Tag Archives: Connected Educators

Valuing the Voices of Experts

During Connected Educator Month, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans teamed up with Cable Impacts Foundation VP of Education Frank Gallagher to write a blog post about the importance of teacher voices while planning for “future ready” schools. Read the article below, and be sure to check out the original article on Connected Educators’ blog. Special thanks to Connected Educators for inviting Project Tomorrow to celebrate Connected Educator Month.

Change is easier, and often more effective, when it’s done with you rather than to you. Many times in the past, education reform has come from the top down, without teachers having a voice.

We’ll never get “future ready” schools without the active involvement of educators in all aspects of the process. At Cable Impacts Foundation, when we embarked on the project to create “Building Your Roadmap for 21st Century Learning Environments,” a tool education leaders could use to map out and manage transforming their schools into technology-rich hubs of personalized digital learning and 21st century teaching, we involved teachers from the beginning. Their voices defined the teaching component of the Roadmap. The voice of teachers played a key role in constructing the Future Ready Schools initiative, as well.

So what do teachers think is most needed for creating a “future ready” school? Since 2003, the Speak Up Research Project has been asking students and teachers that kind of question. Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, the organization that runs the Speak Up Project summarizes what the teacher survey data tells us.

Teachers have a unique perspective on what is working, what is not working and what other things should be done to improve their effectiveness and impact student learning. They see four things that are vital for creating a future ready school.

First, teachers realize that they need professional development but the traditional in-service methods just don’t work anymore. Educators want PD that is highly personalized to their strengths and weaknesses, contextualized to be relevant to their curriculum, and timely – providing just the right amount of coaching and mentoring exactly when they need it.

Second, teachers value opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other. Increasingly, that’s being done through social media tools and online communities that become their “home team” of colleagues and coaches with whom they can share advice and support.

Third, teachers want to be at the table when digital tools are being evaluated and selected for classroom use. In many schools and districts, the decisions about and investments in online curriculum, digital content licenses, e-textbooks and even what websites can be used with students are being made by individuals several steps removed from the classroom. Administrators look first for digital content that is research based while teachers seek products that are created or evaluated by other teachers, and that they can modify or customize.

Fourth, teachers want their administrators to be authentic, co-learners with them on the journey to creating future-ready schools. Educators want to have confidence that their leaders truly understand the challenges they face, that they have a personal understanding of a new classroom models, and that they will provide the supports necessary for teachers to build capacity.

In the Roadmap project, teachers gave us great insight into what was needed and the best ways to deliver resources and PD to meet those needs. Too often school reform has failed, in part because teachers weren’t an integral part of the process. With the fast-paced, constantly evolving, globally economy, complex civic and social spaces, change is a given. We can’t afford to ignore the voices of teachers.

Frank Gallagher is VP of Education at Cable Impacts Foundation, the pro-social foundation of the cable telecommunications industry dedicated to leveraging cable’s resources – including its platform, technology and content – to empower consumers and enhance communities. Cable Impacts is the lead sponsor and curator of the Future Ready theme of Connected Educator Month.

Julie Evans is CEO of Project Tomorrow, a non-profit group driven to ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world and well known for its Speak Up surveys.

Webinar from Connected Educators: The Future of “Future Ready”


The Future of “Future Ready”
TODAY, October 26, 2015
1pm PT/4pm ET

Join a panel of ed tech leaders as they explore the lessons learned and challenges ahead of the Future Ready initiative and similar efforts to help schools move towards being 21st century digital learning environments.


Katrina Stevens, Senior Advisor Office of Education Technology USDOE
Katrina manages Future Ready, Education Innovation Clusters and rapid cycle tech evaluation work. In former roles, Katrina worked to bring together stakeholders across the edtech ecosystem for meaningful dialogue and action. She spent the first 20 years of her career as an educator in schools, most recently in the central office at Baltimore County Public Schools. She cofounded and moderates #edtechchat, served as an international Startup Weekend Education Facilitator, and founded a monthly edtech happy hour.

Brian Lewis, CEO ISTE
Brian joined ISTE in September 2012 following a 25-year career in both the public and private sectors. He has served as a nonprofit association leader in several capacities, including chief strategy officer and interim CEO for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), assistant executive director for the California School Boards Association (CSBA), director of governmental relations for the San Diego County Office of Education and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA).

Julie Evans, CEO Project Tomorrow
Julie has been CEO of Project Tomorrow, one of the nation’s leading education nonprofit organizations, since 1999. She developed the Speak Up National Research Project in 2003 and has served as the chief researcher on this project and other digital learning national research projects. She is a speaker, writer and commentator on K-12 and higher ed issues around digital learning. Ms. Evans was named in April 2008 as one of the Top Ten Most Influential People in Education Technology over the past 10 years by eSchool News.

Darryl Adams, Superintendent Coachella Valley Unified School District, CA
Dr. Adams has spent 26 years as an educator serving as a music teacher, band director, middle school assistant principal, high school assistant principal, high school principal, director of human resources, assistant superintendent of human resources and superintendent. Dr. Adams has recently been selected by the White House and the USDOE as one of the Top 100 Innovative Superintendents in America and was praised by President Obama for leading the way in ensuring students have equity and access to technology and the Internet.


Frank Gallagher, VP Education Cable Impacts Foundation
Frank is VP of Education of the Cable Impacts Foundation, the non-profit foundation of the cable telecommunications industry. Mr. Gallagher is the immediate past chair and member of the executive committee of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and has previously served on the board of directors of National PTA. He also serves on the Board of the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET), the National Forum on Information Literacy.

Special thanks again to Connected Educators for inviting us to be a part of Connected Educators Month. We hope to see you all online at today’s webinar!