Learning Forward Academy Testimonies

See what Academy members say about the impact of the Academy on their problems of practice.

Professional learning and coaching can result in discomfort. For years, teachers and principals have expected supervisors to simply tell them the ‘correct’ method or strategy; consequently, the amount of learning that has taken place has been inconsequential, as educators have expected a “one size fits all” professional development to address. I have often believed that the first sign of lasting change is when the vocabulary of the district changes. Administrators and teachers no longer talk of professional development. For me personally, I knew I was actively embracing the change when I changed the name of my “professional development” folder to “professional learning”.

— Matt Schiebel

As a leader, I have developed confidence in my ability to lead professional learning and advocate for professional learning, not only with my faculty, but also within our district and state. I have become much more intentional with my communication and my actions around professional learning. I also believe that I have developed skills as a strategic planner for professional learning and understand how to examine the change we hope to accomplish and plan for steps to move toward the desired change.

— Leann Myers

Fort Wayne Community Schools has embraced the concept of professional learning and has a very active partnership with Learning Forward. I have witnessed the transformation over the past several years. Our leadership meetings are no longer a lengthy “sit and get” PowerPoint presentation. During leadership meetings, administrators are now regularly provided time to collaborate around a common problem of practice. Administrators and instructional coaches are encouraged to coach teachers as they implement the school improvement plan. By helping principals and teachers clarify and reflect upon their practices, genuine strategies that can improve student learning are beginning to show.

— Matt Schiebel

Learning Forward Academy has been a transformational, system-changing professional learning opportunity for my colleagues and me and is truly changing the culture and focus in our district. The depth of job-embedded learning, networking with professionals across the world and spending quality time immersed in problem solving around real issues within our systems is something unique and rarely found in any other form.

— Joe McFarland

Due to my LFA teammates, as well as other academy members and conference attendees, I have made connections and communicated with folks with whom I would have otherwise never made association. I have had phone calls, emails, and Skype sessions with others who have made an immediate impact on my day to day operations. Being able to work with a curriculum director from New York, professional developers from Arizona and Illinois, as well as well as an Asst. Super from Oregon has provided me both a depth and breadth of perspective that has been unparalleled.

— Andrew Maoury

We have been able to idea share, be critical listeners, and work off of each other’s successes and failures. It has been this networking that has been the most valuable and has increased my proverbial “toolbox” of resources in my day to day job and overall growth and development.

— Andrew Maoury

For me, the Learning Forward Academy was a profound multi-layered learning experience. I generated shared knowledge and language while forming collegial partnerships and friendships that exist to this day and have continued to grow. I developed a more relevant understanding of the Standards for PL and related tools, and benefited from seeing effective PL modeled throughout the process. Looking back, Academy was really the jumping off point for me to engage more deeply with Learning Forward across the board. I also laughed – a lot!

— Juliet Correll

The concepts of professional learning and problems of practice align closely to my own beliefs as a former science teacher and current principal. Unlike professional development, professional learning is not an “event”. Professional learning is an ongoing process of learning by practice, observation, and refinement….much like addressing a scientific hypothesis over time. No longer do I advocate sending my staff to professional development conferences to find a “one size fits all” approach to an instructional dilemma: been there, done that, it doesn’t work. I now tell my staff that the answers to improving student achievement exist right within the walls of our own school. While we may research techniques available online or in educational journals, the solutions only begin to take place when we learn and experiment together as colleagues.

— Matt Schiebel