EDTC-6106 Designing Professional Development to Empower Teachers

From Flickr – Search Engine People Blog

This quarter we are focusing on professional development (PD) and evaluation.  Our first area of research is in it’s design:

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: How should we design professional development that utilizes educational technology?
  • My Triggering Question: How should we design professional development that will empower teachers using educational technology?

At first, I wanted to research best practices for PD utilizing educational technology, however, I soon found that this was entirely too broad and decided to narrow it down to empowering teachers instead.  One observation I have made during teacher PD sessions is that many get inspired by a new tool but this quickly goes away as there is no follow-up and they are not inclined to seek out more help or information on their own.  I want teachers to be able to walk away from a PD session and feel like they are entirely capable of implementing what they learned.

ISTE Coaching Standard 4 – Performance Indicator 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. (2011)

ISTE coaching standard 4 – B, talks about designing, developing, and implementing professional development which is   If I were a tech education leader in the future I know that professional development would be at the top of my list of priorities.  Even if there was continuous funding of new technology applications and district wide-implementation, these applications would not be effective unless teachers are properly trained and supported.

By researching best practices for developing these learning programs I will be better equipped to one day take on this challenge.  There are many factors to consider, such as, funding, district/leadership support, approved services, etc., and I’m curious to see what I will find in the coming weeks to how to overcome this.  For now, I will focus on best practices for empowering teachers in educational technology (Ed-tech).

Ed-Tech Empowerment

An article on Edutopia, Teacher PD for the Digital Classroom: 6 Bold Ideas to Empower Educators (Katz, 2014), contains some good tips on how to help teachers be more comfortable in a digital environment.  One of these that especially resonates with me is the idea of changing school culture.  It interviewed panelists that discussed the importance of having a safe, trusted, and supported school environment so that teachers feel comfortable taking risks with technology without fear of repercussion.  Additionally, leaders should feel comfortable letting teachers direct what PD that they complete, which allows more ownership of their learning.

Another way that school leadership can empower teachers is to personalize the learning that is done during the PD.  Again, ownership is a theme that I keep returning to over and over again.  If teachers have the power to create their own outcomes and content then it will embolden them to go out of their way to implement and even attend the PD in the first place.  An article on Edsurge, mentions Twitter chats as an example of teachers personalizing their own learning.  A big draw back of personalized learning can be that it takes more time than a traditional approach but the benefits can definitely outweigh the extra time allotted. (H. 2016)

Finally, a recent (2016) project evaluation of professional learning in Washington state schools found some key findings of program effectiveness.  One of these findings is that peer collaboration is extremely important in improving learning outcomes of students.  (Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. 2016)  I believe that this is also a form of empowerment.  Allowing teachers to work together instead of individually and take control of their progress as a team is something that makes me personally more motivated to increase my knowledge and skills.  I can see that being the case for others as well.

There are a lot of factors when designing effective professional development. Empowerment is just one aspect of creating PD that will be more effective and long-lasting, but I think it’s an important part of the piece of the puzzle and a good jumping-off point.

(Bonus Reading Watching Material)

I found this TEDx talk rather informative about empowering teachers at a more individual level to use technology.


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

H. (2016, July 09). Personalizing PD: It’s About Empowerment, Not Tools (EdSurge News). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-04-17-personalizing-pd-it-s-about-empowerment-not-tools

Katz, S. L. (2014, October 10). Teacher PD for the Digital Classroom: 6 Bold Ideas to Empower Educators. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pd-digital-classroom-empower-educators-shira-lee-katz

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2011). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

T. (2013, November 06). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puiNcIFJTCU

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