Administering 21st Century P.D.

This week we are continuing with ISTE Coaching Standard 4, 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.

I really struggled with this topic through the lens of Administrator. I think I had such a hard time with it because I have never been an administrator, nor have I desired to take that leap. That said, I did a lot of research on this subject and was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information and organizations that there are out there to give their advice. Below is my attempt to synthesize the information collected.

When I think of my experience with Professional Development at the building level, it is mostly sit and get. Often, an article will be passed out to staff and they will be asked to become an expert on a portion of the reading. After reading, they will discuss it with their teams and then together, they will cobble up a retelling to “teach” the other grade levels. Other times, we will watch a short animated video to get us thinking about the next new thing. At least once a year, we will be organized into vertical teams to do a crosswalk through the standards, where we will all say, “we should do this more often.” So often, we feel that an afternoon was wasted. How can Administrators bring Building Based Professional Growth to the 21st Century?

First, what does it mean to be 21st Century? Here’s an animated video to help engage you.

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The 4 C’s that are the building blocks to becoming 21st Century are Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. If this is what we want our students to achieve, then we as educators must be adept at these skills and our administrators need to make sure that our PD encompasses these skills as well. Our PD needs to be innovative and dynamic so that we can translate that into our classrooms.

In my research, I focused a lot of my research on innovative professional growth around Ed Tech Tools. Here are some of my ideas…

The Jigsaw Protocol Reimagined

Disclaimer: In order to be successful, teachers would have to be willing to put in some time outside of class…

Let’s say the principal wants to give PD to increase student engagement and communication skills around Math. What if s/he introduced the staff to a tool called Flipgrid? What if during your staff development time, she gave you and your team time to learn and investigate what this tool is all about? What if s/he asked you to share with the other groups what you learned? What if s/he asked you to design a learning activity for your class/grade level and show their learning using Flipgrid? Would you feel like this was a good use of your time?

Learning in the LOO

I don’t know about you, but I do my best thinking in the bathroom. How could a principal maximize that time to his/her goal of professional development? Principals could take part in a new and creative way of disseminating information. All it takes is a bit of research, a clever catch phrase, some QR codes, a piece of paper, and a sheet protector. Each month, you could highlight learning strategies, ed tech tools, best practices, and QR codes that link to those awesome Flipgrid videos your colleagues made with their students. If you are looking for more ideas check out this link.


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An unconference is a great way to learn from your colleagues. Traditionally, teachers show up to a meeting place and write down what they want to learn about and teachers breakout into small groups to learn from each other. I could see this protocol being implemented at your next building PD. Perhaps the administrator could give a theme to the day, such as formative assessment and teachers would would put their ideas up on a board and self select topics. If a teacher did not want to stay at the topic they went to, they are able to acknowledge the “Rule of Two Feet” and go to another topic. I recently went to an all day PD about Digital Citizenship. 3/4 of the way through the day, they asked us what questions we had about the topic. During the last break, the presenters collated the questions into the 5 most popular questions and set up Breakout sessions. When the participants returned from break, they had an opportunity to visit 2 different topics. Notes were taken at each of the topics and curated digitally for everyone to have at the end of the sessions. This was the first time that I have ever experienced that kind of protocol in action and I found learning from others in a unplanned setting quite satisfying.

Last Thoughts

Teachers are diverse learners, just like their students. Administrators need to be creative in the way that they differentiate the delivery of the content they want their teachers to gain. I think that if my administrator upped their Professional Development Game to be compliant with the 21st Century Skills that they want their teachers and students to embody, then we all would arrive there much quicker.


  • Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Take the Pledge: Future Ready. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Becoming a 21st Century Administrator. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Godsey, M. (2017, May 5). How Teachers Can Learn From One Another at Unconferences, Meet-ups and Edcamps. Retrieved from

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