Technology PD for Teachers
Designing Effective Structures to Support Implementation
District-Wide Context of Technology Use
At the high school, every student is assigned a school-owned iPad to use for school purposes. Students are required to bring these devices to class and are allowed to take the devices home after school in an effort to give students increased accessibility to course material.
At the end of each year, graduating seniors are given the option of purchasing their iPad for a discounted rate. Seniors who choose not to purchase their iPads are required to turn them back in before the school year is over. iPads that are not purchased by the seniors are then re-assigned to classrooms at the elementary and middle school levels.
Thus, there is a continual flow of iPads into the Pre-k through 8th grade classrooms establishing an ever growing need for meaningful PD pertaining to instruction enhancement through technology integration.
An Overview of Available Technology
- document camera
- at least 5 iPad 2s (some elementary classrooms are one-to-one with iPads due to a financial push by the school principal)
*There are also computer labs available.
Middle School Classrooms
- every teacher has a school-owned iPad 2
- document camera
- some have SmartBoards
- some have class sets of 10 iPad 2s
*There are two iPad carts available in the library for check out. Each cart has 25 iPad 2s.
*There are also computer labs available.
High School Classrooms
- every teacher has a school-owned iPad Air
- every student has a school-owned iPad 2
*There are also computer labs available.
A Call for Change in the TELL Survey - Enhanced PD and Support for Technology Integration
Specifically About Technology:
- "Teachers have sufficient training to fully utilize instructional technology." (59.4%)
About School Climate:
- "Teachers are recognized as educational experts." (63.0%)
- "There is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in this school." (53.9%)
- "The school leadership consistently supports teachers." (62.4%)
- "The faculty are recognized for accomplishments." (61.7%)
- "Teachers have autonomy to make decisions about instructional delivery (i.e. pacing, materials and pedagogy." (52.3%)
- "Teachers feel comfortable raising issues and concerns that are important to them." (51.8%)
- "Teachers have time available to collaborate with colleagues." (62.5%)
- "Sufficient resources are available for professional development in my school." (56.4)
About Professional Development:
- "Determining the content of in-service professional development programs." (32.1%)
- "Professional development is differentiated to meet the needs of individual teachers." (43.6%)
- "In this school, follow up is provided from professional development." (52.3%)
- "Professional development provides ongoing opportunities for teachers to work with colleagues to refine teaching practices." (59.8%)
- "Professional development is evaluated and results are communicated to teachers." (37.1%)
- "Professional development enhances teachers' ability to implement instructional strategies that meet diverse student learning needs." (69.8%)
New Teacher Center. (2013). TELL Kentucky Survey. Retrieved from http://www.tellkentucky.org/results/report/42/17520.
What the TELL Survey Told Me
General Conclusions:1. more training is needed to incorporate instructional technology
2. teachers need to be given a voice and feel respected
PD Specific Conclusions:
1. more time and resources should be given to teachers to support PD
2. teachers need to be part of planning PD
3. follow up meetings and evaluations are needed
4. time to collaborate should be given
5. intentionally address differentiation both for teachers and students
Research Describing How to Make PD Successful
There are several factors instructional coaches should take into consideration before and during a professional development session. It is important to “be cognizant of the role curriculum may play in supporting or hindering teachers’ ability to integrate new strategies into their daily instruction” (Dingle et al., 2011, p. 102). Instructional coaches can increase the probability a teacher will try a new strategy by providing specific examples and models of how it can be implemented to enhance instruction.
In addition, instructional coaches should “consider ways of motivating teachers to change practices” (Dingle et al., 2011, p. 102). Motivational factors can include student data as well as the opportunity to work collaboratively with colleagues.
Professional development sessions should “provide teachers with a… limited choice of evidence-based practices” (Dingle et al., 2011, p. 102). The session should focus “on real applications of the research-based [practices], and theoretical discussion is kept to a minimum, at least initially” (Knight, 2005, p. 34).
It is important to “link prior learning and draw out misconceptions, develop connections, focus on effective discourse, and establish a learning community which is responsive to learners’ needs” (Hunter & Back, 2011, p. 112). Coaches should “ask more open-ended questions… with the intention of making the knowledge base of stronger teachers more transparent for the group” (Dingle et al. 102).
During the professional development session, coaches should “[engage teachers] in identifying what they [still need] to learn and in planning the learning experiences that [will] help them meet those needs” (Ingvarson et al., 2005, p. 15).
Lastly, instructional coaches need to provide teachers with time to develop action plans based on the content in the session and their own classroom context and needs (Dingle et al., 2011, p. 102).
After the professional development, there are “three levels of activities” (Chein, 2013, p. 2) the coach must participate in alongside teachers to encourage successful integration. “Level one includes informal activities such as curriculum development or leading a study group. Level two activities are focused on area needs such as co-planning lessons, co-teaching lessons, or analyzing student work. Level three refers to visiting classrooms and providing teachers with feedback” (Chein, 2013, p. 2).
Chein, C.W. (2013). Analysis of an instructional coach’s role as elementary school language teachers’ professional developer. Current Issues in Education, 16(1), 2.
Dingle, M.P., Brownell, M.T., Leko, M.M., Boardman, A.G., & Haager, D. (2011). Developing effective special education reading teachers: the influence of professional development, context, and individual qualities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(1), 102.
Hunter, J. & Back, J. (2011). Facilitating sustainable professional development through lesson study. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 13(1), 94-99, 112.
Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M., & Beavis, A. (2005). Factors affecting the impact of professional development programs on teachers’ knowledge, practice, student outcomes and efficacy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(10), 15.
Knight, J. (2004). Instructional coaches make progress through partnership: intensive support can improve teaching. Journal of Staff Development, 25(2), 34.
Initial Meetings Across the District with Principals
Goal 1: identify the principals' goals for technology use
Goal 2: identify the role the principals wanted me to take in their school
Goal 3: identify how I would meet with teachers (both initially and in follow ups)
Discussion Summary: What the Principals Said
- MORE: PBL, exploration, creativity, products
- LESS: rote-learning, drill and practice, games
- initial meetings done during planning periods
- follow up meetings - some principals wanted teachers to meet with me on a bi-weekly schedule while others wanted teachers to be able to meet with me as needed
- identified one day each week I would consistently be available to meet with individuals or groups of teachers at each school
Initial Meetings Across the District with Teachers
Goal: Meet with every teacher across the district in a small group setting during planning periods, so they can express their technological goals and needs.
- some were in grade level teams
- some were in mixed groups based on common plans
- ALL teachers were included throughout the course of the discussion
- I spent an entire day at each school meeting with teachers, and ONLY teachers.
- I emphasized to teachers anything they shared with me would remain strictly between us.
During the Meetings:
1. Teachers took a paper/pencil survey to identify various factors surrounding technology integration in their individual classrooms.
*Survey Data and Questions:
- General Info: Name, Grade Level, Subject Areas, Flex Groups
- How is technology usually used in your classroom? Exploration? PBL? Rote learning? Teacher-centered?
- Describe how you and your students would use technology if you were super tech savvy and there were limitless resources available to use.
- Describe two broad technology goals you have for yourself that you want to accomplish by the end of the school year.
- List all the types of technology in your classroom. (quantities, types, etc.)
2. I shared with them I would be available one day every week to meet with them individually to co-plan and co-teach technology-based lessons.
3. We discussed what the teachers needed from me to be successful in integrating technology beyond co-planning and co-teaching.
What the Teachers Identified They Needed from Me:
- individualized meetings
- demonstrations on how to use specific apps and websites
- help brainstorming ways to implement specific apps and websites
- help finding resources to match the content they are teaching
- be available to co-plan and co-teach technology lessons
- advice on management strategies
Additional Things Teachers Want to See Outside Our Tech Meetings:
- weekly tech tips (identify tool, include tutorial, offer suggestions for implementation)
- technology-based webinars
- full day of technology PD
- videos of technology lessons being taught around the district
- examples of student technology products
- generalized list of content specific resources used by others in the district
- a website to house all of this information
- tech leadership teams at each school
SAMR Model as a Guiding Force
Based on the teacher needs, I decided to use the SAMR model for technology integration as a guideline to help teachers progress in planning and implementing technology lessons. This model will serve as a reflective tool as well.
S - Substitution
- exact same activity but with technology
A - Augmentation
- same activity but a few technological additions added
M - Modification
- same activity but a many technological additions added
R - Redefinition
- the activity is completely changed so no part could be done without technology
Two Goals Towards Enhancing Instruction Through Technology Integration
2. By the end of the 2015 school year, teachers will be able to plan and implement technology lessons independently at the modification and redefinition levels of the SAMR model.
To Accomplish These Goals
- teacher and principal meetings to identify specific technology goals and needs- improve and individualize training sessions and PDs for teachers
- use of SAMR model to help teachers progress to higher levels of tech integration
- ongoing support in planning and implementing technology-based lessons
- develop a comprehensive 30, 60, 90 day PD plan to identify key steps that need to be taken to insure continual growth in the area of technology integration as indicated by teachers through discussion
- also include additional steps that need to be taken after 90 days
Resources Developed in Preparation
- Teacher Meeting Tracking Form to keep track of survey results, monthly goals, and technology suggestions
- SAMR Planning Form to be used to help teachers progress through SAMR model
- District-Wide Technology Integration Website providing teachers with reference materials (student work samples, videos of technology lessons, lesson ideas, useful websites and apps, curriculum, and directions)
*The website is still in the process of being created. This is a partially finished project.
Follow Up Meetings
All follow up meetings have been one-on-one in order to focus on individual teacher goals and needs.
First follow up meeting (and first meeting of every month):
- each teacher and I develop a specific goal we are going to work on together.
- the goal stems from the content being taught as well as the broad goals identified by the teacher in teacher survey given during the initial meeting
Other follow up meetings:
- brainstorm different ideas for implementing technology
- co-plan technology based lessons to address specific monthly goal
- established personal connection and developed partnership mindset with each PLC and each teacher
- identified principal and teacher goals
- created an ongoing PD plan driven by teacher input
- explaining what and how I could help the teachers with in addition to what I couldn't
- one-on-one meetings focus on individual teacher needs and technology implementation
What Was Awkward and/or Is Awkward?
- some meetings were forced upon teachers by the principal(s) which made creating the partnership mindset difficult at first
- some initial meetings were not with individuals who had common interests and were with large groups (for example, I met with nine teachers during one time slot and none of them taught the same thing)
- dealing with teacher frustrations in group settings (frustrations with administration, PD, technology, etc.)
- asking the teachers to sign in they had met with me as proof for their principal(s)
- gathering data about a specific teacher's classroom to assist in planning technology lessons when I am only available to meet with teachers at each school one day a week
What Would I Have Done Differently or Am Doing Differently?
- avoid mandated time slots in which teachers had to participate in follow up meetings
- emphasize to teachers they need to contact me with specific needs a few days before our meetings, so I can do research ahead of time
- meet with groups of teachers who have common interests
- increase direct planning of lesson (go beyond brainstorming)
- increase depth of co-planning follow up meetings after implementation
- provide more assistance in creating a rubric to evaluate tech products
Connecting PD Planning and Teacher Meetings to Knight
The concepts found in Knight have served as the premise for how I have approached improving professional development meetings and training sessions throughout the district.
First, I wanted to "[partner] with the principal[s]" (Knight, 2007, p. 19) at each school, so I could clearly identify and support their technological vision in my meetings with teachers. By creating a relationship with the principals, I have been able to unify adminstrative goals, teachers goals, and curriculum which has made the teacher meetings more meaningful.
After connecting with the principals, I wanted to schedule initial meetings with each teacher to identify their specific needs and goals. I also wanted their input on how they would improve tech-based professional development in the district. This approach addressed the issues identified in the TELL survey in which teachers felt they were not respected as educational experts and had little to no control over professional development. This approach also addressed Knight's philosophy of the partnership mindset as I was careful to include "the principles of equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity" (Knight, 2007, p. 37) in all of my meetings. In short, I wanted teachers to know I was "listening and respecting" (Knight, 2007, p. 22) what they had to say and wanted to establish that I was just "another teacher willing to help" (Knight, 2007, p. 22).
Knight identifies eight "components of the instructional coaching process" (Knight, 2007, p. 89): enroll, identify, explain, model, observe, explore, support, and reflect. After I earned the teachers' trust, the teachers have allowed me to engage in each of these components with them in one-on-one and PLC meetings. A steady progression through these components has given the teachers and me a structure for engaging in effective communication and, in turn, professional development opportunities.
There are "five activites [that] are particulary effective [when engaging in instructional coaching]: collaborating, modeling, observing, providing feedback, and providing support" (Knight, 2007, p. 27). During my co-planning and follow up meetings as well my co-teaching lessons, I have engaged in all five of these activites alongside teachers. They realize I am available to help them in whatever capacity they need me. This has meant engaging in some very interesting brainstorming sessions and has provided me the opportunity to work with students again even though my official capacity focuses on teachers.
The one-on-one structure of most of my meetings have allowed me to employ the "five tactics for translating research into practice" (Knight, 2007, p. 103): clarify (read, write, talk), synthesize, break it down, see it through the teachers' (and students') eyes, and simplify. This has proven to be very effective in getting teachers to implement the technology tips we discuss. In my meetings, the teacher and I identify a specific goal and tool we will work on based on brainstorming sessions and develop a specific plan on how the tool can be implemented based on classroom context.
Lastly, I have found teachers "will catch on much quicker [to new concepts] if it is (a) powerful and (b) easy to use" (Knight, 2007, p. 183). As such, I have really focused on identifying free, easy to use tools that can be integrated in multiple subject areas. The teacher and I discuss this cross-curricular inplementation in our planning and reflection meetings.
Knight, J. (2007). Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Connecting to PD Planning and Teacher Meetings to Module 1 Article Concepts
I approached the topic of virtual coaching in my planning meetings with teachers. Several teachers were very receptive to the idea. They liked the idea of me being able to observe a lesson and offer suggestions without me actually having to be present in the classroom which can sometimes be more of a disruption. These teachers were also comfortable with the idea of participating in webinars and engaging in virtual planning and reflecting sessions stating this would make help make me more available to meet with them as I currently spend only one day a week in each school building.
However, several teachers were weary of the idea stating they needed to be able to engage in hands-on activities to learn concepts.
From this discussion, the teachers and I decided virtual coaching sessions should be offered in the future to those who would like to participate but should not replace my weekly in-person meetings.
Rock, M., Zigmond, N., Gregg, M., & Gable, R. (2011). The Power of Virtual Coaching. Educational Leadership, 10.
Knight mentions four key components to make instructional coaching succcesful: "go fast to go slow,... focus on relationships,... have a partnership mindset,... and offer teachers choices" (Knight, 2004, p. 36-37). ICs should "spend time creating meaningful relationships that generate successes. Once a few teachers have had positive experiences, word travels" (Knight, 2004, p. 36).
During my initial and first few follow up meetings with teachers, I made sure to be overly attentive to their needs. I used a lot of open-ended questions to allow teachers to take the lead in our meetings. Once I identified the teachers who really wanted help implementing technology, I focused my efforts on helping them be successful. Soon, word spread of how easy I was to work with and how much I was willing to do whatever it took to make the teachers successful. Teachers appreciated I was willing to come in and support them and were impressed with the products and learning that stemmed from our co-planned lessons. They convinced other teachers to come meet with me on a regular basis, and the group of teachers I meet with on a regular basis has doubled.
Knight, J. (2004). Instructional coaches make progress through partnership. Journal of Staff Development, 25(2).
One-on-One Meetings and Using Data:
There are three different ways one-on-one meetings can occur: "on a by-appointment basis, ona a drop-in basis, or it can be as simple as running into someone in the hallway and asking them how things are going" (Martin & Taylor, 2009, p. 2). I wanted to make sure teachers understood meeting with me did not have to follow a rigid, scheduled format. I made sure to validate any meeting they had with me (including the quick discussions in the hallway) were just as important as the thirty minute brainstorming meetings. My goal of clarifying this was to encourage teachers to buy in to collaborating with me. I am happy to say many of the short discussions in the hallway have led to more involved planning sessions and have helped to foster the partnership mindset.
It was also important for me to clarify that anything the teachers discussed with me or that I observed in regards to their technology integration would remain confidential. I wanted teachers to know my job is not to evaluate them and report back to the administration. Instead, my job is to listen to their needs and issues and help them address those specific items.
I have been working hard to change the teachers' mindsets as it pertains to using technology to collect data on student knowledge. It has been fairly easy to get teachers to use apps such as Socrative and NearPod that allow teachers to type in questions and gather student responses quickly. It has also been fairly easy to get teachers to implement standards-based programs such as Learnzillion and Scootpad that allow teachers to assign practice pertaining to specific standards to each child in their classroom in order to track data. However, it has been slightly more difficult to get teachers to implement student-created technology products as a means of evaluating learning. This is due to the fact student-created products are not as easy to evaluate. The teachers and I have been working to create rubrics during our co-planning sessions to help in the evaluation process.
Martin, M. & Taylor, K. (2009). Beyond looking: Using data to coach for instructional improvement. Horace 24(4).
Summary of Growth During the Course
At the start of the school year, I embarked on a new job consisting of two very different job descriptions: 1:1 iPad project manager and technology instructional coach. Before Christmas, my job was focused primarily on learning any and all things iPad from mobile device management systems to updating spreadsheets to troubleshooting iPad issues to getting iPads repaired. After Christmas, my focus turned towards the instructional coaching portion of my job.
While I had led several professional development sessions and was a KTIP resource teacher at my former school, I had not be given the opportunity to engage in many co-planning, co-teaching, and co-reflecting meetings which embody the partnership mindset necessary to engage in sucessful instructional coaching. This course has helped me implement a specific approach to working with teachers that promotes meaningful relationships and conversations.
Throughout the course, the readings offered insight on how to build these relationships as well as strategies to engage teachers in meaningful planning and reflection. In addition, several different methods of co-teaching were presented. These methods have helped me implement differentiated classroom support for teachers.
All in all, though, I found the discussions with my Cosby group members to be the most beneficial. The four of us developed a relationship which allowed us to discuss tough issues and make suggestions which, I feel, impacted my growth as an instructional coach. Discussions required me to offer suggestions based on a wide variety of contexts, resources, subject areas, and grade levels. The Cosby group members helped me to think about things from a different perspective. These varying perspectives and the meaningful feedback I received helped reinforce the principles presented in the textbook and the Module 1 articles and gave them contextual meaning.
The fact I was able to immediately implement the concepts we were discussing in class to the training sessions, teacher meetings, and co-teaching lessons I have been leading daily helped tremendously. Before this course, I was afraid teachers would view me as just another adminstrative-type person who was there to offer meaningless advice. Instead, I feel as though many teachers view me as a support system who is available to help whenever and will never judge. I feel connected to the teachers in my district and believe I have been able to develop a partnership mindset with most of them based on the types of discussions we are having and the involvement they are asking me to have with their classrooms.
This course has provided guidance in developing the skill set I need to be successful in my new position.