Truly changing one’s own practice takes a focused commitment, and the support of a coach can significantly increase the likelihood of success. That’s one of the big takeaways from Learning Forward’s experience facilitating 33 Academy cohorts. For those who are unaware, the Learning Forward Academy is an extended learning experience that immerses members in a model of inquiry- and problem-based learning. Throughout the experience, participants receive support from an experienced coach who is also an Academy graduate.
As we reviewed the survey data from our most recent graduates, we were pleased to read that close to 90% of them reported their practice becoming more effective as a result of the Academy experience. This number is significant to us for several reasons. Often after a learning experience, participants are asked how much they enjoyed the learning or what did they learn. While these questions can be useful, the more important question is, “what changed as a result of your learning?”
Regardless of the learning experience, it’s crucial to see how participants connect their learning to improvements in student performance. Within the first 2 ½ years, 60% of Academy graduates observed improvements in student performance directly connected to their Academy experience. This is significant because there are many steps in a system’s change process before a participant’s learning impacts students. For example, those who are principals often begin by changing their own practice before they can start creating the conditions that lead to improvements in teaching and learning. For Academy participants in central office positions, there are often even more steps between their practice and results for students. And regardless of position, all this change takes time. We are encouraged by our 60%, but we look forward to seeing even more gains from our participants’ students that might come as a result of their Academy experience.
The infographic below highlights some of the other data we’ve gathered from our survey. For more information about the Learning Forward Academy, please visit our website: http://learningforward.org/learning-opportunities/academy