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Lend your voice to the 2017 ISTE Standards for Teachers

By Carolyn Sykora
January 1, 2017
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The refresh of the ISTE standards for teachers was launched at ISTE 2016 when more than 100 educators attended an initial feedback session. Now, six months later, the revamp is in full swing.

Toolkits to guide discussions about the new standards are available for use at schools and conferences. The teacher refesh landing page provides all you need to know about the myriad ways you can provide input to the new standards, including Twitter chats, attending ISTE affiliate events, hosting events and participating in our survey. In addition, the initial draft of the new standards has been posted for comment.

In other words, thousands of people have been hard at work contributing ideas, best practices and inspiration into what informative, aspirational standards for the teaching profession should look like. And the process has been amazing!

Along the way and across the various information-gathering sessions, some overarching themes for what the new standards might include have emerged. I call them the “3 E's,” and although they are still being fleshed out, I think you’ll agree that they touch on some key aspects of what teaching and learning in the digital age should look like. 

Empowerment. Teachers need to know how to empower students, but they also have to be able to empower themselves. This plays out as acquiring the skills needed to teach and lead in the digital age; knowing how to leverage technology to provide creative, effective and engaging learning opportunities for students; and becoming a teacher-leader who can support peers, advocate for the effective use of ed tech to district leaders and have a voice in decision-making. Powerful concepts for sure.

Equity. The concept of equity is all about the role teachers can play in closing digital gaps and ensuring that students – no matter their cultural background, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, location or living arrangements – have the opportunity to succeed. So there’s the aspect of ensuring learning and teaching is culturally relevant, as well as the practical aspect of teachers’ work to help close the digital-use divide. This theme recognizes that today’s classrooms are more diverse than ever before.

Empathy. This theme hits at ideas like challenging our biases, providing social-emotional learning, embracing all students and modeling that inclusion. Empathy also targets dispositions like curiosity, perseverance, tolerance for ambiguity, monitoring student voice, connectedness and the recognition that effective learning happens when the individual learner knows that the teacher identifies with these concepts. More big ideas mixed with inspiration.

Another thing we’ve heard quite often as we worked on the teacher standards is that there might be some value in these standards mirroring the new student standards. As you likely know, the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students identify seven personas – descriptions of the various aspects of digital age learners. Empowered Learner. Global Collaborator. Digital Citizen. Creative Communicator. Knowledge Constructor. Computational Thinker. Innovative Designer.

Perhaps there’s corollary for teachers – an approach that helps us share exactly what digital age educators know, do and stand for.

One thing I know for sure is that we’re off to a great start, but there’s still more work to do on these invigorating standards for teachers. We want to hear from you. Lend your voice. Get involved. We’re counting on your input – and so are your students.

Carolyn Sykora is senior director ISTE’s Standards Department.