The Makings of a Successful Professional Development Program

This quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University I am focused on the fourth standard of the ISTE Coaching Standards, Professional Development and Program Evaluation:

Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning.

Over the last several weeks, my classmates and I have learned how to implement a successful professional development program and I have identified the following elements as being most useful when evaluating a professional development program:

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Sadly, professional development is generally “something that is ‘done’ to teachers” (Pilar, 2014). Teachers need opportunities to explore their own interests and venture into those topics at a personalized level that works for their individual learning styles. In a study conducted by the Center for Professional Education, it was found that “90% of teachers reported participating in some form of professional development, and they also reported that it was not helpful in their practice. Thus, professional development is happening, but it is not effective” (Blattner, 2015). Imagine a place where teachers drive their learning by expressing their interests, learning at their own pace, implementing their discoveries and reflecting on their current and future practices. … Read More

Individualized Professional Development through Mentorship

Last semester I began my exploration of the ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This semester I continue that inquiry, while paying particular attention to the fourth standard, Professional Development and Program Evaluation. This standard, more so than any other, delves deep into the topic and addresses several areas of importance:

Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning:

a. Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning
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 learning experiences using a variety of research-based, learner-centered instructional strategies and assessment tools to address the diverse needs and interests of all students
c. Coach teachers in and model engagement of students in local and global interdisciplinary units in which technology helps students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience
d. Coach teachers in and model design
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My Ideal Learning Environment

With all the challenges educators face, it can be easy to get lost in the frustrations and road blocks. While those barriers are very real and deserve attention, our hopes and aspirations also deserve consideration. Have you pictured your ideal learning environment lately? I have. And it’s reinvigorating me.

Ideal

My ideal learning environment is one where students:

  • Guide their own learning by asking questions and following curiosities.
  • Explore ideas that pique their interest, thereby formulating their own units of study.
  • Work collaboratively with others both inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to pursue those interests.
  • Are encouraged to move freely while still understanding the importance of coming back together and being respectful to others.
  • Trust their own instincts and grow into responsible “decision-making” and “self-reliant” learners (Saxena, 2013).
  • Have access to the world, in whatever form that makes sense in that time and place.
  • Learn from one another.

My ideal learning environment is one where teachers:

  • Feel comfortable in stepping down from the stage and allow students to see that they don’t know everything, but they are interested in learning alongside their students.
  • Have ample opportunities for asking questions and taking risks while feeling supported and
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A Critical Look at GAFE

I met with one of my colleagues this week and mentioned my plans to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) at a school I’m working with. She listened intently, but then quietly said, “I don’t think it’s a great idea for students to only use one platform, isn’t that what happens when you jump on the Google Apps for Education bandwagon?” I left that conversation wondering: Is there a right answer? Don’t all choices come with challenges and successes? How does a school make implementation decisions with all of these things in mind?

As I move forward in my examination of GAFE,  a suite of productivity applications that Google offers free to schools, I am going to look at the pros and cons and how those nuances might play a role in the adoption of this learning tool. With that being said, this is not a review of GAFE, it’s not a comparative list between GAFE and Microsoft. It’s a question of whether or not this specific tool can meet the specific needs of my faculty and students. In his article, Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking, Seymour Papert argues that when evaluating a new … Read More

Taking a Step Backward

Earlier this week I wrote of my desire to implement the use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’ve partnered with. As I feverishly typed out my goal of changing the school’s tech climate, I quickly found myself slamming on the brakes and furrowing my brow. I know that I desperately want to be a GAFE school, but I’m not able to article the reasons why. What challenges is the school currently facing that could be solved with the implementation of these tools? What is the pedagogical- and content-driven reasons behind my rationale? And most importantly, why GAFE?

gafe-e1433470938578While I’m still in the process of wrestling with those ideas, my (wildly supportive) classmates and professors gave me a great deal of thought-provoking feedback throughout the week. Annie Tremonte, one of my classmates suggested using this blog post as a platform to flush out my ideas and reflect on the feedback I was provided from others. This format is very foreign for me and I encourage you to continue to provide me your additional thoughts and reactions, allowing me to continue to grow my ideas in a very transparent way.

Reflections on the Feedback

“While focusing on Read More

Answering the “Why” Before the “How”

Last semester I examined the ISTE Teacher Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This semester I will start my exploration of the ISTE Coaching Standards, paying particular attention to the third standard, Digital Age Learning Environments. As I analyze various resources in the coming weeks, I will be viewing them from the lens of how to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’m consulting with. As it stands, the school I’m examining currently employs a rather disjointed collection of tools to complete any number of tasks; Blackboard for grading, Edmodo for posting assignments, Outlook email for submitting work, LibGuides for content curation, Padlet for collaborating, the list goes on.

Tech Balance

While all of these tools serve an excellent purpose, how are they working together to create a well-rounded, transformative experience for our students? Tech coach, Josiah Hodgett from the Shell Lake School District writes, “GAFE is a technology tool that can help you to both inform and instruct. Coming from a theory like TPACK [Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge] – it’s time to look at the interplay of Tech – Pedagogy – Content and determine how they … Read More

Mystery Skype: Design Phase

This quarter we are exploring the ISTE Teacher Standards and in order to take that learning to the next level, in knowledge and practice, we are planning and facilitating Global Collaborative Projects (GCP). I introduce the project and give an overview of my plans in a previous post, check it out here. In this post, I outline my design for the project and review the 6 A’s of project design:

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6 A’s of Project Design

Authenticity
My students attend a small non-secular school where they participate in a Hebrew immersion program for half of their school day. I was talking to a student recently and they mentioned that it was hard to do their Hebrew homework because they didn’t have anyone at home that spoke the language and could offer assistance. This lead me to realize that my students are part of a very small community and it would be a great opportunity for them to see that there are other students from around the world, that they have things in common with.

By connecting my students to another Jewish day school, they can learn about another school, while noting the various similarities and differences. This can help them

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ISTE Teacher Standard 5: Create Individualized Opportunities for Professional Development

In my final week of exploring the ISTE Teacher Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, I examine the fifth standard: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership. In an effort to move into a coaching and mentorship role, I reflected on the following question: “How can teachers 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?”

Keep Educating Yourself (1)

I work at a private school where many of the teachers are not formal educators; they come to the school with a strong background in the school’s cultural and religious beliefs, but not in classroom teaching. I have noticed that many of them do not pursue professional development opportunities that could help them advance their skills in classroom management, assessment, or effective teaching. Blogger and widely respected technology integration specialist, Vicki Davis states, “Professional development is a vital part of improving your technique as a teacher. Learning best practices and practicing best practices are both important. You can make a school better by improving its teachers. Effective [professional development] can do that” (2015). With this in the forefront … Read More

ISTE Teacher Standard 4: Roll Out a Successful 1:1 Program Through Phases

This week I explore the fourth ISTE Teacher Standard: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University and I examine how I can implement the following question into my own practice: “How can teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices?”

My school recently revisited our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) after not having revised it in over two years. We found several discrepancies and have noted that several parents, while they signed the document, still had an array of questions about the one-to-one laptop program and what the laptops should (and shouldn’t) be used for both on and off campus. With this in mind, the school’s Tech Task Force debated the idea of requiring students and parents to attend an orientation in addition to just signing the AUP. I reviewed the policies and procedures of several other schools in an effort to find what works best for the majority. It seems, there is no majority. All schools approach this issue differently, with varying levels of success. What works for one school, doesn’t work for the … Read More

ISTE Teacher Standard 2: Digital Badge Learning

This week I am diving into the second ISTE Teacher Standard: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University and I am attempting to answer the following question: “How can teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the ISTE Standards for Students?”

My school is in the midst of redesigning our middle school enrichment program. Currently, students participate in classes where all the students are learning about the same topic (graphic design, robotics, coding). While this is a great program and some of the students are very interested and engaged, a large handful of students have no interest in the topic and, therefore, are very reluctant to participate. Several discussions have revealed that the enrichment program needs to be revamped for next year, where students have more choice in determining what their area of focus will be. One idea, suggested by an outside consultant, would be to use digital badge learning to allow students to have individual choice and ownership in their learning.

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The … Read More