Every year, Learning Forward brings together education leaders from districts nationwide and from global locations at our Annual Conference. For the past two years, these educators have persevered through so many new demands that the support they need now looks different from what they have needed in past years.

We know that providing access to high-quality professional learning for all educators, leaders, and professional learning practitioners is the key to meeting this moment of turbulence and change in the K-12 education landscape. Effective professional learning is a lever that leads to increased educator job satisfaction and retention, which is especially relevant during this era of teacher and leader shortages.

For these reasons, and more, we have taken great care in crafting our 53rd Annual Conference around what educators need now to not only survive challenges but move beyond a “gap-filling” approach to embrace their role as leaders of change — whether they are in the role of teacher, coach, principal, district leader, or policy expert.

.@LearningForward's 53rd Annual Conference (#LearnFwd22) offers what educators need to not only survive challenges but move beyond a “gap-filling” approach to embrace their role as leaders of change. @fbrownLF Click To Tweet

I know how important it is for every school and district to invest professional learning resources smartly and receive the biggest, most sustainable benefit from every dollar expended. That’s why I want to highlight some of the things we have planned for Annual Conference that either are new or that have been updated and buttressed for this year’s conference.

More networking and reflection time

Building community and collaborating and learning together is essential for social and emotional health and for adult learning. Attendees of past conferences told us they would like more networking and reflection time, and we have responded by shifting Monday’s and Tuesday’s keynote presentations to the mornings, allowing attendees and their teams to start the days together before breaking off into sessions. At lunch they reconnect with dedicated time and space to network, eat, and discuss morning session learnings. For those who want to make new connections during this time, we will dedicate space for that in the room.

Newly revised Standards for Professional Learning

On April 25, 2022, Learning Forward released the fourth iteration of its Standards for Professional Learning following an inclusive two-year development process. Standards for Professional Learning describe the content, processes, and conditions for professional learning that leads to high-quality leading, teaching, and learning in schools. This year’s conference will include many opportunities to explore the new standards, including the Standards Lab, where Learning Forward experts will be available to answer conference-goers’ questions about how to apply the standards to their specific context.

Themed around reimagining professional learning and building equitable learning communities

To meet the emerging needs of our education leaders, teachers, students, and families, we’ve all had to reimagine so much of what we do. At our conference, educators will learn from each other and education experts so they can make positive changes in their schools. All 11 of our newly revised professional learning standards are centered on equity and demonstrate how every student can have access to the highest-quality teaching they deserve. We are especially excited about being with like-minded colleagues in December to reimagine this together.

Thought Leaders sessions are back

Monday and Tuesday will each offer have two Thought Leaders sessions on timely topics including supporting social and emotional learning, diversifying the leadership pipeline, examining the research that informed Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning, and dispelling professional learning myths.

Actionable information followed up with tools for implementation

Our Taking Action Toolkit brings you and your team a set of free resources to reflect on learning and plan after-conference actions. This Toolkit helps make sure no one leaves their learning at the door when they depart from Nashville.

Celebration, fun, and a few surprises

This year’s annual conference provides plenty of opportunity to recharge through positive, enjoyable shared experiences. There are two receptions planned featuring great food, a few surprises, and long-overdue reconnection with friends in person. On Sunday, December 4, plan to attend the Welcome Reception, which will be heavily infused with getting to know the newly revised Standards for Professional Learning. The Sponsor Reception on Monday is another event you don’t want to miss. Nashville, Tennessee, is an especially hospitable destination that regional planners have designed to accommodate large meetings and global visitors in style. We will publish a few more articles this fall with tips on exploring and experiencing all the great offerings in Nashville.

Our excitement to return to an in-person learning experience after two years of gathering virtually is palpable among our staff members and within our districts and network partners. Our conference host committee on the ground in Nashville, Tennessee, is working closely with our conference team every day, getting ready to welcome in just a few months thousands of annual conference attendees to a world-class experience at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center, December 4-7. Standards-embedded, high-quality professional learning is what solely drives Learning Forward’s pursuit of its mission of building the capacity of educators to equitably serve all students. As the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development, Learning Forward is ready to serve our members with the latest evidence-driven information.

We look forward to seeing you soon!