I have been fortunate enough throughout the Digital Education Leadership master’s program at Seattle Pacific University to be able to spend time digging deeply into the ISTE Standards for Coaches and specifically the standard and indicators for professional learning facilitator. Indicator 5c of the ISTE Standards for Coaches is specifically about how coaches can evaluate professional development for its impact of learning and teaching. I have found my self really enjoying learning more about this standard and indicator because while I have participated in and facilitated professional learning being able to truly evaluate it’s impact has not been something I have done or at least have not been doing it well. So it was great to be able to spend time really looking at what it means to evaluate professional learning. Through all this I was able to take time reading many different resources and even wrote this blog post, Evaluating the Impact of Professional Development. Through my research for this blog post I was introduced to the ISTE White Paper, Technology, Coaching, and Community and to Thomas Guskey’s 5 levels for evaluating professional learning. Highlights from these two resources are the idea that professional learning is not a one size fits all thing. For professional learning to be impactful it should connect to student learning, allow for collaboration, and embed technology into the learning. Through Guskey’s 5 levels it is important to look at all 5 levels since different information is gathered at each level. So when evaluating professional learning we should be looking at the participants and their reactions to the learning, whether or not the participants learned something new, if the learning aligned with school or district goals, how participants use the skills they learned, and finally how the learning impacts student learning. I have taken what I learned while researching this blog post and I have started to implement them into planning that I am currently doing around professional learning. I have begun to take a backwards approach to things when planning and often start with how the professional learning will impact students. My other team members at work and I have even taken this approach when thinking through our goals for next year and started by thinking about what we wanted students to be doing and then what that meant we wanted teachers to be doing and finally how the system supports that.
Something else that has stood out to me is the coaches role in all of this work. As a coach it is important to work with educators to have those conversations around how the professional learning is impacting student learning and outcomes. Therefore professional learning does not have to be in the form of a formal workshop. Professional learning can come from a classroom observation and then the conversations and reflection that follows. For example, I am mentoring a new teacher in our district and before my first observation we had a meeting to talk about our goals for my observation, what did they want me to pay attention to and look out for. That way when I observed their teaching I had specific things that I could pay attention to so that when we met afterwards to debrief we could use those observations to reflect and make plans for next steps, all connected to student learning. This cycle also needs to be continuous and ongoing in order for it to have impact. So as a coach it is important to keep checking in with educators, communicating with them, and helping set goals that center around student learning outcomes. I’ve appreciated the NSW Government website for education that has a section specifically designed around impactful professional learning. The website highlights how we should be building up expert teachers in order to improve student learning but that this is all collaborative and centered on student needs. You can read more about my learning from this resource in my blog post, Continuous Evaluation of Professional Learning. This is all just a reminder to me of the importance of collaboration in all that we do as educators. How are we learning from and with each other and how does our learning as educators impact our classrooms and ultimately student learning.
For me it is important to always keep students at the front of all conversations. How is what we are doing impacting them and what do educators need from us as the district in order to better impact student learning? My goals are to continue to plan this way by first thinking about the impact I want the learning to have on students and then thinking about what that means the learning for teachers should look like. I plan to also use this idea to reflect on my own professional learning and how it is impacting educators and what additional supports and resources might be needed. I plan to intentionally look for ways to continue my own learning in order to help facilitate learning for others that is all connected to district goals and student learning.
Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf. (2011). Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.ri-iste.org/Resources/Documents/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf
Guskey, T. R. (2002). Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development—Educational Leadership. 59(6), 45–51. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar02/vol59/num06/Does-It-Make-a-Difference%C2%A2-Evaluating-Professional-Development.aspx
ISTE Standards for Coaches (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
What is High Impact Professional Learning. (2021, January 26). NSW Department of Education. https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/high-impact-professional-learning/what-is-hipl