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Learn about the new ISTE standards.

Implementing ISTE’s Standards Across the Learning Organization

Aug 24, 2018 2018-08-24

By Dr. Annette Smith and Kara Gann
If you have not already heard about or reviewed the new ISTE Standards for Education Leaders you are in for a treat. These standards were designed as the framework to support all types of leadership roles in educational environments. Kara and I were thrilled to be part of the core team that spent the last 12 months gathering feedback from educators around the world. We also worked with distinguished educational leaders to craft these exceptional standards and the supporting materials that were designed to assist you with adoption.

The leader standards provide the glue to bring the ISTE Educator and Student standards to life. Throughout the feedback process it was emphasized leaders wanted standards that were aligned across all areas of the organization. Educators and leadership can use these standards to enhance and complement each others work. Leaders understand quality instruction is based on high effect size pedagogy. Technology is added based on strategic instructional decisions.

The standards exist to support the entire learning continuum, specifically in the following ways:
  • Empowerment for the student, educator, and leader:
    • Leadership can model this standard across all areas of the organization by empowering teachers to take risks and try new ideas within the curriculum and encouraging them to do the same for their students. For example, we have seen a number of district technology departments develop student-led technology teams that provide both support and professional development for teachers throughout the district. These are credit-based classes students help design and lead.
  • Equality and equity as a guiding principle:
    • Consider how the budget reflects the idea that ALL students and teachers have the resources they need to achieve at their highest levels. This does not mean every school has exactly the same resources. It means schools receive what they need, which must include high-quality educators, professional learning, and resources. This also means incorporating a sample of stakeholder voices in the decision-making process. Many districts have populations that do not have access to internet or technology at home. One district we visited solved for this by creating a program where internet hotspot devices could be checked out from the library for home use. Not every building would need this program, but it was made available to create equity within the district.
  • Continuous learners in classrooms, curriculum, pedagogy, practice, and leadership:
    • Learning is modeled by everyone in the organization. Time is provided for everyone to learn together. For example, we visited with a superintendent in a rural school district that provides time each week for free learning time, where anyone can explore a project that interests them with experts in the learning environment. They are modeling these times after Google’s collaborative spaces and taking a bold step to support everyone's learning.
Everyone has aspects of leadership in their day-to-day life regardless of title or role. We hope you have a chance to review the standards, reflect on how they can help guide your thinking, and integrate them into your daily practice and organization. Have fun!

Dr. Annette R. Smith has been a teacher, media specialist, district technology director, professor, and most recently the Director of Instructional Technology & Support at She has served on the Board of Directors for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and as president of the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA) where she chaired multiple statewide conferences. Follow Annette on Twitter @arsmith.

Kara Gann has been a classroom teacher, an instructional technology coach, Informational Technology Program Administrator, Director of Strategic Integration, and is currently a Strategic Account Manager at Schoology. She has served on the ISTE Board of Directors, was a member of ISTE's ESEA's Reauthorization Advisory Council, and served as the Workshop Chairman for ISTE's Conference in 2010 and the BYOD Co-Chair for ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. Follow Kara on Twitter @kkgann.

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