As we begin another school year, this is the perfect time to reflect on what brought us to the profession. What drew you to education? What makes you excited to walk into school buildings every fall? Why do you love learning?
For me, fall is not about the leaves on the ground and the chill in the air. Much like chef and Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain, I am baffled by the pumpkin spice craze (if you need a belly-laugh, the thoughts he shared with Willie Geist recently on the Today Show are worth a look). To me, fall is back to school and back to my roots — learning. Coming from a family of educators and readers, my love of learning began early. I am forever grateful for a childhood filled with books that were both wildly fantastic and growth-mindset oriented.
The sheer joy of discovery — the indescribable feeling of taking a risk and trying something new — these are the feelings I associate with the learning process. So when I began looking for an organization to support me in my learning journey, I was happy to find colleagues in learning and community through Learning Forward.
Who are the professional learning leaders you rely on for advice, resources, and inspiration? If you are looking for some ideas, here are some professional learning thought leaders that Learning Forward has brought into my life, and links to some of their work to explore:
- Stephanie Hirsh: Blogs
- Stephanie Hirsh & Tracy Crow: Becoming a Learning Team
- Stephanie Hirsh, Kay Psencik, & Frederick Brown: Becoming a Learning System
- Joellen Killion: Webinars
- Juliet Correll Wright: Frontline Education
- Steve Barkley: PLS 3rd Learning
- Jennifer Abrams: Having Hard Conversations
- Janice Bradley: Give Me Five!: Five Coach–Teacher–Principal Collaborations That Promote Mathematics Success
- Amy Colton: The Collaborative Analysis of Student Learning
- Deborah Jackson
- The Learning Professional: Learning Forward’s Journal
- Tools for Learning Schools: Learning Forward’s Newsletter
- The Learning Forward Academy: Extended learning experience
With the guiding vision of excellent teaching and learning every day and the mission of building the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning close to my heart, I soon found myself welcomed into the Learning Forward Foundation.
And as we begin this new school year, I find myself drawn to share and reflect on the Learning Forward Foundation’s norms that are the bedrock of our learning community:
- Love the idea first to embrace its possibilities
- Trust the facilitator
- Invest in the process with full attention
- Honor silence
- Slow down to think and reflect; to puzzle about things
- Proceed with conversations that are slow, deliberate and allow us to go deeper
- Pursue messy conversations that allow us to be curious about each other’s ideas
- Provide respectful behavior in providing feedback by invitation
- Have periodic personal reflection on how each of us has modeled the norm
These are the norms that we use in the Learning Forward Foundation’s learning community, and I use them to guide my personal learning journey as well. May they be a source of inspiration as you write the next chapter of your professional learning journey this year. As Wes Moore recently said, “this is a moment to stand up and step up in learning and in love.” Looking forward to seeing how you will step into learning as a member of the Learning Forward family of learners this school year!
Please share your stories and your journeys with us on Twitter @LFFound
Heather Lageman serves as the Executive Director of Leadership Development for Baltimore County Schools in the Office of Organizational Development. She is President of the Learning Forward Maryland Affiliate and President-Elect of the Learning Forward Foundation.