Learning Forward – Part 1: Reflections on the 2012 Learning Forward Annual Conference

Photo credit: http://www.learningforward.org/

Photo credit: http://www.learningforward.org/

This is the first of an eight-part blog series in which I will explore the Standards for Professional Learning released by Learning Forward in 2011. Learning Forward is an international nonprofit association of learning educators that aims to improve instructional effectiveness through standards-based professional learning (PL).

In December, I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Learning Forward Annual Conference in Boston. Overall, the conference was the most valuable I have attended in recent years and included highly informative, interactive, and engaging sessions presented by some of the most well- known experts in the field of professional learning.

At the conference, a large number of the workshops focused on the new Standards for Professional Learning (PL) and Common Core. Most of the discussion revolved around providing PL for teachers and instructional leaders.  When revised and released in 2011, the Learning Forward standards were reduced from a total of 12 to seven.   The standards are designed to be used to create quality professional learning opportunities for all educators with a holistic approach.  They include:

  • Learning Communities
  • Leadership
  • Resources
  • Data
  • Learning Designs
  • Implementation
  • Outcomes

Full definitions of each standard can be found on the Learning Forward website at http://www.learningforward.org/standards-for-professional-learning.

My team had the opportunity to attend a session presented by Joellen Killion, Senior Advisor for Learning Forward, who shared the revised Standards Assessment Inventory (SAI).  It is one of the few assessments available to measure the quality of Professional Learning programs and was recently revised to align with the new Professional Learning standards.  The Learning Forward’s Center for Results administers the assessment to teachers within a school, guides educators in interpreting the data, and creates an action plan to improve the quality of the program through implementation of the standards.

The assessment tool provides data to determine the efficacy and quality of PL programs.  Evidence of a quality program includes the following observations:

  • New learning is put into practice.
  • Deliberate time is set aside for review and reflection.
  • Learning networks are created and utilized.
  • Educator and student goals are set.
  • Progress toward goals is assessed frequently.
  • Ongoing support is provided.
  • Frequent constructive feedback is provided to assist in refining practices.

During my upcoming posts, I will be exploring the seven Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning that implement such programs and shape professional learning practices.


Mary MitchellMary Mitchell is an instructor who has held several positions at FLVS over the years. A National Board Certified Teacher, she has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year for FLVS, the United States Distance Learning Association, and Discovery Middle School in Orange County, FL. She has written articles on topics ranging from computer image processing to teacher training for the online classroom.



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