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Reflections on Learning Forward's 2011 Summer Conference

Last week Learning Forward hosted more than 1,100 educators at our seventh annual summer conference. Our summer conferences are focused on school-based professional learning for teacher leaders and the principals and central office staff who support them. It was great to experience this powerful learning opportunity with these dedicated educators. Throughout our time together in Indianapolis I found myself experiencing several emotions:

  • I was inspired by the countless educators with whom I interacted who could describe the efforts they are taking, despite all the challenges they are facing, to further professional learning in their schools and school systems.
  • I was challenged by keynoters speakers like Ian Jukes and Mary Cullinane who shared how we can embrace new technologies as means to achieve our goals for all children.
  • I was reassured by another keynote speaker, Wendy Robinson, whose Fort Wayne Community Schools story provides evidence that doing the right things for adults and children produces the results we want for both.
  • I was grateful for educators like 2010 Teacher of the Year Sarah Wessling, who advocates for quality teaching for every child and acknowledges the key role professional learning plays in this process.
  • And I was appreciative of the Learning Forward staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly for 18 months to bring a learning experience of the highest quality to our attendees.

Learning Forward staff members recognize the incredible constraints placed on educators during this time of year, and particularly this year. They work diligently to ensure that this learning experiences provides the knowledge, skill development, inspiration, and networking opportunities educators deserve.

  • I challenge those who joined us in Indianapolis to share their conference learning with their colleagues by focusing on these questions:
  • What key ideas did I take away from my conference experience?
  • Who needs to know them?
  • How do I think these ideas will benefit them?
  • When will I share them?
  • When will I check back to see if they want any further help with them?

If you are seeking support for further conference attendance in the future, I encourage you to make public your new learning, new actions, and the results you got from them. Please share your "a-ha moments" from your best summer learning experiences.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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