Project I4 mark participants' success

Learning doesn’t stop for educators once they receive their degree. Part of being an educator is continuing to learn new skills and ways of teaching and communication through professional development. One of the ways the College of Education is helping educators meet that need is through Project I4 and its micro-credential.

“Micro-credentials are situated between a formal graduate class and a traditional professional development experience,” said Dr. Matt Militello, principal investigator of the Project I4 grant and the Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor in Educational Leadership. “We created our PI4 micro-credential for school leaders to obtain in-service professional development.”

This year, Project I4 was able to offer participants a digital badge for completion of the program. These badges allow participants the ability to display their achievements on their email signatures and resumes while linking to information about the program.

“These badges are more robust than the traditional certificate of completion or even university transcripts,” Militello said. “We are able to provide specific details of the project’s outcomes and, more importantly, the experiences and achievements of the participants.”

Participants in Project I4 engage in a professional learning experience in-person and online with coaching and virtual reality supports. During the last year, the program had to pivot due to COVID-19. The entire program moved online and away from the hybrid model previously employed.

“The pivot to online has been successful for two important reasons,” Militello said. “First, we have a strong set of PI4 coaches who work with small groups of leaders in the project. We have oriented and calibrated our coaches to work closely with each participant both individually as well as in team sessions. In turn, each participant is a coach of a group of teachers in their school implementing the Project I4 strategies and tools focused on equitable academic classroom discourse.”

The second reason for success is the program’s move to high-quality, equity-focused WebExchanges. These WebExchanges are an engaging learning model for online learning that the Project I4 team created and implemented that establish equitable practices with a powerful set of pedagogies that align to the gold standard of teaching.

“Online simply reinforced our notion that relational trust through personal narratives and storytelling are essential,” Militello said. “Effective educators know that we teach through the heart to get to the mind. Adult learners are no different – we need to understand who they are, their stories, and then attach that context to the cognitive learning process.”

Monica Jacobson

Monica Jacobson

One of Project I4’s success stories is high school principal Monica Jacobson. She participated in the first cohort and is now working on her advanced micro-credential.

“My interest in Project I4 was twofold; as a school-based administrator, I have a responsibility of providing support and guidance to staff for student growth and success. It is through continuous educational opportunities for myself that I am able to provide such,” Jacobson said. “Project I4’s goals specifically speak to professional learning experiences for school leaders that would support teachers and promote student growth for whole school improvement. The program further piqued my interest with its focus on equity initiatives and instructional practices in STEM education.”

Jacobson’s experience with Project I4 helped her improve teacher observation and conferencing protocols to promote equitable classroom and school practices.

“I have always understood the power of relationships in education and Project Ireiterated the power of relational trust throughout the process,” she said.

She shares her experiences with her colleagues and encourages them to participate in Project I4 to gain the experiences and relationships the program can provide. Two of her colleagues are currently participating in the second cohort and she’s encouraging others to apply for Cohort III.

For more information on Project I4 and how to apply for Cohort III, visit the Project I4 website.

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