ISTE Teaching Standard 5 calls for teachers to “continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.”
ISTE Coaching Standard 2 requires coaching teachers in and modeling design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting content, process, product, and learning environments based upon student readiness levels, learning styles, interests, and personal goals.
This model was designed for those in a role of an instructional coach, technology leader, or other related leadership position. Here I have outlined a plan for the upcoming school year to address the above standards as they pertain to my building and role as a technology leader. I have also provided suggestions for a variety of resources for each element of the professional development model so that others can make selections that will fit their needs.
- The first step in establishing a technology professional development plan is to identify one or two overarching goals or values regarding technology use. These goals should be broad and applicable to all grade levels and subject areas. Digital citizenship should be a priority for all teachers using technology, just as we teach character traits in our daily classroom routines. Common Sense Media provides a comprehensive curriculum for grades K-12, covering topics such as online safety, cyberbullying, digital communication, and maintaining online identities. An alternative option for teaching digital citizenship is Childnet International. This resource offers tools for teachers as well as students. Another important step to take at the beginning of school year to streamline future technology use is setting up a learning management system. Highly used and simple to navigate options include Google Classroom, Hapara, Seesaw, and Canvas to name a few.
- Once the foundational technology goals have been identified, they need to be shared with other staff members as early on as possible. It’s important to set the groundwork for a year of digital exploration with a clear, relevant, and valuable vision. Meet with administrators to discuss this vision, and request time at a staff meeting to introduce and inspire teachers to take risks and try new things, while making it clear that they will be supported in the process. Outline the intended coaching plan and get teachers connected by creating a Technology PD learning management system (LMS). I, personally, would utilize Google Classroom as I work in a GAfE district and I want to encourage teachers to use Classroom in their own instruction. Highly effective professional development includes using what you are teaching!
- After the yearlong schoolwide vision is established, get some feedback from your colleagues. Different grade levels will have varying needs and interests in what will help propel them in their digital instruction development. Post a survey on the newly established LMS where teachers can express where they are and where they’d like to be. Like our students, we need to know our teachers so they we can meet their learning styles and address individual needs, again modeling effective teaching methods. Free survey tools include Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and Question Pro.
- The PD Google Classroom or other management tool will act as a hub for all instructional technology resources. In addition to the implementation of staff training, small group work, and flipped coaching, and all of the above, technology leaders need to make themselves available on a case-by-case basis and provide continuous support. Sometimes teachers will have a quick troubleshooting question or need a second pair of eyes. Maybe they need to refer back to information given at a previous meeting or training. Everything technology related can be accessed from the PD Classroom. Provide contact information on the LMS. Just about every online management tool provides the ability to create a discussion forum where people can post their questions that don’t necessarily need immediate attention and/or could also benefit others. The LMS is your headquarters!
- Teachers have reported that they learn best with collaborating with other teachers. The same is true for students, so why should it be an different for adults? Every teacher has experienced professional development during a staff meeting, where they’re being introduced to a brand new technique or idea that they are then expected to implement immediately, when all the while they were distracted by unanswered e-mails, papers to grade, and making sure the classroom environment is set up for the day! If the resources are available, reserve substitute teachers for a half-day so that the technology coach and grade level team can work together on learning a new digital tool or designing a collaborative project. They will have the time to learn something new, practice using it, and design a plan for executing it. Respect the planning time!
- Based on the feedback from the beginning of the year survey, you may find that there are some topics that many people share an interest in and/or may not be a top priority for small group sessions, but still relevant. This is an opportunity for flipped learning. Flipped learning can take many forms, but one model includes creating instructional videos that teachers can interact with on their own time, and anywhere that is convenient. They learn the content individually and can then bring their learning back to their coaches for more clarification and ideas for application. A great tool for flipped PD is Vialogues. Teachers can watch videos and interact with the content by posting comments in real time. Another interactive video resource is Play Posit. Aso check out http://www.flipped-pd.com/ for a more in-depth look at flipped professional development.
- Teachers are constantly using formative assessments to guide their instruction. Coaches and administrators must do the same. Check in with colleagues periodically to get a sense of how things are going. What is working? What needs to be revisited? What new information have teachers discovered that can be shared with others? This can be done using the above survey resources or face-to-face discussions at a staff meeting. If building time is limited, try Padlet or Google Docs for collecting information and ideas in a central location.
- Don’t forget your summative assessment! Find a time for teachers to showcase their hard work and accomplishments using educational technology. They have worked hard and want to show what they’ve done! Gather more feedback about which aspects of this PD model worked really well and what could use some adjustments. As another school year comes to an end, congratulate yourself on a job well done and ask the recurring question: what’s next? Identify areas of focus for next year and continue the learning cycle.