Should Your Instructional Coaches Be Creating Standards Based Lesson Plans for Professional Development?

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” — Unknown

What is the difference between having a plan for something, and simply making it up on the spot?

For many Instructional Coaches, they are asked every day to walk in and work with teachers on their lesson plans.  Coaches meet with teachers, discuss the content of a lesson, and do their best to build up the lesson through a series of digital learning activities. At the end of the day, the teacher has an amazing lesson that they can perform in front of their students and if needed, turn into their principals at the beginning of the week.

When planning out a years' worth of professional development and creating a roadmap for success amongst multiple Instructional Coaches, there comes a time where a standard needs to be set for what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught, and (most important) why it is taught.

In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of creating an EdTech Menu. An EdTech Menu is an important step in the EdTech Integration Planning process where applications and concepts are broken down into a variety of categories and mapped out so that multiple coaches can teach the same class at the same time to completely different groups of staff members.

In this blog post, we are going to take the EdTech Menu concept one step further and discuss the creation and importance of having ISTE Standards-based lesson plans that support not only the instructional aspects of professional learning but also fill the needs and goals of a school districts Strategic Plan and align directly with curricular, as well as digital learning goals.

Building Standards Based Lesson Plans

What are Standards-Based Lesson Plans?

In the world of Instructional Coaching, rarely do you find an actual written and formal lesson plan for professional development sessions.  For years, I planned all my sessions using a simple slide deck (Google Slides or PowerPoint) and I had a basic outline that I would present from.

This type of planning might work for some, but what happens if you have multiple Coaches in one department all doing the same presentation? It is logical that two coaches might be interested in using one single slide deck or they may also be interested in creating their own presenting materials.  But what is important is that they all walk into their respective professional development sessions teaching the same skills with the same (or similar) activities so that everyone learning the skills are getting the same learning outcomes.

Understanding the ISTE Standards

For the last 10 years, I have looked towards the ISTE Standards for Teachers as a guide for all of my professional learning sessions. The Standards provided by ISTE are designed to serve as a roadmap for helping teachers infuse digital learning skills into their lessons and their daily teaching habits. It is from these Standards that Instructional Coaches should plan their professional development.

The ISTE Standards for Teachers are broken down into seven unique categories.

  • Learner:
    • Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.
  • Leader:
    • Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning.
  • Citizen:
    • Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.
  • Collaborators:
    • Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.
  • Designer:
    • Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.
  • Facilitator:
    • Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.
  • Analyst:
    • Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals.

How To Use the ISTE Standards for Professional Lesson Planning?

In looking over the ISTE Standards, it is recommended for teachers to be learners, collaborators, designers, and analysts.  For many teachers, these are foreign concepts.  But when an Instructional Coach unpacks what the ISTE Standards are calling for teachers to be and develops professional learning sessions that include activities that allow teachers to dive deeper into these learning styles.

Let’s look at a typical professional development lesson that an Instructional Coach might provide at a department or building level.  For the sake of this post, let’s say that a coach is going to teach about how to use Google Forms for the purpose of creating self-graded quizzes.

A Coach might use the following as guidelines in developing a meaningful and dynamic lesson.


Teachers would begin the lesson by engaging in dialogue with each other about some of the positives and challenges they are having in their classrooms. The discussion then might lead to identifying things they would like to “fix” which would lead into a transition to the topic of the day.


Instructional Coaches are always looking to drive conversations from small talk into the creation of a collaborative session that helps the coach work side by side with the teacher in the classroom.


Once in the classroom, the Instructional Coach and the Teacher work together to infuse digital learning skills and technologies into their lesson planning.


After the lesson, the Coach and Teacher work together to reflect on the lesson and determine what went well and determine how to adjust and create future projects together.

What do Standard-Based Lesson Plans Look Like?

Below is a sample lesson plan that I use to create my workshops and professional development sessions.

The lesson plan is broken down into these sections:

Strategic Goals

How does this professional development session relate and reflect the strategic goals of the district?

State Technology Standards

Many states have their own technology standards that address digital learning skills.

ISTE Standards

List the ISTE Standards that are being addressed by the professional development session.

Course Goals

What are the goals for the professional development session?

Course Description

Probably one of the most important parts of the Lesson Plan, the course description is what your users might actually read if you are listing this session on a professional learning course menu.


  • SLO = Student Learning Objective
  • WALT = We Are Learning Today

Materials and Procedures

What do you need to have with you or prepared (or bookmarked) to run the course?


The reflection section of the lesson plan is generally where I write notes after the session to remind myself of the following:

  • What worked well or not well?
  • What tips or tricks work well for this particular part of the lesson?

Follow up Activities for Staff Members

  • What would the homework be for staff members?
  • Is there a Call to Action?

Links and Resources

  • What else needs to be included in this lesson or activity that perhaps others have shared with you during a session?
  • What are examples of student or teacher work that might be able to be shared with the next session you give on this topic?


Where it might be obvious that a formal lesson plan might not be something that gets put together each and every time that a Coach does a Professional Development session, it is an extremely important tool for showcasing the professionalism in the position and providing a guide for coaches who may be teaching a particular course multiple times.

When you create standards-based lessons using the ISTE standards for both Teachers and Students as a guide, you are going to be able to create a standard for what everyone in the district will learn and how they will learn it.  This is extremely useful when working across multiple school buildings through multiple Instructional Coaches

About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!