Category Archives: ISTE Standards Coaches

Diving Into Problem-based Learning PD

For my culminating project in the Seattle Pacific University M.A. Education Digital Leadership program, I chose to align district needs with the creation of 1 credit cross-disciplinary technology course.  This work showcases my application of adult learning theory, professional development principles, and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) student, teacher, and coach standards.

To determine the topic, district access to technology and current teaching and learning needs were considered.  This included devices being made more readily available to students individually, teachers having greater familiarity with technology tools, and the district vision for instruction of technology being used to engage students in rich and meaningful learning experiences.  It was also a desire that the course be applicable to different content area teachers.  Based on these factors, the topic chosen was problem-based learning (PBL).  

To heighten my understanding of the topic I attended a workshop April 17, 2017 at Pacific Lutheran University called Take Thinking Deeper with Digital-Age Project-Based Learning.  This session by Suzie Boss, author and educational consultant, focused on transforming traditional instruction to more student-driven and digital.  I also thoroughly investigated the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) website, along with a great number of scholarly articles, books, blogs, and videos.

Though this research, I came to the conclusion that teachers need to learn three things to successfully dive into PBL.  First, they need to compare and contrast (what PBL is and is not) as it can be confused with project-based learning.  Second, they need time to reflect on what experts in the discipline they teach spend their time doing so they can carefully consider how they have their students spend their time.  Third, they need to understand that the development of a strong PBL lesson starts with a powerful essential question and time to grapple with this in relation to their current unit plans.picture of ear

How did I design the session? Following the Five Pillars TrainSmart Model by Rich Allen, I located an activity that would serve as the Engage pillar.  It is called Draw What you Hear.  This activity followed adult learning best practice by being socially interactive, yet low pressure, and intellectually stimulating to clear the mind of distractions and engage participants attention in the PD session.  Its nature also served a larger purpose by creating an analogy for the topic.  Meaning, each person will take in the idea of PBL differently and their results will be different from yours and that is okay.  I came up with this idea on my own.

To Frame (pillar #2) the lesson and create a point of reference, I located a video clip by Sir Ken Robinson that shared some student school engagement statistics.  This creates a sense of urgency and call to action.  This is followed by two slides containing contrasting essential questions for participants to consider.  For each, many aspects were evaluated, including the level of inquiry, authenticity, and revisement and reflection created.  At this point teachers should be able to self-assess their readiness to PBL.  As participants go on break I have them rate themselves on a continuum of PBL readiness.  This serves as a formative assessment I can examine over break as the facilitator.

To begin the Explore phase (pillar #3), participants view a video clip that contains a striking statement for inquiry and reflection.  It poses the question: what tasks do experts in your discipline spend the majority of their time doing?  I model reflection with an example of an architect and then, paying attention to adult learning practices, allow participants to take ownership of their own learning by inviting them to work collaboratively or privately and reflectively on what they currently do in their classroom practice in contrast to an expert in their discipline.  This activity tightly aligns with ISTE Coaching Standard ‘2c’, where the coach pushes the teacher to have students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience.  Teacher participants share their reflections via a Google Classroom question which models ISTE Teacher Standard 3, Model Digital Age Work and Learning.

After a debrief, some participants should be ready at this point to explore their own question.  I do not do this because I think they need more scaffolding.  If I truly want them to be able to create an environment conducive to students being constructors of knowledge (ISTE Student Standard #3) they need more guidance.  To provide this, I previewed, curated, and categorized numerous video examples of teachers talking about their practice into subject areas.  Teachers are invited to browse their subject area and view the video examples.  Some of the videos crossover between subject areas.  Again, this offers choice, autonomy, and relevance to the adult learner.  At the same time, it asks teachers to implement ISTE Teacher Standard 2, Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments.  In particular, it speaks to indicator ‘b’ by allowing active participation in their own learning.  Teachers are also encourage to search Google and YouTube for additional examples.

After another break, design time is provided.  With support, but not pressure, participants are able to access planning documents to begin walking through the process of designing their question and lesson/unit.  As time permits and interest leads, I provide mini sessions on technology tools for introducing the topic, such as Recap, tools for helping students share progress, (Google Classroom question), and tools for requesting consultation (Google Forms).  Also included are technology tools for students to present their learning.  This work most tightly aligns with ISTE Coaching Standard, Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, indicator ‘f’, Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.

For the Debrief pillar, I bring the group together to view some lessons learned videos from teachers, as well as some assessment tips.  Time for sharing is provided and the session closes with the Reflection (pillar #5) and commitment to follow-through.

At face value, this project highlights my ability to design professional development (ISTE Coaching Standard 4 and DEL course 6104 and DEL course 6106).  Looking at it more deeply, it is a showcase of my ability to address the Student and Teacher standards.  Digging deeper still, it showcases my taking to heart the concept of aligning the work of the coach to district vision (DEL course 6105 Educational Technology Leadership), capitalizing on adult learning theory (DEL course 6105 Educational Technology Leadership), and teaching, learning, and assessment (DEL course 6102) with real world application and audience (DEL course 6103).



Allen, R. (2008). Train smart: perfect trainings every time (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Buck Institute for Education. (2017). Resources. Retrieved from

Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence. Problem-Based Learning. (n.d.). Problem-based Learning. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). ISTE Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from

Larmar, J. (2016). What project based learning is not. Retrieved from

North Dakota Teaching with Technology Initiative. (2002). Teaching and learning strategies problem-based learning. Retrieved from

[TED]. (2013, May 10). How to escape education’s death valley [Video File]. Retrieved from

Walker, A., Leary, H., Hmelo-Silver, C., & Ertmer, P. (2015). Essential readings in problem-based learning.  West Lafayette, IN:
Purdue University Press

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.


Borthwick, A. and Pierson
, M. (2008).  International Society for Technology in Education; 1st edition.  Excerpt retrieved from

Borthwick, A. and Pierson, M. (2010).  Framing the Assessment of Educational Technology Professional Development in a Culture of Learning.  Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from


Bathroom hotel sign. Retrieved from

Natloans. (2011). How to select Car Insurance. Retrieved from


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.


Brooks. K. (2012). What Makes an Effective Technology Committee in Education (v.2). Retrieved from

Horvat, L. (2015). How to Create an Effective Technology Committee.  Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from

Office of Educational Technology. (2016).  National education technology plan.  Retrieved from

Images: (2011). Collaboration. Retrieved from

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.


ACU (Australian Catholic University). (2017).  Knowles’ six principles of adult learning. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from

Mizell, H. (2010). Why professional development matters. Retrieved from

O’Brien, A. (2016, July).  Five ways to increase teacher agency in professional development. Edutopia.  Retrieved from

O’Brien, A. (2016, June). 3-step method to increase teacher voice.  Edutopia.  Retrieved from

Wynne, K. (2016). How teacher voice can improve professional development.  Retrieved from


Stevebustin. (2014). Man holding microphone. Retrieved from





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

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from

Manolova, D. (2014). My version of high anxiety’s movie poster. Retrieved from

Office of Educational Technology. (2016).  National education technology plan.  Retrieved from

Tkach, R. (2015). Keep calm and tech on: a substitute teacher’s survival guide to integrating tech. Retrieved from 

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




EDTC 6105 Module 5: Pack the Essentials

When you go on a trip, you intentionally pack certain items to take along.  Doing this helps you feel comfortable and prepared to get the most out of the trip.  Travel sites abound with tips of what to take,
what to leave at home, and how to solve the most common dilemmas.  This fall, I’ve taken a course called Educational Technology Leadership that called for me to complete a coaching cycle with another educator.  This task reminded me of packing for a trip.  Having been a technology TOSA for 10 years, I have so much to bring to the situation, but what do I choose to specifically take? What do I intentionally choose to leave out, and how do I approach dilemmas that arise?  In other words, how do I coach so that my learning partner and his students get the most of the trip (experience)!

This term, I’ve read the text Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration by Les Foltos.  This text is a must read for novice and experienced coaches.  Before you learn what to “take with you”, Foltos shares some foundational pieces that need to be in place for the ground to be fertile and ready for coaching. I’ve blogged about this recently, but it warrants repeating.  The work of the coach must be aligned to district goals.  There needs to be academic purpose!  The coach and his or her supervisor need to take time to align this vision and work.  Second, the role of the coach needs to be clearly established and communicated throughout the district.  Principals, teachers, and all staff members need to know what the coach’s responsibilities include. They need to know that the technology coach is not the person who fixes printers or uploads names and student identification numbers to the LMS.  This needs to be clearly delineated.  If the technology coach is tasked with such duties, even for a small percentage of time, the vision is blurry to others.

Once a firm foundation is in place, what the coach “brings” is very important.  The coach must guide with quality listening and collaboration skills.  Being a good listener includes active listening, effective paraphrasing, and strong probing questions.  These interpersonal skills are key if trust is to develop between the coach and learning partner.  As the coach works with teachers, learning standards must be the foundation of the work.  The coach and learning partner need to take time when necessary to launch a browser and look at the standards together.  I have noticed that multiple standards can often be packaged together to increase the engagement, rigor, and depth of the lesson.  A resources I started using this fall, is the Lesson Activity Checklist (Foltos, p. 111).  As you look at a lesson through the eyes of a coach, ask yourself if the task is engaging, relevant, problem-based and enhanced by technology.  Pose probing questions to a teacher to help shift the lesson to this rigor.  Doing this demonstrates ISTE Coaching Standard 2f, “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”

Unlike a trip that eventually ends, powerful coaching needs to continue. Les Foltos quotes Barber and Mourshed (2007) to provide the why of coaching, “If you want good teachers, you need to have good teachers train them, and this requires focused one-on-one coaching in the classroom. In these highly successful school systems, coaches go into the classroom to provide feedback, model better instruction, and help teachers reflect on their practice” (p. 32).  How does a technology coach, continue improving his or her craft?  How does he or she keep abreast of new strategies and techniques?  

This week, I looked at what is essential to supporting and sustaining success as a coach.  In particular, I looked at what virtual and in-person Professional Learning Network (PLNS) for technology coaches are available.  I came to a conclusion, from personal experience, that you need balance in your PLN involvement.  I don’t mean a balance of virtual and in-person, but an equivalence in technical networking and coaching networking.   I recently watched a video of John Hattie speaking (TEDx, 2013) and it reinforced this feeling.  Hattie suggests schools spend their time and effort and strategies that have a high effect size.  The effect-size is .3 or less for technology integration in schools (Hattie, 2013, 7:35). It has been this way for the past 40-50 years.  That is a weak impact.  It has not changed.  Getting better at educational technology will not have a huge impact on learning.  I attend an in-personal regional PLN of Tech Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAS) monthly.  It’s a great meeting and it provides me an avenue for collaboration with like-job description educators.  It addresses emerging trends, instills inspiration, and provides a sounding board for dilemmas and successes in tech integration. However, it doesn’t frequently address coaching at a deep level.  Where do I nourish that wheelhouse?

From my recent research, I would recommend pairing up with other coaches and role-playing the coaching cycle.  Virtually, join or follow the Twitter chat hashtags, #edtechcoach and #etcoaches.  While not tech specific, follow #tosachat as well.  Coaching is really about quality instruction; there isn’t a need to constrain yourself to technology groups.  Another opportunity is to join an online group sponsored by ISTE, such as the Ed Tech Coaches network.  Look for groups on other social media sites as well, such as LinkedIn.  Recently, I watched a video of Michael Fullan speaking about the change process.  He shared that you must “shape and reshape good ideas so the ideas are not static” (Fullan, 2016, 23:30).  He made me realize that it’s not about the new ideas, but about building capacity.  I have been a coach for a decade.  I have received years of professional development around coaching.  Constant fine-tuning and adjusting is as important in year 10 as it is in year one for improving your coaching craft.  This is so important in meeting ISTE Coaching Standard 6b, 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.”

I believe that this course has prepared me to get the most out of my role as a coach. It has caused me to understand coaching in a school district must be built on a solid foundation and vision.  As Foltos advocates, “The school needs formal leaders that are committed to defining and implementing a culture of collaboration focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning” (p. 180).  Coaches need to be provided professional development of their own (such as a class like this) to understand their role and responsibilities, and have opportunity to practice and receive feedback.  Further, they need to be encouraged to continue this PD throughout their time as a coach. One method is through active collaboration with others, who understand effective coaching.  This is part of ISTE Coaching Standard 6c, Content Knowledge and Professional Growth, “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.”  

In closing, I ask you to consider, how do you balance learning more about emerging technology with developing your coaching skills?  Are you intentionally doing this?  Who do you collaborate with professionally?  What do you talk about the most?

Works cited:

Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. London: McKinsey and Company.

Bélanger, C. (2014).  My middle eastern vital kit.  Retrieved from

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Hawk. T. (2008).  Important works. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from

Newton. B. (2008).  Balance.  Retrieved from

Roots of Emathy. (2016, July 12). Michael fullan – perspectives on learning [Video file]. Retrieved from

TedxTalks. (2013, November 22). Why are so many of our teachers and schools so successful? John Hattie at TEDxNorrkoping [Video file].  Retrieved from

Module 4 EDTC 6105 A Nice Merge: A Smart Card, SAMR, Checklist & 21st Century Skills

merge sign

As I said in an earlier blog post this fall, the vision for the curriculum or technology coach must align with the district’s instructional vision.  In the same stead, shouldn’t the vision of 21st Century instruction by teachers align with the district vision? I thought about this as I pondered our week’s question, “What skills, resources, and processes will you use as you co-plan learning activities your learning partners want to improve?”  I decided to look at what documents teachers in my district are already provided and encouraged to use as a possible starting point.

Instructional expectations have changed significantly in recent years

Instructional expectations have changed significantly in recent years.  “In 2012 The Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program was born out of Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6696 during the 2010 legislative session…The bill created our pilot project and moved the state from a two-tiered system of unsatisfactory, to a four-tiered evaluation system. In addition to moving to a four-tiered system, the legislation created eight new criteria for teachers and principals to be evaluated upon…” (Anderson, 2016).  From that, Washington State school districts choose to adopt one of three instructional frameworks:  CEL5D, Danielson, or Marzano.  These frameworks outlined what quality teaching looks like.  All are research-based.  None call on technology integration directly.

As a coach, I bring this up because I feel that the teacher’s instructional framework is the first lens a teacher should examine their lesson through.  That is the district’s instructional vision!  Instruction, not technology.  One of my favorite books, Improving Achievement with Digital Age Best Practices by Christopher Moersch, grounds my thinking on this, “The danger with rolling out an initiative such as a new teacher evaluation system is the potential push back from key stakeholders (e.g. teachers) when competing and, in many instances, complementary initiatives and professional development opportunities are compromised or eliminated so that everyone can focus on the newest ‘flavor of the month’” (p. 107).  This statement really supports my decision to not overwhelm teachers with a multitude of documents or links.  Intentional selection of resources is critical.

 Intentional selection of resources is critical.

My district’s University of Washington’s 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (CEL5D) includes a Smart Card.  Every teacher has a physical and digital copy.  The Smart Card is similar to those in the Marzano and Danielson frameworks, but it is also unique because it contains inquiry questions.  ISTE Coaching Standard 2 tasks me with using research-based practices.  It states in 2f, “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”  The Smart Card gets at research-based best practices.

Reading through these inquiry Smart Card questions, I think they present great opportunities to discuss technology integration.  For example, in the Student Engagement (SE) dimension, one inquiry question is: “What is the frequency of teacher talk, teacher-initiated questions, student-initiated questions, student-to-student interaction, student presentation of work, etc.?” Each teacher in my district has an area of focus they are concentrating on for the year.  The teacher I’m working with wanted to increase engagement, specifically student talk.  I see this serving as a third point in a conversation.  Without coming off as the expert, which I’m not anyway, we could together turn to this card for the definition of student talk.  It gives clarity.  Do the technology tools selected support his goals?  This is where I can provide thoughtful input.  As Les Foltos says, “Coaches who assist teachers in identifying software or hardware that helps students complete learning tasks are playing a key coaching role” (p. 137).

Put your energy into the change teachers are already committing to.

Only so much change can be put in a system and have it sustain, put your energy into the change teachers are already committing to.  Whether your district is on CEL5D or not, every teacher should have an instructional area of focus.  ISTE Coaching Standard 1d states, “Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.”  Find the access points for technology within your district’s adopted instructional framework!  My conversation about student talk shows that great conversations about technology integration can build from an area of focus conversation.

As part two of my investigation this week, I tried to locate a lesson plan template that specifically included technology considerations.  I found one by Dr Chris Moersch called the LoTi Lesson Template.  I liked the standards and deep thinking skills emphasis.  I also like the essential questions and differentiation piece.  In the end, it seemed a little lengthy. I kept looking.  I also came across this LoTi rubric where a teacher could self-evaluate their lesson plan or a coach could use it in the lesson revision process. It was very characteristic focused.

All in all, I am deciding that besides the Framework Smart Card, the resources I most want to share with teachers are:  Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR Model and Les Foltos’ Learning Activity Checklist.  The SAMR model emphasizes rich integration rather than technology for technology’s sake and that is an easy, yet important concept for teachers to understand.  The Learning Activity Checklist (p. 111) is also simple for teachers to understand. The topics in the four quadrants (standards-based, engaging, problem-based, or technology enhanced) provide overlap between the district’s instructional goals and technology integration.  It brings in some 21st Century Skills, such as real-world situations and problem-solving processes that are not explicitly emphasized on the Smart Card.

samr graphic

There are plenty of entry points for development of 21st century skills in the instructional frameworks and lesson plans.  By walking through a lesson plan thoughtfully with your learning partner, you can find opportunities to promote problem solving, foster critical thinking, encourage collaboration, bolster communication, and ignite creativity.  21st Century Skills and the instructional frameworks intersect again and again.  However, the frameworks don’t name these intersections.  That is where the expertise of tech coach become valuable.  So, how do you do that as a technology coach?  You do this by being curious.  Sometimes your curiosity naturally brings questions to mind and sometimes you need a checklist to prime your pump to merge the ideas.

Works Cited

Anderson, S.  (2016). Teacher/principal evaluation program.  Retreived from

Colin. (2008).  Merge.  Retrieved from

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches.

Retrieved from

Moersch. C. (2014).  Improving achievement with digital age best practices.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Module 3 EDTC 6105 Fostering a Future Ready District


The triggering question for this module was, “How do we define 21st century learning, and how can we use the definition in our coaching work?”  When I think of 21st century learning, I think of the ending of the year 2000 and the Y2K worry of whether technology would survive the transition to January 1, 2001.  Would my teacher computer even work when I returned from winter break? Would my Accelerated Reader data exist in January or would it be wiped out?  That was teacher thinking when the 21st century started.  As a teacher with one computer connected to the internet, the idea of having students use the internet on their own to solve real world problems in my classroom and not with the computer lab teacher never crossed my mind.  I remember Partnership for 21st Century Skills, now known as P21, coming to be in 2002.  Suddenly, a rainbow graphic highlighting collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and creativity were part of every slideshow at every educational conferences. I never saw technology as tied to the graphic.  It was instead skills you emphasized without technology.

Jump ahead to 2016.  What relevance does the term 21st Century Learning have to the classroom teacher in 2016?  My question I generated this week, What tools can district teams (administrator, tech & instructional coaches, tech dept leaders, teachers, etc) use to evaluate their readiness for 21st Century Learning to prepare students to be career and college ready?, seeks to find alignment alignment between 21st Century learning and district vision.  This inquiry stems from reading, “One key step to using coaching to build a school’s capacity to improve is to align all the coach’s work with school’s and district’s educational goals (Foltos, p. 61).  I read this week’s ago, but it has stuck with me.

Recently, I attended the Future Ready conference at Highline College.  In preparation, my Superintendent was required to first sign the Future Ready Pledge and then our team completed a lengthy digital readiness survey developed by The Alliance for Excellent Education.  The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.  The Alliance created a project in 2015 called Future Ready Schools (FRS) to help school districts develop comprehensive plans.  That fits perfectly with ISTE Coaching Standard 1d, “Initiate or evaluate the progress of the change process in schools and classrooms.”  The survey examines your district’s readiness in the seven areas and a personalized report is created for your district overall.  The areas are: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Use of Space and Time, Robust Infrastructure, Data and Privacy, Community Partnerships, Personalized Professional Learning, and Budget and Resources.

Future Ready has two program goals.  One, transform instructional pedagogy and practice.  Two, simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom.  A pdf of the survey is linked here.  Is there overlap with 21st Century Learning strategies? Yes.  For example, the survey asks if collaborative workspace, sites for student discussion, and real-world connections for student projects are available now, in your plans, or not a priority.  It also directly asks you to rate, “Integrate strategies to promote 21st Century skills/deeper learning outcomes into curriculum and instruction for all students.”  Without going on at length, I would agree that the completing of the survey would let a district know their readiness to support 21st Century Learning with technology.

The layout of the survey is a rating scale. I liked that.  It caused my team to talk about research-based instructional best practices.  Such conversation directly supports ISTE Coaching Standard, Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, 2f: “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”  By being a part of this conversation, I was able, as the technology coach, to assess how I’m aligning my work to the larger vision of instruction. For example, we discussed teachers transitioning to more student-centric environments.  As another example, we discussed developing curriculum and instruction that provide each student the opportunity to solve real-world problems and courage collaboration with students, and others outside of the school environment.  


At the Future Ready Summit my team was also lead through an exercise called Shifting the Pedagogy that directly addressed the 4C’s, TPACK, and SAMR.  Following that we had team time to work together.  My director and others were not familiar with some of the terminology or frameworks.  This enabled us to jointly work on ISTE Coaching Standard 6a of Content Knowledge and Professional Growth, “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 Teaching standards.”  Overall, I see the Future Ready tool and Summit as evaluating where a district is on a continuum of providing opportunity and access for teachers and students to be innovative.  It also provides great conversation around where instruction, curriculum, assessment and technology intersect.  Some of what is addressed is physical and some of it is not.  When completed by cross-sectional district team, rich conversation is generated.  It’s really asking, Is your district ready to instruct students in the future and for the future?

Works cited:

Alliance for Excellent Education (n.d.). Future ready district assessment. Retrieved from

Curtis. L. (2016). Future ready 21 century learning. Retrieved

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches.

Retrieved from

This photo is a derivative of Rivollier, F. (2013).  Intersect.  Retrieved from


Module 2 EDTC 6105 Peer Coaching: Consider This

huge red ball caught between building with a man pushing on it

In my last blog post I emphasized the need for a district vision for the work of the coach. This week, I’m going to examine another crucial piece that will lead to success, well-developed communication and collaboration skills. In Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, Les Foltos (2013) states, “I have asked asked hundreds of Peer Coaches over the years, and they consistently respond that communication and collaboration skills are a prerequisite to successful collaboration” p. 77.

One of the most important of these skills is the art of listening. In general, are you a good listener? Have you ever been told you are? Have you ever made a conscious effort to improve your listening skills? Take this quiz to reflect on the quality of your listening. While not written for specifically for a school coach, the quiz brings up some great points. For example, repeating points back to clarify understanding. Another is paying attention to body language, yourself and the person you are speaking with. Use of leading questions is yet another; the list goes on. Good active listening is valuable to many facets of life.

Good active listening is valuable to many facets of life.

In chapter 5 Les Foltos zeros in on active listening, paraphrasing, asking clarifying questions, and the use of probing questions. He states, “In addition to repeated practice, experience has proven that coaches develop these skills more effectively if the learning exercises includes opportunities for participants to provide feedback to peers.” This means, we need to practice and then talk about and reflect on the process. Role-playing with someone is a good idea and will improve your skills. I believe this is what he is saying!

I want to make another point. Click and look at the quiz again. Notice that the choices are not yes or no. We are all on our own continuum of listening skill development.

We are all on our own continuum of listening skill development.

As a technology coach I know this. The question is, do I daily try and get better? I should. As I reflected on this, I realized that I would like to improve the quality of my clarifying and probing questions. I did some web-searching and found the work of Gene Thompson-Grove and Edorah Frazer (2002). I also found many derivatives of their work. They are known for their work around coaching questions stems. The first resource I found that builds on their work was on the School Reform Initiative website. It tackles clarifying questions vs probing questions. Clarifying questions are questions of fact and probing questions are ones that cause deeper thought to happen before an answer can be given. It offers suggestions for framing your probing questions and also provides sentence stems (starters) to form probing questions. For example, “When have you have you done something like this before?” The wide-openness of that question would make someone think; the reference to the past would cause the someone to make connections.

Another resource, that my colleague Ann Hayes-Bell directed me to, was a page on Elena Aguilar’s website. She is the author of the text, The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation. She goes so far as to break types of questions down further. She includes cathartic, catalytic, supportive, and more types of stems. I also did some reading of articles by Gene Thompson-Grove and Edorah Frazer. What I read on this page grabbed me. It said, “Think of probing questions as being on a continuum, from recommendation to action to most effective probing question.”  Effective was the word that grabbed me. As you recall, I had said we are on a continuum of listening skills. We are also on a continuum of the quality of our use of paraphrasing, development of clarifying questions, and the use of probing questions!

That said, where does this fall on the ISTE Standards for Tech Coaches? It falls under Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, standard 2f, “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.” I think Foltos makes this connection clear on page 99, “Communication skills, particularly probing questions, can play a vital role in encouraging teachers to think more deeply about their practice, take risks, and adopt innovative teaching strategies.” This work also falls under Visionary Leadership, standard 1d, which states, “Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.” A coach really is a change agent. I would conclude that the further we are on the continuum of collaboration and communication skills, the greater impact we would have on our learning partner and our school or school district. Again, it comes back to being intentional when the decision to hire a coach is being made. I’ve made a short video that highlights the points that need to be considered by administrators and coaches.

Works cited:

Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: effective strategies for school transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from

Mind Tools Team. (n.d.). How good are your listening skills? Retrieved from

PJMixer. (2009). It just won’t fit. Retrieved from

Thompson-Grove, G. (n.d). Pocket guide to probing questions. Retrieved from

Module 1 EDTC 6105 Peer Coaching: Cut to the Chase

pic of car chase


“Cut to the chase was a phrase used by studio executives to mean that the audience shouldn’t get bored by the extra dialog, and that the film should get to the interesting scenes without unnecessary delays. The phrase is now widely used, and means ‘get to the point.’”  Having spent a lot of time in peer coaching professional development over the past decade, this phrase comes to my mind when I hear the topic of coaching.   A quick Amazon search reveals 152 resources for the topic “peer coaching.”  Obviously, there are many experts in the field of study with many ideas, strategies, and techniques.   I’ve been trained in different models of coaching, cognitive and content.  I’ve studied and practiced different coaching stances.  I’ve learned about and used listening protocols.  I’ve role-played coaching scenarios on many occasions.  However, I really want to cut to the chase.  What is crucial?  What is integral? What is absolutely essential for great coaching to take place?

My answers to this question come from my recent reading of the book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration by Les Foltos.  Foltos emphasizes that a district academic focus is vital, “One key step to using coaching to build a school’s capacity to improve is to align all the coach’s work with the school’s and school district’s educational goals” p. 61.  This was fresh learning for me, common sense in a way.  I believe that quality learning for students comes as a result of a strong well-developed unit plan and skilled facilitation by a teacher.  Likewise, it makes sense that a successful technology professional development implementation comes as the result of a well-developed plan aligned to district goals.

A coach can be well trained in developing relationships, listening strategies, and facilitating inquiry cycles, but not be headed toward a success trajectory if there is not a clear vision for the work.  Furthermore, Foltos reminds us, “If a coach expects to be successful at helping another teacher improve student learning, the coach needs a clear idea of what roles he or she will play before beginning coaching” p. 4.  To cut to the chase, a clear vision and role clarity are job one.  After that, norms around co-learning, allocating of resources, and inquiry cycles between the coach and partner in learning can begin.  I see this as a stair-step approach to coaching as illustrated in my diagram below.

Working with educational technology, it’s easy to get distracted by new equipment, exciting software, technology glitches.  However, if we really cut to the chase, alignment of vision for the work is most important and establishing and communication of the role of the coach is critical.  

This YouTube video called Technology Coach provides a great example of this second step, defining the role of the coach.  This video paints technology integration as not separate, special, or an additional item on a teacher’s plate.  It is portrayed as a part of what teachers do. The technology coach’s role is clearly in support of the learning goals of the district.  Done in this fashion, ISTE Coaching Standard 1 Visionary Leadership is supported including components: b) contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels, and d) implement strategies for initiating technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.

Cut to the chase. (n.d) Retrieved October 9, 2016 from

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

Lewis, J. (2009). Car Chase. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from

Romstadt, R. (2014). Technology Coach.  YouTube.  Retrieved from