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Q&A with Learning Forward Academy Scholarship Winners

Professional Growth

In December 2012, I graduated from the Learning Forward Academy (LFA), a compelling two and a half year blended learning experience where participants collaboratively solve significant “problems of practice” related to educator and student learning.

When I was a new graduate, I experienced a full range of emotions. I felt relief and delight about completing all assignments and graduating, a sense of clarity around my personal beliefs about professional learning, and a little melancholy about the end of such a rich journey. And, more than a little overwhelmed with all of the unattended action items jotted in the margins of my journal and, more formally, in my personal learning plan.

Nearly three years later, some of those items are complete. Others have morphed and changed, and a few are left undone. As summer comes to a close, and thoughts of back-to-school begin to encroach on beach-daydreams, I’ve wondered about the actions and impacts of our MyLearningPlan Scholarship Winners, so I reached out to them to ask what they have been up to in terms of applying learnings from their own LFA experiences.

Here’s a glimpse into what they learned, and how it is impacting their spheres of influence.

Marguerite Dimgba, LFA Class of 2014

Professional Learning Center Director, Greece Central School District, NY

2014 Learning Forward Academy graduation

1. What sparked your interest in participating in the Learning Forward Academy? 

As a New York State Teacher Center Director, I have had the privilege to work with Joellen Killion. Her work on looking at impact of professional learning has greatly influenced my work. When I saw the announcement for the LF Academy, I really felt it would be the best way to deepen my knowledge of professional learning.

2. Describe one significant learning that you generated through the LF Academy experience that you are implementing in your setting?

One significant learning was how to systemically look at the impact of my work in terms of change in teacher practice and impact on student learning.

3. What are you learning from that process? 

I am learning how to analyze data, how to ask the deeper questions and to be more reflective…My Policy Board Chair, Dr. Sheila B. Robinson, discovered that since we started tracking data, we have documented over 534,000 hours of PL! That’s over 61 YEARS! Now, we’re looking strategically at how that’s making a difference in the classroom.

4. What are your next steps for continuing to move this work forward?

In the fall, I will be administering the Learning Forward Standards Assessment Inventory 2. Our goal is to work collaboratively with our district, teachers’ union and teacher center to continue to look at the impact of our professional learning.

Jenna Kuder, LFA Class of 2015

Instructional Resource Teacher, Olathe Public Schools, KS

2015 group shot

1. What sparked your interest in participating in the Learning Forward Academy?

I had attended a Learning Forward Kansas conference and appreciated hearing Fred Brown speak about the importance of continued professional learning.

2. Describe one significant learning that you generated through the LF Academy experience that you are implementing or plan to implement in your setting?

Professional learning occurs in a variety of formats and some of the most significant professional learning occurs through meaningful and productive dialog among colleagues. We learn so much from the experiences of each other.

3. What are you learning from that process? 

I am learning that change is hard. There are some educators who are not open to change and do not see some of the new formats as “professional learning.” I have been challenged with helping these educators see that, for example, analyzing assessment results through dialog with their colleagues and then planning effective instruction based on the analysis is powerful in improving their teaching practices.

4. What are your next steps for continuing to move this work forward?

I would like to do more exploration with Team Rooms (online collaboration spaces), so that participants can continue to dialog about the learning experiences that are provided in our district.

Hearing from these Academy colleagues has led me to reflect on how leading professional learning happens across districts through a variety of roles and approaches. I look forward to following these impact stories into the coming year.

Comments from LFA grads are particularly encouraged. I’d love to hear about how others are applying their Academy learning!

Contact us to learn more about the Learning Forward Academy and MLP scholarship!

Juliet Correll WrightJuliet Correll

Juliet serves Frontline Education as Director of Organizational Learning. She is passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations enhance teaching, learning and leadership to achieve personal and organizational goals, and over her career she has led large-scale professional learning initiatives, collaborating with school districts and state departments of education. Juliet is a Learning Forward Academy graduate, holds a Master’s from Teachers College, Columbia University and is an ardent community leader in health, education and environmental causes.