Doing – The Most Important Digital Age Best Practice for PD

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”  
― Aristotle  

Student needs and outcomes should be at the heart of how educators teach and grow but how can this happen in a thoughtful way that includes how digital practices have changed the way we all (educators and students) learn, interact with and consume information?  While looking more closely at the ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation – Performance 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, this led me to my current question: How can PD use digital age best practices to showcase the positive ways technology will enhance student learning and experiences?  

What are digital age best practices? An organization called Loti, an acronym for Level of Teaching Innovation, states that digital age best practices are, “a set of research-based instructional principles that have shown a statistically-significant effect on student achievement. These practices promote college and career readiness and prepare students for success in the digital age.”  Included in this digital age best practice thinking is a strategy for educators to enact within the classroom called H.E.A.T. which stands for Higher-order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections and Technology use.  While digging deeper into H.E.A.T, the part that stands out to me most is the Technology use because the H., E., and A., can be accomplished without technology.  This leads me to think more about how to use PD as a way for educators to interact with technology to then enhance their teaching and connect with student needs…and most importantly this interaction needs to be teachers doing the things the students will be doing with the technology. 

The most powerful and long-lasting PD experiences I have had were rooted in doing.  Doing an activity or lesson from start to finish, using a new technology tool by doing activities within it, doing new curriculum from a learner’s perspective, doing assessments of student work in real-time with a coach.  Yet, in my 10 years of teaching, this has been a minority approach during PD sessions.  “Sparks and Hirsh (1997) believe that a fundamental shift must occur in the way most districts think about professional development. For instance, they advocate that professional development must:  

  • Be driven by clear, coherent strategic plans   
  • Focus on student needs and learning outcomes   
  • Include multiple forms of job-embedded learning   
  • Provide opportunities for study by teachers of the teaching and learning processes   
  • Include continuous improvement in performance for everyone who affects student learning   
  • Consider professional development as an indispensable process without which schools cannot hope to prepare young people for citizenship and productive employment (12 -16).”  

 A study was done in 2005 by Lawerence Ingvarson focusing on teachers using student performance data to guide teaching. “One of the key ingredients that the Ingvarson study found in effective professional development was follow-up and coaching after the training as the teacher attempted to apply this new knowledge to practice.” (Holloway, 2006).  The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) also provides principles that can help to support deeper and more relevant professional growth and learning if: 

  1. The school recognizes a critical factor in technology integration is the teacher’s sustained professional growth by creating a culture of continuous growth and adequate support for innovation and learning. 
  2. School leadership encourages educators to seek out opportunities to build learning networks and to explore and evaluate digital tools. 
  3. The school includes technology integration as an essential component of its professional development, provides the necessary time and resources for it, and ensures that educators acquire and demonstrate essential technology skills and proficiencies. T
  4. Teachers’ use of technology for teaching and learning is included in the school’s teacher evaluation process, as appropriate for the school’s mission and philosophy.  (Principles of Good Practice – Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Both of these resources focus on giving educators adequate and continued time, multiple experiences and support as a resource to learn new practices in a meaningful way that inspires implementation. 

In order for digital/technology-based PD to be efficient and result in actual teacher implementation, finding out what teachers need support with is key. In the article, To Bring Learning into the Digital Age, We Must Empower Teachers, Bev Perdue states that, “A 2016 survey of 1,327 teachers revealed that 85 percent “believe digital tools that provide immediate, ongoing information about student understanding will increase learning.” Unfortunately, most teachers also said they feel they lack the skills and knowledge they need to effectively incorporate digital tools and personalized learning practices in their classrooms.”   Do educators need to learn how to use a specific tool, how to teach students how to use a tool, how to navigate a platform, how to blend technology into the current curriculum, etc.  Once this is known (and it is clearly recognized that not all educators are starting from the same perspective and ability level) PD can be crafted intentionally for the audience attending it. From there, PD should be hands-on.  Have educators do the digital work or use the technology tools that will be asked of from their students.  This could be practicing teaching each other how to use a tool or getting on an app/platform like Seesaw, Skype, Adobe Spark, etc.  It cannot be a ‘sit and get’ style PD when it comes to interacting with digital tools and digital education.  

Faith Plunkett did just this and it is incredibly inspiring to read her article, This Teacher Started a Hands-On PD Lab That’s Sparking Change Across the District.  (Read the whole article if you have time…make time!) 

After sending out a PD survey with almost 3,000 educators taking part in it, she launched a space called Spark Lab that offers: 

  1. Weekly PD Sessions: There are several PD opportunities each week such as book studies, one-hour sessions, half-day sessions on coding concepts or specific tools such as Makey Makey and Seesaw. 
  2. Full Faculty Activities: Some schools opt to bring their entire faculty to the lab for a full day of PD. Sometimes they lead this work and other times I run whole-group activities like a Breakout EDU game where teachers learn to use different STEM materials and practice innovative teaching strategies. 
  3. Open Playground: Teachers can come on their own to explore, ask about different ways they can use specific tools or get advice about how to teach specific CS or STEM-related standards.

Plunkett recognizes that in order for this lab to be effective, it will have to continually change and keep up with the progress of technology.  She also hits on the heart of great PD when she acknowledges, “…we must continue to build relationships with teachers, help them realize the need for innovation in the classroom and continue to support them to reach each and every student.”  What an amazing opportunity a lab like this would for all educators.  Once educators get their hands on the tools and practice using different digital education platforms and resources, they will experience firsthand the positives that come along with technology and be ready to bring this learning to their students in a productive and student-focused manner. 

Sign me up, hire me please, I graduate from the DEL program in June and would love to be a part of this starting up in Seattle and beyond! 


Bergin, Mike. (2019, March 4.) Chariot Learning. Production Effect: Learning by Doing. Retrieved from

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. 

Holloway, John H. (2006).  Connecting Professional Development to Student Learning Gains. Retrieved from 

Hooper, Nicole. (2018). NTEN. Using Adult Learning Principles in Technology Trainings. Retrieved from

LoTi.  Digital Age Best Practices. Retrieved from 

NAIS.  Principles of Good Practice – Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Retrieved from 

Perdue, Bev. (2018, June 3). Getting Smart.  To Bring Learning into the Digital Age, We Must Empower Teachers. Retrieved from 

Plunkett, Faith. (2019, April 8). This Teacher Started a Hands-On PD Lab That’s Sparking Change Across the District.  Retrieved from 

Best Practices for Adult Learners When Designing Professional Development

In order to determine what best practices are for designing Professional Development (PD) for adult learners, I first had to learn about and understand what adult learning principles are.  Looking at Androgyny, defined as the method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education, there are six basic principles and eight design elements of Andragogy (Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)).  The tables below explain in detail the six principle and eight design elements based off of Knowles research and findings: 

(Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)) 
(Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)) 

From here, it becomes clear that one of the most important principles of adult learning is that new learning has direct meaning and relevance to the learner.  Adults come to educational PD with background knowledge, experiences and their own ideas for how to move forward.  When designing PD for adult learners, giving them the opportunity to interact with the learning outcomes beforehand gives them ownership over their learning and helps it to become a collaborative experience – learner led – versus a top down experience.  This leads me to my question – What are best practices for incorporating adult learning principles into PD? 

Patricia Lawler shares 6 adult learning principles to guide professional developers and each one seems to hit on the idea of best practices when designing, implementing and deciding on PD for adult learners and incorporating adult learning principles.   

  • Create a Climate of Respect –  “…start where the learner is by taking into consideration the characteristics, values, and educational goals the teacher of adults brings to the professional development activity.” 
  • Encourage Active Participation – “Being respectful of their professional expertise by inviting their participation and collaboration encourages learning.” 
  • Build On Experience – “Professional developers working with teachers of adults can take advantage of these factors and build on the experience for positive transfer of learning.” 
  • Employ Collaborative Inquiry  “…collaborative inquiry can be an effective tool for enhancing their motivation for professional development.”  
  • Learn for Action – “To learn for action means to be guided for application, to understand the connections between content and application, and to have opportunities in the professional development setting and afterward to take action on learning.” 
  • Empower the Participants – “If the goals of adult education and professional development are change and growth, then opportunities and strategies that empower the learner are essential.” 

Adult Learning Model for Faculty Development 

“This model incorporates both the principles of adult learning and well-grounded adult education program-planning concepts. The four stages of the model—preplanning, planning, delivery, and follow-up—are interrelated and dynamic. At each stage, we ask how the activities and proposed learning objectives are compatible with the adult learning principles. (Lawler, Patricia A. 2003) 

It is important to note how the Adult Learning Model takes into account that at each stage – preplanning, planning, delivery and follow up – the person creating the adult learning program makes sure the learning will be meaningful and relevant to the participant. 

The image below touches on educational strategies for adult learners.  I see this as a checklist to evaluate if educational strategies are being incorporated in the PD being designed.   

Dustin, Emily (2017, July 12)

Overall, the answer to my question of what best practices are for creating adult learner PD would be practices that take into account information obtained about what participants are wanting and how what is being taught will directly and positively provide growth and change in real time for desired outcomes.  That is a tall order and the very first best practice would be direct communication with the participants to find out more.  Sheryl Chard says it beautifully in the video below as she reiterates how important it is that PD focuses heavily on what the audience is wanting and needing as well as PD being a professional learning community having discussions and learning from each other.  “Let’s make Professional Development the home ground of collective inquiry, shared expertise and inspired conversation among professionals.” ~ Sheryl Chard

Chard, Sheryl (2014)


Chard, Sheryl (2014). No More Bad Coffee: Professional Development That Honors Teachers.  Retrieved from 

Dustin, Emily (2017, July 12) Challenges, Opportunities, and Growth: Understanding Adult Learners. Retrieved from 

Lawler, Patricia A (2003). EBSCO. Teachers as Adult Learners: A New Perspective. 

Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016). “Adult Learning Principles and Processes and Their Relationships with Learner Satisfaction: Validation of the Andragogy in Practice Inventory (API) in the Jordanian Context,” Adult Education Research Conference. papers/28 

Revamping Professional Development Using Ed Tech Tools

Educators attend Professional Development (PD) for a variety of reasons which span from personal interests to clock hour requirements to required attendance from district or administration. No matter what the reason is for why educators are in attendance at a PD, the hope is that knowledge will be shared, gained and then brought to life within work environments. Some PD hits home and is motivating and inspiring and some PD falls flat and is merely a box checked and then forgotten about. My question, “What types of presentation platforms provide engaging and interactive Professional Development for teachers and staff?”, focuses on ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation – Performance Indicator B: Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning program that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning and assessment. In addition, I would like to focus on PD presentation platforms that could also transfer to students using the same platforms to share their learning, much like how the adults giving the PD are sharing their learning.

Jennifer Gonzalez, creator of Cult of Pedagogy, wrote a great blog post, Let’s Make Better Slideshows that has great tips and reminders of what to do and not do when preparing PD. This is a list to look over before you even begin designing your presentation. I suggest looking over the article in full but here is a snapshot of her suggestions:

  • Always be in presentation mode – seems obvious, but always a good reminder
  • Cut way back on your text – Key words and ideas but not every word you are also planning on saying out loud
  • Update your assets – be up-to-date with fonts, styles, images, etc
  • Create previews and signposts – this was a new idea for me.  Letting your audience know in full what you will be sharing about can help them focus on your content instead of their minds wandering and wondering how much is going to be shared.
  • Go light on animations – this is a great reminder considering all the bells and whistles presentation platforms have now. It can be overwhelming to the audience if too much is happening on the screen and distract them from what you are verbally trying to emphasize as you talk through your presentation.
  • Keep things consistent – This connects with not overusing animations. Be consistent with the fonts you use, color choices and style in which you have designed your presentation. This helps your audience to, again, focus on your message.
  • Proofread…out loud – practice, practice, practice. PowerPoint even has a coach feature now that can listen to you and give tips on how to improve the delivery of your verbal content in connection with your written word.

Reviewing and remembering these tips before you even begin creating your PD will help lay a strong foundation as you start designing your presentation.  Then, it is about picking your platform…your delivery system.

The most tried and true platform for PD presentations is PowerPoint. Since this is a more known platform, I am instead trying to challenge myself to look at some newer technologies. From the Hongkiat blog, Ashutosh KS wrote an article, 10 Presentation Tools to Win Over Your Audience,  there is a great list of new platforms that can be used to freshen up and help make a PD presentation more interesting.  Platforms include Prezi, Visme, Emaze, Canva, Piktochart,, Haiku Deck and more.  To dig deeper into what each of these platforms have to offer, follow the link to the article.  Yet, the biggest difference within all these platforms is the variety/styles of the visuals which keeps me wondering about how to make PD presentations more engaging via interaction…not just more visually interesting.  Visuals do make a big impression on your audience and are important but how can presenters make sure they are creating PD that will include the audience in an interactive and meaningful way. 

In order to truly engage your audience, using interactive tools such as Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Plickers, Padlet, Buncee and more could be a great way to engage adults while you are presenting.  This also touches on the part of my question how presenters can showcase tools that can be transferred into educators’ classrooms.  Using interactive tech tools is a way for PD presenters to provide both insight into tech tools as well as engagement with the PD topic – fill two needs with one deed!  Once educators have experienced tech tools themselves within their own learning, they are more apt to have an ahh-ha moment and think of ways they can implement it purposefully. 

Overall, to answer my question, What types of presentation platforms provide engaging and interactive Professional Development for teachers and staff?, I have come to this conclusion – switching up platforms will help to keep visuals interesting and professional but also using interactive tools as a way to showcase ed tech tools and keep your audience engaged is the best way to transform your presentation into a collaborative, engaging and meaningful experience.

A Foray Into Coaching ~

I recently read an article about coaching with the title, Instructional Coaching – A Springboard not a Scarlet Letter, and this phrase has stuck with me.  While practicing coaching skills with a teacher at my school, I quickly realized that because we have a strong foundation of trust built, the conversation focused on how to deepen student learning and choice in a meaningful way.  While researching how to best coach him, the resources I read kept coming back to the foundations of trust leading the way. I have come away with understanding that the springboard is trust and the wings that keep ideas from crashing are the questioning techniques that deepen the thinking for both the coach and who is being coached.  Throughout our conversations, trust was at the heart of the conversation and collaborative conversations were made possible by a collective perspective that our partnership would strengthen ideas and strategies for deeper student experiences.  Though I did not gain this trust from a coaching relationship, it still drove home the importance of this trust being the backbone of collaboration and     

Right away, we took the time to align our perspectives on technology use in the classroom and strengthening student voice and choice which resulted in the coaching sessions to focus on using Seesaw as an assessment tool for student understanding. Throughout our first coaching session, I quickly realized that one of the hardest habits for me to break was to just give ideas and advice outright.  We have spent the last year just swapping ideas, collaborating on class projects, and giving each other advice.  I realized after that session, that I needed to brush up on practicing my questioning skills and deepen my understanding of how to ask thoughtful clarifying questions, probing question, paraphrasing, etc.  Another task that I cavalierly brushed past was establishing norms and procedures which would have helped me to slow down and truly coach versus just giving advice and ideas. 

Our continuing coaching sessions focused on student reflection and what was working and not working when using Seesaw.  Throughout these sessions, I realized that my focus on using questioning techniques more deliberately helped me to watch his own shift in thinking and that I could help guide his own ideas into fruition – and he said as much!  Once I slowed down and didn’t focus on trying to solve a ‘problem’ he was having, he was able to talk through his own noticing and wonderings and from there conclude what his next step should be.  It was very beneficial for me to explicitly practice active listening and focus on questioning in order to watch the process unfold into a solution that was fresh to both of us. It was an important reminder that as a coach, coming into the conversation without preconceived ideas for solutions is what leads to a solution that truly makes sense for the teacher and students, not the coaches imagined scenario that is not based on real situation within an educator’s classroom. 

During our final session, he was moving the project into the next stage of student research.  As he explained some difficulties he was coming up against, he specifically asked for additional instructional technologies that could support student learning. Since I was working through a class about accessibility and inclusion, I was able to coach him through using Immersive Reader as a way to have better student access to research resources for the variety of reading levels within his classroom.  This was an interesting shift in the coaching relationship because throughout the previous sessions I was training myself to take an approach that was not telling him specific solutions but because this was what he was specifically asking for, it seemed appropriate. It made me think more about when to give advice outright and when to focus on helping to guide. It seems this is a delicate balance for a coach and reminds me that coaches need to be tuned in to the variety of needs for each relationship and how flexible and adaptable coaches need to be.  The questions it leaves me with are when should coaches give advice and when should they refrain from advice?  My guess is that there is no clear answer but instead is the intuition that is gained from practice in the field.  

The biggest takeaways from this coaching experience and learning about the ISTE Coaching Standards was the importance of trust, collaboration and how students should be at the center of the work between coaches and educators. When trying to shift negative teacher perspectives on what having a coach means, the idea of a coach trying to ‘fix’ a teacher seems like the biggest obstacle to overcome. Since this experience had the safety net of me being a teacher not an official coach within our building, this is an area that I did not get practice in.  The resistance of being coached will be one that I could come across if I choose to pursue coaching.  Where I have experienced this is with technology integration so one way that I can help to lessen technology resistance would be to apply the coaching skills from this experience.  

How Culture Creates Room for Coaching and Collaboration (or… Culture – it’s what’s for breakfast!)

ISTE-Coaching Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 

f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences 

Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth 

b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice 

c. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. To be clear he didn’t mean that strategy was unimportant – rather that a powerful and empowering culture was a surer route to organisational success. ~Ross Bernard

While learning about and researching the ISTE Coaching Standards and how to be an effective and meaningful coach throughout this quarter, building trust and authentic relationships with teachers around student learning and educational practices has been at the forefront.  Drawing on my own personal experience as an educator, I realize every day that there is more to learn, do and adjust as a teacher when striving to keep student learning and success moving. Yet, I must admit, I know that for myself and fellow teachers I work with, there is a twinge of uneasiness and uncomfortable vulnerability if assigned a coach. Reflecting on my own knee-jerk reaction, I have come to realize that this is because coaching is not currently the norm within the overall education setting. When it is present, coaching tends to focus on new teachers or teachers whose evaluation marks are low. (Please note that this is my opinion and experience, and I do not believe everyone feels this way and it is not viewed like this at all schools, thank goodness!) When this is the current culture around coaching, educators see coaching as someone trying to fix them rather than an opportunity for authentic growth, collaboration and student-centered reflection – something everyone in the education field would benefit being a part of – from principals to teachers to specialists to instructional assistants, etc. 

In the article, The Instructional Coach: A Springboard, Not a Scarlet Letter, Jensen writes, “…how can schools pull back the curtain on teaching and turn it into a team sport, complete with a coach for every teacher?” In order to pull back the curtain, Jensen suggests 4 ways that schools, especially leaders and coaches within our education system, can help educators feel more comfortable with coaching. 

  • Spotlight Strengths – focus on the strengths that all the teachers in the building already have.  Have them reflect on their own strengths and each others strengths – at my school, we do shout-outs at the beginning of every staff meeting and having this occur within a coaching session could be really helpful for building trust. “Acknowledging that the building is full of capable and competent educators goes a long way in shifting the culture toward accepting coaching.”  
  • Team Up for Growth – From the starting point of strengths, educators are more likely to be ready to focus on areas of growth.  When teachers determine how they want to grow, the door is open for collaboration, rather than dreading the knock from the outside.  When coaches provide support in the self-identified areas for growth, we honor the expertise of the teacher and position ourselves as a springboard for growth rather than a scarlet letter.”
  • Be Flexible – Coaches need to be flexible and adapt to the educators schedule, timing and the busy nature of education. “Finally, part of every school leaders’ responsibility in building staff capacity includes making coaching accessible.”
  • Spread the Word – If a school is lucky enough to have the resources to have coaches, starting with the teachers who are willing and experienced could go a long way when trickling down to teachers who may be uneasy about coaching.  When the vocal teacher leaders within a staff have a positive experience with coaching, they will become your greatest asset as they spread the word that coaching works, it is worth the time, and everyone needs a coach.”

Bernard Ross, an internationally regarded expert in strategic thinking, organizational change and personal effectiveness with The Management Centre, lays out 5 steps to change and align culture. Below is an excerpt from his article, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast – I highly suggest reading the article in full but for the purposes of this blog post and focusing on changing culture, these steps seem critical and I have left in the descriptions that seem relevant to the educational system since he focuses more on organizations and companies. 

Understanding culture is not enough. The point is to change it. And to do this you need to follow five steps.”

1. Analyse culture as it is now (and be honest!)

Job one is to sit down and work out accurately what the culture is now. There are a number of ways to do this.[. . .] Focus groups, especially externally facilitated ones, can be a great way to get a real handle on this. You also might want to run an anonymous survey monkey study.

2. Imagine the culture as you want it to be

[. . .] think about how you want your culture to work, if everything was correctly aligned. To make it concrete we often then list the key stakeholders and describe how things will be better for them in the new culture. These stakeholders could include: staff, beneficiaries, service users, donors and others.

3. Map the differences between the two

Now compare your two cultural web diagrams, and identify the differences between them. [. . .]

4. Make an action plan

You need an action plan to make sure that the culture change actually takes place. [. . .] This plan should ideally be published and available to everyone. (Provided transparency is a part of your culture!)

5. Measure differences over time

You need track that your approach was actually implemented and that it has had the desired effect. [. . .]

Ross also explains in his article how to map out current cultural desires using specific questions that can help guide coaches and leaders in determining what is creating the current culture – positively and what opportunities are available to shift. 

One of the deepest takeaways that I have had when looking at how to establish a positive coaching culture is the importance of starting at the top and having the positive outcomes filter down throughout the school. Magdalena Mook speaks to the importance of starting at the top in her article, How to Create a Coaching Culture

1. Start from the top, but include everyone

Typically, coaching takes hold in organizations where a well-respected senior leader is engaged in a coaching relationship and can promote its benefits across the company. While buy-in and strong support are very important at this rank, ultimately, coaching should be made available across each level of an organization, to professionals of all ages and levels of experience. This is crucial for a lasting, enterprise-wide impact.

I have noticed in education, coaching tends to focus solely on teachers. It would be interesting to see if not only investment from administration but also participation in being coached, helped to lessen anxiety and/or hesitation for a teacher who is offered coaching..especially if it was being offered to all teachers, as well.  But that is another topic for another time!  

Finally, here is an interesting video that gives a unique perspective of having a coaching mindset. These ideas translate into the education realm…which makes sense considering coaching is adaptable to all professions and focuses on growth for who is being coached and those who they interact with, especially.


Gawande, Atul. (Jan. 30, 2018). Want to Get Good at Something? Get a Coach. Retrieved from

Jensen, Sydney Clark. (Jan. 3, 2019). The Instructional Coach: A Springboard, Not a Scarlet Letter. Retrieved from

Kobulnicky, Ben. Does Culture Really Eat Strategy for breakfast. Retrieved from

Mook, Magdalena. (Jan.11, 2017) How to Create a Coaching Culture. Retrieved from

Ross, Bernard. Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. Retrieved from

The Coaching Cycle and Time Management

Establishing trust when starting a coaching relationship is key before all else but once this trust has been built and the framework is sturdy, what does the cycle of implementation and learning look like as well as the wrap up and reflection? Diane Sweeney has created the Results Based Coaching Tool (click link to have access to the template!) to help educators and coaches plan the cycle of learning from a student based perspective.  Key elements of this cycle are:

  • Pre and Post Assess to Identify Growth Across a Coaching Cycle
  • Understand How the Teacher and Coach Grew by using Exit Questions
  • Plan for Students Who Didn’t Meet the Goal

Using the Results Based Coaching Tool combined with the general cycle framework provided by Corwin, can help give the educator and coach a sequence of steps to follow to help stay on track.  In addition, providing time for the coach and teacher to reflect before they start the next cycle with the new learning and ideas they gained together will help to deepen the coaching relationship and in turn deepen student learning – especially for teachers who are new to having a coach and for a coach that is new to coaching.

Corwin – A Sage Publishing Group
Example of coaching cycle – Corwin – A Sage Publish Group 

While researching this topic, there was a variety of ideas of how long coaching cycles generally are. Of course, this depends on the goals, desired outcomes and bumps along the way.  This led me to think more about the time management skills that are necessary for coaches to set up a successful coaching cycle and for the cycle to be implemented in full. Time is of the essence when it comes to anything in education because a lack of time (and efficiency) can quickly erode good intentions and exciting ideas and instead, cause a break down between the planning process and actual implementation. A key digital tool that seemed to be important is an easy to use online/collaborative calendar to help all parties plan accordingly with the hectic schedules that are part of teaching and coaching. Nicole Turner maps out a way to manage time more efficiently in her blog post, Time Management for Instructional Coaches ~ What Should I be doing?. Big takes aways she mentions are:

  • Weekly reflections and goal setting
  • Making a calendar and schedule that takes into account all parties and easy access
  • Staying organized – using tracker sheets to organize who you meet with, what you talk about and the many notes you gather as a coach

These may seem like simple steps but coaches can quickly get overwhelmed, especially when they are meeting with multiple teachers or teams. Thinking through HOW you will do the steps above before starting the coaching relationship will help a coach be ready from day one and builds trust right away with who you are working with by showing them you are on top of the logistics so they do not have to be. 

Having a clear cycle explicitly in place and a time management system planned out, will help coaches to better meet ISTE Standard 2f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences because everyone will be starting the coaching relationship from a clear and concise starting point.  This seems especially important when working with teachers who may be resistant to coaching. If the cycle and planning of time is a framework that takes into account the life of a teacher being coached, then the teacher will feel understood and be able to have input where they want but not have to be heavily involved in the logistics, which can result in ‘just another thing I don’t have time to do’. From this established starting point, the coaching sessions have the opportunity to dig into revising and strengthening lessons so that planning can be innovative and student-based…and realistic and doable! 


Corwin. Coaching Cycle, What Does It Look Like? Retrieved from 

Sweeney, Diane. (Oct. 28, 2018). Measuring the Impact of Coaching Cycles. Retrieved from

Turner, Nicole (Feb. 19, 2019). Simply Coaching and Teaching. Time Management for Instructional Coaches –  What should I be doing?. Retrieved from

A Pinch, a Dash and a Smidgen ~ Blending 21st Century Skills with Proven Practices

I tend to be a simple cook.  Generally, I make what I am familiar with, either from what I grew up eating or what I figured out how to make when I first lived on my own.  I attempt to branch out but it takes extra time, focus and effort and life can feel too busy to try and find new ingredients at the store or to figure out if a cooking gadget I have will work instead of the fancy gadget the recipe says to use but I don’t own. I do try to mix it up though because it is boring to eat the same things over and over.  Last week, I tried a new recipe. It always feels a bit overwhelming at first yet the anticipation of having something new is exciting – for me and my family.  Once the meal is on the table, the dinner conversation tends to revolve around me giving disclaimers to my family (If it’s terrible, we can pop that frozen pizza in!).  We all eat the first few bites thoughtfully and talk about what we are tasting.  I reflect throughout the meal about what I will do differently next time while my husband and kids reassure me that it is good and that they really do like it.  Then, if it was actually good, I fine tune the recipe the next time I make it and as I make it more often, it becomes easier each time.  Eventually, the recipe is not in front of me but instead, a part of what I know.   

In reality, I already know how to do the most important parts of every new recipe, the basic cooking steps, it is just getting comfortable with the new ingredients, sequence or cooking style. I have also realized that each time I ventured out of my cooking comfort zone, I become more comfortable. This process and awareness of learning applies to how 21st Century skills can enrich prior teaching practices. The basic skills educators have gained throughout their careers do not become null and void just because there are new skills to fine tune and try out with. As a coach, I hope to inspire who I am working with to add a pinch of this, a dash of that and a smidgen of something new until they are using these skills more naturally in how they approach teaching.  Shifting one’s educational philosophy and pedagogy is not about changing everything at once but to instead mix new ways of thinking in to find the right teaching recipe that works for the them and the learners they are working with, which remains a tried and true pedagogical practice just with a 21st Century perspective thoughtfully added. This leads me to my question, how do 21st century skills influence the changing criteria for effective learning and technology integration? 

(Let’s look more closely with the idea of a recipe in mind)

21st Century Skills and 21st Century Learning 

(These are the basic cooking steps that we don’t have to relearn with every new recipe but are reimagined in a new way when new ingredients are added!) 

Educators have always had to keep up with the changing landscape of the world that they and their students interact with and live in. When thinking about how 21st Century Skills influence effective learning environments and pedagogical approach, there seems to be the theme of focusing on an updated process of learning rather than just the outcome of facts, data and what students know or do not know through summative assessments.  The National Education Association (NEA) goes beyond just the skills and talks about the elements of 21st Century Learning as: 

  • Emphasize core subjects 
  • Emphasize learning skills 
  • Use 21st century tools to develop learning skills 
  • Teach and learn in a 21st century context 
  • Teach and learn new 21st century content 
  • Use 21st century assessments that measure core subjects and 21st century skills 

I appreciate the distinction NEA has made between 21st Century Skills (often talked about as the 4 C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) and 21st Century Learning which encompasses the 4 C’s but also includes the elements listed above to reflect the technology, learning environment and content/context changes that connect past and present approaches. 

Learning Progressions 

(This is the time where you learn a new sequence of steps to blend with your prior knowledge of cooking that is required for your new recipe!)

In the article, Learning Progressions: Road Maps for 21st-Century Students—and Teachers, we are reminded that the pedagogical shift of 21st Century is about the progression of learning.  “…The focus should be on Learning progressions—the journeys that students take as they move toward mastering skills in specific areas or disciplines—rather than on outcomes in the form of scores on standardized tests “(Kim, H. & Scoular C., 2017).  Kim and Scoular focus on the idea of moving learners from novices to experts and that learning progressions emphasize how students move through the learning of the core subjects. 

“Tried-and-true progressions exist for those subjects [literacy, science numeracy], and we know they work. We can thus use this established approach to benefit our understanding of more complex skills—not just of the skills themselves, but also of how students demonstrate them at various levels.”  

(Kim, H. & Scoular C., 2017)

Building a Bridge Together 

(This is the part of the recipe where you are taking a risk and trying out the new and some unfamiliar ingredients, steps and/or cooking style to see how this influences the meal in a new and exciting way!) 

In the book, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, Foltos reminds us that, “Educators and the Peer Coaches that work with them find it easy to talk about 21st-century skills but much more difficult to turn abstract ideas like critical thinking, analyzing and synthesizing information, transference, information literacy, and creativity into practical classroom learning activities.”  This is where coaches and educators benefit from strong collaboration and take the learning activities they are already familiar with and reimagine them by tweaking the process and end result to be more student centered and fine tune what they already have instead of reinventing the wheel.  Using a process such as the Learning Design Matrix (Peer Coaching, 2018) below can help to inspire rethinking and focus on the teaching, learning environment and desired outcome. 

21st Century Pedagogy  

(This is the part of the recipe that once everything is mixed in and cooked, you must finalize the meal with the last critical step – putting it on the plate.) 

While thinking about bridging the old with the new, it is important to realize how intertwined the new and old ideas, philosophies and approaches already are. It benefits all stakeholders to remember that focusing on teaching styles, learner centered instruction and 21st Century ways to showcase deeper learning is key to not becoming overwhelmed with thinking everything around education is new. Like always, each aspect relies on the other. Much like how basic salt and pepper, turning on the stove and trying out new recipes and tools enhances our basic ability to cook and better feed ourselves and each other.  

Below is an example of a new pedagogical approach: 

Context matters, and the diagram from edorigami captures this, though not from the perspective of the student and content knowledge, but the teacher and various pedagogical components themselves, including Higher-Order Thinking SkillsPeer Collaboration, and Media Fluency. (TeachThought Staff, 2018)

And finally… 

I thought this was an interesting way of thinking about past versus present – this was not how every classroom always was in the past or how it currently is for every classroom  in the present but elements of each ring true and what an exciting time this is for education and the changing landscape within and outside of the classroom. The powerful connection between school and real life…considering school is real life and learning forever embedded in the lives of the generations we are teaching today – 21st Century and beyond.  

Follow this link to see page 2 of the document:


21st Century Schools. 20th Century Classroom vs. the 21st Century Classroom. Retrieved from

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. 

Kim, H. & Scoular C. (April 24,2017). Learning Progressions: Road Maps for 21st-Century Students—and Teachers. Retrieved from 

McAlpin, Renee. (2017) Brookings Institute. Skills for a changing world: The global movement to prepare students for the 21st century. Retrieved from 

National Education Association. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from 

Peer Coaching. (2018). Learning Design Matrix.  

The Coaching Relationship ~ The Many Layers of Building Trust through Communication and Collaboration

  • ISTE-Coaching:
    • Standard 1: Visionary Leadershipd. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms
    • Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessmentf. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Through researching and conversations with my SPU Digital Education Leadership cohort, I have found myself continually wondering how to best communicate and collaborate when starting a coaching relationship while still connecting in a way that felt organic versus clinical or predetermined.  In my own experience, why do I sometimes accept clarifying, probing and paraphrasing communication as a positive communication strategy with some people (coaches, other teachers, admin/leadership positions) yet with others I feel it is predetermined and just a sequence of steps they are applying to our conversation?  This led me to my question, What are best practices for starting to use probing and clarifying questions when you first start coaching someone and how do probing and clarifying questions strengthen trust with who you are coaching?

The most obvious answer is trust. When I am collaborating and communicating in a trusted relationship, I can let down my guard, be vulnerable and break away from my own initial thoughts or usual tendencies. But how do we gain that trust? In a coaching role, active listening inspires educators to feel truly heard through communication which is a crucial building block for trust and sets the stage for the other foundational block, compassion (I hear you, not a predetermined agenda) and commitment (I hear what you need and commit to those needs/desires/hopes first and foremost)

Peer-Ed (2018)

In the graphic above from Center for Creative Leadership, each active listening skill reinforces being heard before diving into deeper thinking. When I reflect on these skills from the perspective of being coached, I would say #6 – be attuned to and reflect feelings, #1 – be attentive and #5 – paraphrase are the skills that strengthen my relationship with the coach and results in be being more available to be coached. 

The article, Getting Better Results Through Authentically Curious Leadership, touches on how our subconscious wants to connect immediately with our past experiences which means we draw conclusions and make judgments quickly (Garrison, 2018). To be authentically curious, Garrison tells us about 3 techniques that can apply to the coaching relationship to create a fresh perspective that is ready to be built with the coaching partnership. The three techniques he describes are:

Assume a Blank Canvas: The goal is to allow the other person to “fill in” this canvas with their words, emotions and meaning. Rather than responding with phrases like, “Don’t you think … ?” (a thin disguise for trying to convince someone of their point of view), authentically curious leaders listen deeply and ask clarifying questions that begin with phrases like, “Can you tell me more about … ?” or “How do you see … ?” This allows for additional clarity and perhaps new insights. When the authentically curious leader does make a point, they invite challenges or conflicting views in a respectful and authentic manner.

Prepare For The Unexpected: The brain sees data that supports its model of the world, but this model also inhibits our ability to consider other unexpected points of view. The brain must be trained to consider all the data, especially that which does not support our current beliefs. 

Make Decisions Using Common Criteria: When a group is working to address a problem or make a decision, the authentically curious leader doesn’t debate alternatives. Instead, the leader solicits answers to the question, “How will we know a great decision when we see it?” Note that the question is not, “What’s a great outcome?” When a group can agree on common criteria for a great decision, then each member is free to explore alternatives with certainty of how each will be evaluated.

(Garrison, 2018)

Through building trust with thoughtful communication skills and coming to the table with no solution already determined, only then can collaboration occur.  Les Foltos describes in his book, Peer Coaching, Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, the importance of inquiry over advocacy.

When is the right time for advocacy? How often can [coaches] present their solutions? As I noted in earlier chapters, successful coaches feel that a little advocacy works, but only after a strong coaching relationship based on inquiry is formed. Too much advocacy, they observed, means the coach becomes the expert with the answer. Garmston and Wellman (1999) argue it is important for successful collaboration to balance advocacy and inquiry. Effective Peer Coaches emphasize inquiry over advocacy. Too much advocacy can produce learned helplessness. Inquiry builds capacity to improve teaching and learning by helping teachers to be more effective at designing and implementing learning activities that meet the needs of their students.

(Foltos, 2013)

Once a coaching relationship has been built on trust and communication skills that bring out inquiry based conversations, coaches can begin to know how to best deepen the thinking of who is being coached.  In order to achieve what Foltos and Garrison are speaking about, coaches need to understand that the questions they ask and how they ask them are critical to the relationship, especially in the beginning. In the article, The Questions Good Coaches Ask by Amy Jen Su, she reminds us that…”Asking the right coaching questions means the difference between a one-way interrogation and a dynamic learning session. Good coaching questions give someone who’s busy and competent the space in which to step back and examine herself. The right question can stop her in her tracks as she finally sees her own actions from a different perspective or envisions a new solution to an old problem. She may indeed learn to question herself so that next time she can catch herself in the act and change her actions in the moment. (2014). Once a coach has achieved showing authentic curiosity and an inquiring approach by asking opened questions and paraphrasing, they can then move into clarifying and probing questions resulting in the communication and collaboration as a dynamic partnership…and if advocacy comes into play, when it seems appropriate, it will be from all perspectives, not just the coaches. A true collaborative approach.

 Philipp Schneider (2013) Balanced Action. Sketchnote: Coaching Essentials.


Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Garrison, David W. (2018).  Forbes. Getting Better Results Through Authentically Curious Leadership. Retrieved from

Jen Su, Amy. (2014). Harvard Business Review. The Questions Good Coaches Ask. Retrieved from

Schneider, Philipp. (2013) Balanced Action. Sketchnote: Coaching Essentials. Retrieved from

Coaching All: Thinking about the whole school community – educators, parents and caregivers.

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership 

d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms 

My question: What are best practices for establishing trust with teachers and families at our school and guiding our school community towards a positive digital education perspective.  (versus just telling them the positive ways students can use digital tools in the classroom) 

Gaining the trust of the whole school community to implement educational technology in classrooms is tricky because there are many preconceived notions around screen time and a variety of perspectives and backgrounds that everyone (teachers, parents, caregivers) comes to the table with. As I prepare to lead a Digital Education Presentation for the PTA at my school, I have been looking at the ISTE Coaching Standard 1, Visionary Leadership, and more specifically the ISTE Coaching Standard 1d – Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms to better prepare for this presentation by using a coaching mindset to find best practices for gaining this invaluable trust.  

When it comes to the whole school community, there are 3 main takeaways from my research that I believe will help to alleviate some of the fear or nervousness around using digital education in the classroom. In the article, Engaging Families as Learning Partners Using Digital Tools by Matthew Lynch, there is a breakdown of how to teach families what it means to use technology in the classroom.  These same suggestions apply to fellow teachers, as well. He has 5 suggestions to engage families but the first 3 are what I am focusing on to first build the trust needed for support of digital education implementation. The first suggestion that Lynch makes is to Teach the Parents How to Use the Digital Tool.  If we take the time to give families hands on experiences with the tools and platforms students are learning, they are more likely to see the active role students have in their learning when engaged with digital tools. If teachers take on a coaching role with parents (and invite other teachers to join in on this as learners) then it moves away from the teacher trying to solely make a case for why educational technology is great and instead puts the experience directly in the hands of the adults to see for themselves.  This is more likely to shift perspective because it is a hands on experience for them versus a lecture trying to convince them.     

The second suggestion Lynch makes is to Explain the Importance of Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship. Students are growing up in a digital age and there is no getting around that. Coming at this reality with a digital citizenship focus in order to better teach how to manage our online and offline lives helps families to see that we have the chance to teach mindfulness and awareness of navigating the digital world AND how we can influence the use of digital tools as a way to enhance learning versus passive consumption.  When a student learns how to create their own digital portfolio highlighting their learning, this is powerful and stays with them as they move through their K-12 education and beyond.  

A third suggestion from Lynch is Using Digital Tools for Communication.  Highlighting the way digital tools and platforms can strengthen home to school connections and making these connections personal and meaningful for parents and students helps teachers to build strong relationships with families. Megan Ryder writes about the importance of not just building relationships with others but also maintaining them in her blog post, Strategies for Building Relationships as an Instructional Coach.  Though she is talking specifically about relationships with staff, this is crucial for families, as well. Communication is what maintains relationships so using easy platforms to keep communication alive, relevant, timely and positive can slowly shift negative perspectives of using digital education in the classroom when parents see a benefit for themselves, as well as for their child. 

Through all of this, there will be hiccups, missteps, technology that doesn’t work like you hoped and a learning curve for how to find and use the best digital education tools and platforms in your school and classroom. Two of my favorite suggestions for building trust with those you are coaching (whole school community) was from Ashley Paschal, 5 ways to Build a Trusting Coaching Relationship.  She speaks to the importance of listening without judgment and to laugh.  Parents and other educators are looking to coaches to feel safe in how the uneasiness they may feel about the fast paced and always changing digital education world.  My own perspective has shifted immensely since staring the SPU Digital Education Leadership program but that has taken a lot of research, conversation, patience and time.  Remembering to accept where parents and educators are at in their journey with digital education and truly listening without judgement to understand where they are at in their journey (and WHY!) is the only way to start forging a pathway of trust that can enable you to guide towards a shift in perspective.  

Here is a great resource from Common Sense Media to start engaging your community! Learn how to make parents and caregivers an integral part of your digital citizenship program 


Cogswell, Ben. (July 11, 2018) Common Sense Media. Retrieved from 

Lynch, Matthew. (Feb. 8, 2019). The Tech Advocate. Retrieved from Engaging Families as Learning Partners Using Digital Tools.  

Paschal, Ashley. (Fed. 28, 2018). Education Elements. Retrieved from 5 Ways to Build a Trusting Coaching Relationship. 

Ryder, Megan. (May 8, 2017). TeachBoost. Retrieved from Strategies for Building Relationships as an Instructional Coach. 

Tech Etiquette ~ a framework for building classroom community in a technology rich environment

Before students can learn within the digital age learning environment, the environment needs to be one that is community minded, with clear expectations that students have created, agreed upon and are understood in full, with routines that are second nature and where all students have engaged in creating a safe space for all to flourish in. Tech Etiquette is critical for building and maintaining an environment that focuses on respect, learning and connecting with each other, not just the use of devices and technology.  Educators take time to create a positive, supportive and well-mannered environment within our classroom while offline and the same tenets need to apply when devices and technology are being used. This may seem obvious but I have yet to see this focused on as deeply as how students learn to log on to a device, how they carry the device, learn to type, creating digital portfolios or get to an app. Focusing on Tech Etiquette in the classroom will provide the framework needed for technology to enhance learning, collaborative relationships and a creative classroom that uses design thinking. This is important at any age.  I believe diving deeper into Tech Etiquette strongly supports ISTE Coaching Standard 3 for those reasons, at the very least.

For my graduate program, Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I have chosen to focus on creating a presentation about the importance of Tech Etiquette in classrooms. It has been an eye opening experience to think more deeply about what it means to teach students about Tech Etiquette inside and outside of the classroom because this is not an area that I have seen focused on. We often teach students about digital citizenship, how we act online and our digital footprint, but how we act with each other while using devices in the classroom is not focused on as often. There is not one right way when it comes to etiquette which is why it is important for educators to tap into what their classroom needs and what makes sense culturally, is age appropriate and what students want as part of their tech etiquette agreement. Below, is my reflection on what my presentation will look like if accepted into a conference or how I would present it as a Professional Development for other educators.


The length of my presentation or workshop will depend on the audience and location. If I was accepted to the NCCE, it would be for 10 minutes. If I were doing it as a PD for staff/families at my school, it could be up to 45 – 60 minutes. 

Active and Engaged Learning:

I would like to have role playing or real life scenarios as part of the presentation.  For example, starting with everyone writing down (or using an online platform to gather these thoughts in real time) 1-2 things they notice bothers them about tech etiquette and use in the classroom, workplace or personal life or take a poll using a tool like to determine if many of the issues are similar. From there, connecting to basic manners that we expect from students (and that we give to them!) and how we need to role model for them when applying these manners in a technology rich environment – looking up from devices when someone is speaking, tone when working together, taking turns, stopping when the activity is over (no sneaking!), how to hold, handle and take care of devices, stamina when things go wrong or get confusing, awareness of surroundings and others when using a device and more. Audience members could role play these scenarios or create solutions to share with the group as a whole with small groups working together.    

Using Prezi as a way to present and interact with audience and then create an action plan using Mural so that everyone will have the ideas and work created to look back to.

Content Knowledge Needs:

Common Misconceptions: Touch on the idea of digital citizenship being not just online behavior but how we interact with those in our physical space when using digital tools and resources

Specific content standards/objectives: 

  • ISTE Coaching Standard 3 – Digital Learning Environment
  • ISTE Student Standard 2 – Digital Citizen and Standard 7 – Global Collaborator 
  • ISTE Educator Standard 3 – Citizen, Standard 5 – Designer and Standard 6 – Facilitator

Address Teacher Needs:

Make the Prezi available to all so educators can look back at it, add to it and create a community to interact with as they implement the ideas into their classroom

Educators leave with clear ideas on how to introduce, implement and maintain tech etiquette within their own classrooms. The Mural tool will keep these ideas in a collaborative space.

Provide a video of in-class examples of teaching students these tools (this would be something done at a later date when I teach my own class, video tape it and provide closed captioning for educators to review and then fine tune for their own classroom)

Anticipated FAQ:

  • Home to school connection with tech etiquette
  • Breaking bad habits that students have already learned
  • How to train student tech mentors
  • What does a tech mentorship program look like, sound like, feel like
  • Dealing with adults and friends who model behaviors that counteract what we are trying to teach them to do with tech etiquette. 
  • Growth – it takes time to learn these skills and to be aware of when we are not having tech etiquette – the point is learning these skills so focus on the skill not the ‘bad behavior’ or ‘wrong way’. Positive reinforcement and helping students learn to be aware and shift is key.

Collaborative participation:

Student input, discussions and collaborative decision making around tech etiquette in their classroom will be critical is making tech etiquette meaningful.

Collaborate with other classrooms who are embarking on this topic and connect via Skype or another platform to see how it is going, what others are doing that is successful, what is not going well, the opportunities and successes. This could be done by connecting with other educators who are a part of the presentation or having a living document that educators can go back to and update each other and reach out for support when needed. 

Students could create images, media, and more around the topic to then use to teach other students which will promote student agency, motivation and pride around being stellar tech etiquette role models for each other and outside of the classroom.  Teaching awareness around how they engage with tech is a huge part of this.