Category Archives: DEL Program

EDTC 6106 Module 5: What is Essential in Professional Development?

As I prepared for my blog post this week, the word ‘essential’ kept running through my mind.  What does e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l mean?   How is it used in our world today?  How does its real world use relate to school professional development?  I think we would all agree about what is considered an essential when we travel – taking medications, contact solution, spare underwear, and the like on a trip.  Hotel rooms even have signs indicating the importance society places on essentials.  This hotel picture seeks to assure us if we find ourselves without an essential, “we’ve got you covered. relax.”

hotel essentials

Another real world example is found in auto insurance.  Uninsured/underinsured motorist, liability, and property damage are all essential.  In fact, states have required minimums in their law.  You can negotiate to have more coverage, but minimum coverage is a non negotiable.  I like that word – nonnegotiable.  It is strong and not wishywashy.  My question this module was: What elements should every technology session in a rich professional development program include?  Changing it up a bit with my new word –  what are the non negotiables when it comes to technology professional development sessions?  Reflect for a second.  What are your current non negotiables when it comes to technology professional development sessions you host or attend?

“Harris (2007) suggests that although professional development can vary by purpose, objectives, content, grade levels, pedagogies, models, and assessment, effective sessions should all include being: (1) conducted in school settings; (2) linked to school-wide change efforts; (3) teacher-planned and teacher-assisted; (4) differentiated learning opportunities; (5) focused around teacher-chosen goals and activities; (6) exhibit a pattern of demonstration/trial/feedback; (7) concrete; (8) ongoing over time; and (9) characterized by ongoing assistance and support on-call.” I would like to propose these nine elements as the minimum from which professional development is designed.  That sounds good, but hand anyone this list and interpretation and implementation will vary.  

I would like to propose these nine elements as the minimum from which professional development is designed.

Let’s go back to the car insurance analogy.  Insuring yourself for $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident is much more finite.  However, acknowledging implementation will vary, the nine elements put forth good “minimums” to strive toward.  For example, #5 ‘teacher-planned and teacher-assisted’ may be interpreted by some administrators to be many teachers contributing once and by others to be a few contributing to the process throughout.  Either way, the idea of teachers being part of the planning process is upheld.  That is a win either way!

These nine elements are a critical foundation for successful professional development sessions.  If those minimums are in place, what does an individual session need to definitely include?  The book, Transforming Classroom Practice: Professional Development Strategies in Educational Technology (2008), provides an overview of professional development strategies that have demonstrated long-term success.  For example, this passage on page 13 resonated with me,

“Professional developers who understand where each teacher is in the change process are more likely to be successful than those who plunge headlong into the content of a session with little or no attempt to get to know each participant. Listening to the types of questions being asked and the ways each teacher is using technology allows the professional developer to accurately understand which stage each teacher is in.”  

What does this tell me?  It tells me that the teacher or the facilitator moves during the session are far-reaching.  You can have on-site, teacher designed, differentiated, ongoing professional development in place, but it won’t mean anything if the facilitator is not engaging with participants as a talented teacher engages with his or her students.  I urge you to reflect on the following question.  What facilitator moves are you using that say to your participants, “I’ve got you covered. Relax”?  

If you are technology coach, don’t forget that you have a duty to fulfill 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. Examining your professional development program in relation to these nine elements might be a powerful first step.

Sources:

Borthwick, A. and Pierson
, M. (2008).  International Society for Technology in Education; 1st edition.  Excerpt retrieved from http://www.iste.org/images/excerpts/PRODEV-excerpt.pdf

Borthwick, A. and Pierson, M. (2010).  Framing the Assessment of Educational Technology Professional Development in a Culture of Learning.  Retrieved from  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ893870.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Images:

Bathroom hotel sign. Retrieved from https://apetcher.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/travelling-complimentary-shampoo-and-shower-gel/

Natloans. (2011). How to select Car Insurance. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/9AnG8J

 

EDTC6016 Module 4 Resolution: Building Relationships Between Educators and Administrators on a Foundation of Trust

Overview

What does a successful marriage, a first-time skydiver, and a educator/administrator relationship have in common?  They all rely on a foundation of trust. A marriage between a couple who lack trust in one another will likely end in divorce.  A skydiver who lacks trust in their instructor or equipment may plunge to their death.  An educator who lacks trust in their administrator or an administrator who lacks trust in their educators may drastically limit the opportunities for growth for themselves as well as their students.  While this third scenario may not be as immediately consequential, the long term effects make for an environment with little respect, learning, and integrity.

My master’s cohort has spent the last several weeks looking in depth at ISTE standard #4 for coaches, outlined below.

ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation – Performance Indicator B

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.

After all I’ve studied on this standard, I felt a bit “burnt out” when I originally read this week’s triggering question:

“What role should administrators play in professional learning programs and how do we advocate for their involvement and adequate professional learning support for technology-based learning initiatives?”  

I immediately thought of the necessity to differentiate professional development, but I’d covered that in a previous reflection. I then thought of the value of teacher voice and formative assessment but I’d done that too.  Luckily, my professional learning circle helped steer me towards a realization—most of my research and reflection has been based on how to plan and deliver great professional development.  What I had neglected to look at was the groundwork administrators and educators must lay to create an environment for powerful professional learning opportunities.  This led me to look at the necessity of building trust between administrators and educators as I studied the question:

Before teachers and administrators can collaborate together on professional and technology-based learning they must establish a relationship of trust.  How can they build this trust and what might stand in their way?

Characteristics of Trust

In her Edutopia article “When Teachers and Administrators Collaborate” Anne O’Brien, deputy director of Learning First Alliance explains that “trust alone does not guarantee success, [but] schools with little or no trust have almost no chance of improving” (O’Brien, 2014). So how do we build trust?  To begin, we must understand what combined characteristics create trust…

How do Educators and Administrators Build Trust?

Future Questions

  • What elements, aside from trust, are necessary as part of building a framework for effective professional development?
  • Gordon, J. (n.d.). 11 Ways to Build Trust. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://www.jongordon.com/positive-tip-buiild-trust.html

Resources

Alrubail, R. (2015, March 19) Administrators, Empower Your Teachers. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/administrators-empower-your-teachers 

Brewster, C., & Railsback, J. (2003, September). Building Trusting Relationships for School Improvement: Implications for Principals and Teachers. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/trust.pdf

Gordon, J. (n.d.). 11 Ways to Build Trust. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://www.jongordon.com/positive-tip-buiild-trust.html

OBrien, A. (2014, November 20). When Teachers and Administrators Collaborate. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/when-teachers-and-administrators-collaborate-anne-obrien

Administrators and Professional Development

ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B

  • 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.

We have looked at professional development through the lense of an adult learner and through the perspective of a teacher leader. This week our Triggering Event lead us into professional development from an administrator’s role. We were posed this question: What role should administrators play in professional learning programs and how do we advocate for their involvement and adequate professional learning support for technology-based learning initiatives?

This was a very broad question to me. I am not sure if it is because I have never really needed to think from this perspective before, or if I genuinely did not know where to start with my own exploration. I chose to reiterate the question to keep it open enough for me to find a better focus as I dove into some resources. My related question was: In what ways can teacher leaders advocate for administrative support and involvement in quality professional learning?

Still searching for that focus, I got online and met with my cohort for our weekly Google Hangout. As part of our weekly agenda, we collaborated on a google slide regarding the characteristics of administrators who are supportive of professional learning initiatives. Still facing that mental roadblock, I did not contribute much. However, it was immensely helpful to me to see what members of my cohort contributed. They were all ideas that I knew and all things that I was familiar with. It was more obvious and powerful coming from them.

On the slide, what stuck with me the most was the idea of administrators learning with their staff. Finally I had found a jumping off point! I came across an online post, from the Center for Teaching Quality, where a blogger highlighted an administrator’s thinking of how remembering the power of seeing themselves as a teacher first and an administrator second. It states the importance of remembering to switch those “proverbial hats.” The post goes on to state that:

Instead of seeing adult learning as a place to assert authority, deliver a lecture, or offer a one-size-fits-all training, administrators should see professional development as an opportunity to promote authentic, learner-centered experiences. Professional development offers administrators a chance to re-engage with their teacher identity, and to re-frame their role as a facilitator, leader, and guide (Crowley 2015).

It then lists several ways to approach this type of thinking, all of which we have explored over the past few weeks, but are always important enough to reiterate and keep with us.

Administrators should:

  • Strive to see a roomful of learners with different needs, and differentiate
  • Learn best practice when crafting adult learning experience. Continue their own learning.
  • Get rid of the 30 page Powerpoint and consider the constructivist approach.
  • Remember that authentic learning requires authentic relationship.
  • Change the mindset. Change the learning.

I thought it was interesting this week that my initial inquiries revolved around how teacher leaders could advocate for administrative support in regards to professional development, but I ended up exploring the of the administrator and the empowerment and learning that the can create and facilitate. One of my peers reflected on this and wondered aloud about what might be more impactful, administrators advocating for support or teachers? They seem to be equally as important, and even go hand in hand. It was some good food for thought.

Resource:

Crowley, B. (2015, November 19). To Revolutionize PD, Administrators Should Follow This Simple Rule: Think Like a Teacher. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/brianna-crowley/revolutionize-pd-administrators-should-follow-simple-rule-think

EDTC 6106 Module 4: What Makes Effective Leadership?

This week, I chose to focus on the question, What are the elements of effective collaborative leadership regarding technology?  While researching this, I quickly came to understand that the question applies to both business and education.  A number of sources, in both genres, referenced a technology committee as a common element in establishing and maintaining collaborative leadership.  

Horvat (2015) states in a business article, “When members from different roles and backgrounds come together to discuss priorities and make decisions, your firm benefits from more informed and sustainable decision making. In short, your firm will be more successful.”  Brooks (2012) also highlights this in an education article, “technology projects which have been most successful, are those which have been endorsed and driven by an institutional Technology Committee.” The articles go on to share important considerations regarding the committee.  I have combined these findings into reflection questions.  See Figure 1.  As you look at Figure 1, how does the Technology Committee in your district compare?

Figure 1

In my mind, those last two questions are particularly critical.  According to Hovat, one common mistake made by a committee is coming up with a plan and not communicating the plan or progress made on the plan to others.  In this day and age, I can see many avenues for doing that – webpage, social media, email, and physical announcements.  However, there is not much worth sharing if there is not a clear collaborative vision to the work.  The National Education Plan (2016) states, “The vision begins with a discussion of how and why a community wants to transform learning.  Education leaders need personal experience with learning technologies, an understanding of how to deploy these resources effectively, and a community-wide vision for how technology can improve learning.”

Does your district have a vision statement specific to technology integration? In my district, it is called the e-Promise.  It was penned collaboratively by our Technology Committee last spring and into this fall.  See figure 2.  

Figure 2

Having a vision in place is one step toward fulfilling 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.  In fact, The National Education Plan (2016) warns against, “Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their learning goals to a chief information officer or chief technology officer.” The report states that those who do, “fundamentally misunderstand how technology can impact learning.” Those are some harsh words towards those that choose to not collaborate.  

In closing, Brooks makes one more great point that I want to highlight.  He says,  “Flexibility and a willingness to work are the key factors for membership on a given technology committee.”  How are the members best identified or selected?   This is something I will continue to reflect on and I hope you do too.

Sources:

Brooks. K. (2012). What Makes an Effective Technology Committee in Education (v.2). Retrieved from http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2012/06/20/what-makes-an-effective-technology-committee-in-education-v-2/#

Horvat, L. (2015). How to Create an Effective Technology Committee.  Retrieved from https://accellis.com/how-to-create-an-effective-technology-committee/

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Office of Educational Technology. (2016).  National education technology plan.  Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2015/12/NETP16.pdf

Images:

Visualpun.ch. (2011). Collaboration. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/9zsb65

Module 3 Resolution: Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development

Overview

After many conversations with educators and administrators, collaborations with my digital education leadership master’s cohort, a few months of pouring over professional development research, and reflections on my own experiences I can confidently say that most educator professional development opportunities are lacking in one way or another.  A few repeated sentiments include: most PD is just not relevant to my classroom, or, I know it’s going to be a waste of my time, or, it’s just filled with a bunch of top-down jargon, how is it best for students?  This makes me sad.  Professional development should be an opportunity to observe, reflect on, and apply best practices in teaching. Educators should leave a PD session empowered, not deflated. So, how can we make professional development more inspiring and engaging?

To answer this, I began by taking a deeper look at a few of the common issues with professional development.  I also looked at ISTE coach standard four indicator “B” which states that coaches must, “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” (2016).  

After understanding some of the the issues and standards, I had a framework to begin unpacking my triggering question on this topic: What collaborative learning strategies help create effective professional development opportunities?

What’s the Problem?

Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development

In exploring great teaching strategies I relied a bit on my own experiences and a lot on two excellent resources: The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies from the blog Cult of Pedagogy and PBS’s Teaching Strategies Resources menu. I sifted through these resources and choose ones that most closely addressed the issues outlined above.  I made an effort to limit the number of strategies that I shared to a few that I have tried personally, as a teacher or as a learner.  With that said, I highly recommend checking out these two sites and seeing what more they have to offer!

Resources

Bishop, D., Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R., & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State: Project Evaluation Report. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Gonzalez, J. (2015, October 15). The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/

Moersch, C. (2011). Digital Age Best Practices: Teaching and Learning Refocused. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://digitalis.nwp.org/sites/default/files/files/94/Digital%20Age%20Best%20Practices.pdf

PBS Learning Media (n.d.). Teaching Strategies: Resources for Adult Educators. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/ketae/

EDTC 6106 Module 3: Get Started, Get Better

“In education, research has shown that teaching quality and school leadership are the most important factors in raising student achievement. For teachers and school and district leaders to be as effective as possible, they continually expand their knowledge and skills to implement the best educational practices” Mizell, p. 7.  

To realize this goal, educators must participate in professional development. Professional development can take many forms- before or after school sessions, teacher release time during the school day, beginning of the the year and end of the year summer days, online courses and webinars, and even independent studies.  Rather than explore which of these options is most beneficial, because they are often tied to funding, contractual, or unique situations that are difficult to change, I decided to investigate the role teacher voice could place in making professional development more meaningful.

Curtis, L.

Some districts have surveyed teachers to make it more relevant. Wynne (2016) wrote about Farmington School District, “By gathering survey data first, we knew where to focus our discussion and our efforts.”  After discussion of teacher pain points in relation to professional development, the Board of Education approved a plan for substitute teachers to enable “just in time” professional development for all teachers.   Stating low investment with significant payoff, after three years, the favorability at the secondary level was 35 percent.  I think the important take-away is not that teacher voice was sought, but that what was heard through the survey was acted upon.

Anne O’Brien (2016, July) drew the same conclusion in her blog post.  Professional development is often seen as a “compliance activity” disconnected from a teacher’s daily work.  She provides five recommendations for school districts from a whitepaper, Moving from Compliance to Agency: What Teachers Need to Make Professional Learning Work, by Learning Forward: “1. Make all professional learning decisions only in serious consultation with teachers and principals.” She states a 50% representation is recommended.  “2. Rethink organization of the school day so that educators have time to meet regularly to collaborate with colleagues to improve teaching and learning. 3. Involve and support teachers in analyzing data and identifying teaching and learning challenges. 4. Give teachers choices regarding their professional learning, including whom they work with and where they focus their learning. And, 5. Resist the temptation to “scale up” or mandate a particular form of professional learning without thoroughly examining the context in which it will be implemented.”  While some of these could cost money, like organization of the school day (late starts or substitutes), others are free.  I liken all of this to a well written and executed lesson plan.  You must formatively assess to ascertain student needs, differentiate for the learners, look at the data, provide for choice, and be intentional and thoughtful in delivery and facilitation.

So how does a district do this?  How do they begin on a path that truly values teacher voice? Another blog post by Anne O’Brien (2016, July) points to a three-step method by Russell Quaglia, president and founder of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, and Lisa Lande, executive director of the Teacher Voice and Aspirations International Center.  They suggest: 1. Seek out and talk (and establish other methods) to a variety of teachers to hear needs BEFORE they come to you. 2. Ask questions when you might not agree or understand. And, 3. Spend more time facilitating than directing. Meaning, let the teacher(s) be leaders and have ownership.  These steps makes me think of Knowles six principles of adult learning that I examined in my previous blog post.  Knowles principles that come to mind, looking at these steps, are that adults desire for self-direction and relevancy.

In fact, the five recommendations and three steps all support ISTE Coaching Standard 4b of Professional Development and Program Evaluation tasks coaches with designing, developing, and implementing technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning.  So, let’s have a call to reflection and action!  Are you a coach?  Are you a principal?  Are you part of district administration?  What evidence do you have that you are proactively seeking out teachers’ pain-points? How could you verify that a significant number of teachers are involved in the leadership and professional development decision making process?  Would any of your teachers be able to share a story of how they did not agree or understand the professional development direction and were asked questions by administration in response?

“Get Started, Get Better.”

So, if this post resonated with you, I encourage you to “Get Started, Get Better.”  These are the words that my Superintendent frequently says when we see something that needs to happen in our district.  It’s okay to jump in the best you know at the time, knowing you will be fine-tuning the work as you go.

Sources:

ACU (Australian Catholic University). (2017).  Knowles’ six principles of adult learning. Retrieved from http://www.acu.edu.au/staff/our_university/faculties/faculty_of_health_sciences/professional_practice_resources_for_supervisors/interprofessional_resource_library/Facilitating_Learning/knowles_principles

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Mizell, H. (2010). Why professional development matters. Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/pdf/why_pd_matters_web.pdf

O’Brien, A. (2016, July).  Five ways to increase teacher agency in professional development. Edutopia.  Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-ways-increase-teacher-agency-professional-development-anne-obrien

O’Brien, A. (2016, June). 3-step method to increase teacher voice.  Edutopia.  Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/increasing-teacher-voice-decision-making-anne-obrien

Wynne, K. (2016). How teacher voice can improve professional development.  Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/08/25/how-teacher-voice-can-improve-professional-development/

Images:

Stevebustin. (2014). Man holding microphone. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/nJBSFg

 

 

 

 

EDTC 6106 Module 2: Breaking Down Adult Learning – Whole+Part+Whole

For the past two weeks I’ve been exploring the role adult learning principles should play in planning educational technology professional development for teachers.  This work caused me to reflect on my own professional development session design – asking myself, what principles do I consistently apply and which ones should I employ more?


Knowles’ Six Principles of Adult Learning
Motivated and self-directed
Experience and Knowledge Application
Goal oriented
Relevancy Oriented
Practical
Respected


Examining Knowles six principals, I learned that adults learners need motivation combined with self-direction, opportunities to apply their own experience and knowledge, goal and relevancy, practicality, and to be respected.  These principals alone, reveal the intricacy of andragogy (adult learning).

creation

The complexity doesn’t stop with mastering these principals.  Designing professional development is an involved thoughtful deliberate process.  Reading Knowles work further, I discovered the whole-part-whole (WPW) learning model that dates back to the 1970’s.  “The WPW Learning Model purports that there is a natural whole-part-whole rhythm to learning.”  The first “whole” introduces new content to the learner and forms in their mind an organizational framework to take in the forthcoming concepts.  The middle “part” is when the segments of learning take place.  I think of this as the time students learn new techniques, practice, and apply them.  It’s the learning time.  The second “whole” is the “major component” (p. 383).  I think of it as what brings it altogether for the learner or as Knowles states, it links the relationship between the components together and provides “the complete understanding of the content” (p. 383).

Immediately, I sought to compare this to my own professional development session design.  The PD session that came to mind was my online SAMR course that I designed this past December.  Did it follow this WPW learning model?  Surprisingly, yes!  It follows it quite tightly in fact.

Here is what leads me to believe it aligns.   In design, I asked myself how I could help teachers understand the overall big idea of technology integration being a continuum.  To do this, I decided to have teachers practice inquiry.  They are first directed to figure out on their own what SAMR is, where it came from, and why it might be important.  Their task is to locate videos and articles online that explain SAMR.  As part of this, they are asked to post a detailed yet concise definition in their own words. After which, they can also read and interact with what peer colleagues, who are also taking the course, have posted.  Next, they view Dr. Ruben Puentedura explaining the four parts of the SAMR framework in detail.  This completes the first “whole.”
creation

Following that, the teacher logs into Google Classroom and participates in five online question-based discussions.  Each prompt consists of either text, video, or a photo.  He or she submits an opinion with supporting evidence of which level of the SAMR framework the prompt represents.  This completes the middle “part.”  At this point, learning about each part of the SAMR framework is in process, but not necessarily synthesized.

Last, the teacher participant is asked to crystallize the learning by creating slides on a collaborative Google slide deck.  He or she develops a unique analogy for SAMR overall, including all four levels.  The teacher also completes reflection and next steps questions.  This is the concluding “whole” part.  From here, I can ascertain if learning has been solidified.

I found this process of analyzing my design of a professional development course valuable.  I hope you are drawn to do the same with a session you have designed.  ISTE Coaching Standard 4b of Professional Development and Program Evaluation tasks coaches with designing, developing, and implementing technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.  Reflection needs to be a part of this process as well!

Sources:

ACU (Australian Catholic University). (2017).  Knowles’ six principles of adult learning. Retrieved from http://www.acu.edu.au/staff/our_university/faculties/faculty_of_health_sciences/professional_practice_resources_for_supervisors/interprofessional_resource_library/Facilitating_Learning/knowles_principles

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Knowles, M., Holton, E., & Swanson, R. (2014). The adult learner : The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. (8th ed.). London: Routledge.

Images:

Curtis, Lori. (2017).  Created and retrieved from https://piktochart.com/

 

 

Module 2 Resolution: A Model for Professional Development Considering Adult Learning Principles

Image adapted from UCBHCA: Training of Facilitators Manual for the Functional Adult Literacy Training Manual

Overview

Throughout my studies on digital education leadership, and specifically what it means to be an effective instructional coach and to design great professional development, I have continually been reminded that many of the teaching and learning practices used with K-12 students are effective with adults learners as well.  In fact, this point has been the resolution to most of my inquiries over my graduate program studies.  So, over these last few weeks I have been both delighted and intrigued to get to look at what sets adult learners apart from adolescent learners.

What Makes Adult Learners Unique?

I touched on adult learning in my last blog post, but to recap, the most prolific commentary on adult learning, also known as andragogy, comes from the adult educator Malcolm Knowles.  Knowles narrowed his theory of andragogy down to six major principles (Knowles, 2015). He claims that adult learners…

  • Are motivated and self directed.

  • Bring life experience and knowledge.

  • Are goal oriented

  • Are relevancy oriented.

  • Are practical.

  • Like to be respected.

The Australian Catholic University does a great job of summarizing each of these principles, but I was left wondering how this differs from students.  To address this inquiry, I found another great resource, from the Nebraska Department of Labor’s professional development site.  Below, I include a screenshot of an interactive infographic that details what sets adult learners apart from children.

I found the first point especially interesting–that children base what is important in their learning on what they are told to study.  If a teacher says the material is important, students will often believe them.  Contrarily, adults want to know the value of what the are learning and specifically how it will be valuable to their teaching.  I highly recommend all interested parties check out this resource!   

Adult Learning Principles in Professional Development

In studying about adult learners I quickly realized that there are so many great resources already available it would be superfluous to make my own. Instead, I choose to search for a model for professional development that is designed with the adult learning principles in mind.  I didn’t have to go far, as my own school district is currently preparing for a Learning Improvement Day (LID) that takes these principles into consideration.  In fact, the following slides are from the recent facilitator training.

How does the LID consider adult learning principles?

  • Adult Learners are goal oriented: our LID revolves around the Lake 8, which are the eight instructional components of student learning.  Each professional development session is aligned with one of these standards. The infographic below details the Lake 8 standards.

  • Adult learners are relevancy oriented: the LID consists of several sessions and participants get to choose which ones to attend.  The sessions are grouped by grade level (elementary or secondary) and, while some are subject specific, many apply to various subjects.  

  • Adult learners are practical: the goal of the LID is to leave teachers with instructional tools or resources they could implement in their classrooms the next day.  The goal is to keep each session quick and provide time to work.  The LID site also includes links to presentation materials and suggestions for future PD for those who want to extend their learning.

What’s missing?

It is unfair and inaccurate to judge just how effectively my district’s LID day accounts for all of Knowles principles until during and after the session.  The follow three principles cannot be determined yet and should therefore be the priorities of the facilitators when designing and implementing their specific professional development session.

  • Adult learners are motivated and self directed.
  • Adult learners bring life experience and knowledge.
  • Like to be respected.

Future Inquires

  • My goal for this blog post was to be reflective rather than to judge or evaluate.  However, I am curious to know if and how my district intends to assess how effectively the learning from the LID is implemented into instruction.
  • I keep reading that effective professional development is ongoing.  How could the LID be extended?

References

ACU (Australian Catholic University). (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.acu.edu.au/staff/our_university/faculties/faculty_of_health_sciences/professional_practice_resources_for_supervisors/interprofessional_resource_library/Facilitating_Learning/knowles_principles

CAV: January 13, 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://sites.google.com/lkstevens.wednet.edu/learningstrategiespd

Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) – Training Manual: Unit Two: Facilitating Adult Learning: 2.1 Characteristics of Adult Learners and Qualities of a Good Instructor. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://collections.infocollections.org/ukedu/en/d/Jh0414e/5.1.html

LSSD Professional Learning Portal. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://lifeinthetechlab.com/LSSD/plp/
Professional Development: Key Differences. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://nelearn.myelearning.org/mod/page/view.php?id=423

EDTC 6106 Module 1: A Case for High Anxiety – Tech & Substitute Teachers

picture of man falling into spiral in

Recently, I had the chance to view a 1977 Mel Brook’s movie called High Anxiety.  In that movie, Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) receives repeated therapy for his fear of heights.  However, none of these sessions take him through any real authentic and meaningful steps for countering the fear.  He continues to have episodes of high anxiety because he has not learned strategies for dealing with situations involving heights.

I liken this to the position of substitutes in the classroom.  Substitutes have learned the basic skills necessary for taking care of students when the teacher is absent.  Most have attended teaching school or in another way have figured out lesson introduction, modeling, and helping students work independently. They know how to send a child to the office if he or she is sick and take students to recess or specialist.  They follow guidelines for discipline as outlined by the teacher.  Thinking this through, what support have they been given regarding the technology in the classroom?  

Educational technology has changed greatly in the last five years.  The National Education Technology Plan states, “The cost of digital devices has decreased dramatically, while computing power has increased, along with the availability of high-quality interactive educational tools and apps” (p. 5).  As a result the learning space is changing.  Add to that options for taking attendance, completing assignments, and viewing learning resources that the Internet now affords.  Not stopping there, the variance of technology from not only classroom-to-classroom, school-to-school, and district-to-district is vast. I think one could say that all of this technological change and dependence could place a substitute in a position of high anxiety!

I think one could say that all of this technological change and dependence could place a substitute in a position of high anxiety!

This module, I spent time researching what districts provide to substitutes and what has been written about the subject.  I found some examples of materials created by districts to assist substitutes.  For example, the Monett School District in Missouri provides this handout. The document is dated September 2013 and it indicates more resources are online.  I chose to include it as an example because it provides a nice introduction to try and sooth anxiety and variety in its resources.  It explains what substitutes should be familiar with, what they can expect to be provided, and then outlines some step-by-step instructions with pictures.  A link to a webpage and videos are also included (although the links/steps seem out of date).  Step-by-step topics include what the district has determined to be important:  logging into the computer, connecting the cords, and opening/launching files.  While not exactly a professional development course, Monett School District is definitely making an effort to assist substitutes in feeling supported.  


  


Another resource I found was Keep Calm and Tech On: A Substitute Teacher’s Survival Guide to Integrating Tech, a blog post by Rochelle Tkach.  It supported my belief that the differences from classroom-to-classroom causes trepidation.  Tkach calls it an “unfamiliar jungle every time a new supply call is assigned.”  Refreshingly, the author takes a growth mindset stance.  For example, the SMART Board is mentioned as a device that all should embrace. She says that the SMART Board or LCD projector is great because you can count on it.  It’s stationary; it won’t go anywhere so you should learn to use it. She also recommends having some regular sites for hooking kids on the lesson and for filling time.  She likes GoNoodle and Google360, to name a couple.

Thinking back to the movie, Thorndyke overcomes his fear by facing it.  Tkach’s stance advocates for this as well.  By committing to knowing how to use the SMART Board or or LCD projector, her tips “may also rescue a substitute teacher scrambling to whip together daily plans.”

Speaking of fear, I challenge you to make a compelling video that will help substitute teachers.


How does this relate for me to 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?  It has given me another important piece of professional development to create for my district.  Currently none is provided.  I will create materials for a professional development opportunity for substitute teachers by collaborating with the Director of Human Resources and substitute coordinator.  To get started, I will survey teachers and building office managers to gather suggestions of topics to include.  I will then create a lesson plan.  I will gather feedback on this plan from a variety of perspectives:  technology department, substitute coordinator, office managers, and technology committee teachers. Because one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement (Yoon et al, 2007), it will need to be well thought-out.  At this time I am planning the session to include the following:

  • relevant specific topics
  • active learner participation
  • hands-on practice time
  • formative assessments for checking understanding
  • resources for learning during and beyond the session
  • ways to stay connected beyond the session

I would love to learn how substitutes are supported in your district; please comment below. If you are a substitute, what is the best support you’ve been provided for using technology in the classroom?  What advise can you share?

Works Cited:

How to Be a Great Substitute Teacher. (2013). Substitute Teaching Tip: Substitute Teachers and Technology.  YouTube.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZpl5XZve_s

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Manolova, D. (2014). My version of high anxiety’s movie poster. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/k7MigR

Office of Educational Technology. (2016).  National education technology plan.  Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2015/12/NETP16.pdf

Tkach, R. (2015). Keep calm and tech on: a substitute teacher’s survival guide to integrating tech. Retrieved from https://blog.learningbird.com/a-substitute-teachers-survival-guide-to-integrating-tech/ 

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

 

 

 

EDTC6106 Module 1 Reflection: Differentiating Professional Development

Those in the profession of education are all too familiar with buzzwords, those bits of jargon that often come and go as topics of conversation and professional development.  While these words can often feel a bit exhausting, one that has seemed to stick, and for good reason, is “differentiation”.  Since I started studying the pedagogy of teaching, differentiation has been at the core of most of my learning .  Educators are tasked with understanding how to modify the content, process, and product of instruction to meet the needs of individual learners (Carlson).  If we understand that this is a fundamental component of effective teaching, it is safe to say that instruction should be differentiated for all learners, regardless of age level, experience, or background.  Therefore, effective professional development for teachers must be differentiated so that it is valuable, effective, and efficient for everyone.  

This is no easy task.  In a classroom, a teacher may have around 25-30 students that they see every day as they teach them one, or a few, subjects.  In this scenario, differentiating instruction is often an ongoing challenge.  Contrarily, opportunities for professional development are much less frequent and, depending on the school, there could be 50-100 (or more!) educators who all teach different subject areas and grade levels.  How can professional development be molded to meet the diverse needs of educators?

What’s Wrong With Professional Development As It Is?

Finding a comprehensive list of tips on differentiating professional development was a bit of a struggle, but it was easy to find a ton of commentary on what currently isn’t working in professional development opportunities.  One of the best resources, the Center for Public Education’s “Teaching the Teacher’s: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability” findings report, offered a clear idea of why most professional development is ineffective.  They looked at the types of professional development offered to teachers over the course of a year.  They found the following:

This information is concerning because, “most development happens in a workshop-style model which research shows has little to no impact on student learning or teacher practice” (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009).  Workshops, the report suggests, are ineffective because, in contrast, professional development programs that impacted student achievement were lengthy and intensive, but workshops are often only over the course of a day or two.  Workshops are not ongoing and there is rarely any follow-up.  Additionally, workshops assume that the issue teachers face is a knowledge gap and once they learn a few tips they will be much improved.  In reality, the struggle is in implementing instruction.  So, while a workshop may help educators gather resources, they must then have the opportunity to observe and practice good teaching in action (Gulamhussein, 2013).  This report goes on to offer some excellent tips for creating effective professional development.  While I highly suggest anyone in the education profession to check out this report, its focus is not directly on differentiation. In what follows, I use this reports tips for effective professional development, along with a few other resources, to provide an idea of how to differentiate professional development.

Tips for Differentiating Professional Development

Future Inquiries

  1. I found this topic really interesting, but as it’s one I’ve only just begun exploring, my resources were mostly introductory.  I would like to find more resources that get a bit deeper into differentiating professional development.
  2. Most of the information I found suggests that professional development be differentiated in the same ways we differentiate learning for K-12 students.  This makes sense, but are there other resources to consider when teachers are the learners?

Professional Development and Project Evaluation Mind Map

I created the following Coggle Mind Map based on my reading of Chapter 2: Evaluating and Assessing Professional Development from Sally Zepeda’s book Professional Development: What Works.  I will be using this learning throughout the quarter as I continue to look at what makes professional development valuable, effective, and efficient.

Resources

Carlson, A. M. (n.d.). What is Differentiated Instruction? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-differentiated-instruction-examples-definition-activities.html

Gulamhussein, A. (n.d.). Teaching the Teachers. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

Guskey, T., & Suk Yoon, K. (2009, March). What Works in Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/pubdocs/Guskey2009whatworks.pdf

Project Evaluation Report. (n.d.). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State, 1-87. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Zepeda, S. J. (2012). Professional Development: What Works. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Zdonek, P. (2016, January 15). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek