Category Archives: Professional Development

Connecting PLCs to Local and Global PLNs: Module 3

Begin with the End in Mind

This quarter we continue to investigate ISTE-C Standard 4b about how Educational Technology coaches can model principles of adult learning while demonstrating best practices in professional development. It makes sense that we are spending our entire quarter considering this standard because of the importance professional development could play in the role of a teacher. In much of the current professional development it appears that there is an unmet potential. It’s not really a surprise then that I’m finding my post this module is related to the last two posts I’ve written this quarter. It too has elements of choice for teachers along with variety in the offerings for professional development.

I started off this module asking about teachers as learners and trying to decide how professional development opportunities could be continue to be relevant after a session ends? I was wondering how Twitter chats, hashtags and online PLNs could play a role in helping teachers to continue learning and how learning through technology in that way might demonstrate digital age best practices. I’m not going to completely abandon that idea but in conducting research I’ve decided to include some best practices for professional development in the physical school environment as well because in my school district this constitutes the majority of professional learning opportunities. I also know that previously PLCs were a part of the district but they were required, much like in my past district so I wanted to revisit the practice of PLCs in a way that might appeal to teachers even if it wasn’t a requirement. My new question became how can individual buildings and the school district support PLCs and teachers as learners? As I asked this new question I also had to consider if PLCs can support digital age best practices, and I think they do as I’ll explain a bit later as I look at the Triple E framework through the lens of professional learning. The only thinking that might be missing from this post for me personally as a technology coach is maybe what role do I play in supporting this kind of learning in my schools? I don’t know if I will get to that specifically in this post or not, but if not it is something I will continue to think about.

Starting the Change

Over and over again in my readings on professional development throughout my time in the Digital Education Leadership Program at SPU I’ve read about how important teacher choice is in education. In this case I’m talking about choice in professional development. This week I read an interesting paper on teacher agency in professional learning and I think it makes a good case for involving teachers in the process. The paper starts out by asking an important question, “What if we are operating under faulty assumptions about how adults learn and what motivates them to learn?” (Calvert, 2016). For my school district I think it is important to start to involve teachers in the process of shaping their own professional learning again. I’ve seen some of the school improvement plans for my buildings and I don’t know how much teacher input there is into a school professional learning plan. To get teachers engaged in their learning many resources suggest getting input from teachers. A popular way to do that in my district is through survey data. I’ve heard talk from the district level that they are afraid of survey fatigue but it seems to me that in spite of that possibility we have to find a way to have teachers weigh in on the learning they will receive at buildings.

For the school district the focus should begin to shift as well. There are many initiatives happening and I don’t doubt that they are valuable but if improvign teaching and learning is a focus then devoting some time to professional learning is important. A teacher survey is the first step to designing learning that will be meaningful to each school individually. With over 20 elementary schools the needs are diverse, so learning should be diverse especially if it is designed from input from staff members at individual buildings. If members of the leadership are concerned with getting input from staff members I think this quote is a helpful way to frame the thinking about teacher input. “They must understand the intangible, but enormous, value teachers place on being listened to and involved meaningfully as well as the benefits the school community enjoys when teachers are intrinsically motivated to pursue their continued development” (Calvert, 2016). More involvement translates to an improved school community, which is related to a district goal we are pursuing.

After staff have provided input (or maybe before the process starts they can make it clear that) the district will ask teachers to lead sessions of professional learning for their staff. This provides an opportunity for coaches to guide teachers in some best practices for adult learners or to provide some guidance on technology integration. Here is how one district tackled designing the learning, “after conducting the survey, Mieliwocki and Almer brought together teacher leaders from each school to talk about the survey results and make teacher-directed plans for professional learning,” (Calvert, 2016). Again support was provided but plans were individualized for each school based on local needs.

With input from schools the district office is better able to support individual schools and can support administrators. The shift from whole district to school based professional learning topics in fact might help administrators to better support their staff as talked about in the WA-TPL “when district leadership utilizes a research-based approach to making decisions about the design of professional learning opportunities, individual school leaders are better able to make decisions about how to meet the needs of all educators,” (Bishop, Lumpe, Henrikson & Crane, 2016). So,individualizing professional learning eases the burden administrators carry to make learning relevant to their staff. If a staff is able to pick their learning, it will be relevant!

One final consideration I read about for districts to support this initial change is to provide quality professional learning for principals. Some principals may need guidance on how to be instructional leaders in their buildings. They might not be aware of the adult learning principles, just as I was not aware of them before learning about them during this class. In addition to learning about adult learning principles, they can learn about why and how to give teachers support in their professional learning. I know principals are stretched thin, so I’m not saying they have to be a part of everything, they might have to release some responsibility to let teachers grow. However, it is clear that somehow, they should be learning alongside their staff, (Bishop, Lumpe, Henrikson, & Crane, 2016). As was said in Moving from Compliance to Agency, “the principal doesn’t have to be on every team, but she or he must foster a commitment of excellence, improvement, and shared leadership through such peer networks,” (Calvert, 2016).

Connection to Digital Age Best Practices

I wanted to clearly connect my thinking to digital age best practices since that was the original goal of this module and much of our learning as digital education leaders. In order to do that I want to use the Triple E framework from Liz Kolb. The Triple E is designed to analyze best practices in teaching with technology but I think it would apply to professional learning as well. The three E’s are Engagement, Enhancement and Extension. I’ve done my best to connect how those relate to digital age best practices in professional development.

Engagement

I think that teachers will be more engaged in their learning because of the level of involvement they are given by providing input on learning. In addition to that, Twitter or an educational chat on any other social media service provides access to learning and resources after initial exposure in a PLC. At a district level I think those resources could be shared with principals or may even be shared at a school level by teachers who are following or participating in Twitter chats to the benefit of others. Later at the end of this post I’ll share some possible resources that I found also for discovering Twitter chats. Overall, I think that school based learning would help ensure teachers are active learners instead of passive learners.

Enhancement

The understanding of content and professional learning is enhanced by using technology. Technology may even act as a scaffold providing multiple entry points and directions when staff members are researching or learning about the same topic. All contributions become valuable to the team, shifting the idea that any one person is in charge of the learning of others which shows respect for those participating in the PLC. To demonstrate understanding of a concept or topic or in a content area teachers could even participate in a micro credentialing course as a PLC or pursue some other kind of badging to demonstrate their learning. In addition to these ideas simply participating in a Twitter chat would provide additional understanding over time. One great resource I’ll share a link to later is Participate, because it shows daily or weekly educator chats that are upcoming and shows topics that will be discussed.

Extension

Teachers learning is extended when working with their PLC if they continue to investigate topics they are learning about outside of the school day. If teachers participate in a Twitter chat they are definitely extending their learning, and with a teacher laptop or smartphone they could do that learning from anywhere with an internet connection. Other tools like microcredentials are also available for teachers outside of the school day. Both of these tools help teachers to build a positive digital footprint and connect them with other educators across the country and world.

Ways to Connect

In this post I also want to make sure to share some ways that teacher can connect and for me as a coach, I think part of my role should be sharing the idea of participating in a Twitter chat with the teachers I work with. I came across a few good resources in my investigation this module as I read about “Professional Development for Globally Minded Educators” and “The Future of Professional Development is Collaborative Development,” both of those resources can be found below. They each talk about why educators might use something like a Twitter chat for professional development. In “The Future of Professional Development is Collaborative Development,” they provide a resource that I think would be beneficial for teachers getting started with Twitter chats. At the Participate website there is a way to search for Twitter chats that are happening that day or that week. The daily chats are even divided up by morning, afternoon or evening. One other resource I thought would be helpful for getting teachers connected outside of their PLC is the list of Education Chats from ISTE. They have curated a list of 40 chats that are worth the time of teachers. Finally here are a couple other ways to connect, you can use a variety of resources to search for hashtags on Twitter after you find a chat to follow or investigate.

      1. Twitter Search
      2. Twubs
      3. Tweetdeck

How to Share Information

Now I wanted to think about how this information can be shared with an entire school district to focus buildings on learning that applies for them and to encourage PLCs meeting within each building. First I think teachers need to be able to provide input through a survey or some other way to hear the voices of all affected. In addition to asking what professional learning would help them, I think the survey could be used to share a hashtag that teachers could use to track their learning and contributions on Twitter. Instructional coaches could help to share any shift in practice by giving a quick talk at staff meetings or in informal discussions with teachers. The district leadership could share the shift with principals in one of their monthly meetings. The changes I’ve written about would likely help teachers to be more active participants, and would also incorporate some of the characteristics of adult learning into professional learning.

Reconsider the Plan for Professional Learning

This post is meant to get schools and school districts to think about redesigning their professional learning with a focus on school level learning. The ways to do that are, turning over control to teachers at a school – not simply entrusting that work to an administrator or even to a leadership team – the input should come from the majority, if not from all of the staff. Evaluate the learning community a principal builds in their school. One way a district administrator could do that is by attending occasional staff meetings at schools, or through feedback forms filled out by school staff members. Provide additional coaching training and guidance for building a community of learners. Make it a part of a district wide focus. Encourage ideas and input from teachers. Provide a way for teachers to track the learning that they engage in over a school year, maybe as a part of their grade level goal, individual goal or SIP goal. Encourage reflection. I still am wondering how a positive impact on teaching and learning would be measured, maybe it could rely on SBA scores for some teachers, but maybe just as other data is used in Growth Goals the impact could be measured there. The report on Transforming Learning in Washington State provides some interesting data on the effectiveness of professional learning on classroom practice. I’m hopeful that as school districts continue to change professional learning and implement some of these ideas that are shared across the literature, teacher engagement will improve and we will be providing professional learning that considers the characteristics of adult learners and also models digital age best practices.

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Calvert, L. (2016). Moving from compliance to agency: What teachers need
to make professional learning work. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward and NCTAF.

Fingal, D. (2018, January 16). 40 education Twitter chats worth your time. Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=7

Spirrison, B. (2016, June 2). The Future of Professional Development is Collaborative Development. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/06/future-professional-development-collaborative-development/

Triple E Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from http://www.tripleeframework.com/

Social Media PD for a 21st Century Classroom

EDTC 6106 Module 3

Promoting Responsible Social Media Use

I remember 11 years ago getting a panicked phone call from a friend, asking for legal advice regarding something that happened while substitute teaching.  We both subbed in the same small district, and I was familiar with the schools, staff, etc.  She had been falsely accused of using the computer inappropriately in class and middle school students chose to fabricate a story as revenge for her sending two of their friends to the office the day before.  Due to my friend using the internet to check Facebook, which was against district policy, she was found guilty and sent home while a full investigation was underway (the accusations were a lot more severe, but she was cleared of those allegations).  Her experience led me to be a lot more cautious and aware of my actions and ended up taking her to law school.

The reason this memory comes to mind, connects with my quest to find out how districts can promote responsible social media use and support teachers with ongoing professional development. Recently I’ve been searching for guidelines and policies for staff regarding digital citizenship and social media use.  While continuing to look at  ISTE Coaching Standard 4b and best practices, I feel many PDs still fall short of supporting teacher growth and development as they focus on curriculum and student data rather than tools that support student growth and personalized learning for teachers.

Social Media Guidelines

Acceptable/responsible use policies for students using the district’s internet seems to be common place and easily found on school district websites.  However, the same policies do not seem to be publicly displayed for district employees.  For example, I can’t find anything for my district and only vaguely recall learning through word of mouth last year that Facebook was no longer blocked on school computers.  The lack of transparency in my own district may be linked to our lack of devices district-wide.  While searching other large districts where I’ve worked previously, there staff guidelines were easy to locate and help take away any question about what acceptable use looks like for teachers.

One resource I found helpful comes from New Zealand, Guideline on Ethical Use of Social Media. Looking at this resource from a PD option, I see the one page as a tool that’s user-friendly, allows collaborative discussion to occur, and serves as a starting point when discussing social media use with staff. The four categories they ask teachers to consider are their commitment to students, society, families, and the teaching profession.

How to Make Social Media Work For You

Once guidelines have been established around Social Media Use, it’s important to offer personalized learning for teachers around the app/program they are using to support students and families. This is where time to collaborate and ongoing PD are critical to successful implementation.

If school districts want to use social media and technology to promote collaboration and sharing of ideas, then time needs to be built in throughout the year for teachers to continue exploring, sharing, creating, and becoming independent users of these programs.

Referring back to my previous posts this winter on Motivational Factors and Barriers as well as The Role of Technology in PD, I continue to discover evidence of successful integration from schools/districts that offer ongoing PD at a central location that is led by educators who for in the district. In addition, teacher’s time is recognized somehow whether it be extra pay, badges, credits, clock hours, certification.  Similar to districts in previous posts, Carson City School District in Nevada, identified a need to support tech integration when they began to transition to a 1:1 district for grades 3-12.

How does this support personalised PD? Carson City School District allocate 4 hours on Wednesdays to optional PD at their Professional Development Center, referring to this time as Technology Café. I like their acronym CAFÉ, because it aligns with the best practices in Dr. Lisa Kolb’s Triple E Framework.

What does this look like? Teachers can choose how long they visit the Café, who they collaborate with, what lessons or resources they need, and seek advice from colleagues as well as tech specialists. Having a weekly common meeting place that provides snacks and caffeine as well as teacher driven PD, allows teachers to explore ideas or programs they may have considered yet not yet approached due to lack of how they align with district goals and policies.  Personally, when I read this, I was immediately filled with envy thinking about how awesome that would be! The district found this PD strategy effective with an average of 24 teachers attending each week when this article was published in 2015.

In Monica Fuglei’s post Social Media in Education: Benefits, Drawbacks and Things to Avoid, she breaks down why teachers should consider using social media professionally, not just personally.  We know that social media is not a fad likely to fade any time soon.  Students enter our rooms familiar with apps either they use personally, or they have seen in action. If teachers are not ready to use apps/networks such as Twitter or Edmodo yet with students, there is still so much to be gained by joining groups of professionals online to share resources, ideas, and network. 

Social Media Profiles and Communication

With so many educational apps being introduced all the time, it can be daunting for teachers to know where to begin and what is allowed in their district.  Each district has their own rules, but each district should also have tech specialist who are available to answer questions for educators.  When it comes to using social media to connect with others, there has been a heavy emphasis on professionalism, privacy settings, and district policies.  If a teacher is looking for another way to connect, online blogs offer a great way to share information with families and many now have private messaging options for parents and teachers.  I bring this up as an alternative to teachers friending parents/students on apps such as Facebook.  

Putting My Own Words Into Action

Presently, I’m using Seesaw with my students and love the way parents can see and comment on their child’s work, bonus is that they can do it in any language.  This helps show students that what they post is viewed by others and helps raise the bar for how they choose to submit posts.  In addition, I have moderation power, and choose to read each post/comment before approving to our class page. This year I’ve been learning with my students how Seesaw works, and I’ve been overall impressed with the thoughtful comments they leave on their peers work. As educators, we need to continuously look at how we can modernize our teaching to help prepare our students for future learning goals.  Using social media or apps for communication allows teachable moments in digital citizenship that can help our students as 21st century learners.

Without joining Seesaw Facebook groups, webinars, and following on Twitter or Instagram, I wouldn’t feel nearly as confident using the app, let alone modeling how it works for other teachers. Within my own building, my hope is that several of the teachers who’ve shown interest in Seesaw will actively use the program next year. I realise however, for this to work, we need time to collaborate, for them to see it in action with students, and more than a one time PD session. So how can I take this to the next level? Networking!  Using my social media contacts, I am confident I can ask for support on how other schools have introduced Seesaw in schools with similar demographics and limited devices. Through social media contacts outside of my district, I can learn from others and hopefully implement a PD session in August for a new PLC group next year that are interested in using digital portfolios to monitor student growth.

References

Morris, L. (2015, February 27). Turn tech PD into a casual trip to the CAFE with this new model. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/02/27/cafe-pd-model-531/

Davis, M. (2013, February 26). Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-resources-educators-matt-davis

Fuglei, M. (2017, November 13). Dos and Don’ts for Using Social Media as a Teacher. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/leaders-link/educational-social-media-use/

Higgin, T. (2017, November 30). How to Craft Useful, Student-Centered Social Media Policies. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/how-to-craft-useful-student-centered-social-media-policies?utm_source=Edu_Newsletter_2018_02_13&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly

Designing platforms for PD: Web 2.0 and knowledge management (Module 3, ISTE-CS 4b)

For Module 3, we were prompted to look into the “digital age best practices” part of 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.

I’d like to write a bonus blog for sharing something I want to say about the process I went through during this module, but for now I’ll get straight to the point. What I found during this module were a few terms that help me ask my question using words that help me find information I’m looking for. The new terms are Web 2.0 and knowledge management (KM), and my reformulated question is:

What best practices are associated with using Web 2.0 technologies and knowledge management systems for the purpose of continuing engagement in professional development through virtual communities?
Definitions

Be aware that the term “knowledge management” seems to be a business term and so I expect that the business aspect of this term may not always map directly to education. Nevertheless, the term seems very helpful to me because of the vein of information I can find by using it since there is a lot of overlap between business and education – especially when it comes to collaboration.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, in general, if you want definitions for ideas which are consistently used everywhere, you’ll probably be out of luck. And since I currently want some flexibility in the definitions, I’m going to use Wikipedia to define the terms:

Web 2.0: “A Web 2.0 website may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to the first generation of Web 1.0-era websites where people were limited to the passive viewing of content. Examples of Web 2.0 features include social networking sites and social media sites (e.g., Facebook), blogs, wikis, folksonomies (“tagging” keywords on websites and links), [and] video sharing sites (e.g., YouTube)…” (Web 2.0, n.d.).

Knowledge management: “Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organisation” (Knowledge management, n.d.).

Designing platforms for PD

During Module 1 this quarter (blog here), I read that learning management systems (LMSs) aren’t designed for professional development (PD), and we need platforms which are (Spirrison, 2016). I don’t know how true that statement is, or why Spirrison claims that, but I’ve been puzzling over it ever since and I’ve been wondering:

What makes a platform ideal for PD versus some other purpose (like running a class, for example)?

With that question in mind, a quote from a dissertation I’ve been referencing, titled Constructing Guidelines for Building Communities of Practice for Supporting Faculty Professional Development in Electronic Environments (Bond, 2013), stood out to me: “Early results indicate that both Facebook and Twitter may provide the social structures for building community, but lack infrastructure for knowledge creation and sharing” (p. 20). This sentence suggests to me that there are two big things that a platform designed for supporting PD needs to do: support social structures and support knowledge creation and sharing.

I can rewrite this claim using the new terms -> There are two big things that a platform designed for supporting PD needs to have: well-developed Web 2.0 technologies and KM technologies. I think integration of these two things is what platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack are trying to do. Frost (2013) says that the mapping of Web 2.0 principles to KM is referred to as “KM 2.0” – another good term which would probably be valuable for me to investigate.

My experience as insight

My own experience as a graduate student suggests that what is lacking from your typical LMS is the social-structures support. I don’t think LMSs are devoid of social-structures support, but I don’t think they strongly support the social side of the equation. I’d have to think more about why, but that’s what I’m inclined to say at the moment. It could be more about the way we tend to use the tool than it is about the features and capabilities of the tool itself, and that could lead us to thoughts about best practices for using LMSs as a Web 2.0 tool, not just a KM tool.

So what I’m left with for this module are not thoughts about best digital age practices, but thoughts that put me in a better position to ask about, and search for, best digital age practices for extending PDs beyond face-to-face time.

 


References

Bond, M. A. (2013). Constructing Guidelines for Building Communities of Practice for Supporting Faculty Professional Development in Electronic Environments (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).

Frost, A. (2013). Groupware Systems & KM 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.knowledge-management-tools.net/groupware.html

ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for coaches (2011). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Knowledge management. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2018,  from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management

Spirrison, B. (2016). Five reasons continuous learning platforms are the future of PD [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/12/continuous-learning-platforms-professional-development/

Web 2.0. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2018,  from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

Educators Digital Citizenship through Global Collaboration and Competency

At the center of my current studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is ISTE Coaching Standard 4, which focuses on how professional learning can best support teacher practice and, ultimately, student learning.  And as the country recently suffered another tragedy in a public school shooting rampage.  I think that this post is poignant as it will talk about teaching digital citizenship and global competencies for educators is essential for the future of our students.  Both of these expectations help to create empathy and global awareness for our students and teachers which with this recent tragedy is relevant.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.58.01 PM

In my early exploration, I derived that a big part of “digital age” best practices comes from digital citizenship.  Moreover, I recently was given the opportunity to speak at the TCEA Global Education Day alongside Dr. Ariel Tichnor-Wagner who is the Senior Fellow of Global Competence at ASCD. From her presentation, I learned how heavily ASCD has invested in creating a vast amount of materials that could influence educators to take on global collaboration. On top of that, when I think about the phrase “digital age” it makes me think of digital citizenship and netiquette which we all talk about in the classroom, but sometimes students feel freer when on a website to cyberbully a classmate or troll them.  So, therefore how can I make digital citizenship an important aspect of professional development with adult learners?

To bring it all together, I am going to approach digital citizenship through the lens of global competence.  I want to take into consideration the respect piece and know that professional educators are adults who understand at a logical level what should and should not go on the internet.  But perhaps they do not feel like teaching these aspects should be a part of their teaching practice.  Global competence is a way to connect my two ideas if teachers are influenced to push their teaching onto a worldwide platform by helping their students they will need to in-turn learn some newer components of digital citizenship.

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html
http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Because the competencies are multi-faceted and can get a bit overwhelming, I want to focus in on one under Knowledge: Understanding of the ways that the world is interconnected.  The fundamental connection piece in my mind is the word “interconnectedness” because the only way we will achieve this element is through our modern technology bringing us together. As field trips and vacations are becoming events of the past teachers must reach beyond their four walls.  Keep in mind that as Vivien Stewart, in ASCD’s Becoming Citizens of the World says, “To compete successfully in the global marketplace, both U.S.-based multinational corporations, as well as small businesses, increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries.”

Here are the two Digital Citizenship standard sets, the first for Students and the second for Educators. I think it is important to point out the “living, learning, and working in an ‘interconnected’ digital world, and they [students] act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical” (ISTE).  While in the Educators standard 3a teachers should actively “create experiences for learners to make positive, socially, responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community” (ISTE).  Therefore it is necessary for educators to know how to navigate social actions online with positive interactions.  Educators must also know how to demonstrate this social action to their students, connecting back to what Vivien Stewart states in her article that global competence “skills are necessary, of course, but to be successful global citizens, workers, and leaders, students will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in languages other than English and be informed and active citizens.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 2.34.51 PM

ISTE Educator Standards
ISTE Educator Standards

What can teachers do?

They can show global competence through action, demonstrations, and global collaboration projects.  It is crucial to mention that administrators must back-up teachers who are willing to connect with classrooms around the world and who have the technological wherewithal to reach outside their comfort zone to find these collaborative educators.  The undertaking is not easy but with the support of administration, it can become easier and certainly worthwhile for the educators and students.  It will help to have a large plan of what you want to achieve, but start slowly, one course or grade level at a time. “Involve parents as well as business and community leaders in planning and supporting international education and world languages. Focus on professional development for teachers, including partnerships with local colleges, so teachers can broaden and deepen their international knowledge.” Use international exchanges, both real and virtual, to enable students to gain firsthand knowledge of the culture they are studying. If it is unfeasible for students to travel, try technology-based alternatives, such as classroom-to-classroom linkages, global science projects, and videoconferences (Sachar, 2004).  In the Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Report, researchers found that the “development and implementation of professional development at the school level impacts student learning” (Lumpe, 2016). These findings help build the body of evidence about the impact of professional learning and potentially adding in global competence to what educators should be taught so they can then go into the classrooms and teach their students.

 

Resources:

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

A., & Stewart, V. (2007, April). Becoming Citizens of the World. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr07/vol64/num07/Becoming-Citizens-of-the-World.aspx April 2007 | Volume 64 | Number 7 The Prepared Graduate Pages 8-14

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/contents.html

https://www.youtube.com/embed/52by-pLW4lo

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Still Re-Thinking Professional Development: Module 2

Re-Thinking Technology Professional Development

During this module in our class focusing on professional development and program evaluation we were asked to consider the role that adult learning principles play in the planning of educational technology professional development. I found that to be a fascinating question not only because I had never heard of the adult learning principles, but also because I had no idea what took place in the planning of educational technology professional development beyond defining the need based on a new computer adoption, a new digital curriculum adoption or an [insert technology implementation here] and planning professional development backward from there. Previously, as a teacher I participated in train the trainer type events during which I wasn’t given any guidelines around adult learning principles as I went to instruct my staff full of adult learners.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Naturally based on my role as an instructional coach in multiple buildings I wanted to know about the process for planning school based PD that was deemed effective and important by teachers. Here are the three related questions that I asked. What is an example of effective technology professional development that is school based? What adult learning principles are present in PD that participants find effective? How does a school district vision for PD tie into school based technology professional development? All of these questions and ideas fit into the learning standard we are investigating which is ISTE standard 4 for coaches, indicator B, this indicator calls on 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.

In my short experience as a coach this indicator assumes a lot of the coaches role in the wider system represented in a school district. However, in this post I will do my best to share some resources that I hope support the conclusions I’ve come to about how coaches and any stakeholder who is providing PD for teachers can do so in a way that is beneficial to all involved.

A Gradual Change

As I read sources looking for information on how participants respond when adult learning principles are integrated into PD, I couldn’t find the voice of teachers. I was however able to find some who talked about how they modified the traditional style of professional development in order to incorporate the adult learning principles and to design better PD. So my investigation shifted again to a something I feel I’ve been investigating since last quarter or maybe since the summer, what is good PD and how do instructional technology coaches bring that to schools? It seems like in most places part of the puzzle is in place, either starting at the district level like WA-TPL describes it or from a individual school level. Progress is being made, but slowly, “we are looking at data to inform professional learning at the district level, but having that be a system that is in all of our buildings and culture is a work in progress,” (Bishop, Lumpe, Henrikson & Crane, 2016). Similarly, in changing PD and the focus of PD with instructional technology the change seems to be happening in pockets and slowly. I still wonder what a school looks like that is taking on this change. Maybe it is similar to the high school I described last week that organized their own two week PD combining blended learning, the unconference and traditional PD into their back to school training.

Gamification, Digital Badges and Blended Learning in PD

My first resource in my search is from a company that is using gamification, digital badges and blended learning to make some of those changes to professional development. To them adult learning principles are part of the reason why those approaches make sense. My resource focuses specifically on personalizing PD and shares how to go about doing that. One way to accomplish a shift in PD is to get a variety of stakeholders on the same page, including teachers, administrators, TOSAs, and the technology department, (Schnurr, 2017). Another shift that is happening in PD is the changing role of facilitators. According to Schnurr, 2017, facilitators hold less of the knowledge and act more as a teacher would in the gradual release of responsibility model where learning is scaffolded at first and eventually turned over to participants. As the role of the facilitator changes, I think that participants might find those sessions to be especially successful, but I haven’t found that stated explicitly in my resources. The author states that using a blended learning model changes the role of a facilitator naturally since facilitators first teach teachers how to use tools and then teachers engage with content through those tools.

Going 1:1

Many districts are moving to a 1:1 model with devices. It is seen as the essential way to integrate technology into instruction. However, providing devices isn’t enough according to Salisbury Township School District. To transform a district there has to be a shift in mindset and daily practices of school leaders, teachers and students, (Ziegenfuss & Fuini-Hetten, 2015). According to the authors a few key ideas helped them maximize the PD they implemented district wide:

  • Align PD goals with 1:1 program goals
  • Rethink human resources, and positions within schools
  • Personalize PD through differentiation and choice
  • Evaluate PD efforts to meet developing needs

The theme or personalization is present again along with some restructuring at high levels within the organization. I often think there is some disconnect or maybe a nebulous vision for professional development with technology instead of a clear singular focus connected to student learning.

Image credit: flickr

Changing Professional Development Locally and Distributed Leadership

It’s great to read a study that is happening in the state I live in just to know that some of the same changes are happening close to home. In reading the report about Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State the idea of distributed leadership caught my attention. I want to share a few ideas related to PD and school success I thought were key to this section of the report. “In order for district leaders to provide a coherent professional learning plan that is data driven, meets the needs and circumstances of all educators and is focused on improving student learning, a distributive leadership model is necessary,” (Bishop, Lumpe, Henrikson & Crane, 2016). Much like it sounds, distributed leadership allows the expertise to drive innovation rather than role or years of experience, (Harris, 2014). It seems like a great way to approach professional development as well as the integration of technology into PD and instruction. If we were truly using this model I think planning of professional development at all levels would be more inclusive.

As an instructional technology coach one of my roles right now is simply asking how teachers and other members of a staff can provide input into their own learning. I think that in doing that I’m striving to get all stakeholders on the same page but now it seems like a long journey. It is important for adult learners to feel that they are able to provide input in designing practical professional learning that will serve them in their roles. Again personalizing the learning of a staff seems like the most efficient way to do that. As an instructional technology coach, I could also be modling how technology allows us to do that. As I sit in on designing professional development sessions for summer learning I will continue to bring in teacher input and attempt to shift the learning based on new learning. I’m really hoping for some input from teachers though and feedback on an effective model for school based professional development so that I can learn how I might provide that for my schools.

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Harris, A. (2014). Distributed leadership. Australian Council for Educational Research – ACER. Retrieved from https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/distributed-leadership

Schnurr, S. (2017, February 15). Personalized PD & Adult Learning: Facilitation & Support. Retrieved February 2, 2018, from https://www.alludolearning.com/blog/2017/02/personalized-pd-adult-learning-facilitation-support

 Ziegenfuss, R., & Fuini-Hetten, L. (2015, December 8). A PD Story: Bringing 1:1 Technology to Our District. Retrieved February 2, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pd-1to1-technology-to-district-randy-ziegenfuss-lynn-fuini-hetten

Motivational Factors and Barriers Shape Teachers Perceptions of Professional Development

This week we are continuing to look at ISTE Coaching Standard 4b: 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. What does that mean exactly?  

Reflecting on years of various forms of PD I’ve attended, I began to question what factors were involved that created either a positive, negative or even forgettable experience. What motivational factors and barriers shape teachers perceptions of professional development?

First, we must understand what Malcolm Knowles’ describes as “Andragogy”, or characteristics of adult learners. According to Knowles, there are 5 assumptions that set adult learners apart from children.

In conjunction with Knowles’ assumptions, facilitators must also consider what Abraham Maslow described as a hierarchy of needs. If our basic needs aren’t met, we are unable to to learn.  

Image from Simply Psychology

How do Knowles and Maslow’s findings shape planning professional development? Gregson and Sturko’s research has highlighted six guiding principles for developing adult learning opportunities:

  1. Create a climate of respect
  2. Encourage active participation
  3. Understand and build on participant’s learned experiences
  4. Create collaborative inquiry opportunities
  5. Connect learning to immediate application
  6. Empower participants with time for reflection and action steps

What do these principles look like in action? Respect of participant’s time, respect towards each other, and environment where participants feel valued, wanted, and able to speak freely. By encouraging active participation and holding people accountable, teacher’s are more likely to retain information and implement what they are learning in the classroom. Allowing teachers to share what they know with their peers and connect PD to their previous knowledge can foster a stronger sense of community amongst participants rather than assuming the facilitator’s are the only experts in the room.

This leads into collaborative inquiry opportunities, which are critical for teachers, who spend so much of their time in isolation with students.  Allowing participants to brainstorm and discuss topics with colleagues they might not normally socialise with, creates opportunities to share knowledge, skills, and ideas that can benefit a larger group. As previously stated, Knowles noted that adults are more engaged as learners when presented with immediate opportunities to connect learning to what is presently happening in their classroom. Regardless of backwards planning, this means facilitators need to guide teachers to understanding how this new information not only will be beneficial down the road, but how it applies right now. This is where accountability comes back to the participants to reflect on their understanding and course of action for future. If perhaps, a teacher feels they did not learn anything new, then this would be the opportunity for the facilitator to pair them up as a mentor for another staff member who may be feeling overwhelmed.

Motivation

After considering characteristics of adult learners, what then motivates them to engage in PD?Like children who are motivated by various contributing factors, adults can be motivated through a number or ways.  Some teachers may choose to participate in a PD based on other attendees and look forward to the social aspect. Others may be simply complying with a district mandated PD to maintain their position. Similarly, people might choose to attend for monetary stipends or professional advancement. Additionally, you’ll have those who choose to participate out or curiosity, or looking for something to stimulate their brain.  The ideal participant though is there out of genuine interest.  They’re aware of the objective and are eager to learn.

Barriers

With such a large array of participants and motivating factors, what barriers prevent teachers from finding PD effective?  The number one issue is usually time. Whether it’s time to learn, to plan, to implement, or continued learning.  Time deters a lot of teachers from taking what they learn in PD back to the classroom.  In conjunction with time comes lack of professional development (one off sessions without follow-up). If we know teachers want something they can implement now, then we need to provide a clear vision of where the building/district is headed and what their role is.  In addition, we need to give them adequate access to resources, whether it’s time, mentors, technology, planning.  Referring back to Maslow, if teachers basic needs aren’t met, then they’re unlikely to successfully implement new skills in the classroom. They need to believe in what they are being asked to do and feel supported from administration. They also need time to collaborate.  If PDs are being led by people from outside the building or district, then additional time needs to be built in for teachers to collaborate locally to ensure understanding, accountability, and implementation.  

Conclusion

What needs to happen in a PD to support learning? Teachers need to feel respected, understood, and involved with creating the vision and direction of the PD.  We’re reminded that teachers need be involved and actively engaged in their PD experiences for meaningful learning to occur.  “Adults resent learning situations in which they feel that they are being told what to learn” (Gregson & Sturko 2007, p.3). Bringing it back to PD for tech integration, if we want teachers to participate, engage, implement tech, then teamwork is required in the planning stages.  Facilitators need to understand their audience, which could be information shared from administration, obtained through a survey, or observation.  Facilitators need participants to be involved in the integration process which also means finding those willing or with more background knowledge who can offer additional support to their peers. Without planning, a clear vision, collaboration, and buy-in, the PD will become another session teachers put behind them as not a priority.  PD for tech integration needs multiple opportunities for teachers to apply what they are learning, reflect on how it impacts the learning in their classroom, and allow teachers to help drive the direction of classroom application based on their own needs.

References

Chao, R. Y., Jr. (2009). Understanding the Adult Learners’ Motivation and Barriers to Learning. European Society for Research on the Education of Adults,905-915. https://pll.asu.edu/p/sites/default/files/lrm/attachments/Understanding%20the%20Adult%20Learners%20Motivation%20and%20Barriers%20to%20Learning.pdf

Gregson, J. A., & Sturko, P. A. (2007). Teachers as Adult Learners: Re-conceptualizing Professional Development. MPAEA Journal of Adult Education,XXXVI(1), 1-18. doi:https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ891061.pdf

Kopcha, T. J. (2012). Teachers perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development. Computers & Education,59 (4), 1109-1121. http://marianrosenberg.wiki.westga.edu/file/view/KopchaTTeachersPerceptions.pdf

Smith, M. K. (2002) ‘Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy’, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/et-knowl.htm.

Personalization of Adult Learning in Technology Training

ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

How do you get adults to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their online instruction?

My interest in this question stems from the fact that I want adults to take more interest in the process of their learning.  Specifically speaking getting in on personalized professional learning, and in that taking part in the planning and evaluation.  This is what educators are taught how to do so why not test it within their own learning.  From personal experience from starting the pro-cert process, the assessments and hoop jumping felt insulting when you are in a room full of professional educators.

Uncovering ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation b. Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Malcolm Knowles, a leading educator studying adult learning, made five assumptions of adult learners (Knowles 1984:12).

davidpol_1442811796_5assumptions.png

In Chapter 1 of Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report – Professional Learning Requires Engaged Leadership it supports the ideas expressed by Knowles in 1984; the results of the study support the principles of adult learning, indicating that adults value course designs containing options, personalization, self‐direction, variety, and a learning community. Findings also identify some differences in learning emphasis by gender, preferred learning strategies, and previous experience with technology and self‐directed learning” (Pg. 16).  

When looking at personalization for our students I found this article by Katrina Stevens Deputy Director in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education is really a compilation of what several organizations have put together on the topic of personalized learning. Basically, Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools specifically how “each learner’s performance is measured. The type of learning experience determines the types of data that can be collected. For example, as learners participate in a small-group activity, the teacher might ask them targeted, open-ended, probing questions that will help in upcoming tailoring components of the lesson. When technology is used, performance can be measured continuously in real time.”

Why Personalize?

What can sometimes get lost in the focus on a consistent definition and process is the potential power and benefits of personalized learning, which are many:

  • When the pace of learning is adjusted for each learner, all learners have the time needed to demonstrate mastery.
  • When learning is optimized and tailored for each learner, and driven by learner interests, it can be more meaningful and relevant, which can lead to greater engagement and achievement.
  • When learners are given more choice, they tend to take more ownership of their learning and develop the academic mindsets, learning strategies, and self-regulated learning behaviors that are necessary for meeting immediate goals and for lifelong learning.
  • When learning is supported by technology, learners can receive more frequent and immediate feedback through formative assessments, quizzes, and checks for understanding with results provided to teachers and learners in real time.
  • With the right tools, learning gaps that impede progress can be identified more quickly, allowing learners to close those gaps.
  • The use of technology to provide teachers with the ability to tailor instruction to individuals allows teachers more time to provide targeted attention to learners who are struggling or who are progressing more rapidly than their peers, rather than being forced to “teach to the middle.”
  • When teachers can use technology to identify or modify existing resources more easily, teachers can then build stronger and deeper relationships with each learner and provide more resources for dealing with specific challenges. This can promote a greater sense of belonging among students by demonstrating that there are adults who care that they thrive.

Similarly, ThinkCerca’s blog writer Kelli Marshall wrote recently on Personalized learning and specifically  Why is Personalized Learning Important – “in which instructional environments are tailored to the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student – somewhat inverts the traditional teacher/student hierarchy. It gives students choices about how to learn based on their interests, abilities, and teacher recommendations” (2018).   I think when teachers/educators are given the opportunity to “tailor” their learning to what they like and know.

Finally, “When applied correctly, personalized learning can move mountains for students. It means that assignments and instruction are tailored to individual students’ interests, needs, and skills. It allows the teacher to bring in more robust, useful, and varied material into the classroom. It opens up probabilities for strategic groupings to allow students to learn better from one another” (ThinkCerca, 2018).

 

 

Resources: 

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

ISTE Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards

Marshall, K. (2018, January 18). Why Personalized Learning Is Important. Retrieved February 04, 2018, from http://blog.thinkcerca.com/the-importance-of-personalized-learning

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult learning theory – andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

Stevens, K. (2017, January 18). What is Personalized Learning? – Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools – Medium (Office of Ed Tech, Ed.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from https://medium.com/personalizing-the-learning-experience-insights/what-is-personalized-learning-bc874799b6f

EDTC 6106 Module 1: Choice in Professional Development

Professional Development for Teachers and My Question

This post marks the start of the winter quarter in my M.Ed. program in Digital Education Leadership. This quarter our class is Professional Development and Program Evaluation. It seems like it will be very timely for me to focus on professional development again as some of our district PD offerings are ramping up for the Spring and will continue again at the start of the next school year. This class is asking us to consider the ISTE Coaching Standard #4 indicator b – which asks coaches to design, develop and implement technology rich learning programs that promote adult learning and model digital age best practice (ISTE, 2011). For our first module in EDTC 6106 we were asked to consider the question:

How should we design professional development that utilizes educational technology?

10 Things Teachers Want for Professional Development - via Sylvia Duckworth
10 Things Teachers Want in PD – image credit Sylvia Duckworth

I was initially interested in investigating what participants say about the integration of technology into successful professional development offerings. However, upon further reading, investigation of materials and reflection my inquiry ended up taking a slightly different path. As I read about successful teaching practice in the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) from the Office of Educational Technology, I was reminded about how much exposure we give our students to concepts before we ask them to master those concepts. As a former 4th grade teacher I’ll use multi-digit multiplication as an example. In the CCSS 4th grade students are exposed to the concept of multiplying a multi-digit numbers using various methods, they see it modeled by the teacher repeatedly and practice for months before they are asked as 5th graders to master the standard algorithm of multi-digit multiplication. Also students are first exposed to multi-digit multiplication in 3rd grade when they begin multiplying one digit whole numbers by tens up to 90. In the 4th grade year, multiplication is certainly one of the most important or emphasized math standards in my experience, but notice that it isn’t found there in isolation. I started to wonder why then do we say to teachers, come to this PD and learn about this tool or technology and now go use it in your classroom. There is no way we would expect that of our students especially in a foundational and transformational concept like multiplication! Well, I keep hearing how educational technology is transformational (and I agree) but I wonder, why is it that so many teachers fail to find it transformational in their teaching? I guess this is where my inquiry led me in this module. I’m wondering:


How can professional development integrate technology in a way that is transformational to teaching and learning?
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Based on our readings this module and past readings technology integration in the classroom should be purposeful and lead to positive outcomes for students. I think the same should be true of teacher professional development, it should prepare teachers to change their teaching. That might sound simple, but it seems without a radical and a continual change to the traditional methods for planning and getting professional development the status quo will continue. Luckily there are pockets of change happening. I came across a few different examples in the resource I found and the resources my colleagues in this program shared. Together they show change happening.

How Professional Development is Changing

In my resource from EdSurge, I found a great example of how buildings can begin to change their professional development offerings to bring about change. The high school I read about designed their back to school PD around a need they noticed through observation, personalized learning. Then the leadership team for the school decided to create a back to school professional development event that included personalized learning to show teachers how powerful it is, and to teach them by doing (Campbell & McDonough, 2017). The building redesigned their traditional back to school PD session, which amazingly went for 2 weeks, and included a tic-tac-toe board game of choice. Within those choice they allowed teachers to be leaders. Much like an unconference there was room to guide sessions as participants wanted. This school decided to integrate some technology tools into their trainings, like using Remind to send out PD updates, or Google docs to change agendas, but it wasn’t the focus of most sessions. One brilliant choice they made that stood out to me was, to collect data at the end of the PD from teachers and then they used that data to drive the learning sessions throughout the year. They even asked teachers to continue their learning and published the slide deck, The Learn Project, (Campbell & McDonough, 2017).  In doing those things they gave the teachers choice and a voice in their learning and it seems to have paid off.

Other resources talked similarly about what how necessary choice was to the learning of teachers. Pernille Ripp shared how at her district, “our two days consisted of many different things, all meant to fulfill the needs we not only have as a community, but also as individual learners,” (2015). Additionally, Rich Czyz (2015), advocates for breaking the mold of traditional PD in his post. Much of his methods are short quick classes that happen in the span of 15 minutes. Nearly all of these articles also mentions something outside of the physical professional development class. Many reference Twitter or some other web hosted forum that enables staff members to participate in PD from anywhere at any time. Online professional development was also mentioned in many of the articles I read.

My Lingering Thoughts

Investigating effective PD leaves me with unanswered questions. However, working in a department that plans PD is helping me to begin to better grapple with some answers. I am finding that change takes time, but it is nice to see elements of this change already happening. Online PD can meet the needs of many learners especially those who may not feel comfortable with a particular technology tool or district web resource but ideally choice would permeate in person PD sessions as well not just as online. Even if a tool like online PD exists, word needs to spread. Initiatives like the report Transforming Learning in Washingtion State, WA-TPL, seem necessary to continue to make change.

A quote from the report leaves me hopeful “the original purpose of the WA-TPL project was not simply to transform the professional learning in participating districts, but to impact the larger system across the state by providing insight into the processes that support the development and sustaining impact of effective professional learning,” (Bishop, Lumpe, Henrikson & Crane, 2016). Now it is up to those of us designing professional development in districts or in buildings to be the continual voice for change.

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf 

Campbell, D., & McDonough, M. (2017, May 30). Tic-Tac-Toe Your Way to Teacher Choice: A New Model for PD – EdSurge News. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-05-30-tic-tac-toe-your-way-to-teacher-choice-a-new-model-for-pd

Czyz, R. (2015, October 27). Creating Innovative Professional Development Models In Your District – ISTE Community. Retrieved January 22, 2018, from http://connect.iste.org/blogs/rich-czyz/2015/10/27/creating-innovative-professional-development-models-in-your-district

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards For Coaches. (2011). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from http://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

National Education Technology Plan. (2017). Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/

Ripp, P. (2015, November 3). How to Do PD Right – Yes, It’s Possible. Retrieved January 22, 2018, from https://pernillesripp.com/2015/11/02/how-to-do-pd-right-yes-its-possible/

 

EDTC 6106: What Role Should Technology Play in Professional Development?

Starting a new course for my Masters in Digital Education Leadership program has me looking at Professional Development through the lense of ISTE Coaching Standard 4b. Having previously looked into how to increase participation in Tech PD, I’m now considering factors that promote best practices for designing and implementing PD based on clear evidence. This leads to my inquiry, how can districts design effective personalized professional development that incorporates educational technology?

For the past decade, my only teaching experience has been in my current district, which is large and spread out. Understanding that PD varies from district to district, I’ve really begun questioning what teachers find effective in other districts.  With that, how much technology and differentiation is offered to meet teachers where they are at in their careers?

Does my district offer PD? Yes!  Does my district offer a variety of PD online?  Not that I’m aware of. Most PD I find out about is presented onsite in person.  This poses a challenge when working in a large city famous for bad traffic and limited parking.  Reality is, most teachers only choose optional trainings that are either directly related to their curriculum, at their own school or neighbouring school, or conveniently located near their existing commute route. I will say, my district did offer online PD this past summer for the first time.

Understanding Professional Learning Environments in Washington State

This week I discovered that Washington state participated in a research project (TPL – in WA state) in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In collaboration with 91 schools from 31 districts, the Gates Foundation funded “a three-year project to support professional learning that would engage leaders in the work of developing effective processes and support structure to create a culture of collaboration that would positively impact teacher knowledge and skills to improve student learning”.

Digging deeper, I was able to find my district listed as one of the participants. Concluding remarks were:

“Schools have traditionally been very site-based, leading to many gaps and inconsistencies across schools; this makes the work of developing a learning system very challenging. Analyses showed that many structural elements are currently exist (albeit to various degrees) from which to build a strong learning system—however, the content and focus of work inside those structures needs strengthening and alignment. Furthermore, access to and participation in professional development has been inconsistent and inequitable. To develop gap-closing learning designs, we need to define baseline expectations for all schools and staff along with differentiated professional learning supports and guaranteed access.”

Do these remarks surprise me? No. Seeing evidence that my district is striving to change professional development and has created a tiered support system, similar to the way teachers have been asked to differentiate to meet student needs, instills hope that we are moving forward. Our union had bargained for more collaboration time, which did begin this school year.  Most of that is still site-based, but perhaps technology will come into play more in the future.

So what did the TPL three year study conclude?

  • Engaged leadership is critical and must extend beyond administration, shifting distribution to shared leadership
  • Using standards for teaching and learning in conjunction with researched best practices can effectively support planning and implementation of new structures
  • Districts who received more external funding and coaching showed greater gains in their perceived level of collaboration and content
  • School culture focusing on inclusiveness, and collaboration between all professionals  allow shifts in the district that better support student learning (eg. paraeducators, teachers, administrators and coaches all valued as equal collaborators)
  • Time is needed to build positive relationships, establish trust, and collective community with social norms in order to maintain effective PD experiences
  • Strong correlation between positive PD experiences over time and student achievement scores
  • Districts should understand the pressures teachers face associated with standardized assessment and support teachers with understanding how to examine student data to further drive student growth specific to their school population

Tech Integration Success

Curious how other large districts successfully implement PD that their teachers find useful, I came across the article Technology Starts with Professional Development and Training from EdTech Magazine that specifically talks about how large districts have found success with integrating technology within district-wide PD. For example, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Louisiana have been using technology in the classrooms for over 30 years. With 64 schools and a relatively large district, they have learned the value of teacher training before rolling out new technology.  

So how has their district supported the needs in so many schools?  

  • The district built a training center where teachers can receive coaching or learn how to use new tech tools
  • They offer online summer courses that teachers can take at their convenience
  • They offer a variety of webinars, giving teachers freedom to pursue professional development relevant to their current position based on teacher input
  • They incentivize PD by offering “tech points” that teachers can apply to gain extra classroom technology
  • Technology integration is designed around student learning goals and a larger framework rather than just another tool

Similar to Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina, has also found success with effectively offering professional development with tech integration.  Another large school district with limited funds, found they had to get creative in how they get on board with PD. They chose to assign a technology specialist to each school, dedicated to supporting staff through co-teaching, modeling, and offering teacher support with tech integration in the classroom.  They also emphasize the need to respect teachers time, level of expertise, and willingness to try.  With that being said, support must be available for teachers who may struggle and time available for reflection and coaching of new skills.  They value offering scheduled PD during the day and not expecting teachers to only learn during their own time. Presently they also use Twitter chats, accessible to all teachers in the district with scheduled times where teachers can collaborate online.

Another large district near Georgia had similar responses about supporting staff through adequate training.  They recognize that without dedicated staff available to train teachers with tech integration, teachers would not have the skills necessary to access their LMS and online trainings. They also have funded a tech specialist for each school to support staff needs. They expect teachers to be proficient with using their LMS in order to support student learning, an example of this is offering lessons online when weather prohibits students from attending school.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if districts truly value teacher retention and active participation in professional development, then personalized PD needs to be offered. Districts also need to design opportunities for teachers to be valued stakeholders and have input on the direction of PD.  Understanding the needs of each school, in addition to district trends can allow more personalized options to be offered online rather than always on-site. Although tech specialists on-site are beneficial, districts must provide adequate support and follow-up sessions to avoid overwhelming staff with one more thing to learn. Districts need to ensure tech integration supports student learning goals and offers multiple opportunities for successful implementation and training. Just like teachers are always being asked how they scaffold their instruction to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom, districts must do the same for educators.

References

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

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction – Teaching and Learning. (2017, March 27). Partner Sharing. Retrieved January 21, 2018, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/PartnerSharing.aspx

Peterson T. (2016, June 22). Technology Starts with Professional Development and Training. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/06/technology-starts-professional-development-and-training 

Educational Technology or Tech Instructional Coach within a specific subject area? EDTC 6106

For the past couple weeks, I have explored 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. To try to understand how professional learning specifically impacts the use of education technology.

Our learning objective for this module expected us to “explore best practices in educational technology professional development.” I directed my learning towards the question of why should professional learning surround educational technology and not interweave EdTech with instructional development? 

I have recently heard from several districts around the US through our ECT program that they are moving away from whole stand-alone EdTech departments and going towards having one person dedicated to EdTech in each major subject at the district level.  I think it demonstrates the changing times for technology as it has become so crucial within education that separating education and technology is simply doing a disservice to the students.   In a recent article by EdSurge News “Why Every School’s EdTech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete,” Nate Green states this exact hypothesis basically there might still be a need for a whole team to be dedicated to just technology integration but soon the whole department should make itself obsolete because the other instructional leadership teams should be self-sufficient when it comes to technology integration. As Green states “The biggest problem with the Technology Integration Specialist (TIS) is that as soon as a school hires one, it sends a message to another faculty that they no longer have to strive to be proficient in this area since it’s someone else’s job. Teachers may miss opportunities for sharing and collaboration with colleagues around using technology in the classroom—that to do so would be to encroach upon or duplicate the TIS’s work” (2017).  It is important to create a group of teacher tech ambassadors, professional learning for teachers by teachers, change EdTech Leaders and TIS to instructional coaches. 

Then to corroborate these findings Bishop also explains in the “Evaluation Report”, “the very definition of leadership is changing to include a broader array of people whose title may not associate them with leadership responsibilities, even though they express the language and action of leaders engaged in the work of improving learning” it may not mean that they will be in the traditional educational leadership roles like Principals, Deans, and Assistant Principals.  These new instructional or subject area facilitators should be coaches amongst the staff who know district approved software or hardware in-depth and can serve as a new level of leadership.  With the help of the Gates Foundation and several other contributors, the “Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Project Evaluation Report” logically and empirically suggests ideas that teachers have thought all along in Washington state.  Anecdotally as I was reading this report it became abundantly clear that several of the findings were just so logical if you have lived in the US public school sphere.  When those professionals who are not in public school education want to approach a district-wide problem and they suggest the easiest possible solution it is sometimes difficult to explain why implementing the easiest solution will be difficult. The purpose of the report was logical as an example of these easily proposed plans that at the beginning they would “engage leaders in the work of developing effective processes and support structure to create a culture of collaboration that would positively impact educator knowledge and skills to improve student learning” (8). But in the end not so easy to implement changes like these instantaneously. 

As Bishop and colleagues found while putting together the “Evaluation Report”. The necessary multi-layered process and protocol that would simultaneously need to change to create a new system were not so easy to execute in real-life or real-time. These inner district interconnected systems would be assisted if the new “teacher leaders” status the state would put into place they should also adopt specific universal standards for professional learning for educators.  Even though The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided 2.4 million dollars to fund a three-year project to support professional learning there were several limitations that even this amazing organization was not ready for in terms of Limitations 

1. Student achievement data at the K-3 levels is limited. 
2. Fidelity of the professional learning initiatives is outside the control of the evaluators. 
3. The ability to generalize findings outside of the selected districts is limited. 
4. The disaggregation of SAI2 data by evaluators is limited to the school building level. 
5. The SAI2 and other relevant teacher data can be connected to individual teachers for statistical analyses (with anonymity maintained). (15) 

Despite the limitations the purpose and outcome are worthwhile because “When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices. However, to be transformative, educators need to have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments. In addition, As the US Department of Education states in their Office of Educational Technology Introduction, the roles of PK–12 classroom teachers and post-secondary instructors, librarians, families, and learners all will need to shift as technology enables new types of learning experiences.”

And although there still lies some resistance to change in terms of educational technology I think most are coming to the conclusion that students’ lives are better off in the long run if their education includes technology.  But “to inform these adjustments at every level within the system, educators needed a deeper understanding of how data could be used to inform decisions as well as the individual practices of educators” (11). Even though the idea of a singular educational technology department may be going to the wayside I think this is a sign of advancement because it means that each subject might be begrudgingly accepting that they use technology and might benefit from someone who is on their team but also is an expert in tech.  But “for these systemic changes in learning and teaching to occur, education leaders need to create a shared vision for how technology best can meet the needs of all learners and to develop a plan that translates the vision into action” (2017). 

Resources:

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

Green, N. (2017, December 11). Why Every School’s Edtech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete – EdSurge News. Retrieved January 08, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-12-11-why-every-school-s-edtech-department-should-make-themselves-obsolete 

US Department of Education (Ed.). (2017). Introduction of Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/introduction/