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The triggering question for this module was, “How do we define 21st century learning, and how can we use the definition in our coaching work?”  When I think of 21st century learning, I think of the ending of the year 2000 and the Y2K worry of whether technology would survive the transition to January 1, 2001.  Would my teacher computer even work when I returned from winter break? Would my Accelerated Reader data exist in January or would it be wiped out?  That was teacher thinking when the 21st century started.  As a teacher with one computer connected to the internet, the idea of having students use the internet on their own to solve real world problems in my classroom and not with the computer lab teacher never crossed my mind.  I remember Partnership for 21st Century Skills, now known as P21, coming to be in 2002.  Suddenly, a rainbow graphic highlighting collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and creativity were part of every slideshow at every educational conferences. I never saw technology as tied to the graphic.  It was instead skills you emphasized without technology.

Jump ahead to 2016.  What relevance does the term 21st Century Learning have to the classroom teacher in 2016?  My question I generated this week, What tools can district teams (administrator, tech & instructional coaches, tech dept leaders, teachers, etc) use to evaluate their readiness for 21st Century Learning to prepare students to be career and college ready?, seeks to find alignment alignment between 21st Century learning and district vision.  This inquiry stems from reading, “One key step to using coaching to build a school’s capacity to improve is to align all the coach’s work with school’s and district’s educational goals (Foltos, p. 61).  I read this week’s ago, but it has stuck with me.

Recently, I attended the Future Ready conference at Highline College.  In preparation, my Superintendent was required to first sign the Future Ready Pledge and then our team completed a lengthy digital readiness survey developed by The Alliance for Excellent Education.  The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.  The Alliance created a project in 2015 called Future Ready Schools (FRS) to help school districts develop comprehensive plans.  That fits perfectly with ISTE Coaching Standard 1d, “Initiate or evaluate the progress of the change process in schools and classrooms.”  The survey examines your district’s readiness in the seven areas and a personalized report is created for your district overall.  The areas are: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Use of Space and Time, Robust Infrastructure, Data and Privacy, Community Partnerships, Personalized Professional Learning, and Budget and Resources.

Future Ready has two program goals.  One, transform instructional pedagogy and practice.  Two, simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom.  A pdf of the survey is linked here.  Is there overlap with 21st Century Learning strategies? Yes.  For example, the survey asks if collaborative workspace, sites for student discussion, and real-world connections for student projects are available now, in your plans, or not a priority.  It also directly asks you to rate, “Integrate strategies to promote 21st Century skills/deeper learning outcomes into curriculum and instruction for all students.”  Without going on at length, I would agree that the completing of the survey would let a district know their readiness to support 21st Century Learning with technology.

The layout of the survey is a rating scale. I liked that.  It caused my team to talk about research-based instructional best practices.  Such conversation directly supports ISTE Coaching Standard, Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, 2f: “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”  By being a part of this conversation, I was able, as the technology coach, to assess how I’m aligning my work to the larger vision of instruction. For example, we discussed teachers transitioning to more student-centric environments.  As another example, we discussed developing curriculum and instruction that provide each student the opportunity to solve real-world problems and courage collaboration with students, and others outside of the school environment.  

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At the Future Ready Summit my team was also lead through an exercise called Shifting the Pedagogy that directly addressed the 4C’s, TPACK, and SAMR.  Following that we had team time to work together.  My director and others were not familiar with some of the terminology or frameworks.  This enabled us to jointly work on ISTE Coaching Standard 6a of Content Knowledge and Professional Growth, “Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement the ISTE Student and Teaching standards.”  It also hit on ISTE Coaching Standard 1d as those present influence the change process in our district.  Overall, I see the Future Ready tool and Summit as evaluating where a district is on a continuum of providing opportunity and access for teachers and students to be innovative.  It also provides great conversation around where instruction, curriculum, assessment and technology intersect.  Some of what is addressed is physical and some of it is not.  When completed by cross-sectional district team, rich conversation is generated.  It’s really asking, Is your district ready to instruct students in the future and for the future?

Works cited:

Alliance for Excellent Education (n.d.). Future ready district assessment. Retrieved from http://dashboard.futurereadyschools.org/uploads/media/default/0001/01/9c280b79595b2cf58d0142af126c9485a9911c28.pdf

Curtis. L. (2016). Future ready 21 century learning. Retrieved https://flic.kr/p/NQVzSQ

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards for coaches.

Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

This photo is a derivative of Rivollier, F. (2013).  Intersect.  Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/fd61FQ