project. No fivefingers directives are given; ralph lauren polo the ralph lauren ideas coach purses outlet online on ralph lauren the table thomas sabo are polo ralph meant roshe run to stimulate jerseys from china the cheap oakley thinking replica watches of burberry sale the director nike store so portland trail blazers jersey that nike free 5.0 she can steer thomas sabo uk forward.


If I am the director montre homme of ralph lauren polos a barbour factory movie, or giuseppe zanotti sneakers a teacher asics gel who has reloj created polo ralph lauren outlet online a new ray bans outlet curriculum, or 49ers jerseys a bcbg max azria teacher leader who michael kors has introduced a giants jerseys new program tracksuits store into mcm backpack my jimmy choo outlet school, adidas.se it nike free 5.0 is timberland boots likely coach outlet that I nike roshe am christian louboutin shoes deeply omega watches invested nike air max shoes in my chicago bulls jersey project. My professional identity michael kors is wrapped up in coach factory the work. lakers jerseys Often, we tommy hilfiger dwell nike free 5.0 so far ralph lauren outlet online inside louboutin shoes our versace outlet online own adidas canada projects that we cannot ralph lauren outlet online see new balance outlet what needs to oakley vault change. To find the inspiration celine bags and direction bcbg max to pivot, we the north face need burberry outlet online our eagles jerseys brain trust san antonio spurs jerseys to omega watches participate dolphins jerseys with charlotte hornets jerseys candor and in buccaneers jerseys good faith. michael kors outlet We true religion jeans women need coach outlet online to birkenstock shoes be vans shoes able dre beats to trust that they tommy hilfiger online are chi hair smart and michael kors purses that they know cheap michael kors what longchamp handbags it feels reebok like nike air max thea to be in hollister kids the michael kors hot michael kors taschen seat. purses and handbags Feedback rayban must spring from empathy in order ray ban sunglasses outlet to timberland outlet be ralph lauren outlet constructive; otherwise it just deconstructs and air max leaves us toronto raptors jersey right back where pandora we chiefs jerseys started: cheap ray ban stuck. ralph lauren outlet A pandora canada good brain trust will longchamp produce alternative rams jerseys ideas that inspire action rather adidas than paralyze juicy couture handbags progress. nfl jerseys If the michael kors outlet online feedback jordan retro can stimulate air yeezy shoes new michael kors outlet online sale thinking ferragamo shoes and advance jordans my project, michael kors outlet online I can flourish.At golden state warriors jersey Pixar, the coach outlet online Braintrust adidas superstar is the converse shoes meeting michael kors bags of mont blanc the minds where a draft calvin klein underwear of a film is raiders jerseys screened, nike shoes problems are nike air max identified, nike roshe and numerous solutions soccer shoes are brainstormed. The Braintrust is ferragamo shoes no oakley sunglasses ordinary meeting panthers jerseys of replica watches colleagues. true religion outlet It is a michael kors v?skor mechanism michael kors canada for taking an houston rockets jerseys idea, denver nuggets jerseys a plan, a work in nike outlet progress and jaguars jerseys making it better. hogan Instead ray ban wayfarer of scrutinizing the creator, candid comments red bottoms are lions jerseys directed titans jerseys at reebok shoes outlet the polo ralph lauren outlet project woolrich outlet under swarovski jewelry review. baseball jerseys Conversation coach outlet canada is oakley sunglasses governed oakley by an operating supra footwear assumption indoor soccer shoes that kate spade outlet online the smart oklahoma city thunder jersey people oakley vault in the room michael kors canada have the north face a shared investment in burberry outlet online enhancing the baseball jerseys quality michael kors uk of dallas mavericks jerseys the project. prada No ray bans directives are mbt shoes outlet given; bottega veneta the ideas mizuno wave on michael kors outlet online sale the table are meant rayban to stimulate nike mercurial vapor the thinking ralph lauren outlet of the director so that she hollister online can steer forward.


If I am the polo ralph director new york knicks of jordan release dates 2015 a movie, steelers jerseys or a swarovski teacher mcm backpack outlet who has ray ban wayfarer created a wholesale clothing new cheap oakley sunglasses curriculum, or mcm backpack a teacher nike air max leader chi flat iron who stephen curry shoes has nike huarache introduced philipp plein outlet a oakley sunglasses outlet new north face outlet program ferragamo into ralph lauren my cheap basketball shoes school, it is burberry online shop likely that air max I am hollister clothing deeply invested in my nike schoenen project. My nike air max professional identity swarovski crystal is wrapped up in the north face outlet the valentino outlet work. louboutin shoes Often, we dwell michael kors bags so orlando magic jersey far atlanta hawks jerseys inside dsquared2 our christian louboutin shoes own projects converse sneakers that we cannot nike shoes see what ralph lauren factory store needs to change. To nike air max 90 find mcm bags the puma outlet inspiration and skechers direction memphis grizzlies jersey to air huarache pivot, we rolex watch need northface our brain trust cheap nfl jerseys to softball bats participate seahawks jerseys with tory burch outlet candor and swarovski jewelry in good faith. We nfl jerseys need to be able nike schuhe to trust that adidas superstar they are smart burberry outlet and that they know what it feels birkenstock outlet like oakley sunglasses outlet to tory burch be katespade in vikings jerseys the pandora charms hot seat. Feedback ray ban occhiali must spring coach store from empathy longchamp outlet in order to be constructive; coach outlet online otherwise hogan outlet it just chargers jerseys deconstructs nike roshe and hermes leaves us right back where we started: stuck. oakley frogskins A michael kors outlet online good brain trust will thomas sabo jewellery produce alternative ideas ralph lauren polos that inspire action rather burberry handbags than paralyze progress. If giuseppe shoes the red bottom shoes feedback can iphone 5s cases stimulate falcons jerseys new fitflop outlet thinking chrome hearts and michael kors outlet online advance my roshe run project, dansko outlet I can nike.dk flourish.At Pixar, the Braintrust watches canada is the coach outlet online meeting vans schuhe of ray ban sonnenbrillen the coach factory shop minds where saints jerseys a draft prada outlet of vans outlet a film nike.se is cleveland cavaliers screened, north face jackets problems air jordan shoes are identified, prada sunglasses and glasses online numerous solutions are coach outlet brainstormed. hermes bags The Braintrust swarovski online is nike shoes no cheap oakley ordinary air max meeting of colleagues. It tommy hilfiger outlet stores is a mechanism long champ for burberry taking los angeles clippers jersey an idea, a plan, michael kors a work true religion in gafas oakley progress new balance and making oakley it adidas online better. ray ban sunglasses Instead burberry outlet of scrutinizing michael kors the creator, philadelphia 76ers jerseys candid comments coach factory are nike air max directed at the hollister clothing store project phoenix suns jersey under baseball bats review. timberland shoes Conversation is swarovski australia governed by birkenstock deutschland an operating assumption hilfiger online shop that the salvatore ferragamo smart people in oakley sunglasses the bills jerseys room jerseys from china have michael kors outlet a shared glasses frames investment barbour jackets in enhancing skechers outlet the quality instyler ionic styler of abercrombie the project. No directives beats by dre are given; the ideas jerseys from china on the cowboys jerseys table detroit pistons are hugo boss shop meant to stimulate the thinking asics of supra footwear the director so ray ban zonnebril that broncos jerseys she north face backpacks can steer skechers forward.


If oakley I michael kors outlet online sale am the boots on sale director of burberry sale a movie, or a indiana pacers jersey teacher iphone case who has tommy hilfiger created a prada outlet new purses and handbags curriculum, or cheap michael kors a teacher coach outlet online leader rolex watches for sale who has introduced fossil uhren a new program barbour outlet into soccer shoes outlet my new balance school, pandora schmuck it is rolex likely louboutin that huarache I am katespade deeply invested in my project. nike outlet My coach factory outlet professional identity marc by marc jacobs is converse outlet wrapped marc by marc jacobs up in the work. new balance Often, ray ban outlet we ed hardy clothing dwell so oakley sungalsses outlet far inside ralph lauren outlet our nike shop own projects barbour jackets outlet that jets jerseys we christian louboutin shoes cannot see what air max needs bears jerseys to utah jazz jersey change. To find converse chucks the packers jerseys inspiration and michael kors outlet direction stone island polos to pivot, ferragamo shoes uk we need boston celtics jersey our brain new orleans pelicans jersey trust hollisterco to nike tn participate with pandora candor fred perry polos and in oakley canada good faith. mcm handbags We roshe run need coach factory outlet to be zapatillas nike able to hoodies trust that ralph lauren outlet they are smart ravens jerseys and that michael kors they adidas superstar know what ray ban it handbags outlet feels ray-ban sunglasses like michael jordan to adidas online be oakley outlet in burberry outlet the hot baseball jerseys seat. Feedback burberry outlet must ecco outlet spring from air jordan retro empathy in true religion jeans order to be fendi handbags constructive; otherwise it just deconstructs and fred perry outlet leaves barbour outlet us burberry outlet store right salomon schuhe back where we lunette ray ban started: ralph lauren stuck. A puma online good brain jimmy choo shoes trust will washington wizards jersey produce milwaukee bucks jersey alternative ideas longchamp taschen that ray bans inspire beats by dr dre action rather fidget spinner outlet than cheap true religion paralyze progress. the north face If true religion jeans outlet the coach outlet online feedback can stimulate new thinking burberry outlet online and north face advance my heat jerseys project, hermes belt I oakley sunglasses cheap can babyliss pro flourish.

brooklyn nets jerseys

0 users have voted.


"Excellence" is a goal to which many, if not all, day schools subscribe. This issue provides perspectives on this elusive term, offering diverse notions of what day school excellence means and looks like, and suggesting pathways and structures for schools to achieve excellence. Each school must define what excellence means for its community and how excellence relates to the other values in the school's mission.

Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion