Triggering Event Question: What opportunities are available in my immediate context for continual improvement of professional practice, lifelong learning, and leadership development through the use of digital tools and resources?
The fifth and final ISTE Standard for Teachers asks educators to “engage in professional growth and leadership” by “continuously improving their professional practice, modeling lifelong learning, and exhibiting leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources” (ISTE, 2016). This standard is at once the most intimidating and the most exciting for me because of my currently low level of ability and confidence in technology. I have always had a clear intention to seek significant professional development in teaching with technology, and this standard confirms that calling for me.
In my research of the lifelong learning element in the standard, I decided to focus on professional development opportunities that are within my immediate context – in terms of geography and accessibility. I found three different organizations which look promising for a new teacher seeking training in technology use in the classroom. The first is the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE). This group provides year-round professional development for K-20 educators in multiple formats. Their mission is to “lead, engage, and assist educational communities to reach higher levels of student and educator success through the use of 21st century technology” (NCCE, 2016). The greatest resource offered by this group is their annual conference, alternately held in Portland, OR or Seattle, WA. Themes for conferences have included “Explore the Tech-Savvy You” and “Bridging Capability with Opportunity”. Because of its close proximity, this conference seems like a great opportunity for professional growth and networking in the field of classroom technology. Other nearby professional development opportunities include EdCamps and Microsoft Education programs. EdCamps are “unconferences” held at Seattle Pacific University for educators, by educators. (edcampseattle.org) Meant to be informal, audience-driven forums for discussion and learning in the field of education, EdCamps seem like an excellent way for me to seek training around a specific area that I am interested in, as well as connect to the SPU education community. The following video briefly introduces the EdCamp philosophy:
Finally, Microsoft Education, a branch of the Microsoft organization, seeks to provide continuous teacher education in evolving technologies available for improving student learning. Teachers can choose from attending teacher academies in person (learning sessions based around a single topic – Creative Coding through Games & Apps, for example), participating in Microsoft in the Classroom seminars held at specific schools and geared toward a specific teaching staff, or going to Educator Events at local Microsoft stores. In addition to these many opportunities, Microsoft Education offers multiple resources, webcasts and trainings online for teachers to access at any time. (Microsoft, 2016)
When considering the professional practice piece of the standard, I looked into the TPACK framework for integrating technology into teaching practice. TPACK, or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, asks teachers to consider three different domains of teaching – technological knowledge, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge – and the myriad ways that all three interact with each other.
I predict that the TPACK framework will help me to continuously improve my professional practice by encouraging me to constantly change and adjust my teaching based on the most appropriate and innovative technologies available. Koehler and Mishra (2009) remind us that “Teachers need to reject functional fixedness and develop skills to look beyond most common uses for technologies, reconfiguring them for customized pedagogical purposes. […] Teaching successfully with technology requires continually creating, maintaining, and re-establishing a dynamic equilibrium among all components” (p 66-7).
One idea that I found for beginning to integrate the TPACK model, as well as exhibit leadership as the ISTE Standard 5 asks me to was suggested by a classmate, Megan Leonard. Megan introduced me to the concept of Personalized Learning Networks, or PLNs. A PLN consists of many educators, scattered anywhere in the world, sharing resources and collaborating through a digital network. (Whitby, 2013) I love the idea of finding a PLN because I have constantly heard that finding allies and mentors is one of the best ways to avoid teacher burnout, and connecting to other educators online could be the easiest way to find such people. Creating a PLN could also be a good way for me to begin leading in the field of teaching with technology, once I feel more confident in my own skills.
Overall I am eager to continue learning about all of the ways that I can use technology to improve student learning, inform my teaching practice and make my life in the classroom all the more interesting and dynamic. I now feel prepared to begin the work of best educating myself thoroughly, so that in turn, I can best educate my future students.
Caulfield, M. (2011) What is an edcamp? YouTube.com. retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQyceeXzuPM&feature=youtu.be
edCamp Puget Sound (2016) About edCamp Puget Sound. retrieved from http://www.edcampseattle.org
ISTE (2016) ISTE Standards: Teachers. International Society for Technology in Education. retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers
Microsoft (2016) Microsoft Education: Training and Events. Microsoft Education. retrieved from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/training-and-events/default.aspx
NCCE (2016) NCCE: Leadership, Innovation, Learning. Northwest Council for Computer Education. retrieved from http://www.ncce.org
Koehler, M.J., Mishra, P. (2009) What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.
Whitby, T. (2013) How Do I Get a PLN? Edutopia. retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/how-do-i-get-a-pln-tom-whitby