Designing Learning Experiences Through Surveys

As a teacher in a district that is working diligently on improving student achievement, I attend A LOT of professional developments. Some are absolutely fantastic; engaging, helpful, and I actually can see myself practicing… but more times than not, I leave (even if I see the merit in the strategy/tool/practice) thinking to myself “great, one more thing that I need to figure out how to incorporate into my teaching”. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I am a whole-hearted believer in life-long learning. But there are times that I cannot imagine integrating one more thing into my teaching! And that is OKAY. 

So what if we switched PD on its head (or at least the way that I am used to it… because no matter how many AMAZING Google Summits I attend, it will always feel like trying to take a drink from a firehose) and gave pointed and intentional professional development for a component of teaching that educators had the opportunity to reflect upon, and feel they are lacking in?

Well, transitioning my studies from the ISTE Educator standards to the ISTE Coach standards… this is exactly what I thought to do – because in all honesty, it’s something that MY teacher self needed. Let’s talk standards: 

4 – Learning Designer: Coaches model and support educators to design learning experiences and environments to meet the needs and interests of all students. Coaches:

4a – Collaborate with educators to develop authentic, active learning experiences that foster student agency, deepen content mastery and allow students to demonstrate their competency.

4b – Help educators use digital tools to create effective assessments that provide timely feedback and support personalized learning.

4c – Collaborate with educators to design accessible and active digital learning environments that accommodate learner variability.

4d – Model the use of instructional design principles with educators to create effective digital learning environments.

Reading through these standards the thing that continuously stuck out to me was “collaborate with educators”. And to me, that means that I need to be asking what educators are needing. This helped me to narrow my wondering to this guiding question:

In what ways can coaches identify needs of educators in order to help support in designing learning experiences for students in mathematics, districtwide. Now, back to my “teacher mindset”.

I chose this question because in my school district we often have students who move schools, potentially multiple times, during the academic year. Throughout my experience of being a teacher, I have had students come to me from different schools that have had quite a challenging time adjusting to the different digital learning experiences from their previous schools. 

My district is participating in a set of professional development courses that are focusing on the climate and culture of our schools. One of the most recent courses that I have worked through, spoke to the importance of common understandings. Common language, common expectations, and common practices help students to not only understand their environments quicker, but also to be more successful in those environments. 

We also have an amazing technology department that is constantly vetting new digital tools that can help our students succeed. Now back to the firehose analogy… no matter how many trainings I can go to, I will always struggle with “how do I have time to figure out how to integrate this tool into the practice that I need it to fulfill?”. 

This led me to thinking, we need to have the ability to identify which digital tools, or purposes, our educators need professional development in, in order to tackle support to encourage common understandings to aid our students. 

All of these thoughts brought me to the understanding that I’d like to come up with a solution that involves surveying the PURPOSES and CONTENT MATTERS that teachers are wanting to integrate tech into.

I wanted to focus my professional development survey on one area of content, so I went with mathematics – because again, that is something I have needed in my own teaching practice. I broke down the different aspects of math content to help focus on specifically the why of integrating a digital tool into instruction. My pieces of instruction were “Teaching and Learning” and “Assessing” with both of those larger components broken into smaller instructional components. 

Teaching and Learning

  • Fluency
  • Concept Development
  • Extensions & Applications
  • Student Feedback

Assessing

  • Activating Prior Knowledge
  • Student Self-Assessment
  • Formative Assessment 
  • Summative Assessment

Next, to fully understand which survey platform I preferred, I created my survey on both Typeform and SoGoSurvey! However, both were unpublishable through the free versions due to the length. So I decided to instead include a doc with my survey questions if you are interested: here

Overall, I liked both! Both platforms were incredibly user friendly, and aesthetically pleasing. Both were super easy to create. So in all honesty, I would use both in the future. 

Typeform is definitely more design focused and the aesthetics can be easily customized. Here’s a short video with some tips on how to make a successful survey using: Typeform video

SoGoSurvey has a TON of templated questions that are extremely user friendly. While you can’t customize the design of these surveys as much, there are pieces that make the questions more usable. Interested in learning more?

Megan Marrs also wrote a great post reviewing 9 Best Survey Tools if you want some more surveying tools to look through. 

Well, I would love to know your thoughts on surveying tools, and your thoughts on surveying for professional development purposes! Comment below!

References

Graziano, C. (2019, June 05). Teacher Survey. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2006/10/teacher-survey

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Marrs, M. (n.d.). 9 Best Survey Tools: Create Awesome Surveys For Free! Retrieved June 1, 2020, from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/11/10/best-online-survey-tools

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