Category Archives: leadership

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.

Future Ready Schools: A Framework for Collaborative Leadership

As I considered ISTE educator standard 2c which calls for multiple stakeholders to participate in shaping learning through technology, I kept thinking of the popular saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Like most educators, I have seen wonderful things happen when a community of learning forms around a student. A healthy community of learning includes parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and outside individuals and groups such as community leaders or business owners. All of these parties have valuable insight and ideas that can help shape our students’ future–especially when we consider the role of technology in that future. However, collecting stakeholder input can seem daunting and for that reason, I wanted to explore the Future Ready Schools initiative in my research this week.

Defining Future Ready

When we discuss the idea that schools and students should be “future ready,” we mean much more than simply placing devices into students’ hands. A future-ready school has a shared vision for technology use, supports teachers and students in their use of technology, plans ahead for future costs, promotes ongoing communication and feedback with stakeholders, and cultivates an environment of innovation (Adams and Domenech, 2016).

The Benefit of Collaborative Leadership

When the Office of Educational Technology visited schools practicing collaborative leadership, they discovered that stakeholders are more likely to buy-in to a plan for educational technology when they have the opportunity to shape the plan as opposed to being told what they will do. As the Coachella Valley superintendent said of his district’s technology implementation, it should be “With you, not to you.” This idea applies to taxpayers being asked to fund technology, business owners considering donating to a school, and teachers adopting new technology in the classroom. (Adams and Domenech, 2016) When we have a voice in the process, we are more likely to see the plan through to the end.

The Future Ready Schools Initiative

Future Ready Schools (FRS) is a framework for implementing educational technology at the district level in order to prepare all students (especially those in under-served and socioeconomically disadvantaged schools) for the future. It is a nationwide initiative funded in part by taxpayers.

Most people agree that students need technology skills to prepare them for the future, but what exactly that looks like can vary greatly from school to school, or even classroom to classroom in the same school. FRS is a framework that can remedy that ambiguity. The framework is a five-step process which includes creating a leadership team, completing a self-analysis, collecting data from stakeholders, implementing an action plan, and measuring the progress made. The process can be repeated as necessary.

In determining a school’s degree of ‘future readiness,’ the program considers 7 key areas, called gears: 1) Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, 2) Use of Space and Time, 3) Robust Infrastructure, 4) Data and Privacy, 5) Community Partnerships, 6) Personalized Professional Learning, and 7) Budget and Resources. Another way to approach these gears is to think of them as standards for future readiness within a school district.

FRS is a comprehensive program for identifying areas of need within each gear and making suggestions based on those results. The district’s needs are determined through multiple surveys given to various stakeholders–principals, upper administration, teachers, librarians, parents, and community members. Everyone has a say in assessing where the district is currently at, and where they’d like to end up.

FRS provides email templates to send to stakeholders as well as links to complete the survey digitally so that data across multiple stakeholders can be aggregated. Responses are anonymous. As you can see from the following survey screenshots, each gear is targeted toward a different stakeholder. The complete survey may be accessed here. Throughout the survey completion process, the leadership team meets to analyze the district’s needs and brainstorm solutions. Once data from all the stakeholders have been collected, the FRS algorithm returns a readiness score for each of the gears as well as an overall score. The following image is taken from a sample report. The entire sample report (60+ pages) may be viewed here.Along with the analysis, suggestions in the form of research-based strategies are included within the report, as pictured below. Additional resources are provided for free within the FRS website library. FRS also supports districts through seminars and trainings.

Based on the data and suggestions, the FRS leadership team then creates a plan to equip the district (and subsequently students) to be more future ready. Depending on the needs, this might involve investing in a more robust infrastructure, hiring technology coaches to facilitate teaching training, developing a uniform standard for student tech knowledge by grade-level, or a myriad of other changes.

By design, FRS is an ongoing framework. Districts should consider gathering new input after the changes have been made. New needs may be identified or policies may reveal gaps and the process repeats.

Final Thoughts

FRS provides a valuable diagnostic and toolkit for districts looking to expand their use of technology in order to ensure all students are ready for the future. This framework is the closest I’ve come to finding a comprehensive set of standards for technology implementation. By comprehensive, I mean that the framework considers all aspects of educational technology including the lesser discussed issues such as infrastructure and community involvement.

The downside of FRS is that it is designed to be implemented district-wide. An individual teacher or technology coach cannot utilize the program on their own. In fact, signing up for the FRS program (while free) must be completed by the district superintendent.

I believe there is still value for individual teachers or technology coaches by way of the gears when we consider them as standards. As a teacher who served on my prior district’s Future Ready Schools leadership team, the survey questions for the various gears pushed me to consider how I was implementing technology in the classroom. Once I identified my shortcomings, I was able to consider possible solutions. The two gears most relevant to individual classroom teachers are Use of Space and Time and Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.


Adams, B. and Domenech, D. (2016). Sharing Stories of Collaborative Leadership. [online] Medium. Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2018].

Future Ready Schools. (2015). Future Ready Schools – Preparing Students for Success. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].

Changing the Mindset of School Leaders Through the Empowerment of Instructional Coaches

I have recently explored ISTE Coaching Standarto try to understand how professional learning impacts explicitly the use of education technology. This week specifically I looked at the influence of school leadership or administration and how they influence the professional learning and educational technology adoption process of the staff.

Taking advantage of technology in the classroom makes the support of a proScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 10.34.37 PMactive school administrator who should help facilitate, and organize along with the district instructional technology task force. Within chapter three of the Project Evaluation Report Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State entitled Professional Learning Requires Attention to School and District Culture Attending it states that “the “culture” of a school or district organization requires careful attention to a variety of indicators. Desimone (2009) articulates that professional development is not one-size-fits-all that can universally be applied across contexts.  As school leadership is examining how they approach professional learning they need to keep in mind that adults learn need to have the opportunity to approach the content in a variety of contexts.  Moreover, as administrators must take on several roles in the building they can’t always be focused on these different approaches to learning.  Therefore, how can district instructional coaches (or whatever you call them in your district) be seen by administrators to hold more of a leadershiprole. Renewed+Vision+for+Leadership_+Leadership+for+Learning

When I was perusing my latest installment of English Leadership Quarterly that is a part of my NCTE membership I found an article entitled “Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership” by Luke Rodesiler, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.  This piece had a few gems in it regarding the thought process of leadership.  I know it mainly pertains to English teachers, but I think it can be applied to all educators Pre K thru Higher Education. Here is a quote “ I recognize leadership not as the product of a formal appointment in a top-down, authority-driven model but, like Lambert and colleagues (2002), as a reciprocal process embraced by those who see the need or the opportunity. This vision of leadership is not about rigid and unchanging hierarchies; instead, it promotes the boundaries of leadership as porous and flexible, allowing teachers to carry out acts of leadership as they see fit and as they are able. Additionally, for the purposes of this article, I recognize English teachers’ online participation as the creation of new content on the Web in an exploration of issues at the center of an English teacher’s work: teaching, learning, and literacy” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3).

Admins – Let Instructional Coaches Be your Marketing Team

Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their organization’s learning goals are those who will be the most successful in this reciprocal process. As district officials and school administrators do not have press relations managers nor do they employee marketing directors, they still need to communicate the districts message and brand.  It is important that those looking to move to the neighborhood understand who the school’s leaders are and how they will help their children. Rodesiler goes on to explain that when leadership is delegated one can “draw(n) from a content analysis of collected artifacts to document three acts of leadership embedded in the routine online participation of [English] teachers in the study: (a) making teaching practices public; (b) speaking out on topical issues in education; and (c) creating platforms for others” (2018, p. 4).  I think these three acts of leadership can lead to better job satisfaction for the administration, better community advocacy and involvement, and in the end teacher retention. 

Making teaching practices public

Before I started the DEL program at SPU, I was in need of finding people who were public about the teaching practice.  As an educator, it became crucial for me to communicate with people who were like-minded and I could find mentorship for my future.  This task required me to go online and seek these people out myself.  As I got more and more involved with Twitter and other public practices I witnessed how teachers “participated online, teachers in the study spoke out about topics tied closely to their work as educators, including curriculum decision-making, professional development, and the de-professionalization of teaching. In doing so, they took on the responsibility of adding their voices to conversations that all too often seem to be dominated by those outside the field of education” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3). As documented, the Web offers teachers multiple and varied avenues for exercising their influence and inviting others to do the same.  This evidence of influence can only help administrators and district officials make a case for the power of their school and their vision. 

Speaking out on topical issues in education

Although leadership in technology is needed across all levels of the education system, the need in PK–12 public schools is acute. Getting technology in schools is a multi-layer systematic change that takes budges and board members approval.  But it needs to begin to move quicker because as of 2017, twenty percent of school-aged children media consumption comes from mobile devices. Children’s use of electronic media is increasing, resulting in significant part from tech transformations, easy access to mobile devices, especially cell phones. Which meansThe majority of students may not be able to stop by the classroom after school but could interact with school while using some sort of technology. This can allow for real-time access to resources, due dates, and feedback.  On top of that  Did you also know…Only 58% of parents of school-aged children carried smartphones in 2010. Now 94% of parents of are smartphone users.  This means that the topical issues and the information being shared are happening online and on mobile devices. 

Creating platforms for others

Whichever tools the administrators condones for the educators to spread the great news of the district in school be it Twitter, Edmodo School Pages,  Facebook, Linkedin, or perhaps something like WordPress or another blog system like Medium. Demonstrating how administrators have used some of these platforms for positive career development should help persuade reluctant educators of their importance.  I believe that instructional coaches could take on the role of also demonstrating how educators can become their own advocates, self-promoters, and networking gurus if they are only willing to make their practice a bit more public.

Student Communication Tools


Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

Rodesiler, L. (2018). Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership. English Leadership Quarterly, 40(3), feb, 3-6. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Systems Framework for Digital Environments

While studying the needs of teacher professional development in a digital age, I wondered what is the optimal way in which to promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. One knows the school leadership establishes the goals and develops the process that supports and sustains the environment that allows teachers to innovate classrooms… Continue Reading Systems Framework for Digital Environments

EDTC 6105: ISTE Coaching Standard 4b: Utilizing Technology for PD

ISTE Coaching Standard 4 provides three benchmarks for technology coaches to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning. My focus is on performance indicator b: Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning

Technology embedded Professional Development

Technology can bring benefits to the classroom, and can be used to provide authentic learning activities. One way to help educators is to show them how to effectively use technology in their classroom, in the same way as we would our students, in authentic learning activities that are integrated as part of professional development. Increasing… Continue Reading Technology embedded Professional Development

Peer Coaching: Stronger Together

Tis the season…along every arterial median these days are multitudes of political signs with every catchy campaign slogan imaginable. There is one slogan during this campaign season I find relatable to this quarter’s class as we delve in to unpacking the ISTE Coaching Standards, specifically Standard 1: Visionary Leadership: Technology coaches inspire and participate in the development and […]

Certification Program Redesign: Needs Assessment


One of the biggest takeaways from my time in the Digital Education Leadership program through Seattle Pacific University is that teachers are students, too. When diving into effective mentoring and professional development, some of the most successful strategies are those that are also used in the classroom. Many back-to-school workshops remind teachers to get to know their students and provide differentiation in every learning experience. In other words, providing learners (adults included) with a pre-assessment (formal or informal) to determine where they are in order to reach where they need to be.

Edutopia has a great article and video that touches on the importance of assessment before learning even begins:

In an earlier post, I wrote about my journey in reviewing and redesigning a university’s Library Media Endorsement (LME) certification program. Here, I continue that work by drafting a Needs Assessment survey for potential students. As I mentioned in my last post, the program is not yet finalized, so I am omitting the name of the institution and it will henceforth be identified as “University.”

Before writing the Needs Assessment survey, I did a bit of background research, attempting to see how other schools have assessed their incoming … Read More

Certification Program Redesign: Program Evaluation


When I talk to people about the Digital Education Leadership program through Seattle Pacific University, I often end up saying, “Well, there’s homework, but it’s not really homework. I do work, but it’s directly related to my responsibilities as a librarian and an educator. So, it’s homework but it’s not really homework. It’s bigger than that. It has more significance than ‘homework.'” While this has been proven throughout the duration of the program, it couldn’t have been more true than when I was offered the opportunity to redesign a Library Media Endorsement certification program… As part of my “homework.”

My classmates and I were recently tasked with conducting a program evaluation. Students learned “how to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs,  evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning, and communicate findings to the institution” (Course syllabus). Dr. David Wicks, Chair of the Digital Education Leadership program, came to me with a wonderful opportunity to redesign a university’s Library Media Endorsement (LME) certification program. Because the program is not yet finalized, I am omitting the name of the institution and it will henceforth be identified as “University.”

Program Evaluation

The project was designed to evaluate … Read More