Category Archives: ISTE coaching standard 2

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)


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.

Tools to Evaluate 21st Century Teaching

Earlier in the EDTC program, I blogged about Future Ready Schools which is an initiative aimed at evaluating a district’s current progress in terms of meeting 21st-century learning goals. The feedback I received from my peers was that it seemed like an interesting program, but left little support for teachers wishing to independently identify their own areas of possible improvement. For this week’s post, I wanted to focus on evaluation tools available to teachers for self-assessment or coaches for mentor feedback. While many options exist for teacher feedback, my focus was on observation tools that support teachers in implementing 21st-century learning skills in support of ISTE coaching standard 2: “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”

Before considering frameworks for evaluation, it’s important to establish what is meant by the term ’21st-century learning.’ I found the above graphic from the Partnership for 21st Century Learning to be helpful in considering the interconnected skills required of 21st-century learning. 21st-century learning focuses on deep rather than shallow learning, opportunities for real-world problem solving, overarching themes that cross disciplines, and equipping students with the ability to process, filter, and synthesize information from a variety of sources.


Evaluation Tool 1: Council for 21st Century Learning

The Council for 21st Century Learning is committed to supporting 21st-century learning by offering consulting and training to districts and schools. Their work begins with a diagnostic to identify areas of need. Support is then provided through coaching, workshops, and presentations. One thing I find interesting about C21L is that they emphasize two components for successful implementation- in and for. Learning IN the 21st-Century involves the use of technology to process, interact, and publish information. Learning FOR the 21st-Century refers to the experiences and skill sets necessary to thrive when interacting with technology such as critical thinking and collaborating. C21L has publicly shared many resources on its website that are available for all teachers to use.

The following observation form is designed to be used by coaches or administrators when completing walk-through evaluations. The checklist format makes it easy to take note of the various elements within the classroom environment. I appreciate how comprehensive this list is. In addition to types of technology use (by both student and teacher), there are places for feedback on the types of instructional strategies being used, student grouping, and even levels of Blooms’ taxonomy. Instead of using this checklist solely for evaluative purposes, it would also be a powerful tool for teachers to utilize when planning or reflecting on a lesson.

Evaluation Tool 2: Strengthening Your Reflective Commentary

This tool was created by AJ Castley and included in various methods on the Warwick Learning and Development Centre for teachers to self-assess. The form provides teachers with 7 open-ended questions to consider their teaching across 3 areas: teaching, assessing, and curriculum design. Within each broad question are more particular questions designed to walk teachers through a deep analysis and reflection of what went well and what could be improved within a given lesson. Some of the guiding questions include “Why did you do it that way? How else might you have done it?” I thought this tool paired particularly well with the conversations my 6105 class has been having about probing questions (see my earlier post on Inquiry Method for Educational Coaching).

These questions on this form facilitate strong self-reflection for teachers choosing to use individually. The framework would also work well for coaches looking at ways to draw out reflection from a teacher. Another way to utilize these reflection questions is to frame discussion within a PLC about a lesson or unit.

Evaluation Tool 3: Learning Design Matrix

One of the resources shared in my 6105 class this past week aligns with my exploration of feedback tools. The Learning Design Matrix was adapted from Eeva Reeder, a frequent Edutopia contributor on Project Based Learning. Within the four-square matrix, teachers and coaches can consider elements of a 1) Standards-Based Task, 2) Engaging Task, 3) Problem-Based Task, and also how technology enables and/or accelerates learning of that given task. Rather than viewing the matrix as a comprehensive to-do list, it is helpful to choose several key elements and consider how a lesson you’ve taught or want to teach fits within those elements.

Coaches can use the matrix when evaluating a teacher’s lesson or unit or when assisting them in planning. One activity we completed in class was reviewing a teacher’s unit plan and reflecting on the unit in light of the matrix. My classmates and I found elements of the matrix being used in the unit with success and then considered how we could improve the unit plan using other elements from the matrix. It was an extremely enlightening exercise.

Google Forms and the Power of Self-Assessment

Mention the word ‘data’ in a staff meeting and you’ll see teachers stifle eye rolls and sighs. Because we know what’s coming next…graphs and charts depicting test scores from the prior school year or quarter showing us all the ways in which our students didn’t meet the districts’ lofty goals. This isn’t the kind of data I want to talk about today. I want to talk about data that is meaningful and student-driven.

Data collection and analysis is part of the ISTE Coaching Standard 2h, “…model effective use of technology tools and resources to systematically collect and analyze student achievement data.” Being a self-professed Google junkie, I knew I wanted to cover Google Forms for this post. Then, after researching the many ways Google Forms can be used for data collection, I discovered a post on the blog Lindsay Ann Learning which suggested using Forms for student self-assessment. I’ve used Forms to gather and analyze multiple choice data, but this post opened my eyes to new ways to use Forms for data. It also challenged me to consider how I define “quality” data. Is it the percentage of students who chose the correct letter answer, or is it growth over time as defined by a much broader set of standards and demonstrated through reflection?

What is meaningful self-assessment?

  • A process in which students “1) monitor and evaluate the quality of their thinking and behavior when learning and 2) identify strategies that improve their understanding and skills. That is, self-assessment occurs when students judge their own work to improve performance as they identify discrepancies between current and desired performance.” (McMillan & Hearn, 2008)

Why student-driven data?

  • Students regularly provided with the opportunity to self-assess and reflect on their own learning are more likely to recognize the elements that led to success: hard work, effort, and studying. (Fernandes & Fontana, 1996)

New Data Idea 1: Collect data in the form of student reflection

To test out this new way of collecting data, I made a sample Research Project Self-Assessment in Google Forms. I incorporated the advice shared on Lindsay Ann Learning including using linear scales with an odd number of choices (to ensure no middle-line stances), incorporating open and close-ended questions, and writing questions designed to measure self-perception of learning. Here’s what data from that self-assessment might look like:

Class-wide data as seen from Google Form Responses tab


Sample student report with change over time (click to enlarge)


New Data Idea 2: Give the power of the rubric to students

Rubrics. I have a love-hate relationship with them. Why? They’re so helpful in understanding where a student is at and why, yet almost no student actually reads through them! That’s why I appreciated Jennifer Roberts’ idea. As part of her Memoir Self-Reflection (which you can make a copy of here), students must read through her rubric and rate themselves on each element.

Photo credit: Google Form ‘Memoir Self Evaluation’ made by Jennifer Roberts

Research supports the value of rubrics in helping students meet learning goals. As stated by McMillan and Hearn: “[P]roviding evaluation criteria through rubrics…helps students concretely understand outcomes and expectations. They then begin to understand and internalize the steps necessary to meet the goals.” (2008)

New Data Idea 3: Exit tickets for quick reflection

Exit tickets as formative assessment are nothing new in education. However, using Google Forms to streamline this process can help you easily gauge how students feel about their own learning after a lesson. Here’s a sample Exit Ticket I made. Taking a minute at the end of class to allow students to self-assess can inform instruction before you dive into assessments and projects with a large portion of your class potentially in the dark.



Next Steps

Self-assessment data should drive instruction in your class in the same way that traditional high-stakes testing instruction should. Below are some next-steps you might consider when using self-assessment data to drive instruction.



Fernandes, M., & Fontana, D. (1996). Changes in control beliefs in Portuguese primary school pupils as a consequence of the employment of self-assessment strategies. British Journal Of Educational Psychology, 66(3), 301-313. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8279.1996.tb01199.x

Google Forms for Data Collection. (2016). Retrieved from

McMillan, J., & Hearn, J. (2008). Student Self-Assessment: The Key to Stronger Student Motivation and Higher Achievement. Educational Horizons, 40. Retrieved from

Roberts, J. (2017). Self-Evaluation Google Form for Students. Retrieved from

Effective Communication & Questioning When Coaching

Coaches motivate, inspire, and encourage their players by asking questions, dispensing advice, encouraging do-overs and repeating skills to achieve excellence, and providing opportunities for growth. How do coaches learn and perfect their own coaching techniques? How do they know the questions to ask and how do they practice their skills? As a peer technology coach, studying the […]

EDTC 6105: ISTE Coaching Standards 2f: Visionary Leadership & 6 b&c: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

ISTE Coaching Standard 2 provides eight benchmarks for technology coaches to assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students. My focus is on benchmark f: Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional

Building a School Culture That Supports Teacher Leadership

As we begin to wrap up our final inquiries of the quarter, our cohort examines the essential question of what we think will be essential to support and sustain success as a coach. This felt very relevant to me. After this quarter and the hands on work we have done during our peer coaching work, I have naturally been reflecting on what my coaching role will look like in the near future. I understand what the traditional coaching role can look like when it is held as a specific title and role, but I don’t see myself leaving the classroom in the near future. With the essential question in mind, I wanted to explore how I can continue to grow as a coach while remaining in a classroom teacher role.

ISTE Standards addressed:

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

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.

click on the image above to see the full pamphlet

While searching for resources, I came across an amazing pamphlet designed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It presents important information about building a school culture that supports teacher leadership. The pamphlet highlights important characteristics of a supportive school culture and informs teachers and school leaders about guiding questions and strategies that can help guide them. From the pamphlet, I have dissected the information that stood out the most to me.

All of these characteristics are equally important when building a supportive school culture around teacher leadership. The same characteristics become even more important when you fall into a teacher leadership or coaching role.  Just in my limited beginning coaching work, I strongly identify with the importance of building trust and establishing clear communication. It would be hard to complete successful working without first building these two important foundations. It is important that the entire school culture reflects these characteristics as well. The pamphlet asks the reader to pose these questions: Do you see these characteristics in your school? How do you know they are there? Are there other things you would add to this list? I found these questions really helped framed my mindset as I continue to compare the information to my role and what I currently see in my school.

I appreciate that this resource listed ways that an administrator can contribute positively to a supportive culture of teacher leadership. All of the above recommendations are important to set the tone for teachers. I particularly related to being approachable and flexible. I have worked with administrators that have been both. My mindset, growth and general well being flourished so much more when I felt that I could honestly approach and interact with my admin. Personally, when I am more comfortable in that respect taking new risks and initiative within my teaching feels more natural and supported.

Throughout this quarter, we have explored many of the points listed above. Risk taking, setting attainable goals and not being afraid to fail have been common themes that reoccured when we were doing our coaching work. I can identify most with the idea of taking small steps. It can be all too easy for someone to want to try everything all at once, but setting small goals and taking the steps to achieve them is more realistic and prevents feeling overwhelmed and burned out.

Overall, this resource has really helped me obtain a mindset that will help me evaluate and develop a strong school culture of teacher leadership at my school. Contributing to this culture can help me establish a stronger leadership role, while still remaining in the classroom.


Building a School Culture That Supports Teacher Leadership. (2015, April). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from

EDTC 6105: ISTE Coaching Standards 1d: Visionary Leadership, 2f: Teaching Learning & Assessment – Learning to Know vs. Learning To Be

ISTE Coaching Standard 1 provides four benchmarks for technology coaches to inspire and participate in the development and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformational change throughout the instructional environment. My focus is on benchmark d: Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology

Connecting Curriculum with 21st Century Learning Standards

We often hear instructional technology leaders and educators say that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning. So should be said for the curriculum. Les Foltos said that technology integration is not something separate from content and pedagogy and is only effective when it supports and enhances 21st-century pedagogy and content. This week’s […]

Students as Contributors Adding Value to our Communities

Many years ago, I worked in a school where student learning involved solving real-world problems. One example is when third graders interviewed city transportation officials as well as school district operations managers, parents, and staff to design a new parking lot and traffic pattern for the congested unsafe lot. They used math to design model […]

Back to the Basics


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The above photo was shared to me by my peer Kaity Fain. As I was looking for ways to introduce SAMR and TPACK, I thought this metaphor of SAMR was cute and relatable.

This past week our cohort explored what skills, resources and processes we could utilize as we begin to co plan learning activities our learning partners want to improve on. 

This covers the following ISTE Standards:

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

d.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

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

I noticed a common theme in the resources we read this week. The readings really emphasized the importance of a learning and standards outcome focus as opposed to solely technology focused. This has been an important recurring focus throughout this entire quarter, as it should be. In our reading, “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration,” it’s mentioned that:

Too often, teachers still plan their lessons around technology instead of putting learning first. What these teachers need to make the connection is a collaborative partner, a coach, who will help them focus first on learning and then chose the technology that will help students reach the learning goals (Foltos 2013).

With our essential question in mind, I began to explore what skills I could help my learning partner develop to ensure that learning activities remained objective focused as opposed to technology focused. I’ve noticed as I began to adopt a coaching role, that it is easy for technology to be the sole focus of objectives, goals and learning activities. Throughout the corner I have seen many great resources that have taught me how to put learning as the first and most important focus, but I needed a way to portray this to my learning partner.

Through role playing and real life exercises with each other, our cohort has been exploring and utilizing a learning activities checklist from Les Foltos’ book “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration.” I find this a powerful resource that really helps you evaluate a learning activity in every aspect. However, I do think if it is new to someone, it can be slightly intimidating.

Back to the Basics

During the week, I tried to reflect on what resources helped me a lot in the beginning of the DEL program. I remember feeling slightly overwhelmed with all of the ideas and concepts I was being introduced to. I felt grateful for the resources that presented these concepts to me in an easy, clear way. The TPACK and SAMR models, were two resources that really felt applicable to everything we were exploring. Once they were presented to me in a way that was clear, I began to understand our learning in a more complete way.

I decided I will introduce my learning partner to the TPACK and SAMR models before we start to utilize the learning activity checklist in our planning. I think a clear understanding of the framework of content and technology will make the learning activity checklist more applicable and useful. Below are two videos made by Common Sense Media that provide an introduction to the TPACK and SAMR models:

retrieved from

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Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration.

Introduction to the TPACK Model. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from

Introduction to the SAMR Model. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2016, from