This standard focuses on “technology-related best practices for all students and teachers,” but how do we define “best practices”? (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011). In their book, Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan define best practices as “existing practices that already possess a high level of widely-agreed effectiveness” (Alber, 2015). Evidence-based best practice has often “undergone rigorous evaluation documenting positive student outcomes in [an] education setting” (Arendale, 2015).
I have found that many of the “best practices” at my school have come about as the result of a challenging situation. The two scenarios below highlight how I took a problematic circumstance and transformed it into an instance of “equitable access [of] digital tools and resources,” that resulted in “technology-related best practices for all students and teachers” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
When I first started at my school, I quickly realized that we did not subscribe to any online databases. Students were learning search strategies and using them to do research on the internet, locating commercial or open-access resources. I found myself concerned about the following:
- Students would not find high-quality information
- Students would not learn to navigate databases or peer-reviewed journals
- Students would not practice using high-level search strategies
After some investigation, I realized how costly these databases can be and it just wasn’t in the budget of our small school. I started to do a bit of research and discovered that there are programs sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) that encourage schools and public libraries to join forces and offer students and teachers high level resources and support. I then contacted our local public library and discovered I could apply for an institution card. Institution cards are special Library cards offered to individuals who are employed at schools, day-care centers, and other non-profit organizations. This card allows students to utilize public library databases remotely, without having to have their own personal library card.
I was able to embed links to the public library resources on our library website and our LibGuide resource pages. The language arts teacher and I collaborated to introduce these resources to students during the 8th grade seminar research project; incorporating Boolean search strategies. By implementing this evidence-based best practice, I was able to “promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011). Our school went from having zero access to online databases, to having a plethora of high-level resources, without any added cost to the school.
Our school received, through a generous grant, 40 iPads to be shared among our lower school classrooms. While we were thrilled, my co-technology integration specialist partner and I quickly realized there was a problem with equitable access. iPads were “living” in classrooms; some teachers had an entire class set of devices, whereas, other teachers had access to only one or two iPads. A few unlucky teachers had absolutely no access. There was no protocol as to who would get the devices, how they would be used and where they would be stored. Under the tutelage of our tech tutor, Rabbi Micheal Cohen, my co-technology integration specialist partner and I learned some best practices for sharing these coveted devices.
- iPads live in the library and are barcoded for check out
- Teachers are required to return all devices at the end of the day
- As the librarian, I am responsible for charging and updating all iPads
- New apps are vetted and added after a careful review and pilot procedure
This new practice has gotten mixed reviews from teachers; some are grateful that iPads are shared and generally available for check out, while others are frustrated that they can’t be kept in classrooms for constant access. The implementation of this best practice helps our school to provide consistent “equitable access [of] digital tools and resources,” to our entire community (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
Alber, R. (2015, May 29). Defining “best practice” in teaching [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Arendale, D. (2015, October 29). What is a best educational practice? Retrieved May 26, 2016, from
International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards: coaches. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches