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Our next transformation

By Jim Flanagan
October 1, 2016
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At ISTE 2016, we launched a refreshed version of the ISTE Standards for Students – the definitive framework for successfully and thoughtfully integrating ed tech to transform learning and teaching. To date, thousands have downloaded the standards and several school systems have begun the process of adopting them.

ISTE took a fresh approach to updating the student standards, one that engaged a wider range and larger numbers of contributors over the course of a year. One that sought grass-roots, expert and global input. And one that included student voice – 295 voices, to be exact.

The work that went into refreshing these standards was significant and was made possible by the amazing insights of ISTE members, board members, the broad ISTE global community, staff and all those who blazed the trail before us.

The passion and expertise that went into updating the student standards factor greatly in our new work to overhaul the ISTE Standards for Teachers. This effort was launched at ISTE 2016 and will culminate with the introduction of the new teacher standards at ISTE 2017.

RAISE YOUR VOICE. Get involved in the teacher standards refresh.

As we embark on our second standards refresh in two years, three things stand out as guiding forces:

Empowerment. Empowered learning and students taking greater responsibility for their learning were popular concepts across the board during the student standards refresh. We’re hearing that the natural corollaries for the teacher standards are empowered teaching and empowered leading.

We don’t know yet exactly what the new standards will look like, but it’s likely that they will revolve around giving teachers greater control of the resources they can access and how they teach. Digital technologies open up a world of educational resources to teachers, but that world is and will increasingly be overwhelming in sheer volume. No one can be expected to maintain an awareness and mastery of the myriad resources for every learning need. Technology must fuel collaboration and connect all educators to the best professional learning and just-in-time advice. 

Role shift. We’re also hearing lots of discussion about the changing role of teachers. There are a few angles to this potential aspect of the updated teacher standards.

First there’s the idea of teachers as facilitators versus keepers of knowledge. Then there’s a sense that teachers need to model behaviors of adult learners, helping students see that learning is indeed lifelong. And there’s thinking around how teachers might give up some control and take on greater tolerance for risk. Also, how can teachers access learning science and useful data to better inform decision-making? All big ideas. All worth exploring.

Personalization. Personalizing learning was a constant thread in the student standards refresh. Personalized professional learning is emerging as the corollary for teachers – moving away from one-size-fits-all professional learning to a range of options that match teachers’ needs, time and interests.

With the teacher standards refresh just underway, we can’t say yet where it’s headed or what the final standards will look like. But we can say that we’re off to an amazing start thanks to the thought leadership, knowledge and passion of the hundreds of participants across the globe who have already signed on to assist.

I want to encourage even greater numbers from the ISTE community to participate. Look for ways to weigh in on the teacher standards. Join standards refresh-related events. Participate in the survey and draft standards reviews.

The profession is counting on it.

Jim Flanagan is ISTE's chief learning services officer.

RAISE YOUR VOICE. Get involved in the teacher standards refresh.