Category Archives: coaching

EDTC 6105 Module 1-Coach as Leader: Foundations

ISTE Coaching Standard

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

b. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels

d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

Inquiry Question:
How can tech coach provide meaningful and effective coaching to engage and empower teachers to integrate technology into classrooms? Especially for those who are behind using technology in teaching.

Background

Step into the digital world, we are facing many changes in education from constantly developing technologies. To foster productive digital citizens, more and more schools invest educational equipment which is supposed to support teaching and learning, and some piloted 1:1 laptop program or initiated BYOD program cross the entire school. While we are having intelligent hardware, we need to use them intelligently to meet the original purpose and reach the big ideas. Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners. However, to be transformative, educators need to have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments.

Definition of Effective Coaching and The Role of Tech Coach

In order to increase teachers’ willing and passion to utilize technology into classes, professional development on how to integrate technology is going to take an important role. Since most teachers realize that one-shot PD sessions are too simple not meaningful or impactful to satisfy them, the tech coach who can provide consistent, long-term, and content-specific coaching is expected.

Sometimes tech coach is a facilitator who helps support teachers, give them ideas and let them run with it themselves; Sometimes, tech coach is a co-teachers, who collaborates with teachers to co-plan goals, map out a lesson and engage in cycle of classroom; Sometimes, tech coach is a peer-observer, who provides positive feedback via constant conversation to discuss the future lessons without the feeling of evaluation. In a meaningful and effective coaching, the tech coach works with teachers in a partnership-type and collaborative relationship in which the tech coach engages into a sustained professional dialogue aimed to improve teaching by developing teacher’s knowledge and skills. The effective coaching process is content-related and practical which associates teachers and the tech coach with rapport, respect, and trust in a long-term collaboration.

Successful Cases Catalyze Momentum On Technology Integration

Many teachers either do not have time or might even be resistant to bringing technology into their classroom; others may think it’s just about doing the same thing with new tools. These ingrained opinions bring difficulties in implementing technology coaching from the beginning, and it won’t be effective and impactful without an affirmative attitude. A good way is to start tech coaching with those teachers who are excited to work with technology and willing to experimenting with new opportunities and collaborating. As teachers learned about the tech coach’s role, witnessed what improvements the coaching brought and hear the praise others were getting for collaboration, school-wide momentum begins building up. The meaningful and effective coaching which has been accomplished will act as a conduit of best practices to catalyze passions to others on technology integration.

Identify Teacher’s Needs and Have Teachers See the Improvement

In order to provide effective tech coaching, the coach needs to have deep conversations with the teacher to understand his/her needs, situation and instructional goals. Discussing the following key questions will give the tech coach and the teacher the best direction to effective technology integration and also empower teachers.

•    Why do you want to use this technology here?

•    Why hasn’t the approach that you’ve been doing in the past worked?

•    How do you hope the technology will change it?

•    Can the technology make this idea more relevant to students?

•    Can it push the lesson up a notch, or can it enhance things for students by allowing them to do something that they couldn’t do without the technology? For example, does the technology allow students to collaborate beyond the classroom walls?

•    Is the technology making possible a certain level of transparency for the teacher to assess where students are individually?

•    Does the technology provide a platform for students to be creative without overbearing them with gadgets and apps?

The tech coach needs to collect and analyze the implementation and impact data to present the values and influences of coaching to have the teacher see the improvement from technology integration to grow confidence to take more risks on a new teaching approach.

The Coaching Cycle

According to Andrew’s experiences on providing effective coaching, he suggests using BDA coaching cycle with teachers. BDA coach cycle works better especially for those who are behind using technology.

Before meeting with a teacher, the coach needs to touch base with them informally to get a sense of how he/she might be able to help. The tech coach needs to start generating ideas around the teacher’s particular classroom needs and prepare resources for specific lessons or units before formally meeting with the teacher. In the formal meeting, the tech coach will share ideas or useful things that other teachers have done with technology in their classrooms and a plan of redesigning the specific lessons with meaningful technology integration.

During the course of working together, the tech coach will be there as classroom support while the teacher implements a new lesson utilizing technology. The coach needs to lead the class and model for the teacher how to work with a specific technology.

After implementation, follow-up with the coached teacher is important to find out how things went. The coach and the teacher should meet together to evaluate the implementation and discuss the plan for each individual lesson. Following are the assessment questions need to be considered:

•    Do they need to troubleshoot something, so that it’s easier next time around?

•    Did the implementation bring up new questions or needs for the teacher?

•    What was successful and what still could be tweaked for a more refined delivery?

•    What does the teacher still need help with?

A Flexible Schedule to Best Meet Teacher Diverse Needs  

The flexible schedule will allow the tech coach and teachers to have more opportunities for conversations which will help to grow understanding and build trust and rapport relationships between each other to lead meaningful co-planning for the future. The coach will know any barrier the teacher encounters and provide support in time to inspire the coached teacher moving forward. 

Professional Development to Create A Vision For Teachers–Better for The Future Effective Coaching

The tech coaches have the responsibility to provide follow-up PD after coaching. The PDs as the showcase of successful technology integration are aimed to take the burden of technology off the teachers and create a vision that what and how technology can support them to meet different types of needs for diverse learners. 

The effective and meaningful coaching needs the coach and the teacher collaborate closely with trust and understanding in which the coach and the teacher will use their specific expertise to have a purposeful technology integration to meet the goals they set together and ultimately server the students who have grown up with technology.

References:

Ehsanipour, T., Zaccarelli, F . G., & Center to Support Excellence in Teaching – Stanford University. (2017). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education. Retrieved from
http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

Davis, E. L., Currie, B. (2019). Tech Integration Comes Alive Through Coaching. Retrieved from
http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num17/tech-integration-comes-alive-through-coaching.aspx

Instructional Coaching: Driving Meaningful Tech Integration. (2015). Retrieved from
https://www.edutopia.org/video/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

Making Technology Work. (2015). Retrieved from
https://www.edutopia.org/practice/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

ISTE For Coach 2-Teaching, Learning and Assessments

Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

  • Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based on student readiness levels, learning styles, interests and personal goals.
  • Coach teachers in and model effective use of technology tools and resources to systematically collect and analyze student achievement data, interpret results, and communicate findings to improve instructional practice and maximize student learning.

Inquiry Question: How can the technology coach meet the diverse needs of different teachers to use technology to enhance student learning?

Why Teachers Need A Technology Coach?

One survey in 2016 shows that 97% of teachers are impacted and inspired by colleagues on integrating technology into classrooms. They valued their co-workers to share sparkle ideas on creative teaching in the digital age to enhance students digital competence for the 21st century. Teachers need to adjust their teaching practice with the support of technologies to meet diverse needs of all students to provide more opportunities of authentic learning including collaboration, creativity, and innovation, and preparing students to be productive digital-age citizens. Many teachers who are good at using technology, are less so on leadership and strategies to adapt teachers at their individual needs and particular teaching goals as expectations. But the technology coaches can fill in this gap. Technology coaches need to keep learning at the forefront and being equipped by the latest knowledge both on technology and teaching strategies to support and model teachers on multi-facets to benefit student learning more than just introduce some cool new digital technology tools.

The Effective Coaching Cycle


Source: Pierce, 2015, p. 27.

Before Coaching

-Observation

Observation provides a good chance for technology coaches to know the coached teacher better and sooner. When the technology coach immerses into the learning and teaching environment where they are going to work with the participants, they can gain the useful data and collect and analyze the data to meet the teachers and students diverse needs. Every teacher has their own way to teach and has their own particular goals on specific content, and the technology coach needs to honor teacher’s expertise and don’t make any judgment which is paving the path for partnership rather than hierarchical relationship. The technology coach can start generating ideas and plan around particular needs while monitoring to embed technology into the right place to scaffold student to achieve learning outcomes and reach teacher’s expectation. Moreover, technology should play the supportive rather than starring role, so the technology coaches need to focus on how to integrate technology seamlessly to help teachers to reach the learning goals rather than what technologies can be used.

-Key Questions

The technology coach needs to navigate different technologies to make sure the integration can lead to meaningful learning. Following are the questions the coach should be considered. And also the coach should discuss the critical questions with the coached teacher to provide a clear direction on how best to use technology in the class and get rid of all potential misunderstandings between each other. The technology coach needs to make the teacher understand the goal of coaching and build a solid alliance and willing to work with the coach together to benefit student learning.

• Why do you want to use this technology here?

• Why hasn’t the approach that you’ve been doing in the past worked?

• How do you hope the technology will change it?

• Can technology make this idea more relevant to students?

• Can it push the lesson up a notch, or can it enhance things for students by allowing them to do something that they couldn’t do without the technology? For example, does the technology allow students to collaborate beyond the classroom walls?

• Is the technology making possible a certain level of transparency for the teacher to assess where students are individual?

• Does the technology provide a platform for students to be creative without overbearing them with gadgets and apps?

During Coaching

-Model

When the technology coaches create a suitable plan for a specific lesson or a unit, they need to demonstrate and model how to implement this practice to the coached teacher. They might model the practice out of the class and also in the class. During the coaching process, the coaches need to change the roles to adapt the diverse needs. They will be technology leaders, PD coordinators, co-teachers, and facilitators. They also need to implement formative assessments to collect date from students which can show the outcomes of improvement. The whole coaching process will go back and forth (assess, adjust, revise, redesign, re-implement), the technology coaches should communicate any baby steps with the teacher in time to make sure the whole plan meets the teacher’s particular needs and impact the learners’ performances effectively.

After Coaching

-Effective Feedback

The feedback is the most effective way to inspire teachers’ growth in the profession. After the implementation, the technology coach needs to provide an honest, positive, timely, corrective feedback of the teacher’s teaching practice which should be evidence-based from formal and informal data. The feedback will anchor the new problems and more needs, which will lead to another round of coaching cycle to refine and modify the teaching practice. Coaching is not one-shot technology-focused professional development session, is a long-term collaboration with teachers to provide supports on meaningfully and seamlessly integrating technology. The feedback as a phased reflection is not the end of coaching, but it is a start for another cycle.

Alliance Building Strategies

The best coaching relationship should have a deep understanding and trust built in. Different teachers have different needs and specific goal for specific learning content. As the technology coach, needs to listen to the teacher’s concerns and have an empathetic heart. The coach should meet teachers’ schedule to have effective communication face-to-face or online to understand the teachers’ needs in time without any judgemental and evaluative language and provide support to meet the goals. The coach and teacher need to build trust and partnership to collaborate with each other to enhance learning achievement.


Source: Pierce, 2015, p. 138.

References:

Making Technology Work. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

Effective Coaching: Improving Teacher Practice and Outcomes for All Learners. Retrieved from https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/NCSI_Effective-Coaching-Brief-508.pdf

Sheehy, K., & Ceballos, L (2018, August 21). Technology Use Must, First and Foremost , Be Designed to Support Learning Goals, Not the Other Way Around. Retrieved from https://digitalpromise.org/2018/08/21/instructional-technology-coaching-can-help-teachers-create-powerful-learning-experiences/

Ehsanipour, T., Zaccarelli, F. G., & Stanford University. (2017, July). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education. Retrieved from http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

The Reflection Cycle & Teacher Development

This week in the Digital Education Leadership program, we continued our exploration of ISTE Coaching Standard 4B: “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.” (Iste.org 2017) This is my 4th post exploring this standard. I’ve previously considered how to use the workshop model to implement effective technology-focused professional development, how to incorporate self-assessment as a best practice for applying new knowledge, and how to include elements of active learning when planning professional development sessions. My focus for this post is on the role that administrators play in the process of professional development.

When considering the role administrators should play in professional development, issues such as funding, resources, and time management to accommodate teacher release come to mind. These components are practical and necessary, but they often occur behind the scenes and are not likely to make teachers feel independently supported and heard. As a high school teacher, I asked myself what my administration could do to best support me in my growth as related to technology professional development. Above all, I want a choice in what I learn and how I learn it. I also want support in that endeavor, which is where administration comes in!

The Reflection Cycle is a way that administrators can require teachers to pursue professional development while giving teachers the autonomy in what and how they learn. My school uses the Reflection Cycle as a tool for evaluation and development. Teachers must choose two goals to pursue. One is completely up to the teacher and the other must be rooted in a goal developed by a teacher’s PLC. While not traditionally used to implement technology-based development and growth, I believe the Reflection Cycle is ideal for that exact purpose.

The Reflection Cycle method meets the needs of adult learners in two keys ways. The most important way is in giving teachers a choice in what they would like to pursue. For technology-focused development, this might be an exploration that is oriented around a particular tool or learning goal. By allowing teachers to make this choice, there is inherent intrinsic motivation. The other key way in which the Reflection Cycle supports adult learners is by allowing teachers a choice in how to pursue their goal. Some teachers may have an exact solution in mind (“I’d like to attend X training.”) while others may need the support of a coach or peer to find a solution (“I’m interested in student blogging, but have no idea where to start.”). Just as we aim for differentiated instruction with our students, we should also differentiate for teachers.

While the particulars of the Reflection Cycle vary by institution, most cycles tend to follow Kolb’s Four Elements of Experiential Learning:

  1. concrete experience
  2. reflection
  3. abstract conceptualization
  4. active experimentation

This particular model of learning is cyclical or ” ‘iterative’ because [it is] based on a repeating, but continually evolving and improving, cycle of learning.” (Scales, 2008, p. 12)

The concrete experience is the classroom practice that a teacher chooses to focus on. For the Reflection Cycle, this might be a specific lesson, learning strategy, or a broader topic like a class policy. For applying the Reflection Cycle to technology, this concrete experience could stem from a particular tool (OneNote), a skill set (online research), or a need (student collaboration). Additionally, teachers could be asked to select one of the ISTE teacher standards to focus on.

The next step in the Cycle is reflection. Reflection asks the teacher to think critically about the concrete experience. This might include guiding questions such as:

  • what were my students learning goals?
  • how did I teach the content?
  • what went well?
  • what could be improved on?
  • what did my students take away from this lesson/project/tool?
  • did I meet the needs of ALL learners?

Particular to technology, you might ask the following:

  • did technology enhance this content? (or, if not currently used) could technology enhance this content?
  • how would this content change if I were to use a different digital tool?
  • what elements of 21st century learning could I bring into this content?
  • are there additional opportunities for collaboration that I bring into this content?

In the abstract conceptualization stage of the Reflection Cycle, teachers are given the opportunity to explore solutions to the needs they identified in the previous step. As mentioned earlier, some teachers know where to go to identify resources while others may need additional help and guidance. Solutions can vary widely by the teacher and the goal. Goals might include attending a conference, release time to observe mentor teachers, digital or print resources, funding of a particular tool, meeting with a coach, or participating in a webinar. During this stage it is critical that administrators provide support for the agreed upon solution.

The final stage in the Reflection Cycle is active experimentation. Teachers have an opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge and determine the impact on student learning. Accountability at this stage should be pre-determined by the teacher and administrator: Is there going to be a formal observation? Will student data be collected? This is also an ideal time for the teacher to meet with peers to share the experience.

Of course the beauty of the Reflection Cycle is that once you complete the last stage, you can begin again as you continually refine and improve on your practice as a teacher.

You might be asking yourself what this looks like on a practical level. How can an administrator with dozens of teachers to oversee manage this type of independent, self-driven professional development? My school has experienced success with the SMART goal template. Administration uses the SMART template to support teachers in creating Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based goals. As teachers, we meet with administration throughout the Cycle in order to stay accountable, access resources, and share both challenges and successes. In my five years of teaching in two states, this is by far the best way that I have seen professional development implemented and I’m excited for the potential to use this technique specific to technology-related development.

SMART-goals

Sources:

Scales, P. (2008). Teaching in the lifelong learning sector. Maidenhead:
     McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.

The Role of Self-Assessment in Professional Development

Self-assessment is a powerful tool that encourages learners to take responsibility for their own learning. Taking a moment to reflect on learned content and future application supports retention and promotes metacognition. I have used self-assessment with my students with great success. As I pondered what angle to approach ISTE Coaching Standard 4B this week (Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.), it struck me that I’d never been asked to assess myself following a professional development session. This realization led me to wonder what role self-assessment could play in effective professional development.

Self-assessment Process

Self-assessment is a three-part process. The first step requires reflection on the intended learning goals of a class, presentation, concept, etc. Juvenile learners may need to be prompted to reflect on a particular goal while adult learners should be able to pull out key points. Next, the learner should evaluate their own learning in conjunction with the goal: Was the goal met; how do you know? The final piece is reflecting on future learning: How will I apply this knowledge in the future? This is a simplified example, but I’ve found that most self-assessments follow this general structure.

Source: Dorothy Spiller Assessment Matters

Professional Development Applications

Despite research supporting the efficacy of self-assessment, few resources exist linking self-assessment explicitly to professional development. The research outlined below deals with two aspects of self-assessment: the type that happens immediately after a professional development session and a more extensive self-assessment that occurs later once teachers have had a chance to implement the knowledge. While a bit aged (1999), the rationale behind the study is solid and the results show that self-assessment can support teachers in implementing new content and strategies from workshops into their classroom practices.

The professional development at the focus of this study was entitled PEERS (Promoting Educational Excellence Regionally and Statewide) and was developed by the Nebraska Math and Science Initiative. The stated purpose of the PEERS 2-week long workshop was “to increase teacher understanding of mathematical and scientific processes, improve teaching methods in math and science, and create a supportive network for systemic change in the state.” (Wise et al., 1999) Teachers were placed into groups by grade-level and sessions were created and hosted by lead teachers who had undergone 5-week residential training institutes. Goals, activities, and lessons were tailored by grade-level. Participating teachers attended an additional follow-up session once the school year began.

As with many professional development workshops, teachers were asked at the end to evaluate the workshop’s effectiveness of meeting intended learning goals. While the immediate feedback was positive, the study’s authors recognized that this feedback “indicated that they were effective in delivering the intended content and experiences…this evaluation provided only indirect information regarding the extent to which teachers can use these new skills in their classrooms. It provided no information concerning whether the teachers had translated their workshop experiences into their classroom practices.” (Wise et al., 1999) This is such an important distinction to make!

To gather a complete picture of the effectiveness of the PEERS workshops, facilitators conducted a follow-up in the form of open-ended reflective questions. The questions were purposely designed to not copy the wording of the immediate assessment. Instead, evaluators coded the open-ended responses based on whether a workshop strategy was ‘explicitly stated or easily inferred.’ The following eight questions were used by teachers as a self-assessment:

  • 1. Please describe the new lesson/unit or teaching strategy you tried.
  • 2. How does this lesson/unit relate to the national standards or Nebraska frameworks?
  • 3. What were your objectives/goals in the lesson or strategy you used? (Why did you decide to use a new strategy or lesson?)
  • 4. Did students respond differently than in a typical lesson?
  • 5. What evidence did you see of differences in student learning or student attitudes? (Student comments? Student work? Assessments? Attach examples if desired.)
  • 6. Will you do this lesson again?
  • 7. What modifications will you make and why?
  • 8. What have you learned from this experience?

The following table shows the percentages of teachers across high school, middle school, and elementary who implemented aspects of the workshop goals into their classrooms:

Source: Vicki Wise et al “Using Teacher Reflective Practice…”

While many of the results were very encouraging, this study is also interesting in terms of the gaps that exist between immediate self-assessment at the end of a workshop and later implementation. For example, 84% of high school teachers reported at the end of the PEERS workshop that they were able to implement technology successfully into lessons. After the later reflection, only 48% of those teachers had actually made a change based on the workshop and included technology in a lesson.

Another benefit of this study is seeing a conclusive link between professional development and classroom practice. As stated by the authors, “This reflective practice approach to evaluation provides a clear link between a significant professional development activity and classroom practice.” (Wise et al., 1999)

Sources

Spiller, D. (2012, February). Assessment Matters: Self-Assessment and Peer
Assessment. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from University of Waikato
     website: https://kennslumidstod.hi.is/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/
     assessment-matters-self-assessment-and-peer-assessment.pdf

Wise, Vicki L.; Spiegel, Amy N.; and Bruning, Roger H., “Using Teacher Reflective Practice to Evaluate Professional Development in Mathematics and Science” (1999). Educational Psychology Papers and Publications. 184. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/edpsychpapers/184

Workshop Model for Professional Development: Factors for Success

For today’s post, I’d like to take an in-depth look at a perennial favorite of those hosting professional development for teachers: the workshop model. When you think of a workshop outside of the education world, you probably picture a full day, hands-on session learning how to lay laminate flooring or perhaps weekly evening classes on water coloring. Whatever comes to mind, I’d venture to say it is prolonged and requires active learning. I doubt anyone would attend a workshop that featured someone lecturing at you for an hour while you try your best to stay awake! Unfortunately, workshops in the world of education often look like the latter example. As educators, we need to make sure workshops are places of active learning where teachers have multiple exposures to content.

Despite the popularity of workshop-based professional development (one study showed over 90% participation nationwide), research does not show a link between the traditional, once and done workshop model and student achievement. In an extensive report completed by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest for the Institute of Education Services, researchers combed through over 1,300 studies on teacher professional development to find links between teacher development and student achievement. Ultimately, the studies which had the lowest number of hours of professional development using the workshop model (5-14 total) showed no statistical impact on student achievement. Conversely, in studies where teachers received an average of 49 hours of professional development using the workshop model, students’ performance was boosted by 21 percentile points. (Yoon et al, 2007)

Case Study: University of Toledo

While researching ways in which the workshop model can support ISTE coaching standard 4B (“Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model[s] principles of adult learning and promote[s] digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment”), I came across a detailed case study that outlined the evolution of one college’s program from the traditional workshop model to one that was more robust and responsive to teacher needs.

This study, published in 2005, examined the evolution and subsequent effectiveness of the workshop model for technology-related professional development. The test subjects were university professors interested in incorporating more technology into their courses. The project, ‘Teachers Info-Port to Technology,’ began with a traditional professional development workshop model in year 1 and then incorporated new strategies and follow-up support in year 2. Additional ideas were implemented for year 3 and beyond.

In the first year, professors participating in the program self-divided into two groups based on platform preference (Mac vs PC). They then attended eleven sessions, some targeted to a specific area such as digital portfolios. The sessions were intentionally designed following the workshop model where part of the class was spent on content and the remainder on application. Interestingly (and in line with the findings of Yoon et al), the session with the most lecture time and least hands-on application time was ranked least helpful by attendees.

The effectiveness of the year 1 program was measured by participant surveys, course syllabi comparison (to see if additional technology had been implemented), and faculty discussions. Based on the three data sets, seven areas of improvement were identified:

  • Depth: more time spent on fewer technologies
  • Hands-on Practice: at least 50% of workshop spent on practice/creation
  • Project-based Approach: focus on practical products, follow from start to finish
  • Modeling: demonstrate classroom applications
  • Examples: use specific content areas, resources and templates
  • Ongoing Assessment: short modules, frequent assessments
  • Timesavers: access to templates and copyright-free visuals, review sheets

A second group of professors participated in the modified workshops held in year 2. These workshops incorporated feedback from the first group and resulted in even higher rates of self-reported ability to utilize new technology. Additionally, participants viewed the sessions more favorably than the first group with some even wishing the workshops were longer. Based on the data from this second group, two more areas of improvement were added to the program:

  • Differentiation: additional one-on-one assistance, additional smaller workshops tailored to a specific need
  • Expanded opportunities: observe colleagues, mentorship opportunities, cohort groups for collaboration

In addition to the nine factors identified in the study, there are other implications for the workshop model that we can derive from the study:

Effective professional development is ongoing

The professional development occurred over a long period of time. Each test group met eleven times over the course of the school year, requiring a great investment of time and resources on the part of both administrators and participating professors. This prolonged exposure contributed to the success of the project. Research shows that the critical stage of professional development is not the initial concept attainment, but rather the ongoing implementation: “mastery comes only as a result of continuous practice despite awkward performance and frustration in the early stages.” (Gulamhussein, 2013) Later in the study, even more support was added in the form of one-on-one assistance and mentorships.

Effective professional development is responsive to teacher needs

Another important element of success was the responsive nature of the professional development. Changes were made based on participant feedback in order to provide a better experience for participants. In addition to giving teachers what they need content-wise, this practice also communicates respect for participants which boosts morale and investment in future sessions.

Effective professional development includes plenty of time for hands-on application

Teachers responded best when given adequate time to try out the new concept or tool presented at each training. Sessions where teachers were asked to bring existing content for modification using the new tool worked best. In response to feedback, the study implemented a standard of dedicating at least half of future sessions to application.

Effective professional development rewards teachers for their time

A final factor was the extrinsic support participants received. Professors willing to participate were granted either a stipend or release of course assignment in exchange for their time. We often assume adult learners should be motivated solely by intrinsic means, but this case study shows that compensation for participants’ sacrifice of time can be equally important.

Sources:

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers: Effective professional development. Retrieved February 5, 2019, from Center for Public Education website: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/research/teaching-teachers-effective-professional-development

Teclehaimanot, B., & Lamb, A. (2005). Technology-rich faculty development for teacher educators: The evolution of a program. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 5(3/4). Retrieved from https://www.citejournal.org/volume-5/issue-3-05/current-practice/technology-rich-faculty-development-for-teacher-educators-the-evolution-of-a-program

Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs

Active Learning & Professional Development

Recently I implemented a brand-new digital tool to aid my high school students in organizing their research and citing their sources properly. The tool had just recently been purchased by my school and this was the first time both my students and I would be utilizing the tool for a major project. To roll out this new tool, I asked my school’s digital literacy educator (think, 21st Century Librarian) to come by and walk students through the registration and process of first use. As she projected each step of the process onto my Smartboard, I walked around and made sure students were able to follow along. Then students followed step by step as we went through citations, research, and note-taking. Despite a few minor bumps, we were off to a great start within a short amount of time.

This experience happened to coincide with this week’s research question for my 6106 class: how can tech coaches and administrators balance delivery of content and the opportunity for hands-on application and practice when introducing teachers to a new digital tool or platform? There is no way I would introduce a digital tool to my students without allowing them the opportunity to walk beside me and experiment with the new tool. You can probably imagine the lack of success and confusion if I had shown students a PowerPoint introducing the tool and then asked them to go home and give it a try. Why then do we use this method when introducing teachers to a new digital tool?

The guiding adult learning principle at play when we consider how to balance content delivery and application is the principle of active learning. Though the particular percentages assigned to learning activities in Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience have been debated (see here), most educators would agree that active learning is far more beneficial than passive learning.

Jeffrey Anderson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Passive learning through lectures, reading from assigned texts, or outlining content are still prevalent in higher education and teacher trainings despite evidence that supports active learning: “Long-term retention, understanding, and transfer is result of mental work on the part of learners who are engaged in active sense-making and knowledge construction … learning environments are most effective when they elicit effortful cognitive processing from learners and guide them in constructing meaningful relationships between ideas rather than encouraging passive recording of information.” (Lynch, 2017)

According to educational researcher Dr. Jay Lynch, three of the most powerful ways to incorporate active learning into instruction include production of ideas over passive collection, integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge, and frequent opportunities to engage with new content.

As technology coaches, administrators, and innovative teachers consider methods of professional development, I would argue that active learning should be a guiding principle when “Design[ing], develop[ing], and implement[ing] technology rich professional learning programs.” (Iste.org, 2017)

So what might this look like on a practical level when introducing a new tool or platform? In researching possible answers to this question, I discovered the ITPD3 Framework as introduced at the 2015 ISTE Conference by Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur, Sara Dempster, and Cammie Claytor.

ITPD3 is an interesting approach to technology professional development that attempts to clarify and systematize what ‘relevant, timely, and meaningful’ PD looks like. Previously I’ve explored what effective professional development looks like, but I’d struggled to find a tangible tool/framework to guide educators.

The ITPD3 Framework (ITPD = Instructional Technology Professional Development) features three leaders, three levels, and three steps (hence, the 3 at the end of the acronym). Here’s what it looks like:

  • The three leaders each take on a level of tech adopter to teach: early, intermediate, and advanced. Interested teachers opt into the group based on their comfort level.
  • The leader then identifies an area of focus for the group based on teachers’ needs/interests.
  • From there, training occurs in three steps:
    • 1) “flipped” screencast tutorial with instructions for any registration or preparation work that should occur prior to the PD session
    • 2) small group PD session with goal of integrating newfound tech tool/skill into upcoming lesson plans, also providing opportunity to ask clarifying questions and collaborate
    • 3) follow-up with resources and artifacts published in iBook or website form for teachers to refer back to

Here’s what I love about this model (not to mention how it incorporates best practices in adult learning):

  • CHOICE: teachers get to select the tool or resource they want to explore
  • DIFFERENTIATION: by allowing teachers to opt into groups by level, coaches can better meet individual needs and increase efficiency by not going over the basics for more advanced teachers
  • EFFICIENCY: “flipped learning” is a buzzword for students, yet it works wonderfully for teachers in this framework; time is saved when all teachers are registered and familiar with the site or tool before meeting
  • MULTIPLIER EFFECT: the last step in the ITPD3 process calls for coaches to design a tutorial that teachers can refer back to along with additional resources and examples from teachers who have gone through the cycle; this resource can be shared with new teachers or those who weren’t able to participate

For educators and coaches looking to move away from the ineffective lecture model of technology professional development, the ITPD3 framework offers an interesting solution that balances the need for content delivery and hands-on application while incorporating vital principles of adult learning such as choice and relevancy.

Sources:

Lynch, J., Dr. (2017, October 25). What does research say about active learning? Retrieved January 19, 2019, from Pearson Higher Education website: https://www.pearsoned.com/research-active-learning-students/

Vavasseur, C., Dempster, S., & Claytor, C. (2015, June 23). A PD approach that educators love (and learn from!) [Blog post]. Retrieved from ISTE Professional Development Blog: https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=446

Effective Peer Coaching

To use the word ‘coach’ to describe an educational coach almost seems like a misnomer. The term ‘coach’ implies one person has skills and insight that the other does not. Terms like ‘supporter’ or ‘collaborator’ seem much more fitting. Modern coaches and their peers “are learning with and from each other, as they co-plan learning activities, model, team-teach, observe, and reflect. This is a collaborative relationship that requires meaningful discussions about ways to improve teaching and learning [that] are likely to challenge current practices.” (Foltos, 2013) In other words, coaching is not a one-way street where one party is being spoon-fed tips and tricks!

The balance between coaching and collaborating is one that needs to be set early in the relationship. As part of collaborative norms for coaching, Foltos suggests using the concept of ‘joint accountability.’ Joint accountability can only occur after coaching pairs have both explicitly committed to norms for both their individual and collective responsibilities. The scope of this accountability may change depending on the task at hand. Is the coaching relationship a year-long one? Or is the focus narrow to a specific unit or new technology implementation? The scope and purpose of the collaboration should guide the norms being established.

Having norms in place can prevent the type of spoon-feeding or learned helplessness that can arise when teachers misunderstand the purpose of an educational coach. What this looks like on a practical level is the use of probing questions to guide the teacher through inquiry. The role of the coach in solving a problem is to help the teacher think critically and perhaps consider the issue through a new lens. Ultimately, “the collaborating teacher develops the answer that he or she brings back to the classroom to implement… [drawing] on what he or she learned with and from the coach.” (Foltos, 2013)

Another element critical to the success of a peer coaching relationship is the willingness and commitment of the participating teacher. A successful coaching relationship can only exist when the participating teacher is “open to collaboration and want[s] to improve teaching and learning. The willingness to collaborate and improve is essential.” (Foltos, 2013) Just as it is with young students, buy-in is critical. A teacher must be in a position of wanting to learn and willing to try new things. Likewise, the coach should not enter the relationship with preconceived notions and solutions. 

Giving teachers voice and choice in the coaching process is essential. While many districts assign coaches to teachers, this is not the best practice. Teachers should never feel they are “being punished and forced to change.” (Foltos, 2013). Instead, teachers can be given opportunities to partner with coaches who are interested in collaboration. This is where the term ‘coach’ can hinder the success of educational coaching. Shifting away from the model of having a handful of “expert coaches” working with a large population of teachers, peer coaching can be much more accessible and amenable to teachers. For example, an English teacher can coach a Social Studies teacher who is interested in implementing Close Reading in his/her classroom. Or a teacher who is passionate about assistive technology can work with the resource specialist in exploring new tools for students. 

Ultimately, a great deal of time and energy must be exhibited by both the coach and participating teacher in order to make the coaching relationship successful and beneficial for all parties. Though this can seem like a lot of work, the effort pays off when “…you can take risks and try out new ideas, instructional strategies, or different approaches to the curriculum and discuss the results with a trusted colleague.” (Robbins, 1991)

Sources:

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching (1st ed.). Corwin.

Robbins, P. (1991). How to plan and implement a peer coaching program. Washington: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

PD for EdTech Coaches

In my current coursework for my Digital Education Leadership program we are exploring what additional professional learning we might need to become an effective Educational Technology coach. Using the ISTE Standards for Coaches as a framework, for this module we are looking at these standards (ISTE, 2017):

 

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

f.Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

 

ISTE-C Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice

c. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences

 

During this two year program we have looked at student standards for technology, best practices for teachers of technology, and are now looking at the role of a peer coach in the area of technology.  Through this work, specifically the work this quarter, I am learning the differences between teaching and coaching and the differences between working with students and peers. I have spent 11 of my 14 years as an elementary teacher in the general education classroom.  One of the greatest benefits of being a general education teacher is having a “team”. There are others (both in your school and in your district) that have the same position as you, the same expectations for their job, and the same opportunities to professional development. For three of my years teaching, I held a teaching position that only I had at my school and there were few others (if any) in the district that had the identical position and job description.  For me, the most difficult part of these positions was not having a “team” in my building and not having clear standards, job expectations, and opportunities for professional development. These (standards, expectations, and PD opportunities) were present, but it was most difficult to navigate my position when I didn’t have a clearly-defined and easily accessible team. Being a technology coach puts someone in a similar position I believe. Depending on the size of the district there often are only a couple/few coaches (if that many). When I reflect on the opportunities and potential challenges that come with being a coach, the one thing that I feel that is critical to the position is opportunity for professional development.  A educational technology coach is leading a field that is ever-changing and emerging and it is critical that they are up-to-date on resources and best practices if they are to be an effective coach for their peers. The challenge is that a district might not be able to provide professional development opportunities that would be serve technology coaches. So coaches would need to seek out these resources in a larger community. When researching what options are out there for PD for EdTech coaches, I came across an article, Resources for EdTech Coaches, in Medium.

 

This article listed several different resources that might provide professional learning opportunities and the ability to connect with other EdTech coaches. I liked how the resources provided were varied in both format and accessibility. Below I have listed some of these resources and a brief summary:

 

ISTE Connect EdTech Coaches Network-a place to connect with other Edtech coaches (Medium, 2018)

 

Future Ready Schools (Groups and Events)– “a planning and resources hub for personalized, digital learning” (Medium, 2018)

 

EdTech Podcasts Bam Radio Network, TedTalks Education,  and House of #EdTech– three different places to search for podcast by educators for educators (Medium, 2018)

 

The article also mentioned that a focus on personalized learning for both students and teachers when in a coaching role is important and how seeking how professional development on this style of teaching and learning might be helpful.  It is also mentioned the importance of a technology coach being aware of the process for district digital transformations (Medium, 2018).

 

Professional Development opportunities and the ability to connect with other coaches might not be as accessible and structured as they are for teachers in other roles.  However, being a coach in a field that is constantly evolving and shaping our students’ learning environments, it is key that educational technology coaches seek out resources that will allow them to stay current on digital learning and use online collaboration to connect with other coaches.  There seems to be some great resources out there and I’m sure this list is ever growing and expanding.

 

Resources:

 

Bam Radio Network. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/

 

Future Reading Schools. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/

 

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, November 30) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

 

Iste.org. ISTE Connect. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from: https://connect.iste.org/communities/community-home?communitykey=3144c376-a435-4bad-9080-f25d9d8cb17f&tab=groupdetails

 

Medium.com. Resources for EdTech Coaches.  (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from: https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/resources-for-edtech-coaches-e543ef7b1e20

 

Medium.com. The 6 Hallmarks of Personalized Learning.  (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:

https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/the-6-hallmarks-of-personalized-learning-1ce4949c7660

 

Bam Radio Network. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/

 

Ted Talks Education. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks-education

 

The House of #EdTech Podcast. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/https://chrisnesi.com/

 

Dynamic Resources for Ed Tech Coaches

Educational technology coaches are tasked with finding new solutions to meet the needs of teachers and students alike. Because educational technology is still a relatively new field which is constantly shifting as new programs emerge, coaches need dynamic resources. This week I am exploring (free) resources that coaches can utilize in their pursuit of ISTE Coaching standard 6.a. – “Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement [student and teacher standards]” (Iste.org, 2017)

Resource 1: Tech & Learning Magazine

Tech & Learning Magazine is a monthly magazine available in both print and digital editions. It is free to educators who indicate they have an influence over their school’s technology choices (which ideally includes ALL teachers and coaches!). The timely articles offer a wide range of topics and support. In a given issue you may find advice on implementing ed tech in the classroom, reviews of new software, and a theoretical approach to issues like digital citizenship. In addition to the magazine, the Tech & Learning website offers a plethora of great (and free) resources for ed tech coaches: Site of the weekOn-demand webinarsApp-of-the-day, and a Blog with frequent guest contributors. The depth of information and the breadth of topics is impressive.

Resource 2: ISTE Blog

ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) literally wrote the standards that ed tech coaches use when assessing their own effectiveness and that of teachers and students. A list of resources would not be complete without a mention of their expertly curated blog. The blog’s careful use of categories and tags makes it easy to navigate to the resources most applicable to a particular need. The quality of articles posted is exemplary. For instance, this post on media literacy includes practical takeaways for classroom teachers, an infographic guide for student use, and a clear correlation to ISTE student standards.

Resource 3: Twitter

I’ve previously sung Twitter’s praises for personalized professional development and I’m sure this won’t be the last time! Twitter provides a platform for ed tech coaches and technology-minded teachers and administrators to come together to share ideas and resources. The following hashtags can be saved as a quick search for instant access to a large variety of ideas, resources, tools, and opinions related to educational technology: #edtech, #edtechchat. For teachers and coaches who use Google, #gafe is a treasure trove of ideas. Looking for accounts to follow? This post has a list of top contributors in the ed tech Twitter community.

Resource #4: EdSurge

EdSurge is another website that publishes timely, relevant articles regarding technology in education. A unique feature of EdSurge is its dedicated section to HigherEd. Posts include current ed tech news, research findings, implementation guides, and content-area technology uses. Many resources treat content areas and technology separately, but I have found that EdSurge meshes them in extremely creative ways such as this recent post on Hamlet, Harry Potter, and ‘computational literary analysis.’ 

Conclusion

In considering a ‘dynamic’ resource for ed tech coaches, I based my search criteria on the following:

  • Does this resource allow for choice in learning?
  • How frequently is the resource updated?
  • Are a variety of diverse voices amplified within this resource?
  • Is this resource user-friendly?
  • Does this resource go beyond mere reporting and aggregation to deliver content that teachers and coaches can (and want to) implement?

The four resources highlighted here earn a yes vote for each criteria element. I find myself returning to them again and again when I am in need of inspiration. Do you have a suggestion for an educational technology coaching resource? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Preparing our Students to Work Collaboratively

In my course, Educational Technology Leadership, we are currently exploring what 21st century learning looks like and how coaches can use this understanding to guide their work. Using the ISTE Standards for Coaches as a framework, for this module we are looking at 3 standards:

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

  1. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

  1. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

ISTE-C-Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

  1. Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement the ISTE Student and Educator standards

When I think back on my own education and my current work as a teacher as well as what I am learning in my own program as a student, one of the most significant shifts I see in 21st century learning is a focus on collaboration.  With the technological advances and increased access to both devices and information, it is often viewed that technology has isolated people and taken away face-to-face interactions. While this is true in some ways, I believe that technology has and should be a catalyst to increase, encourage, and make available opportunities for beneficial and meaningful collaboration in the lives of 21st century learners.  However, as educators, we are tasked with helping our students make productive and positive use of these opportunities.

The goal of collaboration is that more brains together increase the quality of the end product as well as the experience of the process. This happens because tasks can be shared, members can “specialize” in areas, and each collaborator brings a unique background and set of experiences.  Previously, most collaboration happened in person during real-time. Phone and email increased the options for collaboration but today’s technology allows for collaboration to occur on a much larger scale and can connect people who will likely never be able to meet in person.

Most teachers (and people) recognize that collaboration is an important life skill and something we should be doing in our classrooms, but often we forget that knowing how to collaborate is a skill-set in and of itself.  Just like social skills that we teach (and should continue to teach) in early education, our students need us to teach and model and scaffold collaboration skills. They need to understand the goal of collaboration and how to engage in the process successfully. In an Edutopia article, Mary Burns writes,  “Promoting real collaboration is hard to do well—and it doesn’t just happen on its own. If we want real collaboration, we need to intentionally design it as part of our learning activity (Burns, 2016).”

In Burn’s article, “5 Strategies to Deepen Student Collaboration” (Burns, 2016) she describes some very helpful strategies for teachers when they are using collaboration in their classroom. Below is her list (Burns, 2016) and my summary of her description:

1. Create Learning Activities that are Complex

When activities truly challenge our students, they are motivated to get help from others and need more than one idea or strategy.

2. Prepare Students to be Part of a Team

Students need to understand the goal of their group work. There needs to be some work done as far as expectations and building relationships before the “real” collaboration can begin.

3. Minimize Opportunities For Free-Riding

One of the biggest issues with group work comes when a member isn’t doing his/her share of the work.  By giving meaningful team roles and having students evaluate themselves and their peers (Burns, 2016) the likelihood that a team member will not contribute their share is decreased.

4. Build in Many Opportunities for Discussion and Consensus

As I mentioned earlier, the process is just as (if not more) important than the product in collaborative student projects.  Emphasizing this to the students and providing them time to learn from the experience is key.

5. Focus on Strengthening and Stretching Expertise

Not all students in a group will have the same level of knowledge. The goal really needs to be on what each member can bring to the group and how all members can learn something from each other. Like in all areas of our classroom, the focus should be on growth not solely achievement.

 

Mary Burns summarizes this all very well when she writes, ““As teachers, we can promote real collaboration by shifting our role from instructor to coach—promoting team autonomy, checking in on students and providing instant feedback, and helping them increasingly learn to work together productively to attain a common goal (Burns, 2016).”

One of my favorite places to go when I am looking for digital tools is Common Sense Media’s Top Lists.  They have list of Student Collaboration Tools which includes 28 resources, K-12.  While I don’t have experience with many of these, I have had good experiences with Google Hangouts, Google Drive, and Padlet both as a student and a teacher.  Since I teach Kindergarten currently there aren’t many on this list that would apply to my classroom, but I am interested in trying out Popplet and PenPal Schools, both of which are free or have a free version.

 

Resources:

Burns, M. (2016). 5 Strategies to Deepen Students Collaboration.  (Retrieved on 2018, Oct. 30) from: https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-strategies-deepen-student-collaboration-mary-burns

Common Sense Media website. Top Picks: Student Collaboration Tools. (Retrieved on 2018, Oct. 30) from: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-student-collaboration-tools

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, November 5) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches