Who Are The Advocates In Your school?

By Learning Forward
December 2012
Vol. 33 No. 6
Here is a simple test: Identify leaders in your school system or school who are advocates for professional learning. The people you identify can be from any role group: school board member, central office administrator, principal, teacher leader, or classroom teacher. There is only one restriction: The primary focus of the person’s job cannot be professional learning. That eliminates directors or coordinators of professional learning and instructional coaches at the central office or school levels. As you reflect on this test and its implications, several questions should come to mind. For example, what does it mean to be an advocate for professional learning? To effectively advocate anything, a person has to believe in it. Advocacy that is not rooted in belief is hollow; it lacks

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Hayes Mizell

Hayes Mizell ( is Learning Forward’s distinguished senior fellow.

How Leaders Make a Difference

Whatever the issue, it is what leaders do, as much as what they say, that makes them advocates for professional leaning. When leaders at all levels seek and engage in professional learning, and when they use their learning to improve their performance, they also advocate the purpose and value of professional learning. But their professional learning will only have that effect if they pursue it with integrity:

  • Just reading and talking about a book or a professional article is not enough. Does the leader use the reading or discussion to improve his or her performance?
  • Just taking a college course or seeking an advanced degree to qualify for a promotion or salary increase is not enough. Does the leader use the additional education to improve his or her practice?
  • It is also not enough when an administrator sits in on a learning experience that is primarily for teachers. Does the administrator use what he or she learned to more effectively monitor and support teachers’ use of the learning experience?
  • In all these scenarios, what makes a difference is not the process of engaging in learning. Rather, what makes a difference is whether the leader draws on his or her learning to become a more effective educator, and students, as well as the leader’s colleagues, see the difference.

For more information about  resources related to the Standards for Professional Learning, visit

Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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