All posts by James

The Coach – Administrator Connection: Module 5

Connecting and Collaborating with Administrators as an Instructional Technology Coach

This week in my final blog post of the quarter for my class on Educational Technology Leadership my question has led me to investigate how an instructional technology coach can partner with administrators to support and extend the learning that is happening through coaching. I have an interest in asking this question because I think that in my coaching role increased engagement and collaboration with administrators would benefit my coaching practice and the teachers and students at my schools. As I’ve written about before however, based on the literature I’ve read I am also in a unique position being in multiple schools. In addition to being in multiple schools, the fact that I’m in the middle of my first year as a coach also probably helps to explain why I may feel a slight disconnect to administrators in my building. So my questions, what does an engaged administrator do to support a coach in their building? And how can I help to engage administrators to make the most of my coaching role in their schools? Those questions will likely make sense to my peers who have been reading my previous posts this quarter because they are in a similar vein to my other posts. I was excited to investigate what an engaged administrator might look like from a coaching role, and brainstorm what I might be able to do to help further engage the administrators I work with. I also want to add that my past experience as a teacher in a school with an administrator who collaborated and met with her coaches regularly, did in fact give me an idea about some of the things an engaged administrator might do with coaches.

As I was looking for resources to guide my investigation I found a blog post written by Elena Aguilar titled “10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches,” which made my search fairly easy.

Some of the takeaways for me from this post are:

  • Align on a coaching model

That is one of the things I have been wondering about during this year. What do principals expect of me as a coach? What is their idea of the coaching model I am following? Aguilar suggests that coaches and administrators discuss these questions and more, then she adds, “Discussing these with a coach can lead to more cohesion and clarity as well as surface any large discrepancies” Aguilar (2014). In my monthly meetings with administrators I would like to get a better sense of what type of coaching model would best benefit their school.

  • Learn Together

Our team has often talked about what learning is happening at elementary leadership meetings but as of now we are not included. I think knowing that learning would help us support each other. The point of Elena Aguilar, (2014) though is, principals can ask questions of coaches to learn about instructional best practices and I think if principals were doing that collegiality between administrators and coaches would grow as well. Maybe another approach is inviting administrators to our professional development. Maybe asking them to come to NCCE is an opportunity to build trust, and mutual support for one another.   

  • Support Your Coaches Learning

This point encourages administrators to invest in a coaches learning and growth through PD. The author suggests that learning to instruct adults is often the most difficult thing for coaches to learn, so investing in that growth will in turn help coaches and teachers. As I provide PD for schools this year I’m going to ask for explicit feedback about how to improve my work. I was able to give my first whole staff PD last Friday, and now I think my next step is to solicit feedback form the principal and assistant principal.

  • Offer Leadership Guidance

Aguilar says, “coaches are leaders who need leadership development” (2014),  and that is definitely how I feel. Certain staff members, but not all, do seem to look to me as a leader. Often, I’m asked about the plans of the district. A lot of that depends on my coaching relationship with that staff member. Guidance from a leader is definitely something I am looking for in my position and in each of my schools. Again, I think this often comes up in whole staff PD settings so asking administrators who sit in for those trainings about how I handle staff questions is a good next step for me.

  • Appreciate your Coaches

This point is about recognizing the contribution that a coach makes to your school. I understand that I’m still working on my contributions, but I admit it would be nice if an administrator knew what I was doing. In my monthly meetings with administrators we do get to talk about what I‘m doing in the school, but usually I’m leading that part of the conversation. I am hopeful though that sometime later in the year, they hear about my work from a teacher and mention it to me in one of our meetings. That’s recognition for me!

It also seems that as I am given the opportunity to speak in front of a staff more often and if I continue to ask for feedback from administrators they will certainly see some of the work I am doing. As an instructional coach in a handful of schools my role might be unique or at least of less focus in the literature I have read but many of the same concepts still apply. One overarching theme this quarter has been building relationships and I recognize that just as I am doing that with teachers, I am still definitely doing that with administrators. I’m hoping that the reading I’ve done for this post will keep me moving in the direction of strengthening relationships with administrators and in turn will allow me to experience greater buy-in and participation in coaching in each of my schools. 

Resources

Aguilar, E. (2014, October 9). 10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coaching_teachers/2014/10/10_ways_for_administrators_to_.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Walpert-Gawron, H. (2016, June). How to Be a Change Agent:The Many Roles of an Instructional Coach. Educational Leadership, 73. Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/jun16/vol73/num09/The-Many-Roles-of-an-Instructional-Coach.aspx

Is SAMR Enough? Module 4: Teacher Practice and Technology Integration

Introduction to Module 4

For my post this week in Module 4 of my fall class, in Educational Technology Leadership I decided to focus on the SAMR model for technology integration. My district uses SAMR as a way to gauge technology integration but I wanted to know if there was a way to use that model as I work with teachers so that it doesn’t feel like an extra layer to them. It seemed to fit in this module since my professor asked us to think about what skills, resources and processes will you use to help peers co-plan learning activities they want to improve? Again since our district is already committed to using SAMR I thought I could use my question to aid teachers in the district plan for technology integration. Basically I wanted to know how can the SAMR scale be used to help improve learning activities in a way that is manageable and beneficial for a classroom teacher? My goal in this investigation is to try to not add anything else to a teacher’s plate.

In my investigation I came across some other technology integration protocols that might be useful to a teacher or a technology coach, especially if a district didn’t have a protocol they were committed to using or if it wasn’t clearly implemented or understood. With the help of my professors I found the Triple E as well as TPACK. In my own searching I also came across a protocol called the Trudacot. In addition to SAMR I will spend some time reflecting on the Trudacot and using it to answer my question for the module. I didn’t feel that I had time in this post to get into Triple E or TPACK during this post.

Connection to ISTE Coaching Standards

This module seems to have an extremely clear connection to two of the ISTE Coaching standards we are focusing on throughout the quarter. First ISTE-C 1d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms. The second standard supported by this module is ISTE-C 2f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences. The reason why I think the connection is so clear in this module is that in using the technology integration protocols I have seen seems to guide teachers back to focusing on what is really good teaching. As coaches if we continue to remind teachers that the focus is on good teaching, I think that some of the concerns and discomfort with technology might actually be erased. Furthermore, as we continue to advocate for good teaching through using a reflective process like Trudacot or SAMR I think that collaborative higher-level thinking among teachers and coaches will continue to shape innovation and fuel the change process. I’m excited that my district has decided to use the SAMR model as a way to gauge technology integration and I hope that through this post I can figure out some ways to guide teachers as we think through the process together.

Three Resources to Consider: The SAMR Model, Trudacot and Peer Coaching

SAMR

There is a lot of information on the SAMR model available on the web. There are some very well known blogs that have taken up the SAMR model as a topic for their posts including Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. She has even linked other SAMR resources from all across the spectrum of use to her page. So, there is abundant information available. Still I’m not sure that teachers fully understand the model (or that I do) and from what I’ve read during this module this is a common problem. One great thing about SAMR is its simplicity in comparison to some of the other protocols, it’s only four sections. However, maybe for that reason there seem to be some misunderstandings.

The SAMR Model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura
Image created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.
http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

As I look at SAMR as a part of my job, talking through it with other coaches and using the protocol my district has developed to measure technology integration I realized that don’t know if teachers are taking advantage of the SAMR protocol to leverage technology and improve student learning. As a coach I wonder how I can aid that change and what support I can offer to teachers in that process?

Even though it is short, I think SAMR can seem a bit complicated and foreign to teachers especially those who might be unfamiliar with the model in the first place. I think as a coach it is important to emphasize that often it is appropriate for teachers to stay in one area of the continuum, to ebb and flow depending on many factors, or to move up slowly during the course of a unit. Many of the resources I’ve read this module emphasize again that there are many great lessons that don’t have to incorporate technology (Swanson, 2014). In other words, focus on good instruction, not technology.

One great addition to the SAMR that I think would be very helpful to teachers is Kathy Schrock’s graphic and blog post that connects Bloom’s to SAMR. Teachers across the spectrum are more familiar with Bloom’s than SAMR so to me it makes sense to connect the two to help teachers see how as you move up the SAMR ladder the cognitive load increases, (Schrock, 2013). The language of Bloom’s is familiar to teachers. They feel confident working to improve a lesson to move students from knowledge toward evaluation, however going from substitution toward redefinition might feel foreign. As a coach I think I can help to bridge that gap by using the work Schrock has done by using Bloom’s to explain SAMR. Finally, in discussing higher level thinking it is possible that the discussion may lead to the integration of technology into a lesson or unit thereby moving the lesson or unit up the SAMR scale.  

 Digital Bloom’s Video

Trudacot

The next model I wanted to discuss is called Trudacot. Trudacot is a discussion protocol designed to facilitate deeper learning. Trudacot is short for Technology-Rich Unit Design And Classroom Observation Template. In his post introducing Trudacot Scott McLeod argues “while SAMR is useful as a concept, its use of four levels often puts teachers on the defensive because they feel labeled and judged when placed into a lower level” (McLeod, 2017). I think he is right because I got the feeling that teachers might have felt judged during our latest technology walk through. Some even asked about the effectiveness of the snapshot view that we got of classroom practice. Their feelings are valid, even though we have said it is not evaluative, it’s hard to feel that way when 2 adults enter your classroom and take notes as you teach or as your students work. One thing they may not know is that in our walkthroughs we are categorizing technology use on the SAMR scale we are collecting a longitudinal study of integration since it has been done in the district over a two year period.

Regardless, this reaction by teachers is what got me thinking about how we could support integration without overwhelming teachers. I think the key lies in a coach thoroughly understanding the protocols and questioning techniques needed to help teachers move to purposeful integration of technology because of high quality teaching and reflection throughout that process.

The Trudacot discussion protocol seems to aim to get teachers to consider instruction instead of focusing on the technology through a series of questions that are answered by the teacher. I would think that these questions could be easily used by a coach to help stimulate the lesson design process, but there are a lot of questions. In order to not overwhelm a teacher it would be necessary to either unpack the process together slowly or a coach could internalize the process and call upon it in a discussion with a teacher drawing from the questions and categories in Trudacot.

Peer Coaching

Les Foltos, in his book Peer Coaching (2013) is continually saying it doesn’t make sense to overwhelm teachers by giving them a number of different areas of focus to consider. That is making more sense to me as I learn more about these protocols. Part of the coaches job seems to be eliminating those choices through careful consideration and asking questions of the teacher to draw out what they would like to focus on. “Too often, teachers plan their lessons around technology instead of putting learning first, (Foltos, p. 136, 2013). As a coach, at times I feel I’m dealing with two extremes of the spectrum. There are teachers who are fully focused on technology, while others seem that they couldn’t care less about integrating it into their classroom instruction. Whether that comes from learned helplessness or just the overwhelming amount of work teachers are expected to do I’m not sure. As an instructional technology coach I think looking through the lens of instruction and higher level thinking is helpful. I wish I could help teachers to understand that the work we can do together should lead to higher quality instruction and deeper learning even if my title is instructional technology coach, it’s still all about the learning.

“The coach’s job is to bring the conversation back to pedagogy and learning objectives before talking about technology. It is at this point in the process when meaningful conversations about integrating technology occur, (Foltos, p. 151,  2013). Clearly coaches, teachers and students benefit when there is a clear understanding of a technology integration model or protocol but that isn’t the ultimate goal. As a coach if I can clearly understand the tool used by my district and even other protocols, I believe I can use that knowledge to help teachers improve instruction while at the same time integrating technology in more meaningful ways. It’s not about the tools, it’s about the teaching!

Resources

Common Sense Education. (2016, July 12). What is Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqgTBwElPzU&feature=youtu.be

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483300252

Going Deeper with Learning Technology Integration — A 9-Question Protocol. (2017, October 5). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://frontandcentral.com/moving-to-digital/going-deeper-learning-technology-integration-using-9-question-protocol/

SAMR. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html

Swanson, P. (2014, December, 16). Rethinking SAMR – Teacher Paul. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://www.teacherpaul.org/2889

Trudacot. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/resources/trudacot

Turning SAMR into TECH: What models are good for. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://www.litandtech.com/2013/11/turning-samr-into-tech-what-models-are.html

21st Century Skills to Connect Teachers and Coaches: Module 3

Module 3 of EDTC 6105 and my definition of the problem

For this week my program is focusing on 21st century learning. The topic alone brings a lot of questions forward, what is 21st century learning? Does it matter to teachers and students? How do you measure 21st century learning? My search for resources didn’t really narrow down my options much. Since we are focusing on peer coaching and thinking about how we define 21st century learning and how to use that definition in our coaching, I started to wonder, do teachers and coaches define 21st century learning in the same way? I think that often we do, but for a large portion of teachers maybe it isn’t even considered because of all the other worries and concerns that come with teaching in a classroom with nearly 30 unique individuals from different backgrounds and environments in the same room. Teachers are busy, they have a lot on their plates as I’ve said before on this blog, so I think 21st century learning might not be on the forefront for many teachers. I wonder how coaching can help teachers to move toward sharing the same definition technology coaches have of 21st century learning, and integrating that learning into their practice.

In framing my question it is important to note that teachers and coaches are in vastly different circumstances at least based on my limited experience as a coach. The pressure I feel as a coach is different than the constant pressure I felt as a teacher to bring my students to standard in a subject that they didn’t necessarily like or in an area of need that supported my growth goal. I want to share that struggle with teachers and offer support that will help them achieve those goals. However, coming from the realm of the classroom teacher and having been a teacher in a dual language classroom for the last 8 years gives me insight into what teachers experience. Based on my reading I have tried to think critically about some ways that teachers and coaches can work together to see growth in students while at the same time improving teaching practices in classrooms.

The Coaches Role

As a coach I feel like part of my job is knowing the latest research and knowing and being able to visualize ways that teachers can subtly change their practice in order to improve student learning. Many teachers do this same research and learning while teaching full time, but I have to acknowledge that in moving into a coaching role part of my responsibilities include knowing the current best practices in teaching pedagogy and specifically technology integration. It doesn’t necessarily mean I know any more than teachers, but it is still worth stating that part of my role includes researching how to help teachers move toward incorporating 21st century learning into their classrooms. As a coach, I have additional resources and time available that teachers do not always have. I can use that time to research how to support growth in teaching practices and instruction.

One other benefit from a coaches role is the exposure I have to different classrooms. As a classroom teacher I maybe got to see 2 or 3 different classrooms a year max, instead I had to learn what teachers were doing from reading, or listening to them describe their practice. Recently in my coaching role I was able to tour every classroom in 8 different elementary schools. That exposed me (although briefly) to a couple hundred teachers and their approach to teaching literacy, math or another subject and showed how they were integrating technology. That is many times the exposure I would have gotten to different classroom as a teacher and I’m not even considering the classrooms I have visited at other times this year as a co-teacher.

Not surprisingly because I’m an instructional technology coach, I think that technology might play a prominent role in allowing for better differentiation in the classroom and might lead us to improving our teaching in a way that lifts students to a higher level of achievement, including mastering 21st century skills. Foltos, (2013) makes the role of a coach clear when he writes that a “coaches job is to encourage innovation.” He goes on to add that, “without this kind of outside stimulus, drawing on prior learning may only succeed in supporting the status quo,” (Foltos, 2013). As a coach, I’m available to be the outside stimulus that can aid in integrating 21st century learning into the classroom.

Challenges for Teachers

It might sound easy so far, just organize a meeting with a coach and voilà, 21st century skills will arrive. I must acknowledge that integrating 21st century skills into your teaching will not be a quick and effortless process, change is usually difficult and often slow. As I reflected, I drafted a quick list of things that might qualify as constraints to a classroom teacher:

  • Lack of time
    • No formal collaboration time – or fragmented focus during that time
  • Curriculum
  • Evaluation
  • Standards
  • District or school policies
  • Lack of training

This is just a quick list I came up with while outlining this post, it isn’t intended to be exhaustive, but I’d love to hear of you have other constraints that might keep you from integrating 21st century skills into your teaching. Or, on the other hand, if any of the things listed actually drive you to integrate 21st century skills into your teaching.

What to Try

I think a great place to start is to “define the skills and competencies your students will need,” as Foltos, 2013, shares in Peer Coaching. Then match those competencies with school goals, and pick one skill to work on. Slowly add to those skills to change your practice. This is the work that coaches and teachers can do together to lead to more 21st century skills being taught in all classrooms. Another good resource is the 6 Essential Modern Teacher Skills and Why You Need Them from the Global Digital Citizenship Foundation. The author defines these skills as:

  1. Adaptability
  2. A desire to learn
  3. Confidence
  4. A knack for teamwork
  5. An empowering nature
  6. A global mindset

If you consult other sources you might see different skills. From what I have read there doesn’t seem to be consensus about what skills are definitely 21st century skills. P21.org seemed to focus much attention on critical thinking and how to teach it. Notably, incorporating PBL into undergraduate education courses led to more effective critical thinking skills as noted by Ventura, Lai & DiCerbo (2017). It also seems to be different if you are talking about teachers skills or students skills. I think both are important because to teach skills to our students, we need to possess those skills. Many of the skills listed above are facilitated through technology. Similarly, there is the graphic of 9 Fundamental Digital Skills for 21st Century Teachers from educatorstechnology.com 

9-fundamental-d_19217909_509343d7c3bf1adffcfc2e825791322c41d30799

I believe that in partnership with instructional technology coaches if they are available, or with the right mindset when using technology student learning will increase.

I would encourage teachers who are able to pick a skill they want to learn and email or call a coach to begin working on learning that new skill. Have a learning goal in mind, a project or a lesson where you integrate that skill or tool into your teaching. Try to think beyond that even to see how students could use the same tool to produce something that demonstrates their learning. Then continue to use those skills in a number of lessons or a unit. Another idea for how to work with a coach would be to offer personalized learning to students. Develop fluency in tools that lend themselves to this personalization. Finally, ask questions. Ask your coaches, ask your students maybe even ask of yourself. How can the work be improved, extended, modified to reach more students? That is how we empower students to be 21st century learners and it’s one of the ways we demonstrate that learning to our students. Here is a quote from The Global Digital Citizen Foundation that just might sum up how difficult and necessary it is to work to define 21st century learning and to incorporate it into our teaching. A final quote comes from 4 Common Misconceptions about Teachers We Must Rethink.

When writing lesson plans, you need to connect to curriculum, design essential questions, and create challenging projects. Students need something to strive for that will develop skills for living successful and happy lives. This isn’t a lesson that comes from any textbook, either; it has to come from the mind and heart of a passionate teacher.

Doing those difficult things will certainly lead to increased development of 21st century skills in teachers and students.

Resources

4 Common Misconceptions About Teachers We Must Rethink. (2017, September 10). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/4-misconceptions-about-teachers?utm_content=60114297&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

9 Fundamental Digital Skills for 21st Century Teachers. (2016, December 30). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2016/12/9-fundamental-digital-skills-for-21st.html

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Ventura, M., Lai, E., & DiCerbo, K. (2017). Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Critical Thinking. Pearson. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/Skills_For_Today_Series-Pearson/White_Paper_-_P21_-_Skills_for_Today-What_We_Know_about_Teaching_and_Assessing_Critical_Thinking_v4_1.pdf

Watanabe-Crockett, L. (2017, February 24). 6 Essential Modern Teacher Skills and Why You Need Them. Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/six-essential-modern-teacher-skills-need

Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2

Introduction to Module 2 and My Question

This week I was thinking about developing professional relationships when in a new role. I wanted to reflect on that process and find out what was normal. At the same time I wanted to consider ISTE 1 d for coaches, how coaches advocate for change, that is the standard behind our module. So in my research for my M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership Program at SPU, I decided to look for some sources outside of the world of education where coaching has been around and has been popular for some time. I will try to share best practices for building collegial relationships and some things that stood out to me in particular as useful from what I found in the business world and a connection between instructional technology coaching and literacy coaching. 

Building Collegial Relationships

 

How do we build collegial relationships? I find myself wondering about that, probably in part because I am building collegial relationships across schools, in a new district all at the same time. It’s common practice for coaches to only go into classes after they have been invited, probably to avoid any feeling of evaluative practice being associated with them. So here I am waiting for an invitation. How do instructional technology coaches develop relationships across multiple school buildings? It is something that takes time as I’ve read multiple times in the book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (Foltos, 2013),  and in other resources I’ve used for my past two blog posts. I came across an article at Mindtools about building great relationships at work. I don’t want to summarize the entire article here, but you can go and read it if you would like, but I do think much of it applies to new coaches and anyone who has many interpersonal interactions at work. Instead I want to talk about parts of the article that stood out to me as an instructional technology coach. The article does link Mindfulness to building great relationships at work. That seems to be a hot term lately in education, and for good reason. I wrote about  mindfulness in my mission and vision as a digital education leader earlier in my program. Being mindful seems to draw us out of ourselves, that reflection leads us to think more about others and their needs and concerns, not just focusing on our own. It makes sense that practicing mindfulness in regard to your words and actions would lead to better work relationships. A couple other ideas stood out to me from this article, one was identifying your relationship needs along with focusing on your EI and listening actively and being positive  (Mindtools, n.d.).

It seems important to know what you need from others and what they need from you, especially in the position of a coach (Mindtools, n.d.). Part of a coaches role is helping teachers to figure out what they can do to grow their practice, through reflection. To me that seems like another way to say, understand what others need from you. As an instructional technology coach I also need to know what I need from others, or what I can learn from them. There is so much to learn, it’s important to keep that in mind in order to take advantage of the many opportunities I have to learn from others. In addition, I want to be sure to voice what I have learned or am learning from them, to emphasize the peer to peer relationship we have. Continue reading Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2

Bridging the Gap: From Teachers to Technology Coaches Module 1

New Learning

This week I am writing my first blog post for a new quarter, one where we will explore what it means to be a servant leader following the model of a peer coach. Through the quarter my classmates and I will use those two frameworks to investigate the integration of technology into instruction. This quarter is different than those before because previously I’ve been reflecting on my own classroom, my instruction, my students or at times my organization. In contrast, this quarter I will reflect on my work as a technology coach as I work in classrooms around my school district in a variety of lessons and subjects. It is a new experience for me just as being a technology coach is new.

My Questions

I shouldn’t be surprised then that I’m looking for clarity. I guess it is fitting that my question leads me in two different directions during this module. On one hand I am curious to find out how technology coaches play a role in implementing strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations in schools and classrooms? Secondly, I want to know how can a coach aid in the change process while maintaining (or establishing) a positive relationship?

Advocating for Teachers and Change

Those two things seem at odds for me both from my personal experience two months into the role of being a technology coach and from my experience as a classroom teacher. Through my daily practice and the communication I have with the technology department I’m starting to see how I might be able to initiate change and push for innovation in classrooms. Often in our weekly meetings with the technology department a manager has said something similar to this, we can solve a problem or recommend a product or service but it is up to the coaches to tell us what is really happening in the classroom and how teachers and student are affected by those changes. We are teachers, we work with teachers, so our insight should be supportive to limitations in the classroom environment and sensitive to the needs of teachers. In a way I guess we can as coaches can act as a bridge for the technology department and the teachers. I would like to think that our work allows for more proactive support as opposed to reactive support. Finally one last way to support innovation is by having a clear focus and goals.One way to have and maintain a clear focus is alignment in purpose and goals at all levels of an organization. I’ve read that support from an administrative or district level is extremely important for the success of the coaching program and the individual coaches. This support is reflected in the impact on teachers and students based on these resources. In Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education, Ehsanipour and Gomez Zaccarelli (2017) write,

As the Annenberg Institute for School Reform asserts, “[i]nstructional coaching is fundamentally about teachers, teacher leaders, school administrators, and central office leaders examining practice in reflective ways, with a strong focus on student learning and results as the ultimate barometer of improvement” (King et al., 2004, p. 3).

In order for that to happen, all parties would need to be on the same page, working toward the same goal and in support of the work of individual coaches. At a high level within an organization coaching would be understood and thought of as a method for improving teacher practice and student learning with a focus on results. I do wonder how those results and data would be collected and evaluated, but that would lead me to an entirely different exploration and post.

The ISTE for Coaches Visionary Leadership Standard a through d
Visionary Leadership ISTE Coaching Standard 1

Building Relationships

In my reading over the past two weeks I’ve read some articles and reports that begin to touch on the idea of initiating and sustaining innovation while maintaining relationships. I’ve read that it takes a lot of reflection.Trying to find information about how coaches aid in the change process but continue to establish and maintain positive relationships was challenging. At best I have speculations and loose connections from different sources. I think this is a question that I will continue to revisit as I gain experience as a technology coach and make inroads in a new district. In some respects being new might be seen as a benefit, I don’t know the majority of what was happening before now, and I bring new ideas from my previous experience because of those two things my suggestions might be seen as more acceptable than a coach who is already established in a district and has been for some time. At the same time I have to learn quickly what was done before, what didn’t work and why. There is a lot to catch up on.

Clarity?

One ideas has arisen consistently in my reading is the clarity of a coaches role. According to Elena Aguilar clarity is important. Coaches should know their roles, what it means, there should be a shared definition and the coaching role should “be discussed between coachees/mentees to ensure clarity” (Aguilar, 2017). I wonder when this comes up in a coaching relationship? Does it occur naturally at some time in meeting with a teacher or in passing like it has with me? My conversations about clarity have been informal and infrequent, once a teacher said something like, “I want to do this ______ in my classroom, is that something you can help with?” I said, “Sure!” because as I work to establish relationships putting in the time seems most important. Now I’m looking ahead and wondering when is there a shift, when do we move toward a more focused or intentional integration of technology? I’m curious about interactions like the ones described in Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education like this, “in a coaching relationship, teachers and coaches engage in a sustained professional dialogue aimed to improve teaching by developing instructional skills (Lofthouse, Leat, Towler, Hall, & Cummings, 2010)” (Ehsanipour & Gomez Zaccarelli, 2017). When do those begin to happen? It might coming but I’m not quite sure when. I think at this point building relationships and being generally helpful is a big part of my focus.

Conclusion

Working as a technology coach does have inherent value for teachers and students, but I don’t know if it is always easily seen. I think establishing relationships is key to finding value as a coach and providing a valuable service for teachers and students. Finally, I think those who are successful share this common trait – “These successful individuals and organizations know what their purpose is, and because they lead with their purpose, they are able to impact those around them and get their “clients” on board” (Ehsanipour & Gomez Zaccarelli, 2017). In my time as an elementary instructional technology coach I hope my purpose is clear. When purpose is clear and clearly communicated it allows for true visionary leadership.

As I end my first reflection of the quarter I’m still left with some additional questions from my reading and writing that weren’t necessarily related to my two questions above. I wanted to have some recorded to return to later in the quarter or further in the future.

More Unanswered Questions:

Here are some of the questions I’m continuing to think about going forward:

  • How can a peer coaching role clearly be communicated when working in multiple schools?
  • Coaches might assume the learning for teachers.
    • If that has happened, how can learned helplessness be limited or reversed?
  • How is risk taking rewarded or discouraged in my district or in the schools I work in?

I might be able to reflect on these questions in future posts, but in case I don’t I wanted to make sure I recorded them on my blog.

Resources

Aguilar, E. (2017). What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring? Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coaching_teachers/2017/07/whats_the_difference_between_c.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

 

Ehsanipour, T., & Gomez Zaccarelli, F. (2017). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education (pp. 1-18). Digital Promise. Retrieved from http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1046240&site=ehost-live

Screencasting in the Classroom: Using Video for School Based PD with Staff and Students

Community Engagement Project

For the final project in EDTC 6104 – Digital Learning Environments I’m reflecting on my Community Engagement Project. Using screencasting in the classroom for instruction with students or PD with staff members. I attempted to identify a learning need for a community of educators and design a workshop and presentation to distribute the content through a presentation at a local conference. I initially had a difficult time thinking of an area where I was comfortable and capable of providing PD or exposure to a specific topic for a group of K-12 educators. Eventually I settled on the topic of screencasting. I decided to apply to present this project at a local technology conference, NCCE. When I was thinking about the length I knew it would be between 30 and 60 minutes based on the topic and what I had to say luckily the conference application helped, since there was a choice for a 50 minute spot or a 2 hour spot. I went for 50 minutes.

Engaged and Active Learning

A focus of our class was active and engaged learning in a digital environment. It was a challenge to incorporate into PD especially since I am used to sit-and-get style of PD. I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting on how to adapt and update PD to a more engaging style, but putting it into practice has proved to be difficult. One way I’ve attempted to engage learners is to provide freedom, and that is a great draw of video, you make videos that fit the purpose according what is needed in your class or by your staff. I hope participants will be engaged because they are able to apply this learning to their individual classrooms and plan videos for their students or staff. Another idea was to incorporate flipped learning content into the session. I decided that trying to get participants to record their own screencast before coming to the PD would hopefully help spark an interest and facilitate buy-in from participants. I also decided to try to gather the recorded videos together along with a description to create a library of screencast and video resources that would hopefully benefit teachers for use in their classrooms or job. To get participants involved in the session I attempted to have them script and record a screencast toward the end of our time. In planning for this, I have some concerns because I’ve heard conference wifi can be unreliable at times and video of course requires more bandwidth.

I really hope that the idea of a library of screencast videos would serve as a springboard for teachers recording more videos, or using videos linked through this Google site in their own classrooms. I will be interested to get feedback and track the use over time through some sort of analytics. As I was thinking about adding one more website to teachers taxed brains, I became concerned that mine would not stand out. I don’t have any answers, and I realized I have no way to remind anyone that it exists. I’m hoping that if my training is valuable and the videos recorded by others are shared this will become a valuable site for the teachers that visit. Who knows, maybe it can be used by my school district in some way. Right now, as you can see below it is just beginning as a basic Google site with four different pages focused on gathering and sharing screencast videos and my presentation.

The main page from the screencast collective website.

Content Knowledge Needs

During this quarter we focused on the ISTE Coaching Standards, and specifically standard 3. We covered the standard extensively and because of the time we put in reflecting and applying standard 3, I felt that my project meets many of the indicators for standard 3. I had difficulty explaiThis is the draft website showing my presentation resources. ning other content knowledge standards that are me by using screencasting for student learning and staff PD because the application is so broad. However, I can reflect on how I have used screencasts and instructional videos in my classroom in the past and share the content knowledge I have incorporated and what standards those videos could address for students or staff. I was looking back at some of my instructional videos tied to 4th grade math standards and I found that instructional videos for two chapters on fractions covered nearly all of the common core state standards for fractions for 4th grade. Instructional videso do differ from screencasts in my experience in recording however, and I have not yet made such a clear connection to standards in my own screencasts. I find that I often use screencasts to allow for more time to focus on standards within a lesson or in class because they help explain how to use a tool or how to navigate within a tool that will be used often in class.

Teachers Needs

One benefit of choosing to focus on screencasting and video is that it can be used for a variety of purposes. The skill of recording screencasts can be focused on student needs or the needs of teachers. I was able to record videos that I used for both purposes which I felt could be beneficial to share with other teachers. Teacher needs are vast, and we are stretched in many different directions. Recording a video can be one way to alleviate some of the pressures felt by teachers because it allows some basic needs and directions to be explained outside of the instructional block, or frees the teacher to focus attention on complex standards or deeper thinking.

The shared screencasts page from the screencast collective website.

Collaborative Participation

In past classes and in our class on on Digital Learning Environments we’ve been studying about engagement and professional development and best practices around engagement. So, naturally I want to make the professional development I’m providing as engaging as possible to those in attendance. From past investigations I should know how to do that but I found that knowledge very difficult to put into practice! I found that there were outside factors that limited my ability to provide the type of collaborative participation I wanted. Our class often discussed the constraints of the wireless network at large conferences, so when leading a PD session that is focused on videos posted online, naturally audience participation in the form of making their own videos is limited. Honestly, because of those limits I find myself more understanding of the typical forms of PD we experience as teachers. That being said, I don’t want my desire for transformation of PD to end here. I hope that in my upcoming classes and in my new job this year I will be able to continue working to transform the type of PD teachers experience. It is great to hear about things that are working across the country from our readings, as well as reading and hearing from classmates about their experiences in providing meaningful and differentiated PD opportunities. I still have a lot left to learn, in fact I’ll never be finished learning as all teachers know, but I feel that I’m on a great path that will hopefully benefit others along the way.

Resources

Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning. (2017, June). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/07/2017-Infrastructure-Guide.pdf

Module 3: Troubleshooting for All

Introduction to ISTE 3E and 3G

This week for my M.Ed. Digital Education Leadership program blog post at Seattle Pacific University. I’m reflecting on a different part of the ISTE coaching standard #3. For this module we are considering indicators E and G of Standard 3. Initially those two indicators and topics seemed unrelated but I think they really do overlap more than I first thought. Initially in considering the role students and teachers play in troubleshooting technology versus collaborating locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community I decided to focus on troubleshooting. However, I think the two may be more connected than I originally considered. The question that chose to investigate was related to my school district. I wanted to know what tools or resources they had in place for teachers and students who need to troubleshoot technology so that they feel empowered to troubleshoot on their own. I also want to consider what technology coaches can do in order to encourage teachers to troubleshoot on their own.

Empowering Teachers

The first step that I see in helping teachers to become empowered users of technology who troubleshoot their own problems is encouraging them to begin to do that work. Perhaps even before providing that encouragement technology leaders will need to provide some modeling or sharing how we troubleshoot our own technology problems. I will plan to write a bit more about this later in my post. In order for teachers to be successful troubleshooters of their technology, however, they will likely need scaffolded help. In many of my previous readings and posts related to PD the idea that good teaching for students and  adults is the same has come up repeatedly. That is why I believe that some explicit teaching around troubleshooting is necessary for teachers. In my past experience working with teachers and collaborating in general the collective intelligence is far superior to the ideas of one person. Therefore, my hope in continually exposing the district staff to the idea of troubleshooting a device on their own and modeling with the  resources I use is that it will lead to a culture where it is natural for teachers to troubleshoot their own problems more often. My second hope is that by devoting a small amount of time to troubleshooting consistently will aid in creating of a community of resources related to troubleshooting to build a repository of solutions and resources for finding those solutions across an entire school district.

Troubleshooting Help – Some Resources

The next part of my research into troubleshooting tools involved actually looking for tools that were used in my district as well as other tools I could find around the web. I was able to find some pretty good resources but many, as happens with technology, seem outdated.

The first thing I noticed when looking for tools to help with troubleshooting technology within my school district is that there is a troubleshooting and PD website that does exist! It is just like what I was hoping to find, a place where collective intelligence is leveraged for the benefit of all. I was happy to see that they have a fairly advanced page with many working links that includes resources in a variety of formats. I saw documents, slideshows and videos depending on the topic you choose to learn more about. Some offered explanations or PD but others were basic directions on how to use a tool that would likely work for troubleshooting. Another positive aspect of this website is that it utilizes tools and resources that are already available from the web as well as incorporates tools and resources created by the technology leaders from within the district. I think this provides a good mix of showing teachers what is available and encouraging them to create and share their own knowledge. In addition to this webpage there is another page offered by the district that is an instructional technology blog. On the blog there is also a combination of different types of information. Some link to PD or other district websites and some are setup type tips that would be helpful to a teacher or student who was troubleshooting their technology. One point of interest for me is whether or not these resources are widely shared across the district or in trainings and how often they are updated. I hope to find out when I attend the new employee training later this month.

The next resource I wanted to share that I discovered in my search this week is from Pace University in the state of New York. Pace has an interesting idea in their website that is for troubleshooting all about computers for teachers or students. They have attempted to put the most important technology issues on their site and then further divided that into five subsites. The layout is great, and I like the subsites as well as the visuals on the homepage of the site. It would likely still be useful if it was current, but much of the information appears to now be out of date. I actually had a pretty difficult time finding a technology troubleshooting website, especially one made for teachers because I think much of this work has been taken on by districts, and probably also because so many specific problems can be solved by searching the web. Searching the web is one basic way to troubleshoot many technology problems but I wanted to provide two resources that might be more focused and powerful than a general web search. I want to talk about product forums and support pages. I’m choosing to discuss Google Forums and Google Product support because I use a Google account at work and students in my district use Chromebooks and have G Suite accounts.

Google Forums and Support

Google product forums is an extensive website that revolves around all of the products Google offers and allows users to ask questions and get answers from community members, volunteers or Google employees. I’ve found that each time I use the forums I learn something new, often in addition to the solution I was looking to find. As you can see the forum has an extensive list of products. Google Forum Homepage

I was look there today and was reminded that I can use the shortcut ctrl + ? to bring up the help menu on a Chromebook. One great reason to use these forums if that you often get specific step by step support tailored to your problem, or you can find past posts by searching that explain the exact topic you are trying to solve. Another similarly useful resource is the Google Support website.

Google's Product Help WebsiteFrom what I can see the support website is more general whereas forums are for more technical or specific problems. I’m not sure, so if you happen to know please provide a clarifying comment! The great thing about support and forum type of websites is that all major technology companies seems to have them. Whether you prefer to use Microsoft, Apple or Google products and services each of those three major companies has these dedicated websites. Now you don’t even have to go to the Apple Store! I think that because we do so much of our work on specific devices from one of these large companies, and because so much is now done online the best troubleshooting for most people will probably come from a major forum or product support website.

Empowering Students

Since the resources I’ve listed above are all free to use without any password protection or other restrictions I see no reason why those same sites should not be shared with students. If we are looking to empower students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers then troubleshooting should be a skill they acquire. It has been my experience that my former students are some of the most eager people to troubleshoot technology problems. When I reflect on my classroom practice from past years, I think if I had strategically provided them with these resources they would have been even more independent in their use of technology and in finding solutions for problems. I also wonder if more students would have demonstrated competency in troubleshooting. Explicit teaching and modeling can be used here with students and teachers alike. As I said above, there is a connection between encouraging local and global collaboration and confidence in troubleshooting. If you use technology sometime you will encounter a problem. Our students will continue to use technology just as students across the world will use technology. Students will collaborate with others who are far removed from their learning environments, when problems come up they should have some strategies for solving those problems. As Lindsay (2016) states, students should develop global competencies in order to be prepared for the global jobs they will be competing for tomorrow. Let’s work to help our students be prepared to compete globally by helping them become proficient users of technology. 

My Thoughts for Teachers Leaders

The way forward could help to shape classroom cultures, mindset and the entire environment of  a school or district. If we are willing to be patient, resist the urge to provide answers, model our own troubleshooting with both staff members and students, and encourage flexible solutions to problems then an important shift can continue to happen. Our goal as technology leaders should be to help spur this change. Change can happen, especially if we provide staff and students with some resources that they can use to move past the initial stage of just giving up. If we want students to persevere in their lives, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same in front of them and in front of our own colleagues? Certainly we need to test, prepare and do our best to ensure that our instructional time is spent instructing, but next time you have a technology hiccup maybe we should stop and think about what our reaction and solution teaches those around us. I would also encourage you to model if possible or share some resources that you use to troubleshoot technology to other teachers in a PD or in an informal setting. Finally, if you have resources from your school district or from another website that you would like to share with others below, please comment.

Resources

Computer Troubleshooting for Teachers and Students- Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2017, from http://webpage.pace.edu/ms16182p/troubleshooting/home.html

Edmonds – Instructional Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2017, from https://sites.google.com/a/edmonds.wednet.edu/imd/home

Google Product Forums. (n.d.). [Forum]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!home

Google Help. (n.d.). [Forum]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from https://support.google.com/

Lindsay, J. (n.d.). How to Encourage and Model Global Citizenship in the Classroom. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/07/how_to_encourage_and_model_global_citizenship_in_the_classroom.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding “Learned Helplessness.” Retrieved August 2, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller 

Module 2: Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches

This week for my reflection on ISTE Coaching Standard 3 we were using this question to frame our investigation: How do we evaluate, select, and manage digital tools and resources for teachers and students that meet accessibility guidelines and fit within our institution’s technology infrastructure? I decided to focus on part of that question with my own investigative question. I asked: What is an effective process to evaluate, manage and select digital tools that solicits feedback and buy-in from teachers and administrators? This week I didn’t choose to focus on accessibility guidelines because when I read the standard it wasn’t something that initially stood out to me. Over the two weeks I’ve seen what my colleagues are going to investigate and I think I will come back to accessibility in another post, hopefully in the near future. Also I know that one project I will be working on this year is working to help make sure all websites of my new district are ADA compliant. That will be new learning for me and I’m excited to put what I learn into thoughts in a future post.

This week I decided to focus on the structure of technology adoption and approval of apps, software, websites, add ons and other forms of instructional technology that affect teachers and students. I’ve only worked in one district so I have limited experience, but it sounds like in talking with colleagues and some informal surveys my previous district was ahead of many others in their processes for approval of technology use. The one thing I always thought about was that the process you were supposed to follow and the website to check for approval was difficult to get to and not known by everyone. That is part of the reason that I wanted to write about this topic. So that led me to insert the idea of buy-in into my question. I was not really shocked to learn that “nationwide 51% of teachers select up to half of the education technology they use” (Johnson, 2016). I was never sure was our district technology portion of the website under advertised or if teachers just weren’t interested in whether or not the district supported a tool and if it was ethical to use with students. Is it something that they saw as important? Additionally, how many administrators were asking teachers about the technology tools they used with students and whether or not they were approved by the district, protected student privacy, made an impact on student learning? Those are some questions that are still lingering for me even as I try to record my leaning around this standard and topic.

Making an Improvement

So what could districts do to streamline this process? What could they do to include more administrators and teachers and spread the word about approved and supported technology tools within a district? One idea I like is to have a building technology team. It could be incorporated into the leadership team but if an administrator made sure that the team occasionally revisited approved technology and communicated that with staff members perhaps there would be more widespread use of those tools. Of course, administrators would either have to be given new information from the technology department or remember to review that information themselves. I think building it into a method of communication that already exists within the district infrastructure would make the most sense and be the least burdensome to all.  

Many of my other ideas come from two resources that I came across. The first resource is my professor for this class Ellen Dorr, she has worked with the technology team in her district to develop an impressive process and system of evaluations and surveys that lead to a recommendation from the school district along with a designated level of support that the district will provide for that tool.

Denver Public Schools also has a website, called The Academic Technology Menu, with a layout that seems easy to navigate for teachers and other staff members. I’ve included a screenshot of the main page below:

The main reason I thought to include the DPS resource is because it seems easy to navigate for teachers. Speed is key, the website has clickable headings that expand and lead to related web pages. If you click on a category like Math, you can even sort resources based on many different categories.

If you clicked on a main page heading like Curriculum & Content Solutions: Career and Technical Education you can even sort the results in useful ways such as by approval status, grade level, cost and type of technology. Those are some features that seems to make this website very friendly for teachers. I would think that the district worked hard to develop it in this way so resources would be easy to access.

One additional feature that I saw from Ellen and from DPS was a flowchart that explained the steps of the approval process. The unique feature that Ellen talked about and that I saw from DPS comes in the final section of the flowchart, where results are listed there are more than two options. As you can see there are tools that are not allowed, tools allowed with cautions, tools allowed and tools that are supported. The biggest clarification this gives, in my opinion, is that you can clearly see if a district will support a specific tool with PD or if it will not. Since some of my previous posts have been focused on what is next for Professional Development, I think that the mention of a tool being supported with PD or not is important for buy-in from teachers.

The last resource that I found to be relevant to my question of how to get the district, administrators and teachers on the same page with technology adoption and implementation was an article that isn’t actually about technology. The title itself is provocative, Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. The article chronicles how a district in rural New Hampshire first listened to teachers then fully committed to professional development across the entire district to support and sustain the change that they wanted to see. The key takeaways for me were that administrators and teachers were able to attend the same professional development sessions in order to learn together. Then administrators were able to function in two roles simultaneously, they could coach teachers as well as evaluating them as they normally would. It doesn’t sound like it was an easy process for them but I think it would be valuable to have an administrator function as a coach (thereby non-evaluative) and separately as an administrator normally would. One other interesting point that was made is because administrators were so familiar with the problem based learning program they had implemented, they could collect student data that helped them to know if students were getting to where they wanted them to be. Additionally, they had identified behaviors they might see in students who were participating in a well run problem based learning classroom. I imagine that all of this learning could be equally powerful if a district focused on the 21st Century Skills or any number of outcomes that technology could help students and teachers to achieve.

Conclusion

If the ideal is that districts, administrators and teachers are all working collaboratively to identify and use technology tools in the most effective way possible in order to support student learning then I think that there is still work to do to achieve that goal. Having a clear process that is accessible to all teachers within a district is one important step. That process could be communicated in new staff trainings, reviewed at the start of each school year or made known to building level leadership teams to spread the process across the district. A flowchart for teachers to be able to see the steps of the process is helpful so they know whether or not to request an application or tool, and what will happen when they do. A district website that clearly displays approved and not approved tools is necessary so teachers know where to look for tools. Collecting feedback via survey or through another method is a key way to find out if a tool really is aiding student achievement. Student feedback is important as well, providing them surveys or another way to give their own feedback would help buy-in across districts. Finally, I think if a district is committed to a tool or resource then professional development should be required for all staff including administrators. Cohesion will be more far reaching if everyone understands key terminology, learning targets, processes for evaluating learning with technology like the SAMR model or knows the ins and outs of technology tools that have been adopted and supported by each district. These are some ideas that I think would allow all levels of a school district to work toward the common goal of integrating technology tools in a way that has a positive impact on student learning.

Resources

DPS: ATM Approval Process. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/process.aspx

DPS : Academic Technology Solutions Menu. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/

Johnson, K. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Schwartz, K. (n.d.). Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from https://appserver-ec711ff6.c.pantheon-dmz.internal/mindshift/2015/08/11/listening-to-teachers-how-school-districts-can-adopt-meaningful-change/

Module 1: Blended Learning in PD

This quarter we will consider how to best create and support digital learning environments through the lens of a technology coach. In module 1 we are focusing on performance indicators a & c under ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches. Those two indicators ask how collaboration and classroom management can be used effectively to maximize the use of digital tools and resources in technology-rich learning environments by teachers and students, (ISTE, 2011). Indicator 3c asks coaches to “coach teachers in and model the use of blended learning, digital content and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators,” (ISTE, 2011). The part that stands out to me most as I transition into my new role is indicator 3c. I decided to continue my investigation into best practices in professional development, work that I started in my final post last quarter that can be read here (link). In that post I talked broadly about professional development (PD) and about how it could be improved to best serve teachers who integrate  technology into teaching. Here I will continue that work by focusing on how technology coaches can support teachers to through the PD.  Today my question deals specifically with blended learning, and asks how it can be incorporated into professional development for teachers so that they can begin to use it in their classroom. 

My reading notes are below:

Blended Learning in the Classroom

As I was reading about how to best incorporate the blended learning model into a classroom I read that the most effective way is to have technology integration that is perfectly matched to a curriculum. Karen Johnson writes that for Pamela Baack to commit to blended learning the school’s choice to use Zearn allowed all activities to be focused on the same goals, (Johnson, 2016, June 14). I think this is an ideal approach but in my experience it would be rare for teachers to have that option. Instead as technology coaches I think part of our work is to show, and maybe talk about, how it is an ongoing process to find a blended learning tool that works well within a classroom. That work is likely never finished.

In my research a lot of what I read about personalization of learning in a classroom through blended learning applies to adult learning as well. I often read about practices that are used with students being applied to PD. Two articles by the same author gave me a basic plan for how I might demonstrate blended learning to teachers within a PD session and they left me with many other questions to investigate.

Ideas for Blended Learning in PD

The first idea from the EdSurge article by Stepan Mekhitarian is to incorporate some blended learning into your demonstration or use of technology within the PD session. He does write that it shouldn’t just included for the sake of having it in there, it should be thoughtfully integrated and tied to the overall instructional focus and goal of the PD session. In other words, pick a tool “to further advance learning and progress toward the objective” (Mekhitarian, 2016, November 19). The author says this might look like using Google Docs to collaborate during a PD on questioning. Or collect responses from participants and use them in the activity. These both sound like fine ways to demonstrate integration of technology but they seem to be low on the ladder in SAMR. I would think they are at the Substitution level and maybe collecting survey responses instantaneously might land in the Augmentation or Modification stage. I still wonder what a more powerful demonstration of blended learning might look like for teachers.

The next suggestion is to co-plan and co-lead professional development with teachers to build capacity in those teachers as school leaders and instructional experts. This is an area where I see a lot of potential growth for my previous district  and I’m interested to know where my new district is at with this point. I see great potential in this area because many teachers have a wide range of technology skills and many no doubt have powerful and innovative applications of technology that they are using in their classroom however, in order to build this practice in teachers I think that there would need to be a more consistent focus on encouraging those teachers to present. In my previous district there were times where teachers were asked to share a PD because of an area of strength they showed, but the PD provided was sporadic and often seemed disconnected from the larger vision of the district or the plan of individual schools. I don’t yet know all that goes into planning PD for an entire district, nor do I know how much flexibility there is in sight based PD throughout the year but I hope to find that there will be an opportunity to co-plan and co-lead PD with teachers who are harnessing the power of tech to improve instructional outcomes.

The final idea suggested in the EdSurge article from Stepan Mekhitarian is to offer a place for optional workshops where teachers who use blended learning resources can gather to discuss and compare resources as well as continue to learn about resources that were introduced in a PD session.

In the second article Mekhitarian suggests some similar ways of incorporating blended learning models into PD for teachers. He adds a more explicit call for peer observation, which I think would benefit teachers in multiple ways including building a peer group around blended learning. Both articles have good points but I also would have liked a more clear example for many of his ideas. Hopefully as I work to provide PD for teachers I am able to record some ways that I demonstrate using blended learning and I can add those back to this post. In the end I think a clear vision and purpose for PD from administration will support teachers. This quote from Ellen Dorr resonated with me, “teachers are going to create strong learning environments for their students when they are involved in similar environments themselves–and it’s up to you to support them, administrators” (Dorr, 2015). Now I will have a role in that work.

Resources

Dorr, E. (2015, November 4). How Administrators Can Design the Best Learning Experiences for Teachers – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-11-04-how-administrators-can-design-the-best-learning-experiences-for-teachers

ISTE Standards For Coaches. (2011). Retrieved July 1, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Johnson, K. (2016, June 14). 6 Steps to Make Math Personal—Tech Makes It Possible, Teachers Make It Happen – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-14-6-steps-to-make-math-personal-tech-makes-it-possible-teachers-make-it-happen

Mekhitarian, S. (2016, November 19). Understanding Blended Learning Through Innovative Professional Development – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-11-19-understanding-blended-learning-through-innovative-professional-development

Strauss, V. (2015, June 15–500). Blended learning: The great new thing or the great new hype? Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/06/21/blended-learning-the-great-new-thing-or-the-great-new-hype/

Module 5: Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There?

Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There? by James Bettis

From my interpretation of the standards,  ISTE 5 is about how teachers model lifelong learning and engage in learning to benefit their school or community through the use of digital tools. I wanted  to find what districts might do to craft the best PD that they can for teachers who are at all different levels of comfort and proficiency with technology. Additionally if districts develop a successful model for tech PD I think that would give teachers some of the tools they need to lead in their individual schools. When I write about technology I’m referring to technology for professional daily use as well as integrating technology into the learning environment. The reason I want to focus on both professional use and technology integration is because I’ve noticed that the questions I field in my current position deal with both use and instructional integration and I think that a varied approach will serve the most teachers.

First, it is important to acknowledge that there are different levels of learners, and from there I think that districts need to build in means for teachers a varying levels to receive quality professional development. I also think it is important for districts to help buildings to organize their own technology PD in innovative ways. I have a few ideas about what has worked for my building, or some teachers in my building but overall I’m hoping to suggest an approach that might work to help teachers receive high quality and meaningful PD to aid technology integration.

Through the years I’ve attended a number of professional development classes taught by different instructors. From those experiences I’ve tried to distill down what makes for a fulfilling experience in a tech PD. I’ll admit that I’m somewhat confused. Thinking back I know I have been to some great sessions and some that felt less than great. I know that often the learning just has to makes sense for the learner, still I think there has to be some kind of formula or guideline. What makes it click? One experience I’ll highlight worked for me. I went a training on Vodcasting, which is recording a short video for students to use. I’ve always been drawn to video so I had a particular interest in the topic. It was a great combination of something that felt relevant to me and something I could foresee helping my students. In that sense, I think it fit the perfect time scenario. Also it was just beyond my realm of comfort. In order to do the homework required of the class, I had to learn to use iMovie, which I don’t find intuitive at all. That class pushed me, but today 7 years later, I find that I’m still using some skills from that class in my classroom to create math videos. That seems like a relatively successful PD and it doesn’t even fit all of the guidelines that I read about this week. So I can imagine that if PD opportunities were redesigned with best practices in mind to serve the most teachers possible with sustained focus, many more would be meaningful for more teachers.

As a side note, one of my colleagues in the DEL program posted a great overview of what she has been doing in her district, and it is a wonderful meaningful approach for teachers. I would like to link it later with her permission.

Based on my reading I have some good ideas about what could be meaningful for teacher going forward but I wonder how we are affected by past PD experiences? Changing perceptions will take time. No doubt providing a meaningful set of professional development classes for teachers is a struggle districts will continue to have. I hope that through new ideas and strategies all professional development will become more meaningful for more teachers rather than just a signature to say that you have attended, because you had to pick a class, or you had to be there for some other reason. I’m excited that part of my new position will be providing PD regarding technology, I’m excited to learn more about the process and to attempt to provide meaningful and engaging PD.

The ideas below are some of the things that I think might lead to a meaningful transformation in professional development. Of course this is really just scratching the surface in terms of resources that are available. However, I thought I would include them because I found them to be innovative or essential or both and I think they could help to further differentiate the PD that is offered.

Interesting approaches to PD that I came across in my reading:

  • Leveraging Twitter as a district to host chats, showcase work and provide a space PLC just like Twitter is great at doing within district (Raths, 2015)
  • Allowing microcredentials as a way to demonstrate competency (Raths, 2015)
    • If you want to learn more about microcredentials, I came across them when writing a post on ISTE 2 where I learned about Deeper Learning
  • Establishing and maintaining a district repository of tools, videos, screencasts and other resources related to technology PD
  • Establishing a strong team of technology coaches to journey with and guide teachers
  • Provide enough PD for sustained learning (50 hours!) (Crawford, 2014)

To me these are just some of the ways to start changing the PD model from within a school district. Ideally it would be great to see a state get involved in this process to encourage districts to begin to change the way we do PD. I’m excited to have a chance to do this in my district and to support teachers as they continue their journey to meaningful technology integration. If you would like to read more in depth about any of the ideas I’ve presented here, I found a great resource from EdSurge that is cited below. It really seems to be a an amazing guide to how some districts are retooling professional development.

Reflection

This quarter I feel that I have grown quite a lot in my understanding of the ISTE standards for teachers. From the start I had a hard time shifting my focus from students to teachers. At the start I don’t feel that I understood the standards for teacher well. Now through our investigation and blog posts this quarter I feel that I have a much better understanding of these standards and I understand how the connect and link to the student standards. Knowing my own predisposition for rigidity and how I resort to the standard practice I think that my growth in ISTE #1 is the most significant. I also feel that it is an area where I can continue to grow as long as I push my own thinking and remind myself of the myriad of ways there are to learn and to demonstrate learning. Another area for growth for me is in regard to ISTE Standard 5 and Coaching Standard 2. As a technology coach I feel much more prepared to lead other teachers as they strive to use technology in a meaningful way with students, to facilitate assessing students in a formative way and to connect with other teachers across the globe. Through the investigations I have completed during this last quarter and from reading the investigations my colleagues have posted, I feel infinitely more prepared to respond to the needs of teachers. I can’t wait to draw upon the resources and tools I have come across in this course as I assist teacher with the integration of technology into their classes.

Resources

20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network – Getting Smart by Miriam Clifford. (2013, January 17). Retrieved June 4, 2017, from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

A Blueprint for Personalized Professional Development by Teachers, for Teachers – EdSurge News. (2014, October 22). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-10-22-a-blueprint-for-personalized-professional-development-by-teachers-for-teachers

A Guide To Crafting The Perfect Next Gen PD Model – EdSurge News. (2015, February 14). Retrieved June 6, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-02-14-a-guide-to-crafting-the-perfect-next-gen-pd-model

A Guide to Proficiency-Based Professional Development – EdSurge News. (2015, February 22). Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-02-22-a-guide-to-proficiency-based-professional-development

Crawford, A. (2014, December 5). A Farewell to Pointless PD – EdSurge News. Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-12-05-opinion-a-farewell-to-pointless-pd

From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development – EdSurge Guides. (2015, January 22). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/research/guides/from-pre-fab-to-personalized-how-districts-are-retooling-professional-development

Patterson, M. (2016, April 54). Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training [Text]. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/04/tips-transforming-educational-technology-through-professional-development-and

Raths, D., & 02/04/15. (n.d.). 5 Tech Tools That Help Personalize PD -. Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/04/5-tech-tools-that-help-personalize-pd.aspx