Build Me Up (Buttercup)!

     Usually, I would share a story to build on my reason for my post this week. I won’t do that this time. I’m going to go straight into what I want to say, and then I’ll share what I was thinking in the process. ISTE standard 5b says that coaches should “Build the capacity of educators, leaders and instructional teams to put the ISTE Standards into practice by facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback” (ISTE). With this standard, I am asking the question (shortened), “What does it mean to ‘build the capacity’ of an educator? As I began to research this, I looked for articles related not just to building capacity but more specifically to building teacher capacity (duh!). Some companies do the same thing with their staff. For me, I needed to narrow my focus to see what that would look like in the education realm (again–duh!). To explain further, I could have taken one of the articles about companies trying to build capacity and apply that to teachers, but I think that would have fallen a little flat. 

     So in my search, I found an article written for the ISTE blog titled, “How Education Leaders Can Build the Capacity for Digital Teaching and Learning.” In this article, the author, Ji Soo Song, discusses three ways education leaders can help strengthen teacher capacity: “1. Ensure all educators have a solid foundation in effective digital teaching and learning principles, 2. Create a summer plan to deepen teacher capacity in effective digial learning for next year, and 3. Develop a cadre of ISTE Certified teacher leaders who can support the transition to future learning” (ISTE). All three of these strategies Song mentions are helpful. Leaders should offer professional development during the school year and the summer, and lastly, get these educators certified in digital education. What Song is discussing is very valid and probably needed in many schools to help build capacity.

     One other article I read and provided to me by my peer (thanks Yanira Gale!), “Building Collective Capacity: A Defining Moment in Schools,” Dr. Tom Many also gives ways to build capacity: “audits, sister school exchanges, and learning fairs” (par.8). The one difference that Dr. Many adds with his article is “collective capacity.” Instead of just focusing on building the capacity of one teacher at a time, Dr. Many believes it is essential to develop the capacity of all the teachers together–collectively. With “audits,” Dr. Many believes teachers need to discuss, together, what is working and what is not working in the classroom. Then, with “sister school exchanges,” teachers work with another school to discuss different strategies. Then, with learning fairs, Dr. Many observes that having teachers reflect on the whole year together will build collective capacity. As with Ji Soo Song’s article, I see value in having teachers collaborate as one group. 

And now, to share my story. Towards the beginning of this school year, I was asked to share something tech-related during a secondary teacher meeting. Because it was the beginning of the school year, I decided to discuss the ISTE standards. I asked the group to give a show of hands if they knew what the letters of ISTE stood for. No one knew, and my next question was, had anyone heard of ISTE Standards. Not one person raised their hand. I went on to tell the group what the letters meant and briefly discussed each standard. I then said to them that along with their standards, they should also be following ISTE Standards for us to be compliant as a school. I don’t think that went over very well. Many teachers already feel pressure to try and meet as many of the standards as possible. To add to that list with technology standards came across as daunting. I assured them that I was available to them implement the ISTE standards with their curricular standards.
So when I read ISTE 5b, “build the capacity” stood out to me. By reading that phrase before researching it, I felt that I needed to remove obstacles–try and simplify things as much as possible to help make their job easier. While I believe that is important regardless of the situation, after reading these articles, my understanding of building capacity has changed. I see it more now as helping teachers be more successful in the classroom through coaching and teaching them. Expanding their knowledge base is the way to build capacity. I felt like I was filling their brains with too much information resulting in hindering job performance. I thought I was piling more work on their “desk” when giving them the knowledge, and teaching them helps give teachers what they need to do their best (duh!).


ISTE Standards for Coaches. ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2021, from

Many, T. (n.d.). Building collective capacity: A defining moment in schools. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from

Song, J. S. (2021, March 17). How leaders can build capacity for digital teaching and learning. ISTE. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from

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