Revolutionizing PD with AI for Teachers: Insights from Spokane’s AI Coaching Initiative

Revolutionizing PD with AI for TeachersIn Spokane Public Schools, a forward-thinking approach to professional development is making waves, under the strategic direction of Nick Lundberg, Title I and Special Programs Coordinator.

With a focus on leveraging the latest in educational technology, Spokane has embarked on an innovative journey, the integration of AI coaching into teacher professional development.

Table of contents

A successful pilot of AI for teacher PD

Of the teachers who participated in the pilot, 100 percent said that the coaching provided by AI Coach was meaningful and directly connected to their work.

Click below for a ~60-second highlight of Nick discussing the results of the pilot.

Using the AI Coach platform, the district has been able to:

  • Amplify instructional coaching capacity without adding more work for existing coaches and mentors
  • Deliver meaningful coaching that is personalized and directly connected to teacher work
  • Provide coaching at schools that do not have access to instructional coaches
  • Improve teachers’ awareness of student engagement
  • Enhance the PLC process and drive grade-level collaboration

Notable interest in AI for teachers

Nick discussed the challenges Spokane Public Schools faced, the initiative that deployed AI for teachers, and his plans for the future at the 2024 ESEA Conference.

As an indicator of interest in this initiative, beyond a packed session at ESEA, EdWeek and Edutopia have recently covered the concept of using AI for teacher PD.

Click the video below to watch Nick’s presentation or continue reading for the key takeaways and brief video highlights.

With more than 15 years of experience in education, Lundberg spearheaded the initiative to address PD and PLC challenges, leveraging AI coaching tools to pioneer a new era of teacher professional development.

Using AI for teachers to address modern educational challenges

The educational landscape is constantly evolving, with districts like Spokane seeking effective ways to enhance teacher skills amid budgetary constraints and the quest for equitable teaching practices.

Following the pandemic, Spokane faced diminished opportunities to support teacher self-reflection, decreased instructional coaching staff (replaced by intervention staffing), and inconsistent PLC structures across the district which led to decreased collaboration among teachers.

The introduction of AI coaching tools for teachers marked an innovative step in this journey, offering a unique opportunity for personalized and reflective practice for educators.

AI for teachers | A game-changer for teacher PD

AI coaching has transformed the traditional PD model in Spokane, allowing teachers to observe their teaching practices through video analysis, guided by the AI Coach platform’s intelligent prompts.

This method deepens educators’ understanding of their instructional techniques and enables them to implement targeted strategies to boost student engagement and outcomes.

Nick mentioned that using AI Coach has been a game-changer because it has been able to help amplify existing coaching capacity where schools have instructional coaches. It also has provided new coaching capacity in schools that don’t have access to a coach.

Best of all, those benefits have been achieved without increasing the caseload for coaches and mentor teachers.

Buoyed by the success of the pilot program, the word is starting to get out about AI Coach. Teachers are directly asking Nick for access.

Pull quote from the article that says: I get emails at least weekly for teachers that want to participate, I'm really excited about that because I really think … this tool is going to be a game-changer.

“I get emails at least weekly for teachers that want to participate,” Nick said. “I’m really excited about that because I really think … this tool is going to be a game-changer.”

AI for teachers helps improve awareness of student engagement

The pilot program of AI coaching for teachers in Spokane yielded highly positive feedback, with teachers reporting marked improvements in their instructional approaches and improved awareness of student engagement.

All 30 teachers who participated in the pilot said that the coaching provided by AI Coach was meaningful and directly connected to their work.

With AI Coach, Nick said teachers can see themselves the way their students do. And that enables them to notice things they may have been too busy to notice before.

Here is how one of Spokane’s instructional coaches, Jared Kenney described the district’s experience with the AI Coach platform.

Here is how another coach described their experience with AI Coach.

I wanted to tell you that I absolutely loved AI Coach (even though I was very hesitant to even try it.)

It helped me pay more attention to what I was doing that resulted in specific behaviors or responses from students. I have already talked it up to several teachers and I’m excited to do another true cycle for myself with a whole class as part of a coaching cycle for one of the interested teachers.

Thanks for gently ‘pushing’ me into this.

How AI Coaching for teachers serves as a gateway to in-person coaching

Spokane’s pilot also found that AI Coach helped increase interest in in-person coaching; even among those who were resistant to the idea of coaching as a whole.

With AI Coach, Nick found that teachers were able to experience the benefits of instructional coaching without any pressure to perform. There wasn’t someone looking over their shoulder and judging their performance. That privacy created a sense of security and set the stage for reflection and improvement.

Engaging with AI Coach built the teacher’s capacity to seek out and welcome external feedback.

After engaging with the AI Coach platform teachers became more open to in-person coaching and feedback from school leaders, colleagues, and existing coaches (where available).

For Nick and his colleagues, getting teachers who were previously resistant to coaching to seek it out is a huge win.

Pull quote from the article which says: I've had many coaches come up to me super excited because they have some teachers that participated in an AI Coach cycle and now they're willing to do some coaching with them.

“I’ve had many coaches come up to me super excited because they have some teachers that participated in an AI Coach cycle and now they’re willing to do some coaching with them. So that’s been a huge success,” Nick said.

AI Coaching for teacher self-reflection, not teacher evaluation

Nick noted that some teachers were hesitant to record themselves because they thought that the videos would be used as part of a formal evaluation process. He suggested that school leaders constantly reiterate that the AI Coaching process is designed for teacher self-reflection. Those materials and videos are not shared with anyone without the teacher’s permission.

Click below to see Nick discuss the importance of building a culture of trust as they roll out AI Coach.

Being an educational veteran and having witnessed rollouts of other initiatives, each met with a healthy dose of skepticism, Nick said he was surprised at how well teachers received the AI Coach platform.

Once teachers understood that the process provides a safe space for self-reflection and growth, they became excited about using AI Coach. They even started sharing the platform proactively with other teachers.

“Teachers are really excited,” Nick said. “I really haven’t heard any negative comments at all yet which really shocks me but I think a big part of it (is that the) teachers are sharing (the value of AI Coach) with other teachers. That’s a huge gold nugget”

More AI for teachers, how Spokane is expanding access to AI Coach

With the pilot program a resounding success, the district is expanding access. The program doubled its size for the 2023-2024 school year (to 60 teachers).

Click below to see Nick discuss the strategy for expanding access to AI for teachers in Spokane Public Schools.

Nick’s approach to continued AI Coach expansion is two-pronged. The program will continue to grow via a grassroots, word-of-mouth approach as it had during the initial pilot. In addition, some schools are trying a schoolwide approach. Nick plans that this balance between grassroots demand and school-based implementation will set up the program for long-term sustainability.

Next steps in using AI for teacher PD

As Spokane Public Schools continue to lead the way in innovative teacher professional development using AI coaching, Educators and administrators across the country can learn from their experience.

For those inspired by Spokane’s efforts, the next steps are to examine their professional development strategies and explore how AI for teachers, including tools like AI Coach, could be integrated to provide personalized, continuous learning. Our team at Edthena is happy to help you think through any upcoming initiatives.

As Spokane has shown investing in AI for teacher growth pays dividends in driving student engagement and outcomes.

Ready to amplify coaching in your school or district?

AI Coach is quick and easy to implement. New partners can be up and running in just a few days.

Contact us to get started today!

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