Category Archives: Professional Development Program Evaluation

What teachers need to learn about professional digital citizenship

The ISTE standards for Educators outline how educators can help model, support and teach digital citizenship for students. They are, as we’d hope, responsible use standards that focus on the things we do want teachers to do with technology. It uses words like “positive, socially responsible contributions”, “establish a learning culture”, “mentor students”, and “model and promote management of identity”. (See the graphic below for the full text of the Educator Standards.)

I am in full agreement that teachers need to be part of educating students about digital citizenship. In many districts it’s been a task turned over to librarians. For a long time libraries were where technology was happening and often the only place students had access to technology. However, in an age of 1:1 one devices, teachers are now in a better position to be able to address issues in the moment, spy out and use those teachable moments to teach students or reinforce digital responsibility, and they are there when the technology is being used. Librarians are still amazing resources for digital citizenship and digital and media literacy instruction. But what if we could take the task of teaching students those skills off the librarians plates and instead have them teach teachers those same skills?

I’ve been searching for a few months to try and find some resources to teach teachers about digital citizenship. I don’t mean how to teach them to teach their students, I’m talking about teaching teachers the things they need to know to keep themselves safe, protect their own digital reputations and become ethical consumers of digital information. I’m not sure its the same as just picking it up by osmosis as they are teaching students. It seems unfair but teachers, like a lot of public figures, are more in the spotlight than many other professions such as an accountant or a scientist. They work with children. There is a higher standard expected of teachers, especially in their interactions with students and parents. It’s not even enough to keep your professional and private lives separate online when everything is so searchable. So, I’d like to find some ways that I can help teachers understand their own professional responsibility when it comes to issues of social media, copyright, account privacy and other issues that could  affect them and their professional reputations.

Let’s take the ISTE for Educator Standards and see what teachers might need to know in order to be able to model and teach the standards and protect their digital reputations:

Standards 3a & 3d

These two standards are about positive relationships online and managing one’s digital footprint. We want teachers using social media. It’s hard to stay relevant and connected without a social media presence anymore, but we do need teachers to know how to keep their presence appropriate and manage their digital reputation. One interesting resource I discovered was Childnet International. Their  Social-Media-Guide-teachers-and-support-staff has some good advice about things like when it’s appropriate or not to “friend” students on social media, setting privacy settings on social media accounts and managing your professional reputation. Their online safety calendar 2017-2018 has links to video and print resources for teachers and checklists to help teachers manage their digital footprint and their social media sites. Their INSET Training also discusses issues of reporting and monitoring student behaviors. There are lots of good resources here that I will spend more time learning about and finding ways to incorporate into training for teachers.

There is also the issue of training teachers to take a closer look at the privacy policies of websites that they ask their students to sign up for. We have a responsibility to watch out for the welfare of our student’s data when they are too young to do it themselves. Becoming more familiar with what to look for in online agreements is essential. The document from the government: Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices seems like a good place to start to learn more about protecting students.

Standards 3b & 3c

The areas of being critical consumers of online content and the ethics of intellectual property rights have more in common with good practices for students but it’s incredibly tempting to “borrow” things from the internet for that lesson coming up in 15 minutes. Teachers need good instruction on copyright and fair use. Many districts are also helping teachers understand and define intellectual property rights in regards to teachers creation of content that they want to sell online. We may need some more open conversations with teachers about what belongs to the district and what belongs to teachers.

Training for teachers is beginning to take more shape in my mind. Using these resource I can hopefully get a good start on it anyway.


ISTE | Standards For Educators. (2017). Retrieved 20 February 2018, from

Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices. (2014). Washington DC. Retrieved from

School Pack for Online Safety Awareness. (2017). Childnet. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from


The potential for micro credentialing in support of adult learning

As much as instructional leaders and Professional Development instructors know about best instructional practices, we often fall back on traditional “sit and get”, lecture style delivery methods, powerpoint marathons and packets of information when working with adults. It’s easy to see why in some cases. We assume adults can handle getting their information that way and that they’ll pay attention because it’s related to their job. We are often pressed for time, and need to communicate information quickly and we assume that adults will be interested to learn because we are trying to help them become better teachers.

But the reality is, we aren’t hitting the mark. The pressure of standardized testing has certainly had some negative consequences but it’s also put a spotlight on data. It’s made it clear that the traditional ways we’ve been teaching our students aren’t working for all of them. The fact is, we are failing some of our kids and need to change our teaching practices and our education systems. The growth of technology that’s happened at the same time has opened up possibilities and at the same time put pressure on our institutions to think differently about our instructional practices, our ways of delivering content, the ways students can show  mastery and evidence of their learning and it’s provided us the opportunity to have access to learning on our own schedules. The question is, why don’t we allow teachers to learn that way too?

Knowles (1984) identifies characteristics of adult learners that we need to revisit as we rethink how we can take the best parts of what we know about learning and bring that to new ways for teachers to learn too.

Autonomous and self-directed: If given the right tools,  teachers can often self identify their own learning needs. It may be useful for newer teachers to also have the support and insight of their principal or mentor teacher to identify needs as well. Although evaluation tools like TPEP in Washington State are used punitively by some districts, it is possible instead to use those tools as a mechanism to identify learning needs for teachers that will directly impact student learning. Once those needs are identified, we can help teachers by providing resources and tools to facilitate their own learning needs. Online courses and tutorials, personalized professional development, work inside PLC groups, and learning from other teachers can all provide avenues for teacher to learn on their own.

Respect for the foundation of life experiences and knowledge: Teachers enter the profession with a variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom. We know students learn better when they can connect their learning to prior knowledge and the same should be true for adult learners. Our Professional Development opportunities need to take into account the expertise in the room and help teachers make connections to their experiences. We need to respect and honor what those experiences bring to the table while still expecting a growth mindset and a willingness to at least entertain new ideas.

Goal-Oriented: Most adults will focus better and pay more attention to something they’ve chosen to learn because they are trying to learn something that will help them achieve a personal goal. We need to give teachers choices in their professional development so they can develop skills to help them reach goals that are important to them.

Relevancy- oriented & Practical: This all goes back to purpose. People don’t retain learning well if they don’t understand the reason they are learning. I’ve stopped getting frustrated by teachers who ask me questions that make it feel like they aren’t listening or paying attention to the email’s, trainings, resources, etc. that I’ve give them. People need to know things when they are ready to know them. If it doesn’t feel relevant and practical to them at the time it’s taught to them they won’t retain it or take the time to try it out. The trick is in finding ways to increase readiness and create the conditions for the learning to be needed so it is relevant for teachers. If I figure out the trick I’ll blog about it some other time.

ISTE Coaching standard 4b asks coaches to “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.“ Many districts have been successfully using technology to address some of these issues. Video tutorials, online PD courses, badge based learning, webinars and other alternatives for learning are becoming a more integral part of professional development options. One option I’ve been interested in learning more about is micro credentialing. Micro credentialing “offers an opportunity to shift away from the credit-hour and continuing-education requirements…toward a system based on evidence of progress in specific instructional skills.”  (Sawchuck 2016) I like the idea of a mastery based system that requires more of teachers than just “butts in seats”. Micro- credentialing allows teachers to be recognized for their expertise. One program in the Kettle Moraine district in Wisconsin involves peers in evaluating the evidence of learning from fellow teachers and approves the micro credential. Although I love that idea, I would think it would be challenging to sustain over a long period of time.

Christopher Pappas (Pappas 2014)  applied Knowles theory to eLearning and suggested that adults need to have a chance to absorb knowledge instead of just memorizing it; “ the subject matter should offer them the chance to fine tune skill sets and acquire (and retain) practical knowledge by doing, rather than just memorizing.” Micro credentialing also offers the chance for the hands on, practical and relevant learning that can benefit teachers and ultimately our students.


Pappas, C. (2013). The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles – eLearning Industry. eLearning Industry. Retrieved 9 February 2018, from

Pappas, C. (2014). 9 Tips To Apply Adult Learning Theory to eLearning – eLearning Industry. eLearning Industry. Retrieved 9 February 2018, from

Sawchuk, S. (2016). Can ‘Micro-Credentialing’ Salvage Teacher PD?. Education Week. Retrieved 9 February 2018, from


Essential Elements of Online Professional Development

I’m writing this from my cabin on a two week cruise to the Panama Canal. It’s given me a new appreciation for the ubiquitous nature of wifi and cellular data in the United States and how expensive it is if you want to stay connected to your online world. I’m considering it a technology cleanse!

My topic for this week was to look at the essential elements of online professional development. The ISTE 4b standard for Coaches asks them to “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principals of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.” I believe that teachers need to adjust their mindsets to always be learners themselves. Even teachers in content areas that don’t change much, like social studies or math, can learn new ways of teaching and thinking about their topic in order to make it more relevant for their students.

The first step is knowing what makes good Professional Development in the first place. The Learning Policy Institute (Hyler & Gardner 2017) suggests that these characteristics are essential:

  • Content Focused
  • Incorporates Active Learning
  • Supports collaboration
  • Uses models of effective practice
  • Provides coaching and expert support
  • Offers feedback and reflection
  • Is of sustained duration

I’d argue that that would be true of learning for students as well but it meshes well with my own personal views of PD. We’ve done too much ‘one and done’ technology training for staff that doesn’t meet their needs or doesn’t happen when they are ready for it. Readiness is a difficult thing to overcome, especially with technology training. If you aren’t ready to hear a message or learn a skill, sitting through a two hour technology training is pretty much a waste of time. I’m still trying to figure out how to increase readiness but that might be a post for another time.

Online learning may be one way to provide staff with the learning they need when they are ready for it but there does need to be some motivation for that learning to take place. I really loved the idea of blended PD (Piehler 2017) that I came across from the Learning Counsel. The idea was to use online learning as part of a larger professional development plan that included coming together in PLCs to talk about what staff were learning from their online experiences and give them a chance to get support or to teach others what they’ve learned. I’d really like to find some ways to create that kind of culture in our district to make online learning more meaningful and useful.

As to what is essential for online PD, most articles I read agreed that clear content, easy navigation, interactive content and regular feedback are key. I really liked this article Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Experience” (Hathcock 2012) that talked about the importance of the instructor in the process of learning. I don’t think we can forget the value of a real teacher as a part of the learning process.

Losing internet connection again! Posting while I can. I’ll come back and add resources when I get a better signal!


Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective Teacher Professional DevelopmentLearning Policy Institute. Retrieved 21 January 2018, from

Hathcock, D. (2012). Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning ExperienceFaculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. Retrieved 21 January 2018, from

Piehler, C. (2017). A Blended Approach to Teacher PDthe Learning Counsel. Retrieved 21 January 2018, from

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 2: Breaking Down Adult Learning – Whole+Part+Whole

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Curtis, Lori. (2017).  Created and 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 6104 Individual Project: Professional Development Proposal Reflection

Google cardboard picture without device
I have been providing professional development to teachers for almost a decade.  During that time, it’s been interesting to witness the different formats that school districts and conference use to structure their professional development.  I’ve been told before that my session needs to last 7 hours or been asked what do you think would be a good 90 minute session?  Read that again.  I’ve been told before that my session needs to last 7 hours or been asked what do you have that would be a good 90 minute session? That’s quite a contrast.  As well, I’ve also been a part of conferences that run 50 minute sessions or 2 hour workshops.  The last conference I presented at was 5 hours with the presenter and 2 hours of team work time.  The majority of the in-district professional development decisions are not based on what learners need or what time the learning needs.  From my experience, they are based on teacher contracts and the calendar.

generic calendar

My personal philosophy is work the best I can within these parameters to look at the learning and break it down, like a lesson plan.  Then, I dissect and parcel it into the available time/calendar.  In my district I offer technology integration sessions that are 30, 60, and 90 minutes in length.  Some topics have multiple sessions.  For example, Google Forms has a beginner, advanced, and expert level.  That equates to a total of four and 1/2 hours, but it can only be taken in 90 minute sessions.  Soine & Lumpe (2014) reference a professional development pilot survey (p. 10).  Under the topic of  duration, “I had time to practice a new skill in my classroom between professional development experiences.” is mentioned.  This is exactly the reason that I advocate for 90 minute or less sessions.  I want teachers to learn the basics of the tools and the benefits it should have toward students learning, the WHY!  Then, I want them to go try it or have me come to their classroom and help them try it out with students.  After that, I want them to reflect and bring questions (if possible) to a second session.

Active and engaged learning is another strong professional development characteristic from Soine & Lumpe (2014).  The hip happening thing right now is to have teachers be students and experience the student-side of things.  I’m guilty of saying this as well.  Having teachers “be students” really doesn’t describe the verbs we are looking for in terms of their participation.  While I might be splitting hairs here, I don’t think I am.  I think it would be better to say they will be actively “problem solving” or “analyzing” during the session.  You can insert any powerful active verb you wish.  Many educators use the word engage or engaging lately.  Can you really picture that?  Engage is not on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge.

In my proposal to share about Google Expeditions, I considered my audience and timeframe and the fact that I wouldn’t have a follow-up opportunity.  An overview of my district’s experience with the software and hardware content knowledge, the why for learning, and the opportunity to navigate the software seemed like a nice fit for an hour time limit.  Further, there would be time to model managing the devices and provide tips, as well as question and answer time.  These are teacher needs that sometimes get overlooked.  In Google Expeditions with Cardboard they are particularly important because students are so excited. Last of all, the collaborative nature of the teacher-led expedition and reflection using Socrative will allow teachers to share with each other what they think are next steps, what they feel are the implications for their classroom, and to explore the Expeditions Catalog.

Karen M. Soine & Andrew Lumpe (2014): Measuring characteristics of teacher professional development, Teacher Development: An international journal of teachers’ professional development, DOI: 10.1080/13664530.2014.911775


Cholet, D. (2011).  Calendar.  Retrieved from
othree. (2014). Google Cardboard.  Retrieved from