Understanding the ISTE Standards for Teachers

Learn more about the iste standards for teachers
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H. L.

Assistant Principal

Understanding the ISTE Standards for Teachers

Posted in Pro Tips | November 19, 2018

What are the ISTE Standards for Teachers and Why Are They Relevant?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a global community of educators dedicated to leveraging the power of technology in the classroom to "transform teaching and learning" through the implementation of the ISTE Standards.

The ISTE standards are critical because teachers frequently demonstrate a love of technology but can become "…more conversant on technology and less so on leadership and thoughtful pedagogy." Through these standards, ISTE seeks to place the focus where it belongs: improved practice, teacher collaboration, and above all, the empowerment of student learners. The following represents the seven roles for teachers under the ISTE standards.


Great teachers are great learners, intellectually curious and interested in their own professional growth. According to the indicators in this standard area, teachers model lifelong learning for their students by setting goals, exploring new approaches to teaching through edtech tools, participating in professional learning networks (PLNs), and staying current on research-based best practices for student learning.

Example: A teacher sets a professional learning goal of learning how to write and implement web quests via the school's learning management system (LMS) (Indicator 1.a). The teacher attends a series of weekly edtech Twitter chats in which she benefits from the knowledge of colleagues both locally and internationally (1.b). She uses an up-to-date instructional framework, such as Marzano's Nine, in implementing related strategies (1.c).


Teachers often make natural leaders, and ISTE-compliant teachers exhibit leadership qualities in the classroom, within professional networks, and as a vehicle for student empowerment. They lead the development of a shared vision for empowered student learning, advocate for equity of access as well as diverse viewpoints, and model "…the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation, and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning" for their fellow educators.

Example: A fifth-grade math teacher serves on the district technology committee, helping to develop strategic goals and action steps in collaboration with school and community stakeholders (2.a). She advocates for a 1:1 device policy and a district-wide digital content license available to all students (2.b) and demonstrates the potential uses of these tools in the elementary math classroom for her colleagues at monthly meetings (2.c).


Beyond the standard subject matter, the goal of a well-rounded education is to prepare students to be engaged and conscientious global citizens, especially in the digital age. Digital citizens are empathetic, respectful, and ethical online, think critically about the validity and reliability of online resources, and take steps to safeguard their digital privacy and that of others.

Example: A high school social studies teacher collaborates with his students to create classroom protocols for online discussions (3.a), guides students to evaluate sources via the CRAAP Test (3.b), and includes rubric-assessed "fair use" guidelines for all digital mash-up assignments (3.c).


A potential unintended consequence of America's individualistic society is the "close the door and teach" phenomenon that is all too pervasive in our schools. The ISTE standards reject isolation in favor of collaboration, including team lesson development and resource sharing.

Example: Middle school teachers meet in grade-level teams to collaboratively plan a series of virtual chats with a partner school in Germany centered on cultural exchange and the principles of effective communication (4.a, 4.c, and 4.d).


There should be no "one size fits all" approach to student learning. Effective educators use digital resources to design lessons and learner-driven educational activities that put students in control of their own learning experience.

Example: A high school science teacher creates a blended environment consisting of a digital classroom combined with in-person lab periods (5.c). Her environmental science class then combines direct observation, online research, and digital mapping software to make an environmental impact recommendation to the school board related to proposed new facility construction (5.b).


As facilitators, teachers help to build bridges for students between technology, educational goals and challenges, and personal challenges and abilities. Indicators in this standard area attempt to help the teacher move from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side" by requiring teachers to build a classroom culture of student initiative and responsibility, and to create and model learning opportunities linked to innovation and the design process.

Example: A STEM teacher presents an open-ended design challenge to the class. Students initiate the use of a design process to solve the problem (6.a and 6.c). The teacher facilitates student work by providing the appropriate resources and consulting with them as they construct and test a prototype solution (6.b).


Teachers are encouraged to be data driven decision makers. By stepping back and serving as an analyst, the teacher's perspective is broadened for the greatest impact on student learning. Teacher-analysts use assessment data to drive future instruction and to communicate effectively with students and their families. They use edtech tools to design different types of formative and summative assessments, providing students with multiple ways to demonstrate that they have mastered the target content, concepts, and processes.

Example: A French teacher allows his students to complete an e-portfolio as a summative assessment choice for a comparative culture unit (7.a). He charts writing, listening, and speaking data throughout, works with students to set goals related to each area, and communicates formative and summative progress to students and their families (7.b and 7.c).

Teaching with Technology

When teachers use technology as a means to empower students and their learning, the true potential of edtech is unleashed. The ISTE standards for teachers provide a powerful framework by which teachers can lead, model best practices, and learn alongside their students.

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