Lessons From Bhutan

By Learning Forward
April 2011
Vol. 32 No. 2
Nestled in the Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan, a Buddhist country, is one of the most isolated nations in the world. After spending a month there, we all agreed it deserved its title of “The Last Shangri-La.” Our team of professional development specialists spent the summer of 2010 providing professional development in the basic principles of special education to teachers, administrators, and government officials. At the end of our visit, we left with a new appreciation of the need for all professional developers to become more aware of cultural differences both overt and subtle. In the process, we sharpened our skills, increased our cultural sensitivities, and came back to the United States as more effective and more broadly engaged staff developers. Before the Special Education Project began

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Laurie Levine, Alison Kelsey, and Kim McCormack

Laurie Levine (, is a professional development specialist at Rockland BOCES in Nyack, N.Y. Alison Telsey ( is a professional development specialist at Southern Westchester BOCES in Rye Brook, N.Y. Kim McCormack ( is a professional development specialist for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and throughout the U.S.


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Loucks-Horsley, S., Hewson, P., Love, N., & Stiles, K. (1998). Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mitchell, L., Hoyle, C., & Martin, C. (1993, Summer). Designing successful learning: Staff development for outcomes-based instruction. Journal of Staff Development, 14(3), 28-31.

Wheatley, M. & Frieze, D. (2011, January/February). Leadership in the age of complexity: From hero to host. Resurgence.

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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