4. Professional Development & Program Evaluation

Return to Standards Home Page

4. Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning.
4a. Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning4b. 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 assessment4c. Evaluate results of professional learning programs to determine the effectiveness on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning

A large portion of a technology coaches’ work is planning and providing professional development for staff. Our choice of professional development offerings is often based on a new tool we are implementing or a software we believe staff should use. It is sometimes developed in reaction to a problem or some perceived, or real, lack of skill. Sometimes we even survey our staff to find out what they are interested in.┬áIn the best of all possible circumstances, however, we would be treating Professional Development like we do any other teaching. We would pre-assess our “students” based on standards, we would use best practices to build hands-on, tech enriched experiences that model the types of redefined teaching we want our students have and would help staff address their skill gaps. Then we would assess our participants to make sure they met standard and make adjustments for future teaching.

The key word here is “standards”. Not all districts have clearly defined expectations or a set of standards for what teachers should know and be able to do. I think this lack will make it difficult to truly make personalized learning for staff a reality, especially if we want to use the same lens we look at student learning through. It would be a challenging task for sure, since not all types of teachers need the same types of technology skills, but that is where we can pull from the student technology standards that are a part of Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the state technology standards and the new Computer Science standards.

I think we can take a two pronged approach to developing technology expectations for staff. First, there are tools and skills that teachers need in order to do their jobs as professionals. This might look different district to district depending on the platform and supported tools, but I think there are some standard professional skills such as using the Student Information Systems, email for communication, basic productivity tools to be able to create content for instruction, working in a cloud based environment as a short list. Beyond that, I think it is reasonable to expect that teachers have the skills to teach to the student standards of the grade level they are assigned to.

The International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Standards for Educators (ISTE, 2017) has shifted its focus away from purely skill based standards to ways of thinking and knowing about technology’s role in empowering student centered learning, creating capable and respectful digital citizens, facilitating learning in a variety of digital formats and using data to make decisions. It is fairly easy as a coach to encourage and teach to skills but it is not always as easy to identify how to change cultures and ways of thinking. Changing the way we teach with technology is not just about the devices. It is about addressing overall instructional strategy and pedagogy and that is a much bigger task and will take systems change as well.

One of the ways we will get there is to think more strategically about how we assess, plan and evaluate professional development for staff. The more data we have and the clearer we can be with staff about standards and expectations, the better they will be able to set goals for themselves and take ownership of their learning.

The links above will take you to evidence of my learning around the specific sub standards related to this standard.

–> To Indicator 4a